Outdoor Wedding Photography: Ideas and Settings

Whether you’re having a full-scale outdoor event or just want to capture a few scenic moments, getting your outdoor wedding photography right is a must. Natural light and backdrops will make for some of the best photos of your day, so you want to hire a photographer who’s a pro in outdoor settings.

Here’s the thing: Outdoor elements are unpredictable. Weather, cloud cover, light—it’s all determined by mother nature, and things don’t always go according to plan. But trust me when I say that awesome outdoor wedding photography is possible under any conditions. Your photographer should be able to help you make it happen.

In this article, we’ll cover the ins and outs of shooting in the great outdoors on your wedding day, tips for getting the best shots, and what to do when the unexpected occurs!

Quick Takeaways:

  • Natural light is the X factor that makes outdoor wedding photography so beautiful.
  • Even when it rains, you can get awesome photos with the right preparation and plan in place.
  • Being flexible about timing can help you get the very best outdoor shots on your big day.
  • Making natural elements like the weather and scenery a main character in your photos makes them unique and special.

Outdoor Wedding Photography: The X Factor

. . . is natural light. Trust me—no matter what you’re photographing, you can’t beat the quality of natural light over even the best professional indoor lighting. It’s the number one reason why I think every couple should incorporate outdoor wedding photography into their plan.

Here are a few of the most important benefits natural light brings to your photos:

Soft and Diffuse Quality

Natural light, especially during certain times of day (like golden hour), is characterized by its soft and diffuse quality. It minimizes harsh shadows and reduces the likelihood of any overexposed or blown-out highlights in your photographs.

Outdoor wedding photo with soft natural light in the background

Image Source: Perennial

Balanced Color Temperature

Natural light maintains a relatively balanced color temperature throughout the day. This consistency reduces the need for color correction and heavy post-processing so that our wedding day looks in photos exactly as it did in real life.

Enhanced Natural Landscapes

No matter what outdoor wedding photography ideas you have in mind, you can be sure that natural light will complement the setting you choose. It allows wedding photographers to capture the richest versions of nature’s color schemes—blue skies, fall foliage, golden sunshine, rainbow florals, (you name it).

Couple posing outdoors in front of a pond, with trees in the backdrop

Image Source: Perennial

An All-Day Photographer’s Canvas

Natural light is dynamic and ever-changing, offering photographers opportunities for creativity and adaptability. From the softer morning light to the warm, golden hues of sunset, the shifting qualities of natural light provide a diverse range of lighting conditions to work with. 

Plus, photographers don’t have to worry about positioning or adjusting their own lighting equipment, leaving more time to focus on you (after all, you’re the main character of the day!).

No Artificial Artifacts

Artificial lighting, such as harsh flash or studio lighting, can introduce unnatural artifacts in photographs, such as red-eye or harsh specular highlights. While professional photographers will generally know how to avoid these, natural light minimizes the risk that they’ll appear at all.

So—now that we know that naturally-lit outdoor photos are a must on your big day, let’s talk about the one big worry most couples have about outdoor wedding photography: weather.

What If It Rains?

When you can’t change the weather, choose to dance in the rain! Right? If you’re a bride or groom on a rainy wedding day, this sentiment will probably earn one big eye roll. And hey, I don’t blame you. Rain is stressful on your wedding day. It’s also one of the biggest worries for couples who want lots of outdoor wedding photography or who are planning a mostly-outdoor event.

But I’m here to tell you something important: It’s not the end of the world. Not even a little bit. In fact, I’ve gotten some of my favorite outdoor wedding photography in the rain.

Bride and groom kissing under an umbrella in the rain

Image Source: Perennial

While it’s probably not be your first choice to have a rainy wedding day, you should still do some outdoor photography if it happens, and here’s how you can prepare:

Create a Contingency Plan

When you have a plan, you won’t panic about bad weather. Your plan might include finding an outdoor location with some protection from the elements, bringing rain gear, and having a list ready of the photos you want to capture for quicker execution.

If your entire wedding ceremony and/or reception is going to be outdoors, work with the staff at your venue on the backup plan in case of rain. Alternative indoor spaces or protective tents and covers can make things work even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

The key is to be proactive. You can’t control the elements, but you can eliminate stress by having a plan in place so you feel prepared for anything.

Be Flexible

Sometimes adjusting your timing can help you get around a storm coming through or help you avoid the worst of the rain. Work with your wedding photographer (and the weather forecast) to make a plan that keeps the day running smoothly while allowing you to get the best possible outdoor photos.

Trust Your Photographer

If your photographer is experienced, this won’t be their first rodeo with bad weather. Turn to them for advice and trust their expertise in navigating the hiccups. Choose a photographer whose portfolio reflects their ability to handle varying weather conditions and unexpected turns. Trust in their ability to capture beautiful moments, regardless of the elements.

Embrace the Moment

Seriously. When the weather doesn’t cooperate as expected, come to terms with it and prepare yourself to embrace it throughout the day. Rain or shine, this is your wedding day. You want to enjoy every single moment, and when you hire the right photographer, they’ll get great images in any conditions.

Image Source

Alt-Text: Two brides laughing as they walk in the rain at their wedding ceremony

Other Tips for Great Outdoor Wedding Photos

Outdoor wedding photography offers unique photo opportunities you won’t find in any indoor setting. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your outdoor photos:

  1. Utilize Natural Framing

Take advantage of natural elements like trees, archways, or foliage to frame your photos. Framing adds depth and dimension, drawing the viewer’s eye to the focal point. Incorporating natural frames in your outdoor shots can create romantic, whimsical, and visually pleasing compositions.

  1. Follow the Leading Lines

Incorporate leading lines found in your outdoor environment to guide the viewer’s gaze and add a sense of depth to your photos. Paths, fences, shorelines, and even rows of trees can serve as leading lines that lead the eye towards the subject of the photo, enhancing the overall composition.

  1. Capture Candid Reactions

If you ask us at Perennial, the whole point of wedding photography is to capture real moments—and that means lots of candid shots. Outdoor wedding photography involves a good bit of moving around, exploring outdoor settings, and interacting with natural elements.

Capturing “in-between” moments when you aren’t posing for the camera can produce the most beautiful, meaningful photos from the day. If this is something you want to have, talk to your photographer about making sure they take lots of outdoor candids!

  1. Play with Weather Elements

Embrace the elements of nature, including rain, wind, or even fog, as unique opportunities for creativity. Raindrops can add a romantic touch to your photos, while wind-blown veils or misty backgrounds can create an ethereal atmosphere. Remember: Don’t shy away from adverse weather—instead, embrace it and use it to your advantage to craft exceptional shots.

  1. Choose the Right Photographer

At the end of the day, capturing any photos the way you envision them—outdoor wedding photography included—requires choosing the right wedding photographer.

When you choose the right photographer, you can trust your photos will turn out the way you hope. You’ll also feel more comfortable taking them throughout the day.

When you research potential photographers, review their portfolios well to be sure their style aligns with yours. Meet with them to be sure you feel compatible with them. Trust and confidence in your photographer allow you to relax and be yourself in front of the camera.

Capture Your Big Day with Perennial

As you’ve no doubt gathered by now, outdoor wedding photography requires a balance of good planning and a go-with-the-flow mentality. At Perennial, we take a documentary-style approach to capture every moment authentically as it happens. That means no wind, storm, or unexpected event can deter us from getting outdoor wedding photography you’ll love.

Schedule a quick call with us to talk to our team and see if we’re the right fit.

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