Reflections : Photographing Around Fixtures


A few days ago, I cleaned off my computer desktop (I was determined to start 2011 anew…hard drives included!) and I came across a photo. I can’t remember, specifically, why I saved it, but I did. I think I had an idea for it, but that idea might have disappeared…along with my willpower, but that’s a whole different blog post. It’s, just, WHY ARE CHRISTMAS COOKIES SO DELICIOUS?!

When I discovered the photo, I thought it’d be good fit for a Reflections post and explain how I shoot a bride and groom when there are unmovable fixtures in the room.

As I’ve stated before, I’m a natural light photographer, so I strategically place my clients in the best light, when possible. I photographed Bree and Zack’s vineyard wedding in July and I mentioned in the blog post how hot it was. Now, lemme just say it was like the Fifth Ring of Dante’s Inferno hot. My sweat was sweating. Ewww, did I just gross you out? How do you think I felt WEARING THE SWEAT?!? In desperate attempts to avoid the heat (the bride wanted to do the First Look, but if the experience isn’t right, or her makeup is compromised, or if anything will compete with my time [like the heat], I immediately find a solution to stay the course), I found the Barrel Room. And it was air-conditioned.

I was instructed we could use the room, but because of an event later, the tables and chairs couldn’t be moved. I opened the Barrel Room doors and this is what we had…

Please note a few things about the above photo:
1. I manipulated the raw file to show the scene with both the subjects and the background exposed somewhat properly. In actuality, the subjects were overexposed to showcase the background. The photo above is a composite of two images, both with manipulated exposures. The following photos reveal actual lighting situations.
2. Did you see the green tablecloth?!?
3. The client did not get this photo…I simply took it to gauge my settings and start forming the picture in my head.
4. There are open doors on both sides of the subjects that aren’t shown.
5. It’s not a very good picture. I know this.

Carrying on….
What I decided to immediately do was manage my light in relation to the subjects’ skin. That’s the most important thing. Of course this underexposes the background since my subjects were placed strategically for best light, but since the background isn’t all that great, I think this was my best option. I also angled the camera upward to avoid getting the background fixtures.

JD was standing to my left and he also exposed for the skin. The main difference in our photos was that I was able to photograph Bree and Zack with the hanging light fixtures in the background to break up the blackness of the photo, which is something I prefer. But I think JD’s photo and angle is quite lovely.

JD also photographed Zack in the same light setup and it’s one of my favorite groom portraits of the year.

Still using the light from the open doors, I shifted the subjects to the left so I could expose both for the subjects and the background (versus the all black). I strategically placed them just in front of the tables, chairs, and green tablecloth, and cropped in camera to reveal only what I wanted….a stunning bride and groom.

Of course I used a couple chairs. If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know I love me some chairs!
Again, I’m using just the light from the door way and my exposure hasn’t changed since the environment hasn’t.

Bree and Zack are still in the same position (facing the great light), but I changed my position to get a different feel for each photo. For me, it’s about maximizing a small space with good light and trying to rethink every situation in a short amount of time. If you notice in this picture of Bree, I turned on the uplights in the room (the small orange light in the background) to add depth to an otherwise verrrry dark room. Making small decisions like this really help in the long run and helps achieve the type of photos you like…even if you’re not given the most optimal of situations.

Hope this helps and Happy Tuesday!

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  1. maddie e.

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 I think lighting is one of my biggest challenges sometimes. I love your work!

  2. priscillia

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you 😉 !!!

  3. trish s

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    great….love your tutorial posts…..i always learn a ton.


    December 21st, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Nice post!… It’s interesting how other photographers think when trying to get the right photo. Happy Holidays! 🙂

  5. mariana herrera mosli

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Awesome post Jasmine! Thanks for sharing. Definitely helps motivate others to think ‘Outside the box’ and look for light and the beauty, even in an unattractive setting!

  6. chesley

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    amazing!! love these types of posts!

  7. Beria Charles

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing! You are a blessing, and yet, a genius!

  8. Dave Keys - OC Photographer

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I have to say, I really liked JD’s BW photo of the groom a lot! Your ideas are always much appreciated. I had to photograph a wedding in a Catholic church, (St Vincent De Paul in Huntington Beach – photographers be warned!) where I was stationed behind the organist with strict instructions not to move anywhere and never to use flash. I used a 70-200 2.8 for most shots and a 50mm for a few wide. We got a mere 15 minutes after the ceremony to shoot posed portraits and the priest had the nerve to tell me where to position myself using the 50MM lens. He presumed I was too far back. It was amazing but things turned out OK in spite of it all. My wife saved me on this rather hurried wedding with some great shots outside while I was stuck in my photographer’s "spot." What brings this all up is the shot I got of the couple kneeling before the Virgin Mary statue. There was a black pole (candle holder?) in my way, but by leaning as far over as I dared, I managed to get it over to the right of the kneeling couple where it served almost as a natural frame. I’m sure I looked like I was about to fall over.

