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Ask the Expert: Local Wedding Photographer Chases Natural Light for Dreamy Results

Photographer Erin McGeever

Erin McGeever is the owner and lead photographer of Grace & Ardor Co., a wedding and portrait photography studio in Bucks County servicing the Greater Philadelphia area. Erin specializes in capturing timeless and romantic images and is always chasing the best light. Here, she answers your questions about the importance of having the most beautiful natural light on your wedding day.

What is natural light photography and what are its benefits?

Natural light photographers prioritize using ambient light from the sun to capture moments, rather than using artificial light, such as a flash. Photos taken in natural light are often described as soft, airy and glowing with low contrast. By using the light already naturally occurring around us, photographs shot in natural light tend to match what the human eye sees.

When handled correctly, natural light is very flattering. This type of light helps to soften skin tones, highlight facial features and even smooth imperfections.

It’s biggest benefit? Golden Hour: the hour before sunset that bathes our atmosphere in warm, golden light.

How can I plan ahead to ensure my wedding day has good light?

If you are drawn to photos that have the characteristics of natural light photography, it’s important to consider your surroundings when choosing your venues, getting-ready locations and portrait locations.

Places that typically have the best type of natural light are shaded, backlit by the sun at Golden Hour, or near windows and doors that flood indirect light.

Check out your venue’s natural light at the time of day you’ll actually be in the space. East facing windows will have harsher light in the morning than west facing windows, so a room with beautiful diffused light in the afternoon will likely have harsher sunlight in the morning.

Plan to turn off lamps during the day where appropriate. Mixing ambient and artificial light, say from overhead recessed lighting, will often result in confused lighting scenarios in your photos.

What happens when the sun sets? Is it possible to achieve the same look at night?

Skilled natural light photographers will know how to properly light your reception with flash in a way that fills the room with bright, even, artificial light. While you won’t get the same beautiful glowing tones that sunlight creates, the look will feel consistent in brightness and softness.

If indoors, be sure to check out your reception venue’s ceilings. If they are white or a lighter neutral shade, your photographer will be able to use that to help bounce light from their flash to fill the room. If the ceilings are black or dark wood, it will be more difficult to achieve a light-filled room, as the darkness absorbs the light.

Feeling lost? Refer to your photographer for their favorite locations and portrait spots. You’d be surprised how some of the most everyday places can be transformed into the most beautiful with good light.

To see Erin’s work and inquire about wedding photography collections, click here.