Light & Shadows

Separating the Good from the GREAT

One thing that separates an OK wedding film maker from a great wedding film maker is his understanding and use of light & shadows in creating a truly cinematic image. What do I mean? Well, next time you are watching a really good movie see if you can see how many times in that movie the director manipulates natural light and how he uses it to stir emotion. The utilisation of natural light is was great photography & cinematography is all about- especially when you are wanting to engage the emotions of your viewers. For a wedding film maker usually the only time during the day you can control the lighting is either in the morning during bridal prep or later in the afternoon during ‘golden hour’  when you grab the couple and get some truly amazing shots with the sun just as it’s setting.


Don’t think like a videographer!

You see as videographers we could think that having an image fully exposed (lit) and clearly visible is what we are meant to do but often it’s not just what we see that intrigues us but more often what we can’t see. For example, during bridal prep in the morning it’s a great idea to ask the hair & makeup people if it’s ok for you to turn the light off for 10 minutes while you get some beautiful silhouettes and some dimly lit shots using only the natural light available- you see natural light is much softer than artificial light and can really help beautify an image- especially a bride!  You have to be a little bit bold and confident too that you can pull it off, but like anything practice makes perfect and the more you become adept at shooting with under-exposed images the more creative you’ll become in time. I wouldn’t say it’s something I have mastered yet but I am getting to grips with what truly looks cinematic and how to pull that off in camera without relying too heavily on post processing to create the desired effect which only looks artificial anyway.

Create intrigue in your viewer…

Under exposing an image creates intrigue and this is what a good filmmaker should be looking to do. Often when I shoot bridal prep and then edit the footage later I try not to reveal the bride too soon in the Wedding Film- it’s good practice to just have a few glimpses of her and as mentioned in this blog done with some creative use of light & shadows. Wedding Films in my mind are all about emotions and we are looking to wring out of the viewers all the emotions we possibly can as Wedding Videographers. We should look to do this especially during shots of the bride getting ready and before she is revealed in all her magnificance just before she takes he walk down the aisle.

When & with what?

It’s also good to under expose images early in the morning when shooting establishing shots of the wedding venue, grounds, buildings etc. Looking for shadows cast by buildings, trees, reflections on glass anything really. I often just walk around looking for things that to my eye look beautiful. As a videographer you have to train your eye to look for these types of things even when you are not shooting a wedding film; be constantly looking for ideas and inspiration when it comes to natural light and how it makes things look beautiful. Here is a highlight wedding film that I filmed and you can see in this film how I used light & shadows to make this film look more cinematic:

If you are looking for someone to create a cinematic wedding film for you then look no further than Julian Voigt Wedding Films: