Category Archives: wedding

Photographing Jennifer and John’s Big Day

Avery and Jennifer

I met Jennifer several years ago, during our Texas Renaissance Festival days; I have a couple of fun photos of her elaborately costumed as a zombie wench during the Halloween-themed weekend.  I also remember her telling me once she didn’t like jam because she used to work in a jam factory.  Jennifer is from the UK so she has that wonderful British accent.  Oh, and she’s the horror hostess of the Edwina Rigormuerte Houston Horror Chamber Review (being a photographer has allowed me to meet all sorts of interesting, cool people).

I was so pleased when Jennifer asked me to photograph her and John’s (she calls him by his middle name, Avery) wedding.  I knew this was going to be an interesting wedding, given the couple’s love of old horror movies and her own very unique fashion style.  What made it even more special is that, in addition to being hired as their official photographer, I was also a guest!  That meant I could have a slice of wedding cake (it’s a thing with me – I always try to get a piece of cake); for once, I could photograph the cake and eat it too!

A Slice of Wedding Cake

Ever heard of the Las Velas?  It’s a hidden gem in Houston located between Hwys 59 and 610.   It’s not obvious from the road, and I saw no large sign pointing the way to this venue.  I asked Jennifer how she found it and she laughed, saying she was searching online for “inexpensive wedding venues”.  The Las Velas’ exterior is filled with lots of flowers and greenery, fountains, and mosaic-inlaid stone.  The interior hosts large, airy spaces, lots of natural lighting, elaborate molding and polished stone floors inlaid with mosaic butterflies and curly-cues.

Mosaic Detail

The Ceremony Venue

The Bride on The Balcony

As I wrote in a previous post, every wedding is different.  This particular event was quite laid back and kinda funky (the bridesmaids wore combat boots with their dresses).

Boots and Heels

Levity with the Bride and Bridesmaids

Both ceremony and reception were interior events (with the exception of a few posed outdoor photos), so I made use not only of the natural light coming through the large windows, but my flash as well.  As with the previous wedding about which I wrote, I used the same three cameras (Canon 1DX, Canon 5D Mk III, and a rented Canon 6D) and the same Canon L-lenses (85mm f1.2, 70-200 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 16-35 f2.8).  I photographed the same scenes with all three cameras, with and without flash.  For exterior shots, I used ISOs of 200-400 and interior shots had ISOs of 1600-2500 even with the flash.  As with the photos from the wedding of the previous post, I used Imagenomic’s Noiseware to reduce the high ISO grain as well as Imagenomic’s Portraiture and OnOne’s Perfect Effects for certain photos.

Tiara and Bubbly

W on the Cake

The Grooms Zombie Cake FX

The Groom and Groomsmen

The Bride OnThe Stairs

The Bride In Front Of The Window

Bride and Bridesmaids

Jennifer and Avery at the Fountain

The Ceremony From Above

The end of Jennifer and John’s wedding signaled the end of my wedding photo shoots for 2014.  We’ll see what transpires in 2015.

Photographer and Guest - My Table Assignment

To see more images from Jennifer and John’s wedding, click on this link to go to that gallery.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Events, Houston, low light photography, Photography, wedding

Photographing Kevin and Amber’s Big Day

Bride-Groom-Pink Shoes

Gads!  I know!  It’s been forever since I last posted to this site.  So sorry!  I’ve had two weddings, a trip to Hawaii, and two airshows that I’ve photographed since my last post.  Oh yeah, and a day job in addition to all of this photography stuff.  I’d come home from work, eat a little dinner, try to watch the national news, then sit down to process anywhere from 4 – 10 images each weeknight before going to bed around 10PM and then getting up at 4AM to start my day over again.  Sometimes, I’d even take my small travel laptop to work with me so that I could sit at my desk and edit photos during my lunch time.  Weekends after each event have been spent at home, making the big push to get as many photos processed as possible, from the time I wake up around 5AM to the time I go to bed around 10-11PM.  My home is a pig sty because I haven’t had time to pick anything up and clean, and I still have luggage opened up with stuff strewn about on my floor because I haven’t had time to really unpack.

But now, I’m done!   And to prove it, I am posting here the results of the wedding I photographed September 27th, for Kevin and Amber.

Bride and Groom in Front of The Alamo VIGNETTE

Some of you have asked what my wedding workflow entails.  One of the tasks I try to do for each wedding is to Google the wedding venue and then personally drive (if in-state) to the venue to scope it out for photo ops as well as just the general lay of the land.  I also introduce myself to the venue staff so they know who I am, why I am there, and what I look like in order that they recognize me on the wedding day.

