If you are beginning to plan your wedding or you are photographer looking to develop a niche for yourself in the wedding photography industry, you'll probably hear the term "natural light wedding photographer" more and more. This is because it is an area of photography that is really quite beautiful and is being used a lot more for weddings.
Why? Because it is a method in which the photographer is going to use only the existing light (some say natural, ambient, reflected, etc.) to the best advantage possible, and all without a "modifier". This means, without a flash, and most couples love the idea of exchanging vows or enjoying their reception without the constant threat of being blinded by a flash every now and then. Even more enjoy the thought of pictures in which no one is washed out, startled looking or equipped with "laser eyes" because of a flash.
Of course, being a natural light wedding photographer is far more complex than it might sound. After all, it means being able to rapidly assess all available lighting in any given setting. It also means know exactly how all of the light (and any shadows it creates) will interact with the subjects (the couple, guests, wedding party and so on). It also means that your compositional skills have got to be at the very top of their game if you are to create shots based on the light and your camera's ability to work with it.
Does it mean you shouldn't hire someone who touts themselves as a natural light wedding photographer because it will limit the shots they can make? No. Take the time to explore the portfolios of all such photographers and get a taste for their particular approach to it.
Also consider that none of the posturing, waiting for the photographer to adjust lights and create a "photo shoot" atmosphere is involved. This is because they will already have the camera set where it needs to be and will situate their subjects in the most flattering and effective places. It can allow couples and entire groups to be far more relaxed and casual than more traditional, flash photography.
In fact, it is such a popular method for photography that it ranks as one of the most preferred in engagement photo shoots. It is because natural light photography is some of the most romantic. Think about it for a moment - a sunset or late afternoon at the sea. A couple walks along the sands and that oh so flattering afternoon sunlight illuminates them gently, flatteringly and perfectly. Why would you want to alter that sort of radiant atmosphere? You wouldn't, and it is why so many people look for a wedding photographer with the skill to apply to their wedding day images.
The Natural Wedding
Of course, if we stick with the example of the seaside photo session, we can realize that a skilled photographer knows how to use any and all reflected light in the ideal ways. They will never need any gear that creates light to be reflected into the scene. The natural light wedding photographer will understand when to rely on backlighting, when to use ambient lighting and even when a sun flare, reflections or other light will give just the right look.
This is pretty important to most couples who want a more natural feel to their wedding imagery, and especially to those eager for an unplugged wedding (one without cell phones and other devices).
"Okay," you might say, "those great shots I've seen of couples at the beach or in the dappled light beneath a shady tree on a sunny day are great for natural light, but what about all of the indoors shots? The hotel suite where I'll get ready, the dimmer light of the reception venue?"
These issues are not really a challenge to a skilled natural light photographer. If a space has any natural light, such as that coming in from a larger window, the photographer will know to place the subjects in the right space to effectively use that light. If they are "stuck" with unflattering overhead or artificial light, they may convert images into black and white shots to give a wonderful result without unpleasant discoloration that would come from artificial lights.
Choosing the Right Provider
Any photographer who is worth hiring as a natural light wedding photographer will never say they limit themselves to working without a flash. That would be dishonest. They will tell you that the majority of the work is going to be done without artificial light. However, they will also tell you that they use the tools of their trade when needed. This might mean a flash to bounce off of a wall or ceiling to get good reception shots. After all, they do need to document the event. The good news is that they are so skilled with using light that is indirect, that they can make amazing indoor shots without that glaring lights or unflattering angles.
Because you will want to meet with a few photographers before settling on the one for your big day, make sure that you ask any natural light photographers for examples of indoor and outdoor shots of wedding clients. Ask them to tell you about their approach where your chosen venue is concerned. Ask them to discuss instances when they will use flash photography and be sure to ask all of the other key questions for a wedding photographer in general.
To be a natural light wedding photographer means that the photographer can really think on their feet but that they also plan ahead. They'll scope out all of the places your wedding day is going to include to be sure of the ways they can shoot great photos. Natural light is some of the gentlest, most flattering and photogenic. It can be a part of your wedding day memories if you take the time to choose the right natural light wedding photographer.