‘Why not just light everything up?’


That is one approach to lighting. I think it comes from the comfort in knowing that everything will be lit up, so no matter where faces are turned, they will be lit up and you’ll have something safe. I much prefer to avoid ‘safe’ and use light that has more impact. Even when things get complex with the lighting. Like below.





LT & Fred’s wedding was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Here, for the cake cutting, we were in a room that was giving me three light sources. The large window to the left, the smaller row of windows down at the far end of the room, and the ceiling lights from above were all contributing to this scene. Each light source had a bit different color temperature to it as well. In a case like this, you could very easily shoot the safe shot – be behind the cake, with your back to the guests and fire a flash straight up into the ceiling and light everything evenly. That would be safe, but most likely not very interesting. Instead, what I chose to do here was very deliberate. The two most important elements I wanted in this shot was 1) LT & Fred with a great expression and 2) the background to be filled with their guests looking on. What I see most often with the cutting of the cake is that the couple sneaks away and does this alone, with just the photographer present. Not LT & Fred. They invited everyone to come watch which then gives us a great backdrop to frame them against. It’s way more exciting to see guests in the background vs an empty wall, right? The problem here was that while Fred and the crowd were lit by the windows and the overheads, LT had no light hitting her face at all from the angle I was at. That’s where adding a bit of light makes all the difference. I had my assistant Tasha (thanks Tasha!!) light LT with an Ice Light. It is one of the most wonderful tools around for this sort of thing. It’s quick, easy and looks like a lightsaber. I’m no sci-fi guy, but it does look like you are holding the future in your hand. Seriously though, it works great. It is a continuous light source which means you can see exactly what the light is doing. It’s also discreet so it’s not blocking the view and is easy to bring around. Tasha was holding it up just on the other side of Fred. She had it pointing right at LT. This put the light you see on her face and makes the shot.



Just a note about color. When I started my career in wedding photography, I wanted to make ever image, no matter the light source, look like it was taken at sunset on a west coast beach. I wanted it to look golden, warm and soft. I would try and photoshop my pictures into submission and bought actions and presets and such to try to win the battle. Eventually though, after lots of disappointment and wasted money, I realized that I was going about it all wrong. You have to embrace what you are given and make it look it’s best. In the shot above some of the light is cooler or more blue and some is warmer or more yellow. For some folks this is an instant black and white. But why? It’s what it really looked like. Isn’t better to love what you’ve got?



Thanks again for spending a few minutes with me. I appreciate it!