Viewing Weddings

Tips for Skin Tones – Do’s and Don’ts for Pre and Post

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Tips for Skin Tones – Do’s and Don’ts for Pre and Post

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Getting the correct skin tones can be one of the toughest things for a wedding photographer. It’s a huge issue when comparing cameras and camera brands. One photographer likes the skin tones that come out of a Nikon, while another prefers Canon. Here in New Jersey, I deal with a wide variety of skin tones—everything from super-pale to African American, and everything in between, including the all-too-famous Jersey fake bake.

 

To be frank, I don’t think I’ve perfected the art of getting the exact same skin tone in every shot, or at least the tone I want. My goal is to achieve a tone that accurately represents my client in the most flattering way in every shot. But at a wedding, I don’t have as much control over the light as I would like. Ceremonies are often in dark churches with red carpets, stained glass and no flash allowed.

 

But there are some things we can do pre and post to make sure we are getting the best possible light and skin tones.

 

If you’re photographing your clients outside in a grassy field, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume the natural light provides a good color. The light that’s reflecting off the ground and hitting the client’s face is absorbing the color from the surrounding area. If you’re just allowing the reflective light to hit your client, then you’re allowing green light from the grass to hit them, which is bad. The same thing goes for pretty much any other place you photograph. Whatever surface the light is reflecting off, that color will reflect back on your client’s face and skin tones, altering them in a way neither of you will like.

 

The solution is either a reflector or a light source. I prefer reflectors because they’re easy. Using the white side or silver side of the reflector ensures I am bouncing light back onto my client that is colorless rather than tinted green. It’s the easiest and fastest method as long as you have an assistant. You can see what you’re doing because you can see the light on the client’s face. Alternatively, you can place the reflector, black side up, on the ground in front of the subject to help block some of the green reflection on the face.

 

When I use my own light source, such as off-camera flash, I go for the Profoto B1 or B2 because of their power and portability. I bring one of each to every wedding. I use the B1 if I’m in a place where I can position it on a light stand without fear of it falling over or being carried away by the wind. I use a B2 for a more run-and-gun scenario, where I’m short on time, have to move quickly or can’t trust that the wind won’t pull a Mary Poppins on my umbrella.

 

I always recommend using a light shaper of some kind. My go-to is the umbrella, preferably deep white, depending on the situation, with a baffle over it that softens light and makes it look a little more natural. Ideally, I want a softbox or beauty dish, but the umbrella is much faster to set up in a pinch. I lean toward that unless I have time to set up my portable beauty dish.

 

Even when you do your best to get it right in camera, sometimes you just don’t capture the exact skin tone you want. That’s where post-production comes into play. You’ll see later in the video in this article exactly how I treat skin tones in post-production. Lightroom is where I do most of the work, because I can quickly control the saturation and luminance of specific colors. I look to control red, orange for darker skin tones or tanned skin, and orange and yellow for more fair skin. Depending on the client’s actual skin tone, you can also brighten mid-tones and whites to brighten the skin a little.

 

Skin tones are subjective, especially in the mind of your clients. Many of my clients spend a lot of time and money tanning, whether it’s spray tanning, bed tanning or real tanning. If I make their skin too pale and completely absent of that tan, they’re going to be upset. At the same time, if I let them see what their tan looks like straight out of camera, they might be concerned that they would give Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas a run for their money.

 

It is a fine line. Keep in mind exactly how much saturation to leave in their skin color. I edit this in only my favorite photos from a wedding day because those are the photos that end up in my online portfolio. We don’t edit our proofs in house because it would be too costly to have my editors do skin tone corrections to each image. I send those out for processing.

 

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Kicking Ass with the Canon 5D Mark IV in Lightroom CC with Dustin Lucas

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

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Kicking Ass with the Canon 5D Mark IV in Lightroom CC with Dustin Lucas

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Whether you are a photo enthusiast or a professional photographer, you are continually being sold on the fact that you need new gear and features like new and improved image sensors, low-light capabilities, better autofocus, 4K video, movable display screen and touchscreen, just to touch on a few. Yes, it’s that time of year when camera vendors are shoveling out their new and improved, latest and greatest updates to their flagship camera bodies. There is nothing simple about the update to the Canon 5D series. Welcome the fourth model, the 5D Mark IV, to the industry.

Now, you may be saying it’s a meek comparison to the Canon 1DX series, and you are right in some regards. The 1DX Mark II has fewer pixels, meaning they are individually larger, hailing in low-light sensitivity. It has a completely built-in-grip body, better battery life, etc. Being a Nikon guy myself, please save the boos for after the article; it says a lot about the fact that the Canon 5D cameras are used by the majority of wedding photographers. This is not just a coincidence or a marketing scheme. It’s pure and simple: The Canon 5D Mark series is the professional standard.

Reader disclaimer: I will not be covering the trademarked Dual Pixel feature of the Canon 5D Mark IV for now due to Adobe’s lack of support. You never know when they will release it when their response is “We’re working on it.” Remember the change from Adobe Lightroom 5 to CC, and how slow it ran? It took until version 2015.7 to resurface Smart Preview to the performance panel. Not to mention the video performance upgrade that made things even worse. With the newest update, you can actually open your Canon 5D Mark IV Raw files—no more converting to DNGs.

ISO and Dynamic Range

After we import our Raws and build 1:1 previews, we are ready to start examining the ISO sensitivity and pushing the advertised 13.6 Evs, or exposure values. I am not going to get into a scientific debate; you can get all that data from DXO’s website, www.dxomark.com, if you are interested in how this compares with other camera bodies. I am more interested in how this camera performs while photographing clients. We will be looking mostly at dynamic range and what Lightroom processing allows us to get before a heavy amount of noise is introduced. We will discuss noise reduction later.

Here we are looking at a silhouette shot at ISO 50 in front of a hotel room window. (1) Based on our camera settings at capture, the shutter speed was 1/1,000 of a second; with an aperture of f4.0, we are about 1/3 stop brighter for exposure than the “sunny 16 rule” would calculate. Sunny 16 is a fundamental rule when photographing in bright daylight: When shooting at f16, our ISO and shutter speed should match. In this case, the shutter speed would be at 1/800 of a second, but details are everything, from the bright blue sky to the shadows on the bride’s back. (2) This image is staged to be a silhouette, but as you can see, by lifting the exposure 1.5 stops, we begin to add in just enough shadow detail. (3) To add even more, we can lift the shadows, but remember that you are flattening the contrast. (4) This is not always an appealing tactic.

Dropping our highlights down to –100, we start to get our sky back to “shot out of camera,” or SOOC. (5) I am not advocating for a high-dynamic-range, or HDR, stylized edit for this image; I just want to show you the capabilities with this Raw exposure. We have the most dynamic range at this lowest ISO setting. The idea here is to attempt to edit this image closer to how this looked in person. (6)

Resolution and Details

Moving away from exposure values and dynamic range, we now want to examine the 1:1 pixel perspective along with the details of the image. (7) This is why we built 1:1 previews and are linked with the Raw file instead of Smart Previews. (8A) This camera’s 4480×6720 resolution can be utilized to its fullest potential here. (8B) Remember that we are viewing a Raw image prior to it being rasterized and actual pixels assigned. We are able to view the native resolution and essentialy get the most flexibility out of the image at this stage.

