How To Shoot Wedding Portraits in Full Sun – Image of the Week #415

Hello September! This summer has been a whole heap of challenges, right? I feel like there were just so many additional hurdles to jump through to do our jobs and one of the biggest was the weather. Shooting weekend after weekend in extreme heat and direct sun is not what we are used to in the UK. Cue lots of photographers dragging guests over to the only bit of shade that can fit everyone in for the ‘big group shot’.

It’s either that or you embrace the hard light and work with it. I’ve always loved hard light – it can be really flattering if you get it right as it creates very defined jaws but you need to be careful that eye sockets don’t become dark holes. Getting your subjects to tilt their heads up towards the light helps and if they cannot handle it, I just get them to close their eyes.

This summer, it was almost impossible to avoid shooting in full sun and so this masterclass from the wonderful Jo Greenfield shows a way to fully embrace it to great effect. This looks like it was shot in a studio, so it brings a fashion edge to their portraits which isn’t easy to achieve at many wedding venues.

As Jo says she was out of her comfort zone but this is often where the real skill of a photographer comes into play. Your most creative work is never done in your comfort zone.

Canon R5 | Canon 35mm | f/18 | 1/320| ISO 300

Dawn Charles Presets (tweaked)

What Jo Said…

“It was one of those sunny days, very hot, very harsh light and I commented to the venue staff that the cake looked like it had had enough. It was literally the leaning tower of buttercream by 3pm! So we got the couple in to do a fake cake cutting. I turned around and saw the harsh shadows casting on the wall and floor and decided to use it.( which by the way is not my usual style) My daily self pep talk after the last two years is simply “roll with it Jo” and so that’s what we did. Sat on the floor and hoped for the best.

The whole day was difficult purely because of the lack of cloud and intense heat. Bright harsh lighting that just sucks the depth out of every image. I was on photo and film on this wedding so my reactions had to be quick fire and constantly flitting between. I shoot manual on both photo and film so it’s a constant battle to react to changing light. I had a ND filter on my 35mm to try and help the harsh light and it did to some extent but shadows will be shadows. I also took the contrast in camera down and adjusted my WB to a few stops warmer for this particular day as the sky was so blue. I’m used to overcast dull grey days in the Lake District so sunny 3pm Devon sunshine threw me out of my comfort zone.”