So this ceremony was kind of tough. The lighting was a little bit tough. They were facing each other, obviously, the whole time and this lighting was really coming from the back, and so it was hard to really get, like, clear lighting on them, you know with bright background and light. They weren't really popping, but I had set myself up. I really wanted to incorporate, you know, the line of candles that was lining up the isle and I wanted this for their first kiss. And so often times this anticipation comes into play in predictable moments during the ceremony, so okay, I know that there's going to be a first kiss at some point, so I'm going to set myself up for a photo that lends itself to that specific event. So in this case that's what I was doing. Daniel, on the other hand was not antici-patiencing at all, and he freaked out during the first kiss and completely jumped out in front of me, to like, at the last second and basically, yeah, and ruined my shot. Do you want to take it from...
True story. So far she speaks the truth.
So I did ruin her photo, and you know it's basically like a black frame of my leg and she taps me on the back of that leg and she's like, "What are you doing? I was ready for this photo." And I just turned to her. I apologized most likely, or at least I like to believe that I did, and I tell her, "No, no, stick to it. Maybe something else is gonna happen." And that's what this photo is. It's, you know, after they get announced, they raise their hands, they turn around into the light, and the photo turns out to be a better version. So really I was doing her a favor.
I knew it. I knew you were going to say that.
Yeah, but so, again, like when do you give up? You know in that instance, you have a great photo lined up. What is the point of giving up and going to do something else? The ceremony is almost over. If you've done other things, you've done them already. There's nothing else to be done in that instance. So just keep going and see it all the way through.
I think confidence of sticking to something like this also comes through with our teamwork, the fact that I know that he's covering, or I thought he had it together. I was wrong in this case, but you know I know he's going to get a safe version of this shot, you know, straight on of them like, "Wee!" And I know he's going to cover that, so this is the only thing that matters in that moment.
So you're already familiar with this story with Mario. Well I guess this is your photo so I'll let you talk about it.
Yeah. But again, just seeing all the way through, you know, it's that mental aspect, that mental confidence to not be distracted by anything else that's happening in the room or some other part of the wedding that's really important. And that's that an inner dialogue, and as, you know, I'm photographing this, I'm not thinking about my technical stuff. I'm not really thinking such much about the exposure or anything. All that stuff is already figured out. My inner dialogue is really like: don't get distracted by anything else. Stick to it, stick to it, stick to it. So I was on him for all three, four minutes, you know, as he was reading the speech, waiting for, you know, the peak of the emotion, and obviously the peak of the emotion here is that tear falling down.
It's worth noting that there are so many different ways of photographing the same moment and of photographing the same scene, and it's easy to get, you know, become aware of all the different ways you could be shooting a moment like this. There are groomsmen nearby, maybe they're emotional too, you know, there's other ways. This could be a scene. So you really, it's not just about committing to what you're shooting in that moment. It's committing to how you're shooting it. In this case, Daniel has committed to shooting really tight, really focusing on that emotion. So, you know, there are times that lend themselves to shooting really tight. Strong emotion is one of those moments. I mentioned earlier, you know, during the vows, over the shoulder. That's when there's going to be emotion, so that's a really good time to be close with a longer lens, you know, over the shoulder. First kiss is a good time to be further back because you want to show the context of the ceremony. But it really comes down to committing to your vision in that moment. I'm telling this story, and I'm telling it this way, and I'm going to give myself the chance to see this moment through.
And just waiting for the little subtleties. So, again, anticipating that something good might happen, figuring out what is that photo going to look like. In this case, it's a very small church in Okinawa, Japan, and the aisle was just one long piece of glass. Easy, you know, curiosity peaks, you know, what does the reflection look like? Can we include it into a photo during the ceremony? Get lined up and then just wait for that best moment to happen. In this case, it's something very very subtle. It could have been done during the first kiss as well.
You did do this during the first kiss.
Yeah. And it would have been good, but they become a little bit too small, and you know, one subject, that's really coming into one another. Here the separation really fills in the frame and makes it a little bit more interesting.
