I just received word that David Beckstead, one of American Photo’s Top 10 Wedding Photographers, selected a photograph of mine for placement in a recent competition over at Pictage. The photo was an image I captured up in Lynchburg, Virginia at a wedding inside Snidow Chapel on the campus of Lynchburg College. I’ve included additional details on the behind-the-scenes magic after the jump.
As is the case with most weddings, the pastor and the church coordinator approached me before the ceremony and told me I could only pop my flash during the processional. I actually shoot very little flash during my ceremonies, but I took their limitations as a challenge and set out to make my one shot count. I’d always imagined this shot in my head, but never attempted it. My setup is one strobe at full power on a light stand in the narthex, pointing down the aisle. I wanted to capture the bride’s silhouette and her reflection, and I wanted everything but the light and the dress to drop off towards darkness. As a bonus, I wanted to get some rimlight on the guests. I ended up shooting 1/125 at f/5.6, with an ISO of 800. This left much of the frame in focus while dropping out a lot of the ambient light. (Not hard since there wasn’t much to begin with!)
Since this experience, I’ve approached almost all my weddings with one or two challenging shots pre-visualized ahead of time — shots that’ll stretch me out of my comfort zone and offer an opportunity to grow. As the old saying goes, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting, and this is my little regimen for switching things up a bit. Obviously, it’s not a good idea to practice on your clients, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend abandoning your tried and true workflow on the wedding day (in this case I had a second camera body primed for the “standard” processional shot). But pick an image or two you’ve always wanted to try and take 5 minutes to make it happen. Not only will you feel satisfied with your accomplishment, but you’ll feel more passionate and excited about your own work. And here’s the big secret: those are the images people will fall in love with, and those are the images that’ll hone your style and keep you fresh. (And perhaps even earn you some admiration from Beckstead 🙂