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How to have good lighting at your Brisbane wedding?

Why is light so important?

It’s no secret that light is the most important factor to getting great wedding photos. But what constitutes good lighting and bad lighting and why is it so important? If the lighting is harsh or sunny, it can create dark shadows on the subjects face, creates a big contrast between the shadows and the highlights and causes subjects to blink when they have their photo taken. Alternatively, a good wedding photographer should always be seeking opportunities to create a soft and diffused light. 

Soft light is created on cloudy or overcast days (that’s why wedding photographers love cloudy days!). Cloudy days creates a diffused light that helps flatten the light and makes people look their best. Obviously we have no control over the weather, so if your wedding day is sunny, don’t fret. If you picked an experienced wedding photographer, they should be able to use opportunities to create soft light. This includes:

  • Always having the sun behind the subjects so they are not looking into the sun. If by contrast, wedding photos are conducted at mid day, when the sun is highest in the sky then this can be tricky
  • Picking a shady spot to conduct family photos and bride and groom shots. Side note: Not all shade is created equal. If the subjects are under a tree for example, your wedding photographer should position themselves so the light source is behind them.
  • Waiting until the sun gets lower on the horizon before conducting wedding photos. I will often do this, I will hold off on completing the Location photos until the sun is in a better positio

If you look at the photo below, this is an example of having the sun behind the subjects so their face is essentially shaded from the sun.

bride and groom walking hand in hand

So what I can do?

If you are aiming for good lighting during your wedding, there are a few things you can do to help. These include:

You can organise to have the ceremony start during the afternoon when the sun is in a favourable position. If I could only give one single piece of advice for planning your wedding, then this would be it. This will depend on the time of year, but in summer a good time would be approximately 4:30pm or even 5:00pm. During winter, a good time for your ceremony would be around 2:00pm. In Brisbane during the summer, the sun usually goes down around 7:00pm or 7:30pm, whereas in winter it can be as early as 5:00pm.

If you need to have your ceremony during the early afternoon, try and select a location that is shaded like under a tree or under shelter (your guests will thank you as well!) Try and select a ceremony spot that has lots of trees. Examples of this include Mt Coot-tha Gardens or the Brisbane Botanical Gardens. Doing this, will block the sun from hitting yourselves during the wedding ceremony. Below is an example of using a shaded spot during a very hot and sunny day.

funny bridal party photo

Avoiding dappled light

The dappling effect, caused by sunlight filtering through foliage or architectural elements, creates uneven lighting that can lead to harsh contrasts and unflattering shadows on subjects’ faces. To maintain a consistent and flattering illumination for wedding photographs, photographers should steer clear of dappled light. Instead, they opt for evenly diffused lighting or strategically positioned shade. This ensures the focus remains on capturing the beauty of the moment without distractions caused by uneven lighting patterns and shadows cast by the dappled light. To avoid dappled light during your ceremony, organise your positioning under the tree so the sun is setting in the background, not filtered down through the trees and hitting you. There is no amount of post-production that can reduce the negative effect of dappled light.

bride and groom sitting after their wedding ceremony

The benefit of hiring an experienced wedding photographer

Wedding photographers are a dime a dozen. It is a saturated market where basically anybody can pick up a semi-professional camera and call themselves a wedding photographer. An experienced wedding photographer who has done hundreds of weddings will know instinctively how to create good lighting and how to avoid poor lighting. Below is an example of using a tree to help diffuse the light and create sunflare, allowing for a unique and beautiful photo opportunity. 

Don't wedding photographers have a flash?

Yes, any self respecting wedding photographer should have a flash, however I can consider it only as a last resort. I only use mine normally indoors like at the reception. Occasionly, if the sun has dipped behind the horizon too much, I may crack out the flash and use it on a trigger, with someone usually holding the flash on a 45 degree angle. A wedding photographer should never aim a flash directly at the subjects. Below is an example of using an off-camera flash to help create dimension.

night photo with lighthouse in background


ILighting is perhaps the most important aspect to creating great wedding photos. Your wedding photographer should know the difference between good and bad lighting and know how to manipulate it to ensure your wedding photos turn out great. If you would like more information regarding wedding photography, click here to send us an email. 


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