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!