Kevin and Amber’s wedding was held at the Northwest Forest Conference Center, Cypress, Texas.  The conference center is a large area of acreage with several venues as well as hotel rooms on site.  The venue Kevin and Amber chose was The Alamo (a replica thereof, where the ceremony was conducted outside the building and the reception held inside).  You’d need to have met the couple but this venue was absolutely perfect for them.  Soooo very Texan.

The Ceremony at The Alamo

Every wedding is different.  While there are certain shots that are de rigueur (ceremony, bride and groom kissing, posed shots, cake cutting, etc.), each wedding also opens itself up to numerous photo ops singular to that couple’s day and event.

Amber was the first bride ever who told me up front that it was all about the photos.  She acknowledged that the ceremony would be over in minutes, but the pictures would last a lifetime.  With that mindset, she had a number of images she definitely wanted me to capture, and she even had examples for me to use as go-by.

While the venue differed (of course) from the example images Amber showed to me, the idea regarding what she wanted remained unchanged.  Plus, I now have these ideas in my photo op repertoire for future nuptials.

Boots-Bouquet-Rings

Rings Line of Sight

Engagement Ring and A Rose

Rings and A Rose

Generations

Picture Frame - Bride and Groom in Focus

I used my Canon 1DX and 5D Mk III bodies along with a rented Canon 6D (really cute little camera easy for my little hands, but not so great with low-light, I freely admit).  I used all L lenses (except for the 40mm pancake lens to which I affixed the Canon close-up lens filter):  85mm f1.2, 24-70 f2.8 (since destroyed during my Hawaii trip, blast it), 16-35 f2.8 (also destroyed during the Hawaii trip), and 70-200 f2.8.  I also used my Canon Speedlite 600 EX/RT flash.

For outdoor shots, I used an ISO of 640 and for indoor shots, I used an ISO (in general) of 3200.  I captured indoor and outdoor images both with and without flash.

Bride on The Bridge

Bride and Bridesmaids On The Bridge

Groom and Groomsmen - Alamo

I’ve never much cared for using a flash, but that dislike has lessened as my experience wielding it improves.  That, plus a flash is an absolute MUST for reception / indoor images because of the low light.  No way around that.

Grooming The Groom

Wedding Cake

Feeding Her Cake

Last Dance

Reception Hall

Dancing Inside The Circle

Everything was hand-held and with the exception of the 70-200mm lens, none of the others had image stabilization (IS, VR, whatever your camera brand calls it).  This meant I used the “spray and pray” method (holding down on that shutter button and letting the camera click away).  With this particular wedding, time was really tight and a tripod setup would have taken too long.  I was constantly on the move, changing between cameras.  Actually, I used each camera for the same scene just so there would be at least 1 good image between the 3 cameras – sometimes there were 2-3 good images of the same scene, so I processed them all because I like the newlyweds to have a choice – especially since each camera sported a different lens.

I made certain I whitened and brightened the smiles and I used Imagenomic’s Portraiture plug-in for Photoshop to smooth out skin creases and blemishes.  I also utilized OnOne’s Perfect Effects to add a little variation to the standard color images.  Some poses just begged for sepia or other interesting effect.

The Groom His Men and Texas Flag

The Groom and His Father

While I am always a little tired after spending 3-5 weeks on wedding photos (I cull through thousands to get anywhere between 150 to almost 400 really good shots, depending upon the length of time I am photographing), I also feel a huge sense of satisfaction with my work; that satisfaction grows in proportion to how pleased the newlyweds are with the images.  I must ALWAYS keep in mind the desires and expectations of the clients, so I am always a little nervous as to how they receive my work.

To see more images taken during Kevin and Amber’s wedding, click on this link to be taken to my photo website.  And feel free to browse around the other galleries and folders as well.  My site continues to be a work in progress.

Pinkie Promise

Next post:  Jennifer and John’s wedding.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Equipment, Events, Life, Photography, wedding

Getting The Shots for Kyle and Adrienne

A Dip and A Kiss

I’m not a full-time wedding photographer so I don’t have a wedding scheduled every week like some photographers with whom I am acquainted.   I’m happy with the three weddings I have booked for this year (I *do* have a day job, ya know).

The first wedding in the books for 2014 was Kyle & Adrienne’s nuptials on June 21st, located at  La Tranquila Ranch in Tomball, Texas.  Adrienne’s parents attended a  wedding I’d photographed in early 2013, and her father liked my work enough  that he convinced his daughter to use me.

