Low light wedding photography tips


At the end of the night when most of the main events of the wedding have taken place and it’s time for dancing, the lights are turned down for the mood. This doesn’t help the photographer at all, and they now have to solve a problem. Our eyes are incredible at adjusting to varied levels of lighting, but cameras aren’t as flexible. To keep photos looking as good as they have been all day, the photographer has a few options. The easiest way to see more in the dark with your camera is to increase the ISO, the camera’s sensitivity. However, this would make the pictures grainy or noisy and so it isn’t ideal. Another downside of ISO is it increases the brightness of the whole image, even the areas that are already bright. This can result in blown-out areas after getting the dark areas to a preferred level. There are better options but not all can be used at any time.


For subjects that are not moving too fast, like guests sitting down, posed shots, or still life subjects like food or decoration details, the photographer can use a slower shutter speed on the camera. This will allow more time for light to enter the camera but if the subject is moving they will be blurred. The advantage of this method is the photographer doesn’t have to change any other settings like ISO, and the photo doesn’t have to become grainier or noisier.


For faster moving subjects, the photographer cannot use a slow shutter speed. Raising the ISO will ruin the picture, even if very slightly it can be avoided. The photographer can add light using a flash. By using a very fast shutter speed, the photographer will put light onto the subject for just that fragment of a second, and use whatever shutter speed he wants. In this way, they will capture the subject but the background that has not received light from the flash will remain very dark.


If the photographer has a continuous video light handy, or if there is a videographer shooting the wedding and using one, it is possible to get images in low light without just illuminating the foreground with a flash. A continuous light can be bounced or set to a particular colour to fit the existing lighting of the venue. This can be a more subtle way to get shots in the dark without surprising your subjects each time with as flash, and also without having to wait for the recharge time of the flash. This can be especially useful during the dimly lit but action packed late night dancing, when waiting for a flash to recharge can cause the photographer to miss a great shot.


Finally, the simplest method in a dark banquet hall or venue, if the situation allows, move your subject closer to a light source. This will keep the light as real and natural as possible, as it is light from the space not light being added by the photographer. This can open up creative possibilities as the photographer can experiment with the different colours of light and the different photogenic spots within the larger space, all while fixing the problem of low light.