It seems to have become a tradition for me to photograph my friend’s wedding proposal. I can honestly say two things about this, I never expected that I would be asked to do that kind of photography and I am deeply honored that my friends not only asked me but also that I get to be there for that special moment. To this, I humbly say thank you!
Now the first thing that comes to mind when you get that question is, “What lens do I use?” That is a very good question because the intended needs to be surprised and if you show up with too much equipment, that might give the surprise away. In this case, I just going along under the pretense of a fun fishing outage which meant the Nikon Z6II and the Z 24-120 f/4S. This has essentially replaced the 24-70 f/2.8 that I have carried in my bag for a very long time but frankly, the focal range and the depth field of the Z 24-120 are just perfect for a lot of scenarios.
As I was saying the Z 24-120 is great for those wide shots where you are trying to capture a lot of information and then the tiniest of details like the light refracting in this diamond. Now I know that this lens has been out for a while and while I am a little behind the times, you know what that’s part of photography. You grow as time goes on and talk about your experiences so others can learn. The one other benefit I learned with this setup is I only have to carry one body and one lens while I’m out “fishing” and that makes it a heck of a lot easier on my back. It’s those little things that can make a big difference in the long run.
Well I don’t normally photograph weddings but when it comes to photography you can either stick to your realms or push yourself and try something new. Especially if those people asking are friends. It turned out to be a marvelous event, with even the weather cooperating, being the one nice day in between two weeks of cold and snow. Obviously that didn’t affect Lindsay and Paul who were both willing to go out in the snow.
When it came to the shooting aspect of it I kept it simple with my sling bag, three lenses and one camera body. Primarily I used the 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, which I know many don’t like to use for weddings, but for a general purpose lens it’s hard to beat. The other two were the 18-35 and 70-200. The 70-200 is a great choice for getting those candid moments when people aren’t paying attention to you and are involved with their own conversations. The big thing is going with a shot list and making sure you get all the important photos done quickly and well. You can’t go back and redo anything. The really important part is to keep it fun. While it is work it has to be fun for everyone taking the photos and then receiving them.
Yesterday I blogged about overcoming some of the challenges of my first wedding shoot and showed some of the images from just the pre-ceremony, mostly shots of the little details that make up the whole event. Going into this whole project I tried to keep as open a mind as I could not knowing really what I was getting into. As I was told when I was seeking advice beforehand, the best thing to do is to stay confident. If they sense that in you then they will have confidence in you. I have to say for my first wedding shoot, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer family or couple to be working with. Brad and Sarah were easy to get along with and very laid back as I worked through all the challenges that this event had to offer. Despite the actually ceremony only taking a few minutes to take place, it was still hours of shooting before and after.
With the D4, 24-70 AF-S 2.8 and SB-900, I was able to do a lot with the little details, as per yesterdays post. The wedding itself was actually held just 10 minutes away from where I live, which was great. Mostly outdoors with the ceremony at 4:30pm. Not my favorite time for lighting but with the nice open backyard, I couldn’t complain. The whole day I had the camera clicking, trying to capture every moment that wasn’t scripted in between those oh so important ones. Both inside and out it was a matter of capturing the faces of everyone there, while trying to remember everyone’s name. Not my strong suite.
It finally came down to the ceremony itself with me running around both sides trying to capture the feeling of the whole event from everyone’s perspective. Not easy to do. Mostly using the 70-200 VRII and 24-70 AF-S f2.8, I focused on every smile and moment of the ceremony. Now the one thing that amazes me about photography and continues to amaze me was how fast that project can go by after all the time you send prepping for it. The ceremony was over faster than anything I could have predicted but the work was still not done, for all those portraits remained. Every family member and all the newly wed couple shots had to be done.
Even those goofy but fun shoots which you just have to do. You never can go back and do them over.
In the end, after months of worrying, prepping, strategize everything worked out in the six hours of shooting. It of course took longer to do the finishing on the images, making the prints and making the dvds then it ever did to take the images, but it was all worth it. This process taught me many lessons, mostly that something that is as far out of your comfortable zone as possible can be the most rewarding. As photographers we capture moments in time. Sometimes those are moments that only we behind the camera truly realize how important they are while other times it’s the subject in front of the camera that knows it is their moment. Being able to share those moment is truly special and no matter what field, what passion or what reason you are a photographer, remember to always be on the lookout to try anything that might come your way. You never know what it might lead to and who you might meet. For me, I was able to share a very special moment with these two wonderful people and do something that I had never done before. Thanks Brad and Sarah!
Over the last few years I have learned one very important lesson in photography and that is always to be open to everything that comes your way. A while back I wrote about having to become a general photographer and taking advantage of all opportunities that come your way even if those are outside your comfortable area or don’t fall within your passion. Well if your passion is photography then any photo opp is a good one. I’ve spent a lot of time photographing critters, landscapes and planes but never much time photographing people, so this past project has been quite a challenge for me. Thanks to the mysteries that life bring some friends of mine asked me a while back if I would be interested in photographing their wedding. Well I can honestly say that up till that point I had no interest to do so and even told them that I had never done something like that before. Brad and Sarah were fine with my lack of experience in that field because they knew I would work hard. And boy did I!
Everything was started way back in Winter and the wedding was just a few weeks ago in July. I had a lot of prep work to do before then. Photography is still photography and light is everything, and that’s truly the most important lesson in all this. Getting prepped was more about learning techniques, coming up with creative shooting angles and figuring out the best timing to accomplish every shot. Without an assistant it was all me so I was very glad when they didn’t ask for video with their stills. As I have discovered in the past and for anyone out there that has tried to do both before, it’s really tough!
The technical aspect was the hard part at first. When you spend a lot of time working in one particular field you get used to doing everything that way and nothing else. With my planes I use the 200-400 VRII and 70-200 VRII a lot to isolate backgrounds and focus on one subject. Often times trying to capture as much information as possible in both the subject and the background. That seemed to be so inverted in this field as having shallow depth of field was such a key factor in so much of the shooting, something that I am NOT used to doing at all. Using the 24-70 AF-S f2.8and 50 f1.4 were a big help in achieving some of those shots. Black and White is also a key tool which made a lot more sense afterward as the light kind of sucked a lot of the time, being that everything I shot was during the middle of the day.
The last part of the prep was the inspirational side. The best was to do that I found was to research what other people had done and see what they had created. How they placed their subjects, their relationship to the background and the direction of the light that they choose all provided the answers to those questions in my mind. At Photoshop World this past Spring I spent a lot of time attending classes on wedding photography, like Cliff Mautner’s. All of this research material helped. Of course the only way to get the answers to those questions was to put them into practice.