A couple of months prior to the wedding, they hired me for their engagement photos.  Bonus!

The ceremony was set to be conducted beneath the sheltering, shady branches of a stately, 85-year old oak tree stationed at the  end of a long, wide swath of soft, summer-green grass.

I’d arrived early, as is my wont, and scouted the area for locations in which to place myself and my small step-ladder during the ceremony and afterwards for posed shots.

Becky and the Old Oak Tree - VERT

Hot and sweaty from the humid environment, I finally entered the villa, site of the reception.  Ahh, AC.

Cameras and I awaited the arrival of the bride and her entourage…and the flowers…and the cake…..and the guests.

Delivering The Flowers

Boutonnieres

Wedding Cakes and Reception Setup

The Brides Arrival

Portrait of A Bride-To-Be

Helping Her With Her Dress

Bride and Bridesmaids

Kyle and Josh in the Background

Brothers

The Men ORIG

As I was photographing the bride beside the windows of the reception room, the sky dumped a flood of rain upon the area.  The outdoor wedding was switched to an indoor wedding.  Although the bride was disappointed, the precipitation did nothing to dampen her excitement and happiness for the day.

The Bride From Above - Vignette

Adrienne Looking Out The Window

Beautiful Bride - Vignette

Adrienne Veil and Bouquet

Despite the quick change in ceremony venue, everything – to my eye – went off without  a hitch.

Waiting To See His Daughter

Waiting For The Ceremony To Begin

The Ceremony From Above

Recording The Ceremony

Putting The Ring On Her Finger

The Kiss

The Newlyweds

First Dance

First Dance - Twirling His Bride

Feeding Kyle Cake

On The Dance Floor

Reaching Out

Here’s the thing with wedding photography:  it’s more than just a matter of taking pretty pictures.  There are a *ton* of “required” images every photographer must capture, and you’d better get them because weddings are one of those situations where there are NO do-overs.   You’d better have  the professional equipment with which to capture those images (and you’d better know how to use said equipment).  You’d better get the couple exchanging rings during the ceremony; you’d better get the couple kissing at ceremony’s end; you’d better get the couple’s first dance; you’d better get the father-daughter and mother-son dances; you’d better get the toasts and speeches; you’d better get the couple cutting the cake; you’d better get the couple in their get-away car; you’d better get all those little extras like the bride getting ready and the groom and groomsmen and the reception set up and etc. etc. etc.  And then, you sure as hell had better know how to process those images after all is said and done.  You’d better know how to capture the mood, lighting and emotion of the players on that day.  So much to do for a wedding photo shoot!

Here’s the skinny on how I got the shots.

Cameras:  Canon 5D Mk III and 2 Canon 1DX bodies (my own and one rented from Lensrentals.com

Lenses – all Canon:

Note:  these are all considered “fast” lenses because of their ability to open up at a wide aperture to allow in the maximum amount of light – perfect for low-light situations.

Flash:  Canon 600 EX-RT with a mini softbox attached with velcro to the flash head.

Because the wedding and reception were inside, I knew I would be using a relatively high ISO – anywhere from 1000 to 3200+.  I made as much use as possible of the beautiful natural light streaming through the glassed-in reception area windows because I dislike using flash unless/until I absolutely must.  I *did* use a flash, though, for the reception party and dances as the sun set and it grew dark outside.

The posed images were all taken within the villa.  The rain had ceased after the ceremony,  but because it was so hot and steamy outside (hello, it was Texas on the Summer Solstice), the difference in temperature between the air-conditioned building and the area outdoors not only steamed up my camera lenses but my glasses as well.  It would have taken too long to acclimate the cameras and there were too many requisite shots to get in too short of a time span before the reception party began in earnest.

Goofy Girls

Ultimately, the only outside shots I got were the ones of Kyle and Adrienne in the “get away” car.  I had to stand outside by myself for about 30 minutes to free the camera lens of condensation.   In hindsight (and that’s always 20-20), I should have put a camera and lens in a bag and just left it sitting outside for an hour or so while I stayed within the villa capturing other shots; after all, I *did* have three camera bodies.  Ah well, every wedding I work provides some new lesson/insight for me to use for the next occasion.

