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Beach weddings are a joy to photograph, especially if it’s at a luxury resort with a beautiful beach front. Add little details like flower petals on the sand, elegantly landscaped walkways, breathtaking turquoise ocean water as a backdrop, and you’ve got a recipe for a very photogenic wedding!
Natural Light for Portraits
The ideal type of outdoor light for a beach wedding is soft overcast light. This ensures there are no harsh shadows cast on the faces of the people you are photographing. If harsh sunlight is unavoidable, aim to have the sun behind the people you are shooting. Otherwise you will be getting photos of people squinting! If possible, place the main ceremony in a shaded area, which would do wonders for the comfort of the guests, especially in humid tropical climates. If you’re lucky enough to get a beach with turquoise blue water, use it to your advantage. Feature the ocean prominently even in photographs of people, which would be a great way to provide context to the images.
Night Photography at the Beach
When night falls, the challenge would be to light the reception properly without resorting to the use of direct flash. Placing off-camera speedlights on lightstands strategically mounted throughout the area would greatly help to increase the light levels. These lights would sometimes act as a key light, as well as provide some form of rim lighting. If the location already has some lamp posts, use them as part of your lighting strategy.
All these light sources combined would still not be able to give you sufficient light in an outdoor reception at night, as there are no surfaces from which to bounce from, typical of a beach reception. Having a canopy would greatly help to provide a bounce surface, resulting in softer light on the faces of people, not to mention a good way to stave off a light drizzle.
Having done all you can to increase light levels, you would still need a high-end DSLR body like the Nikon D3S capable of shooting at high ISO settings without producing too much image noise. Fast lenses (minimum of f2.8) complete with vibration reduction (VR) like the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II would greatly help you to shoot at optimum ISO settings.