  9. Thomas Beaman

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Awesome info! Amazing shots! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Tysha

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I love this post!! Very helpful…
    & i love how i can follow everything your saying, and actually see what your saying, like i said it myself!
    Thank you much!

  11. Dorelies

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    It really shows, what you can do, when the situation isn’t the best. As always – make the best out of it!
    Thank you for the post.

  12. Maliha Ahmad

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    OMG i love it… it’s beautiful. I’m a starting up turning pro wedding photography and i’m simply in love with your work. Love the tips and your technique is exquisite!

    I’d like to know a lil more about the lens you used and the camera settings it’ll help me understand it all a little more. Thankyou xD

  13. Leilani Tucker

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Probably one of the coolest post this year. Thanks.

  14. Noelia Kline

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    OH Jasmine, you inspire so much. Thank you so much for your inside scoop on all that you do. It helps me become a better photographer and give me a different view from another photographer’s perspective. Thank you!

  15. Melissa

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I love to know the way your shoots work (and your brain). Thanks for sharing and happy cookie eating 🙂

  16. morgan

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    bravo! i know this situation happens a lot, so thanks for sharing some tips!

  17. Romonia Isaac

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Great Reflections post! I totally understand how you feel about the lack of will power during the holiday season! 😀 JD’s capture of Zack is my favorite groom photo as well–it screams GQ!!! 😉 Thank you for the informative and hilarious post as always! Happy Tuesday J*, JD & Polo!

  18. JamieY

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Awesome as always. Love seeing how you think things through.

  19. kafitana morena

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    thanks little jasmine.

  20. Eve

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Wow… I donno how JD got those clean shots in such a tight space…you guys rock! Thx for the lesson J*, the shooting upward really made sense, I wouldn’t have thot of that! Happy Holidays to you all …esp Polo!!

  21. Mahera

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Amazing as usual. You are my guru Jay. Star! 🙂

  22. John Gerson

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for the lesson. I love the pics. I have learned so much from you and I have followed you for a long time. JGP

  23. Jennifer Beitchman

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    So helpful!!! Thanks for being so awesome!!!

  24. LEOLAK

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Very cool tips…thanks Jasmine!

  25. Marge E

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Nice pictures – what was your ISO in order to compensate for lack of light (or if you remember, what was your shutter speed. I always problems with noise in my pictures.

  26. feuza

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    love it, hope I become better at strategically placing clients to maximize best light

  27. Anne Elisabeth

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you so much for your tips! I learn so much from it!

  28. Salwa

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Great reflections post!! I am continually amazed at how quickly you are able to think through a situation and execute your decisions. I hope one day I can do so too!

  29. Sandra Fazzino

    December 21st, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Amazing how the solutions are so close at hand and so simple! Thank you, Christmas cookie monster!

  30. Lydia

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    So helpful, Jasmine!!

  31. Leah Jent

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks, Jasmine. I just love your informative posts. You are fantastic with light!

  32. Evie Perez

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks Jasmine!! These always come at the perfect time. You are so thorough.

  33. Ana GR

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Oh, dear Jasmine, what a clever use of light, what a great post on maximizing what you have.
    You are way tooooooooo gooooooood, girl!

  34. Marissa Rodriguez

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Greeeeeat post! Such a gorgeous wedding!

  35. Heather Kimbrell

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Love it. I want to go grab a model and find me a not so optimal place and practice.

  36. Dawn and Michael Mitchell

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you, again, for sharing your reasoning for photographing your images. Every time you explain what is going on in your head when lining up a shot, it helps Dawn & I so much! Thanks a million!

  37. Jen

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Great post as usual! I love the photos you took (as always) but that one JD took of the bride & groom is stunning.

  38. Jorge

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Beautiful session! Thanks Jasmine for this emotional pictures.

  39. Annetta

    December 21st, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for awesome post, Jasmine! Your help is always appreciated. Have a wonderful Christmas and many blessings for the New Year. From our house to yours.

  40. Edouard Montfort

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:04 pm


    Well done !

    Happy Holidays,

  41. Stephanie Stewart

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Love this post! It is very helpful! I need to remember this one – maximize the great light! Thank you! Merry (early) Christmas and Happy (early) New Year! You are amazing!

  42. Girish

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Very informative post. Thanks.

  43. Angela

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Love that groom pic!! Great advi8ce. Again.

  44. Emma Wilsher

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I love these kind of blog posts Jasmine, where you explain & share how you’ve managed to capture certain shots in restricted space etc. It’s sooooo helpful & really appreciated! It helps to inspire me & helps me to grow as a photographer, so thanks a million & Merry Christmas to you & JD:)

  45. Life with Kaishon

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    What great tips. Beautiful : )
    Merry Christmas.

