You’ve been at a wedding for 9 hours fighting heat or cold or wind and bridesmaids and traffic when out of the blue a guest, noticing your camera says: “Wow, I’ll bet that camera of yours takes great pictures!”
I’m all for the latest and greatest and love having new equipment & gadgets to use, but there’s often a misconception that your camera is the main component in what makes a great image. Naturally it’s a vital tool in the process, as it’s the conduit to your end result. You want to know whatever camera you’re using inside out as well, as it should be an extension of how you see – a device to show others what you want them to see and how YOU see it. If you have to stop and think too much about the controls and how they function, spontaneity can easily be lost and the moment gone.
Couples often ask me during consultations, “Where exactly will we take our photos?” And my honest answer is that while I have a GENERAL idea, the truth of the matter is that where we ACTUALLY shoot the day of depends on the light at any given moment. Bright sun, clouds, time of the year, fading daylight, and even rain all come into play. While some photographers depend on external lighting outdoors for their images, I prefer rather to utilize the available light as much as possible. Sure, I may toss in a reflector or diffuser now and then, but I prefer finding that perfect existing ‘sweet spot.’ For me this approach yields a much more natural feel often with rich, warm tones (yes, I DO make my photos much warmer than they should be – I’m guilty of wanting everything to look ‘golden’ for sure!) Again though, i’ll reiterate that knowing how to get your camera to ‘do what you want it to’ is vital, particularly when you may only have a few moments as the light starts fading.
Speaking of low light for any tech-geeks out there, have you seen the pocket sized ‘Light’ camera that was announced this past Fall? I saw it at the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC (my lucky even friend pre-ordered one) It’s got something like 16 separate little cameras that magically fuse the images together afterwards. I might need one of the in my bag – – see, I told you I like my new gadgets! Anyway…
This is not always easy to do and can really become a scavenger hunt for the Right Light! Couples look at me like I’m crazy when I see a tiny shaft of light shimmering across a field, get all excited and hurry them into that direction before it vanishes. Of course the flip side is trying to gently explain why taking a group photo in direct, blazing sun on the church steps might NOT make the best spot for them when they’ve decided they want a photo taken there. It’s a delicate balance to say the least, and you can only hope that your couple trust your vision to do what you think will work best. I often find that my true excitement about seeing great light can be contagious, and if you can express that to your couple you can get them equally thrilled.
I often think of the manner in which I approach my wedding photos as ‘cinematic’ – as I try to frame shots in a manner I recall having seen in a old book or recent movie on Netflix, tapping into imagery locked way somewhere in my head from some outside source. More often than not, I can ‘see’ the image but not be able to identify it’s source – yet I know it’s there to guide me. I like to refer to this as my ‘mental visual warehouse’ which is compiled of anything from images and fragments from movies, paintings, art, books and of course other photographs. I’m a big proponent of using visual aids that are NOT wedding related as reference points for your wedding photography. So often we get bogged down in what the Next Big Thing is in weddings and feel so compelled to mimic it, we lose sight of our true selves.
So take your camera. Learn it inside and out letting it be a simple extension of your way of seeing.
Look for the light.
Share your enthusiasm.
Always keep seeing.