In this video, wedding photographer Taylor Jackson takes you behind the scenes on one of the most stressful and challenging wedding photography scenarios you’re likely to run into: shooting an entire wedding after dark, using ambient light.
There was a time when shooting a wedding at ISO 5000 would have been totally impossible, producing a noisy mess. But camera technology has come a long way, and pairing his Nikon D850 with an 85mm f/1.4 lens, he was able to get enough light to keep his shutter speed at 1/100th for the majority of the shots he needed to take.
One point he reiterates several times throughout the video is that he set expectations with the couple ahead of time. They understood the kind of coverage they were going to get from a single photographer under these kinds of challenging lighting situations, which is why he was comfortable shooting this wedding in the first place. There have been times, says Jackson, when he’s simply said no to potential clients because he can’t afford to risk producing sub-par work and ruining his reputation.
All things considered—given the absurdly low light levels in the ceremony and the flickering lights in the reception area—he was able to produce some solid documentary style images, which is exactly what the couple had asked for.
It’s worth noting that Jackson did have off camera flash at-the-ready. He chose not to use it during the ceremony to preserve the guest experience, but he was always ready to bring in artificial light if absolutely necessary. The name of the game here was to always have a back-up plan so that he doesn’t miss or mess up any of the critical moments.
Keep in mind that Jackson is a successful wedding photographer with over a decade of experience to his name, and even he says no to the vast majority of shoots like this one. That said, if you ever find yourself in this kind of shooting scenario, the BTS video above provides a good how-to.
Check out the full video up top to see how it’s done, and then visit his channel to see lots more great wedding photography tips, tutorials and behind-the-scenes content.