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  • Writer's picturerachel leintz

the challenge and reward of indoor ceremony locations

It might just be happening to me, but I’m starting to see a trend running through several of my recent wedding bookings . . . indoor ceremony locations! (Cue the scary, dramatic music) Maybe now that it's cooling off for our wedding season here in Arizona, I'll be seeing less of it, but for now, let's talk about how to deal : )

There are a couple reasons most wedding photographers aren’t huge fans of indoor ceremony locations, but the main one is that usually, indoor locations mean tricky lighting.

Portrait photographers all know that beautiful open shade is very, very friendly to human skin. It fills in little wrinkles and it eliminates under-eye shadows, if you have a good reflective surface under your subject. The images below were all taken in beautiful, soft open shade and you can see how evenly and gently it lights each bride's face.

But indoors, you never really know what you’re going to get.

You could be dealing with really low lighting (which can be perfectly fine and romantic for a wedding) but can mean you have to use higher, grainier ISOs, slower shutter speeds (which means you have to worry about blur) and larger apertures (which means you have to be careful you don’t put your bride’s face in the shallow depth of field region).

Or maybe there’s a lot of light, but it all comes from huge windows behind your subjects, so they are backlit!

Or maybe the entire ceremony is lit by tungsten light bulbs, giving your photos a really yellow tint to them.

Or worst-case scenario, it’s all canister recessed lighting! And you have long, harsh shadows raking across your brides face! Eeek!

But the good news is that with these tricky indoor settings come some really fantastic and unique opportunities to create beautiful art! If you know how to deal with these situations, the results can be really truly stunning.

For my photog friends out there, here are some ways I’ve learned to deal with these lighting conundrums! Great tricks to help you indoors for the ceremony, or for the indoor reception!

1. Low light - Know your ISO setting threshold and use its high end. If you find a little grain in your image, you can use luminance from the Camera RAW extension to smooth it out. Over expose for your subjects if the lighting differs across the space and use post processing magic to bring up the shadows and tone down the highlights. Don’t use Camera RAW (the Adobe Bridge Application) yet? Learn it!

3200 ISO

2. Back-lighting - Again, overexpose for your subjects. The result can be really stunning, especially if you don’t mind playing in post and bringing back some of the shadow detail with a Nik filter. Don’t know about Nik filters? Check them out! They will add a whole new level of artistry to your post processing.

Exposed for the bride's back - Nik Filter

3. Tungsten light making everything yellow? Stain glass making all your images purple? Camera RAW can fix this easily with tonal correction. Or, exaggerate the effect in post to create some dramatic shots for your bride.



4. Raking shadows - If the venue permits, use your flash, but be sure you are using a bounce technique. I’ve learned to try and point the flash in the direction my bride is looking. Her face will get some nice soft bounce and should handle those harsh shadows.

Bounce flash pointed in the direction the bride's nose is pointing.

Happy Snapping, Y’all!

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