Building A Photo: Backgrounds

 

Documentary Wedding Photography: Capturing Reality

 

Lesson Info

Building A Photo: Backgrounds

Layering for added information right? So this is kind of fun I love this this is from brady's wedding as well I love this photo right because it's a dancing photo and it shows like a lot of people and energy but what what makes it unique? What makes it like visually captivating arms right? Why? I mean, why do you guys think it does that mean it's pretty balanced symmetrical yeah, you can lead your island right through that does that kind of like it's like framing in a way? You know, write exactly you know it but but but it's actually pretty busy photographs it's kind of a where's waldo photo isn't it because there's lots of depth of field and people are in focus and everything right but the butt that one girl you go to that one girl, don't you and why do you go to her than the other ones more? I want you I want you guys to start. This is what I'm doing. I mean, this is what I do with people when I teach them I don't just tell you guys the answer that doesn't that's not a good teaching ...

thing I want you guys to work through it in your own heads and I want you to understand in your own heads how this is working, so that way you can interpret it properly, right so why why do we go to her? I think she's framed and her face is hitting the light okay, anything else? She also feels a little bit higher physical elevated and she's bigger she's bigger in the frame right the way she's positioned is she's right in the center right? Because most people's eyes go right the scent of the frame anyway which defeats the whole purpose of rule of thirds but come on you know right I get it you like I'm a little confused here, tyler you know, but those hands help because your eyes go to the hands first because they're the white shirt and then you can and then your eye starts working through the working through the picture right? And that whole thing I say we're like people always try and find the person in the photo you know, like maybe that's what it is so yeah that's it I just want you guys to start thinking about this kind of stuff but the biggest thing is too who is to always look for backgrounds it's all it all starts with watching your backgrounds right? So choose your background now you're thinking to yourself on this photo so so what? So what happens is so I worked really hard on this picture like really, really hard on this picture it took my assistant and I a good ten minutes to find this composition it was so hard because this is a venue in kansas city that they just opened up and I think it's incredible it's called the kaufman center for performing arts and you know that porter I show the lady with the little people that were backlit and that awesome building that looks like a chill a clam shell that's this place right it's an amazing space when you walk in like totally grand and awesome it's sucks for photography because nothing symmetrical everything's curved there's no place to figure how to make things line up and the whole space does this so when it whatever angle you try and shoot from it blocks something you can't get the grandeur of this place and I was like, I really want to show this right? And so I swung for the fences right? And I must say I probably missed a whole bunch of photos when they're in the back getting ready to be announced but I knew that I wanted to do this for them so and I can't be like okay guys, what I want you to do when you walk down I want you to stop here just for two seconds and I get the photo I didn't do that I just I just waited for them and hoped and so I finally found the competition I wanted to show the place but now I needed to put light in there right and so my assistant is down here with the flash see that and we missed we and we missed it because the better photos light wise is actually when they're just down the steps because that's where I assumed they were going to do their moment but they did their moment early so how'd it just kind of hit it and just go for it right? But the key thing about a background is when I talk about backgrounds I don't talk about just like hey, this is a really clean background right here right I'm talking about find a clean space within the background or were within the photo right so see how clean they are they're separated from all that clutter and they pop out so if you have a where's waldo thing right and you drew a white circle around waldo you to merely find him when you because your eye would go right to that right it's the same kind of idea like circle what you want people to see basically with your background is that making sense okay so choose your background choose you back on wisely okay so this is an interesting I'm going to another portrait and it's kind of I want to feel this award for this portrait but I'm actually kind of ashamed of it to be quite frank with you I think it's a little cheesy now but that's ok but it's a perfect example of watching your backgrounds and I use it in a lot of teaching so here we go right it's fun though innit it's fun portrait but I don't find it to be sophisticated anymore you know but this is ah wedding where they got married around halloween and the priest came up to them about two weeks for the way and then he kind of like I could just imagine this conversation is like I have something I got to tell you on brian linger like what what's going on he's like well I didn't realize but the night