Scouting Best Practices
Scouting: it's a huge part of what we do. So we scout for portraits, which is sort of the more typical way that anybody, any photographer would scout, but we also scout for the entire wedding, in general. We arrive at the venues ahead of time, make sure that we do a full walkthrough, see where the ceremony's taking place, see where the reception is taking place, where are the speeches going to be, where are they going to dance? The more information we have ahead of time, the more prepared we can be and be one step ahead before the moments even happen. When it comes to portraits, themselves, there are different ways that we scout. We photograph a lot of destination weddings all around the world, so we're not always able to travel to where we're going to be doing the wedding before it actually happens. So we do a lot of online scouting. Simply researching where are the good tourist spots, where are the good views, what does the location look like at sunset, at sunrise? Really just try to...
gather as much information as possible. Once we're on the location, we will go around and walk the premises. We will walk all the streets, all the cities, explore all of the landscapes to really get familiar with them. And then, the last version of scouting is really in the moment. So once we're with the bride and groom and doing our portraits, we're always looking around just to see what else is there, and how else can we really create interesting photos. This is a wedding we did in Lisbon, Portugal. This is a good example of online scouting. So simply ahead of time, we found where the good view is of Lisbon. It's recommended on any travel website, any travel blog. They will tell you to go to this one spot. This is where you get the best view of the city. So a few days before the wedding, with our son, and Devina's family, we just went for a stroll and ended up in this spot. Beautiful location, we said okay, great, this is where we need to be so when we came back on the day-after shoot, with the bride and groom, we managed to find a slightly higher vantage point, so the angle's a little bit different than the previous photo, but the idea is very much the same. We're doing our day-after shoots at sunsets to make sure that the lighting conditions are as favorable as possible. Add a little bit of off-camera lighting. Light the couple, capture the landscape. So again, the preparation aspect of this plays as much of a role in the final image as, you know, the actions that we're taking in that moment, as well. Really being ready ahead of time is super, super important to our portraits. Scouting, for us, another word that we like to use is simply visual curiosity. So anything that catches our attention, you know, highlights, shadows, strong leading lines framing elements, strong blues, strong yellows, strong colors, anything of the sort. There's really no limit. It's just anything that comes to mind and that peeks your curiosity is something that you should pursue and try to explore. So arriving at the venue the morning of the wedding, highlight, shadows, highlight, blue sky, strong lines, something that we feel we can possible work with. So this is photo number one, photo number two is Devina standing there in the opening. Again, just trying to expand on the highlights and shadows, try to create something interesting. She's standing in the shade, against a strong highlight. It's a good opportunity for a silhouette. I said okay, this is great, this is all we need to know at this stage. Let's use it with the bride and groom when it's time for portraits, so when we come back a few hours later with them, we know exactly what we're going to do. The light has changed a little bit, but it's still very much the same, in terms of highlights and shadows. So I simply put them in there, into the photo. Again the mental state, super, super calm. Guys, this is what we're going to do. Just go up there, pose, we know what our framing is going to look like, click, done. Again, that visual curiosity timing it with good light, later in the day, at a wedding in Mexico. The papel picado, you know, it's a very Mexican thing so we really wanted to showcase that in the photos. And we came across this one street where the papel picado was really casting a shadow, just by using the street lamps. So photo number one, photo number two, just trying to clean up our framing a little bit, make it a little more interesting compositionally, and you'll see extremely similar to the final version with the bride and groom. Again, stay calm, know exactly what you're doing, makes everything much, much easier. Back to Lisbon, so scouting ahead of time, we're just walking the streets. Oh, what's interesting here? The high vantage point; it's a little bit different than what we normally see so that's, just that first element of visual curiosity. So shot number one, photo number two, just try to make it a little bit more interesting, get rid of some of the sky in the top of the frame, which brings us back a little bit too much to reality. This is little bit more mysterious, and then come back with the bride and groom. Exact same angle, just underexposed the scene a little bit. A little bit of off-camera lighting