Starting at the bottom of the frame, we can see the softness in the carpet due to the wider aperture used. (9) With wider-angle focal lengths, the depth of field is greater from the start versus a longer focal length. F4.0 is the lowest aperture available, and it allows the entire dress and subject to be tack-sharp. (10) You wouldn’t want the city to be as sharp as the bride here—emphasis on your subject. (11)

Moving down to the Details panel in Lightroom, we are tempted to fix the sharpness based on the falloff of the lens and the anti-aliasing filter. At first glance, this image is really sharp in the details of the dress, but with all the shadow recovery, we added some noise and could use some sharpness at the edge of the frame.

First, let’s add some luminance to soften the skin. Make sure to remove any color noise. Since this image was shot as a very low ISO, we shouldn’t have any noise, right? Remember that when lifting the dark tones, especially with shadow recovery, you are introducing noise to add detail in an underexposed area. (12) Lower ISO settings greatly help, but you still have noise. Once we have those settings dialed in, we can balance out the softened effect by adding some sharpening. (13a, 13b)

In Lightroom, under the Sharpening panel, the setting is defaulted to 25. By adding roughly 50 to 60 points, we can start to see the difference before the image looks artificially sharp. (14) When you hold Option or the Alt key while adjusting this slider, the image changes to grayscale. You can focus in on the details without the color tones getting in the way. (15) This panel is comparable to working in Photoshop and what is known as Input Sharpening.

Refer to my previous article, “Attention to Details: Better Results With Sharpening,” for more on this topic. Lightroom’s inability to adjust lens sharpness falloff is an issue. Maybe another article about Capture One is needed.

Using Camera Profiles

In the Camera Calibration panel settings, you can adjust the standard profile provided by Adobe to the emulated Canon manufacturer profiles. These are designed to emulate the Canon profiles. You will get different results with the Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software. Typically I use Camera Standard or Neutral, depending on the initial results; both of these provide a greater range of contrast, as you can see after changing from Adobe Standard. In this case, Camera Portrait suits this image, and we have to do some adjusting since the shadows are blocked up, meaning a bit darker. Apply your Camera Profile first, and then adjust in the Basic panel for future reference. (16)

The Results

As we tinker around in the newest update to Lightroom, the Canon 5D Mark IV Raw files are finally editable with the same tools as in the previous camera models. With the increase in resolution, dynamic range and low-light sensitivity, we are able to zoom in farther with 1:1 previews and pull more details into the underexposed areas without adding too much noise.

This camera is hard to pass up. It might not be wise to wait on the next improved model. The only feature missing for Adobe is the Canon Dual Pixel adjustment tool, which is found only in Canon DPP software at the moment.

Check out my next articles when this update drops for a rundown of the Canon Dual Pixel tool as well as how other Raw processors compare to Adobe Camera Raw, or ACR.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Branding for High-End Weddings: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now with Vanessa Joy

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

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Branding for High-End Weddings: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now with Vanessa Joy

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the November issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

One of the biggest challenges photographers face is finding high-end clients. People expect me to have some sort of pat answer that tells them how to start charging $10,000 per wedding or get that wedding that runs $18,000 or $19,000. There are no magical steps to reaching that kind of clientele. I can’t give you a surefire method to promise that in one year you will grab that kind of income. A lot of it has to do with finding who you are rather than finding where they are.

 

The majority of photographers who ask me these questions don’t have a stable business yet. The way our culture is, with social media and beautiful imagery constantly in front of our potential clients, we can’t just fake it till we make it with branding. Consumers know what a good, solid brand looks like. So, when a potential client looks at a photography company, or any company, and it isn’t up to par, the client feels wary of it, even if only subconsciously. If a company can’t fulfill the high-end experience, there’s a network of sites that will help that client rant and rave about that company until no one wants to work with it anymore. But there are things you can do right now to start building a high-end brand.

 

Analyze Your Client Experience

 

Take a second to walk through the life cycle of your clients. Start with when they first contact you, when they meet with you and then when they book with you. Then take a look at the engagement session and wedding, and how the pictures and products are delivered. How often do you communicate with them, and what does that communication look like? Are you giving them high quality? Are you surprising them or finding ways to exceed all their expectations?

 

Here’s the thing. Your clients expect to get the things you’ve taught them to expect, like good photography. Delivering that to them is nothing to write home about. It’s only when you find ways to exceed those expectations and give them something that is wow-worthy that they feel they’re getting more than their money’s worth, and that they find a reason to talk about you with their friends and family in person and, hopefully, on social media.

 

I’m always looking to improve how I communicate with my clients. Just two weeks ago, I added a new point of contact. The day before the wedding, my brides get an email that says I’m looking forward to seeing them the next day, and if they need a Starbucks run, to just let me know what they’d like and I’ll pick it up for them. I’ve never had anyone take me up on that, but most brides are worrying about all the details the day (and night) before their wedding. I like to jump in and give them a little bit of reassurance so they feel like, “Hey, the photographer’s definitely showing up. She just emailed me.” At some point, I’ll add a link to a blog post that I plan on writing that talks about three ways to fall asleep when you can’t sleep the night before your wedding, but that’s in the future.

 

By the way, these kinds of emails that I send multiple times throughout my relationship with my clients are automated through my client management system, 17 Hats (which you can get for free, or use the code “vanessajoy” to get discounted paid services). I don’t recommend trying to remember to email your brides manually the night before their wedding. That would not be very efficient.

 

Analyzing your client experience is an excellent way to build a high-end clientele. The unique experience you give your clients helps you shine through.

 

Do Market Research

 

As small business owners, we can’t spend $100,000 on market research, but we can certainly spend a few minutes on Instagram or Pinterest. Think of the types of high-end companies you want your company to be like—think Free People or Anthropologie, Louis Vuitton or Gucci. These companies have $100,000-plus to spend on research. If you spend a few minutes of your time looking at what they’re doing on social media, you can reverse-engineer a little bit of it and find some things that could work for you.

 

In addition, you’ll probably end up finding some things that are share-worthy on your social media. After all, when you’re posting on social media, you don’t want to post only about yourself and your pictures. You want to post some popular content that you know your audience is going to like. Share content on high-end sites like Buzzsumo that you know your clients like. It’s a great way to reach those clients and appear more relatable to them.

 

Network Up

 

You’ll notice that my suggestion for how to get upscale clients comes in last. That’s intentional. Before you start taking on luxury weddings, you need to have the company, the product and the experience to support them. There is no point attracting clients that you won’t be able to make happy.

