Note: Photographers’ Friday is a weekly blog series directed toward professional photographers, and in some instances, serious amateur photographers. All Photographers’ Friday blog posts will assume that readers have a basic working knowledge of digital SLR cameras, but if you’re left with questions or don’t understand any of the information, don’t hesitate to ask. We love e-mails!
It’s something I tell our couples all the time: We go where there’s good light, not where there’s a pretty backdrop. That’s because good light produces great photographs. Pretty backdrops without great light produce . . . pretty backdrops in boring photographs.
So look for the light. It doesn’t matter what location that takes you to.
We shot the first half of Caitlin and David’s wedding day portraits right in their church parking lot. Because there was some deliciously soft light filtering through the trees in the distance.
We’ve photographed couples right outside public restrooms, dragged them into underbrush-filled woods, and posed them right next to trash cans — all because we just want to put our subjects in the very best light.
If it sounds like chasing the light is going to make your job as a photographer harder, I’m here to tell you it isn’t. It’s freeing. Once you place the emphasis on simply finding great light, you don’t need to worry about seeking out the most perfectly manicured garden or a dramatic skyscraper rooftop in order to feel confident that you’ll produce great images. In fact, you’ll start seeing opportunities for amazing photographs in some really unlikely places.
Like that time Danny and I were sitting in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, and I suddenly pointed to a spot at the edge of the parking lot. There were cars all around, and a highway just behind it. But I realized that, if I photographed someone in that exact spot from just the right angle, all you would see in the photograph would be the subject, some tall grass waving in the breeze, trees on the other side of the highway, and the golden hour light spilling from the sky. And I knew in that instant that if I’d had someone to photograph then and there, it would have been one of my favorite pictures ever. And it would have happened just a few feet away from a drive-thru window.
The moral of this story is that there are opportunities for great photographs everywhere, and they’re easier to locate than picturesque backdrops. Become a light chaser. It will absolutely change the way you approach photography.
Earlier this year, Danny took a saw to our beautiful crepe myrtle. For weeks, it stood like a headless body — a tangle of viney trunks that stopped abruptly, flat-topped like a crew cut where the saw had lopped off their leafy branches.
People get haircuts on the regular. Trees get a yearly hacking. It’s a cycle I’m very familiar with: I grew up with a backyard full of crepe myrtles, and my dad had an annual chop-the-crepe-myrtles day, when he would take the hand saw to the branches, and then take the branches to the curb, stacking them nearly waist high. For a while, they would look awful. Bare, bony, brittle wooden sticks poking up from the ground along the whole length of the fence.
But then little shoots would poke out from the bare sticks, spindly and new, glossy with fresh green life. I watched it happen all over again this year with our solitary crepe myrtle. Instead of being bald now, it has a spiky ‘do brimming with ombré leaves. But if Danny hadn’t cut it back, the crepe myrtle would have only gotten taller and taller, and never reached its branches out to its widest potential.
Our brilliant pink bougainvillea is the same way. Danny has cut it back several times, whenever it has started getting leggy. The result has been a much fuller, bloom-filled bush that has outgrown its trellis — and provided us with the inspiration to add a new purple bougainvillea to the yard, too. The new purple one is small and untouched; the pink one is beautiful, and it’s becoming quite grand. Because it was cut.
We’re a lot like that, too, if you think about it. We have to trim back the excesses, the undesirable growth, the energy-sapping outlets in our lives that produce no fruit or blossoms. We have to sheer away the dead ends of our lives. Then we can stretch out our limbs, and grow to our greatest potential, and bloom.
We know it happens. We watch it, just outside our window, every day.
Handing your wedding rings over to the photographer for close-up ring shots is the easy part — the photographer will decide where and how to shoot the rings. But deciding what to do with the rings for the ceremony itself is your job. The four main options are pretty simple and straightforward:
Have the best man carry the bride’s wedding band (usually in his pocket — make sure there are no holes!) and the maid of honor carry the groom’s wedding band (usually on her thumb).
Have the groom carry the bride’s wedding band and the bride carry the groom’s wedding band.
Securely attach the rings to the ring bearer’s pillow, or whatever item he will be carrying, and let the ring bearer present the real rings to the officiant during the ceremony (that’s what we did, and it made an adorable photo op!).
Give both rings to the officiant ahead of time.
Make sure you only ever hand the rings over to people you trust to keep a secure hold on them, and — let’s be real here — never hand the rings over to people who are clumsy and prone to losing things. Just make sure you know where the rings will be at all times and assign someone to be responsible for them so they don’t accidentally get left behind when you head to the ceremony site.
It’s not a tough decision, but it is one you’ll want to plan out before you get to your wedding rehearsal!
It was over a year ago, in the hall at Oceanside Country Club as Kristy restyled her hair before her reception, when Kelly and I first crossed paths. I said I loved her dress. She said she loved my photography. And that she would be sending me an email when she got engaged.
That email arrived just after the New Year, complete with an adorable proposal story and plans for a fall wedding at Sunset Harbor Yacht Club. Last week, we spent the evening with Kelly and Jeff at Rockefeller Garden, a frequent stop for them during their frequent walks along the river. We got a taste of just how sweet their wedding will be.
Okay, I can’t contain myself any longer — I have to share a little bit of their proposal story. It goes something like this: On Christmas morning, sipping coffee together on the couch, Kelly dug through her stocking. She pulled out several kitchen gadgets which, since she is, after all, a self-proclaimed kitchen-gadget-loving girl, seemed like the perfect Christmas present to her. Then she pulled out a little box, popped it open, and immediately snapped it shut. “Is it real?” she asked. Probably not the exact response Jeff was expecting, but, oh yes! This stunning ring is very real. So was Jeff’s proposal.
Gorgeous, Kelly! You, your preppy-perfection of a wardrobe, those strawberry blond curls. Oh, and Jeff doesn’t look too bad either!
While Danny worked on the ring shots, I pulled Kelly and Jeff over to an absolutely heavenly patch of sunlight. They made it look even better.
Willows always make such dreamy backdrops.
Love!I have to say, I was sad to see the sweet J. Crew dress and coral sweater go . . . but Kelly’s second outfit was just as great. Ruffles? Every day of the week!
We met some feathered friends, who were convinced Kelly’s coral-colored toe nails were candy, and who decided they needed their turn mugging for the camera, too.
Looks like a shot out of a romantic movie, doesn’t it?
As we got closer to sundown, we decided to head over to the little beach on the other side of the bridge — and paused right under the bridge as the orange sunset burned brightly.
Another serious favorite!
If you’d like to see more, watch Kelly + Jeff’s slideshow, and be sure to hop over to their PASS gallery.
Kelly and Jeff, you two were a breeze to work with, and so happy together, and so nice to put up with my laryngitis all evening! Thank you so much for bringing us along for your journey to your wedding — we can’t wait to be there when you two get married this November!
After nearly three years of talking about it, I finally acted on it. I finally booked a ticket and boarded a plane and flew across the country to visit one of my very best friends and her precious baby girl. I finally did what I said I should, what I said was important for years.