Wedding Venue Selection: Through a lens
How to help your wedding photos look their best
Choosing the wedding venue is arguably the most important aspect of the big day (assuming you already chose the bride or groom to join you). There are limitless websites and posts like The Wedding Spot or of course, The Knot with every type of venue for any size wedding. Being engaged ourselves, Sarah and I have spent time looking at these sites and many like them, all trying to market the different venues that fit our budget, location, and style. I was surprised in my research of venues to see how few, and by few I mean virtually none, have an emphasis on lighting. Lighting? who cares, right?
Well, you really should. While I am not saying that you should choose a wedding venue based purely on how it photographs, I do think you should be aware of it as you tour various locations. Especially if good photos are high on your list for the wedding.
A long while back, I attended a wedding in a very dark, moody venue. It was very beautiful and it had a “Oh, wow!” element to it when you entered. Being a photographer, as nerdy as it sounds, my first thought was “good luck to whoever is taking these pictures.” It was a stunning wedding venue, but that does not translate to stunning images. Because it was such a dark venue, it required the photographer to use camera settings that made all of he photos look grainy and “cloudy”. Because of that, the photographer was limited in how the images could be edited. There was only so much he could do. When the photos were put on Facebook, I saw them and unfortunately, they were not very good. Nothing against the photographer. I have seen his work and he is extremely talented. I would hire him for my own wedding… He was dealt a crappy venue.
With that said, here are a few things to think about when looking at venues for your wedding:
IF IT IS OUTSIDE, WHERE IS THE SHADE/ TREES?
A lot of ceremonies are outside. Problem solved, right? It will be nice and bright and will equal amazing photos? Well, not necessarily. Look at where the front of the ceremony is. Will you be in shade, or direct light? Shade is always better for photos. it produces the most natural and flattering light on a face. Is it under a free? if so, where will the sun be during that time of day? One of the worst things is speckled shade from a tree. Patches of bright and dark spots equals problems. Try to find a spot where you will stand in the shade. And if you are under a tree, be aware and ask the venue staff where the sun sets. make sure that sun won’t cause ugly, unflattering shadows.
The photo below is a beautiful wedding venue! Notice the shadows on the ground where the bride and groom are? LOTS of tough shadows. depending on the exact sun location or a breeze, those shadows will be all over the place. Again, just something to consider..
WILL THERE BE PORTIONS OF THE WEDDING INSIDE?
It is common for wedding receptions to take place inside. Most I have attended do so as well. A good photographer will be able adjust and make inside shots work. It is those really dark rooms with high ceilings and dim lights that get you into trouble. The equipment required to light a big ballroom like that (and to light it well) is extremely expensive. That doesn’t mean you can’t choose that venue. If you love it, wonderful!!! Just make sure you talk to your desired photographer and make sure they can tackle a room like that. Hopefully, they will be honest with you if they do not have the gear/ experience to light a big room like that.
Below is a really gorgeous venue. The large windows help bring in some light, but once the sun fully sets, they will become black walls. Lighting this wedding venue would be no easy task.
ASK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER HOW THEY HANDLE DARK ROOMS
I think it is perfectly acceptable of you to ask your potential photographer how they will handle a certain reception hall or dark lighting. If nothing else, you will make them aware of the situation and if they are smart, they will visit the venue ahead of time. I always visit the venue before hand. I like to walk around and look for create angles and shot lists that will make their photos unique. The wedding day itself is stressful and fast paced. I love walking into a wedding knowing what lights to use at what time, what lenses I want for a scene, and what poses look best in what location. I highly suggest you ask photographers you are considering all of these things.
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that go into your venue selection. You have to love it, and feel at home there. I also know how important photos are to a coupe after their wedding day. I hope this is helpful to you when touring potential locations. Look around and observe how bright the room is, where will the sunset, and what shade is available during the ceremony. These are little details to keep in the back of your mind when researching and selecting the location you will remember for the rest of your life! happy hunting.