New Jersey wedding photographers

wedding photography – make those moments happen!

Anticipation and timing on the photographer’s part is essential to getting those key moments on the wedding day. Certain moments will happen, so we have to be ready for them.

This relies on your keen observation and you ability to recognize important moments. You have to know your cameras and equipment, and you have to know the fundamentals of photography. You have to be ready. And you can only be ready if you know your equipment well, and know the techniques. No excuses.

But there is no need to passively wait for moments - it is also possible to make them happen. And even though the photographer is guiding the process here, what is captured is still very true to the day’s events.

Here is an example of how I nudge things along to make sure I get a wonderful moment.

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a simple lighting setup for photographing the wedding formals

Photographing a wedding can be pretty hectic at times, especially as it so often becomes the photographer’s de facto responsibility to keep everything on track. The formal photo session specifically is a part of the day that many photographers find challenging. (The other is photographing the wedding processional.)

When photographing the family portraits, you can really help yourself by nailing your lighting. Get it down.  Then you can concentrate on getting the groups together, and concentrate on posing the groups. But your lighting works! Much less stress.

I mostly work with the Quantum flashes since they are workhorses and don’t melt when used hard. They also have a bit more power than a speedlight.

But quite often, I like working with a speedlight setup …

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best wedding images of 2011 – New Jersey wedding photographer

2011 was another busy year for me as a wedding photographer. This slideshow features some of my favorite wedding and engagement session images of 2011.
(Soundtrack courtesy of TripleScoopMusic.)

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wedding photography: bride & groom portraits with video light

For that dramatic Hollywood look, a video light is probably the easiest light to use, especially when there is the need to work fast like on a wedding day. With Alli & Scott’s engagement photo session, I knew I’d be working with a couple that would easily go along with any ideas that we’d come up with. We worked indoors at the Temple Israel in Long Island, New York, and there were all kinds of interesting nooks to explore.

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wedding photography – looking for those key moments

Wedding photography has become more modern in style over the past decade or so. Instead of overly posed images, the general trend is now more of a story-telling (or photo-journalistic) style. It’s now as important to capture the day’s events as it unfolds, as it is to get beautiful portraits of the couple and families.  As photographers we’re now much more focused on the moments and the gestures that tell the story.

With this intent, I really try and observe the day as closely as I can, capturing what I hope are the key moments. With experience, this anticipation and timing becomes second nature. (And as an aside, you can’t do this if you are constantly checking your camera’s preview.)

What we can’t always foresee, is the specific value that some photographs might hold …

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wedding photography – developing a personal style

I’ve been mulling a while now over a question someone asked me about how long I think it took to develop a personal style in photography.

“What does it take, and how many years do you think it generally takes a photographer to develop their own personal style, meaning, you can look at a photograph and know who took it. Not everyone would know, but some people could tell it’s your style. I think very few photographers actually have their own style and I’m curious what you think it took to get there.”

How long do I think it takes? A life-time. But that’s too glib an answer, even though I think it is a never-ending journey as a photographer – honing your style along with your technique, understanding and skill. So how does one develop a personal style in photography?

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best wedding images of 2010 – New Jersey wedding photographer

There seems to be a pattern here – 2010 was another crazy-busy year for me. Photographing weddings, portrait sessions, maintaining this website and writing another book … all this added up to a full calendar and not much sleep.

It is always a rewarding experience as a wedding photographer to work with wonderful brides and groom and their families. So, as a wrap-up of the year – and also to show off a bit – here is a slide show of some of my favorite wedding and engagement session images of 2010. (Oh, and you had better like House music. Soundtrack courtesy of TripleScoopMusic. )

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feathering the light

December 4, 2010

off-camera flash: feathering the light

Comparing those two images, you should notice two things immediately:

- the sky is brighter in the top image.

- the grass in front of the group is more lit in the bottom photo.  In other words, the accent is more on the guys in the top photo, since grass in front of them are less well lit.

Both images were lit by a single off-camera softbox, using a speedlight. My on-camera speedlight was set to Master, but with its output disabled. Therefore only the Slave flash (in the softbox) was lighting the group.  I liked the exposure on them after dialing down the flash exposure compensation to -2EV.  The initial test images were blown out because of the predominantly darker tones in the image, so I had to pull down the TTL flash exposure.  Since TTL flash is an automatic metering mode, the camera will try to expose for the overall scene as a mid-tone. And I had to over-ride that with my FEC.

Now, about the two comments at the top …

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finding (and using) interesting available light

I hope that no one thinks that the flash photography and lighting techniques that I describe on the Tangents blog are only applicable to wedding photography. In a recent post I described where I photographed a model in an alley way when I noticed a splash of sunlight (reflected from a window) falling onto the wall. In recognizing that interesting splash of light, and using it, I got an image which was different than I would’ve had if I had just used the even shaded light in the alley.

I used this very same idea at a recent wedding in photographing the romantic portraits of the bride and groom. The safer way of working, which is my usual initial approach to make sure I have the essential photographs ‘in my pocket’, is to work in the shade, or have the couple backlit against the sun. In approaching this one area, I noticed the dappled light falling onto the wall. But it was a large area of sunlight sneaking through, not just a messy splotch of sun & shade …

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exposure metering – bride & the bride’s dress

From a technical point of view, photographing a bride in her dress can be a challenge … depending on the lighting.  If everything is under your control as the photographer, and you’re lighting the formal portraits with off-camera manual flash, then it is essentially a study of the zone system.

The simplest way for me then to get accurate exposure, is to use the histogram.  I place my brightest relevant tone at the edge of the histogram.  All the other tones will fall into place.  (It is clearly explained in that linked article, and in my book on flash photography techniques.)  In using flash like that as your dominant light source, you simply expose correctly for your subject – the bride in her white dress.

Now, when working with ambient light (perhaps with a touch of fill-flash), things are slightly different .. but not really.  You still always (or nearly always**), need to expose correctly for the bride’s white dress, making it the brightest tone that you want to capture detail in. For this article, we’re going to look at exposure metering for available light. The same thought-process can be applied to flash or other additional lighting, but just for simplicity of explanation, let’s just stay with available light here.

So, looking at this portrait above of Jill, a gorgeous bride whose wedding I recently photographed …

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