Saturday, May 5, 2018

Photographing a wedding by yourself - Part II - The first look

Welcome to part II of this wedding photography series, as I take you through my day of shooting a wedding as the sole photographer. The last blog post started with the "Getting ready" part of the day, and now we move on to the next part of the day, as we prepared for the couple's "first look". 

Actually, Lynda actually asked us if it was OK to have two first looks. Two first looks??? I was a bit confused until she told my wife and I about a surprise she had in store for Cardiff.

Before I take you through that hilarious part of the day, I should tell you that both Lynda and Cardiff had agreed to see each other before the wedding ceremony. We highly encourage this, since it lets us get nice photos of the wedding party before the service, saving time after the wedding. 

I knew exactly where we were going, since we had met with Lynda and Cardiff a couple weeks before the wedding, to scout the location. A short walk from the wedding location was a beautiful grove of redwood trees and I figured that it would be nice even lighting here for portraits. 

We all left the hotel (making sure that the girls and the guys did not see each other yet), and drove to the venue.

The guys walked into the grove first and escorted Cardiff up the path, while the girls formed a wall and blocked Lynda from his view.  We backed Cardiff into position and then waited for Lynda to approach him from behind.

Since Cardiff is into SciFi, Lynda thought it would be funny to have him turn around and see her in a Jabba the Hutt costume instead of her dress. So funny! As she approached, I even said "Wow Lynda, you look amazing". :)

He turned around, expecting to see Lynda in her dress, and was completely surprised. Right after taking the shot of Cardiff with his back to Jaba (Lynda), I had quickly moved to capture the expression on his face.

Being the goofball that I am, I suggested that we do a traditional wedding pose with Lynda in the costume.

And then she left to change and we walked Cardiff farther into the trees.

Now it was time for the REAL first look. I stood behind Lynda as she walked towards Cardiff and focused on her. I had the Canon 1D X MK II set to f/3.5 for selective focus and in IO Servo mode to keep her in focus as she walked. I was using my Canon 70-200mm lens, since it has a great focal range and is so sharp. I also had a Canon 600EX-RT flash set to -1.5 to add just a touch of light to my subjects.

As soon as he turned to see Lynda in her wedding dress for the first time, I changed so that my focus was on Cardiff.

After admiring each other, they stopped and talked for a while. I had asked that all the members of the wedding party stay back so that this could be a private moment for them. Even I stayed back and relied on the zoom of the lens to capture this emotional moment.

Then it was time for some posed shots. I placed them in a spot where I had a solid background (without breaks in the trees showing bright sunlight)

We started with a traditional wedding pose with the all the bride's maids on one side and the groomsmen on the other. And yes, we had to include Ash (their dog) who obviously was not too interested in posing. To add a little more lighting on this group, I was firing my on-camera flash towards the ladies while my wife held another Canon 600EX-RT flash pointed at the guys. She was standing to my right and pointing the camera towards the left of the group. This criss-crossing of the lights helps to create even lighting on everyone.

Then we mixed up the pose.

I then asked Cardiff and Lynda to walk towards me. I moved them far enough from the rest of the wedding party to get this shot with them perfectly focused, with everyone else soft in the background. This is one of my favorite photos from the wedding. The camera settings were as follows: Canon 1D X MK II, Canon 70-200mm at 85mm, ISO 640, f/2.8, 1/250th sec, with the Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)

After getting the whole wedding party in photos, we broke out into smaller groups.

At this point, I was relying heavily on my wife who helps group everyone together and make sure that all the ladies are holding their bouquets correctly. I tend to be more involved with the camera settings, focus and lighting.

Right before leaving the redwoods, I had Lynda pose for me one last time. She looked so beautiful, and the background was so amazing that it almost looks fake.

Looking at the metadata from the images, I took the first shot here at 1:11pm and we were done with photos by 1:47pm. This was well ahead of schedule and gave everyone in the wedding party a chance to relax and hang out before the commencement of the wedding.

The next blog will talk about photographing the wedding itself and the portraits straight after the ceremony.

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Linda Allen said...

I am really enjoying this blog series! Loved the unique first look photos! Too funny! LOL!!!

siemsiem said...

These blogs are so helpful Jeff. Inspiring stuff. Gonna steal some ideas hihi.