20 Destination Wedding Photography Tips

by | Oct 5, 2021 | Wedding Photography

Destination weddings are ceremonies that are supposed to take place away from the hometown of the couple. These ceremonies are often held in a romantic location or a faraway place and they often have a reputation for being lavish and expensive, but this is not always the case. Destination weddings are becoming more popular because they are usually less expensive than traditional weddings.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with light and shadow when shooting portraits. Start with these 8 lighting positions, from a basic setup to a more dramatic look.

As your photography creativity grows, you can add some of the wedding event memorabilia to your snapshots, too. Remember, it’s no use going to the trouble of taking great photos if no one’s looking at them!


This is the basic light position. It is supposed to be all the light, by definition, which makes this the least flattering light position for portrait photos. It lets you capture a true feeling of the dress and the subject. It is an unflattering position because it doesn’t allow room to be creative with angles and as a result it is the most common light position for portraits that a wedding photographer will take.

There are many possible ways to use the sunlight but you can do other creative things with light. Sunlight, for example, can be an amazing source of mood lighting. Having your photograph surrounded by sunlight or an open space can evoke a sense of calm and serenity.

But we’ll save the talking and the photography for another time: The position 1 is what you’ll need for average work.


The second light position is the one that is more known and it is also preferred over the first light position: the middle of the photo. This light position allows center stage for all of the participants, and it allows you to be a little more flexible with your portrait. If you are shooting a lookalike or model, for example, this light position is often the best one.

Your actor can give extra attention to the shot if he/she is standing, for example, directly behind the bride. Or, if the photographer is using an in-the-trenches lighting setup, the light will automatically change position to the sides. Setting the sun in the center of the photo can be similar to this position.

Photo above: Photo by ARMAND ROMANIANO


The third and final light position is done in the warm light. This light is ideal for people who do not want to be photographed in very strong light or may be camera shy. When you do this light position, it is more natural because your subject is most likely standing still not moving. You can use it for head shots, sure, but don’t forget that your best photographs will also be head shots. Don’t get fancy here and use a flash for your warm light, but use your subject in front of a bright window, like a window in the middle of the room or in a window on the second floor of the house.

Originally published at www.bradputhoff.com.

1Faceted Portraits, Behind the Bride

This is our basic portrait setup, and we usually start this with two lights behind the bride. Light behind the bride looks warm and inviting, so we usually cover it up. If you shoot on an iPhone, you can place one light brightener on the back of the head (or on the bride’s head, if you’re taking a behind the brides photo). It gives the bride a softer, dreamier lighting.

Keep in mind that if the bride is wearing a hat, you’ll want to use that hat for the back or the side of the head, since the light behind the bride reflects off of it.

2Lights Behind the Groom

Usually, we place two lights (one behind the bride and one behind the groom) on either side of the wedding picture, and we let them shine into each other. The reason we do this is not only to show the beauty of the couple, but also to create the illusion of extra light behind the couple. The less direct the exposure (i.e., behind the groom), the less effective the effect is. This subtle element of the picture is what draws people in — while they’re doing something special and memorable, they’re also not completely out of the frame.

If you want to get extra fancy, you can put extra lights behind the bride to try to show off her face more.

3 Faceted Portraits, Near the Bride and Groom

Using our previous light setup, we’ll shift all of the light to the side, behind the bride and groom. If you’re shooting a wedding with children, hold them back a little, or you can try to involve the kids in the photo taking. Make sure it’s the most innocent of your kids that gets the most face time in the photo.

4 Faceted Portraits, Behind the Bride and Groom and Behind the Bride’s Head, or Behind the Bride’s Head

If the event is going to be held at a lake, a seashore or some other outdoor setting, you can place the lights on the back of the bride’s head or just behind the bride’s head. Since this shots looks natural, you can usually get away with using just one light behind each head because they’re usually the same height.

This also works great for setting the mood. It looks like the couple might be arriving on a luxurious yacht or on a private boat. If so, the backdrop will look more formal, especially with a romantic view of the horizon or the ocean.

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