For many photographers, outdoor weddings present the perfect opportunity to come up with beautiful photos without trying too hard. Nearly everything about nature is stunning as is, so there’s very little that outdoor views can do wrong. But even with those advantages, outdoor photography comes with its unique set of challenges, too.
No matter how perfect the natural setting might be, you’ll come across uneven lighting when you take photos at the wrong time of the day. The weather can suddenly go bad, there might be annoying shadows on the photographs, or the sun may get too bright to work with. So it’s up to you, the photographer, to learn how to navigate your way around those circumstances such that they don’t affect the quality of your output.
That kind of skill, along with different kinds of lenses and cameras, can significantly help you when doing outdoor wedding photography. Of course, before purchasing any equipment, it’s best to do research on the options you’re most interested in. Check out websites and blogs as well as other online resources such as this Sigma FP L review if that’s the kind of camera you’re after.
Here are five more tips for you to make the most of outdoor weddings and present breathtaking photos to your clients:
Especially if you’re still a beginner, one of the best ways to improve your outdoor wedding photos is to use a tripod. When you have something that can provide your camera with stability, it’ll be easier for you to capture clear, crisp images.
By perching your camera on a tripod, you don’t have to worry about your wobbly hands or missing an important moment. You can also feel more confident about using a slower shutter speed. This allows you to have more depth of the focus, which would be advantageous when you have an outdoor scenery for the background.
One of the challenges of outdoor wedding photography is the midday sun. You’ll likely encounter this given that many outdoor weddings are scheduled in the early afternoon.
If you have control over the subject, such as when you’re taking the pre-ceremony and post-ceremony photos of the couple, their entourage, and their family members, you may want to choose an outdoor setting with a bit of shade. This lets you gain more control over the light while also avoiding the likelihood of shooting photos of people squinting their eyes because of the sun.
If you’re taking photos of the ceremony itself and the setting is out of your hands, the best you can do is to overpower the sun. This means darkening your camera’s ambient exposure so you can knock down the highlights. Then, use your camera flash so you can create a nice light on the subject.
Another challenge with outdoor wedding photography sessions is the lack of control over the weather. Depending on where you're from and in what season the wedding will take place, one moment it can be sunny and the next it might suddenly be gloomy. Some couples, however, don’t have a problem with rain, especially when they’ve prepared for that with the help of their wedding planner.
As the photographer, you have to come prepared. If the bride and groom give you the go signal for it, then you should be ready to shoot in the rain. This means that even if the weather is good before you leave your home or studio, do pack a poncho and a camera rain cover.
When you’re equipped for whatever the weather will be, the resulting photos will become even more unique and magical. You'll be able to take advantage of the great outdoors no matter what, and you’ll be completely unbothered by the rain. Even if it’s dark and cloudy, that won’t be a problem for you. Overcast skies may even give you the best lighting conditions.
It’s important for you to put yourself in the shoes of the bride and groom in order to understand why they chose to have their wedding in that particular outdoor venue. More often than not, it’s because they’re in love with the scenery and the atmosphere.
That’s the reason you have to extend your depth of field. Apart from the photos where you focus on the faces of the couple and their guests, see to it that you take a lot of shots wherein you also showcase the surroundings. Otherwise, you’ll waste the natural beauty and magic of the outdoor setting that the couple chose.
You should seek to strike a balance between capturing memories, actions, and emotions and highlighting what the outdoor wedding venue has to offer. The best ways you can achieve that is to shoot with longer and wide-angle lenses and to use a higher aperture.
When you’re adjusting the camera exposure settings, be mindful of the highlights. Remember that compared with indoor wedding venues, outdoor ones will involve more uneven lighting. This would present more difficulty when it comes to getting the exposure right.
If you’re unsure, it’s best to lean toward underexposure. The general rule for you to follow is that it’s better to have dark shadows in your photos than to blow out the highlights. With the former, you can fix the shadows with photo editing tools. Unfortunately, for the latter, no amount of photo post processing will be able to improve their condition.
Keep the following in mind:
Despite the innate splendour of outdoor sceneries, there are still many things that photographers should do to ensure that their outdoor images turn out great. That’s especially true for wedding photos since the bride and the groom would naturally want nothing but the best results. This is one of the most important days of their lives, and your photos would serve to preserve their memories of it.
With the tips above, you can boost your outdoor wedding photography skills and take even more spectacular photos as time goes by, showcasing the best moments of couples along with the raw beauty of the outdoor settings they go for.