to separate them from the scene itself, and then the rest really comes to life in post-production. For anybody wondering where the light is coming from, so this is Devina's photo, and I'm standing somewhere right here, just holding an off-camera light to light the couple. Scouting in the moment, so we're walking with the bride and groom, and again, visual curiosity. That's really such an important word in our internal language as photographers. It's really what's interesting here, well we have the repeating lines, we have the blue sky, we have the silhouette, and we have this really wonderful opening across the trees. So let's see what we can do with that. So we did the test simply with people who were walking by. We don't want to bother the bride and groom. We don't want to pose them for too long, and when we're just testing photos, we'll either do it on one another, or in this case, somebody's just walking by, just to see what it looks like. We really like the way that this looked. So let's do it with the bride and groom. Change our exposure, send the bride and groom. We actually did the silhouette first, where they were perfectly in the shade. And then we realized it would actually be a little bit more interesting if they were walking through a little patch of light. Some of the sunlight that was peeking through the trees, and the bride was wearing a really beautiful, red dress so she really stood out. So we started with what we thought would be our final version, and then let it evolve into something more interesting. Same day-after shoot, so curiosity, interesting tree, a lot of negative space, what can we do with that? Add the bride and groom to the frame. Almost for every photo that is in our portfolio, at least in terms of portraits, we have a version of it without the couple, as well, or a version with Devina and I in it. That scouting is really what allows us to execute the portraits, quickly and efficiently, and again with that very calm mental state. As I was saying, photo of Devina in a beautiful spot. Good light on her, nice clean surroundings. Photo with the bride and groom, exactly the same, just in color, and yeah, in color this time. But again, because we know what we're going to do ahead of time, when the bride and groom are there, very, very calm; just come, sit down. We're doing it this way. When we do our photoshoot here today, I was here yesterday, and I pre-visualized, and I pre-scouted, and I planned all of my shots, not because for the class, but because that's how our mental process goes. By knowing exactly what I'm going to do here today, it's going to allow me to work in a much calmer manner with our couple. Scouting in the moment, so again, just recognizing there are interesting elements. We have the interesting ambient light. We have a great opening; we have the blue sky. The blues and yellows really playing together at the right time of day. Get our bride and groom in position, and then just letting that little bit of spontaneity, which is the waiter walking by with the glasses, that is the only element that we don't really have control over, in that situation. If that's the only element, when executing a portrait, then that's great, you know? Everything else we're controlling. We plan for it, and it allows us, again, to execute a great photo. In the moment, really just try to be open and let the situations evolve and lead you to something a little bit more interesting. This one started with us being attracted to that yellow wall, has a bit of that framing with the white space around the bride and groom. And we said okay, let's try to work on something there. Next photo, someone walks by, or in this case, drives by on their bicycle, in the shade. So we realized there was a juxtaposition between the highlights and the shadows that was creating very interesting visual elements. Instead of keeping the bride and groom in the light, we said why don't we put them in the shade? So create a silhouette with the two of them against the yellow wall, and then let the people walk within the frame. So we kinda really let the situation evolve. So bride and groom are standing in the silhouette. Life is happening behind them. As people were walking by, driving by, running by, whatever, we just kept photographing. So this one version of the photo, and then the final one, which ended up being, sort of, where all the best elements came together. These two little girls are running by, screams a lot more life than just someone randomly walking, and the bride and groom are perfectly framed between the elements. So again, we didn't pre-visualize this photo as the final version, far from it. It's just that curiosity of the yellow wall, then maybe let's place them in a silhouette against the yellow wall. Let's add some of the life behind them, and then eventually, get to this final photo. Remembering also, what we did here, so playing with the shadow against a strong color, is something that stayed in our mind. So at a wedding, a couple years later, using sort of those same elements in a very different way, so shadow against the yellow wall, we remembered that photo that we did a couple years ago, let's try to use it again, but do something a little bit different.