Creative vision is something I strive for with every shoot - I don't just want to take a photograph of what's in front of me. I want to find the best place to stand to tell the story I want to tell. I want to create genuine connection from my subjects. I want to use the light in a way that is complimentary and effective. I want to create a portrait that looks pleasing to the viewer even if they can't explain exactly why.
If you spend much time with me you may see me stop and stare at random locations, or hear me proclaiming things like "Oh that light!" as we're driving down the road. Since becoming a photographer it seems my eyes are always drawn to beautiful light, even when I don't have a camera to my face.
I will also often be heard quoting that I will choose beautiful light any day over location. And you can make a photograph in the most unlikely places. This image of Gemma & Luke was taken on the side of the road. In fact the road is directly behind them here, but by being strategic with where I place my subjects and where I stand you'd never guess they were by the main road.
On a recent shoot, I positioned my subjects with the sun behind them & someone standing next to me with their phone proclaimed, "shooting with the sun behind them doesn't make a good photo", to which I cheekily replied "it does if you've got the right equipment'. And while that is partly true, it's not really fair to compare a phone camera to the hunk of Canon gear I was holding. I guess what I really meant was that I knew exactly how I wanted the photograph to look and how to achieve that look. I love shooting backlit, you just have to find the right conditions to achieve it. And that's creative vision; being able to pre-visualise the photograph you want to capture and then setting everything up to achieve it.
This photograph of Ariel & her puppy was taken in the backyard, the sun was behind her and the wall of the house was reflecting that sunlight back into their faces so they weren't in shadow. The subjects are super cute & the light is complimentary.
Every time I pick up my camera I am striving for creative vision. To not just take the photo, but to truly create it. It's an ever-evolving part of my photography & I love trying to challenge myself everyday to create with vision, rather just picking up my camera & shooting.
For Josh & Aleisha's snowy engagement shoot I was a little strategic with my location. It hadn't snowed as much as we'd hoped for but by choosing a location that was untouched we got a beautiful snowy backdrop. And sometimes all the stars align & you get given the perfect conditions; during their shoot the sun came out AND it started snowing again which created magic!
If you love taking photographs but find you're not capturing what you envisioned, don't despair...because firstly you have vision which is important! Creating what you envision is then a matter of persistent practice and studying. Look at what the photograph is missing, is the lighting not complimentary? Are your settings stopping you from achieving the look you want? Is there a lack of connection or emotion? Then work out how to bring these things to life in your photographs.
Do you own a fancy camera but never get it out because you don't really know how to use it? Would you love to learn how to take better photographs? I'd love to have you along to one of my photography workshops for beginners & enthusiasts! You can be the first to hear about my next workshop here: http://www.heidihorton.com/register
By definition a curator is someone who manages or oversees the content of something and is involved in the interpretation & presentation of that content.
I believe photographers are curators. It's not about just showing up on a wedding day and clicking away with your camera. If it was everyone would be a photographer right ;-) But seriously a huge part of successful photography is knowing where to stand, how to use the light and essentially curating your photographs to best tell the story of the day.
Gemma got ready on her wedding day in a beautiful house that had huge windows making the place full of natural light. While I love these photos of the girls hanging out in the morning, I knew I didn't want to photograph Gemma in her white dress against the background of the bright windows. So instead I stood outside in the doorway and photographed looking back in at Gemma which produced much more even light.
If you've been involved in the bridal preparations of a wedding day you will know the scene laid before us in the morning often includes a room full to the brim with busy people and gear, clothes, makeup, drinks and food laid out everywhere. While this is all part of the story of your wedding day (and we do photograph it) these elements in the background of your images can be a distraction.
When Amelia got into her beautiful gown I had her stand in the natural window light rather than in the middle of the room where the down-lights would have cast shadows and uneven colours. I also adjusted my camera settings so that the background faded softly out of focus - it is just Amelia in that moment, not everything else going on in the background.
Here is how the room looked behind Amelia while she was having her dress laced up.
I'm lucky to have brides that 100% trust me to help them choose the area within which they get in to their wedding dress. And sometimes that area is outside! Because this might be where the light is best/the space is clearer to have the whole bridal party help in this special moment/or the backdrop is just plain stunning!
Georgia and her girls got ready in a beautiful family house that overlooks the coast. Here's what the sunny front room looked like during the busy morning.
I knew this would be a tight space to work in for 'getting dressed' photos & that I wouldn't be able to back up to get full length shots, plus there could be distractions in the background and un-even lighting. So I asked if Georgia would be happy to step out on to the lawn with that beautiful sea as the backdrop for photos when the girls did up the back of her dress.
The light was airy, I could move around freely to shoot and I think the beautiful but clean background helps the viewer better focus on the story and emotions.
When Andrew & Jayne did their first-look up on the top of the farm there was quite an entourage to cheer them on. Photographers, videographers, the bridal party, drivers and a whole team of their farm dogs too!
This angle shows the crew of onlookers as Jayne made her way down to Andrew:
In comparison these photographs (I think) better tell the intimate and beautiful story of their first-look.
It's not that I don't like showing what's going on in the background! All of the photos above were delivered to my clients in their final galleries because they all tell part of the wedding day. But I do believe part of my job as a wedding photographer is to create images true to my style and curate them in a way that tells the story of my couple's day beautifully and timelessly.
Hopefully this blog post shows a little behind-the-scenes to my thought process on a wedding day. The things I'm looking for and conscious of - light, backgrounds, composition and emotion.
I've had a lot of friends & followers comment about these pine forest photos from Andrew & Kasey's stunning Central Otago wedding. A few people even said they have a magical look to them with the colours and the light. So I thought I'd write a quick blog post about how I shot these photos for anyone who might be interested.
WIDE APERTURES - wide apertures such as f2.0 mean a smaller depth of field, or in plain terms; less of the image is in focus and the background blurs out to create a dreamy effect. These photos wouldn't have had that same dreamy, magic feel to them if I'd used an aperture of f11 because the background would be more in focus and defined, causing distraction. Not all lenses can shoot at really wide apertures, I choose to shoot with a selection of lenses that do because I love being able to create this look.
BACKLIGHT - even though we were in a forest the sun was streaming down through the trees so I made sure I was shooting with the sun behind my subjects. This created a beautiful rim light around my subjects and the golden highlights in their hair. The tree branches also acted as a way of diffusing the light so it wasn't harsh directional sunlight.
EMOTION - for me connection & emotion is so important when creating portraits. I think a great photo is one where the viewer feels something when they look at it. I talk to my clients from behind my lens while I'm shooting; prompting them, giving direction and sometimes attempting to make them laugh!
If you love taking photos & found this blog post interesting, my upcoming Photography Workshop might be for you! Find out more details here: http://www.heidihorton.com/workshop-registration