 

When I first started my photography business, I wasn’t attracting high-end clients right away. My brand didn’t scream luxury to the people that were there. However, my clients had friends who got engaged and who were in the demographic I was trying to reach. I developed a same-day edit process (more on that at www.breatheyourpassion.com/sde). I got in front of all the guests at the wedding who either were potentially getting married or had kids getting married. At the same time, I was working on my brand image and raising my prices to slowly start attracting higher-end clientele.

 

Simultaneously, I worked like crazy developing relationships with wedding planners, going to industry events, getting published in magazines and making friends with other wedding vendors. I found unique ways to stand out. After the wedding, I contact the florist and say, “Would you like copies of the pictures of your floral arrangements? You can use them for your website or social media (just tag me, please), and on top of it, I’d love to make you brochures with your floral arrangements and your logo on one side.” It’s a perfect way to network.

 

To reach the luxury wedding clients, you have to cast a wide net and network as much as you possibly can.

 

When I first started my photography business, I didn’t begin by charging $10,000, instantly attracting upscale clients. I had to work hard over eight years, and now average $10,000 per wedding. Wherever you are in building your business, I hope that you take the time to put the legwork behind it and create a product and client experience that attract the clients you want to work with.

 

For more on ways to create a high-end brand, don’t miss my talk at ShutterFest 2017. In the meantime, check out this video to see how pricing matches up with a high-end experience.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the November issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Mastering Speedlights for the Wedding and Portrait Photographer with Michael Anthony

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

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Mastering Speedlights for the Wedding and Portrait Photographer with Michael Anthony

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the October issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

As a full-time wedding and portrait photographer located in Southern California, rarely do I get the luxury of shooting in perfect light. When I started out, I knew that to stand out from the crowd, I needed to differentiate my portfolio using creative light. That sent me on a mission to learn how to master flash.

 

In 2011, I purchased my first two speedlights: Canon EX 580II’s. Like many of you, I was overwhelmed by the technical knowledge I needed to make the most of the flashes. So I picked up all of the books I could on the subject of flash, and began to learn the ins and outs. Not long after, I invested in the Canon 600EX-RT system because of the radio controllers integrated in the body of the lights. I still use this system.

 

It may come as a surprise to most that 95 percent of the external lighting our studio uses comes from our Canon Speedlites. Speedlights are portable and inexpensive, and can turn an ordinary image into something extraordinary. With the extensive list of modifiers available, you can shape light almost any way you need to. Photographers fail at lighting when they don’t see beyond the obvious.

 

Your speedlights, like all of your photographic tools, have strengths and limitations, and understanding them is the best way to create images that stand out. Let’s look at a few ways you can use your speedlights to create incredible images.

 

Flag and Bounce

 

This technique allows you to use your speedlight to create both soft and controlled light in almost any situation. A telltale sign of an image that is “flashy” is that the light quality does not match the quality of ambient light. If you are shooting images inside in poor but even lighting, the light on your subject should be soft. If you are outdoors in 12 o’clock sunlight, your light should be hard. This makes for images that are believable to the eye.
If you are like me, you hate carrying a lot of gear with you on shoots. You can carry softboxes and umbrellas, but why do it if you don’t need to? On a wedding day, if I am shooting inside a dimly lit room but I want to use soft light, one of the best ways to do that is to use a close wall to bounce a speedlight off of. You can do this inside or outside, and both yield incredible results. When in brighter light, just remember that bouncing your flash will cost you some power, so when using speedlights, keep your subject close to the light source (wall).

 

It seems obvious, and it is a fairly basic technique. The reason it doesn’t often look good is because while the soft light hits your subject, it also spills uncontrollably throughout the room.

 

In order to control this, you need to flag your flash. You can buy fancy modifiers to do this, but a large gray card or the black side of a reflector works perfectly. By flagging your light, you can control exactly where you want light to go, without causing distracting light spill everywhere else in the room.

 

This works wonders during bridal and groom prep, and allows you to leave the heavy modifiers in the car until you need them.

 

Create Mystery or Separation With Backlight

 

I stay away from the word backlight because it contains a connotation that I hear every other Southern California “natural light” photographer use when describing how to make bad light better. So there is no confusion, backlight does not fix blown highlights or crushed shadows. Now that we have established that, let’s talk about the best times to use backlight with a speedlight.

 

By placing your speedlight behind your subjects, you can create a bit of mystery in your images. Backlight also allows you to create separation between your subject and the background, and can add a dynamic feel to an already well-lit image.

 

I use backlight in a dark environment for the last image in an album spread. This way I create a quick, well-composed image that I can rely on as an album closer every single time. Backlight should not be a distraction. You need to consider both the power of the light and the placement, as backlight can spill onto the front of your subject’s face. By offsetting your couple, you can use the same bounce techniques described above to create a bit of light on one of your subjects’ faces, even if the light is completely behind them.

 

When using backlight with a subject with long hair, place all of the hair on the subject’s back to avoid the appearance of hair growing out of the subject’s chin, and emphasize the subject’s shape.

 

Add a backlight to a front-lit subject for a dynamic portrait that allows for a beautiful halo on your subject.

 

Use a speedlight to backlight water, smoke or any other semi-transparent material to create a pattern to shoot through, adding depth to your composition. Whatever you are shooting through has to be lit on the opposite side of your camera. We use this technique all the time to take our subjects out of otherwise boring or cluttered backgrounds.

 

Stack Lights to Add or Conserve Power

 

Flash power can be cumulative, meaning that if you need more power out of your flash, you can add an additional one to double your power. This way you can overpower the sun or conserve battery power for your light when either outcome is needed.

 

While I highly recommend shooting with a single light source, the cost of investing in a system like the Profoto B1 could be prohibitive. By combining multiple flashes, you get additional power out of your small AA-powered speedlights. In addition, you can use four flashes set to one-quarter power, and conserve battery power and recycle time to get more efficient use out of your flash. For bonus points, spread out the flashes to simulate a larger light source and get softer light on your subjects. To do this, you will need one or more assistants, or a flash bracket that can hold multiple lights, like the Westcott Triple Threat.

 

Every flash you add increases your power, but remember that the same system for calculating your F-stops applies. So, if you want to double the flash power of one light, you need to add another light. If you want to double the power of two lights, you need to add two more lights. If you want an additional stop of power, you need to add four lights or invest in a powerful moonlight, such as the Profoto B1 or B2.

 

Sandwich Your Subjects to Create Showstopping Light

 

It’s rare that I use more than two lights on a subject outside the studio. When using multiple lights, I employ a cross light 90 percent of the time. Natural lights all look similar because our planet has only one sun, and natural light falls from east to west (when rare circumstances like reflections do not apply). This means that if you want dynamic images that catch people’s attention, adding a second light can help.

 

When experimenting with lighting, start by placing your second light directly opposite your primary light. Dial in the ambient exposure first, and then your primary light, and lastly your kicker. This creates separation and three-dimensionality that is sure to give you a beautiful photo if you nail the pose and composition.

