In May of this year, Ayinde, Nicholas and I traveled to the beautiful island of Antigua with two missions. 1. Shoot the wedding of Krystal & Martin at the St James Club Antigua, (Mission Accomplished) and 2. Have our first ever Destination Relationship Photography workshop (Again, Mission Accomplished).
We’re in Antigua! (Photos in this triptych taken by the PC Photography Team)
This wedding workshop was different to all the others we has done before, because this was the first time we structured the major practical part of our workshop specifically for weddings and even included a step by step wedding simulation, walking through the process of how the team, thinks, sees and moves during a traditional Western Wedding Ceremony. The simulation was complete with decorations, processional and even a wedding cake and of course we worked with the Precision Centre capture and events team, who cover many weddings at their facility. I do have to thank the team at PC, not only for the wonderful job of all the preparations on the ground in Antigua but for hosting us in general, the team really made all of us feel right at home, thanks again guys!
Lastly and certainly not least, we worked with a wonderful recently married couple, Seymone and Chevaughn who graciously agreed to don their wedding attire once more and be our “models” couple for not one, but two days. Thank you guys, the images are beautiful. So without further ado, here are some of the images from the workshop.
Here we are at the PC facility, teaching active theory at the workshop. We call it active theory because it’s a very practical approach to dispensing real, applicable information, and it’s mean to walk you through in great detail, the process of how and more importantly, why things are done.
We wanted to show/walk through the portrait session we did on the last day of the workshop, even though we shot the wedding simulation as well. We thought it would be more useful to show this part of workshop, because of questions we’ve received about this in the past, plus we love the locations the team chose for us. The purpose of this session was to demonstrate how we use both natural and artificial light together, to create compelling wedding portraits.
I wanted to post the camera settings and other technical information for all of the individual images, like we did for the “How we shot it” Justin & Krystle post, but after I did all of the work, wordpress crashed and I lost all of that beautifully formatted information…Que Sera, Sera. Therefore everyone will have to settle for just slightly technical descriptions.
For this first set of photographs the sun was fairly low in the sky, but not yet setting. We positioned our couple with the sun behind them and in the shadow of one of the trees. Our plan was to add in some light at the front, using a flash (speedlight) and a shoot through umbrella. As you can see below, the first image is a bit underexposed but that creates good contrast when the light is added in. In addition you can see the natural light of the sun, just skimming over their shoulder and heads which adds to the “depth” of the photograph.
Then we added in the light. Not sure of the power or the zoom on the speed-light but it could be some where in the vicinity of 1/16 – 1/4 power and the umbrella is fairly close, say 2-3′ away.
The sun came out from behind a cloud and intensified the back-light/skimming on their shoulders and heads. We decided to go wider and get more of the background, which was bright enough in some areas to create interest but not too bright as to distract from the main subjects.
The sun remained intense and we decided to ask them look at each other for the next series of shots…of course this always causes some interesting reactions, which we ready to capture, after going lower and closer and rotating into a slightly deeper angle. Going lower and closer and rotating around you subjects, can often times give the feel of a new environment, without having to move your light set up or the bride and groom. Love the Bokeh of these! 85mm FTW!
Again manually zooming out (WALKING backwards) to get the a full length shot. All of these photographs were taken with the same lens and the same camera settings, although for this particular one I believe we did increase the power of the flash slightly and moved the umbrella back a bit so we wouldn’t get it in the frame.
So then we decided we wanted a more dramatic, high contrast look, integrating the silhouettes of the trees and some of the landscape. For this we underexposed the image even further by decreasing the aperture size two full stops from f5 to f10 and decreasing and the ISO from 100 to 80. In retrospect the ISO decrease was not all necessary, as we could have gone smaller on the aperture, but at that point, the change in settings were so small, we could have adjusted any one of the three exposure controls (APERTURE, SHUTTER or ISO) and got what we wanted without any major negative effects on the image. At this point it made more sense to change our lens than try to walk farther back with the 85mm prime.
We then added in our bare-bulb speed light zoomed all the way to 200mm, to light the couple and in so doing lifted them out of the background into visibility. The positioning for light in this shot takes some trial and error but the more you do it, the faster you’ll be able to get it right. Also, even though we didn’t have one available, a grid would been handy here.
After a series of shots with the sun behind them, we then switched location to where we were out of the direct sunlight. We decided to do another two-light technique, which includes two flashes one of which is positioned behind the couple to rim light them. Here is the shot with no light, basically a “Stand right here, so we can get the composition right” shot.
Then through the bushes for some variety :-). Now this actually could have been a better framed and possibly a spectacular shot, but I think that we didn’t have time to properly reposition the couple to maximize the light and framing. It does serve however to illustrate what the back light is actually doing behind them and why proper light and subject relational positioning, is critical for good back lighting.
Although this was a workshop, these are some of the benefits to working with a real married couple; in between the formal parts of the workshop, you get genuine moments like the one below. They’re walking together, holding hands, talking, smiling at each other, for us, this is portrait gold. If you were to imagine this shot without the crowd behind, and possibly cropped in a bit, this is the type of shot we would take of a couple, on a normal wedding day.
OK, so now we are at the new location, the sun is quickly setting and Ayinde finds this great angle of view, in between some rocks, that we can use to do a silhouette/spotlight technique. This is how the shot starts out; dark subjects and dark foreground, only the sky is heading toward the correct exposure.
Then we increased the exposure a bit and added in the light (Even though the shadows under Seymone’s arm look a bit hard, I think were were using a shoot through umbrella) and we were able to create a beautifully framed portrait, where the couple “pops” out of the frame because of the added light. Looking at this know we could have reduced the exposure even more and created more contrast between the rocks in the foreground and the couple, by making the rocks totally black, but the texture in the rocks add another layer of interest to the image, so I’m glad we didn’t go for that very high contrast look in this shot.
Something else we like to do, is split the frame in half using foreground and background elements. This a bit more challenging to do, when you have an irregularly shaped object (Like Rocks!) in the foreground, but you can feel the balance of the frame between the top and bottom, because the couple is placed exactly in the space, between the rocks. To the eye it produces a weird but pleasing balance.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end, hope this helps.