It's actually a bit of a trend for us that we set ourselves up for a first kiss photo but then something else happens that we end up liking a little bit more, and like, we've mentioned countless times now, you know, those unscripted moments are sometimes more interesting, or they have more personality than, you know, the obvious moments. So, you know, it's a small thing, but you know, her twisting her dress around, and him trying to help her is just more interesting to us than the first kiss. The couple might like the first kiss version of that better. Aw! This is us taking the photo, finally. So this is how we split up the responsibilities in terms of like someone's shooting, you now, creatively, and the other person's shooting safe. So that's an 85, you know, clean, clear shot of the first kiss, and that's Daniel working on his shot. A guest took this photo of us. They liked our little totem pole action I guess.
What's important to note too is the smiles on our face, like that's us pretty much the entire wedding day.
And it's often fake, but you know, it works both ways. It makes people feel like you're more approachable, and they're like, "Oh, you're so friendly, and you love your job so much." And you're like, "Oh, I've been having a miserable time, thank you." But it also convinces you that things are going well, you know, there are studies that have been done in this, right. So, smiling is really key and the last thing you want is for your wedding photographer to look like they're having a miserable time. Then you feel like you're doing something wrong. So anything to put our subjects at ease, and even during the ceremony when we don't think anyone's looking at us, there could be a camera out there--
Yeah, and even when things are harder, and things aren't going well, we'll never let it show. We'll never be vocal about it. We'll always, you know, this is what we look like to our subjects.
Except I don't wear those ugly shoes anymore.
They fell apart, really bad. There's that photo. Oh, this photo has a lot to talk about. Every time, I'm like, "Okay." So, actually, in this scenario, I was the one shooting safe. So we use that term a lot: safe versus creative. And for as we mention, key moments, like first dance, ceremony, first kiss, parent dances, you know those kinds of moments. We really want to make sure that someone is shooting it in a straight-on, like guaranteed your getting it way. We actually used to, when we had our associate studio that I mentioned earlier, that's how they shot all their weddings as well. So we had two shooters, a more experienced shooter, and a less experienced shooter. And the less experienced shooter was shooting safe. So they were the one shooting the processional, shooting the recessional, shooting the first dances with an 85, you know, clean sort of way because then the one who had more experience was able to play around a little bit. So, I guess my advice to translate over to you if you do shoot on your own, but you have a second shooter, is you know have someone that's reliable enough to be able to do those, you know, straight forward moments and give yourself the chance to do something more creative or more interesting or just to play around more. So, here I'm standing basically on one of these pillars here that you can see in the background. But, you know, if I'm standing up completely at my full five feet, one inch of myself, you know, the heads down here will be really low, the space between, you know, the heads and the foreground and the couple will be really far apart, right, does that make sense, cuz I'd be higher up. But if I'm all the way down, the heads are cutting through halfway their bodies. So basically I needed a bit of height but not the full extent of myself standing on this. So basically I'm standing up there but also in a squat just to allow that alignment to happen, and that area around the couple is really important. So, then it's just waiting. You know there are times in the dance when they are away from each other, because it was a choreographed dance, and that didn't work because their legs ended up cutting through the heads. Does that make sense? So you see how like this moment in their dance is really lent itself perfectly to the framing that I had planned.
There's maybe about a hundred other versions of this photo where things don't line up perfectly, but the people in the foreground, the people in the background, they remain the same. They are the scene that is static, that doesn't move, and then you just let the bride and groom go in and out and really keep clicking all the way through so that everything really comes together.
Yeah that's really important for layering in general, that you're really aware of your foreground and your subject, and you know, background and having all of those things aligning properly.
Still anticipating and being patient with the moment, here we set up the dresses just for a simple, detailed photo and then when time came for the bride to take down her dress, it was a matter of us just being like give us a second, go and get into position as she goes in and takes the dress down, just clicking all the way through. This is not a reaction to her taking this down, it's us anticipating that this is going to happen. Getting into position, clicking all the way through and then letting the moment finish.
