I love First Looks. I really, really, really do! But one inherent flaw about the First Look is that it typically happens in the middle of the day, which most photographers would agree is the worst kind of natural light (unless it’s cloudy. God bless cumulonimbus). The engagement session is awesome because we’ll time that according to either morning or evening Golden Hour, but on the wedding day more often than not, it’s my job to just go with whatever lighting conditions I’m given for the First Look. You do your best to find open shade, some sort of natural reflector, but you get the jist- most often, wedding day portraits don’t coincide with Golden Hour.
There’s STILL a way to take advantage of that warm, buttery light that graces us with her presence 45ish minutes before sunset. Typically, when my couples opt to do a first look, I’ll also let them know that we’ll want to set aside 8-10 minutes after the ceremony for a few more portraits. Now that they’re, you know, ACTUALLY married :). I explain that we can either do those portraits right after family formals, or, if they’re down for it, we’ll sneak out during dinner for a few moments of [mostly] alone time.
I’m so fortunate that I have couples who trust me, who know my work and who know what I can do given a few minutes, an open field, and a setting sun. These portraits almost always end up being my favorites from the day! And even if it ends up being cloudy in the evening, it’s still a chance to capture their love in the midst of joy!
Brides, definitely think about making time for sunset portraits on your wedding day. It’s 5-10 minutes, and a chance to take a breather amidst a sometimes hectic reception. I promise you won’t regret it! Don’t hesitate to ask your photographer, even if it’s spur-of-the-moment on the wedding day. Billy, Jenny (below) & I had already done their post-ceremony portraits when she looked outside during dinner, saw the sun coming in over the Chesapeake Bay, and asked if I wouldn’t mind going back out for more portraits. I could have squeezed her!
Photographers- be sensitive on the wedding day to changing attitudes/feelings. Do your best to make time for these portraits ahead of time, but be aware that a bride & groom may change their mind by the time they get to the reception- they might be tired, in the middle of enjoying an incredible dinner or conversation, and if so, let it be. Your portfolio is not as important as their wedding day experience, and sometimes that means letting incredible light pass undocumented. I’d rather my couple savor the wedding day in a way that makes them the happiest, than pushing them for portraits that they’ll always remember they took begrudgingly.