Wedding Ceremonies: Shooting in Low Light

The problems with shooting a wedding in a traditional church can be daunting. First, there’s the fact that less-than-optimal lighting design often coincides maddeningly with the taboo on using a flash. There is ceremony-driven time pressure, and the photographer’s situationally restricted movement. All these conspire to severely limit the possibility of getting perfectly lit photos. Brooke Galligan offers four protocols that will help immensely. (See her full blog post here.)

1. Check your camera settings.
Manually change your settings, particularly your ISO. The higher the number, the more light-sensitive. But beware the graininess that can result from an elevated ISO. A shutter speed around 60 and an aperture set at 2.8 or lower will allow the most light in. Turn off the automatic settings wherever possible; you’ll be better off when you have to adjust.

2. Use a monopod.
Yup, it’s a real thing: a stick you prop your camera on to help keep it steady, especially if you’re using a long lens. Sports photographers use them. A monopod will help with the blur caused you your hand’s almost imperceptible shaking, and it’s a lot easier to move around than a tripod.

shooting it low light

Credit: Brooke McNeely Galligan

3. Follow the light.
All churches are different. Some churches have no windows and fluorescent lights, which can be very unflattering. A lot have windows and lighting in the front, which means you have competing light. The bride and groom may be placed in a dark hole and backlit, or washed out by stage lights. Try metering to the couple’s faces, or taking close-up photos with a long lens.

4. Respect the rules.
Even if no strictures are placed on your mobility—which there often will be—it’s better not to make a scene. Ask questions and see if any places are off limits, including the little nooks most people don’t know about. Wedding planners, officiants and other wedding vendors can be important allies. Don’t alienate them.

See Brooke’s her full blog post [here].