Sidelines & Story Telling Details
Alright, so sidelines and storytelling details.
Yeah, our bias towards kids, whenever there are kids at weddings, I'm gonna keep like a third eye on them all day long. You know, I always wanna know what they're doing, because they're always doing something interesting. They're just themselves, they're not like, just because they're wearing fancy clothes doesn't mean they're acting fancy, they're just kids, right? And I love that about kids. And something like this, so I think about the bride and the groom spent so much time on details. They chose this vintage furniture, they set this whole thing up, and I have a detail of it, right? But isn't it so much more interesting for them to see it being used? You know, to see the empty glasses on the table and the used napkin, and you know, and the kids just lounging and being totally over it and just waiting for their parents to say that it's time to go home. So I just think this is a great sideline action, so and it's a great storytelling, ...
I mean, there are storytelling details within the sideline action. But it's also a great way to showcase like, the things that they spent so much time choosing in a way that's, where it's actually being used.
Yeah, it also is gonna help us transition out of like, the wedding day itself, and you know, into maybe a closing portrait or something like that because it suggests that the wedding day is winding down. And you know, kids are tired, everybody's kinda done. So it serves as a transition as well.
Yeah, so the dance floor itself is a very small part of our coverage. Like, we are visiting the dance floor and you know, you can use all of your your senses, you know? When there's a lot of noise you glance over, what's going on? But we're not actually putting all of our emphasis on the dance floor itself. It's just, from a storytelling point of view, we just see that there's a lot more to a reception than just the dance floor. So, we'll visit the dance floor and jump around and see different sides, literally, this is a tent, so literally walk the perimeter and see what else is going on.
Something like that, you know, just two guests; clearly they're in love and still enjoying dancing together. And you know, it's one of those unscripted moments, it's not obvious, it's not the bride and groom, it's no one that's particularly close to them. But it still adds to the feel and the story itself.
I actually really, really love that picture.
And using our own bias like, I think of Davina, and I hope that we're gonna be dancing like that when we're that age.
Maybe, we'll see how today goes. (laughter)
So far so good.
So far so good. So, here's a bride nursing her son with her nephew and her sister. But also, here is my sister nursing my nephew with my son and my sister, so this is my family. Yeah, I actually, photographing my sister's wedding was a really great experience for me, because well, first of all, our daughter was like a month old. So I didn't think I physically could be doing that, but I did. But it also, like, this is 2016, so remember how I told you difficult that year was for us? And how we didn't really photograph any weddings you know, for money? We did some free weddings for family and friends. But taking that step back and just photographing weddings for people we knew was so special, because we already had the inside scoop, you know? I already knew who these people were and how important all of these stories were. And it was actually, it was just a very timely and good experience for me. So if I can dig deeper into this photo, nursing for me at that time was huge in my life because I had just finished nursing my son and gone straight to my daughter. And my sister and I, she's my half-sister, we're not very close, so the one thing we had at that point in our lives was that we happened to have kids at the same time. And that was a bonding thing for us. So when I look at this photo as a family member, I feel very connected to it because I think about how that is something that you know, was a connection between my sister and I. And you know, these are my people, this is my family. So I try to take that with me to weddings. And I try to put myself in the shoes of like, the people who are involved in these stories and just channel that connection that I had in this moment to you know, all these other moments.
Yeah, we get a very unscripted moment, really happening on the side of the dance floor. When we say like sideline action, it's literally on the sidelines. So just keep following wherever the bride and groom go and make sure that you're capturing those unscripted moments.
This is one of my favorite sideline photos. (audience laughter)
This is actually, it feels like a reception photo, but this is actually during the getting ready portion. The bride was just about ready to go to the ceremony, doing her final touches. Davina is in the room with her. I just you know, in that moment I just realized there's nothing more for me to document in the room where she's getting ready, I know that Davina's there. Let me take a loop and see what else is going on, and I go in the living room, and it's in a hotel room, you're definitely not supposed to be smoking, drinking may be allowed. But you know, this is the bride's mother and her best friends, and I think the groom's friend as well. And everybody's just kinda hanging out and you know, getting themselves ready for the party.
Before the ceremony.
Before the ceremony. But again, so unscripted, and it's one of those sideline moments, sideline actions that's gonna help complete the story. Instead of just the bride getting ready, now there's all of this other stuff happening as well.
This to me, like really shows the uniqueness of this wedding and really shows the uniqueness of these people. Like, don't you feel like you kinda know what kind of mom she is by this photo? (audience laughter) And she's totally badass, like this is very her. And you know, you think like maybe some moms would be like embarrassed by something like this, no. This was in her album, she chose this, this is one of her favorite photos. Yeah, I really love it.
