Sometimes it takes time for a child to warm up to the stranger with the big camera. If you don’t have an opportunity to photograph a child before the formal portraits, and they are either shy or just do not want to have their photo taken, it may not turn out good. One very important thing I learned about photographing people in general is that there is just as much work that goes into building relationships as actually taking pictures and are often done at the same time. By that I mean simply getting to know people and more importantly, letting them get to know you and feel comfortable with you.
This beautiful young lady was as shy as can be when I arrived at the home where the bride was getting prepared. I introduced myself and went about setting up my camera. I tried not to move around too much as to intimidate her. I sat close to my equipment bag and was testing some shots inside the den where the wedding dress was hanging. The sunlight was pouring in through the windows, so I was testing for a good exposure on the dress where I would not blow out the highlights or underexpose from the sunlight. I then opened up a third stop to better expose for skin tones because I wanted to be ready to grab a shot of her, which I knew would be quick.
I turned around to see what she was up to. She was peeking her head out from the kitchen watching everything I was doing. I told her I liked her tiara and asked if I could take her picture because she looked so beautiful. She nodded yes and quickly ducked right back into the kitchen. When she peeked her head back out, I was already focused and ready to snap the shot that literally lasted about a half a second. I smiled and said “I got you”. I then asked her if she would like to see the photo. She smiled and nodded yes again as she came over to look at the back of my camera. I told her again how beautiful she looked and wouldn’t you know it, she followed me around and modeled for me for the next 20 minutes. When it came time for the formals, she was my best subject (next to the bride, of course).
You know what it’s like when you get that wedding invitation in the mail. The first thing you probably do is check the date in your calendar, cause that just makes sense. Then you begin to think about what you are going to wear. Maybe you need to get a new dress, or pull that old suit out of the back of the closet to send it to the cleaners. What if that invitation said something other than formal or black tie in the dress category….
Every once in a while, I find the theme of a wedding drift outside of the formal tradition. It’s kind of refreshing in that it reminds us that it is our day and we really can do what ever we want.This bride and groom held there wedding at their private residence dressed in an all out country theme. The guys were uniformly dressed in wrangler jeans cowboy boots/hats (no spurs for safety purposes). The girls were also wearing boots with cowgirl dresses. There was a country band playing at the reception and the food served was all barbeque. The bride is a professional horseback rider and yes, we took formal pictures with her horse.
The property was enormous, but there were so many people in attendance, it was difficult to get an environmental picture without guests in the frame. As the sun was saying goodbye, I looked around for a setting to take a few more shots before we completely lost daylight. I was standing on the lawn across from the house (log cabin actually) looking out over the driveway. The sky and silhouetted trees were pretty sweet. I framed the side of the barn on the left and the asked the groom if we could place the carriage on the right in front of the boardwalk. The reception was in full swing right behind me in a huge tent on the lawn and was well illuminated, but only inside the tent itself. There was a portable luxury bathroom trailer on the other side of the barn, so this area was quite busy and the only area outside the tent with an outside light. Because of the bathroom traffic, I was able to test a few shots as people returned from the bathroom. I tested the exposure balance between the sky and the flood light on the front of the barn, which was the key light that would light the bride and groom in this photo. Once I had what I was looking for, I grabbed the bride and groom from the reception and kindly asked them to pose for this picture while asking everyone else to stay clear of the frame for literally about 5 seconds.
I like this image because it totally fits the theme of the wedding. After spending part of the day here, I almost forgot I was still on Long Island.
I chose this image for this weeks post because of its significance for a couple of reasons. Shamie and Anthony thought Captree would be a cool spot for their engagement shoot because Anthony has a picture of himself when he was very little at this very same spot. He was on the beach playing as a young boy and in the background is the the Robert Moses Bridge. The image he described shows the entire length of the bridge including the Robert Moses needle. So going into this shoot, I knew I wanted to create an image for them, which has the same canvas.
We planned the shoot to end around sunset as to capture a nice silhouette of the bridge. Given the lack of natural light, I needed to set up a strobe that lights them and I wanted to make it look like they are being lit by the setting sun, so the light had to come from the side of me and light them from the front. Here is where it gets interesting. I set my light up near the water and pushed the legs of my stand into the sand so that the wind would not blow my stand with my light and battery pack into the water. Well it worked for a few shots, but then a big gust of wind took the whole thing over right after I snapped this shot and I could not react to catch it before it was submerged in the water. I quickly grabbed it in hope that the water did not make it into the battery compartment, set it aside and kept working the rest of the shoot with just my on camera flash.
Thank goodness, my light is fine and in perfect working condition. I realize afterwards that it could have been much worse…..It could have happened before I got the shot.
For most of my photographic career, I would only take portraits outdoors. I have always loved the idea of environmental portraits and I still do. Even though I had the equipment, I never really embraced the idea of tampering with studio portraits……until about a year ago. Although I am primarily a wedding/event photographer, I have always studied photography from a much broader spectrum. Most of the blogs I read and photographers I follow are not even wedding shooters. I have always felt that this helped me keep my style original instead of unconsciously copying someone else.
As I became more and more curious about studio portraiture, I decided to utilize my basement as a photo studio. I purchased a few different backdrops, set up my studio strobes in position and began to experiment with my favorite subjects, my kids. The thing that intrigued me about it was the total control of the light. When shooting outdoors, I sometimes have to wait for the sun to either come back out or go back behind the clouds for a particular shot. Not here, I choose my background and set my lights up exactly the way I want and shoot. I can shoot with one light or six lights, depending on the type of shot.
I since have shot portraits for families and kids, holiday portraits, communion portraits, sports composite portraits and professional headshots. It’s a nice thing to have in my back pocket. This particular image is a communion portrait for a good friend and beautiful subject. We took some traditional portraits, but some of my favorites were the semi-silhouette images that focus more on her gesture rather then her smile.
