Finding the light: Natural light vs artificial light wedding photographer and which is best for you?
Many engaged couples aren’t sure how to start narrowing down the wide selection of wedding photographers for their special day. There are so many lighting styles in wedding photography and this can be an easy way to lessen the choices.
We spoke with Jennifer Juniper Photography to ask for recommendations on tips for choosing a wedding photographer. She shares her advice below…
Booking a wedding photographer is a lot of work! With so many options, you may be wondering where to start? I suggest trying to decide if you prefer a natural light photographer or an artificial light photographer. And the first step to making that decision is understanding the difference between the two!
Just yesterday I had a client say “I’ve always loved your photos. What makes your photos have such beautiful lighting all the time, Jennifer? There’s just such a difference in your photos.” And my response… “I create my own light.”
Here we see my beautiful bride lit only by the light from the large window next to her. This is a great way to utilize natural light to create a super-flattering and beautiful portrait. This technique is very popular with many wedding photographers, both with artificial and natural lighting preferences.
Every photographer has their own unique style. This is what sets us apart from everyone else. It is like our signature on all of our photo galleries. I can usually guess which local photographer took what pictures rather quickly as I scroll through Facebook or Instagram, without even looking at the user name. Those of us that have created a reputation for ourselves typically have a cohesive style, whether it be in our unique aesthetic, editing style, and color, or in our use of light.
*Wedding portrait using only natural lighting at LPGA country club
And I have to be honest… natural light is “in” right now. Instagram brides are loving the beautiful tones and soft natural feel of natural light. There’s something so timeless and flattering about this particular style. And natural light photographers use flashes as well! I mean, it’s pretty much a necessity for any wedding reception, especially once the DJ turns down the lights and the party really begins. But typically, it’s with a different goal in mind…
In my case and for many artificial light photographers, the use of lighting is not only out of necessity. We don’t only break out our flashes when it starts to get dark. We make the choice to lug around additional stands, and flashes, diffusers, and often assistants, so that we can utilize our lighting techniques at any time. It is definitely a little involved. A running joke I have at my weddings, as I’m hobbling around with my two cameras and two light stands, is “I definitely don’t travel light.”
But those of us that are obsessed with lighting believe that it’s worth it. The difference in the imagery is visible and can be as dramatic as these two beach portraits, taken only seconds apart.
One is with natural light, and the other is using my off-camera flashes only a few seconds later. While the natural light image is beautiful, I personally gravitate towards the artificial light portrait. The result can be more dramatic and vibrant. And that’s crucial when your aesthetic is bold, dramatic, artistic, and colorful like mine.
I strive to create WOW moments using composition, posing, and of course, lighting. The off-camera flashes help me maintain my preferred aesthetic and make my photography represent the style that I have become so fond of.
Nothing gets me more excited as an artist than the drama that is created with the use of artificial light. I feel it really makes the subjects pop!
Back-lighting is an added flair that makes the images so vibrant and surreal. Side-lighting and back-lighting create depth in the image, making the subjects look like they’re standing out from the background.
So which one is right? The answer to that is BOTH! These are just preferences, and I will always be in love with off-camera techniques. But many people prefer bright and airy and natural. The moral of the story is… do your research! Look into both styles and decide which you prefer.
Talk to your photographer to make sure that your vision matches theirs. A few tips on narrowing the field of photographers & different lighting styles in wedding photography:
- Ask to see full weddings to ensure that you’re getting the full picture of what they are able to deliver.
- Ask if your photographer is familiar with your venue, and make sure their particular lighting style works.
- And in addition to making sure your artistic vision matches your photographer’s, make sure that you also LIKE them! Your wedding photographer will quite literally be in your face ALL day long. So it helps if you get along, and they make you feel like the belle of the ball. It IS your big day after all!
Thank you Jennifer for sharing all about the different lighting styles in wedding photography.
Jennifer M. Toegel, owner of Jennifer Juniper Photography LLC. Professional wedding photographer specializing in off-camera lighting, artificial lighting techniques.