 

Blend Your Ambient Light With Flash

 

When you get that flash out for the first time, you may tempted to crush that ambient light into oblivion and blast your subject with flash so that when you look at the back of the camera, you can see the results of your hard work. I’ve been that guy way too often.
When you develop your skillset, you begin to understand that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary images comes down to the subtle details: hand placement, shadow length, dress position, etc.
One of the other telltale signs of flash use is an imbalance between flash and ambient light. While there is no straight rule for proper ratio of flash to ambient light, there are guidelines. Generally, if you leave enough ambient light to show detail in your shadows, you are in better shape than underexposing significantly. Use your histogram when shooting your ambient light test shot to avoid clipping your blacks. Conversely, your flash power has to be stronger than the ambient light in the scene; otherwise, you won’t see the flash. A darker ambient exposure gives you a more dramatic look so you can make your subject the brightest part of your image. A more balanced exposure gives you a more natural appearance.

 

Your style of photography dictates which way to balance light. Make sure your balance is closer to even than it is to unbalanced.

 

Control Your Shadows

 

Shadows can give you drama and help shape your subjects or scene. Speedlights are small light sources that leave you with sharp shadows. Shadows from your flash can detract from your image. To control shadows, feather your light source up to take some light off the floor or walls. Add grids or snoots to your flash to pinpoint the light exactly where you want it. In the worst-case scenario, take a plate shot without your flash so you can paint out the shadows later in post-production. Just don’t rely on this technique too often.

 

You need to understand your tools. Portrait and wedding photographers don’t all have the luxury of time or assistants when lighting on location. Speedlights are important tools that are easy to use and learn. Even “natural light” photographers can get the bright and airy look using speedlights, while the edgy, fashion-inspired photographer can use them to create shadows and drama.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the October issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Turning the Ordinary Into Extraordinary: Night Photography with Michael Anthony

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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Turning the Ordinary Into Extraordinary: Night Photography with Michael Anthony

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the September issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

I open most of my articles for Shutter Magazine by reminding readers that wedding photography is the most difficult genre to shoot. You are expected to know how to be a portrait, product, event and fashion photographer all rolled into one, not to mention a counselor, psychiatrist and coordinator.

 

In addition, your clients expect you to be able to do this under what is often the worst set of lighting circumstances possible, with minimal equipment. It’s no wonder I’ve heard prominent portrait photographers say they would rather stick needles in their eyes than become a wedding photographer. Nonetheless, if it is in your blood, as it is mine, you can’t see yourself doing any other type of work.

 

When we get late into a wedding day, we often face terrible lighting for the reception, and lighting an indoor event is a whole different challenge than dealing with harsh light throughout the day. That can be your opportunity to stand out. One of the ways we do that is to take our couple out right before we leave for a night portrait.
Doing a small session at night with your couple accomplishes a few things. First, it gives the couple a much-needed break from the commotion of the reception. It also gives you the opportunity to create more dazzling work for their walls. It gives you a minute before you leave to verify with the couple that you got every picture they want. Most importantly, it gives me the ability to close out their wedding album with an amazing photo and end the night with an incredible experience.

 

Plan Out Your Time

 

The first step in making sure you are able to create these images for your couples is to plan the timeline. Nobody has learned the importance of properly planning a timeline better than me in the past year—not doing so last year almost caused chaos with our 100-plus wedding schedule.

 

You don’t want to be fighting coordinators for 15 minutes of portrait time with your clients. Talk to them early and remind them of their investment in remarkable imagery with you. Since this usually takes place at the end of the night, it is imperative that you plan out your timeline so your night session doesn’t interfere with the cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, etc.

 

Plan your timeline before the coordinator does, and make sure the coordinator has the timeline before their first meeting with the couple. It’s best to have a phone conversation with the coordinator so they don’t feel like you are infringing on their responsibilities.

 

Get Comfortable With Lighting and Gear

 

If you’ve read my articles, you know I am a big proponent of creative light. In order to do this correctly, you will need a variety of tools. While you can use natural light even at nighttime, which I will show you later in this article, you cannot rely on it as a keylight source because you don’t know where it will be available. Here are some of the tools I recommend having on the wedding day.

 

Video Lights

 

Icelight or Yongnuo Light Wand

 

I have invested in multiple Ice Lights, an incredible tool. I love that they can be modified with barn doors to create beautiful images. The Ice Light is sold as a portable window because it creates softer light than a traditional video light. I recently picked up the Yongnuo Light Wand. I usually stay away from Yongnuo reverse-engineered products because of their terrible build quality. The Light Wand, however, is not reverse-engineered, and has features that are completely unique to it. I have found the build quality to be acceptable and, for $75, you can buy six of them for the price of a single Ice Light.

 

Rotolight NEO

 

I bought the Rotolight NEO, my newest tool, for our video work. I fell in love with these lights right away because they offer adjustable color temperature without the need for attachments. The light quality is more specular, creating shine on oily faces, which you get after a long night of dancing. In a wider shot, this isn’t noticeable. The lights are AA-battery powered, so you will be able to quickly change out a set.

 

Flash Systems: Speedlights

 

We are Canon shooters, and have been using the 600EX-RT system since its inception a long time ago. If you are shooting Nikon, Sony or another system, I have heard good things about the Phottix Mitros system. It’s important to use a radio system rather than the optical slaves built into your flash, which can cause havoc during a reception because of all the lights used by the DJ and guests’ cameras. We modify these lights with the MagMod system as well as the Westcott Duo Rapid Box.

 

Find Your Background

 

Think of shooting at night the same way as shooting in the studio. You are essentially creating the entire scene yourself. Find locations with ambient lighting. Maybe you can incorporate a building into your image that has ambient light coming from windows or porch lights. Light a fountain with a speedlight or video light. The trick here is to create some dynamic lighting so that you are able show off the scene—otherwise, you may as well have photographed the couple in a closet. If there is no other background available, buy a $10 set of string lights on Amazon to shoot through.

 

Light Your Couple

 

When lighting your couple at nighttime, the contrast and shadows will be very prominent because of the lack of ambient light. It is important to use a modifier if you can to soften the shadows—otherwise, the harsh light on your couple will be unflattering. Also, because the subject will fade into darkness, I always use a backlight on our couple to separate them from the background. I often use only a backlight if I cannot find any ambient light to use as a background. A simple backlit shot is very easy to use as the final spread in an album. Just make sure you shoot a variety of vertical and horizontal images so you have a variety to choose from.

 

Long Exposures

 

You can make a dynamic image with a long exposure. While it’s not always my cup of tea, it can be helpful when shooting at night to have ambient light available. These techniques take a long time to master, and you will not nail it if you do it for the first time at a wedding. When shooting a long exposure, your couple has to remain still, so I recommend having them sit down and embrace in order to keep them from moving while you take your shot. Limit the shutter to less than 1.5 seconds to avoid motion blur, and then you can use techniques like light painting to get a great final shot. In addition, you can shoot two images and create a composite if you have a tripod and a few extra minutes with your couple. Remember, flash will freeze motion, so use that to your advantage if you want a shot of the couple standing up.

