I am a wedding photographer in Atlanta, Georgia with 25 years of experience. I have been photographing weddings Atlanta for over 10 years now. I am the owner of Atlanta Artistic Weddings my website is www.atlantaartisticweddings.com. I have been asked to talk about photographing weddings at night.
When I went to college I was a painter. So when I think of photography I think of painting with light. I am obsessed with the light. I love the warm outdoor light to enjoying the challenges of using indoor light. The first thing I do when I book a bride is look at my Google calendar where I have amended the sunrise and sunset calendar to it. That way I will know what the outdoor light will be before and after the wedding. I will also know how to plan my shoots for the best locations and times to take advantage of the sun.
Like every photographer when I get to a facility I survey for light. I will walk around the building and look for locations and then survey the interior. I look for windows, and sources for artificial light. I also look for places where the most dramatic light is located. To find good dramatic light involves looking for what light I can adjust and areas that have the most contrast to the most well lit areas against the dark areas of a facility.
In Atlanta there is a growing trend to use art galleries as reception halls. It makes sense because they are usually consist of a large spaces and are used to accommodating caters at art receptions. They also the advantage of having lots of adjustable lighting for the variety art shows they accommodate.
Recently I had the opportunity to shoot a reception at an art gallery. If you have ever observed that gallery lights are usually on tracts and they use spot lights to accent the art work on display. When I was surveying the area I saw that where they had a spot light on a piece of art in the center of the room. When I looked at that I came up with an idea. I thought since the wedding is going to be at night we could cut off all the lights except the one accent light and move the sculpture and replace it with the bride since she is a piece of art work also! My bride was so excited with the idea! When I arrived before any one got there we cut off the lights and moved the sculpture and replaced it with the bride. The results were stunning! I use a Canon 5d Mark II. I simply increased my ISO to 3200 and used my 2.8 zoom lens so I would not have to use a flash. It was such a simple idea but came across with so much drama and power! It is one of my favorite photos.
There is also a trend to use sparklers at night for the wedding exit. Like I said before I think of painting with light. About 20 minutes before what I thought was the exit I grabbed a couple of groomsmen from the wedding and asked them to help me with a shoot. I placed my camera on the rear of my car. I then set the camera to shutter priority and lined up the groomsmen. I told each one of them to make a letter with the lit sparkler and spell out “LOVE”. I lit the sparklers and made a couple of exposures and boom! We have a great photo with some dramatic fun lighting. Just as I finished the “LOVE” shot they announced they moved up time for exit. I grabbed my camera ran to the bride and groom at the same time changing my settings to aperture priority and cutting on my flash which is no easy task in the dark. I just enough time to catch the exit right after the “LOVE” shot with no time to spare!
So wrap this up there is a certain amount of serendipity when it comes to shooting weddings. But the better you get at looking at light sources given to you and taking advantage of them the better your photographs will become. I know you with lots of practice you will be happy with the results!