This is at a wedding in Hawaii, you know, they actually had to stop the sequence of events because it was raining too much and they couldn't proceed with the ceremony outside. But it doesn't mean that we stopped shooting, you know? That's the story. The story is that they took a pause because it was raining, they were thinking about delaying, they're checking the weather every 30 seconds. You know, there's a lot to document and to show. So just a close-up, storytelling detail, you know, it's that human element. It's like oh how, where's the cloud moving right now? Really, really tight on that.
Yeah, this is interesting because Daniel was with the groom and I was with the bride, and we were both checking in with each other and I was like, "They cannot move their ceremony inside." Like the planner was pushing to keep things on track, like "No it has to be inside." And I was like "No, like, wait, everybody's here. "It's Hawaii, they're saying it's gonna rain for like "an hour, so push it by an hour." So I was talking to the bride on one side convincing her that she should just wait it out. He was with the groom convincing him that he should wait it out, and we succeeded, which was very exciting. But you know, meanwhile, there was so much tension. Like, she kept jumping back between like "Okay, it's fine, it's okay, "as long as we get married, it's fine." And being like, "But it's Hawaii "and I really wanna get married outside." So you know, this is her sister comforting her. So you know, I have photos of them interacting and all this stuff. But you know, in that moment it's about the fact that her sister is like physically holding her hand through this moment when she's kinda freaking out and disappointed.
And then how do you showcase the rain itself? Well, you know, just the closeup detail. I waited, like I basically scouted out this photo. I knew that I wanted to do it, only once everybody started walking towards the ceremony so that it showed the context of okay, the rain has stopped, it's still wet outside, but it's not raining anymore, so we're proceeding with the ceremony. So I knew that this photo would happen once everybody started walking. One thing to notice on this is at 14, really for the... You know, to get some of the people in the background a little bit sharp, because I'm so close to the water drops. At 14 everybody else is still out of focus as well. Shot at 2.8 you wouldn't be able to tell any of the people in the back as well. Different wedding, also in Hawaii, coincidentally, it's not on purpose, but a different wedding. Basically the, it was an Indian wedding and the groom...
Half Indian, yeah. Where the groom had to negotiate to get his shoes back.
Do you know this tradition? Are you familiar with this? So, yeah, they, at Indian weddings, or I think it's specifically Sikh weddings, they'll do like a... The bride's family will steal the groom's shoes, and then he has to negotiate like, to buy them back. And then they get to like keep absurds amount of money, because sometimes it's a lot of money. It's just this tradition that they do. So he came into this like, prepared. He's not from that culture, but he totally embraced the culture, which I actually, I loved that about him. And that was almost like a sideline story to this wedding, was just how much this groom embraced his bride's culture. He even grew a beard to be like the Sikh. So yeah, so this is how he came prepared for the shoes. So he wrote, this says something like, "For the past three months I've been taking Bhangra classes "in secret, no one knows, don't tell anyone, especially Sahege." Which is the bride. "In exchange for my shoes I will perform a Bhangra dance "at the reception." So it was a little contract, and so he had that saved. And he was like, when they started negotiating, he was like, "I have something that you really want." But he didn't tell them what it was, so they just, it was a huge part of that reception, or part of the day. It probably went on for like a good hour, and they're like, "We don't even know what that is, "we want the money." And he was like, "No, trust me you want this." You know? So this whole sequence of photos about him negotiating for his shoes, and having this thing he's holding over their heads, so you know, getting a detail of the actual little scroll... He even burnt the sides, which is so cute. You know, it was crucial for that story.
And here he is performing the dance. Look at these different expressions, like I just love, this triangular, yeah, he's just like embarrassed, she's so thrilled. It's like the best moment ever. Yeah, and he's fully in it.
So yeah, that detail before, like we don't know that this photo is gonna happen. Later on during the reception, we can only assume that it will. But it's important to photograph that detail, especially in the context of everybody opening it up and seeing you know, what the secret is. And then, the relation to later on in the story kinda comes together. Alright, this is Celina and Stephan, again, we're gonna look at how the sideline story really develops, but also how we anticipate what might happen, we're very patient with it. So just to set the scene, it's a wedding in Montreal, it's the morning of, they're doing a tea ceremony which is traditional in Chinese culture. We see the bride and groom pour tea in a cup, serve it to the elders, the elders give a blessing in return.
And money. And then they carry on with the events. So the very first tea that they're gonna give, I assume that it was to the dad, and I'll just play it. Here you can see the photos that I'm taking as they happen. The dad is really just explaining what they need to do and how it's gonna go. Just listening to him, not much going on, I'm just focused on the two of them.
That's not me on the side, it's Daniel's second shooter at this wedding.
Sorry, just getting my position, take a few close-ups, trying to figure out where I want to stand.
It's gonna come down. Alright, so they take the cups, and they go in to give the blessing to, sorry, give the tea to the dad, or at least I think they are. But in reality they're putting in front of a frame. And I quickly, quickly realized that that's actually the groom's mother. So they're you know, doing an offering to his deceased mother. So I realized that this is more than just the event, this is gonna be something that is gonna be very meaningful and emotional.