The Studio is Open!
I met Ryane and Mike last year when I photographed a wedding for their very good friends. They were both in the wedding party and spent some time with me that day (a good trial run). I have to admit, I do not approach each wedding as if I am attending a job interview, but it’s important to realize that each time you go out to do a job, you are potentially being evaluated.
A few months after their friends wedding, I receive a phone call from Ryane explaining that she enjoyed my stealth shooting style and how I handled documenting the entire wedding. The formals were quick, comical and relaxed and they were amazed at the images I was able to capture while remaining unseen at the ceremony and reception. This was especially important to Ryane as she does not like being in front of the camera, which is very common. This is perfect for me, because this is how I shoot.
To wrap this up, they both visited me this past weekend to see their images for the first time and I was able to witness their true reaction to the images. I was definitely pleased because I knew then that I made them both happy.
Ryane & Michael just left this morning after seeing their wedding for the first time (congratulations post to follow), so I thought it would be appropriate to showcase one of their images as the image of the week. One thing I always do following each wedding I shoot is to have the bride & groom over to view their images with me for the first time. Once we meet and go through all the images, and I mean all of them in a beautiful slideshow with music, then I give them their proofs, disc and access the their exclusive gallery on my site.
Viewing the images with the client is be very rewarding. I get to witness their expressions and reactions to the images as they relive their wedding day. Words can not describe how important this is to me. Instead of sending them a link and possibly never hearing back to confirm if they are truly happy, I am there.
This day, we had a backyard wedding on a beautiful day. As sun began to dip closer to the horizon, I was anticipating a beautiful lightscape background as the sun shined through the forest of bamboo trees. The background is so beautiful, it almost looks fake.
So many good images from this wedding. I am putting together a collection of favorites and will put up a congratulations post later in the week.
Sun glare Rocks!
Choosing the right lens for the job is key. Much like post-productions image effects, it’s all based on opinion and over-using any special effect can be a bit much even if the effect is nice. When I am experimenting on the job, it’s important to get the safe pictures first before I attempt to be creative if the end result is not the way you remember seeing it. This effect is done through the lens and can not be corrected in post-production. Knowing your gear is critical when envisioning an image or duh, you wouldn’t know how to create it in camera and will only exist in your mind.
Here I have included two different shots of the same image shot with different lenses. I was backed up against an array of bushes when I shot these and could not go back any further. I chose to shoot this image both with a wide angle lens and a fisheye lens. If I had shot the first image any wider to capture the entire mansion’s width, the couple would be even smaller in the frame and that would not work. The fisheye lens is a much wider angle of view and I was able to move in a bit closer, which made the couple larger in the frame. What also happens is the edges of the image get distorted due to the very wide angle of view combined with the roundness of the glass and that is the effect of the optics.
Both are nice images, I kinda like the fisheye image myself, but it’s all about taste.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts.
One of my favorite post-production techniques is to style the image with a vintage/retro look when the image allows it. I aim for this when I am shooting certain images and I love it when it works. It is a technique that can easily be overused and I take care not to. This particular image was shot in an old mansion with vintage décor. Place the bride in front of an old oversized window right before she is about to walk down the aisle and click. I literally walked out of the room after snapping this shot and ran down to catch the start of the ceremony.
I was pretty psyched to go out and shoot this past weekend (as I am every weekend), but this weekend was a special case, cause I was in anticipation of the Super Moon. Not for a landscape expedition however, I was shooting an engagement session and I was prepared every step of the way. I use a little app called The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which lets me know exactly when and where the sun and moon will rise and set based on any geographical location I set (and I have a few favorites saved).
We had three locations set up for this session and we spent 3 hours shooting. The plan was to finish the evening at the beach to catch some twilight and hopefully the moon rise. The clouds were thick and low on the horizon, so I knew there was no shot of seeing it peek over the horizon, but we waited till it finally did sneak through the clouds and it was still magical.
So off I wend to go meet Brittany & Billy in Babylon Village where they often dine and hangout. We started off the night right with a glass of wine and some laughs. The images will tell the rest of the story. There are too many good images to put them all on the blog, but this is just a taste.
Hit the continue link below to see more images from the shoot.
Congratulations Brittany & Billy! I had an awesome time.
Continue reading Super Moon Engagement Shoot
This weeks image of the week is part of a bride & groom shoot taken earlier this year. Once I am finished grabbing all the formal family and wedding party images, I spend time with the bride & groom and we have some fun. This is the first time the couple are together without an entourage and they usually embrace the moment. I had the opportunity to spend some time with them during the engagement shoot last summer, so I am familiar with the couple in front of my camera. This is key.
As a wedding photographer, I need to have the skills to pull off a great portrait and I am constantly studying and trying different types of lighting. The lighting is key and when done right, it appears as if the image was lit naturally. The place sometimes looks like a studio set (portable however, cause we are constantly moving) for a TV show with the lighting and surrounding people waiting to grab their own snaps of what I am creating. Grab all you want. No flash however, while I’m getting mines!
When I am working with the bride & groom, I need to make them feel as if we are alone no matter the case. To me a portrait is not just about posing, but even more important is the expression. This image was directed in that I told them where and how to stand, the groom to put his hands around her waist and for her to place her hand on his chest. All natural and simple posing. If the posing gets complicated, then the images do not look natural and may as well be deleted from the camera. I asked the groom to gently lean in and kiss the side her forehead while the bride looks away. When the groom went in for the move, I called the brides name and she looked at me with the emotion she was feeling just as the groom laid the kiss on her. It can be hit or miss, but this technique can be quite rewarding if all goes well. A nice image to add to their collection and the bride is wearing a beautiful expression.