With 2014 just about over and only one wedding left in this years calendar I have had a look back over the year and must say Ive had some beautiful couples.
I have pulled out 20 images to send to my mentor for his critical and expert eye.
I am hoping to submit these images to the SWPP for the higher level qualification. It took me over 4 years of study and work to pass the first level and now another 2 years to reach this standard. ( time will tell if Im there yet... )
Images are Judged on 10 criteria and must score very high in each category to reach the required standard.
The 10 areas are Impact, Creativity and Style, Composition, Presentation, Centre of Interest, Lighting,Colour balance,Technical excellence, Photographic Technique, Story telling and subject matter.
I am making comments below mainly about what Im trying to achieve with each image and a bit of the thinking and planning behind the set up.
As you can see theres a lot to think about before pressing the shutter button,
Image 1 - Hair and Make up.
I often take some images of the actual hair and make up however, I like to set up a chair where I have control of the light, pose the make up artist and bride take the image and then get out the way to let people get on with getting ready.
Here I have combined the dress shot with the Bride in Hair and make-up to enhance the story. I am using the natural light from the window as the main light, however I didn't want a silhouette here as that would have lost too many details and so I have used fill flash bounced of the wall behind me to provide a soft second light. I have kept distractions down to a minimum by ensuring there as no clutter in the image to distract from the main focal points. I also like the bride and MUAs connection and expression.
Image 2 Bride in Mirror.
There are quite a few cliche wedding images and the bride in a mirror is certainly one of them. The brides hands are carefully placed to ensure all 10 digitals are viewable, and the brides bracelet is in the correct position. The soft lighting is created using a shoot through umbrella to delicately over power the natural light. I chose not to remove the ornament from the image as I thought it help fill the negative space and it helps to create a line from the brides reflected eyes to her own. The clock I left in as it tells the time the image was taken, ( 40 minutes prior to the ceremony ).
The colour toning of the image was used to further soften the image and give a slight romance to it.
Image 3 - Almost ready.
Knowing whats going to happen next at a wedding comes from experience. Although this image is not posed, it is planned.
I have rearranged the room to provide enough space for the bride and her dress, facing her towards the window allows me to make the room look organised. On the bed and behind me are the suit cases and all other items that come with a bride. The lighting again is mainly coming from the windows however fill flash is being used to balance the light.
In post processing here I have removed a few cables and plug sockets to keep the distractions to a minimum,
Image 4- Bridal Portrait.
A very classic looking bride requires a classic pose. There are lots of little things to notice about the pose and lighting which helps the bride look her best. Arms on hips, twisting hips toward camera more than shoulders, putting the left knee in front of the right all help to help to enhance the brides figure. The main light here is off camera flash, and the bride is looking just right of the light stand ( not turning too far as I didn't want full profile.) a fill light is being using to give a soft feeling to the light, also of course there is the natural back light from the windows. Care has been taken here to include as many details as possible, earrings, necklace, watch, bracelet, handbag and flowers are all visible.
Image 5- Grooms portrait.
Using the window as the main light cutting across the groom is great to add extra mood into this moody shot. Here I'm shooting through a door into a corridor, and using the lines of the door to frame the groom. Its a casual thoughtful pose taken pre-ceromony. Black and white is used here to reduce any colour distraction from the image such as the picture on the wall, or coloured carpet. With hands in pockets I carefully check the white of the sleeve cuffs are showing, this adds space between the arm and trousers. On the grooms left wrist is a watch he has just been given from his bride.
Image 6-Running bride and Groom.
Adding some movement into images is a great way to give it a little life and character. Of course the idea is to look like the Bride and Groom are running down the hip towards the camera. In fact they only take just one step, this helps in lots of ways. It helps me control focus, light, and posing. The bride starts with her hand in front of her holding the dress and then whooshes it out to give the feeling of speed. Framing has been taken into account here by placing the couple so the tree behind them helps them to be more featured in the image.
Image 7- A quiet Kiss.
Here Im using all the lines in the image to bring you towards the action. I have selected a telephoto lens so I am able to both nicely frame the couple as well as cropping out cars and people, this is next to a busy public road so the choices were critical to the success of the image.
Image 8 - First Party.
After the first dance comes the first party. This image has won a competition this year entitled "Their big day."
This is a four light set up,two of which you can see to the left and right, there is a third over to my left shoulder, and another on my camera for fill.
Getting close to the action and yet also getting the room in is important to capture the atmosphere so I have selected a super wide angle lens and I am stood on a chair over looking the action. For this one shot the bride and groom turned to face me as they were dancing and I was able to capture the moment.