of your wedding in the parking lot of the church is the thing called trunk or treat and there's going to be like you know, eight hundred kids I don't know when I'm just exaggerated but there's going to be one hundred fifty kids in costumes in the parking lot like they're like like waiting for the ball to drop in this bride and groom they're awesome they go it's awesome you know like and they told me and I'm like well I guess we know we're going to our portrait time then right I mean like it's just so funny how people think about weddings right and so I went down there put the writing room down there could you support your time right so I do that was so funny it was actually hard all the parents were trying to get their kids out of the photo right because it's a it's a the photo and I finally had to be like no no no guys I kind of want them here because that's you know what I almost wanted to say you really think I would have brought them down here amongst all the kids if I didn't want them in the photo right uh huh yeah right yeah right and so and so I actually heard one mom say you want them in their wedding photos and I said yeah and she's like okay bye walked back and like I feel so sorry for those people but and then the kids so I finally had to be like, you know, just let the kids go just do it to see what they want to do right? And so I told lisa and gave I think I told them you're still kind of just just be just do whatever so I got down low to put them in a clean space right and then I just started shooting and let what while the kids were moved around here's why I use this to teach can you guys find the light pole in the photo behind the oh wow yeah yeah see it right there yeah that light pole was killing me no matter where I moved no matter what I did that light pole was come out of somebody's head coming out of somebody said my first instructor in college his name is bill sneed and he was an amazing for me to have he's this amazing photojournalists like he's washington post like incredible and he gave us an assignment to go shoot some pictures and I came back on their forget I know the picture is a friend of my girlfriend at the time was sitting on the front steps of the sorority house and I shot her portrait is what is a wide angle vertical and and there was a uh there was a light there's a light fixture coming right out of her head and and he's like I think you probably said like that poor girl know what I mean is it you know much that hurts had a light fixed you're stuck in your head all the time like they don't do that on like a good point and he also said he also said zoom with your feet all right get up and go get the damn pictures what he said to me anyway so that was killing me right? So this pillar this was coming out of his head so I'm trying to move I can't get out of people's head I can't fix it and then all of a sudden the grim reaper came over and stopped for us what second and I moved and they just think got it and then hit it behind that thing right now I know you're saying why didn't you just photoshopped it out later you can, but I won't do that because that's almost no different than me telling what telling people what to do right and in journalism if you do any of that stuff, you get fired flat out, no questions asked, right? So shoot, move, shoot, move right so I'm going to talk about this I'm gonna talk about I always always, always, always, always I'm dealing with this the way I shoot, and I'm pretty sure people have thought about that yesterday, right this whole spray and pray stuff, you know, right? Because I mean, I shoot a lot of frames like you guys were kind of shocked when I shot like four thousand five thousand images, a wedding right and it's not it's, the complete opposite of just hoping that something comes together and spraying and praying basically right it's deliberate, right it's trying to make the photo as perfect as I possibly can. And so I want to show you kind of why that's important, right? Because in journalism, the number one rule is to get the picture right and then make it better and then make it better and then make it better better, better, better until it's over, right? So this was a situation this is every frame I shot of this one of my favorite moments of this year so far right, so this is a hotel room. Has a balcony up top where her mom was getting ready. You know, that song? You know? I'm so fan teo unit was on, right? And all of a sudden her mom starts down the steps and she just started doing this like, seductive dance. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. So I see I see it and I always said, I'm like, I just shoot me like this first frame horrible, right, and see how she starts coming down the steps and she's trying I think I got these out of order. All right, now, it's over here anyway, but you see how many friends I'm shooting, trying to make it real eyeing up right? And so this is better. I got these at a word on my bed. So so she's coming down she's trying to look it she's like shaking her butt and she's like all this stuff like, who does that right was awesome. So then I'm like, oh, my god, this is amazing. I have to figure out how to show this in this entire sequence, I think took fifteen seconds from start to finish maybe thirty if I'm not mistaken. Coming down coming down so then I'm like looking and all these people are screaming and laughing and like yea so then I try to show them right so I'm like I need more context like back up a ce faras