Wedding Portraits when interior location poor

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by bethtphotos, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. I've got an upcoming wedding to photograph at a location that was chosen for its gorgeous outdoor setting ( a ski area). Sadly, the interior in dark, with no striking features & rather poor decor. The bride hoped for an outdoor wedding, and booked for 3 hours of portraiture outside, & multiple locations on site were planned. Now, the weather forecast calls for torrential rain, possibly thunder/lightning.
    The bride & her party are getting ready in the ski rental shop (not a formal dressing area) & as I said, all interiors are dark & dull...I could use advice, suggestions ways to set up beautiful portraits in a poor location. I may be able to get the couple out to a gazebo...but otherwise we're stuck inside a wood paneled, low ceilinged room.
    Any and all suggestions appreciated...
  2. Use longer lenses and selective focus to blur out backgrounds as much as possible. Use the existing light fixtures as blurred out, colorful 'globs' of light. Longer lenses help cut out everything in the background except a narrow view. Use couches and higher/lower angles to use floors or ceilings as backgrounds. If there are stairs, shoot down--or up. Use off camera lights to provide rim light, and dragging or not dragging the shutter, to show or not show backgrounds.
    Wood is particularly difficult if it is glazed or shiny at all, since you will get flash reflections. If it is dull, it 'eats' light. Plus you get that wonderful color cast--reddish. You might want to gel your flashes.
    You can also open doors or windows and use what is outside as backgrounds, possibly using those long lenses again. Also any overhangs at all. Plus shooting perpendicular to the opening, like you would if using window light.
    As a last resort, you can bring a backdrop, but I personally would rather use what is there, even if it is not great, by using the above methods.
  3. Long lens, shallow DOF and light the subject beyond that of the ambient (try to do that added light well).
  4. This shot was taken in a strangely green dining room with window light only:
  5. Photography 101: it's all about the light. I can only tell you what I would try. Small rooms means I can bounce my light. I would be bouncing off walls (!) more than the ceiling for a strong direction of light component. Or bouncing off the ceiling behind me for smaller groups. I would be using the longest lens I could. Hopefully that would be the 85mm and I would be using it pretty close if not wide open open (f/1.8 in my case). If not the 85, then the 50mm. I would have a few flashes ready with different gels, I like red and blue myself. It's hard for me to say where I would put them, but somewhere in the background to create some interesting light. I would get there early to experiment with both placement and ISO. The lower the ISO, the darker the background thus whatever I am using my off camera lights for becomes more "noticeable". I would try using my longest lens with some off-camera lighting. I love my 180mm. Attached is an example. I have a QFlash with a red gel camera left in front of the subject, and an Alien Bee on a light stand more or less straight up up 10' being fired into a 50'ceiling camera right and behind the subject. On camera flash for fill. If you can tell me what's in the background, well good job! The point being if you can get the flash off the camera and stand in a hallway if need be, it won't matter what's in the background! I think what you really need to do is approach this with a lot of excitement. That means a LOT. Take your time, set up your shots, move some lights. Let the bridal party know what you are doing: "Hey, it's going to take me 10-minutes to set this all up so you guys just chill for awhile". I would say you have 3 hours of play time! Use it to your advantage!
  6. What are they adding to the area where the ceremony will be held? Usually this is dressed up a bit like with flowers and such, and hopefully will provide some relief from the dull surroundings when doing group formals.

    I once had a wedding in a VFW Hall with cider block walls painted institutional green .... but there was one little potted tree with twinkle lights strung in it and I used it out of focus in the background for most portraits.

    If you have the ability to do off-camera wireless flash, use some to light the out of focus backgrounds (as suggested by others here). It'll help it from going that crappy dull red. Diffuse it, and place it low firing up on an angle and it'll feather to dark at the top to help separate the groups of people from the background.
  7. This image was taken in a VFW Hall with cinder block walls...........
  8. I won't go against any of the great advice already given here, but may I also suggest there is also a good chance using a very wide angle lens to good effect can make for some great shots. Some of my better shoots have been in quite cluttered environments. If you use or make the light interesting, you can make the room work for you.
  9. If you're more of a photojournalist, remember that your job is to document the actual wedding day, and that includes where it is held. They will most likely decorate as much as possible, so at least get the decorations and then do what others have said - narrow your DOF to nothing and blur the hell out of the background. Bounce your light, etc. Don't worry if you have dull background in the shots - your subject is not the background, and the bride knows that the situation has absolutely nothing to do with you. : )
  10. I've been known to stand outside and shoot the bridal portrait in the doorway. I'm under an umbrella not caring if I get wet - just as long as the equipment stays dry. Through a window is also wonderful (from outside in the rain.
  11. Great ideas everyone! My next wedding is later in Oct. and the bride is concerned with rain and wanted outdoor photos as the hall on the outside is VERY NICE, but the inside not so much. I also have a set of white bridal party umbrellas if they are willing to venture outside for a while.
  12. Can you do that with group pictures, isolate the group? I always found that I needed at least a 5.6 f stop, I take a background with me just in case for those group photos.
  13. You can isolate a group if you place the members on the same plane. Otherwise, no, you need a smaller f stop to get all of members in focus, particularly if using a longer focal length to narrow the background.
    Another thought, going along with Marc's suggestion. Sometimes, when I needed something extremely handy for a background, I just use the area around the cake, and the cake as a background. The cake table is usually nicely decorated.
  14. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    For the B&G Portraiture, we can use the Wedding Party as the OoF Background - this works very well for short 3/4 to tight 1/2 shots.

  15. 1. Go buy several large rain umbrellas. Use them as part of a few shots.
    2. Dragging the shutter may cause more problems if it is dark, but try it anyway.
    3. Consider bringing a background & umbrella flash.
    4. Try putting couple at the entrance with doors open & shoot from the inside out, let the background be overexposed. Got to shoot camera on manual,
    That is the part of wedding photography is tough !

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