Monthly Archives: June 2011
When I shoot weddings, I’m always working with at least two cameras at any given moment, one with a 24-70, the other with a 70-200. I know this is typical, and there’s good reason. The above shot was taken during a family portrait of about fifteen people, all of whom were significantly taller than this little girl. Ok, actually her younger sister was there, too, but she was being held, so she was like 6’4″ even though she was only two. Anyway.
I was shooting the group with a wider lens so that I didn’t have to be eighty feet away, and this girl kept flapping her head side to side, playing with her hands, and generally just being charming in a way that was in peril of being lost in the group composition. So I quickly threw the wide lens in the grass, grabbed the telephoto, and singled her out while everyone thought I was shooting the whole group.
Kids are so aware of the lens; it is difficult to catch them in an unguarded moment, but I think that, having fifteen people around, and not just being subject to one click and flash, they are more likely to let their guard down and be themselves. I’m not sure how aware she was of where the focus of my attention and my lens were, but I certainly know that she knew how to attract it.
There’s this song I like that opens with a guy muttering, “Sometimes I claim to know I guy, but can’t even tell you what his hands look like.” Eyes are supposed to be (nay, are…) central to portraits, but I’ve always thought hands to be just as interesting…via mannerisms, how they are held, and what they hold.
As I was saying, the wedding this past Saturday featured my favorite kind of light. It’s wonderful when the whole frickin’ sky turns into a softbox for you, and leaves you with nothing to do but shoot natural light as long as the newlyweds will allow (which was about 10 minutes in this case…cocktail hour was in line-of-sight from where we did portraits, so they wanted to get going…)
But that’s not what this post is about; I really just wanted to dodge any responsibility for the lovely quality of light in the above shot. This post is actually about standing in front of a camera.
I recently watched a video in which Joe Buissink talks about how he gets couples to display their emotions during portraits. They key? He doesn’t. at least not really. There isn’t much posing, or directing, just a couple questions about being in love and being married, and then it’s click-click-click, while the natural emotion is bubbling through. I think that’s a good approach.
The bride and groom this weekend were all about ignoring me and just being themselves, and I think there are some greats shots that came out of it. OK, I had her put her hand on her shoulder there, but that’s a small thing. I like the expression on her face here, and that is something that I couldn’t coach or direct. And the groom has pretty much forgotten where he is, too. Great stuff, and I just try to stay silent and work around the scene.
This past weekend, I shot Shreya and Robert’s wedding at Valley Green Inn in the Wissahickon, which is a fantastic little spot, right on the creek and right in the woods, but with all the trappings of elegant civilization. The rain held off for the whole thing (although there was thunder and lightning on the way as I walked back to my car), and while the sun was still up, it was my favorite kind of light: moderately heavy high overcast.
There was the part when the gosslings sort of invaded the ceremony space (before things got started, really), and the part where the mallard duck and the Canada geese were chasing each other around making animal sounds no parent ever teaches their child, and then there was the part where Shreya and Robert had written their own vows and made each other cry, and of course the dancing.
The night before, there was dinner at the Sedgeley Club on Boathouse Row, where a henna artist did her thing and did it well. I love photographing hands anyway, but the intricacies of the henna just make it all that much more interesting.
More shots over the next couple days.
I spent the last couple evenings shooting a rehearsal dinner and wedding, and I’ll get a couple of those shots up in the next couple days. Until then, this exterior shot of the Sedgeley Club on the end of Boathouse Row, with a panorama of the Schuykill River. This is a stitch of five shots, and has roughly a 180 degree view, as evidenced by the golden light on the building, while the sun is also in the frame.
Perhaps a better choice would have been to bracket each of the shots, and then select exposures that would have allowed me to keep the sky around the sun better defined. Something to try in the future.
The first part took place anywhere from thirty to say seventy five inches off the ground. It was calm, serene, well-cultured, interesting, and enjoyable. The second part took place lower than thirty inches above the ground, in the realms where six or seven kids aged five and below tend to tear around, cause destruction and havoc, be loud, and grind graham crackers and cookies into carpets with astonishing thoroughness. Holy smokes.
If you have never seen a bike race live, it’s quite a sight. Then again, I’m an avid fan of cycling (It’s dope! Nyuck nyuck nyuck…), so that might skew my perception. But it is quite an entourage of brightly clad cyclists, cars, and motorcycles, and at this race, at least, the course is led by seven Philadelphia police, riding Harleys and looking like they don’t even have to try to own the place because they’re just that badass.