Look at the groom's face.
He's trying to keep it together. He's blinking a lot.
At that moment I knew that this was more than just the obvious, stay with the bride and groom. There's gonna be more that's gonna develop. Even after the blessing is over, I like how the bride and groom are not even looking at each other. You know that at some point they're gonna look at each other and there's gonna be a really strong, emotional connection. Just keep shooting, he's wiping tears. In my head I'm very zeroed in on the two of them and really paying attention to that. Do the hugs, the little moment between the dad and his son right there. Then stay on it, stay on it. Everybody else leaves but I know that there's more to it. The bride and groom, here they look at each other, you can tell they're very emotional. The videographer is slightly ruining my shot, but that's okay. (audience laughs) And then I don't know what's gonna happen, but I stay with the two of them. I know that this moment isn't over until they are completely done. I don't know how long it's gonna take, be it 30 seconds or 10 minutes, it's fine. They walk away, so I just keep following them. I know that it's not over yet. And the silent shadow here is really key because I'm not disrupting their moment. And I'm really just being a very silent viewer.
They're looking for napkins for his tears.
That little glance there at him, they have a very sweet moment. Gets a napkin. And I'm the only one who followed them, the videographers didn't follow, my second shooter didn't follow. But I knew, as soon as they started getting emotional in the face, I knew that this was gonna continue to something more. And I only stopped shooting once the moment really dissipates. He's like okay, I'm good, and then walks away. So in the end it becomes this photo. You know, the dad giving the blessing. Then the dad having that sweet little gesture with his son. And then the two of them having their moment afterwards. So that's sidelines, it's really something that happens outside of the obvious moments, but it's also anticipating that something good might happen, being ready for it, and going back to that very calm mental state, and following the action all the way through.
Don't you find that previous photo, so the background you know, being this like just the unit where they keep all... Oh my gosh, I never remember.
Oh the china?
China cabinet? Yeah, okay, I always remember it in French but not English. I feel like even that as a background becomes relevant to the story after, like I know I'm like kinda mushy and emotional, and I look for meaning everywhere; but after seeing, because I wasn't at this wedding, after seeing that I'm like, "oh even that's relevant, "because they didn't expect the tears." They had to go off to another location and fetch the napkins and so I almost find like that becomes... Like normally, I would see this photo and be like, "Oh yeah, but you know, "the background's kind of distracting and messy." But in this case I almost feel like it adds to the photo, because it becomes part of the story, once you kinda know the behind the scenes.
Maybe that's just me being all mushy and looking for meaning everywhere, but.
So, the sidelines and the storytelling details, you know, very, very important to our formula. Yeah.
So, what you just showed with you and that moment, I didn't see anybody look at you ever. It's as if you were sort of able to dissolve.
How were you able to I don't know, up front like, get the couples, or anybody there to sort of not notice you? And then maintain that, even in the final moment, where the bride and groom are having this extremely emotional, tears and everything? Nobody's looking at you at all.
It's again that whole like, training, you know, all the way through, in our portfolio you don't see any photos at anybody looking at the camera. So that's very much ingrained in you know, the reason why our clients hire us. And then staying very close, as you can see I'm like, shooting with a wide lens, I'm very, you know, almost like this distance to our subjects. And the more we do this, the more we blend into the background. It's not shooting from far away that's gonna make us disappear, it's being close and just making it normal for the subjects to feel like, yeah, we're always there, but they don't need to look at us.
I think the always there part is really important, too, because as you see, you know, he's constantly following them. So if they were always like, they'd get sick of glancing over at him at some point, you know? So they just end up like, okay, I'm just doing my thing, and he's just there. And they just get used to that.
Yeah, and the day doesn't start with that, you know, it started an hour or two before, with the bride getting ready and the door games, has to do with Chinese weddings. And in that first hour or two if anybody glances at me, I'm gonna like, you know, stop them, be like, "No, don't look at me, just do what you need to do, "and if I need you to look at the camera "I'll make sure to tell you." So if there is a bit of that disconnect, we make sure that it's addressed within the first like 30 minutes of us being there.
How are you focusing in low light conditions? Are you focusing manually? Are there tricks that you use to achieve your focus?
No, we're always shooting in Auto Focus. That camera, the A9, you know, really does a great job focusing in low light. That situation wasn't really tricky, you know, it's dark, but it's still very much visible to the naked eye. It can get tricky in really dark receptions, in which case it's really important to let the camera focus on a high contrast point. So either, you know, the crease between the eyes and the nose, or the collar and the suit jacket on a groom, those are really good points to focus on. But no, it's always on Auto Focus I think, if we were manual focusing it would take so much time and we would miss a lot of moments. So, you know, technology has evolved so much, and embrace it and you know, let it do its work, that's what it's there for.
