Your Wedding Day & Light

All About Light

Lets talk about light and how it can effect the look and feel of your elopement or small intimate wedding. While I am fully confident in shooting your destination elopement or wedding in any lighting condition there are a few factors to consider with how light can interact with your photos on your day. If you want the best lighting possible and that dreamy, evenly lit, natural light goodness, you will have to plan accordingly. Let’s dive into it shall we…

Evening Light

A sunset session in Ouray, Colorado with the San Juan Mountains in the background 

Evening light is by far the best light to shoot in. One – Two hours before sunset is what we as photographers call “golden hour”, the sun is low in the sky creating flattering light that is a dream to shoot in! An example of evening light is in the first photo, you’ll notice how the shadows give the background more dimension and really make it pop! This is also going to be the best time to get those golden back-lit photos a lot of couples really enjoy along with those more moody tones to balance.

A back-lit photo at sunset

A more moody toned photo shot at sunset


Early Morning & Overcast

An overcast mid-morning session in the same location as above but with mid morning overcast lighting 

The second best and my personal recommendation for shooting elopements in, is early morning light, I am talking up before the sun shooting at sunrise early; and overcast. In the early morning before the sun has reached its peak can have some of the loveliest lighting, I also find this time best for elopements because most people aren’t out hiking or enjoying the scenery yet. It leaves your location intimate and open just for the two of you. I also find in mornings it can be overcast and the clouds create a nice even light source by diffusing the harsh sun. If all else fails we hope for cloud coverage on bright sunny days during none-ideal lighting times. An example of early morning and overcast lighting is in the photo above, taken in the same location as the first you can see a major difference in lighting! While the lighting is nice and even the background gets more flat without the shadow casted by that low evening sun. Below are two great examples of a sunrise elopement session where you can clearly see the difference created by the location of the sun. This is also an ideal time for getting those back-lit and moody images mentioned above! 

A sunrise elopement at Mount Rainier early in the morning before the sun came up over the mountain

Same location about 45 minutes later after the sun had fully come up


Mid-day Full Sun

An intimate wedding ceremony shot in Ouray, Colorado with the San Juan Mountains in the background during full mid-day sun 

The third and possibly worst lighting condition is known as mid-day full sun. When the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, blaring down on all, causing harsh direct shadows. Not only is this lighting condition none-ideal but it can make guests hot and uncomfortable to be in. For photos taken in this lighting condition the best option is to look for open shade to do photos. While this lighting situation is none-ideal I am fully confident in shooting during mid-day sun. 

A wedding party photo utilizing open shade under a structure at their venue, Dairy Land

A ceremony in Lake Tahoe mid-day utilizing open shade for their ceremony


You’ve Graduated!

Now that you’ve graduated this crash course into lighting you can make an educated decision on when to plan your photos whether it be for your elopement, wedding, engagements, day after, etc. In the end it all depends on what you want the look and feel of your photos to be, the majority of what I shoot is sunrise or sunset and often overcast due to the temperamental Pacific Northwest Weather. I am always here to help, it’s part of what you are paying me for, my expertise in knowing whats best when it comes to your photos, so if you have any questions never be afraid to ask! I hope this helped in your wedding planning process, congratulations on your engagement!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Seattle portrait photographer, Lena Porter looking into camera and laughing in her studio.

i’m lena.

Meet Lena, Seattle family photographer

More than just a photographer, I help families connect throughout the childbearing years. Capturing each fleeting season of life and creating custom artwork to look back on and hand down throughout the years. 

search the site

post categories

Follow Along

Established 2009

Serving Seattle, WA

Bellevue, Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia