Jerry Ghionis at WPPI 2011 | The Anatomy of a Powerful Image
The following article is a guest post by Drexelle Park, a photographer with her high school sweetheart and other half, David Park, from Orange County, CA. More of their work can be found at www.dparkphotography.com
After days of little sleep, it took a loud alarm, a Starbucks frap, and the 15-minute sprint (in heels, mind you) to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Thanks to WPPI’s new Pre-Board system, the place was already fairly packed 10 minutes before the event started. But once the staff knew I was covering the event for SLR Lounge, I was given a front seat to one of the most emotional and moving classes in all of WPPI.
Enter Jerry Ghionis.
College dropout. Australian born. Almost an Austin Powers of photography, an international man of mystery, mastery, and mojo of irresistibility.
Jerry Ghionis is, with no exaggeration, one of the top 5 wedding photographers in the world, an “Icon of Imaging by Microsoft and one of the 13 people in the world to be included in the coveted list of photography pioneers.
With his style best described as “vintage glamour meets contemporary fashion , he began his own photography business in 1997 and has changed the photography world ever since.
You can view Jerry Ghionis’ work here.
“IF YOU PUT AN ORDINARY EFFORT INTO SOMETHING, YOU GET AN ORDINARY RESULT. IF YOU PUT AN EXTRAORDINARY EFFORT, YOU GET AN EXTRAORDINARY RESULT.
- JERRY GHIONIS
In the two hour session, he was able to show how he did just that.
“NORMALLY, YOU GET THE CLIENTS YOU DESERVE ¦LIKE KHARMA, YOU PRETTY MUCH GET WHAT YOU GIVE.
- JERRY GHIONIS
For Jerry Ghionis, there are 5 steps to taking a powerful image:
- 1. Light: It is key to find good light but it is also important to detract it (shadow).
- 2. Location/background
- 3. Pose/concept/action: The emotion is held in the face. Convince your bride to pose. Don’t say, “You’re going to look ugly without me. Instead, say, “As beautiful as you are, I can make you shine brighter than ever before with some simple direction.
- 4. Technique/exposure: You must have your ISO, white balance, and the technical down.
- 5. Expression/finesse
“SOME PEOPLE PIGEON-HOLE THEMSELVES INTO PHOTOJOURNALISTIC, PORTRAIT, ETC. BUT I SUGGEST, IF THE MAGIC IS THERE, CAPTURE IT. IF THE MAGIC IS NOT THERE, CREATE IT.
- JERRY GHIONIS
A Few Posing Suggestions:
- Turn the bride’s body away from the light source so you don’t blow out and lose detail or texture.
- When shooting with a video light, expose for the ambient light first and then fill in the light so you get a mixture of tones.
- For Jerry, he shoots a groom the way he wants to be photographed. When shooting a bride, he says to think of her as your bride. It’ll change your psyche.
- With album design, keep it simple. Make Photoshop seem invisible.
- To create beautiful expressions, less is more. What you leave out is just as important as what you leave in.
Ultimately with posing, Jerry loves manipulating the situation and pressing the right buttons.
“ALL I DO IS REMIND PEOPLE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE OCCASION. IT’S AMAZING HOW THAT CAN EVOKE THE EMOTION.
- JERRY GHIONIS
For some weddings, emotion can happen on its own. But what if it doesn’t? What would separate you from the photographer next to you? If you just wait for the emotions to happen, wouldn’t you say you’re just hoping for the best? Then, your work will only look as good as your couple are. Imagine EVOKING an image at every wedding and extracting it.
He gave amazing suggestions for words to say to extract emotion like:
- From now on, your dad will be second in your life. But everyday from now, you will still be daddy’s little girl.
- Snuggle your faces together. Say that you love each other without talking, just a hug and embrace.
- Bride, I want you to whisper something incredibly dirty in the groom’s ear.
- I want you to squeeze your partner’s backside on the count of 3.
How many of us have just asked a bride and groom to kiss and they just did a light kiss?
What does Jerry say?
Well, something like:
That’s not how you kiss the bride. This is how I kiss the bride.
I want you to kiss the groom. But as you kiss him, think of me.
Jerry called 5 real couples in love out of the audience. Using hilarious queues like below he was able to extract quite a reaction out of them:
- Can you tell us something about your wife that no one else would know?
- If you’ve ever done anything wrong and want to get it off your chest, tell her and have her forgive you in front of this large audience.
- How long have you been married? How many years have you not want to be married for?
- Now there’s a big height difference. Can you make love and kiss at the same time?
