I heard from some friends who told me that they have read from a certain source over the internet lamenting how Malaysian photographers, at some point of their career, or in common cases, the most portion of their practise would gravitate towards wedding photography. I find this especially true, for portrait and people lovers, and to the extent that there are those who hate people but find themselves forcing by will to love what they hate. Local wedding photography market for freelancers has become so fierce that every single vulture on the planet who owns a DSLR can proclaim himself as a wedding photographer, disregard his capabilities. This is the commercial world after all, and typical Malaysian clients would go for even an offer with RM50 cheaper, without paying much attention to what they will be expecting.
I would be lying to you if I tell you that, I love wedding photography. Nonetheless, I can tell you that, I do love people, and I do love portraits. You may not see so much of my portraiture works here in this blog, mainly because I lack the talent to scoop for models to, well, to some degraded sense of purpose: become my experiment. If I do chance upon an invitation to a model shooting, I would take it, and explore what possibilities lying there. Recently I find myself gravitating towards weddings too. It is not rare to find friends, colleagues or family members getting married surrounding me, and since I have somehow oozed out a little too much photography aura than I originally comfortably intended, they instantaneously thought that, hey, Robin loves photography, he uses huge cameras, then he must be able to do good wedding !! I do not know how I should convince you otherwise, and that loving photography does not equate being good at wedding photography, but since the pull towards wedding was so strong I thought to myself, hey, why not give it a try? This is new water for me, but hey, if I never dip my feet into it, I will never learn how to swim. Yes, I do not know how to swim, if you are curious enough to ask that.
On recent occasions, after several wedding actual day sessions, and dinners, I have come to a stern conclusion; wedding photography is an entirely different game.
The latest session I was involved in was with a group of forumers from mychiaroscuro.net, and we had a little outing to shoot a couple’s pre wedding shots. This was my very first pre-wedding shoot, and to be shockingly honest with you guys, I totally had no idea on what to do, and what to expect from a pre-wedding sessions. Yes, I can spend hours and hours on the internet scooping for sample photographs, but when it actually happened, what I have visualized in my head was not really what I can picture happening with the couple. It also did not help that the other forumers with me during that session were relatively new to this game, thus resulting in a experimentation sort of photography manner, with lots and lots of trial and error attempts. We were very fortunate to have a very understanding and sporting couple, who did not pressure us but just let us do our job.
After all, we were all there to learn, and the most important component, frequently overlooked in any sort of photography, is to enjoy and have fun in doing it!!
There were many concepts and ideas being thrown into that experimental session, but I could only make a few of them work to my style of camera works. I have these things laid out in my mind as expectations and guidelines for this session:
1) Simplicity and Minimalism – I intend mostly plain backgrounds.
2) Lots and lots of natural lighting – cloudy sort of soft lighting
3) Poses to emphasis on intimacy and togetherness – relaxed, easy going loving poses but showing much closeness between the couple.
4) Facial expressions to exhibit extreme happiness – very important!! This is the tone and energy in the photos.
5) Greenery – Lots and lots of green lush environmental friendly background
Out of all the five points being laid out here, I could not achieve point 2 and point 5. The location chosen was in one of the buildings in Putrajaya, with ample space and open roof. It was my frist time there, and I did not know beforehand how the location looks like. I guess one of the tips I have learned from more advanced photographers, is to always know your location, and know them well before the shoot. The venue is not bad actually, it spans lots of creative options, but it worked against me.
Considering point 2, I wanted lots and lots of natural lighting, but the light that peered through the roof merely touched the couple at all, and I find myself using the flash most of the time to fill in the inadequate lighting. My limited option of lenses (no I do not have an F/1.4 dammit) prohibited me from gathering the minimal lighting available, and flash has rendered very hopelessly terrible ugly looking skin tones, such horror that I was tempted to convert all my pictures to black and white. Further to that, noting on point 5, there was not enough green to cover the whole background, and since it was partially indoors, I could not get the near high-key (very very bright, dreamy background) with lots of greenery as I have pictured in my mind.
As much as I have complained, I did what I can to improvise, and put my concentration in working out the other three points as much as I could.
Every forumers there got their chance to direct the models, and when I find my turn, I quickly moved them against a plain, textured concrete retaining wall, where there was generous amount of natural sunlight. I placed the background of the wall close to them, and directed the poses while maintaining them as relaxed as they can. This was the only place where I got most of the shots that I can say I am happy with. Simple, yet it shows expressions with strong enough impact. There is still plenty to work on the variety of poses, compositions and angles, but of course, I shall look into that for the future sessions.
Being the first time, I do think that the results did not come out too bad at all. Plenty of rooms for improvement, and plenty of many, many alternatives and styles to explore. The reward in wedding photography itself, is the sight of such immense joy and pure happiness that the couple shared.
Having the opportunity to capture, and freeze that moment with my camera, I do think that it is a great privilege.