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How To Light Up Your Wedding
Feb 16, 2020

In short:

Fluorescent and cheap LED lights are hurting your pictures. They can cast a bad green/magenta tint on the image what our eyes can't really see (because we are just able to adapt to it), but our cameras can. Also their color spectrum is sooo limited, that we can't even see proper colors under their illumination. These can make your skin tones look weird on the pictures to the point that sometimes it can't even be corrected afterwards.
Recommended type of lights are incandescent (halogen or tungsten) and the so called "high CRI" full spectrum LEDs. These are the closest to the light quality of the sun, therefor they make good imagery.
Also try to make sure the lighting is consistent across the room/area, as different light sources (different temperature, color) are not very appealing on pictures.

In long:

Photography and videography are all about the light. The very basic function of a camera is to capture the physical light rays that are hitting the sensor to - ideally - create an image that appeals. Just like our own eyes, a camera sees the world in the exact same way as we do, although the camera technology is not that sophisticated just yet as the human vision. It has it's limits that we have to work around. Our eyes can easily adapt to almost any light condition, but not our cameras. As a photographer we try not just to recreate the vision we see in our eyes, but also we try to enhance it either to help convey a strong message, tell a story or capture an emotion. For this we have a whole range of artistic tools at our disposal to help make that picture able to catch our attention, to create a "look" that serves the story of the image. Let it be a bright and airy look where everything is wrapped in light...

...or a more dramatic one with high contrast in the shadows.


For this we control the light. We control the direction, the quality and the color of course. Photographers normally have a good understanding in natural and ambient lighting and they learn to get the most out of it, the way to work around them or enhance them if necessary. Every decent photographer knows how to control light to create art. 
Sometimes - well most of the time on weddings at least - we don't have a full control and we just have to work with what we get. We don't always get that beautiful sunset everybody wants, we don't get to choose what room our people are going to prepare in (if it is a bright and airy space with many windows around and daylight or if it is dark corner of the hotel with one ceiling light in the middle), we don't get to choose what lights do the venues put up in their halls. To help all this we use our own lights. Our best tools are the flashes, strobes or constant video lights and light modifier in some cases. With all that we can quickly change the whole look of the place. We either keep the mood of the original ambient and just give it a slight "pop" here and there...



...or we "kill the ambient" (overpowering the existing light basically with our strobes) and create something different.

It is easy to see that our job is a constant battle with the light, and sometimes it is a HUGE challenge to come up with something decent if we're just not in a good position, don't have control over it or it is just that bad to begin with.
That's why it's important to take these into consideration in the planning phase.

When picking your venue always ask what lighting they have or what will they put up for your wedding!
Even better if your wedding planner has a good understanding of the importance of lights. Not just to create a lovely atmosphere, but to make sure the ambient lighting is consistent in temperature and color across the place: not having warm lights at one end and cool lights the other end of the room, or having a line of light fixtures along the wall and one bulb among them has a different color than the others, etc. That's just so annoying for us photographers and it is a really an easy fix once it's brought to attention. (Just get it replaced, I guess it is not a huge investment for the venue to buy a few bulbs if you pay them a small fortune for your wedding, right?. :) ) Of course we try to battle it, or put up our own lights, but sometimes it is just impossible to make it look good if - all things considered - it is just a visual mess of different light sources.

In addition to all this if you hire a videographer, then the refresh rate of the lights can be a concern too. Bulbs working on the AC power line frequency are normally vibrating at 100 Hz which is the common solution and doesn't really affect the video quality as long as the camera settings are right. But LEDs are a different animal. Their refresh rate can be anywhere between mains and several hundreds Khz and sometimes they will flicker on the videos. The cheap dimmable LEDs are affected the most. The best we can do here is to set them to full brightness.
If this doesn't help then the only remedy is to replace them with better quality, flicker free if possible.
Fluorescent in the other hand is so much worse! They give out light which is missing a big chunk of the red spectrum, which can make skin tones look greenish and unhealthy, they are usually different colors from each other even if the tubes are the same type, and they change color during the power cycle! This is just ruining the pictures.
Luckily these are getting obsolete slowly as LEDs are taking over, but better safe than sorry.

The flickering effect on a photo (see the horizontal green & magenta stripes):

The photographer and videographer of course will do their best to help this on location, but fixing mitigating a flicker in a video in post production is a pain in the arse and will always compromise the video quality. As for photographs, the flickering is even worse as there is not much we can do about it really. It's almost impossible to remove them in post. We'd basically have to repaint the image digitally. Not to mention the costs would be overbearing for you as a consumer if we were to photoshopping individually a hundred photos or more.

With that being said wish you all the best, good luck in your planning and if you need a second opinion or expert advice then send me a message or download my Wedding Planning Guide! :)

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