  46. Albert Dickson

    December 21st, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    That was a very nice example. A clearly presented example of the kind of everyday challenge that ocasionally drive me nuts. Your simple reasoning and methods for overcoming this kind of obsticle are wonderful. Instead of turning to tech you just intuitively optimize what the environment provided in a clean and simple way resulting in elegant work. I admire this very much. Great post.

  47. Kathy Norwood

    December 21st, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Totally awesome post. I really can see what you are talking about. Wedding photographers have to think on the fly and it’s a great testament to your creativity. I am very comfortable using off-camera flash but would love to incorporate more natural/ambient lighting situations because I think it tends to allow me to be more creative. Thanks for the inspiration.

  48. Naomi Chokr

    December 21st, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Thank you for this post. If i was in your position ….i would have freaked out and hyperventilated. But you did an amazing job. Thank you….. if this ever happens to me in the future I know that I will still be able to take amazing pictures

  49. Mikkel

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Love this post. Thanks for the lesson!

  50. Jessica Chavez

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    These posts are SOOO enlightening!! Thanks for sharing this pointers with us! It helps me open my mind on how to tackle the situation next time this happens!! 😀

  51. Gerald Donnelly

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Nice shots clean & crisp.

  52. Elizabeth at Seaport Photo

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks so much for this type of post…it’s incredibly helpful!!!

  53. luisa

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    thanks for sharing.. really helpful…

  54. jack

    December 21st, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks Jasmine – I learn loads from these posts!

  55. s h e r r y

    December 21st, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Awesome! 🙂 I love this kind of posts! And I really love the angle that JD got… PS. I think Zack totally resembles Ryan Reynolds.

  56. Jessica Hunt

    December 22nd, 2010 at 12:07 am

    If i was going to write a comic book, you would be the super hero j*.
    just saying.

  57. Judy

    December 22nd, 2010 at 12:42 am

    This is the kind of thing that is hard to learn unless you are there figuring it out by trial and error. Yet, somehow you make it seem so easy. Thanks so sharing all your amazing insights and a Merry Christmas to you and JD!

  58. Christa

    December 22nd, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Great post 🙂

  59. Amos Moses

    December 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 am

    I enjoy and learn so much from reading your blogs and even from Creative Live, just found it the other day. I am new to this stuff and finally getting a hang of it… Merry Christmas!!!

  60. Ashley Sellers

    December 22nd, 2010 at 3:28 am

    This was SO helpful!!

  61. amanda thiessen

    December 22nd, 2010 at 6:52 am

    love love love these helpful posts!!

  62. joanna kapica

    December 22nd, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Great post! Like always great learning experience for us. Thank you so much!
    Happy Holidays!

  63. thea

    December 22nd, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    These are great tips…LOVE this post. Thank you!!!!!

  64. Emily Dobson

    December 22nd, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Great post! You have a very creative eye and amazing exposure. Thank you!

  65. Rudi

    December 22nd, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing!

  66. צילום אירועים

    December 22nd, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Great work. I realy like those portraits!
    My favorite is the couple BW image.

  67. Neil Patel

    December 22nd, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Love your Reflection post keep it up! 🙂 Neil

  68. firdaus

    December 23rd, 2010 at 12:10 am

    great post…i love it…

  69. ramyad london wedding photographer

    December 23rd, 2010 at 1:10 am

    It’s great how you’ve used the space and especially hidden the parts you don’t want to show. That is a rare skill which I have yet to master 🙂

  70. Christina Hastings

    December 23rd, 2010 at 3:13 am

    It DOES help for sure. Thanks!

  71. Andi Diamond

    December 24th, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Educational and helpful as always- THANK U!!

  72. Kelsey Anderson

    December 24th, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Fabulous tips! Thanks so much for sharing!

  73. Wendy

    December 26th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I love your Reflection posts! Every time I read one, I find myself grabbing my camera to try out your tips! Thank you for sharing!

  74. Chris Aram

    December 27th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Easily one of my favorite "how to" internet blog posts of the year. Composition is something that I am always working on and I’ve run into occasions where I was frustrated by my inability to "mold" a scene. What a wonderfully insightful post! 🙂

  75. Charlotte

    December 28th, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Great post! I always love hearing how other photographers handle different situations. Also wanted to point out, in Dante’s Inferno, hell was made of ice. 😉 Hope you guys had a terrific Christmas!

  76. Rosanne

    December 30th, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Love this post!

  77. Vail Fucci

    December 30th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Your advice is so great. Just wondering in there it says you are a natural light photographer. I totally get trying to use the natural light whenever possible, but do you not use speedlites at all???

  78. Amy Jo

    January 4th, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Incase there aren’t enough people who say "Thank you", or incase I haven’t ever said it, "THANK YOU!!" I really appreciate posts like this and the things I can learn from them!