Everything was hand-held.  No tripod.  No timed shots.  Only one lens possessed image stabilization (IS). So, I applied what I jokingly (and other photographers disparagingly) refer to as the “spray and pray” method of capturing an image.  The method is simple:  hold down on the shutter button and click away for about 4-5 shots.  Rule of thumb is that, out of all of those shots, at least one of them will be nice and sharp.  The downside is that it uses up a lot of memory card space and adds to your post-process time as you go through each image to find the sharpest one.  The upside (for me) is that I have *a lot* of memory cards (48 cards varying from 4GB to 16 GB).

By the time the party ended at 10PM and the bride & groom were ensconced in the car and down the road, I had captured over 3000 images (remember, “spray and pray”).  Ultimately, those images were culled down to 360 “keepers” (took me 3 weeks of post-process work).

I use Lightroom *and* Photoshop on my PC when editing photos.  I find some tools easier to use in Lightroom than in Photoshop and vice versa.  I also work with Layers in Photoshop.  A layer is a non-destructive way to edit a photo without changing the original.  Layers, however, make for a much larger file, which is why I save my images to either a 500GB  or 1TB portable hard drive (actually, I save to two different portable HDs because redundancy is a photographer’s saving grace in case something happens to one of the drives).

Noise reduction software, either stand-alone or as a plug-in, is de rigueur when shooting within low-light environments.  I use Imagenomic’s Noiseware and there are other, equally good, noise reduction applications on the market.

I also applied a number of special effects presets from OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects program.  I used this particularly for the groom, his groomsmen, and some of the  bride & groom shots.

Josh and Kyle

It was a fun wedding, everybody was really photogenic, and I captured some great moments for the bride, groom, their families and friends.

Ready To Roll

Next wedding:  late September, here in Texas.

To see more images from Kyle and Adrienne’s wedding, click on this link.

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My 15 Favorite Images of 2013

I noticed a number of photographers posting their favorite images taken over 2013 and thought I would do the same. I decided to choose 15 images and provide some commentary about the photo.  It was a difficult choice, believe me.

These are in no particular order.

To see a higher-res rendition, just click on the photo and you will be taken to the spot where that particular photo resides on my photography website. You can order most of them for yourself, as a print in all sorts of mediums, or a coffee mug or within a 2014 calendar or photo journal creation of mine. And I even have a 30% discount on orders $30 or over on my website right now through the end of January 2014.

Chisos Mountain Evening

1. Evening in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas

I was getting a little anxious to arrive at the Chisos Mountain Lodge before it got dark (easier to find my way to my room in the daylight), but I passed this particular spot and knew I needed to turn around, park the car alongside the empty road and capture this mountain-backlit image with the wispy clouds and the century plant anchoring the foreground.

They Know The Words

2. They Know All the Words to Her Song, Evening Pirate Pub Sing at the Sea Devil Tavern, Texas Renaissance Festival

Low-light images are difficult to capture well, even at the best of times. This was an image captured  with no flash, using my trusty Canon 1-DX.  Note the people around the singer, raising their mugs to her and singing along with her. Total groupies at a Renaissance rock concert as they sing along with their favorite pirates. She and her husband (for real) “Captain Basil Drake” are huge favorites out at the festival.

Helping With The Jewelry

3. Helping the Bride with the Finishing Touches

One of my favorites of all the wedding photos I took of Maegan that day (and I have a lot of favorites from that day, believe me). The natural side lighting highlighted the bride’s excited, expectant look as she stood there while the ladies in her bridal party arranged her necklace. The looks given to her by the other ladies, in addition to each of their actions (look at the hands) make this a memorable moment for me (and I hope for the bride).

Snow Day At Park Avenue

4. Park Avenue Snow Day, Arches National Park, Utah

It was a magical morning. I awoke at about 2AM to peer out of my hotel room window and see huge, feathery snowflakes falling to the ground. Talk about excited! There’s something about red rock and white snow. There’s also something about being one of the first people (actually, I think I was the second person) to enter the park and to get to a spot at which nobody else has yet arrived. That was Park Avenue. Those footprints you see in the photo are mine. A total of about 5 inches or so piled up that morning. By late afternoon, it had almost completely melted, and by the next day, only the shadowed areas of the park still sported snow on the ground.

Ruffling Feathers

5. Plucking at the Head Feathers

This was the first time ever, in all 8 years of photographing the little ruby-throated hummingbirds, that I had ever witnessed such aggressive (and oftentimes amusing) behavior as exhibited by these territorial little birdies as they vied for perching space on one of the three feeders my 88-year old mother and I set out for the hummers as they stopped for a month-long break during their annual fall migration further south into Central America and Mexico. This just goes to show what going out every morning and/or evening to photograph the hummingbirds during their September sojourn can bestow wonderful images upon the patient photographer using a telephoto lens, fast camera, and flash.

