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• Choosing the best light

Drat. The honeymoon's over, you get your wedding shots back and you look, erm, a bit pale. What's more, the background is completely dark. No sign of the beautiful garden you were photographed in. And you have red eyes. Wanna wring the photographer's neck? Sure, that's a start. But think back about the time the pics were taken. Was it close to sunset? Aha. Now there's a clue to the disaster in your wedding album.
So what went wrong?

The wedding picture session probably started too late. Which meant the photographer probably could not use the flattering late afternoon light at the venue to show you to your best effect. Quite simply because it was probably so dark he had to resort to unflattering straight flash like in the picture above. Although unavoidable at weddings, any good photographer would try and minimise his use of this light source.

Some careful planning, advice from your photographer and the table of sunset times below are a start to plan your wedding pics.

Ideally, you want to start your picture session at least half and hour to 45 minutes before the sun sets. That means you have to take the sunset time on the day of your wedding, and subtract:

  • travelling time from the church to the picture venue;
  • about fifteen minutes for the family shots, and
  • about half an hour for the pics of the couple.
This is the time you should be getting into the Rolls after the wedding ceremony, driving off to the picture venue.
Sound simple? Not so - getting into your car with droves of people wanting to congratulate you is not easy without seeming rude. But you'll have to be firm and push off. Because if you don't allow your photographer enough time to use the best light of day, you're wasting your money.
You'll also end up with flat-looking flash-lit pictures like the one at the top, as opposed to the two here. Choose your wedding start time carefully. Allow yourself an hour before sunset for pictures plus travelling time. You can determine the start time by using this sunset time chart. It is specific for Cape Town, but with a bit of arithmatic, you can determine the best time for your area.

MonthDateSunset timeDateSunset timeDateSunset timeDateSunset time
Jan0120:01 0720:02 1420:01 2819:95
Feb0119:52 0719:47 1419:41 2819:25
Mar0119:23 0719:15 1419:05 2818:45
Apr0118:41 0718:33 1418:24 2818:08
May0118:05 0718:00 1417:54 2817:46
Jun0117:45 0717:43 1417:43 2817:46
Jul0117:48 0717:50 1417:54 2818:04
Aug0118:06 0718:10 1418:15 2818:25
Sep0118:28 0718:32 1418:36 2818:46
Oct0118:48 0718:53 1418:58 2819:09
Nov0119:14 0719:20 1419:26 2819:40
Dec0119:43 0719:47 1419:52 2819:59
Choose the best time | Select the best photographer