A few weeks ago, I shot by far the scariest ceremony I have ever been a part of… scary in a photography sense, not scary at all in terms of my amazing couple.

Lauren and Will got married the night before daylight savings time changed over and it was planned perfectly to go along with an outdoor, sunset ceremony. For some reason, the sun decided to descend a little more rapidly than they had planned, and my team had to be on their toes to make sure it was captured perfectly. In a matter of 3 to 4 minutes our light went from sun kissed dusk light, as seen here …

To complete darkness by the time Lauren was down the aisle, as seen here…

One word – WOWZA.

So, in a matter of 30 seconds, I had to go from natural light settings to a four flash set-up that changed basically every setting on my camera. SCARY. This ceremony officially became the one I am most proud of because WE NAILED IT. I am not saying that everything is/was perfection (because perfection is never possible)- but I was so happy with the light that we were able to create. How did we do it? We meticulously planned ahead in anticipation of this happening.

Years ago, my new little photographer self probably would have thought, “oh, I’ll just use the flash on top of my camera and pray it works out.” But, why wouldn’t that work? Well, I could’ve made it work and gotten enough light to at least make my couple visible, but the light would’ve been flat, boring, and basically amateur looking. Instead, we set up three lights off camera, out of eyesight of the guests and used the ones on our camera as a safeguard. Also, the flash on our camera is not going to reach my couple for a wide shot and with a stinkin’ castle in the background – I for SURE wanted a wide shot. When we set the lights, we had to basically guess our settings based on experience and decide exactly what we would want lit and what we would want to be in the shadows. In the end, we got directional light in all the right places, we even backlit on a few shots to add a little sparkle.

Absolutely no one in the non-photography world would know or care why this ceremony was technically so tough to shoot, but I am so very proud of what we were able to do. The pressure of wedding days is palpable for these types of reasons. This is the absolute most important day of these peoples lives and it’s up to us to create something they can show their grandkids. Now, will their grandkids know we shot with 4 strategically placed lights, blah blah blah – no. But, their eye will know it’s a beautifully lit photo… and to me, that’s all that matters. They’ll look at an image like this next one and think, oh my little grandparents are just so precious… and I will be in an old folks home, looking at this picture thinking, “man, look at how great that directional light is, look at that side light…”

I’ll end with a photo that Amanda captured – dang she’s good! We are only as strong as our weakest link, and I can say for certain that Amanda is an amazing strength on our team. Her technical skill is swoon-worthy and I absolutely can always count on her in tough shooting situations like these.

Here’s what I love about this image: Lauren and Will are lit perfectly, with directional light, and everyone else is background shadow. That is exactly what we planned, and yay us, that is exactly how it turned out!

So, if you see me on a wedding day and I have on my thinking face, it is probably because I am pondering how to do this thing the best way. I am thinking of all kinds of dorky things like directional light, light and shadows, anticipating changes in light, and possibly what kind of cake will be served later.

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