Tips for Choosing Your Getting Ready Light

Photography is all about light. As a photographer, I have two choices: I can work with ambient light (sunlight, lamps, etc.) or create my own light (using flash or video lights). My personal preference is to use natural, ambient light, which means the sun. Given the right conditions and the right time of day, it creates the gorgeous, soft, romantic lighting that I like best. However, when shooting weddings, I usually don't get to pick the lighting conditions. For ceremonies and receptions, I welcome the challenge of figuring out how the light will work best; that is my job, after all. But what I want to discuss today are the getting ready photos.

Some of you may not have many options on the location where you get ready. There may be a designated place in your venue, and it may be void of any light other than the florescent kind. But if you do have a choice, it's best to pick the location that lets in the most sunlight.

Here's a few examples of different lighting scenarios for the getting ready shots:

Ambient, florescent lighting only
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Ambient, florescent lighting with flash (flash was placed at a 45 degree angle to the right of the bride)
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Ambient, florescent lighting with minimal sunlight (unfortunately, the getting ready room windows looked over the parking lot so we couldn't open the blinds, but you can see it is coming from the left and shining on her face)
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Sunlight only
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And let's not forget the guys! Both of these grooms were lit solely by sunlight coming in from a window:
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So, if you have a choice, where should you get ready? Hotel rooms are typically ideal because they usually have very large windows and are high up enough that we can keep the drapes open without anyone being able to see in. Bedrooms are also good, with bigger windows being better. The places with the worst lighting? Usually the assigned getting ready rooms in churches, although I have seen a few with nice, big windows, so make sure you check out the room when choosing your ceremony venue.