I will say for myself that I am having trouble transitioning to the Sony focusing, cause there are so many different modes, and different ways that you can use it. So I'm still trying to figure out what works for me. You know, going from a very mechanical DSLR, you know, you're like, get some sharp, and you almost feel that it's like grabbing onto the focus. Whereas you know, with the Mirrorless, it's a little different in terms of the feeling. So yeah, I'm still getting used to that, I do feel like my performance in low light, my performance and the camera's performance is just a little less effective than it used to be. But I know that that's just a learning curve for me with a new camera.
So another question about being in low light scenarios, this is from Jay Jaynes who says, "I notice that there's a lot of low shutter speeds, "maybe you're at like one-ninetieth of a second, "one-one-hundredth, and people are moving, "and then also high ISOs." And so the question... Thank you, by the way, for putting your settings on all these images, that's awesome. "Do you not worry too much about the settings "when trying to grab those quick, important moments?" So, what's kind of your hierarchy in terms of importance?
Great question that we hoped was gonna come up. (audience laughs)
So the way we break it down is again, we wanna have the simplest approach possible. So when we arrive into a room or into a setting, the first thing we're gonna set is our ISO. And we're gonna set the ISO for the darkest part of the room. The reason we do that is because that's one setting that we don't wanna fiddle around with as we're navigating through the room. The one that matters the most is the shutter speed. And we know that our limit is somewhere right around a 60th or a 50th, especially when we're taking you know, sequences of photos, maybe the first one will be a tad soft, but at a 60th we'll make sure that everything is frozen. So with that in mind, if we know that a 60th is gonna be our exposure for the darkest corner in that room, what is our matching ISO that we need to set. So in a standard room where the bride is getting ready, it might be something like 1600 or 3200. Noise, sure, it will be visible, it's just gonna be grained, and you know, we'll use noise reduction in LightRoom to then remove it, so it's not a huge concern for us. F-stop, we'll usually stick to something that's wide open or very close to that, on our lens it's F4, so we'll generally shoot at F4. And then the shutter speed is the one setting that we're gonna change as we're shooting. So anywhere between a 60th or one over 8,000, I don't care what it is because it doesn't affect the look of the photos. Whereas f-stop and ISO, those can affect the look of the images a little bit more.
So as a result, you might see some of our settings that look really whack, you know, you're like, ISO 1600 and F4 and one over 8,000 and you're like, that makes no sense. And no, I wouldn't choose that if I was like you know, setting it up for that scenario, but that's just a result of us you know, just adjusting the shutter speed depending on where we are in the room. That just clears our mind of thinking of settings, and let's us just focus on everything we need to be focused on.
Yeah, the way we wanna be shooting all day is like this, you know, with the camera up to our face. And we don't wanna be, spend time looking down at the camera looking at the settings, or reviewing photos, we really just wanna be shooting. And settings are one thing that you know, can be a distraction and if we leave two out of the three settings as they are and not fiddle around with them, and just have to worry about shutter speed on one finger, then that's great for us, and the way that we like to approach weddings.
Yeah, we're not concerned with high ISO, I think actually the sooner you like embrace high ISO, the easier it is. I think the quality of the light is a lot more important than the quantity. So you know, even if I'm pushing my settings, and receptions, you'll see sometimes we're at like ISO 10,000 or something. But you know, if the light is there and it's hitting the subject in the right places, that's all that matters. If it's like patchy and horrible, then you've got a different problem that you have to deal with. But yeah, as long as the quality is good, I'm not really concerned with how much there is.
Yeah, an underexposed photo at ISO 400 is gonna look way worse than a properly exposed photo at ISO 2,000, that's really a key.
That's awesome, and Lindsay Colette says, "This is giving me confidence to go lower "in terms of those shutter speeds, "whereas I've been previously scared to." So, thank you so much for explaining your process, yeah.
The general rule of thumb for shutter speed is whatever your focal length, that should be your slowest shutter speed. So if you're shooting with a 50 millimeter, you shouldn't go slower than a 50th of a second. But if you're shooting at 200 millimeters, you shouldn't go slower than one over 200th. That's really where it gets tricky, because with the long lens you get a lot more of the shake visible. So we're often shooting at 35 millimeters, so we can easily get away with a 40th or 50th of a second. Sort of, yeah, or a 60th or an 80th.
If you know yourself and how steady you are, I'm like a little shakier and a little more like, bah.
I have surgical hands.
Yeah, so I do compensate for that, I won't really go lower than 100th pretty much ever. But that's just, yeah, knowing your own self. And of course if there's a lot of motion, you wanna think about that as well, you know, if people are running around you either want to be slow because you want that motion blur, or you wanna freeze the action then. So it's just about being deliberate in your settings and for what you wanna accomplish.