Bridal portrait – Working with the available light
This striking portrait is of Rachel, a bride whose wedding I photographed yesterday. Yes, a Tuesday wedding! The prep was at a hotel on the Jersey shore, and when Rachel was ready, I wanted to shoot a few straight-forward portraits there in the hotel. There was a lot of light in the hotel room itself, but the decor was white – which helps for high-key portraits. But I wanted some variety.
So I scouted around, and decided to do some photographs in the passage outside her hotel room. Since it was a wedding on the Jersey shore, and we did other portraits later on, on the beach, I thought this bright wallpaper wouldn’t be too inappropriate as a backdrop. Now it was just a question of light …
This pull-back shot shows the setting. I really prefer to get as simple a background as possible. An f2.8 telephoto zoom lens is essential here in compressing perspective, and eliminating clutter in the background.
It’s a technique that has been discussed several times:
- Making your images pop – through choice of lens
- Wedding day portraits – simplifying composition for effect
- Wedding day portraits – bride & bridesmaids
Now, even though the light here was soft, with the large panels of fluorescent light, the light is still top-heavy. So then it became a matter of directing Rachel’s gaze slightly upward so there are no shadows under her eyebrows. Clean open light. Just the way I like it.
It’s a specific approach, that helps in defining a specific style that I have – aiming for both simplicity and elegance.
Camera settings & photo gear (or equivalents) used
- camera settings for the main image: 1/100 @ f2.8 @ 1600 ISO
- Photography: direction of the light – using available light
- Even with high ISO settings, you still need great light
- Flash photography basics
- More articles about wedding photography