Nothing says romance to me like an NYC night in a light rain. Can’t wait for Valerie and Matt’s wedding in California!
I’ve gotten an early start on something new I’ll be doing in 2010 — little previews of each engagement shoot on my Facebook page.
I don’t usually have enough time to post engagement shoots in a methodical way on here, but boy oh boy have I been doing them, and loving them. They’re a central part to one of my most important goals — making the couple feel as comfortable as possible with the process of photography (and learning to ignore said process) on the day of the wedding.
So, here’s a taste from an engagement shoot with Colleen and Steve in Brooklyn Heights:
He said he loved the air conditioners as a pattern, she said this was a typical reaction of hers.
(“Brenizer method” panorama)
I suppose my style is to hold as light a touch as possible on post-processing … but if I do, do it like I mean it, which is to set up shots with the post-processing already in mind. The “Brenizer Method,” of course, relies on Photoshop. I actually am coming up with ideas now to use specific compositions and techniques to breathe some new life into a Photoshop technique that photographers tend to revile, but more on that later. In this case, I shot this as a composite of four frames, using just one little speedlight to light the couple.
I like to travel light, especially on engagement shoots. In New York, there are plenty of places where if you set up a light stand and a tripod, you will be swarmed by police, park officials, and in one case a National Guardsman with a machine gun. Yikes. But I love the light-canceling effects of big lights. The way to get there with a small light is to get in really close. The way to do that with freedom while not getting in the frame? Composite.
Of course, composites require tripods, and you remembered what I said about the guys with machine guns, right? In this case, I stood the camera on my rolling camera bag and propped up the lens with a lens hood. Wedding photographers are McGuyver at heart.
FYI: Not HDR. All of the frames were at the same exposure settings.
Sometimes, I try to turn challenges into opportunities. One of the toughest times to shoot is peak mid-day. This is counter-intuitive to the layman: “Photographs need light! Let’s shoot when there’s as much as possible!” but the sun is a very harsh, extremely strong light source, and there are few less attractive places to put a hard light than directly over someone’s head. (Coming directly from below is worse, but for obvious reasons that doesn’t happen very much with the sun).
So we try to work against it or overpower it. But there’s the second problem — overpowering the sun is about as hard as it sounds. Wee little flashes only do well if they’re close, which limits the sorts of compositions you can do. That’s why I’ve taken to doing multi-frame composites recently, so I can get the flash close to my subject in a big frame and then quickly digitally erase it later.
But there are other ways — who says the light source can’t be in the frame? Who says you can’t have some fun with it? The rooftop garden at the Met is absolutely one of the brightest places I’ve been in New York, other than the waterfront. I used every trick to get “normal” frames well-exposed, and then dipped into the abnormal.
More extreme white balance? Nope — this is exactly what the scene looked like in real life, thanks to the crazy night lights at the High Line.
I’m always looking to do something a little different from the norm with clients, and when it’s warm enough more and more I say "hey, why don’t we do the shoot when it’s pitch black out?" Even popular engagement spots like the High Line take a very different tone at night — during the day, this spot looks like a random airplane hangar.
Thanks, Bill, for holding the Lowel video light on this one!
Well, here’s something new — I shot Yelena and Wassim’s engagement session the day they got married! Fresh from City Hall, this great couple took me down to the financial district where they used to meet for lunch every day and then up to Central Park. They later had a fantastic wedding for friends and family that you’ll see here soon!
I knew that Timoria, a fantastic make-up artist, was going to come prepared for this engagement session, but I had no idea how prepared! Not only did they have multiple changes of clothing, but they had it planned out how they could safely shift from one to the other in public. We wanted to create a New York story for them, so we started at the Battery Gardens, where they will be getting married, to Times Square.
I am not sure if it’s possible to have more fun on an engagement session than we had.
It had to be done
Timoria practices her craft