“Shouldn’t we be facing the sun?”

When I got married, I had the advantage of having been a wedding guest, a bridesmaid, and a wedding photographer. However, I realized the majority of couples planning their wedding don’t have that much experience (if any) and probably feel super confused by all the wedding jargon and photography terms that get thrown around on wedding days.

SO, I’m starting a series on Instagram Reels explaining wedding photography topics & terms for people that have never even been professionally photographed before!

The first term in this series is backlighting.

So, what is backlighting? It’s the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions (usually by an uncle or grandpa) on wedding days – “Shouldn’t we be facing the sun?”

Backlighting is simply placing your subject with the light source behind them. I do this outdoors by positioning people with the sun to their backs.

Backlighting is a stylistic choice. I choose to backlight because it gives even light on the front of my subjects and makes them pop off the background with a beautiful, glowing outline around them!

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Imagine we’re at an outdoor wedding in the Virginia mountains. There is no structure or tall tree creating shade where the ceremony takes place. If I face you toward the sun at around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. before the ceremony, you’ll be squinting and have harsh shadows around your eyes and nose (like a raccoon).

Now, some photographers may place you facing the sun intentionally. They may like that high contrast look and want to play with the light & shadows; that’s cool too! Photography is an art at the end of the day, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it 🙂

To watch me break down backlighting with my tiny hand and mini mic, check out my Instagram reel:

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