I get a lot of questions about shooting in churches with flash and I’m thrilled when my brides ask. It shows me they understand that photography is the art of capturing light. Without it, images are washed out, flat and lifeless. But when church rules state ‘no flash photography’, it helps to have wicked awesome equipment like my Canon 5D Mark III. It can do some pretty amazing things in the absence of quality light.
During a wedding at Dexter Ave Baptist in Montgomery, it started raining and we lost lots of light during the ceremony but I bumped up the ISO and we still got great clear images. Later we went outside for the family formals at a nearby park which was good, since there were approximately 400 family members.
This past December, during another recent church weddings, I was allowed to shoot with restrictive flash. This means minimal flash to prevent being a distraction. But in order to capture more of the ceremony, I turned the flash off and used the ambient light and higher ISO knowing I would edit these in black and white. It was already dark outside and I had to rely on one chandelier and some Christmas lights. I know what my equipment is able to do so my clients got the best of both worlds with gorgeously dramatic images.
In cases where I am restricted to a distance, or worse, hampered with a dark room and low lighting, I always request to find a secondary area to shoot formal portraits. Brides may not understand my preferences at first, but once I explain that I have their best interest at heart, they’ve happily relied on my judgment. Case in point, a church wedding was held in a utilitarian building with high dark ceilings, poor lighting and no windows. It was a really big cave. The ceremony took place on a stage about four feet off the ground which meant formal portraits on the stage would have had a direct line of vision up someone’s nose. Trust me, you don’t want this. Instead, I scoped out a location the day before the wedding just outside on the sidewalk. The church grounds were vast, flat and green but there was lovely sea oats in flowers beds up against the side of the building. It was perfect. We got amazing portraits in beautiful open shade and my clients couldn’t have been happier!
Of course, occasionaly I get a wedding that takes place in a church with giant floor to ceiling windows and my heart sings. The lighting couldn’t be more beautiful! It’s not always like this, but don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.