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Because the Night Belongs to Lovers

May 10th, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Shoot  |  4 Comments

Photography…After Dark

Being a photographer here in New England, we have to face the onset of night a lot earlier than other parts of the country…especially in the fall when the wedding season starts to come into full swing. Learning to take fun and creative portraits in the dark becomes a necessity. And that’s how it started for me – trying to find creative places to take portraits at the end of October, when it was dark by the end of the ceremony. But somewhere along the line, I found that I really liked the different aesthetic of creating portraits without any natural light. Now I do it at every wedding I shoot (even the weddings in July, when it doesn’t get dark until well into the reception). There’s something romantic and mysterious about the night, and I want to try and capture that in my night-time shots. This article discusses some tips and tricks that I use for creating portraits in the dark.

Before I can get night time portraits, I have to get the couple to agree. This is an easy one in the fall, when there is no way to avoid taking photos after dark, but it may take some convincing when you have already had time with the bride and groom during daylight hours. I actually like to mention it during the cocktail hour photo session. Just when they are having the most fun, I let them know that I’d like to take a few photos after nightfall as well, and ask them if we can escape the reception for a few minutes. I have yet to be refused! Often there is a group photo or two that we have to take during the reception (college friends, etc). This is a great opportunity to sneak the bride and groom away for some night photos.

Once I have the couple out at night, there are a couple of things I look for. First off is an available light source that I can use to illuminate my subjects. A quick and easy one is a streetlight or front door lamp. Often this is all of the light I need to create the look I am shooting for. Since these lights are usually dimmer than the available light at daytime, I usually crank my ISO up and use my fastest lenses to capture the available light.

If the available light isn’t enough to creating the desired look, than I will add light. My favorite way to add light is with small video lights. They are easy to point (I typically snag a groomsman for the task of holding the light), have low enough power to balance well with the low light at night, and are a close match to the color temperature of most outdoor light sources. A flash gelled to match the outside light source, and turned down to minimum power will also create the desired effect. The idea is to use the external light for background illumination, and the video light or flash for the main light on the subject. This works particularly well when there are “Christmas tree” lights in the background.

The last thing I will look for at night is large light sources that I can use to silhouette the couple.

Night-time portraits can add a new dimension to your coverage, and give the couple a little break from the frantic activity of the reception. That’s a win for both of you!

About Jamison Wexler

Jamison Wexler has written 15 post in this blog.

Jamie is a Boston Wedding Photographer who believes every client is a rockstar.



  1. Kristina O'Brien says:

    May 13th, 2011 at 7:12 pm (#)

    Thanks for the fantastic tips. Gorgeous shots!

  2. Admin says:

    May 13th, 2011 at 7:45 pm (#)

    Thank you Kristina!


  3. kevin couture says:

    May 16th, 2011 at 6:19 am (#)

    Great stuff Jamie, thank you !

  4. Admin says:

    May 16th, 2011 at 7:24 am (#)

    Thanks Kevin!


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