Pushing your environment to the limits: How we shot it with Michael Anthony
Early in my career as a wedding photographer I felt imprisoned by my surroundings. Being stuck in a room with 4 walls, garbage everywhere, and a beautiful bride that expects me to make magic happen for her was one of the most stressful things about going into a wedding day.
In fact it took many different times of being placed into this scenario before I realized that magic can actually be made in any environment, and the bride was right to expect me to be able to make it for her. That is why she was hiring a professional to photograph her wedding.
I often get asked why I like wedding photography. The reason I do is a direct result of being placed in these situations. When you have a tube full of toothpaste, you tend to use more than you need, even if you are wasteful. However when that tube of toothpaste is empty, now you are going to be resourceful, squeezing the tube, or cutting it open to get the toothpaste you need out of it. When you are placed in a situation that is challenging on the wedding day, you can either not brush your teeth, or cut open the tube and make something happen.
My best images always come from being placed in a situation where my back is against the wall, and I think that comes as a result of me forcing myself to remove distractions, and just perform. I was an athlete when I was younger, and sports psychologists had always told me that when the pressure is mounting, the best competitors are able to ignore the circumstances and place themselves back in the practice room. The saying that you are your own worst enemy is absolutely true when dealing with hard circumstances on a wedding day.
There is a crazy New Yorker that most of you know who uses the phrase “Make #$@% Happen.” It’s obvious he has adopted a competitor’s mindset when dealing with challenges.
We were faced with this exact scenario at a wedding just last weekend. It was raining outside, and guests were starting to arrive. The bride was placed into an area that was littered with clutter, with the buzz of green tinted 30 year old florescent lighting above, 4 bridesmaids, the mothers of the bride and groom, and a church lady all crammed into the small 8 x 10’ room.
The church lady came to me and said, you can’t take photos right now, because the bride is going to walk in five minutes.
I needed an image for the lead-in to the ceremony for the wedding album, and this was another situation where we needed to make something happen.
In a room full of distractions, your best option is to start with nothing, and add light where you need it. That being said I quickly changed my settings to remove all of the ambient light in the room. I then noticed a closet, which was lined with white walls, the closet did not touch the end of the wall, which allowed me to use it to create a directional light source without spill. I placed a bare Canon 600EX-RT in the closet and bounced the light off the wall to create a soft light source.
Without moving any of the distractions in the room, I chose a composition that allowed for a reflection, and asked my wife Jennifer to give the veil some motion to create a leading line into the bride.
Here was the final image that we created. This took 25 seconds from the moment I was told that I was not allowed to take photos of the bride before the ceremony.
Is this an award-winning image? No, but it is an example that with quick thinking, and relying on your practice and instincts, you are able to create amazing images in any situation that you are placed in. I look forward to sharing more examples as the wedding season progresses of how we are able to use our environment and given circumstances to produce amazing imagery for our clients and justify the pricing that we charge.