Depending on the circumstances, telling a complete story might be more challenging during certain shoots. For the shoot we cover during this episode of Roundtable Critique, we were not able to photograph our Muslim bride until she was already in her full dress and we did not have a full wedding timeline because the ceremony took place at an earlier date. Also, the time of day and light conditions limited our location options for particular events on the timeline (which is often the case).
Regardless of the challenges, it’s important to remember to shoot a given scene and the subjects/objects within it consistently. In other words, if you’re shooting invitations, jewelry, and other details, shoot them cohesively so that they can be clustered together across a spread in an album. This makes for better storytelling and could possibly mean increased product sales with a strong album or wall art cluster. Also, as with other scenes, it is important to shoot a scene setting image for details, such as an image with all of the details laid out together.
When cropping your images either in camera or in post, remember to avoid cutting off the subjects at their limbs or at points that make them appear to grow larger as they go out of the frame. For example, cropping a subject at the hips as the hips are curving outward will make the subject appear wider, as opposed to cropping at a point where the subject’s body narrows, such as below the hips.
In terms of lighting, remember to shoot from the shadows to showcase highlights. When you shoot from the shadows and expose for the skin, you will capture nice highlights on the edge of the subject/object. If you shoot from the light towards the shadows, chances are the images will be flatly lit, or if the sun is overhead, there will be distractingly high contrast. This holds true whether you’re shooting a first look or even groom details (watch, shoes, bowtie, etc.). Make sure to pay attention to the light (or lights) in a scene and place your subjects accordingly.
Also on the topic of lighting, use light to draw attention to your subjects. In-between lighting (not light and airy, or not dramatic), especially in a busy scene, will leave the viewer confused as to where to look. If you can stop down the ambient light in camera and accentuate the subjects with added light from a strobe to naturally draw focus to them, then go for it. If doing so would not fit with the rest of the images from that particular scene, you should still look for interesting light direction and position the subjects to stand out in the scene.
Some subjects require more direction than others, so be sure to direct when necessary. For example, if the groom looks miserable during his prep shots, ask him to smile or cue him to think about a favorite memory with his soon-to-be bride. It is better to give a little direction than to end up with photos that lack in expression or clearly defined action. If you’re cueing for a dramatically lit shot, direct for a serious – not angry – expression. If the lighting is brighter, direct the subject into a lighter, happier expression.
Culling for value
Cull a session to showcase only the best images. When images are delivered that were not shot well, the overall value of the set of images is diminished.
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