Photography in harsh light

We had the fabulous privilege of photographing a stunning wedding in Italy, one of our most favourite places in the world to not only work but to visit.

When we arrived at the incredible location high up in the Tuscany hills, we were struck instantly by the heat, it was about 37 Celsius about 98 Fahrenheit, we had been happily enjoying the air-conditioning and therefore we had no idea of the temperature until stepping out of the car. 

We spent an hour or so looking around the glorious venue, I have a very cool little app on my phone which tracks the sun and this clearly showed me that at the precise time of the Ceremony the sunlight would be directly facing the Bride and Groom, no room for error here and trust me, auto settings would have left the average photographer up the creek without a paddle, another reason why you should always book a professional photographer for your wedding!

Well, I love to take images on sunny days; this is a challenging situation to be in due to the harsh light, deep Shadows that can become apparent on faces however one of the key concepts is taking all the compositional elements like the natural light, Lines negative space and the more abstract elements like Shadows and reflections.

 I stand back and survey these elements to see how they relate to the subject and how this interaction of the Shadows can create magic within the photography frame, sometimes everything is perfect and fits together just like a puzzle, pulling the composition together making it a powerful photograph.

This isn't always the case; also If the Bride and Groom have requested a certain location for a favourite photo to be taken then you have to step up to the challenge, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I’m a manual only Photographer, with this type of photo there is no other way than go completely manual, bring down the exposure to reduce any blown out areas and then burst out that flash using manual flash, this works fantastically as you are now using two exposure settings, one for ambient light and one for flash, check out how the Brides Vail has retained the detail within the photograph with this article, this was taken with outboard flash, I didn’t setup off camera lighting, reflectors or any other types of technical lighting equipment which many photographers would scare you with, to shout out “I’m a professional”.

My favourite and more abstract compositional elements are Shadows and reflections and abstract because they represent real objects, abstract because they are elusive and can easily be photographed and brought into the image that you see in front of you, I find in shadows and reflections I can take photographs to make them become more interesting and add complexity to the image, they enhance a simple composition by giving more interesting areas to look at by adding Shadows and reflections, you need to pull back to see how these elements interact with the bride and groom story telling  with images, we freeze time and these elements provide mystery  within the photograph which enhances the appearance of depth.

Go ahead and practice challenge yourself to use the harsh sunlight to create the image that you can see when you look through the lens.