 

Putting It All Together

 

When you do this consistently, you are able to sell it as another unique service to your clients. They likely won’t see many similar examples in your competitors’ portfolios.

 

Remember, the law of supply and demand dictates that originality is concurrent with a higher price point. In a landscape of ever-improving competition, you have to look to the things that will make your work stand out. Post-production, lighting and your creative landscape all make you stand out from the crowd. Keep sharpening your skills so you are never left in the dust.

 

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Creative Subjectivity: Rules to Follow Before You Break Them with Vanessa Joy

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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Creative Subjectivity: Rules to Follow Before You Break Them with Vanessa Joy

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the September issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

“Art is subjective” is one of the most irritating cliché’s I know. It doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help beginner artists grow. It can be an excuse for artists refusing to take creative criticism. Art is a finely tuned combination of rules and broken rules that come together in a perfect harmony to create something beautiful. In order to break the rules, you need to know them first.

Rules of Composition

The rule of thirds is often the first composition rule a photographer learns. It comes out when a teacher or mentor is trying to get the student to stop putting the subject in the middle of the frame on every frame. The rule of thirds tells us that placing the subject of our photo in one of the thirds (right, left, upper or lower) of the picture is more pleasing to the eye than having it go straight through the middle. The picture below follows the rule of thirds because the rings are place in the lower right third of the image.

Sometimes you can break this rule, like in the photo below, and place the subject in the center. This usually works nicely with square images, which we see so much of now thanks to Instagram.

When you do this, it helps to have leading lines that tell viewers’ eyes where they should travel. In this case, the pews make for a good leading line up into the chuppah.

 

Rules of Exposure

Understanding exposure is another concept we learn early on, and we often learn it by looking at a histogram. A histogram shows us, on a graph, what our exposure looks like with the lights all the way to the right and the darks to the left.

Ideally, you’ll want to make sure that nothing is completely black and nothing is completely white, especially a sky or a bride’s dress, for example. An image like the one below would be considered to have correct exposure.

Sometimes you’ll want to break this rule to hide ugly backgrounds or just for aesthetic purposes, like in the picture below. I wanted a lot of negative space and a high key look, so I put the bride and her mother in front of the window and blew out the background by upping my exposure.

 

Rules of Color

One of the most difficult things to master is consistent color. If you’re a wedding photographer, especially, you’re taking pictures in every lighting scenario possible and somehow are expected to pull them all together to sit cohesively in a wedding album.

The first part of color you’ll probably want to tackle is white balance. White balance is ideally not too cold (blue, like the picture on the left), or too warm (yellow, like the picture on the right). It should be in the Goldilocks Zone of “just right” in the middle, like in the center picture below.

I wish I could tell you that blue and yellow are the only colors you have to worry about, but we have the rest of the rainbow to contend with. I’ll summarize this section by saying this: If you’re going to break this rule by straying from the “just right” true-to-color middle ground, do so by giving all of your pictures the same color shift “error” so they’re consistent. I’ve seen photography brands do this very well, and, even though it’s “incorrect” from a photography standpoint, it does a heck of a good job attracting clientele.

 

Rules of Focus

This may seem like a no-brainer: Pictures should be in focus and not blurry. However, there are varying degrees of just how much should be in focus, if anything at all. Some people like to shoot wide open because they like a very fine point of focus. Some say that everything should be in focus. I tend to fall between the two, and believe it depends on the situation.

When I’m photographing groups or landscapes, I want a larger plane of focus, so I often shoot above 4.0, as in the image below.

If I’m photographing a single subject, I have a little more creative freedom in my focus, and typically set my aperture to 3.2 or lower. In the picture below, I’m focusing solely on the bride’s eyelashes, and shot at f/2.

And then, of course, you can take creative license from there and decide if you want anything to be in focus at all. One of my favorite pictures is one that has absolutely nothing in focus, as you can see below.

If I’m going to apply any rule to focusing, I would say that all of your subjects that are looking at the camera should be in focus (unless they are intentionally background for your true subjects). And when you blow up a picture for print, it had better be in focus.

 

Rules of Posing

There are endless rules to posing. I could write a whole book on it. If we’re going to stick to one of the basics, let’s go with group posing (which I’ll be teaching extensively at Lunacy in November). One of the basic rules is to pose “eyes to mouth” with a couple, and in triangle formations with three or more subjects.

In this picture, you can see that the groom’s mouth is almost lined up with the bride’s eyes, fulfilling the “eyes to mouth” rule.

In this image, I’ve placed the bridesmaids so that their heights vary, going up and down, and their heads make triangles. The three girls on the left make a sort of triangle, as do the three on the right, and the bride with each girl on either side of her as well.

Depending on people’s height, this may be difficult, but I’ll talk more about how to overcome that at Lunacy.

Breaking this rule can be done awkwardly, like when you have a group of people placed with all the tall people on one side and all the short people on the other—almost like they’re falling down a hill, as in the picture below.

This rule is harder to break artistically, but is sometimes broken for logistics. In the picture above, the bride needed to be in the middle of her parents, so there was no way around the slanted pose.

 

Once you know the rules and can recognize photos that keep or break them, you’ll break them with intention and the outcome will hopefully be creative and unique. If you break them without knowing them first, the outcome will tend to be sloppy and look more like a mistake (especially if combined!) than creativity.

Art can be subjective in many ways, but the best artists know the rules and break them with an objective for doing so.

 

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How to Black and White Your Photos for Higher Profits with Phillip Blume

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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How to Black and White Your Photos for Higher Profits with Phillip Blume

 

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Do you see the world in black and white? No one does. So why does black-and-white photography stir up such an emotional response? No other technique or trend is its equal. Is our obsession purely nostalgic? Sure, the early history of photography was written in black and white due to technological constraints. Yet, even today, a century since we learned to capture color and decades since the advent of digital color spaces (CMYK, sRGB, AdobeRGB, ICC), black and white remains timeless. How can you use this to your advantage?

 

For any photographer who wants to create more impactful work, understanding black and white’s appeal is important: When and how should you use it? But for a professional photographer like myself, harnessing this genre’s appeal can also mean a significant increase in annual revenue.

 

So if you want to convert your black-and-white photography to green (or whatever color your national currency may be), read on. The first step is to shift our syntax. Let’s make black-and-white a verb.

 

Black-and-white is a verb.

 

It seems odd that simply draining the color from an image creates a new experience for the viewer. Yet it’s undeniable. It’s one thing to desaturate an image. It’s quite another to black-and-white it. When I use black-and-white as a verb, I have in mind a strategic, three-step process that communicates something to my client. The something I ultimately communicate is value.

 

Artists are communicators first and foremost. Let’s utilize this skill more in our businesses. An artist’s personal message is often provocative and must not be compromised. But as professionals as well, we have another important goal: to communicate something our clients will actually value and pay for. With that in mind, my process of black-and-whiting involves the following:

 

  1. Identify images whose value will increase in black and white.
  2. Convert images to black and white by a method that reflects our brand.
  3. Deliver black-and-white images via a method that protects our brand.