Quite A Mouthful

6. Quite A Mouthful: Ibis with Crayfish (aka Crawfish), Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

A few months prior to my Katmai NP trip in July 2013, for which I had reserved a Canon 500mm prime lens, I rented this same lens for a weekend in order to get a feel for the lens so I wouldn’t be totally clueless and clumsy during the Alaska vacation. I lugged that lens out to Brazos Bend State Park, where I knew there would be a good chance of birdlife and I also knew the birds are a little more habituated (and less skittish) to humans there than at the national wildlife refuge. There is a particular spot where the birds (and alligators) like to congregate at 40-Acre Lake and I parked myself, tripod, and lens right at that spot. My entire goal that year had been to capture a sizeable tasty morsel in a bird’s mouth, and with this shot, I nailed my goal.

A Golden Burst

7. Sunrise at the Refuge, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Ah yes, I love getting sunrise shots. It helps that I am a morning person. And some of the best sunrises I’ve seen in the refuge are across and to the south of the gravel auto tour road alongside Olney Pond and Cross Trails Pond. The trick here is to getting a decent sunrise shot without having your entire composition filled with sun flare spots – and that’s difficult to do if you eschew a lens hood in order to make use of your polarizer filter and grad neutral density filter. These two filters allow you to use a slow shutter speed or wider-open aperture (unless you are aiming for a starburst effect) to keep the foreground lighter and not blow out the horizon. They also help with making the clouds (if there are any) more dramatic and with adding some color saturation as well.

Portrait

8. Portrait of a Brown Bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

This place is totally amazing. I had never in my entire life ever thought I would be viewing such incredible creatures as these 700+ lb brown bears….in Alaska…with a 500mm prime lens (rented). My favorite thing to do was create portraits of the bears.  Sometimes the 500mm lens did a perfect job on its own, and at other times, I did a little cropping to focus the eyes more on the bear’s face. When you first look at all the bears, they sort of look alike. But even after just a couple of hours in their presence, you can begin to suss out differences in appearance, facial expressions, and little quirky movements they have when fishing the Brooks River or looking for berries. I could see that each bear has its own personality and I tried to capture that with my portrait shots. This is one of my favorites. And it’s quite cropped, actually. This bear had been standing out in the river rapids, just below Brooks Falls. It turned away to warily look behind it before resuming its steady watchfulness of the rapids with the intention of catching dinner.

Above Alaska

9. Alaska From Above

I had the best time during my one-day bear-viewing trip to Lake Clark National Park; probably because I thoroughly enjoyed the 5-seater plane flight to the park. The windows were clean enough that I captured a number of aerial images of the Alaskan landscape. This is one of my favorites because of the landscape itself, the colors, and the lighting. This image also brings back the feelings of excitement and wonder I experienced as I viewed this remote Alaskan land. Plus, I was pretty darned pleased with my attempt at in-plane photography, since I don’t attempt this sort of thing very often. The key is to use a wide-angle lens and to put the lens as close to the window as possible without touching the vibrating plane glass. It also helps (tremendously) to have a camera with a fast frame-per-second capture – especially if your lens does not have IS (or VR or any of the other acronyms for image stabilization). I did not use a polarizing filter for this photo (or any of the other aerial images) because sometimes a polarizing filter can do wonky things to photography through an airplane window).

Chugach Mountain Reflection

10. A Morning View of the Chugach Mountains, Alaska

I had just enough time that Sunday to make a morning sightseeing trip north of Anchorage before having to return the rental SUV and get ready to meet up with the rest of my fellow Katmai photo tour members.  My intention was to drive up to Hatcher Pass.  I noticed this scene to the right of the highway and passed right by it.  All the while, I thought to myself that I really ought to turn around and capture the view before heading on.  Surely I had enough time for that.  So, I turned around and captured the view.

Icy Morning Glow

11. Icy Morning Glow, Arches National Park, Utah

By now, you can see that I have a number of favorites from this February visit to Arches. This image was sort of an afterthought. I’d driven to my favorite viewing area within the park: La Sal Mountains Viewpoint. When I realized the sunrise was going to be a bust, I turned to head back to the rental vehicle. I happened to look down to the slickrock ground and noticed several shallow potholes filled with clear water that had frozen during the night. The creative part of my brain kicked in and I captured this scene.

