There are so many different photography styles out there. “Light and airy,” “dark and moody,” “de-saturated,” etc. When hiring a wedding or portrait photographer, it’s important to find one whose personality jives with yours. It’s also important to find one whose photographic aesthetic (or style) resonates with you.
Over here at Lauren Baker Photography, we say our style is “bright and true to color.” But how do we consistently deliver bright and true to color photographs session after session and wedding after wedding?
Part of the equation is how I edit. Duh, right? However, it’s not the main ingredient. It’s more the chocolate frosting on top of the cake (ok…I’ve been eating a lot of sweets so food is on my mind lol). As with baking a cake, we need other ingredients to build a solid foundation for bright and true to color photographs.
You’ll want to have the following ingredients:
Ample natural light
Natural light is clean and allows colors to pop. Artificial light (light that doesn’t come from the sun) is either warm or cool depending on its temperature. Light temperature changes the appearance of color. It can also cast unwanted, unintended color onto the subject we’re photographing.
The more natural light that’s present in a location, whether it’s outside or inside, the brighter the photograph can be.
Pro Tip: When indoors, windows are natural light’s best friend. Select a getting ready room and wedding venue that has plenty of big windows in them. When your photographer is taking photos be sure to turn off all of the artificial lights.
Soft color palette
Dull colors do not pop as much vibrant colors. Dark colors are not as bright as light colors. You don’t necessarily have to avoid dark or pastel colors but this general rule of thumb is good to keep in mind.
For weddings, your color palette dictates the look of a majority of your event. From your flowers, reception decor, your wedding party’s dresses and suits, as well as your invitation suite…your color palette influences them all. For bright and true to color photographs, select a color palette that is colorful and reflects light well.
Pro Tip: colors that work nicely are soft green (sage is my fave), blush, light grey, baby blue, rose gold, and ivory. Dark colors, such as navy, can work well depending on A) the complimentary colors of your color palette and B) as long as there isn’t too much of the dark color in the photograph thereby overpowering the other colors.
Take portraits at an appropriate time of day
When possible, avoid taking portraits when the sun is directly overhead, when the sun’s light is at it’s harshest and shadows are at their darkest.
My personal sweet spot is when the sun is at a 45-degree angle to the horizon. In the summer, that’s between 3:00-6:00 p.m. In the winter, it’s earlier; around 2:00-3:30 p.m. In the spring and fall, it falls somewhere between 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Pro Tip: No matter what time of day we take portraits, if we’re shooting outside, it’s paramount to find an area with open shade andaccess to the sky. This is why I like taking portraits outside in locations with big trees.
Bonus Tip: trees and fields let me to play with foreground blur which is always fun. Foreground blur adds extra dimension and interest to any portrait.
Now that you know the three main ingredients for bright and true to color photos, what about locations?
I don’t have a hard and fast rule about what venues or locations work best as long as they fulfill the above requirements. That said, I do have some personal favorites that have worked well for me over the years:
Parks with open grassy knolls and big trees (ex: Lyndale Peace Garden)
Orchards and wineries (ex: Minnetonka Orchards)
Golf clubs and Country clubs (ex: Mendakata Country Club)
Country Barns – a note about barns: if the walls are dark or red, the darker the photo will be. Barns that have windows and let you open the barn doors to let natural light in work best. (ex: Golden Oak Farm)
And what about venues or locations to avoid? I’d never say you should “avoid” a venue or location but if you want bright and true to color photos, venues that are extremely dark, are windowless, or have dark red or orange walls are less ideal.