Quick Fix Series :: Natural Lighting :: Mandy Paige Photography

4 Tips for Creating Gorgeous Light Anywhere, Anytime, and Especially at High Noon

It would be lovely if we could always shoot our couples during that golden hour right before sunset to wrap our subject in gorgeous warm light , but as all wedding photographers know, its just not always possible. So here are ways to make the best of what you are given to create consistent imagery even in harsh lighting situations.

  1. Find nice filtered shade to place your subjects in. Find evenly shaded areas where filtered & directional light is still coming through – but not creating spots on your subjects’ faces. If you notice spotty patches you can use the scrim insert of your reflector for soft diffusion of natural light.
  2. Put the subjects back to the sun. Placing the couple/wedding party with the sun to their backs will produce lovely backlighting, keep the harsh light off their face, and keep the direct sunlight out of their eyes.
  3. Place yourself/camera in shade. Obviously filtered shade would be optimal but if you have no large shaded areas available then get your camera in the shade & place the subjects in direct sunlight with back to the sun. I have my assistant hold a large reflector over my head/camera if their is no shade nearby and create my own.
  4. Use a reflector.  Reflectors will bounce light back onto your subjects faces and create catchlights in their eyes. I bring a 5 sided reflector, the omega shoot through reflector, and  look for natural reflectors (such as a light concrete sidewalk) while shooting. I use the white & silver side and diffuser insert. The white side of reflector will bounce soft light back on your subject and is best on a sunny day with ample light available. The silver side will cast more light on the subject and can be used when less light is available. The middle insert is the scrim that will diffuse harsh light or spotty light patches.

I hope this will make you more confident in creating beautiful portraits for your clients even in unflattering lighting conditions.

Mandy Paige Photography teaches workshops and hosts one on one coaching for other professional photographers around the country.

Visit our website to learn more about our education classes & workshops

The Evolution Workshop Info Packet

QUICK FIX Series :: DETAIL SHOTS :: Mandy Paige Photography


In today’s Quick FIX Series I will be discussing how to nail your Ring & Jewelry shots.  I have a few simple tricks that help me create gorgeous images of the bridal jewelry & rings.

1: USE A MACRO LENS:

First & foremost you need to use a macro lens for up close detail shots.  Since I shoot Canon gear, I use the Canon 100 L 2.8.  This allows me to get close to the ring or accessory and zero in on the diamond.

2: PREP:

I look for anything sparkly or reflective that I can use as a background, incorporate wedding colors, or use the dress/veil to create a pretty background for the details.  If soft window light is not available I use a video light at a 45 degree angle as to make the diamond sparkle but not cause reflection on the face of  the diamond.  Keep in mind using the macro and being super close to your subject will make the background creamy and make sparkly things burst with bokeh.

3: FOCUS:

Switch your focus over to manual mode and make sure the stabilization is on if your lens has that option.  Focus can get a little tricky when you are that close to your object – the slightest shake and it’ll be blurry so I tend to still use a hard surface such as table to steady my camera making sure image comes out tact sharp.  Focus on the prong closest to your lens instead of the diamond itself to ensure your diamond comes out tact sharp.

4: F-STOP & SHUTTER:

Although I usually always shoot with a large aperture of 1.2-2.8, this is the ONLY time I ever shoot above 2.8.  For ring shots I will bump the aperture up to f.8-f.10, and drop my shutter speed to 80.  This keeps the entire ring in focus and lets in ambient light.  If taking a shot of both rings together or another jewelry piece, 2.8 is just too shallow depth of field to get enough of the accessories in focus.  Don’t worry, because you are using a macro and are very close your subject you will still have plenty of bokeh in your image.

5.PERSPECTIVE:

I love to look for a different perspective when shooting details.  I love the look of reflective surfaces.  I use mirrors, glass, or a shiny black table top to create this look.  Shooting from above and slightly through the flowers is another favorite for my details.  The possibilities are endless.

6. POST PROCESSING:

When processing a detail shot in LR I like to bump up the sharpness & add a small amount of clarity for just a little extra oomph.  Sometimes I will use the adjustment brush on lowered saturation to pull the color out of the diamond itself if there is a color cast just make sure it shines clear as possible.

I hope this helps you in creating gorgeous images of your bridal bling.

Mandy Paige Photography teaches workshops and hosts one on one coaching for other professional photographers around the country.

