Ask any professional photographer or filmmaker and they will tell you how important having even, great light is in creating beautiful imagery. I believe that observing the light in a space when selecting a venue is crucial. There are a couple of easy things to look for when you are ‘venue-shopping’ that will improve your wedding day photos and film:
Direct sunlight is rarely a good thing. I’ve shot a lot of venues in the harsh, direct sunlight and the effect it has on your skin is difficult to correct later on. You will find that heavy sunlight will create dark shadows across your face (cast from your nose and eyebrows and general curvature of your face); so finding a venue that is positioned outside with no shade options isn’t ideal. Instead, look for natural shade like big trees, cliffs and mountains and the time of day you intend on having your ceremony to ensure you won’t be standing in broad daylight. Another option is using artificial shade, like buildings or balconies to shade you from the sun. Regardless of what venue you fall in love with; just aim to have your ceremony and photo shoot not in the direct sunlight. Easy!
A term thrown around a lot by photographers/videographers is ‘backlit’. This just means that the subject (ie. you and your partner, or something else) is positioned in darkness, in front of a brighter background. Cameras have a more limited ability to capture the darkness and brightness than your eye; so in a backlit environment, you can either expose the camera for the subject or the background, either creating a silhouetted image or a blown out white background. An indoor venue looking out to an incredible view might seem amazing to visit and see with your own eyes, but 9 times out of 10 will not photograph well. If you find a scenic vista you’d like to stand in front of, then pair it with an outdoor ceremony (you will be in direct sun, but that brightness will apply to you as well as your background).
While a photographer’s style plays into it; the venue will play a significant role in the type of photos you like. If you like darker tones and shadows, and a more intimate style then pick a venue with light that evokes intimacy; look for interesting shadows cast on walls and big glass windows. If you prefer a lighter/airier style than selecting a more open-plan, brighter venue will help achieve this style. Regardless of the style of photography you like, aiming for more natural light will always play into your favour.
If the venue you have selected has limited light during the reception (think fairy lights or candles) you should make sure your photographer or videographer has their own portable light. Most photographers would carry a speed light/flash with them but for videographers, having a light is less common. We use a Dedolight DH4 which has a beautiful, natural hue and matches the lighting of most evening receptions. It also has a long throw of about 20 metres; essentially meaning it can be a long way back from the subject needing to be lit. We will often use this light during the toasts and dancing sections of your day. Check with your videographer about what equipment they have and be aware of the impact these tools have on your day; a nice light is essential to a good video kit!
Your wedding venue plays a lot into your wedding day and I get that it can seem overwhelming, but taking on a few of these considerations will dramatically help produce photos and video you can fawn over for years to come. Good luck!