So many photographers these days are focusing on “Natural Light” photography, and telling us how to take the best image possible when we are outside. And of course that makes sense, it’s where the magic happens! Shooting outdoors isn’t always easy, but it isn’t difficult once you practice at finding or creating the right conditions. And if you are curious about shooting better portraits outside, let me condense that for you… 1. Put the client between you and the sun. or 2. find some shade. 3 wait for sunset
There, problem solved… ha!
ANYWAYS, the issue with focusing on shooting only outdoors is that SO much of what we shoot, often happens inside! With the bride getting ready, inside a church during the ceremony, and of course the reception we often find ourselves in those awkward and tough lighting conditions. So let me help you with 3 ways to get better images while shooting inside!
1. Find a Window - This is the mother of all lighting conditions. The light is diffused and directional. What that means is it’s coming from one place and it generally places itself evenly on whatever subject your photographing. For me, when photographing a bride, this kind of light makes for those beautiful tight, soft images of her face. You can also create some really unique portraits by using the window to back light them. Regardless of how you place them, using window light can be the easiest way to light a subject in a poorly lit area. I often times, when the bride is getting ready, have them change the room around to ensure she is facing the window (Window behind me, me between the window and the bride, and have the bride face me) because of smooth even light and how it makes the brides eyes just pop!
2. Room Lighting - This is a toughie... But you can make it work. First thing is first, if at all possible, stay AWAY from any over head lighting. It creates the worst shadows. And if you don’t have a flash, there is no way to fix that. If you do have a flash, well then carry on! (we will get to using your flash in a second) Often times you can have your subject back up a bit to allow the light to reflect from the floor to highlight more of those shadowy areas as well. There are a couple of things to remember here when shooting indoors and using the lighting in the room only. Make sure you pay attention to how you have your camera set up. In these situations both white balance and ISO matter! Before you start firing away, make sure first you have everything in order so that your post processing doesn’t get hung up on trying to figure out how to make those blues more cleaner or those reds less annoying!
3. Your flash is your friend - This is one of the more daunting things I have found for newer shooters. The idea of shooting your subject using a flash scares a lot of people but we can make it easy. And there are two ways to do it, TTL or Manual. TTL means “Through The Lens” and Manual is just setting everything (the flash and camera yourself) and both in theory or practice is an easy way to get a really even exposure. But sometimes Theory or practice goes right out the window when we get into the hustle of work. There are so many ways you get get around that but here are just a few;
When Using TTL
I set my camera to a lower aperture here and often shoot wide open around f/1.2-2.0 -
Bounce your flash behind you or above you - I prefer behind me if I am in a smaller room, and above me if I am shooting the reception hall or other bigger spaces. This allows the TTL system, which reads the amount of light including your flash, to help properly expose diffused light! It’s the best!
When using Manual
This gets a little funky but the sure fire way to nail a decent exposure every time is to set your camera to an ISO between 400-800 and your Aperture to 2.8-3.5 and then set your flash to manual and drop the power any where from 1/16 to 1/32 and fire away. (This may vary depending on whether you’re shooting nikon or canon) I don’t like shooting Manually but Lindsey who shoots for me does, and she gets it perfect every time!
Remember regardless of what situation you are in, and whatever lighting conditions you are working with the best thing you can possibly due before a wedding is prepare! Know where you’re going and where you’re shooting. That way anything that comes your way won’t rattle you or affect your ability to provide the best absolute experience for the bride and groom!
Let us know what works for you guys! What are your favorite ways to light your subject indoors?