Visit our website to learn more about our education classes & workshops

The Evolution Workshop Info Packet

QUICK FIX SERIES :: POSING :: Mandy Paige Photography

In this QUICK FIX SERIES I’m covering how to handle those large unruly wedding parties quickly and effectively to get the shots your couple needs and deserves.  We’ve all had them.  That wedding party of 22 that’s had a little too much fun on the way to portraits.  Or the group that had a little too much fun the night before the wedding and would now rather stick a fork in their eye rather than face daylight, while posing for pictures.  You name it, I have seen it and I know a fix for it.

First things first – I build a custom timeline for all of my clients and the allotted time for portraits depends on the amount of time booked by the client, whether they are seeing each other prior to ceremony, locations, and driving time between locations.  Once we have that all squared away I can come up with a mental game plan (or written down one if you like to go that route).  I typically allot 30 mins. for the girls and guys separately before the ceremony if they are NOT doing a first look and 60-90 mins for the entire portrait period if they ARE doing a first look.  Its not a ton of time so we have gotten good with keeping our groups engaged and ready to shoot.

Things to Remember:

*Be Organized & Have a plan of action

*Have your go-to poses memorized or on hand.  I memorize mine – but you could take a quick glimpse at a pre-prepared shot list.  If you are not confident and quick to move from pose to pose, you will lose their attention.

*Keep them engaged.  Talk to them.  Check in.  Make sure they KNOW what you expect of them.

*Keep your composure, even if you are getting ruffled because of time constraints or other things.  At the end of the day they are there to have fun and you are there to capture it.

For the purposes of this post I am going to lay out how I handle a group when the couple IS doing a First Look.  Once the first look is complete I start with the entire wedding party’s photos.  I don’t want any wandering groomsmen, so I have to keep them engaged or busy.  I get it, portraits can get boring and they become easily distracted by something shiny on the limo.  Or that sandwich place is just calling their name – but really, THIS is not the time to wander.  So back to keeping them busy…I do a few Go-To poses with the entire group, making small movements to change the entire image without moving all 22 wedding party members.

I also change up the look with the lens I am shooting with.  Since I shoot primarily with PRIME lenses, I will shoot the group with the 24 wide and then step back have them all lean in towards Bride and Groom and shoot with 85 to create a tighter shot with a creamier background.

I love walking shots and the movement they create.  They are just fun!


Next I move on the Bridal Party group shots.  I work quick – remember I’ve got to keep the attention of those easily distracted groomsmen because they are up next.  I make sure to check in with them after every few shots, mostly to make sure they are still there.  The ladies are easy.  I start with a traditional pose or two, and then we move seamlessly into our go-to posing where we get to see more personality.

If your ladies are looking a bit awkward, use it, tell them to throw their heads back and laugh “because this isn’t awkward at all, right”??!!??”

 Sometimes just throwing it out there will break the ice and get them to relax and have fun.

Around this time I will turn around again and make sure guys haven’t disappeared.  Whew!  They are all still there.

Back to shooting.  I get a few more staggered poses or walking shots and then move right into the individual shots with each Bridesmaid.  If your group is up for it you can get some fun ones of the bride with each bridesmaid together too.

Then I transition to the guys by getting shots of the Bride with siblings, specifically brothers, at this point.  If they have brothers and sisters I get a group shot of them all & incorporate the groom.  Then I do the same for groom and his siblings.

Once I am sure I have all the shots of the girls that I need I let them go hang out on the bus – because lets face it – girls tend to follow directions and won’t wander off to get a sandwich.

Now its GUY time!  I get the guys in a traditional pose first to get that out of the way and after that its all relaxed shooting.  If any guys are getting anxious I take a beat and *in my southern accent and with a smile* tell them that if I can have their attention for 5-10 minutes I will get everything I need and they can go drink – but if they won’t follow directions  in a timely manner it’ll take another 30 mins.

That usually does the trick and one groomsmen, we will call him my “wing man”, will usually pipe up from that point on if anyone gets out of line – because that guy has a beer with his name on it.  After a few go-to poses with the guys and individual shots with the Groom & each groomsmen.  I usually end with the walking shot.

Guys rock this. Every single time.  I tell them to walk, talk to each other, high five, tell a dirty joke – whatever it takes to get a laugh out of the groom – and they take it from there.

Then I congratulate the guys and tell them they are ALL DONE and go get that drink.  But not the Groom.   Nope – you get back over here – its time for pictures with you and your lady.

I hope this has helped you in how to handle your large or unruly wedding parties.

Mandy Paige Photography teaches workshops and hosts one on one coaching for other professional photographers around the country.

Visit our website to learn more about our education classes & workshops

The Evolution Workshop Info Packet