 

#1 Identify black-and-white images that define your brand.

 

To identify images whose value will increase in black and white, we first consider a shortlist of criteria that help reinforce our brand message. I’ll list those criteria below, but your criteria may be different because your brand is unique. Use our list as a model, but plan to adapt it.

 

In addition to our best-known signature brand, Blume Photography, my wife and I own a distinct associate brand, Eve & Ever Photography, which differs from our studio in several ways. I’ll mention a few of those differences later. But with Blume Photography, we’ve chosen to communicate a consistent brand message defined by certain words: luxury, fresh, fun and real.

 

So here’s our selection process. As soon as we receive our outsourced, color-corrected images from Evolve Edits, we scroll through the images in Adobe Lightroom looking for strong black-and-white candidates. We then apply our favorite black-and-white preset (visit blumephotography.com/blog to download our free custom “Blume B/W” preset) to approximately 5 percent of our images, but only to images that meet these criteria:

 

  1. Expresses a strong emotion. This usually relates to our subjects’ facial expressions—whether the expression is a bride’s wild laughter or her father’s contorted attempt to hold back tears before he walks her down the aisle. Because our brand highlights both “fun” and “real” emotions in a photojournalistic style, black and white allows us to intensify the viewer’s focus on these “brand values,” blocking out even the distractions of color and environment to clarify our message.
  2. Feels nostalgic. Like any skilled photographer, we’re constantly “chasing the light” during photo shoots and wedding days. Beyond natural light, though, our brand is built on the use of shapely off-camera lighting as well. The result for our brand is a portfolio of images that display the high-contrast feel of Old Hollywood. Because we want to communicate “luxury,” images lit this way are great candidates for black and white. The images stand out from the competition, and our clientele naturally make the association between this look and the historic value of old cinema. Basically, it visually reinforces the same message we speak to them again and again: Your images will be as important to your grandchildren as they are to you.
  3. Fails to meet our color quality controls. Sometimes black-and-whiting just comes down to hiding mistakes. We would never deliver an image that is out of focus, poorly lit or without meaning. But often you create great images in environments where you couldn’t control the ugly, mixed lighting. (You can gel only so many conflicting light sources on a run-and-gun wedding day.) In cases like these—even though our brand highlights “fresh” bright colors—black and white allows us to “mask” these mixed-tone messes that threaten to undermine the otherwise carefully curated, consistent tone of our brand.

 

In all, our black-and-white selection process takes only 15 minutes or so. But it plays a crucial role as one of many personal touches that give our finished work a recognizable style. Ultimately, it gives our couples the benefit of consistency and originality they expect when they invest in a higher-end photography experience.

 

#2 Convert images to reflect your brand.

 

Like every facet of your personal style, your method for converting images to black and white will develop with experience. I define “personal style,” which contributes to your overall brand, as habits you settle into after you experiment a lot and find what you like. At the same time, you want to be thoughtful about your techniques, not settle into poor habits out of laziness, which is a real temptation.

 

We developed our custom black-and-white conversion with minor tweaks over several years. It’s nothing magical, but it does enhance our brand by giving our images a beautiful film-like look that far surpasses a basic desaturation effect.

 

Instead of detailing our editing techniques here, we’ve decided to let you download our Blume Black-and-White preset as a free gift. If you use Lightroom, enjoy this. Use it “as is” if you like, but also take time to investigate our included edits—reverse-engineer how we create our signature mood and film-like look.

 

Download it now while it’s available at www.blumephotography.com/blog.

 

#3 Deliver black-and-white images to protect your brand.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the quality of one’s photography is not usually the determining factor behind a successful photography businesses. Customer service and experience is. The way you present and deliver black-and-white images can add value to your service just as much as the steps you took to create them.

 

The options for presenting your finished images are countless. So, again, make certain your chosen method protects your brand. Consider these possibilities.

 

  1. Provide black-and-white originals only. By educating our clients early on (through literature and carefully scripted consultations), we earn a good deal of trust from them. Our couples view us as experts and have faith in our creative choices. This pays dividends when we ask couples to hike to a strange portrait location on their wedding day. It also helps in post-processing. For our Blume Photography brand, the black-and-white selections we make are delivered to the couple as black and white only. We do not include color versions of these photos; we believed these images to be better in black and white. So this is how they’re presented, both during our in-person ordering sessions and on the custom USB drive our couples receive.A knee-jerk reaction to business strategies like this—which limit options for clients—is to consider them drawbacks. In reality, high-end clients perceive higher value when they are served by an expert who asks them to make only the most necessary choice. Remember this: The more choices you leave to a customer, the more likely she is to retreat from a purchasing decision.

 

  1. Both color and black-and-white options. A more common option for delivering black and white is to provide your client both color and black-and-white versions of every photo. This assures your client does not convert your images on her own, in a style that may misrepresent your brand. On the other hand, it may create the impression that you simply pasted a common black-and-white filter to your images, that your black-and-white images are nothing special. So this may undermine your ability to educate your client about the time and care you put into editing, affecting the client experience. Still, this option isn’t a nonstarter. If your business plan is geared more toward speed and ease than luxury, it may be a successful option. Just pitch it right: that you go above and beyond to make sure your client has everything she needs to suit her preferences.

 

  1. Allow your client to choose. As mentioned above, our associate brand, Eve & Ever, is geared toward a slightly different clientele than Blume Photography. We seek to meet different needs and expectations. We’ve found the best way to deliver images to our associate clients is via ShootProof galleries, whose settings give us the option to put black-and-white editing in clients’ hands. This option essentially marries photo editing technology with our best online sales tool—and it guarantees our clients get black-and-white versions that look classy, while we remain hands-off.

I imagine a visitor to our planet would be shocked to learn that humanity sees beauty in photos stripped of their beautiful colors. But it’s for good reason that formal art programs initiate new photographers with an intro to black-and-white photography. Simplicity is foundational to art. It allows your artwork to say what you want it to say without distraction. Run your business the way you make your art (without distraction and true to brand), and success will follow.

 

Learn more and download the Blume Black-and-White preset as a free gift at www.blumephotography.com.

 

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How to Maximize Your Second Shooter on a Wedding Day with Alissa Zimmerman

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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How to Maximize Your Second Shooter on a Wedding Day with Alissa Zimmerman

 

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Having a consistent and well-trained second shooter on a wedding day plays a huge part in the success of your process and quality of your imagery. Maximizing that extra body during each part of the day allows you to focus on your workflow and take time to let your creativity flow.

 

The 80/20 rule is something Sal teaches constantly. Wedding photographers should understand and implement the rule. Create a workflow that allows you to focus 80 percent on capturing the must-have shots. If time allows, the other 20 percent of your time can be spent more creatively, trying new techniques and getting shots a little more outside the box, allowing you to focus on unique images for your portfolio.

