Winter weddings have risen in popularity over the past few years for a number of reasons: snow-dusted venues; bridal parties in fur coats; and Christmas-themed decoration, all of which seems to appeal to couples who want their nuptials to be a little different to the ordinary.
Leading to lots of winter wedding photography opportunities for photographers.
From a more practical perspective, brides and grooms who are financially savvy might also be drawn to the big savings that can be made by avoiding weddings in those popular summer months.
As well as this, weddings in winter are often easier to organise, with guests not already engaged with summer holidays, prior commitments, or even other weddings.
However, whilst a winter ceremony might mean plainer sailing for the bridal party, it could spell difficulties for the chosen photographer.
Winter photography is notoriously tricky, with light fading early in the day and inclement weather combining to make the perfect shot tough to achieve, even for the very best.
If you are shooting a winter wedding this year, read on for wedding photographer, Christian Keenan’s top tips on getting the best out of the day and creating an album that will wow the happy couple.
Top Tips For Winter Wedding Photography
- Keep an eye on the clock
An obvious issue with weddings in winter is fewer hours of daylight compared to those warmer months, reducing the amount of time available for outdoor shots.
If you consider that a wedding could begin at 1.30pm, the service might run until 3 or later – depending on how much advantage the bride takes of her prerogative to be late – followed by some milling around, and a drive to the venue.
This could mean you’re left with mere minutes before the light fades.
If you feel comfortable enough with the couple (and you certainly should be able to be honest if you are shooting their wedding) it is worth being candid and explaining that you don’t think they’ll get good quality shots if you only start shooting after the drive to the venue.
Would they be willing to have some shots immediately after the service perhaps?
If your couple don’t seem particularly traditional, you might even find that they are prepared to forgo not seeing each other before the service, giving you the option to get some great shots before the official ceremony.
- Pick out the details
A common issue with winter wedding photography is that a lot of the shots might develop with very similar grey, white and black tones. Keep an eye out for any pops of colour you can pick out and make them a focal point.
Think flowers, the bride’s colourful shoes, bridesmaid dresses. If the weather really isn’t on your side you could add colour with some fun props, like brightly patterned wellington boots, umbrellas or raincoats.
- Have a back-up plan
Even the most experienced photographers have found themselves in tricky situations by not having a back-up plan.
If you have only planned for clear, dry weather and all your photo ideas are based around the exterior of the venue, you are going to be in trouble if the heavens open, you get heavy snow or it is simply too windy to get any shot other than the mother of the bride chasing her hat down the church path.
A beautiful venue can be a lifesaver here, so make sure you do your homework and visit the venue a few times before the big day.
If the wedding reception is to be held in a castle or stately home look for stunning stairwells to capture a cascading wedding dress, ornate windows to achieve the classic image of a bride looking into the distance, or doorways that make natural frames for shots.
Modern venues also have potential for great indoor shots, and lend themselves to more arty and non-traditional pictures.
Props, including coloured balloons, look great against pure white walls for example. If your couple have chosen a modern venue it’s likely they are not overly traditional and would like quirky shots, so don’t be afraid to have fun.
- Overexpose for snow
If you are lucky enough to get a good layer of snow without any accompanying rain or wind, you can get some stunning wedding photos, but don’t forget to overexpose.
Photographing snow is notoriously tricky as there is no mid-tone in the image to meter from, so you will need to rely on your exposure compensation – set it to around +2 to avoid a blue or grey tint to the snow.
- Take care of your equipment
Moisture in the air and the difference in temperature when going from a warm indoor environment to a chilly outside area can play havoc with a camera, with condensation having the potential to ruin shots.
Never blow on your camera screen if you can avoid it, and when you head back into the venue avoid quickly taking your camera out of its bag – the camera needs time to adjust and you should give it as long as possible to come back up to room temperature before removing it from its holder.
When outside, your camera needs to be kept cold so as not to have issues with clouding, but keep batteries warm as they are liable to lose power in the chill – keeping them in your pockets should do the trick.
Do you have any top tips for winter wedding photography? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
More about the author
Christian Keenan is one of the UK’s top winter wedding photographers, running his own documentary wedding photography & cinematography company, CKP Weddings. He also shares his invaluable photography tips & tricks over at MyMemory, a leading online retailer of memory.