Roberto Valenzuela WPPI 2011 Notes
The following is a guest post by Brittany Hansen, one half of a husband and wife wedding photography team, Brushfire Photography located in San Tan Valley, AZ.
What would happen if you practiced your photography like a musical instrument?
Roberto Valenzuela grew up in Mexico, and when he was told he would not be able to attend college in the states unless he was able to pay for it himself he found a way. He learned how to play guitar, because he knew there was money in teaching others to play. He began the seminar with a slideshow of his work and he played an amazing piece on his guitar while we watched. It is hard to decide which part was more breathtaking.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. He challenged everyone to practice photography like we would an instrument. It is easy to blame lack of practice on lack of people to photograph, but is a person always necessary? Roberto brought a teddy bear in a tux who is often his subject for practicing photography.
There are many other elements of a photograph that make it beautiful, and those need to be perfected as well. He broke down the chaos of a wedding into three elements: locations, poses, and execution.
Locations can be broken down into 12 elements.
|reflections||glare||shadows / silhouettes|
|depth||color elements (3 or less)||paintings/art|
When choosing a location find a spot with 3 or less colors, excluding the bride and groom. The easiest way to do this is to take a photo of the location with it completely out of focus, this will break down how many colors are there and you can count them. Geometric shapes can be found from objects in a scene. Think carefully about how to photograph the scene, and if you would showcase geometric shapes better if shot from below or above. Roberto explained it like seeing as a dog or a bird. By combining the elements in the chart, beautiful and artistic photographs will be created.
|Traditional||Him behind her||Her behind him|
|Walking||Kissing||Playful / Actions / Movement|
|Holding Hands||Sitting||Together side by side|
|Foreground / Background||Facing each other||Kiss Anticipation|
|Featuring Him||Featuring Her||T-Pose|
T-pose is having the grooms collar bone be perpendicular to the bride’s collar bone.
When doing a walking pose have bride look at gown and pay close attention to their hands. Make sure the hands look loose and not like claws griping at the dress. The brides chin should not be parallel to collar bone, but slightly tilted in one direction. When she walks, tell her to place one foot directly in front of the other, because this will make her hips naturally swing, and her walk will be more elegant.
It is important that during a shoot, or pose, your energy should match the bride and groom’s energy. This sets a mood and makes the bride and groom more comfortable.
He stated that it is a common fail safe for photographers to resort to having clients just kiss when in a beautiful location, instead of thinking of a more unique or artistic pose. I have definitely found myself doing this, and now with the chart of poses it will be easier to rethink, and possibly come up with a better idea.
Find the right lighting and angles for your subject. Pay attention to textures, body type, and location elements to better represent your subject. Roberto discovered it was difficult to photograph ruffled wedding dresses and showing the details in the ruffles. With experimenting with one of his wife’s dresses, he discovered that the ruffles look best when below a light source. So instead of photographing his bride in a beautiful ruffled dress standing in front of a window, he had her sit below the window. The photograph is beautiful and all the detail to the ruffles in the dress are visible.
By practicing photography, you will be better prepared when running into issues during a wedding, and you will get better results. Follow Roberto Valenzuela on Twitter at @robertophoto where he will post challenges, like the ruffles, once a month, to help photographers practice photography.
Roberto promised us that after the seminar it would be impossible not to notice location elements. I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding just two days after returning from WPPI, and he was right. I was more aware of shapes, the lighting, and colors during the shoot. I now feel more in control of my shoots and the options that I have for my clients. I am following Roberto on twitter and am anxious for his first challenge. His seminar changed my view of photography and how I practice it. I now take the time to practice everyday and try to think of challenges for myself.