On Top Of The World

12. On Top of the World at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Favorite photos don’t have to be people-less. I love this image not only because it proves I made it up the steep, sometimes ice-coated hike to such an iconic feature as Delicate Arch, but it also shows that I had that entire place all to myself! Now that was an awesome feeling! So I set up camera and tripod, then tripped the shutter with my wireless remote to capture exactly how I felt and where I was. Plus, the photo gives a pretty good scale and sense of reference.

Sunset Over The Chisos Mountains

13. Sunset Over the Chisos Mountains and Chihuahuan Desert, Big Bend National Park, Texas

I shot this image prior to capturing the image at the very top of this post. I was trying to get to the Chisos Mountain Lodge before it got dark. I’d gassed up at the small Panther Junction station and was heading toward Basin Drive when I looked to my left to see this amazing scene. Naturally I had to get a photo, so I pulled into a small turnout, grabbed camera, tripod and grad ND filter, then hoofed it across the road to get this photo. It was a little tricky to capture with as little flare spots as I got because I was not using a lens hood. You see, my grad ND filter is a 4×6 and I don’t use a filter holder; instead I just hand-hold it against the camera lens. Makes it easier and quicker to move the filter up and down.

Maine Autumn Landscape

14. An Autumn Scene on Mount Desert Island, Maine

I’d had the good fortune and the misfortune to visit this part of Maine during the government shutdown. This meant I would not have access to all the places I wanted to see in Acadia National Park, which bummed me out and really cemented my utter disdain over congress. Nonetheless, I managed to capture some beautiful images of Maine during autumn. I had just turned off the road from Bass Harbor and was heading toward Bar Harbor when I looked to my right and saw this autumnal marsh scene with this wonderful tree in the foreground.

DHP Visitor Center View

15. The Visitor Center View at Dead Horse State Park, Utah

Ok, we know people who travel to this place, – a hop and a skip from both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park – generally photograph that iconic scene of the canyon looming over the river oxbow. But, there are other incredible scenes to be photographed in this state park, and this view right next to the visitor center is one such area.   The short rock wall provided an excellent frame to the expansive landscape beyond.

So, there you have it:  my 15 favorites (actually, I have about 20+ favorites, but this is a long-enough post.

Becky And Three Gossips

Here’s to 15 more favorites taken from the photographic possibilities I hope to experience in 2014!

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Filed under aerial photography, Alaska, Arches National Park, bears, Big Bend, Brazoria NWR, Katmai National Park, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography, Utah, wedding, wildlife, Wildlife Refuge

A Wedding In Galveston–Thoughts And Hindsight

Inside The Car

No matter how much you *think* you know about photographing a wedding, there is always something new to learn and take back for use at a future wedding. Since hindsight is 20-20, here are a few lessons I learned and things I will (try to) do for future jobs.

  • For the reception – particularly the dancing – I’ll get closer to the action and use the flash more – without the diffuser dome.  I’ll just make sure the flash is not at it’s highest setting since a little bit of non-diffused flash goes a long way.
  • I’ll make sure to have a step stool or a free table handy onto which I can stand.  Actually, I’d requested a ladder and the resort staff said they would provide one for me, but never did and I didn’t have time to go search for one – I managed to find a chair that worked well enough for my shots.

Speeches

  • In addition to the step-stool thing above, I’m going to try and procure something that allows me to stand above the action and use a tripod so I can request of the bride and groom that they go out to the dance floor and just stand there, looking like they are slow dancing while gazing at each other, while the rest of the dancers move about them. I’ll use a slow shutter speed on the camera so that only the newlyweds would be sharp in contrast to all the blurred movement around them.  I’ve seen similar wedding images to which this idea was applied and they are totally cool shots.
  • I will pack less gear (famous last words, I know, but I really do mean it).  Go back to my first post regarding this wedding to see all the gear I brought with me.
  • I will continue to remain ever-vigilant regarding subject placement against a background of lamps, lamp posts, or tree trunks so nothing looks like it is sprouting out of someone’s head.  Luckily for me, those issues were minimal and could be discarded because I took the same shots at numerous different angles.

Finally, here’s some advice for those of you embarking on a part- or full-time career in wedding photography. If you have a contract (and you should), make sure there is a clause stipulating that the bride & groom agree YOU are the only photographer who will take the official images of the ceremony as well as all the posed shots of  the bridal party and their families (I’ve got that clause in my contract).   Hard to avoid smartphones during the processional, but YOU should be the only one standing in the aisle with your camera catching the bridal processional.