 

Groom Prep

We find that starting our wedding timelines with the groom and his groomsmen getting ready allows for a more relaxed flow throughout the rest of the day. We need only about 30 minutes with the guys before we head off to the girls.

 

Walking into a room full of rowdy guys can be intimidating. This is the first interaction you have with the bridal party, so it’s important to establish your roles immediately.

 

After you’ve established who you are, have your second shooter work with the groom or best man to gather his details for you. The upside of working with a rowdy group of guys is the endless opportunities for candid shots your second shooter can capture while you are taking the isolated shots of his details.

 

Once the details are photographed, it’s time to get your groom dressed. Never work with the same focal length in your lens choice between primary and second shooter. Remember, the images coming off your second shooter’s camera should always complement the primary. If you are shooting wide to get all the groomsmen in the shots, your second should be shooting tight, getting close-up shots of hands or over-the-shoulder images of the best man or dad helping the groom with his details (cufflinks, watch, tie).

 

Don’t leave the room until you’ve taken an isolated groom portrait. This is where your second shooter can do one of two things, depending on your situation. If the room is tight and there are a lot of distractions around where you have the portrait staged, your second shooter may not have a good complementary wide-angle shot. Your second shooter puts the camera down and goes into assistant mode—fixing details on the groom to make sure your tight portraits look perfect. If you are working in a room that lends to two well-composed images, stick to the normal primary/secondary tight and wide shot balance.

 

Bride Prep

Just like the groom prep, when you walk into the room where the bride is getting ready, your job as the primary photographer is to introduce yourself to the bridesmaids and family, and establish a relationship right away. Introduce your second shooter to the maid of honor so the two can gather details while you chit-chat with the bride for a bit. Get her comfortable by letting her know you’re ready to create some incredible images.

 

Once all of the bride’s details have been gathered, start shooting and send your second shooter to capture the candid moments with the bride and her friends, finishing up makeup, etc. This is also a good time to capture the group shot of the girls in their robes or matching t-shirts before sending them off to get in their dresses.

 

Use your second shooter to keep things moving while you’re shooting the details so you don’t get behind on the timeline. If makeup is running late, have your second shooter work with the makeup artists on a realistic ETA so you can adjust accordingly. If the bride wants everyone in the background of the “getting ready” shots but no one is dressed, use your second shooter to stress the sense of urgency for them to get in their dresses or they won’t be in the photos. Having your second shooter handle all of this allows you to focus on getting the creative shots of the bride’s details (the things she spent a lot of money on), and then go right into the bride getting into her dress without having to sit around and wait.

 

The same getting-dressed process applies for bride prep—while you are shooting wide, your second should be shooting tight (and vice versa).

 

For the bridal portrait, the process is also the same. Nailing this shot has a little more weight tied to it than the groom portrait because of all the details that go into making sure your bride looks perfect. Your second shooter should be in assistant mode first for these shots—make sure the veil is laying perfectly, sweep away any hairs in her face and make sure there are no wrinkles in her dress.

 

Get the shot right for the primary, and if there’s time and a well-composed shot for the second shooter, hop in and get additional images to complement the scene. I like to shoot tight shots of the veil or the dress, or the bride holding her hands in front showing off her ring.

 

Ceremony

Before the ceremony, we allow at least 30 minutes to get to the venue or church to reserve our spot (claim a seat with our camera bag about halfway up the aisle), take the detail shots and get dialed in on each other before people start arriving. The beginning of the ceremony is a bit of a scramble for must-have shots, so it’s important that you and your second understand your roles and work as a team to ensure none of these unrepeatable shots is missed.

 

Primary shots:

  • Bridal party walking down the aisle (mid-shot, depending on the venue).
  • Flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s) walking down the aisle (mid or tight shot).
  • Bride and father entering the ceremony (wide, dramatic shot).
  • Bride and father walking down the aisle (from the side; tight shot).
  • Bride and father walking to the altar (from behind; wide, dramatic shot).

Secondary shots:

  • Groom’s expression as he sees his bride for the first time (mid or tight shot).

 

As you can see, there is a lot of pressure on the primary photographer to get the main shots from the opening of the ceremony. The one shot that cannot be guaranteed from the primary is the groom’s expression as he sees his bride for the first time. That’s where the second shooter plays a crucial role.

 

The second most important shot from the ceremony is the first kiss. Train your second shooter to shoot wide for this so you can focus on getting the tight shot (this is the one the bride and groom typically like the most, but it’s important to walk away with both). To this day, Sal and I post up in the middle of the aisle as we wait for the first kiss to be announced. I get the shot dialed in and show him for approval. Once we’re ready to go, I don’t change my settings until after I have captured the first kiss.

 

After the bride and groom exit the building and the guests are being escorted out, your second shooter should grab your camera bag and head to the altar for family pictures. Your second shooter’s job is to set up your camera and flash while you are capturing the bride and groom’s exit. Once you come back in from that, get dialed in on your second shooter so you’re ready to go as soon as the bride and groom and their families are back in the building. Family pictures should take no longer than 30 minutes if done correctly. Use your second shooter as an assistant here, making sure everyone is where he or she needs to be so you can work through your progression as efficiently as possible.

 

Creatives

There are two roles for your second shooter during the creative portion of the wedding day: assistant and photographer. We start our creatives by taking the individual portraits of the bride and groom with each of their bridesmaids and groomsmen. During this time, your second shooter can either help with the details or focus on capturing candid moments of the bridal party.

 

Once you start working on the groups (all of the girls alone, all of the guys alone and the full group shot), you and your second should be working with the normal primary/secondary tight and wide shot balance again. As the primary, make sure you set up your second shooter for success. Have your group all look in different directions for a more editorial group shot. When you give this direction, tell the bride and groom to kiss so that your second shooter can get an isolated shot of the kiss.

 

During the creatives with just the bride and groom, have your second shooter go back in assistant mode so you can get a few signature shots using off-camera flash. Have your second shooter make sure every detail is perfect on the bride and groom, then ask your second to hold the flash for the shot. If you’re able to get a signature shot without off-camera flash, have your second shooter perfect the details, then hop in and start shooting with you. (Make sure your second shooter is right next to you—do not have her take shots from the side unless they are specific tight shots of flowers or isolated expressions.)

 

Reception

Help your second shooter throughout the reception, especially if it isn’t your regular second. If this person is not familiar with on-camera flash, set up their camera for them so they don’t go into panic mode and miss the shots.

 

Always play it safe and ensure you’re in control of your own destiny. Receptions are where the magic happens for vendors and where you have the opportunity to build vendor relationships that could be the source of new business. Get to the reception with plenty of time before guests are allowed to enter the room so you can get shots of the empty room. Know your strengths and understand the shots you’ll need to send to vendors after the wedding—shots that showcase their work, ones they will want to post online with your photo credit.