You guys recognize what this would be in our formula? What kind of photo this would be? Storytelling detail, right? So it's a detail on its own. It belongs in the detail gallery. It belongs on a blog, you know, about details, it belongs on the wedding dress designers website, but with the hands, it becomes a storytelling detail. It has a human element to it, and it becomes slideshow worthy to us.
And a transition from like the bride being in her robe and just doing her makeup into then like going in to put on her dress. That moment actually when the bride takes down the dress is one of those transitional moments that we really photograph a lot as well. And if we see that the bride is about to go and do it on her own, be like, "No, no, no, no, no, hold on." Get into position, get ready, let her do it, and then photograph all the way through.
And we let her struggle. We don't help her.
So you would hang the dresses up--
Can you use the mic?
So you would hang the dresses up, and then leave them hung up there until the bride was ready to take it down, or until one of the bridesmaids took it down?
Yeah, probably. I often you know photograph the dress hanging. I don't love it because it kind of looks weird a lot of the time. In this case, it actually looked really pretty because she had a dress that hung nicely, but sometimes it's just kind of limp on a hanger, but I'll do it, but I also like to have the dress hanging in the room because it's like an element that becomes interesting, tou know, to use in layers. I like having it in the background. So I'll often just tell the bride, like, where's your dress, can we hang it up, just so it's a part of the scene, basically.
So you're keeping it-- Oh I'm sorry.
So you're keeping the dress in the getting ready area because I think one thing I like about that is we normally will take it to a different location, go find somewhere cool to hang it, not necessarily keep it in the getting ready area.
I think it depends on your priorities as a wedding photographer, you know, I like to get the details out of the way, and I like to do them well and clean and just that's kind of where my obligation lies I think in terms of shooting the details. I don't really want to take too much time to, you know, do an epic dress hanging photo because it's just not something that I feel is really necessary for my client, you know.
During the ceremony, again, seeing that someone is having a lot of emotion and reacting to something, no reaction, just get into position, let the emotion happen, let it finish, and then go out of it. Like we said, we're going to drill this because it's really how we photograph all 300 sequences throughout the day.
So I mentioned this idea of prioritizing where you are and the kind of angle that you're going through with the right time. So, the bride is facing forward the entire ceremony. If you stay there, you're like, "Maybe one day, she'll turn around and glance over." You know, your odds of that happening are probably pretty slim. But in this case, their are musicians. Her husband is a musician, and it's his band playing. So at one time during the ceremony, you know, they were playing. So that's kind of like your time to go there and hope that she's going to look over, you know, glance over and yeah, makes sense.
It does. Alright, let's go back to Mexico for Sarah and Aaron.
Loving all these trips to Mexico today, just so good.
Changes the weather from outside. Alright so this is going to be during their processional and here it's such a mental process, switching between the groom's reaction and actually photography the processional happening.
It's like two sequences happening simultaneously really.
Yeah exactly. So, photos of the groom, you know, I always like to get a photo of him, make sure that we have one to put in the slideshow, but then turn around and photograph the people coming down the aisle. As they get close, I turn back to the groom, get more reaction photos of him. I don't know when his moment is gonna peak, when he's going to feel a lot of emotion. Turn back around, photograph the next people going down. As I'm shooting this, I already know I need to turn back around to the groom, keep photographing him. What you don't see in the GoPro is that while I'm photographing him, I'm looking over my shoulder and making sure that I don't miss the people that walk down the aisle as that finishes. Go back to him. You know the moment is building up because the bride is about to walk down.
This is really a division between his responsibilities towards shooting everybody that's walking down the aisle and his responsibility to storytelling and getting the good moments that he's having with his groomsmen as they're arriving.
