Natural light is and will always be your best friend. It gives the most accurate white balance and is usually present in more abundant amounts than light from fluorescent or artificial sources. But there are also times when having an adequate flash can literally save the day.
Below are therefore 2 helpful hints that can dramatically improve your ability to spot and use good light:
#1 – Watch out for Shadows
As a general rule, I try to avoid making my subjects stare into harsh or direct sunlight. As this can not only be uncomfortable for them, it has a tendency to blow out images and cast messy shadows across their faces. So keep an eye out for areas with cover, where softer diffused light is plentiful. Or if nothing is close by, try backlighting your couples, which if done well, can produce a radiant glow around them. Of course, if it’s a cloudier day, you should have no problems finding nice even brightness from all angles.
#2 – Use Flashes Sparingly
‘Only when I have to’ is the mindset I employ when it comes to flashes. Even if it means bumping up the ISO slightly and dealing with a bit of noise. The reason being that introduced light, in my opinion, alters the integrity of the scene. And as a photojournalist at heart, I feel it’s my responsibility to capture what is, in the most natural way. Having said that, I’m not against using mounted flash guns in legitimately dim settings (i.e. an outdoor string-light reception for example), as long as you don’t skimp on gear and actually invest in some good ones. Diffusers can also really help in taking the edge off. What I am against, however, are shoddy photographers who will frontal flash their subjects, outside, on a sunny day! Simply because they are too lazy to position the couple properly lighting-wise, and have become reliant on flash overuse as a means to overwhelm dark shadows.
Just remember, no amount of post-processing genius can save a poorly shot photograph!