An outback wedding shoot can be a rewarding experience. Where else can you get the opportunity to create stunning images in one of Australia’s most iconic environments?
On the other hand, you can also get yourself into a lot of trouble – or just decrease your chances of getting a good shot – without the proper preparation. When it comes to planning this sort of shoot, there’s a lot to keep in mind. Use these tips to figure out if an ouback shoot is best for your next wedding photoshoot – and plan accordingly!
When you are shooting on location, timing is everything. There is a right time of day to shoot in the Australian outback, and a wrong time. You have to think about the lighting first and foremost, as this will affect your results in a big way.
Shooting at midday is never a great idea. You will end up with the worst possible lighting, especially if it’s a clear and hot day, as the sun will shine brightly from directly overhead. This will cause unattractive shadows on the face, particularly below the nose and eyes.
On the other hand, you might want to think about how your skills tie in to your ability to shoot certain other popular times. Sunset and sunrise offer a special kind of light known as the golden hour, which casts your subjects in a romantic glow. This can be ideal for wedding shoots, but at the same time, you will be under time pressures.
If you aren’t fully confident about your speed – or whether your subjects will relax in time to get the shot – then it’s better to go for the sunrise. This allows you the chance to shoot in daylight if you miss the shot during that period. If you shoot at sunset and miss it, then you’re lost in darkness. While you could bring a lighting kit and bring your subjects back out of the background, you will then miss that outback setting that you wanted!
Time of day is an important consideration for your outback shoot
The worst possible idea you could have for an outback shoot would be to just head out there without a plan or any preparation, and hope for the best.
The outback can be a changeable environment. You will normally expect it to be very hot, but it can also get windy, you might be faced with a storm, and you could also encounter very low temperatures depending on the time of day or the season.
This means that you have to prepare in advance. First of all, be ready for anything. You should even think about setting up a replacement location indoors if the weather turns, or leaving the option to reschedule the shoot should it be a rainy day. After all, it’s not like there are many natural areas of shelter in the outback – at least, not ones that make for good wedding pictures.
It’s absolutely essential that you prepare for the heat. Bring along parasols or other coverings to protect you and your clients’ heads, as well as sunscreen and plenty of water. You don’t want to get stuck out there without anything to drink. Always think about the worst-case scenario: what if your vehicle breaks down, leaving you stranded in the outback with the bride and groom? You want to be able to wait for rescue without any ill effects.
It’s a good idea to bring food, but even if you do nothing else, always bring extra water bottles along with you.
Having a backup indoor location planned can save you if the weather turns
Next up, you’d better think about how you are going to protect your equipment.
Yes, that’s right – it’s not just us that suffer in hot, dusty environments. You may be using your camera on sand, which means small particles could get blown into the lens and into your camera’s casing. This can be catastrophic if it gets into the wrong places.
Heat can also overpower your camera quickly, causing loss of functions and perhaps even permanent damage. You won’t want to carry it in such a way that it will quickly become overheated, and you will want to be careful when using it as well.
On the other hand, it’s not like you want to freeze your camera. Anyone who has shot in a snowy location can attest to the fact that DSLRs don’t particularly enjoy extreme cold either! Instead, you will want to try to keep your camera at a cool medium. Try placing it in a cool box or bag, but without adding ice cubes. Always allow your camera some adjustment time – you can leave it in a shaded position for a while to gently warm up.
Bring extra memory cards and batteries, and keep these stored in a cool box until you need them. They may overheat whilst in the camera, causing error messages. In this case, you will want to replace them with cool alternatives.
It’s also a fantastic idea to cover your camera. See-through housings are normally used for wet weather, but they can protect against sand as well. Just try to stay away from plastic covers, which may heat up and intensify the problem.
Take steps to minimise the impact of dust and heat on your gear
One of the worst things you can do in any shoot is leave your camera on automatic settings. It’s a much better idea to set things up manually, so that’s what you should do when shooting in the outback.
You may find it hard to set up for the harsh lighting. Set your ISO as low as possible and use a faster shutter speed, which will allow you to freeze the action more effectively. A flash setup will help even out the lighting.
An important decision is whether to employ a fast aperture or not. On the one hand, a fast aperture will blur the background, putting more focus on your bride and groom. But you don’t want to blur the background out too much - you likely chose to shoot in the outback for a reason, so show off the beautiful landscape! Usually a mid-range aperture, like f/4, is ideal so you can have the focus on your couple but the background will still be visible.
You may have to deal with harsh lighting - have a plan for that!
As for choosing locations for your outback wedding shoot, there are certainly some faux pas that you could make. Avoid these awful ideas:
- Shooting at a known landmark, especially a famous one. This is an open invitation for every single shot to have tourists in the background
- Choosing a spot of spiritual significance. This may be disrespectful for the peoples who have lived on the land in the past, so always do your research
- Going to a very remote area. Being far from help is just asking for trouble!
- Going somewhere which requires hiking. Hiking is not easy in bridal gowns and wedding suits
Try these excellent ideas instead:
- Don’t stray too far from a town. Areas like Alice Springs, which is known as the gateway to the outback, allow copious opportunities where the outback is behind you and the town in front, so you get all the reward with no risk
- Scout the location ahead of time. Know where the best shots are, how to get there quickly, and share your plan with others
While popular destinations can be nice, they can present their own challenges
What about drone photography?
Drones are certainly a popular choice for photoshoots at the moment, presenting opportunities for unique shots. However, there are some legal restrictions and regulations that you have to abide by even when you are using them for a shoot in the outback.
You should always keep the drone in your line of sight – which may be tricky if you are taking photographs with your camera at the same time. For this reason, you may wish to have an assistant fly the drone. This will allow you to take wide and close shots of the same view, or take behind the scenes footage. This is a great idea for creating more content from one single photoshoot.
You must keep the drone below 400 feet from the ground at all times, and it shouldn’t be above people – so if you are in a popular area, you may have to think twice.
Drone photography can allow you to get shots you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise
If you’re ready to set up your outback wedding shoot and create the best possible images, you might want to stock up on some new gear. Make sure to check out our shop sections at digiDirect to pick up everything you need before the date!