And as I'm photographing this, again, I'm looking over my right shoulder, looking to see where the bride is, if she's coming out, if I need to move, if I need to get ready, but nothing else is happening, so I can stay focused on this then get into position, align myself. The key here is to really be one step ahead and know what your next move is gonna be. Here it's a bit of a reaction. I here that the girls are sniffling, and, you know, having emotion, so I react to it and turn around and then realign myself, ready for the doors to open. Bride walks out, get the shot of her framed in that doorway. Once that's done, I don't need to keep shooting, I go back to the groom because this is where he's going to feel the most emotion. So I stay on him, wait for the bride to get into place. You'll see that she takes a pause and I see that the planners go in to fix her dress so this is a good moment for me to turn around and photograph other people all while looking my shoulder to see where the bride is. Still not ready, go back to the groom, I was a little bit late here which was not great. And then, looking over my shoulder, and there she comes. I already know my next move is go backwards a little bit, get behind the officiant, ready for the handoff.
I have showed up.
Davina's there as well now, ready for the giveaway, and the moment between the dad and the groom, and then let the moment finish and then we go in to photographing that ceremony. So the photos that end up coming out of all of this sequence, we have the bride coming down the aisle, sorry coming through the doors, photo that I was ready for. This is not a reaction, like I knew ten minutes before this happened that I was going to photograph this moment framed this way. And then the groom, having a moment. And luckily, Davina came as well, and she was ready for it as well. Oh, sorry no, this is still mine, next one is Davina's. So we give ourselves a lot of options, you know, for the photos of, you know, the groom crying. And then as she comes closer. Again, like, this anticipatience is so key in those moments because we plan what our next photo is gonna be before it even happens, and it's really like a mental process.
So this kind of switching back and forth, this is pretty much always what Daniel is doing. I always like to hang back with the bride, so, you know, when she was in those doors, I was behind, I was, you know, making sure I wasn't missing anything, if there's any moments with her dad, you know, happening before the ceremony, I want to be there for that so that is, you know, there's nowhere else I need to be because I've got my teammate who's photographing everybody walking down the aisle, getting the groom's reaction. That's really, like, a formula that we have at every single wedding. So the groom's reaction is what we're looking at here.
Those photos, like they happen sometimes, it's, you know, it's something so subtle, like this is the groom at the peak of his emotion, just, you know, his lip quivering, like biting inside of his cheek, like that's him feeling it when the bride is about to walk down the aisle. Sometimes it's just a smile, but that's enough to tell the story of, you know, the bride coming down the aisle and the groom just smiling as she comes out.
Sometimes it's trying not to explode an emotion. He tried holding it in so bad. He actually finally, it really came out at the reception for this groom, but all day, I was like, "He's gonna blow, he's gonna blow." But I love this. It's not a flattering photo, but it is so meaningful, like if that were my groom, I'd be like, "Man, you were really feeling it for me." Like that's amazing, that's meaning--
I cried plenty at our wedding.
Oh no, you cried like crazy, are you kidding?
And so again, like, as I'm photographing the processional, I'm always glancing over my shoulder to see what the groom is, you know, what does his face look like, and if it's good and at the right moment, turn around, and then keep looking over my right shoulder to see where the bride is or where everybody is. So it's kind of juggling the two elements at the same time.
So this kind of breaks a little bit our whole philosophy of sticking to one photo at a time, but it's out of obvious necessity, but the idea is that you're still mindful in every situation, you know, mindful in the groom's angle, mindful in the bride's angle, and whenever you switch from one to the other, you're still, you know, focused on the things that you need to be doing for each photo.
So, bride walking down the aisle, meantime, if I look over my right shoulder, this is what's happening.
That's the groom's grandfather. I love that about Jewish weddings. They often have their family like really close by so it's a good opportunity to include them as well in that moment.
And then keep clicking all the way through as, you know, the bride is handed off to the groom, keep going, keep going, keep going, and really try to get the best version of the photo.
How precious, right? And like this dad looks so much like Daniel's dad. This wedding was intense, but it was actually our second time photographing this family because Davina and Daniel, who you met earlier, the other Davina and Daniel, this is Daniel's sister, so yeah, we love being re-invited back into a family is amazing, and we have photos of him making this exact face at that other wedding.