Afterwards, he requested 5 other photographers come up to pose the couple. Then, he changed the pose. Here are a few of the before and afters.
PHOTOGRAPHER’S POSE #1
Jerry’s Comments: This borders cheesy. It’s too much. You want their bodies turned towards each other and to have spirit without going too far. Push the hip and weight backwards. The groom’s leg needs energy.
PHOTOGRAPHER’S POSE #2
Jerry’s Comments: There’s a big height difference. To deal with that, have the groom lean forward and bring his foot out. Get as close as possible. Tilt your face towards him.
PHOTOGRAPHER’S POSE #3
Jerry’s Comments: Shift the weight with the hip away from the camera to thin her out. The problem is the groom looks like he’s choking her a bit. The groom’s leg should go beyond hers and bend a bit so she feels more protected. The hands need to say I love you. Lean the upper bodies towards me so the viewer can see what’s going on.
PHOTOGRAPHER’S POSE #4
Jerry’s Comments: That is tough for a bride on her wedding day. Let’s have the groom come nice and close to her, hug her butt cheeks. Bride, let’s put your hand on the shoulders. Now if you stand up, you’ll be air born. I want you to kick your right leg up. Groom, look at her. Bride, I want you to giggle for no reason. Now, groom, motorboat her breasts.
Jerry challenged the audience. If you pose perfectly, what are you really photographing? A pose. Not a moment. You need to evoke emotion.
JERRY’S POSE #1:
Pretend you’re holding your wedding dress. Groom, you can’t move at all. Stay perfectly still. Now, bride, I want you to dance for the groom until you feel movement, until there’s a party in his pants. I’m serious. I’m going to check (he actually danced for the groom as well (see below)). If you can’t do it to your husband, who are you going to do it to?
JERRY’S POSE #2:
I want you to go nice and close and give him a cute little kiss. Kiss him for just a little bit. Do you want me to kiss him?
JERRY’S POSE #3:
Groom, you can’t move from this position. Do everything in your power to kiss your bride. Bride, do everything in your power to avoid him. The game is to touch your lips. Now, groom, show us what you got.
JERRY’S POSE #4:
Come nice and close and hug her from behind. Let’s say that your faces are like 2 cats purring on each other. You know how a cat walks up, rubs your legs and purrs? Your faces are the cats and now you’re purring.
JERRY’S POSE #5:
How about a hug? Nice hug. Ready? Now I want you to hug like it’s the last time you’re ever going to do so.
“DO YOU KNOW THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE COUPLE OR DO YOU JUST SAY, ËœLOOK HERE AND SMILE?’
- JERRY GHIONIS
He introduced his newly designed video light called theicelight, a tall video light that allows for tungsten, white and mixed lighting. Available this summer!
He then changed our focus from photography to ourselves.
He pressed the question: Who are you?
Your style of photography is dictated by who you are as a person. We have to define ourselves properly to truly define who our client is.
In addition, we have to become better people to create better photographs.
Photograph your subject through the eyes of their loved ones. Be emotionally invested with whom you’re photographing. Photograph today with the luxury of hindsight. Think of the history you’re creating now.
He closed by sharing his beautifully photographed love story.
“BEING MARRIED AND FINDING MY SOULMATE, I KNOW WHAT IT IS. I FEEL WHAT IT IS. MY SENSES ARE HEIGHTENED. I HAD THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.’
- JERRY GHIONIS
Jerry had just gotten married a month prior to his gorgeous bride. He closed with his wedding slideshow and by saying, “I’d like to thank my wife for making me the happiest man in the world.
To Jerry and Melissa, congratulations! You two are a beautiful, sexy couple and we all can’t wait to see where your love story takes you both.
Applying the Lessons Learned
We’ve been practicing the directions Jerry recommended and played with new ones to make our own ever since. It has been an amazing reaction from our clients to see them engaged all the more and we see it show so much more in our imagery.
With Jerry Ghionis’ philosophy, I love the idea that we are not only capturing moments but creating them; that we aren’t only taking photographs, but moving the hearts of people.
Article and Images by Drexelle Park of D. Park Photography
We’re David + Drexelle – high school sweethearts, complete opposites but God amazingly brought us together, 2 kids who were scared of marriage but now passionate about a lifetime committed to love, the good, the bad, the crazy, the lovely.
Our desire is to inspire a generation of people like ourselves who were jaded about love through incredible imagery that celebrates marriage: love – lifelong, lasting, and lovely.
We’re D. Park Photography. Modern classic wedding photographers for the truly original, authentic and timeless love stories.