looking for, and using the available light
Let me say this out straight – I hate gazebos. I hate gazebos and fountains and I especially hate having to photograph a couple at whatever landmark/feature that a reception venue has, where every other couple from the last five years has been photographed. There, I’ve said it. I feel better now, with that weight off my shoulders.
Wedding portaits should be about capturing the romance, and capturing the relationship between the couple. I want to show how much they are in love with each other, rather than the wooden structure that the reception venue bought from Home Depot. I would much rather work with the couple and with the light that is available … and augmenting the existing light with some flash or video light if needed.
This photograph from a wedding a few years back, remains one of my favorites in my wedding gallery. The portrait session with Simone and Damien and their family and bridal party was to take place in the late afternoon. The maitre d’ of the venue suggested I use the fountain on the venue’s grounds as a backdrop for the couple.
Instead, I looked at where the light was coming from … and it was stunningly beautiful glowing light. And the best part of it was, the spray from the fountain was lit up by the glow from the late afternoon sun. This created that ethereal looking golden mist behind them.
Reinforcing the decision here was seeing that the sunlight would’ve fallen across everyone’s face if they had been posed in front of the fountain. The sun was coming in at a 90 degree angle to where they would’ve stood, and would’ve caused uneven patches of light on them.
And yes, the couple loved the sequence of photographs.
I find that it really helps chimping with your subjects to show them what you’re getting. Without a visual cue, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them why they are standing in *this* particular spot.
1/250 @ f4.5 @ 640 ISO
Canon 1D mk III; Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS
By the way, the photo was shot using only the available light. Not even fill-flash.
Looking for, and using great light, and looking for a great backdrop to place the couple in context … is so much better than routinely photographing them against unconnected objects in the landscape like a gazebo or fountain.
This post is less of a mini-rant than it is perhaps a manifesto of sorts. A declaration of intent, that as photographers we need to always consider:
- our subjects,
- the background,
- the quality of light,
- the moment and the context.
You know, the usual things. We need to look at where we are and what we have, and not just go with the obvious.
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