I can but now I can't look at the way it's not lining up is it? So then I go and I start shooting through bridesmaids you see this trying to give context and layering but I'm like that's not working either and then I move so I only shot for those that I move back over here and look at what I mean look at what I'm getting but lookit she's getting cut off by that railing but but now at least I see her daughter this is her daughter the bride so her daughter's cheering for her and doing it and see its getting closer it started so that I finally I just tell myself I'm like you've got to give up on the brides mates it's not gonna work so just go with what's gonna work and I start shooting but I had to shoot the whole time I'm doing this because I never know what I'm going to catch right? So I'm constantly shooting so you understand where six thousand images of a wedding come from right it's not six thousand things like my dad and mom went on a vacation and shot one picture of everything and it was like a thousand pictures of like one thing each that was that was like a horrible thing to edit but you see I'm saying right and so down down down see what's happening down down, down, down down down and then all of a sudden she grabs this curtain and she whips the curtain around and she's like like that right now my guess is like an amazing amazing moment and I'm just I'm just hammering down because I just because basically what I'm doing to be quite honest with you is the reason I'm shooting so much is I'm leading the camera captured the moment as I'm working on the composition does that make sense so we're working in tandem so I'm just like tea just trying to get it all to line up and then bam bam bam bam bam I'm getting closer getting closer right I'm getting closer closer closer closer see how that's all starting to come together then there is the actual frame right see how that how that distance I was watching that distance between their faces and then boom she comes down and there's the frame I freaking love that picture one of my favorite images I've ever shot right I don't know if she loves it I hope she does I but but I mean like that is that is that her daughter and that's the and and that's her mom and you know it's just so that's what it takes it is a lot of hard work, right? I split my pants open at a ceremony one time, right? You know, I don't care hard work pays off. Um, it's hard it's such hard work, but you have to get after it. You have to have tenacity and you had to have the termination. So another example look, passes through me in the face. This is ah horrible photograph, right? White balance sucks crap everywhere but that's where they decided to do hair and makeup and I'm like, this is kind of awesome, you know? And what am I going to do? And they see and she sat in that chair for a good hour and a half doing her hair and makeup and I just would come back and be like, nope still sucks, you know, but I was proud of myself for making this photo right, it's the same spot. You see that picture right there? Uh, right, so I finally was like, but I didn't give up. I didn't just but you know what? Socks came to think about it. I worked hard on it, and by the time makeup rolled around, she has turned right, and so it worked out really well, but I was up against the wall like this with my thirty five, I look like an idiot and I'm trying to get the reflection to line up and then my hand you could see my hand in the reflection, so I had to put my hand in my pocket with my black shirt, right to hide it. So here I am like this, you know, and I'm trying to, like, get focus and, you know, but I worked really hard on that to get one frame to make everything line up, you know, because you can actually see a little bit of my arm, you know, kind of right there, right? It's just it's just really trying hard to find pictures, you know, and just do whatever it takes to get the photo. I don't care, I'll get ill, do anything, all right, stand up when I draw on a on a on a couch, trying get down angle on things, you know, I almost fell, but I looked really like I'm going to control, which is good, you know, but so building the photograph, it's not only a physical thing that you do with, like, actual billy it's, also a mental thing.

Class Description


There is a magic and beauty to wedding days that doesn’t have to be posed or fabricated. You can take photographs that are authentic and dynamic by drawing on classic documentary photography techniques. Join Tyler Wirken for a class exploring the practice of documentary-style wedding photography.

This course will teach you how to take unique, distinctive images that break away from standard styled shoots and set-up poses. Tyler will encourage you to think deeply about why we take wedding photos and then help you use those insights to create an actionable roadmap for getting the real moments during weddings. You’ll learn how to get up close and capture the more intimate moments of a couple’s wedding day without feeling like you’re intruding or disrupting. From being more present in the moment to getting through family photographs in twenty minutes to developing your one-of-a-kind perspective as a photographer, you’ll build strategies for ensuring the moments you capture are beautiful and real.

If you want stand out in the sea of wedding photographers and take photographs that more meaningful than meticulously-posed, then this course is for you!

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