Photographing Indoors vs. Outdoors on Your Wedding Day

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Any photographer will tell you that lighting is the most important factor in getting a great shot. Fabulous lighting can turn an ordinary picture into something magical. The shots with good lighting are those that need little to no editing and still look amazing.

The biggest variable in lighting is whether photos are being taken indoors or outdoors. This one aspect will create two totally different effects. Before you decide whether you want your wedding photography sessions to be indoors or outdoors read about the key differences below.

Indoor Lighting

  • You have more control- since artificial lighting is being used the photographer has complete control over the affects.
  • You don’t have to worry about adjusting the focus to blur out a background with people, etc. The focus will certainly affect the exposure.
  • You can schedule photo sessions for just about any time of day.
  • Shots will be consistent, but there may be less variety compared to outdoor lighting because making adjustments takes time.
  • Indoor lighting can come from a variety of sources including natural light from windows. This should be taken into consideration before setting up additional lights.
  • There may be several different types of lighting that have to be balanced.

Outdoor Lighting

  • The lighting affects and brightness depend on the time of day.
  • Weather is always a consideration, and Mother Nature can make or break your photo session.
  • It has a richness to it that is hard to replicate with artificial lighting.
  • A few basic pieces of equipment may still be needed to diffuse strong sunlight and diminish shadows.
  • Outdoor settings can be unpredictable, but that can lead of unexpected and amazing shots.
  • Natural lighting will change with every passing minute. This means there will be variety, but the photographer has to know how to adjust to the changing circumstances to produce consistently good pictures.
  • As the day progresses the color of the light will change which can affect the white balance.
  • High noon should be avoided since the lighting can be harsh, shining directly down from above and casting hard shadows.
  • Open shaded areas provide diffused light, which creates a flattering soft appearance.
  • There are actually two magic hours – the first hour of sunlight in the day and the last hour of sunlight in the day. The richness is amazing, but you’ll have to work fast to make the most of it.
  • The sun’s brightness can be strategically used to add starbursts or sun flares to the shot.

Balancing the Two

Of course, you could have the best of both. If you have the right photographer and the right location, there are ways to balance indoor and outdoor lighting. The location will need to be scouted in advance to get a better understanding of how the natural lighting changes throughout the day. This will also depend on the direction that the windows and doors are facing. If you’re going for a shadowy, backlit affect all that’s needed is timing the lighting right as it comes through the window.

Matching indoor and outdoor light levels isn’t easy, but the affect can be stunning. It’s best to wait until the outdoor lighting is right and then adjust the indoor lighting to match. This is a fleeting moment so you have to be ready for it. Additional artificial lighting will also be needed to balance the color temperature of the different light sources.


At 1840 Events our team includes Austin wedding photographers that specialize in both indoor and outdoor photography. Contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss your wedding day wishes and the photography styles you like best.

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