 

Have your second shooter stage the gear, get your lighting set up for the night and help get everyone out of the room for that one big room shot. If there is enough down time, this is a good opportunity to challenge your second shooter to see the world a little differently—push each other by creating competitions to see who can make the centerpieces look more interesting. This keeps the night fun in an otherwise slow part of the day.

 

Once the bride and groom are announced, the rest is all about the tight and wide balance between the primary and second shooter.

 

Work as a team and communicate constantly throughout the day. Maximize your second shooter so you can put together a process that allows you to focus on your job and create the best images and experience possible for your clients.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the September issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Fashionable Weddings with Marc Anthony and Tony Ryan

Friday, July 1st, 2016

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Fashionable Weddings with Marc Anthony and Tony Ryan

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the July issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Wedding photographers are visual storytellers, capturing the moments throughout a couple’s special day. We all take pictures of the bride and groom getting ready, as well as during the ceremony, family formals, fun bridal party shots and, of course, all the goings-on at the reception. But what are we doing to create something unique for our clients and for ourselves?

 

Fashion Sets Us Apart

 

We began photographing weddings in 2003. At that time, weddings were more traditional. Digital photography was relatively new, and contemporary wedding storytelling was in its infancy. We could not see ourselves being cookie-cutter, taking traditional, cliché pictures.

 

We wanted to be different. We wanted our work to stand out creatively. We checked out every form of wedding-related inspiration, and we felt so much of what was being done looked the same. Fortunately, an out-of-the-box bride came in and wanted her wedding to be photographed like an editorial layout from Vanity Fair. No photographer in our city would do it, so we were able to grab it.

 

She tore out pages from all of her favorite magazines (pre-Pinterest) for us to use as inspiration. We studied the pictures and implemented fashion photography into their wedding. From that experience forward, we decided to incorporate fashion-style imagery into all our weddings.

 

Get Inspired

 

Create an inspiration library on your favorite electronic device. Every time you see a photograph you find interesting, put it in your library. Over time, you will collect a number of images and have lots of great inspiration at your fingertips.

 

The best source of fashion photography is in magazines like Vogue, Elle, Rolling Stone and our favorite, Vanity Fair. This will take you out of the wedding world and put a fresh perspective on poses, expressions, lighting and settings. Stylists and fashion photographers look at the world in a different way. Take their lead and incorporate elements of their vision into your own wedding photography.

 

We have also gathered ideas and inspirations from movies, television shows and even music videos. If you see a great visual scene or composition from something you are watching, pause and take a photo for your inspiration library. Another good source of inspiration is the work of fashion photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts. Who better to inspire you than a photographer you admire?

 

Take a Close Look

 

When you are looking at inspiration photographs, take a really close look at each image and analyze all of the details: wardrobe, lighting, posing, expressions and setting. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when creating fashionable imagery.

 

  • Where are the models’ eyes looking? Are they looking down, away or directly into the camera lens?
  • What is the expression of the models? Pleasant, laughing, somber, pouty or sensual?
  • How is the image lit? Natural and/or strobe lighting? Direct, bounced or diffused light? When you look at an inspiration image, analyze the lighting and try to recreate it.
  • Look at the pose, the hands and arms, if models are standing or sitting, and posture. Pay close attention to fingers and wrists.
  • What is the setting and theme? Indoor, outdoor, formal, casual, opera house or garage?
  • Critique the image. Do you like how it’s photographed? Do you like the composition? What about the details? Is there anything you would like to see different?

 

Going through this process and analyzing all of the images in your inspiration library is a great learning experience. Over time, you will likely start doing this automatically to all the imagery you see. Take everything you see and learn from your fashion inspiration imagery, and put it to use in your own shoots.

 

Don’t Forget About the Groom

 

So often at weddings the focus is on the bride, but the groom is important too. Women are usually the focus in many of the ads we see due to the simple fact that they are the main readers of most fashion magazines. Look at Esquire and GQ, our favorite men’s magazines, for inspiration.

 

Grooms want to look stylish, sophisticated and suave. By analyzing men’s fashion magazines, we gained a lot of insight into posing and lighting men. To recreate the feel of men’s fashion, think stoic expressions, a relaxed pose with hands in pockets up to the thumb and a nice bend in the elbow. All of this combined with a sharp tuxedo or suit will portray him as a GQ model every time.

 

Don’t Smile

 

Once you start looking at fashion photographs, you will notice the common factors. The first is expression. Most models do not have big smiles. They look pleasant with a closed mouth, serious or pouty. This goes for male and female models. When working with a couple, tell them what type of expression you are looking for. Photograph several different expressions so you can select the best one.

 

Strike a Pose

 

When posed together, models are typically not engaging with each other. They have their own pose and space. There is not much touching and virtually no romance in this style of fashionable posing. Each person looks somewhat stoic and appears to have their own thoughts. When posing your couples, keep a little space between them or a slight overlap, and give each person a unique pose.

 

Keep an eye out for hand and arm placement. Think about how they are positioned on a mannequin and try to emulate that. There is always air between the body and arms in fashion photographs. Hands for grooms look best in pockets, while brides should have a slight break in their wrist with lightly placed fingers.

 

When you include the bouquet in a shot, have the bride hold it down or away from her body at an angle. This looks less bridal and more fashionable. Always direct couples where to look and what mood to portray.

 

Attention to Detail

 

Details are very important. Keep an eye out for the placement of the veil. Think about the length and style and what it can add to a shot. Also check that necklaces, earrings, ties and boutonnieres are straight. Take a look at the pocket square, whether it is showing too little or too much. Do you want the groom’s jacket buttoned or opened? All of these details will be noticed by you and especially your client in the final photographs.

 

Prep Your Client and Get the Shots

 

When we first began incorporating fashion imagery into our weddings, we told a client that our plan was to capture at least one signature image from her wedding. We said, “This will be the one photograph that will make everyone go, ‘Wow!’” To make this happen, set aside about 10 minutes in the timeline when you are working with the couple so you can create this image. Clients who want something unique will make the time for you.

 

On wedding day, the clock is always ticking, regardless of how well you planned the timeline. If you have a plan in mind, you will be able to make the most of every situation and capture amazing images. Think about the location and where you plan to shoot. If you haven’t been to a location before, check it out in advance so you’re prepared.

 

Choose the perfect spot, pose your couple and be sure that they are lit just right. Compose and frame your shot to look interesting, like your inspiration images. Photograph a couple with a variety of expressions and adjust their poses. Voilà! You have the shot, and most likely more than one good one. Since everything is set up, take a few shots of the bride and groom individually.

 

While you are working with a couple, remember to be confident and don’t overshoot. In a just few minutes, you will have captured fashion-inspired images.

 

Creating something artistic and original for every couple is pleasing to clients and fulfilling to you as an artist. The next time your client is looking for inspiration, tell her to forget wedding pins and blogs, and direct her to fashion magazines. It is something both you and your clients will enjoy collaborating on. After the wedding, your couples will have unique images not found anywhere else, and soon your portfolio will be filled with fashion-style imagery that will get you noticed.

 

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