Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sunny 16 Rule - A VALUABLE Wedding Day Photography Tip

If many of you "cringe" at the thought of having to shoot the formals at a wedding, trust me honey, you are NOT alone! I remember when I first started shooting weddings how paralyzing this was, and although it's still a pain in the neck, time and practice as well as constant practicing has helped me a lot. Although being a photographer, one has to realize, we will NEVER know it all, but having that "can do" attitude sure makes it look like we do, and THIS is essential for putting your clients and the wedding party at ease! I cannot express the importance of the following some very important steps to ensure that this process goes as smoothly and as briefly as possible.

  1. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION! Scout out your location prior to the wedding day, Preferably, do this near the time of your actual shoot. For example if the ceremony ends at 3:00 p.m., you will most likely be shooting formals and portraits from 3:15 - 4:00 or so. Visit and scout out the location near the same "shooting time."
  2. LOOK for shadows, shade, dabbled light, etc.
  3. When meeting with your clients one of the crucial questions on your info sheet should be: SIZE of the entire wedding party including Bride & Groom
  4. PLAN on at lease ONE assistant, trust me, you can NOT do this alone unless you are seasoned
  5. Prepare of LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT! The SUNNY 16 RULE: Even in harsh sunny light, you will need to play a lighting war game with the sun. For example, look at this photo...See how many people? The posing, they are in the OPEN sunlight at or around 12:00 p.m. Now I could have easily placed them under the shade (as they begged), but I politely refused and tried to explain the shadows would be a nightmare. Specs on this shot 200 ss, 200 iso, and f14, with on camera Canon Speedlite 580 EXII. Keep in mind, Sunny 16 rule is usually 250 ss, 250 iso and f16, but on my Canon I feel that is a bit dark for my taste, adjust according to your taste but make sure you have the light as even as possible over each subject. My assistant is holding an off camera strobe Canon 430 XII just to the right of the camera angled diagonally at the group. I asked the group to close their eyes to avoid blinks and squints due to direct sun, and on the count of 1-2-3, they opened their eyes, I took the shot! We repeated this 3 times, and nailed this right out of the camera in LESS than 5 minutes! It did not help that they had the open bar going so they all wanted to go get a beer, and so we have to think quick folks!
  6. With this taken care of..let the party go have their fun and snatch the bride and groom for their mantle and portrait shots. It's so much can go with your clients and your assistant can stay close to the wedding party and capture other essentials such as reception room prior to having anyone enter, etc.

I am NOT trying to pretend I know it all, in this business, you simply cannot as there is so much to learn! But what I DO know, is I want to share my experience, so many pros like Scott Kelby, Dave Ziser and Joe McNally, Jerry Ghionis, Bambi Cantrell, and others have taught me so much, I want to be part of a community such as this!

Please feel free to comment and to ask away OR even better.....if YOU have a tip or two you would like to share with your fellow photographers, please send me a note, I would love to feature you and your tutorial!

Ok folks that's it for today! See some other examples here where the sunny 16 rule can help overpower sun and window glare!

The glare here with natural light was drowning out the gorgeous blue sky and palms in the background. This was the brides suite's actual window view of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, and I did NOT want to jeopardize it in the shot. Sunny 16 rule used here.....Again, my goal here was to make this look like a painting, truly the view from this room was amazing!!! These are the bridesmaids bouquets!

(Here is a sample of the same rule, using an off camera video light), my hubby's favorite shot!)

Cheers everybody!