Image 9- Couple in Corridor.
Lots more leading lines on this image all drawing you into the couple. Ive taken a low angle here to help dramatise the composition. The lines on the right side start on the corners, with the lines on the left starting on the thirds. I have the bride in perfect profile with the groom at two thirds being careful not to let his nose pass his cheek line. Lighting is from a large soft box help by an assistant. Because Im shooting with a wide angle lens to emphasise the lines, I have to be careful the bride pulls in her legs. If I don't they will look huge. I didn't want to lose her feet altogether as it would have looked unbalanced.
Image 10- A thought full moment.
Here I have the Bride and Groom in the bridal suite. I am using a video light colour balanced to tungsten shining on the the couples faces. The rest of the light in the room is daylight, which appears blue in the camera.
Its important here I hold the light to my right, this broad lights the groom making him look heavier in the face, and give the bride a beauty light position with helps emphasise check bones, and is face slimming.
Image 11 - Night time
Evening shots can be tricky and take a little setting up. With my camera on a tripped I have taken an exposure reading of the building, and composed the shot. The bride and grooms head is place away from the distracting windows, and I have used an umbrella to help emphasis them as the background is quite dramatic. A flash has been placed behind the couple to give them a rim light, this further helps to separate them from the background. My main light is 45 degrees to my left, using a soft box, as i didn't want the light to be too contrasty.
The bride and groom are not quite kissing to enable the backlight to come through. The grooms hand holding the brolly would have been better placed a little further forward.
Image 12 - full length bride in bridal suite.
The composition of this image is called a Golden spiral, this makes it very easy on the eye. It depicts a quiet moment in the Bridal prep just before putting on the veil. I have balanced the daylight here with flash filling the room, this keeps a nice sharp edge on the bride and all the detail in the shot.
Image 13 - Groom and Back to the future DeLorean DMC-12.
Getting all the details in this car was of course important, from flux capacitor to thingy ma bobs, so using a super wide angle lens enables me to make sure everything is sharp in frame. The Grays journal is placed to add to the story. The outside was a little distracting so a little motion blur has been added in post.
Image 14- Bride and Dress.
Ive covered about 400 weddings now, and in all that time Ive only had 3 brides who have chosen a shorter length dress. I wanted to get the idea of fun and carefree into the image to match the brides personality, as well as showing of the dress. Shot with a carefully chosen shutter speed to ensure the image was sharp, I diligently explained to the bride how to work her dress, thank fully her guests were not present to see me acting like a numpty.
The original shot was taken landscape however I used a square crop to draw more attention to the bride, she is slightly placed to the left of the frame to balance the image.
Image 15 - Bride and groom on Bridge.
Careful composition surrounds the bride and groom with foliage, and I'm using the bridge as leading lines to help the viewer peek in at their little moment.
Ive used a little artistic license with the autumn colours here as the greens were too overpowering in the original image. The vignette is used to further draw you towards the couple.
Image 16 - in the rain.
This is the same set up as image 11, with the added interest of the reflection in the puddle and the rain...
The buildings are placed to help frame the bride and groom.
To the naked eye the sky was black, however with using a long exposure time I have been able to get the detail in the sky. The flash freezes the rain as it falls.
Image 17 - Tree tunnel.
The set up here was actually more complicated than it looks, I have two strobes positioned behind the bride and groom to light and bring out the detail in the trees, and a third to light the bride and groom.
The trees are drawing together as are the bride and groom, and I'm also using the leading lines of the metal frame, and the path to further draw the viewer into the image.
Image 18 - Hug
Im stood on a chair, using a telephoto lens with a shallow depth of field to soften the background. This shot is simply to catch the love between the couple.
Image 19- secret dancing
Shot with available light and a little pop of fill flash I asked the couple to dance in the room as if on their first dance, this gives some feeling of movement with the image. There is quite of bit of cleaning up done in post on this image to get everything to look clean and bright. The image was shot with a wide angle lens so I had to be careful to ensure the lines of building and the windows were all kept straight with as little distortion as possible.
Image 20 - Cutting the cake.
As well as photographing the actual cake cutting, I often get a more controlled shot earlier in the day. Using multiple points of connection between the bride and groom ( hands, hug, and kiss ) it helps to enhance the feeling of togetherness, whilst surrounding them with sweet stuff.
There was a window to my left which is lighting the cake and the background curtains, and I'm using on camera bounced fill flash to light the sweet cart which would otherwise have been in shadow.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post, if you have any questions about the images or about my photography in general it would be great to hear from you.