When it comes to your wedding day photos, there’s nothing more important than light. They say all you need is love, but as a wedding photographer, I say – all you need is light.
I joke, but natural light wedding photography is truly the only way to get those organic, romantic, candid photos you’ll love. So why is natural lighting for wedding photography so important? Natural light shapes each photo, giving it uniqueness and bringing those soft, gorgeous colours that are impossible to get with artificial light. Plus, no two sunsets are ever the same!
This is why I get so excited for each and every wedding – as an artist, I love seeing how the lighting conditions change and evolve, giving you a gorgeous palette of blues, pastels, and golds for your Sydney wedding photography backdrop.
Here’s what you need to know about the importance of light in wedding photography and my top tips for planning your wedding day around light.
Golden hour is your photographer’s best friend, so let’s plan for it
My strongest suggestion for outdoor wedding photos is to plan to be outside during golden hour. So what is it and when is golden hour in Sydney? Essentially, this is the time about one to one and a half hours before sunset when the sun is low in the sky.
Golden hour gives us softer, gentler light that’s more flattering for portraiture and much better for photos than the harsh midday sun. Photos taken during golden hour have that magical glow, so it’s totally worth waiting for, especially on days when the sun is out and a dreamy, soft sunset is on the cards!
What’s the best light for wedding photography? I can’t say it enough – whether it’s cheeky kisses, family hugs, or that celebratory champagne toast, it’ll look better in natural light (outside of the midday sun – so, anytime where the sun is not directly on top of us!). Having the right lighting is one of my top tips for making the most out of your wedding photos.
Don’t stress about the weather
Here’s an inside tip from a pro: clouds won’t ruin your day! Even if the sun isn’t out and it’s cloudy, the light quality is also better later in the day compared to the middle of the day, so we can still have fun with golden hour.
Sometimes, having clouds in the sky can make wedding photos dramatic and moody – even a few drops of rain won’t ruin this parade. A good photographer will know how to use light to their advantage, even if the sun is harsh, but it’s always a good idea to have most of your photography done towards the latter half of the day.
A cloudless sky with a golden sun can be beautiful, but there’s also something wonderful and romantic about clouds – they add so much drama and texture to photos, in a way that clear blue skies just can’t.
Do think about logistics
Are you getting married in a separate location from your reception or your desired photo location? If so, think about traffic and how long it’ll take to get from point A to point B. Then, work out your timing so you can be at your destination in time for golden hour.
I would hate to see us miss a perfect sunset due to Sydney’s infamous traffic… not to mention the stress it would add to your day.
Make a clear wedding day timeline
Have you made a wedding timeline yet? I can hear you thinking: weddings are all about celebrations and love, not timelines and spreadsheets! But hear me out – a timeline can be not only fun, but also useful.
A wedding timeline outlines where you’ll be and when, from getting ready to when the reception finishes. It makes your day stress-free, as you know where you need to be for your day to run smoothly. Include all of your photography needs in the timeline, such as family portraits – it’s best to get these done before the reception, because once the tunes kick in and the shoes come off, good luck rounding everyone up for a formal photo!
Include as many details for your reception in your timeline as you can, including the sunset time. That’s when to schedule couples portraits in a wedding timeline – I like to have my couples take 10 minutes out of their reception to snap a few portraits when the sun is setting. You won’t regret missing out on a few minutes of party time for an amazing portrait framed by the sunset.
When is the best (and worst) light for wedding photos?
Natural lighting is flattering and brings a certain quality to your photos that you’ll absolutely love. We’ll get the best natural light early in the morning or just before sunset. Keeping it simple with natural light is always best, so trust your photographer to use lighting to make you look and feel amazing.
Is there such a thing as bad light? Not really, but the worst time of the day for taking photographs is always around midday, when the sun is high in the sky. This creates unflattering shadows on your face, so I would try to avoid having your ceremony in the middle of the day. Everyone will be squinting to see you! Plus, your magical “I do” photos will look glarey and overexposed – and no one wants that.
The best way to avoid this problem is to think about your wedding day schedule first and foremost before you book anything in, basing your timings around the best lighting.
The time of year will dictate your best timeline
When thinking through the timing for your ceremony, it’s important to consider what time of year you’re getting married, as this determines when the sun will set.
For a summer wedding, I recommend having your ceremony later in the afternoon (especially for outdoor ceremonies). This will give you the best lighting opportunities for your photos and your guests won’t be sweating uncomfortably in the hot midday sun.
Getting married in winter? It’s best to have a winter ceremony much earlier in the day than you would for a summer wedding so you don’t lose all the light for your photos. However, if your wedding events are happening indoors or at night, you don’t need to be as concerned about when the sun will set.
Oh, and if you’re not a summer or winter person, you might be glad to know that spring is the most popular wedding season in Sydney!
Pro tip: No matter what time of year you’re planning on getting married, whack that date into Google along with the phrase ‘sunset time Sydney’ and it’ll give you the exact time of sunset on your wedding day. Feed that info back to your photographer and use it to start planning your timeline around that magical hour.
As you can see, I’m more than a little crazy about natural light, since it’ll give you the most gorgeous photos. I’m a friendly photographer who loves to help, so I’d be very pleased if I can help you plan your wedding photography schedule – even better if you want to chat over a double shot latte!