How to get the bride in a better lighting situation

When photographing weddings, everything happens very fast and it is critical as the person in charge of capturing memories, that we anticipate what is GOING to happen next. When we are out shooting a wedding we try and think ahead about what will soon happen (like the bride getting into the dress), and start thinking about where the best place for that to happen might be so we can shoot it really well.

We rarely have ideal conditions for capturing moments and when we were out shooting Bret & Jillian’s wedding in AL a few weeks back, it was no exception. We want to talk about two situations where the bride was not in an ideal location, and how we moved her to better lighting or a better place for moments to happen organically.


Scene One: Make-Up

The bride was getting her make-up done in this chair near the only decent light source in the room. As I walked over to chat with the bride and asses the lighting and composition situation, I noticed that the make-up artist was standing in the light and blocking it from hitting the bride in a flattering way. I also noticed that the center of the light source (the window) was not above the center of the eyes which means the shadows on her face would be pushed off to one side too heavily.

The first thing I did, was simply ASK. I said hi to the make-up artist and told her her work was looking amazing! Then I asked her if she minded scooting over to the side so we could have some awesome lighting to showcase HER work in the photos (notice that I wanted something from her, so I sold her on the benefit to HER for doing it). She smiled and said “no problem” and quickly did anything I needed. As I shot the images I decided to use the window as my fill light and use my flash bouncing off the wall/ceiling as my main light.

(I shot this image with my 100mm macro to get that ultra detailed look in the shot)


Scene Two: The Dress

Next, I knew the bride was going to be getting in the dress in this room. The only problem was, the overall lighting sucked pretty bad and there simply was not enough space to use anything but wide angle lenses to shoot it. Not cool for taking flattering portraits of the bride!



So I asked the bride and the ladies to move into the nearby screened in porch to finish getting ready. Because the bride trusted me through the relationship that I built with her, she said that was totally cool! I moved 3 tables and chairs out of the space, moved a coat rack, and then had all this space, with some decent natural light, to photograph the final details of the bride getting ready.



(image by Matt Brighton)

Simply asking your client to move to places that help you tell their story is a great habit to get into because it truly helps you get great images that your clients will love!

Have you had any crazy stories of really difficult places to shoot in? Share the story below so we can all hear from YOU!

(For a list of ALL the gear we use at weddings, download the entire PDF for free at