Last Friday I was out shooting for a good friend and colleague, Alvin (one of the very important person working in the same engineering consultant firm I am in) and his lovely wife, Jacklyn. They have already engaged an official studio photographer for their pre-wedding photography earlier, but were looking for extra portrait photographs taken outdoors. I was more than happy to shoot for a dear friend. It was a very casual and brief session, with shooting duration of about slightly more than an hour. We all enjoyed ourselves and sometimes shooting for the people you do know and care about can be very rewarding.
I shall share some of the shots taken from this session in this blog entry and some accompanying thoughts on the images.
All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses
The beautiful thing about shooting outdoors is having the natural "feel" for the set of portraits. There was an era of time when wedding couples prefer their pre-wedding shots to be fully taken in a studio with heavy lighting equipment. Due to the advancement of digital photography gear, more and more newly weds prefer their photographs to be taken outdoor, with strong sense of location, and being out there. This establishing shot of the couple holding the flower was an opening: to tell that the shoot was not at a studio setting, and they were walking together toward an opening in the background.
I initially wanted to shoot the rings on the bouquet of flowers as seen in the previous image, but found the color of the flowers to be too soft and the close arrangements to be rather messy. We were at a restaurant for their buffet lunch and I found this fresh, bright rose on their table. Then I decided to do a macro ring shot on the flower, utilizing the striking red to make a strong statement in the overall image. The macro shot was taken with a bounced flash off the ceiling.
Now that we have the ring shot, but I want a slower transition to the couple. Therefore, a wide angle close up shot of the ring, carefully placing Alvin and Jacklyn in the background to connect the rings to the real people wearing them. I originally wanted them to look at each other, maybe a kiss or hug but those were overused cliches. Not wanting to give in to the redundant poses, I have them just looked straight into the camera and smile. Sometimes, simplicity wins.
I think photographers are the crazy bunch of people who could consider low angles, high angles and all sort of weird angles. Wide angle lenses are important to open up the location you are shooting in. Wide angle amplifies the lines, repetitive patterns and sense of space.
After establishing the earlier shots on the purpose of the shoot (ring and flower to show engagement/pre-wedding), sense of location (outdoor, to expect more natural light and non-studio setup) and a glimpse of the couple, the next thing to do is close up portraits of them. To create the dreamy effect that I seek, I placed them against brightly-lit background, to have the backlight condition. Yes, I know this is a big no-no for most situations, but I want a high-key portrait outcome.
I know many photographers would cringe when they see so much highlight in the photograph, but I find them to work in favor for me. I was shooting them with 50mm F2 macro lens, with effective equivalent of 100mm focal length on 35mm format, which produced very good facial profile with minimal distortion and irregularities. I have learned that it is best to avoid close up shooting with wide angle lenses.
So far in the previous images all the photos of the couple were shot in the setting where there were no other people that existed in their universe. To make the couple look more "real", I shot them against a background with real people. It was at the corridor just outside the restaurant where many people were waiting, or passing by.
There were a few more shots that I have done of course, but lets not spill all of them out. This image was shot as a closing, and what better way to close the story with a kiss.
I do think that my photographs could have been better if I had more time with Alvin and Jacklyn, but they have already made it clear that they have had enough photographs from their studio photography earlier and were just looking for additional photographs to add onto what they already had. Otherwise, if I was the main pre-wedding photographer, instead of just an hour session, it could have easily been a full on whole day shoot at various locations (thinking of the beautiful park and possibly a nice beach for sunset).
Nonetheless, I was very thankful to have this opportunity to shoot for Alvin and Jacklyn. I am not a professional wedding photographer, and am merely a photo-enthusiast. I see this small set of images as a wedding gift for my friend. At the same time, with each practice and experience I have taken up, surely I will learn and improve. There is much to explore, and I am willing and patient to go the extra mile.
All comments and feedback will be appreciated !!