What considerations as a photographer do I need to have when photographing a couple for a pre-wedding shoot in cloudy dull weather?

  • What exactly do you mean "pre-wedding"? Are you suggesting that you are photographing a practice ceremony or are you simply trying to prepare ahead of time for the actual wedding? Are you suggesting that you would photograph a practice ceremony differently than the actual ceremony? Why?
    – dpollitt
    Sep 9 '15 at 2:38
  • I took it to mean a session for the engagement photos that many couples do. Usually to be used for announcements and sometimes to be used for prints displayed at the reception.
    – Michael C
    Sep 16 '15 at 11:02

One of the best times to shoot outdoor portraits is when the sky is cloudy and overcast. It provides nice, even, neutral lighting without harsh shadows and back light.

Natural light isn't always (or even often) going to be the best that it can be. The solution is to provide the light you need yourself. This can range from a couple of simple reflectors and screens to an elaborate set up that uses multiple off-camera strobes illuminating your subjects through a variety of modifiers. Just because those great shots your clients see on Pinterest look perfectly natural doesn't even remotely mean they were actually shot with only natural light.

In fact, most of those Pinterest shots probably came from fashion shoots that were done to create ads for all things bridal. They probably involved a photographer, several assistants, a plethora of lighting gear, and hair and makeup artists working for hours.

Here's an excellent video that discusses why a cloudy day is the best time to shoot outdoor portraits and how to take advantage of it.

  • When it's cloudy -shoot outside!
  • Use long focal lengths to limit the angle of view of the background.
  • Use a wide open aperture to soften the background.
  • Use a big flash. A big flash isn't always brighter, it's just bigger so the light is coming from a wider area.

Here's a good article that discusses outdoor portraits in all types of light. The author also prefers shooting in the softer, diffused light of an overcast day.

The place to start learning how to light a scene with flash is at David Hobby's strobist. A good place to begin there is his free online course of basics titled Lighting 101.


I just would add, shoot in Raw, because there is a chance those clouds can be dramatized using some tome mapping (HDRI look).

This also mean that those clouds can be part of the photo, so give a chance to some wide lens photos, and try shooting from below normal portrait angles up to the sky.

Another thing you can do is using an external flash, probably with a big softbox to be used as main light. This way you add some depth to the shadows. Use the cloudy day as a fill even light.

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