Thankfully, I had no real issues about that with this wedding.  So, why am I even mentioning this? Awhile back, I read a  blog post about a professional wedding photographer who had a number of  key shots ruined because the guests were either elbowing the highly-paid photographer out of the way to get their own smartphone shots, or guests were getting *in* the way of a key shot, or because a guest’s flash went off at the same time the photographer’s flash went off, thus totally over-exposing (blowing out) the bride & groom or their families to the point that there was no way to recover any detail at all in the photo. I looked at each of this photographer’s photos and literally cringed over the shots ruined by rude people, both guests and non-guests.  One of my Facebook friends who is a successful wedding photographer told me he simply refuses to take any posed photos as long as some of the guests are trying to take the same shots with their own cameras. He just puts down his camera and waits.

Father-Daughter-Dance_U9A2581_thumb3

While I’ve been extremely lucky with the weddings I have photographed, that blog post and those Facebook comments highlight this problem that all wedding photographers face at some point in time.  Because of the bride & groom for this wedding prepared a very handy schedule of events for the key players, I had no problems at all during the ceremony or with the posed shots, and very minimal issues at the reception (like this photographer photo bomb during the father-daughter dance).

Naturally everybody is going to pull out their smartphone or point & shoot to  capture images during the reception, which tends to be a much less-structured event than the ceremony and far more relaxed.   Sometimes, one even runs across those guests who have toted along their  fully-loaded SLRs to the wedding because they either think they are doing *everybody* a favor (including the wedding photographer), or else they don’t think the paid photographer can do his/her job as well as they might have.  My ego would like to think that these guys (yeah, it’s usually guys)  see the wedding photos and then realize (but would *never* admit) that I did a pretty damned good job after all!

Here’s my rule of thumb:  If I am invited to a wedding and I am not the wedding photographer, then I leave my camera gear at home.  Period.

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I am exceptionally proud of the images I captured for this couple on their special day.    If you would like to see more photos from this wedding, then wander on over to my Facebook page Rebecca Latson Photography, click on the Photos box on my timeline, select Albums, then click on the link to the Maegan and Josh album. And, if you like what you see, then please “Like” me while you are on my page.

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A Wedding In Galveston – Après Ceremony And The Reception

Guest Registration Table

Immediately after the ceremony, the bridal party ensconced themselves in an empty room within of the gazebo and waited for the guests to head  for the reception. Next on the schedule were family photos. While we waited, I captured a few images of the Newlyweds.

Bella-Maegan-Parasols

For this image, I used only the ambient side light coming from the window because of the warm, intimate feel the light bestowed.

Maegan And The Boyz

I used my Gary Fong dome diffuser over the flash for this quick shot of Maegan and the Boyz.

Family photos done, the bridal party remained for a few more photos.

Happiness

Bride Bridesmaids and Parasols

A Quiet Moment

I stayed glued to the bride and groom and photographed them as they took the stairs down to the reception area.

Josh & Maegan - Stairs

Josh & Maegan - Kissing - Stairs - Perfect Effects

This is one of my favorite images.  For this photo, I used only the ambient light and bumped up the camera’s ISO to 1000.  Shutter was 1/40 and the aperture was f4 on my 5D Mark III.  I then used a vignette-spotlight preset from OnOne’s Perfect Effects plug in to brighten the area around the couple.  No, that preset did not create that yellow spotlight – the yellow light was already there.  The preset simply created a brighter area around Josh & Megan while lightly vignetting the rest of the image.

For the remainder of the reception, I focused mainly on getting candid shots and those little accents (like the table setting) that flesh out the character of the reception.

Bride and Bridesmaids

Fixing the bride’s bustle so she could dance and move around with a little more ease.

Bride & Groom Seating Assignments

Tablesetting And Background Dancing

The bride and groom dancing in the bokeh’d background with focus on the table setting.

The Band

The awesome band.

Aint No Mountain High Enough

The next dance after the First Dance was especially for the bride’s daughter.  The song was “Aint No Mountain High Enough”.

A Big Hug

Fun On The Dance Floor

On The Dance Floor

Up In The Air

Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila!

Fun On The Dance Floor

While I of course captured the prerequisite images of the First Dance, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, the toasts, and the cake (and cake cutting), I knew the bride and groom would want lots of photos of their guests having fun and the two of them having fun alongside their guests, as you can see from the photos above.

