Entries in Bride Series (4)
My Florida Wedding Bride Series continues . . . Photographing the bride getting ready might be my favorite part of photographing a wedding, or at least the most interesting to me personally because at the time I am totally relaxed just starting my photography day while the bride has all the nerves and anxious feelings. I like to see how people react in such situations. Some brides remain tense and nervous, really needing the help of her bridesmaids (or a wisecrack by me) to even show a hint of a smile, while other brides are totally laughing and showing no outward anxiety. Carie was in the latter category. It was like a comedy hour while she was getting ready with me doing a bit of my stand-up routine.
One photo tip for getting ready shots, if the makeup artist and the bride are not lining up in a way that makes for a good photograph, feel free to ask them to slightly move so you can get a shot, then resume their normal positions. That's what I did for the above shot, but it remained candid because of the light mood in the room.
I had an idea for a "demure" shot so we all attempted to calm things down for just a minute to see if I could make the shot I pre-envisioned. The above shot is the result and I was mostly able to get the results I wanted to. Carie was very good at switching moods from laughing to contemplative.
Soon it was time for the wedding ceremony. I have a new shot that I now like to do for every wedding. Using a long lens (my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/4 200mm) I isolate the bride's bouquet of flowers and ring in a tightly composed shot. I do not include the bride's face for several reasons. If you include a face in any photo, the mind's instinct to look at, read and identify a face, makes the face the automatic focal point of the shot. Therefore, not including the bride's face allows the viewer's eye to focus on the ring and the flowers.
Now for this shot, I did want the bride's face to be the focal point as it was a moment of emotion for the bride, but I included other elements as well to show context for that emotion. Once again using a long lens I was able to create a sense of 3-dimensions and depth putting in focus just what I wanted to be in focus (the bride). I was also careful to make sure none of the decorative strings covered the bride's face in my composition.
However, just like during the getting ready time, the wedding ceremony itself involved a lot of laughter. There was a pause of a good minute to let all parties involved get the giggles out, but I remained focused so that I could photograph everyone's reactions.
I had a very good time photographing Carie's wedding and was really pleased with the variety of shots we were able to make together showcasing her wedding in a full range of emotions.
It is hard to say which Pinellas Country beach is my favorite to photograph at, it may just come down to where I have been the luckiest with sunsets and random things, like when at Pass-A-Grille Beach a great blue heron walks into the frame while trying to photograph a bride. Such was the case in the above photograph with Rosa, the latest entry in my Bride Series.
However, the great blue heron did linger a bit too long and I finally had to shoo it along its way in order to get a clean background. I am not even sure Rosa was aware of the large bird behind. I had no trouble at all getting Rosa to show real emotion for these portraits. I am always grateful for that!
Besides having a very beautiful dress, and being unafraid of getting it sandy, Rosa wore a fabulous veil that as soon as I saw it as she arrived at the beach I knew would later make for some great bride portraits. I had to carefully position my two strobes in order to light the veil and her face while trying to keep shadows to a minimum, all before Rosa's arms got too tired. I have subsequently used the above image on the wedding version of my business cards.
When everything comes together: weather, sunset, bride's emotion, dress, props (veil) it makes photography a real pleasure for both the photographer and the bride knowing that the results are going to be so satisfying.
Being patient and persistent allowed for these images of Olivia for this Bride Series collection, as well as spontaneous. Soon after her wedding ceremony, a huge storm rumbled across Sand Key Beach forcing us to take cover for over twenty minutes. It was already getting close to sunset time and I really thought we would have no more portrait opportunities. Then as suddenly as the storm arrived, the rain ceased leaving behind a dramatic sky background over the Gulf of Mexico.
This is Olivia as she is getting ready to walk down the sandy beach aisle, before the storm. The weather was still calm then and the sun was giving off its usual warm glow of late evening. It is the ideal time for natural light portraits.
I mentioned before being spontaneous helped. This photograph was very impromptu (as was the lead image). As we were leaving our respective shelters, they from their cars (too hot for me) and me from the changing room covered open air deck, on our way to the beach I liked the green grass background and thought it would be a unique shot to have amongst all the other on sand shots. Olivia was willing to leap up onto the railing of the boardwalk. I quickly setup my light stand and dialed in the settings. I was very happy we made the effort to get these shots.
So what could have ended up as a very shortened wedding portrait session turned into an opportunity for portraits with a unique and dramatic backdrop. Over this summer I have come to actually prefer stormy sky backdrops over ordinary calm sunset skies. Thanks to Olivia for being so open to all my ideas.
When photographing a wedding, it starts and ends with the bride. After all, she is the best dressed. The Bride Series will mostly feature photographs of the bride alone. As is my style, I like to photograph people, and that goes for brides too, while they are thinking of something other than being photographed. In the above shot, I did ask Bianca to step close to the mirror for the composition of the shot. The expression is her own.
The above photo was made in a similar way to the lead photo. I told Bianca I would like a photo of her ring up near her face. I helped position her fingers (spreading them out more) and she and the fabulous Nikkor 105mm VR micro lens did the rest. The viewer is left to guess what is on her mind. Even I do not know. My job as the photographer is merely to pose the question.
After Bianca was already, I suggested she plop down on the sofa and relax. She purposefully wanted me to get her red shoes in the shot. This church had pretty much the nicest bathroom I had ever seen. Are all women's bathrooms like this??
Her father really stood out in his hipster white jacket. He also had a great smile, so I was drawn to photographing him. They were not dancing alone on the dance floor. The challenge is to find an angle that has no distracting background. Though I was able to frame the shot with no other people in it, the wall itself was somewhat distracting so I chose the antique plate II filter in Silver Efex Pro to put the emphasis on father and daughter, not corners and panels.
This photograph is a true candid. Taken with my faithful Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ the full 200mm (300mm equivalent) I was not even in Bianca's sightline. I noticed her through the crowd taking a moment for herself.
What do you think was on her mind?