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Outdoor Wedding Photography Tips & Techniques

written by: Ryan C.•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/21/2010

Get the best pictures during an outdoor wedding with these outdoor wedding photography tips!

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    Introduction

    bride and father Spring and summer seasons are a popular time to get married outdoors because it is just so beautiful and everything is green and full of life. It aptly symbolizes a new life in marriage and is fitting for a wedding. One of the advantages of a wedding outdoors is that there is no shortage of light unlike in some dimly-lit chapels and grand churches. Outdoors, however, does pose some unique challenges to photography and we will help you deal with them. This wedding photography guide focuses on outdoor weddings in particular. Of course, general wedding principles apply and should be followed with these to supplement.

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    It's All About the Lighting

    If there is a take-home message in this article, it is that lighting is the most important thing to consider with outdoor wedding photography. Lighting can make or break your photos. Soft (diffused) lighting is your friend. Outdoor weddings are subject to the light from the sun which can be constantly changing. Additionally, it can be difficult to plan for a cloudy or sunny day. You can pray for a cloudy day, but what do you do if you have a sunny day? Hopefully the wedding takes place in the shade, but if you do find the sun out, it is best to place your subjects backs to the sun and then use fill light to light their front. By having their backs against the sun, it allows them to relax and not be squinting into the sun. It may seem counter-intuitive to use flash on a sunny day, but fill-flash works, try it!

    If the ceremony takes place in a poor lighting direction, be ready to set up off-camera flash lights or use an assistant and reflector to make the shot. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you are expected to capture it to the best of your ability!

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    Quick Tips

    bride and groom Shallow Depth of Field

    A creamy lively-green background looks great and if you have appropriate focal lengths (fast telephoto zoom lenses) and lenses with wide aperture, you can create dreamy pictures.

    Walk Around

    Since it's an outdoor wedding, the venue is likely smaller and setup in a way that is easy to move around. Use this to your advantage and capture the ceremony from a variety of unique angles, behind, to the side, and in front of the couple. It is always best to give your clients a variety of shots, unless they have explicitly stated what shots they like.

    The Decorations and Detail

    The decor in an outside wedding is different than what you would normally find in a conventional church setting, use this to your opportunity and photograph the carefully-placed decor and your clients will love it! The fact that you took the time to appreciate their attention to detail will be noticed.

    Go Wide and Low

    Capture the details in the lawn chairs and ceremony by capturing the bride going down the aisle with the grass in the foreground and chairs to the side.

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    Practice!

    This goes without saying that practice makes perfect, especially with outdoor wedding photography. The more weddings you shoot, the better and more comfortable you will feel and learn what to shoot. If you are invited or are able to attend (ask the family) the wedding rehearsal, do so! This will be valuable practice time to gauge the lighting, environment, and location of everything and everyone.