First Dance

First Dance

Best Mans Speech

A Toast

Father Daughter Dance

Father-Daughter Dance

Mother-Son Dance

Cake Table Perspective

Cake Table

Cutting The Cake

Feeding Each Other Cake VIGNETTE

Reception photos can be problematic because receptions – as a rule – are low-light affairs. Flash is usually called for.   I, on the other hand, don’t like using flash as much as using the available light.  For the reception, though, the only real light came from the candles and lit lanterns on the tables and a large, drape of material embedded with lights.  So, I used both flash and ambient light, with ISOs anywhere from 2000 to 6400.  Yes, I had to use a noise reduction plug-in (although at times I used Lightroom’s  noise reduction sliders instead of my plug-in software – Lightroom’s noise reduction is not too bad, actually).

Bella On The Dance Floor

My feet were hurting (damned those beautiful patent leather shoes) so I was sitting at one of the tables, happily snapping away at the bride’s daughter who was happily swirling about the dance floor with her dress billowing around her.  She turned to me and blew me a kiss.

Bellas Swirling Dress

Bellas Swirling Dress

I am guilty of taking quite a few photos of the bride’s 6-year old daughter. She was a  fun (and funny) little girl who enjoyed herself every bit as much as the adults.

Next Post:  Thoughts and Hindsight

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A Wedding In Galveston – The Bridal Party Posed Shots

Bridal Party On White Chairs

Josh and Maegan did one of the smartest things I think any bride and groom can do: they opted to get all of the posed shots (sans families) out of the way *before* the ceremony. That way, only the family posed shots remained post-ceremony and people were able to get to the reception and have fun faster and earlier. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about corralling everybody together. Thanks to that handy schedule Maegan emailed to all the key players, everybody knew their time and part to be played.

Now, I’ve heard this argument  from a number of people regarding the groom seeing his bride for the first time:  shouldn’t this be done *during* the ceremony? Folks, just because all of the bride and groom images were taken before the ceremony did NOT mean that there were not any photos taken of Josh as he saw his bride for the first time. It’s not a mandatory thing for a crowd of guests to be present for this event.  Images of the groom seeing his bride for the first time are special, with the focus on the groom and nobody else.

Here’s what I had Josh do: He came out to the gazebo first and I told him to stand facing the Gulf of Mexico view so his peripheral vision wouldn’t see Maegan coming out of the resort and down the side walkway toward the gazebo.

Waiting To See His Bride

Here Comes The Bride

I told Maegan to go stand about 2 rows away from the gazebo. We then *both* had to call out loudly to Josh that it was ok for him to turn and look.

Seeing His Bride

Seeing His Bride

From there, it was a series of bride & groom shots, bride & groom & bride’s daughter shots, and bride & bridesmaid shots. Everything was outside, the lighting was great, the background venue was great, and the resulting photos turned out really well. I used both my Canon 5D Mk III and Canon 1-DX with the 24-70mm lens and the 70-200mm lens.   For the images of Josh’s reaction to Maegan as she approached him in her bridal gown, I set the focus mode on the 1-DX on servo because I knew Maegan was moving toward Josh and Josh kept turning toward Maegan with his smile growing ever wider.

Maegan and Josh

Maegan and Josh

Maegan and Josh

Maegan Josh and Bella

Maegan and Josh Kissing Bella

Josh and Bella

Maegan and Bella

Bridal Party At The Gazebo

Bride & Bridesmaids Outside

Showing Off The Foot Jewelry

Showing off the foot jewelry.  Instead of slippers, the bride and bridesmaids all wore delicate foot jewelry to walk down the grass aisle.

Bride Relaxing - Wider Shot

Bride Relaxing On The Chairs

Maegan-White Dress-White Chairs-BW

After the posed shots, there was about a an hour or more during which we  could all relax (well, except for the photographer) prior to returning for the ceremony. The guys went one direction and we ladies headed back up to the 16th floor to find ourselves locked out of Josh & Maegan’s penthouse suite. Some of the room card keys had been left in the room and the card keys available to us did not work. While waiting for the resort’s security to come up and unlock the door, I asked Maegan to pose in front of the long, curving bank of hallway windows. The rear architecture of the San Luis Resort is completely made up of those neat curving floor-to-ceiling windows from one end of the hallway to the other (except for the part where the elevator banks are) and they make for great photo ops.

Bride In The Hallway

Portrait of Maegan

Oh, and  don’t forget to get some silly shots, too.

Silly Girls

Next post: The Ceremony

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