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Wedding photography lighting: Four things you need to know

Making your prints look professional in wedding photography involves a few techniques. Lighting is one aspect of professional photography. Wedding photography lighting is crucial for creating amazing photos. Photographing dimly lit subjects won't produce the results you're hoping for. In this article, we are going to figure out everything you want to know about the lighting, including:

  1. Is natural or artificial lighting better for wedding photography?
  2. In artificial lighting types, is flash or continuous the better for wedding photography lighting setup?
  3. What to consider when choosing lighting gear.
  4. Three wedding photography lighting tips.

Which is the best lighting for wedding photography, natural or artificial?

One of the first considerations for wedding photographers when visualizing an image is the type of light - natural or artificial? Both have a distinct appearance as well as a separate set of pros and cons.

However, photographers must first recognize that there is rarely a "right" method to light a shot. Using a photography light is sometimes the only method to produce a technically accurate, crisp image in low light. Most of the time, the lighting gear you use or do not use is an issue of personal preference, not of right or wrong.

So, how do you decide when to utilize natural light and when to use artificial light?

First, rule out the obvious – photographers aren't always allowed to use flash for church wedding photography lighting. Before the wedding, check with the officiant because many ceremonies do not allow flash photography. Remember to be respectful and avoid disturbing a peaceful moment with a series of obtrusive flashes of light. The second thing to consider is what light already exists in the space. When the light in the room is already lovely, turn off the lighting gear.

Wedding photography lighting equipment is helpful in the following scenarios. It can give interest to a scene if the existing light is dull. It increases contrast in photos and helps create dimensional lighting even on an overcast day. Furthermore, it is a solution to a variety of difficulties that may arise in wedding photography, such as an underexposed couple or an overexposed sky. When the natural light is already lovely, an artificial light might add exactly the perfect details to the photo instead of spoiling it.

Flash VS continuous lighting for wedding photography: Which is better?

The answer is…it depends! Each system has its pros and cons. You can decide which one to use according to your wedding photography requirements or have them work together for you.

Pros and cons of continuous lighting

Continuous lights are always-on artificial lights that photographers employ during a session to flatter their subjects by casting light (or shadows!) in the right places.


  • What you see is exactly what you get. You understand where the shadows will fall, how the light will fall on your subject, and so on.
  • It makes it a lot easier to learn lighting techniques.
  • It's simple to use because you're not fiddling with camera triggers or receivers. Your lights don't have to communicate with your camera!
  • It can work for videoing.
  • A basic kit is less expensive than a basic flash kit.


  • Most basic kits are underpowered and don’t offer enough light to shoot like you want to.
  • Some may become extremely hot, posing a fire danger to your equipment or a burn risk to your customer if something is pushed over.
  • It requires a continuous power source. Cords can pose a tripping hazard and it may not be a good choice for outdoor wedding photography lighting.

Pros and cons of using flash for wedding photography lighting

Flash or strobe lighting is intermittent. When you press the shutter, the flash activates, briefly lighting up your subject and then turning off.


  • It is quite portable. You may also acquire battery-powered speedlights and strobes to avoid having to deal with cables.
  • It is more powerful. That means you can photograph outside on a bright day with a bright background and yet have enough power to properly expose your subjects.
  • Strobes can also be used to halt motion. They work perfectly for action shots.
  • It can work from a really long way and still light the subject correctly.


  • Learning how to utilize flash correctly requires a lot more time and work.
  • Because you can't see the light, flash requires additional tuning throughout a session.
  • It can’t be used for video.
  • It can occasionally cause health problems in people who have underlying issues.

What to consider for continuous light for wedding photography?

As aforementioned, constant light earns its position in wedding photography for its benefits. However, not all continuous lighting equipment works perfectly for your wedding photography. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when looking for one.

  • Is the light dimmable?
  • Is it zoomable?
  • Is there a variable color temperature?
  • Can it be mounted on a tripod?

Additionally, you should be aware of what constant illumination entails. In comparison to flash illumination, they are different in quality and will provide distinct results.

Three tips for lighting for wedding reception photography

With so many uncontrollable factors, receptions might be the most difficult aspect of a wedding. You are confined to a dim environment and are compelled to use the DJ's lighting setup. Here are three tips for you to overcome some difficulties that you may encounter in wedding photography lighting.

Examine the situation & position your lights

By preparing for what's to come, you are setting yourself up for success. Enter the scene and deal with the issue areas. Place flashes in the room's far corners where you know you will need a boost of light or where a backlight is needed to make subjects stand out against dark backgrounds. To eliminate any shadows being cast by any of the seated guests, raise them to a height of approximately 6 feet. Also, zoom all the way in to avoid any light leakage.

Ensure consistent color temperature

If the light being added is the wrong sort, there is no benefit in doing so. Adjust the color temperature of your wedding photography lighting kit to the ambient lighting in the space. To balance the light in your scene, adjust a Custom Color Temperature setting in-camera based on the temperature of the ambient light (such as tungsten, daylight, etc.).

Use constant light to light up flower petal toss photography

A bride and groom might depart their wedding reception in a variety of innovative and grandiose ways. A flower petal toss is one such departure, and we will show how to cover this form of exit with a steady light. 

Light onto the bride's side while lighting the couple so that the bride's face is better lighted for a more appealing image. Instead of flooding the picture with light, the light should be zoomed in or gridded to highlight the couple.

Throughout the petal throw, make sure to shoot continually, obtaining many shots with minimum movement. To obtain the greatest expressions, unencumbered by flower petals, you may need to construct a composite during post-production.

[For more wedding photography lighting tips, check the article How to use video light for wedding photography and videography?]