The Wedding Day, Part I
Monte Zucker• Posted Jan 1, 2002
Small weddings are becoming
very popular, perhaps because couples are thinking ahead and want to
avoid many of the difficulties and costs associated with large weddings.
Be that as it may, photographers still have the opportunity to take
lots and lots of pictures and still put together beautiful and fun wedding
albums for the bride and groom€even when the wedding is as small as
this one was--only four people in total!
This was brought to my attention recently when I assisted Joan Burton in photographing the wedding of a couple at the Beaches Resort, Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean. We both were shooting with digital Canon D30 cameras. I had been invited there to teach their photographers by Andy Mann, owner of Tropical Imaging. Andy's an extremely enterprising entrepreneur who's unquestionably the leader in the entire Caribbean for the most contemporary photography being produced there today.
Both Joan and I were using the simplest of equipment. There were no posing stools, portrait lighting equipment, backgrounds, or off-camera flashes to be had. (You can bet that I changed that!) The backgrounds, of course, were no problem. Everywhere you turn at that resort you can find a new background.
So, here's a part of the wedding coverage that Joan and I did together. Everyone was relaxed, had a great time, and, needless to say, loved the resulting photographs.
The next picture, of course, wasn't made early in the wedding day, but it sort of beautifully introduces the whole series of photographs, so I placed it up-front in their album. Although it appears as if they're standing high on a mountain top, there are really no high elevations on the island. They're standing on a small knoll by the beach and I'm crouching down low to place them against the clear sky.
I used a huge wind machine to blow out her gown. (Yeah, sure!) The exposure was set for bright sun and I used a strong flash on-camera to open up the shadow side of their faces.
This next photograph is also out of the sequence in which I took the pictures, but it fits well into the story-telling aspect of the picture coverage at this point. The picture was actually made with her standing on the outside edge of a porch covering. I turned her face slightly away from directly out toward the light, so that I could create the shadows on the near side of her face.
In cropping the image I kept her eyes about a third of the way down from the top of the picture. I also cropped the composition in the viewfinder to keep a little more space in front of her in the direction toward which she is looking.
I knew that there were going to be just a very few people for this wedding, so I didn't want to miss any opportunity to use some of the tried-and-true pictures that have been so successful for me down through my entire professional career.
One of these scenarios has been pictures in the mirror. As a matter of fact, I found that the more close-ups like these that I took, the more pictures were ordered by both the wedding couple and their parents. What I eventually realized was that these photographs were the beginning of my creating portraits of the parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters in addition to just the bride and groom.
So, I began with pictures of the bride and groom in the mirror. I did them individually and then created still more by placing one or the other in the background. Using a digital camera allowed me to see what the effect was immediately€and I loved it. What I didn't notice until later was the fact that the mirror I was using had bevels on the edges that caused a slight flare on the edge in some of the pictures. Still, it didn't bother me or the couple enough to eliminate these photographs from their selection.
I turn my flash slightly in toward the mirror, so that the light basically bounces into the mirror and from the mirror back at the subject. The direct light from my flash acts as the fill light. Thus, somewhat of a portrait lighting develops on my subjects and there are no blown-out, overexposed areas on their faces. <
In this picture the groom is actually a few feet behind the bride, yet the light bounces out from the mirror sufficiently enough to illuminate him, too.
You don't have to be afraid of the flash reflecting in the mirror as long as you position yourself so that you can't see yourself in the mirror.
Or, you can simply change the people in the picture and repeat a similar situation. The groom and his mother, for instance, is a winner with her kissing her "little baby."
Of course, the bride and groom both decided that they would see each other for pictures before the ceremony. They had never considered doing this or not doing this before I spoke with them the day before their wedding was to take place. When I explained to them how much fun it could be being together throughout the entire wedding day, they both agreed to do it--with the exception of showing each other their wedding rings.
To better understand exactly how it all happened, look at this:
Notice that both faces are turned toward the light, but not directly into the light. Thus, I was able to achieve fairly good lighting on her profile and good split-lighting on the groom's face. In most copies of this picture that I see photographers tend to turn the groom's face away from the light. This just draws attention to the back of his head, while his face goes into shadow.
Believe it or not, the original inspiration for my taking that picture was my remembering a photograph that Karsh had made a long time ago of John and Jackie Kennedy. Of course, now everyone does pictures like this!
Coming next month--"The Wedding Day Part II.