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Wedding Photography Techniques: Part 2 (Light)

At weddings I often get asked by enthusiastic photographers about equipment, and in particular what their next piece of kit should be. Noting that they already have half decent digital SLRs, my usual reply is that the equipment is much less important than the photographer. It is much better to develop style through a better understanding of composition and lighting than worry about a marginal gain in sharpness that an expensive lens might offer you for example. One thing that really strikes me is that many photographers have not grasped the difference between the quantity and the direction/quality of light. The quantity of light can easily be adapted to (especially with digital cameras) by changing the exposure.

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But good photographers must be able to “see the light”. Assessing the direction of light is not always obvious in non-sunny conditions but it is important for making an image more visually interesting (eg more contrast on the subject’s face); or helping ot model the poses outlined in section 1 above; or avoiding ugly shadows in the eye sockets from toplighting. Not understanding the difference often means flat pictures and/or overuse of flash lighting. On a grey day, you might need to “create” direction by placing your subjects under the edge of a canopy or tree. But seeing the light does not just apply to posing either. It also has important consequences for where you should position yourself, for example, during documentary shots.

That is not to say that equipment is not important, because it is. But good equipment will always get overshadowed by lack of technique and creativity. I sometimes use a fisheye lens to add drama to my photos.

For the record, my principal equipment is a Canon EOS 1D Mark III, Canon 24-105 F4L IS, Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, Canon 15mm, Canon 50 F1.8 MkII and a Speedlite 580EX. I also have back-up equipment on standby.

All images copyright Gary Roebuck AMPA ABIPP.