For all of you couples planning weddings, you may wonder “How do I get beautiful wedding photos?” I don’t have a definite answer, but I do have some tips. Four tips actually.
#1. Have a beautiful wedding. You can’t get blood from a stone, as the saying goes. A good photographer can make good photos happen in a crummy situation, but you’ll never get truly stunning photos unless you take the time and effort (and, let’s face it, money) to make your wedding into a beautiful event.
#2 .Be adventurous. I was once assisting on a wedding shoot where the bride didn’t want to go outside because it was windy. I understand that hair & makeup can be a delicate process, but your wedding photos are going to outlast everything else from your wedding (except, hopefully, the marriage itself), so don’t be afraid to go that extra mile for the perfect wedding photo.
#3. Make time for photos. Your wedding day is going to be fun, but it is also going to be hectic. If you don’t schedule in time to sneak away for photos, they might not happen!
#4. Make sure your photographer is working with a second shooter. There are no re-takes in a wedding (well, usually not), and it is nearly impossible to capture every moment. Working with two shooters not only doubles your chances of capturing that perfect moment, but it allows for a second perspective, and a second (hopefully complimentary) artistic vision to your wedding photos.
I was lucky that Roisin & Gina were both adventurous brides having a beautiful wedding, who had set aside plenty of time for photos with me and my second shooter Kaylee. It was the perfect recipe for amazing wedding photos.
The wedding was held at Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth MA. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the venue, with my only memories of the place being 3rd grade field trips to see people in costumes re-enact colonial life. What I didn’t expect was a beautiful hidden garden – perfect for a small, intimate wedding ceremony. The weather was overcast, with a chance of rain (more than a chance actually), which is actually the perfect weather for an outdoor wedding. Don’t wish for too much sunlight on your wedding day – just a little will do.
After the ceremony itself there was the usual cocktail hour, which I used to pull the brides away for a quick portrait shoot.
The reception was simple, but elegant. A nice white tent over a parquet dance floor. One of the most important aspects of wedding photography, and photography in general, is shooting in nice light. Nice light only happens at certain times of day, mainly the hour or so after the sun rises, and the hour or so before the sun sets. The reception started in that golden hour just before sun set, and the light was further diffused by the white tent, so needless to say I was in photography heaven.
Just as the sun was setting, we snuck away for a few more photos in front of an old barn.
Satisfied, we headed back to the reception for dinner and dancing. Typically, my shoots tend to go something like this – Shoot for a while until I’m satisfied, then, just as I’m packing up my gear, something amazing happens and I quickly set up again and get my favorite shots of the night. This wedding was no exception. About 30 minutes into the dancing, just as I was snapping my last few photos for the evening, it started to rain. No, not just rain – pour. It was the type of rain that had people trapped inside and not wanting to leave for fear of not being able to see on the roads.
This is where it helps to be adventurous. I cautiously approached the brides and asked “How do you feel about shooting outside in the rain?”, to which I received a “Sure!” with no hesitation. And so we set out to the barn once more, but this time with dramatically different results.
I’d like to share the unedited version of my favorite photo of the night.
For any photographers, here was the setup.
Canon 5D Mark iii, with a 24-70mm f/2.8L lens at 24mm. 1/100s at f/2.8, ISO 1000
There was a light behind the couple, under cover of the barn, with no diffuser of any kind. I was in the rain myself, with my wonderful assistant Kaylee holding an umbrella over my head so the lens wouldn’t get wet. One key to the magic in this photo is the color and position of the umbrella and wedding dress. The couple was positioned about five feet in front of the barn doors The backlight hit the pink umbrella and the ivory wedding dress, and reflected a perfect gradient back against the barn doors. I would like to say this was planned, and that I’m some sort of far-seeing color genius, but it was really just serendipity.
Then, with a little photoshop to take out the distracting elements, and the canvas extended for that panorama feel.
We did a few more portraits out in the rain, and yes, Gina’s dress was soaked at the bottom. I’m pretty sure both she and Roisin have dried off by now, but they’ve got the photos to last them a lifetime.