How To Deal With Poor Ceremony Lighting


I would lose sleep the night before a wedding worrying about what sort of lighting there would be during the ceremony. We all know that moment of complete panic when you walk into a venue that has no natural light, pot lights, or even worse florescent lights. Even candles can cause that initial "uh oh" feeling. I absolutely love my job, but the stressing over ceremonies had to stop. 

I created a system that drastically cuts down the stress before every wedding. It by no means turns poor lighting into golden hour, but it definitely takes off the pressure of getting perfect results in a less than perfect scenario. It's just what works for me, and if you have something that works for you I would love to hear about it in the comments!! Community is so great, so please feel free to share how you deal with low lit ceremony lighting! :)

1. Know what you're dealing with before the day of. Seriously be as prepared as possible. You can't always know the exact lighting that you'll be working in, even if you're able to see the venue beforehand the weather could be overcast and suddenly everything changes, but knowing the light set up you're walking into can at least help you mentally prepare. 

2. Communicate with the couple about it. Make sure they are aware how poor lighting can drastically affect the outcome of the images. This should take a lot of stress of of you! You don't need to feel like you have to give"perfect natural light results" when you're dealing with fluorescent bulbs or a dimly lit room. Expectation is everything. 

3. Know your camera's limits and invest in a low aperture lens. You don't want to jump into using an extremely high ISO without knowing how the images will turn out. Don't be afraid of a little grain, but make sure you go easy on the post processing or you can lose quality fast. Make sure you keep the integrity of the image. My go to lens is 50 mm 1.4, but investing in anything with a shallow depth of field (under 2.0) will really really help. 

4. If you have to use a super slow shutter speed try using a monopod. It will really help stabilize your camera but is still light enough to move around easily. I rarely use this, but it's so easy to just have with you in case. 


So there you have it. I hope that this helps you with some ideas on how to reduce stress of poor ceremony light. For me having a "system" I go through helps so much. And it also is fair for the couple to know how certain venues and lighting, or lack there of, will affect their images. There is only so much for you to do without having off camera lighting set up of your own, and if the more commercial wedding look isn't your style then don't even worry about it! :) 

If you would like me to go into more in depth about camera settings etc or answer any other questions let me know!