Today's blog post is a little behind-the-scenes for you. I shared the process of this spring blossom idea on my Instagram story and I received a heap of messages about it so I thought I'd write a proper post on it. I've photographed this beautiful family each year in the blossom since 2016 and I wanted to do something a little different this year.
I had the idea to create a blossom frame to shoot through which would maximise the effect of the blossom for the portraits. By holding the frame of blossom up in front of my camera it created beautiful out-of-focus 'bokeh' to the edge of my images. I love finding foreground elements to shoot through in my imagery as it creates the feeling of looking in on a moment. By shooting through this blossom it also helped block out distracting elements at the location we were shooting at.
I actually had Matt hold the blossom frame up for me most of the time to make it easier for me to shoot with my camera. And I shot with and without this blossom frame during the shoot because I didn't want every image to have the framing, but it was certainly fun to do something a little creative!
Sadly the blossom didn't last long after the shoot but it was super easy to make. We spray painted a bit of cardboard white, cut a hole in it and then I arranged twigs of blossom around the aperture like a wreath, poking the ends of the twigs through the cardboard and using a few cable ties to keep it all in place.
If you have followed my blog for a while you'll have heard me harp on about backlighting and how much I love it, so I thought I'd dedicate a whole blog post to explaining why.
Ansel Adams said "a good photograph is knowing where to stand" and these words are so true! Where I position my subjects and myself in relation to the light (generally the sun) makes all the difference to the final photograph. And I almost always choose to have the sun behind my subjects rather than in front of them. I like shooting this way for many reasons but largely because it's part of my style - I love bright, timeless portraits that are well composed and correctly exposed. I love to shoot with natural light predominantly and to have clean, crisp portraits with creamy backgrounds.
See in the photograph on the left (a behind-the-scenes shot of one of my assistant shooters 😜) how the light is harsh and speckled, but yet in the exact same spot of the garden by turning around and shooting back towards the sun my bride & groom aren't squinting, the light is even and their skin isn't speckled.
Here's another example of how just changing where you stand can make all the difference. In this spot the sun is to the left, it's casting shadows across my couple & creating hot spots on her dress.
By changing where I stand and putting the sun behind my couple, we get this dreamy gorgeous light and my couple no longer have shadows or harsh sun spots on them.
Another example. Gemma & Marty had their first look around midday and it was a brilliantly sunny Glenorchy day!
By quickly changing where I stand we get this instead.
On a portrait shoot or a wedding day I am constantly assessing the light and looking to use the light to my advantage, mindful that I want to create portraits representative of my style. I'm incredibly lucky to have awesome clients that trust my vision 100%. And sometimes the most unassuming spots make for incredible locations when the light is just right.
I grabbed this iPhone photo this morning as I laid out our gear to check, clean and prep it for tomorrow's wedding. Looking at the line up it feels like we carry a lot and also in some respects not that much. We have tripods and reflectors too but in all honesty we don't carry huge lighting set ups and we don't double up on any lenses - Matt and I are always shooting on different focal lengths.
Recently I blogged about the stuff in our camera bags besides camera gear (here) however I often get asked by photography friends & those interested in photography what gear we use to shoot a wedding. Here's a quick run through of our gear and what we use at different parts of the day.
We have three camera bags. Matt and I both carry Kelly Moore shoulder bags and we have a big heavy backpack with further gear & backups that we keep in the car. Matt and I both shoot on full-frame Canon 5d mark3 camera bodies and have a Canon 6d as a backup body. We each keep our own memory cards, batteries and cleaning cloths in our bags.
For the majority of the day I have just the 35mm 1.4 Sigma ART, 50mm 1.4 Sigma ART and the 85mm 1.8 Canon lenses in my camera bag. Matt shoots most of the day on the 24-105mm 4L Canon and 70-200mm 2.8L Canon zoom lenses. We both carry external flashes when needed.
BRIDAL PREP - I shoot the morning with the girls using my 3 prime lenses and will get the 100mm 2.8 IS Canon macro lens out for ring & detail shots. Matt shoots most of the morning with the guys on the 24-105mm lens.
CEREMONY - Depending on whether we're shooting in tight spaces, outside or inside and also depending on the lighting, we tend to change things up here. Sometimes Matt will shoot tight with the zoom lens and I'll take the wider angle - or we flip it and I shoot with the 70-200mm zoom lens.
GROUP PHOTOS - I alternate my lenses in between groupings for the family photos after a ceremony. Larger groupings I'll use the 35mm, with smaller groupings I'll use the 50mm and 85mm. Matt often takes a few candid shots during this time on the 70-200mm.
BRIDAL PORTRAITS - I shoot portrait solely on my 3 prime lenses and Matt on the 70-200mm. I'll use the 35mm for landscape/environmental and more photojournalistic shots, but the 50mm or the 85mm are my favourites. One day I hope to upgrade to the 85mm Sigma 1.4 ART - Sigma's ART lineup are the bomb! And while I am being more directive while shooting the bridal portraits, Matt can shoot really unobtrusively and capture truly candid, in-between-moments with the zoom lens.
RECEPTION - We generally always have our external flashes on our cameras for the reception, whether we need them or not. I shoot most of the reception on my 50mm but love all my prime lenses for receptions because these fast lenses can handle low lighting so well. Matt alternates between the two zoom lenses, however the 24-105mm doesn't handle low light situations quite as well.
THE DANCE FLOOR - Most of the time Matt stops shooting for the dance and helps me set up off-camera lights that are on remote triggers. I love shooting dance photos with a bit of on-camera light but having my main light come from off-camera - often silhouetting my couple as they dance. This requires two external flashes, a pair of remote triggers and a light stand or tripod.
I think when you first start out it takes a bit of experimenting to find out what gear you like shooting with and how. My gear has evolved over the years and I think it will always continue to as we evolve as photographers ourselves.