Weddings & Experience : From learned to learner

 Two weeks ago, Marianne and I shot our 4th wedding as primary photographers. The location : the picturesque Mount Lofty House in the Adelaide Hills. Once again, we made the trip to the location in the previous week to scout for potential indoor and outdoor shoot locations since the time between ceremony and reception was going to be very limited. We were also excited as we had recently acquired a portable video light as well as some 2700mA rechargeable batteries. We had hoped to emulate the style of Jerry Ghionis’s shots (a renowned Melbourne based wedding photographer) but had had literally zero experience with using hand held lights as a light source. Other than L-plated lighting experiments, we went there with the usual aims of capturing the flow of the day and to do it with a mix of the required cliché shots as well some different angles.

In our previous weddings thus far, I had photographed the groom’s preparation and pre-ceremony images while Marianne had taken images of the bride’s preparation. This wedding was unique in that both bride and groom were staying in the same location one floor apart so we had the opportunity to reverse roles. I learned a few things about positioning the bride for shots while Marianne experienced a slightly different dynamic of shooting the groom. We’ve found it almost universal that the bride seems more keen on being photographed than the groom (and I can certainly relate to that!). With Marianne’s help for positioning and even holding a video light for me, these were some of the images from the bride’s room.

Natural light and fill flash. F2.8

Video light and ambient room light

ambient light only.

Marianne managed to take, in my opinion, a very different and original set of images of the groom as well. The image of the groom holding the rings has since been flatteringly emulated by members of a photographic community that I belong to at

Marianne's emulated ring shot

Waiting for the moment

No two weddings are the same. Families have different attitudes, brides and grooms have different expectations, bridal parties vary in size and rowdiness, the locations vary in lighting and style and so on. Our main variation for this day : weather! No sooner had we arrived at the location, did rain build up and continue incessantly for several hours. This meant that all of our shots were indoors and it meant that our flash units would need to last. This is the segment of the article where I sing the praises of the Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries! Until now, we had been buying standard Duracell or Energizer batteries for our flash units only to find that midway through the ceremony, recycle times would lengthen meaning that there was the occasional image with no flash that was grossly underexposed and bin material. For this wedding, Marianne and I were constantly shooting every shot with flash of varying strengths from 3pm until 10pm. There was no change in recycle time, no missed flash shots. In other words, like many things in life we’ve  discovered the hard way, sacrificing on quality for the sake of cost doesn’t pay off (at least in the context of photography). Being indoors meant that we could try a few images here and there with the video light as assisted lighting with the flash, or sole lighting source for more dramatic images. These are some of the efforts.

Attempt at getting some rim lighting : didn't really work

Fill flash and marianne holding the video light from above

Video light alone with Justine and Ben walking slowly down the stairs

Then of course, as the night goes on, more fun is had and there are those kinds of spontaneous shots to be in the right spot for.

Papparazzi at work

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening for us and a fantastic way to spend it sharing the joys of the bride, groom and loved ones. The learning curve took another step up and we hope that we continue to take those footsteps from being learners to being learned in the field. One day we might dream that instead of vastly composing images in emulation of our inspirations, our images might be the subject of emulation such as Marianne’s ring shot.


Posted on March 17, 2010, in How we..., Photography, Weddings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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