As Christmas draws closer, and the weather grows colder, it is undeniable that winter is here. Although the existence of a UK summer is debatable, wintertime weddings are growing increasingly popular. On the practical side, they can be more cost-affective, but they also allow couples to create a more glamorous and magical night with cinematic scenery, candlelit venues, and snow covered grounds.
Whilst this may sound magical and wonderful to the bride – it can be quite daunting for the photographer. Darker nights, candlelight (or fairylights), and snow, bring challenges alongside the beauty. Shooting with flash can detract from the atmosphere, and shooting without can leave you with hardly any image at all. So, as a wedding photographer, how do you tackle these tricky conditions to create magical photographs that reflect the wonder and splendour of a winter wedding?
We asked Caroline Weiss, the photographer behind CandySnaps Wedding Photography, how she overcomes the challenges that winter weddings can pose. Caroline is a proud and deserving member of both the WPJA and Love Olio, and after starting out in photography over 11 years ago, Caroline has photographed a plethora of winter weddings and now has her approach to the day, and her approach to taking the images, down to a fine art. Now, over to Caroline…
Making Magic with Winter Weddings
The Aim of the Day:
I read an article once that described winter weddings as having a warmth about them – not just in terms of light, but in terms of the atmosphere that surrounds the whole event. Winter weddings generally feel more intimate – perhaps, in part, due to low lighting and to the cold weather – it seems to bring people closer together. My main aim is to capture this with my photography.
In terms of shooting, it’s just a different mindset than in the summer. The main difference compared with a summer wedding is the lack of light, along with the shorter days, but with the sun being so low in the sky this time of year, it can make for some stunning images.
Couples getting married in the winter tend to aspire to creating a cosy, intimate ambience by using lots of candles, fairy lights or even sparklers. They might even choose a dark atmospheric venue for their reception, as it’s romantic.
Approaching the Limitations of a Winter Wedding:
In my pre-wedding consultation with the couple I will make them aware of some of the difficulties we as photographers will face when photographing a wedding in the winter – most people don’t take this into account and think that just because we use very expensive equipment we will always be able to take great pictures. It’s therefore important to make them aware of the limitations and work with them to create the best images possible. I like to be prepared for any eventuality so I can feel calm and concentrate on getting the shots.
My general rule for winter weddings is that I don’t take any on that will take me more than an hour on main roads to get to – I just wouldn’t want the stress before I even start shooting let alone the possibility that my clients could end up with no photographer because I’m stuck in the snow on my way to their venue.
I will tell them to aim for an early (latest 2pm) ceremony or if this is not possible to have their couple shoot prior to the ceremony so that we can make the most of the beautiful soft winter light. If this is also not an option we will work out a plan for some great images either inside or out when it’s dark.
Inside vs Outside:
For the inside shots I tend to really focus on the intimacy, use a large aperture and get my couple to snuggle in close and I will use a lot of b/w in post-production as it really brings across the romance and atmosphere in my opinion.
For outdoor shots in the dark or fading light I like to focus on the building or the surroundings and use a prop with a strong colour for example.
If the venue is going to be really dark and has unflattering lighting, I also discuss the possibility of having the couple shoot at a different location that is close by – this can be really fun and I like to sometimes even get on a bus or jump into a taxi with them to get to the location which can make for some great images.
The Shoot Specs:
I generally shoot with very fast prime lenses (35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2 and 85mm f1.2) and two camera bodies so I don’t need to waste time and change lenses frequently. For parts of the day (when outdoors and it’s freezing cold) I need to work twice as fast so my couple and cameras don’t get too cold. I advise my winter Brides to bring along a pair of wellies or flats and invest in a faux fur cape or jacket to keep them warm and I will have my big coat and fingerless gloves at the ready and I always carry around a lens cloth in case the lenses steam up with the change in temperatures.
Indoors, I will try and work with the available lighting as much as possible and am not afraid to use a high ISO, which I know my cameras can handle. If flash is required however I use it with a quality diffuser and as bounce flash only. That way I find it doesn’t ruin the atmosphere and guarantees some nice shots especially during the dancing.
We just wanted to say thank-you to Caroline for writing this post for us! We hope that everyone is having a great festive season, and that any Winter Weddings you have booked in are as magical, wonderful, and fun for you as they will be for your couples. We’ll be back with more contributor posts in the New Year!