As you may have read in my article detailing my first wedding video shoot, I didn’t start out with the best video equipment in the world. This was especially true when there was a low lighting situation.
There was enough light at my first wedding shoot that the footage was only slightly grainy.
A very low-light situation came upon me quick, as my second wedding shoot turned out to be another disaster.
The Low-Light Wedding Reception
The second wedding that I ever filmed was outside. While it was raining most of the day, it quit right before the ceremony started. A few drops on the camera, no issues there.
Where this wedding ran into a snag was at the reception.
The setting was in a lounge of sorts. You can image the type of place that serves drinks in very low light with a dance floor. A real party atmosphere.
Now normally receptions are light when it first starts, and the lights don’t go down until the music and dancing starts.
This place was damn near pitch black.
My camera noticed this especially.
I arrived before the wedding party and spent some time adjusting my setting to try and get the 1080i camera that recorded using tapes to pick up more light. It never did.
I knew I was sunk.
As if the first wedding wasn’t bad enough, now I was hit with this desperate situation where half of my footage from the day would be totally unusable.
Surely I was done for now.
Coming Clean To The Bride
I played along with being able to film the wedding for a little while, but I knew that I had to say something.
As soon as the bride had her first free moment at the reception, which was after the cake cutting, I pulled her aside and confessed.
“It’s really dark in here, and I’m sorry, but you’re not going to be able to see hardly anything on the tape from this reception”, I said, expecting shock and anger.
“So it’s like, really dark?”
“Yeah, you can hardly see anything.”
And then the answer I didn’t expect. “Oh that’s okay, just get what you can. Don’t worry, I’m sure it will be fine.”
I apologized again and went back to filming.
Now keep in mind I was still only in the realm of charging $250 for these first few weddings. If this happened at a higher price point, I’m sure there would have been some furry.
Ways to Navigate a Low-Lighting Video Situation
As the title of this article says, low-lighting situations ARE GOING TO HAPPEN with weddings. There is no avoiding it. You might as well tackle the problem head on right now. Here are a few pointers to get you through with good footage.
- Start with the best low-light camera you can afford. Look for cameras with larger sensors.
- Learn how to to increase and decrease your aperture. The lower the aperture, the more light that is being let in.
- Lower your shutter speed and frame rate. Doing so let’s more light in and also makes the wedding more stylized. Make sure it isn’t too low, or you will get slow and jerky video.
- Ask the bride and groom if they would allow you to mount a light onto your video camera. This is a more difficult ask than photographers have, because video light is constant and photo light is just a flash. Constant light will likely ruin the ambiance of the wedding reception in some cases.
- Purchase and use the light mentioned in #4 when allowed.
- If all else fails and you know you are getting bad footage, come clean to the bride and let her know that you are having lighting issues. She may be understanding, or even ask the event managers to turn up the lights if possible to allow for better video. ALWAYS BE HONEST.
You Must Be Able to Work In Low Lighting
As a final thought, I wanted to mention this. Working in low light is a requirement for wedding videographers, and is oftentimes something that brides are looking for when vetting videographers.
How well I work in low light, and whether or not I have an example reception they can see were always the 2 main questions I’d get at an in-person interview.
The quality of my low-light video would either make or break the deal.
Learn to work in low light.
Do it well.