Featured Pro Photographer, Tips from the Pros

How to Photograph Outdoor Weddings

Outdoor wedding venue

Steve Wrubel Photography

There’s no doubt that outdoor weddings are some of the most beautiful events to cover. From exotic tropical beaches to quaint countryside lodges, natural scenery is hard to beat.

But outdoor venues also present its own set of challenges for wedding photographers, including unpredictable weather and uneven lighting. Here are some tips to remember when taking photographs of outdoor ceremonies.

Scout the location

Checking out the venue before the wedding will give you a better feel of the space. Some of the most romantic weddings are often set in unusual locations – like vineyards and barn houses. So spend a day at the site, preferably with the couple, and keep tabs on where the action will be – from the ceremony to the reception.

Take note of the lighting conditions of the venue and draw a timeline and shot list for the big day. During the wedding, move around. Harsh, uneven, or low lighting can easily be avoided by trying out different angles at the venue.

Always bring additional equipment

If you’re just starting out or will be covering the wedding on your own, bringing the right gear with additional equipment is a must. Anything can happen within the day, especially with the unpredictable weather in an outdoor venue.

If you can’t afford the gear, renting is the next best thing. Always bring a heavy duty backpack for all your gear, as well as extra memory cards and batteries, tripods, and super clamps

Take wide shots of the venue

There’s a reason why a couple would choose an outdoor venue – and that is for the location. Take your wide-angle lens for shots that capture the entire venue and its ambiance. Mix these wide shots with close ups of the couple and the guests for a balance of stunning natural scenery and intimate, human moments.

Wide angle lenses deliver a deeper depth of field even at lower apertures compared to telephoto lenses, allowing you to feature both the guests and the background. Don’t hesitate to back up when taking these wide shots, or looking for a unique vantage point that offers a bird’s eye view of the ceremony.

Keep shots clean and clear

While natural surroundings offer an expansive space to take photos, these may be interrupted by power lines, parking lots, or unsightly foliage. Even the shade of trees can create weird shadows and highlights on faces. Look for a clean backdrop for your photos. Staying low on the ground can minimize the distraction in the background. You can also adjust your angles or swap lenses to help in the composition.

Adjust with the light

An outdoor wedding tends to have more uneven lighting. During the ceremony, it’s important to direct the couple and the guests where they should face vis-a-vis the natural light source.

As much as possible, shoot from the sight with more direct sunlight. Since exposure can be trickier for outdoor venues, a semi-manual mode with spot metering will also help you correctly meter the most important part of the subject: their faces.

For formals or portraits, consider having the couple and guests pose, backlit by the sun – best scheduled late in the afternoon or before sunset. This creates for both a romantic and dramatic effect that highlights the subject without losing the mood of the natural landscape.

About the Author: Megan Beth

Megan Beth is a writer based in Chicago. She enjoys creating useful, informative articles to help people succeed. When not writing, you can find Megan exploring the city or spending time with family.

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