Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Photographing a destination wedding in Hawaii - Rain or shine!

I just returned home from a week in Hawaii. I know, life is tough! Even though this is an awesome vacation place, we were actually there for work. Last year, I was hired to shoot this wedding on the island of Maui, and after a long wait, we had a chance to work our magic on the island.

I had loaded my Thinktank rolling carry on bag and rolling backpack with my Canon 1D X Mark II, Canon 5D Mark IV and even one extra Canon 5D Mark III as a backup. I also loaded many Canon 600EX-RT flash units and MagMod modifiers for the trip. I had pre-charged a ton of the Powerex AA rechargeable batteries for the flashes, and brought the Maha charger for future recharging.  Both of those bags were carried onboard the plane while our suitcases were checked. My wife, Annette, and I arrived on the island on Thursday afternoon, with all the cameras, flashes intact and ready to go.


We met up with Megan and Anthony on Friday morning for their rehearsal. As you can see from this portrait, we had beautiful weather. Look at that amazingly blue water in the background.


I photographed the rehearsal just enough to figure out the best shooting positions and settings. Then we went to lunch with the family where I captured some more informal photos and we got a chance to get to know everyone better. After lunch and a break, the four of us met up for some pre-wedding portraits. My wife and I had already scouted out locations for the shoot, but Megan requested that we stop by this row of trees for some shots before heading to the beach. The lighting was not great, so I shot mostly tight shots.


We arrived at these black rocks about 15 minutes before sunset and started shooting. I was shooting in manual mode to darken the scene, and had my wife holding two Canon 600 EX-RT flashes, both of which were gelled with MagMod's 1/2 CTO Mag Gels. (Photographer note: For those of you wondering, I was using the gels to warm the light of the flash to evenly match the warm light of sunset. Otherwise I would have had a warm background and a cool blueish light on my subjects. I needed two flash units to sufficiently light them, since my manual camera settings were killing a lot of the ambient light. ) 


I was very happy to have have some clouds in the sky to add drama to the scene.


I had my wife moving to different positions around the couple with the lights, all while trying to keep the light from the flash on them, but not too much on the rocks. We suggested that they turn away from us and enjoy the sunset. Looking at the LCD of the Canon 5D Mark IV, I was really excited to see what we were getting.

I jammed back to our hotel and retouched a handful of these images. I couldn't wait to share some of these with Megan and Anthony.

And then...it was the wedding day...


We arrived at Megan's hotel suite at 7:15am to get photos of her getting ready, and to get detail shots of the rings, bouquet, shoes and more. I thought it would be cool to get some photos of the rings with the Hawaiian islands in the background. In order to get this shot, we put an end table on top of a chair to get up over the balcony railing. My wife then placed part of her dress on the end table and positioned the flowers and rings.


After getting our detail shots, I went back to photographing the bride getting ready. I had her stand by the window to get this window light shot.


My plan was to head over to the groom's room to get some shots of him getting ready, but then was told that there was a nice rainbow outside. I ran to the other side of the hotel to get some shots of the rainbow to use as a backdrop in their album. Then I went to capture images of Anthony.


After all the pre-wedding photos, we drove over to Merriman's for the couple's first look and wedding. Annette and I had looked all around the venue for a good place for the first look, and determined that this wall was our best bet. We had Anthony stand behind this one wall to wait for Megan. And just as we did this, the rain started to fall.


They saw each other for the first time and had some time together, while I stood back and captured the moment. If you look closely, you can see the rain drops coming down.


The wedding was all set up to go at 10am, but due to the rain, the people at Merriman's delayed the ceremony to see if we could get a clearing in the weather. In the mean time, I saw this rainbow in the background and thought that it made the perfect background for a venue shot.


Megan was downstairs protected from the rain and waiting for everyone to get seated. I ran up and got Anthony for this shot with the rainbow.


After another 15 minutes, Tino (their officiant) blew the conch shell to signify the start of the wedding.


As you can see, everything was a bit wet, but the wedding went on without anyone caring about the weather. Everyone actually laughed about it.


Megan and Anthony were pronounced husband and wife!




After the rain slowed, everyone emerged from cover and we did all the formal photos of the wedding party and families. As I was finishing the last photos of the families, my wife was gathering up everyone who flew in for the big day. We got them out on the grass, and even with the rain coming down, everyone got into the group photo and celebrated with the new bride and groom.


The wedding was over by 2:30pm and everyone went back to the hotel to relax. Megan put a huge importance on her wedding photos, and asked if we could do more photos later in the day. If you know me, you know that I am always up for taking photos. Especially with a fun couple in an amazing location. So, at 4:30pm, my wife and I picked them up and we went out hoping that the weather would cooperate for one more sunset shoot. But this time, with the cloud cover, we drove back to the tree lined road in Kaanapali and got some nice wide shots of the them. This is a shot that the bride's mother really wanted, and I hate disappointing anyone! My wife was lighting the couple with one Canon 600EX-RT flash from my right, adding just the right amount of light to make them stand out from the rest of the scene.


The rain held off and we had a pretty sunset once again. Megan was a total trooper and traversed the rocks in her wedding dress. Once again, Annette was holding two Canon flashes with the MagGels and we captured the newly married couple in this epic environment.


Annette held on to Megan's veil while I shot this photo holding one flash in my left held and the Canon 5D Mark IV in my right hand.


We shot a couple more shots until the sun dropped and sky lost most of it's color. We were traversing the rocks back towards grass when I saw these clouds lighting up behind them. I said "wait - let's do just one more shot!" and they were game. They raised their hands in celebration of an amazing day, their new nuptials, and our rainless last photo shoot. It really was a perfect ending to an epic wedding.

The next morning, we packed up everything and Annette and I flew to Kauai for 4 days of rest and relaxation. That blog is coming soon. 

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