Choosing Where to Get Ready – DIY Wedding Tips from Spokane Wedding Photographer, Zach Nichols

Hello! My name is Zach Nichols and I am a Spokane Wedding Photographer. This coming season will be my fourth year in the wedding industry and so far I have had the immense privilege to photograph over 100 weddings to date, 36 of those being last year alone! Today I hope to share some DIY wedding tips on how to choose a great place to get ready for brides who are not doing so in a salon or makeup studio.

It is becoming increasingly rare for brides to get makeup and hair done at salons and makeup studios. I cannot tell you how many getting-ready photos I have taken in homes, hotel rooms, “getting-ready rooms” at venues, and even bathrooms. I’ve certainly seen a bit of it all. Though rooms and locations created specifically for getting hair and makeup done are generally better than those that are not, I want to provide a few helpful tips for the best photos and final product regardless of the location. It really comes down to one key component, light. 

Believe it or not, all light is NOT created equal. The first thing you want to do when picking a room to get ready in is evaluate the lighting. Though make-up artists can, and oftentimes do, come prepared with a light, I would encourage you not to rely on them alone. To better explain what to look for, I want to do something that might seem a bit odd and explain the different types of lighting from best to absolute worst. 

The best type of light is hands down, natural light. There is nothing better than taking photos in a well-lit room where no artificial light is needed. I would always recommend the room that has the most natural light available. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a room where a bride is getting her makeup done using overhead incandescent lighting with beautiful window light on the other side of the room or just behind her. When possible, turn off the artificial lighting and go with the beautiful window light! 

So maybe there are not many windows or it is cloudy outside and there is not enough natural light to get your makeup done. I get it, and this is totally fine! At this point, artificial lighting becomes a necessity. The best light in this circumstance is a makeup light or lights that mimic the color of the sun. Makeup lights mimic the color of the sun very closely and are not overly yellow (like incandescents) or blue (like fluorescents or some LEDs). This makes the photos come out more natural and also makes a makeup artist’s job so much easier. It is no wonder then why many of the best makeup artists in Spokane use them when outside of the makeup studio. 

Ok so now onto more difficult situations.. What if neither option is available? At this point you really just have two options: go with the light you have, or go outside. I have been at locations where there were not any great options for lighting. We went with what was there and it turned out just fine. So long as the make-up artist can see and can do their job with the light available, that is all that really matters. Photographers have ways of correcting lighting to look more natural or provide their own light (via flash or other methods). There is no need to worry so long as your photographer knows what they are doing! 

Lastly, I have (though only a few times) come across situations where the light inside where the bride planned on getting ready was in all honesty terrible, and it was the ONLY option. Let’s just say that basements and bunk rooms are not great places for getting ready… If the available lighting is awful and dark, keep in mind that you can go outside to get your makeup done. This of course depends on the weather but it is a great option and one I have employed with makeup artists on a few occasions with brides. 

I hope that this article helps you plan where you might want to get ready on your wedding day. I do want to make it known that not all wedding photographers or makeup artists offer suggestions or bring lighting. However, if you choose to hire a great makeup artist like Shasta for your wedding, she will take great care of you and provide you with not only the most optimal lighting, but also an incredible makeup experience. I have worked with her many many times and she always does a great job in every aspect of her work. On the topic of photos, if you would like to see some of my work, feel free to check out my website. If you have any questions about this article or anything photography related feel free to reach out to me! I hope you have a great day and an incredible wedding experience! 


Zach Nichols, Spokane Wedding Photographer