Wedding Photography

Capturing a magical moment

Finding and capturing magical moments during a wedding is what differentiates a professional wedding photographer who has a passion for their art from any other person snapping photos. Seeing moments as they unfold and being there to capture them are not a simple matter of standing around waiting for them to develop. A moment, in most cases, needs to be created by evaluating elements in the environment and then balancing them together to create a scene in camera which tells a story. The story need not be complete even, but could leave the view with a sense of wonder into what is going to happen next.

The hardest part is breaking away from what everyone else is doing out there and finding a way to be different. Many wedding photographers, especially when they are just starting out, look around at other wedding photographers work and then try to copy much of it without ever finding out what works for the environment in which they find themselves. Many photography courses teach you to be consistent and create all kinds of rules of light, angle, composition and a host of technicalities which some people get stuck on. I believe in consistency, but consistency for every session, not for my style. What I mean by this is that I will talk to my clients and see what their personalities are like and try to discover what is important to them and then adjust my style for that session, whether it is a wedding or family photo session, to compliment them. I prefer to give my clients what they want, not what I want to give them.

So what makes a magical moment?

People in photos make moments special and sometimes magical. Capturing the moment of silence, a look, emotion or even their interaction with their environment is what creates a moment. A moment can be created by posing a person or even a group in such a way that they interact with one another or their environment. Moments are not created when the only interaction is directed towards the camera. The next time you want to capture a moment, look for the interaction rather than technically try to create a good shot.

To Pose or Not to Pose

I often hear people say that they don’t like “posed” photos and would prefer photos to look “natural”. For a long time I have wondered why this is so since the some of the greatest wedding photos ever created by world famous wedding photographers such as Doug Gordon, Sal Cincotta and Jerry Ghionnis are all posed. I then read a comment by Doug Gordon on a website that people do not like “posed” photos because photographers put them in poses which do not produce flattering photos appropriate to the moment. He went on to say that it is the photographers responsibility to pose people correctly for every situation and mood. Sal Cincotta says very much the same and further notes that fantasy and romance in photos cannot be captured by waiting for a moment to happen, but rather by creating a moment of romance or fantasy by correct posing and then capturing it to look natural.

Why I bought the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8

As those of you who follow my Facebook Page will know, I recently bought myself the Tamron SP AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro Lens. I posted some samples on my Facebook page and some photos of the lens. After seeing this (fairly large) lens some people thought it is a super zoom lens, but it is not. It has a range of 70mm to 200mm which isn’t far for a zoom lens, yet it is fairly large (and heavy, but lighter than other makes in the same class). Many photographers, even non-professional or amateurs, usually own a 70-300mm lens which has 100mm more reach, so why would I want this specific lens which is big, heavy and reaches only 200mm?

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 sample

Though I can cite many reasons why I chose this lens I will only give the main ones.

1. It is a “Fast” lens

With a constant f/2.8 wide aperture it helps to take photos in low light at faster shutter speeds and lower ISO which improves quality of photos. Since I do professional wedding photography in the North West Province of South Africa I needed another fast lens for weddings which also gives me more reach. I already own a Sony 28-75 f/2.8 and a Minolta 50mm f/1.7, but they just don’t quite have the reach for some situations. Situations where I sometimes find I need a longer reach is during the ceremony which sometimes is in a church with low lighting. To get those close-up tight shots of the bride and groom normally requires me to move in close to the couple which can interfere with the people attending. I try to be as invisible during a ceremony as possible so those present can enjoy the proceedings without the photographer getting in the way. Using a 28-75 lens just doesn’t get you very close to things as they happen. Using a 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens does not cut it either as it forces slower shutter speeds and the use of high ISO which really degrades the quality of the photos.

2. It is a quality lens

There is a misconception amongst many people that Tamron, Sigma and other after market lenses produced by manufacturers other than those of your camera make are not good, but this is untrue. Like Canon, Nikon, Sony and other camera manufacturers Tamron has entry level lenses for beginners and amateur photographers which are good enough for certain applications, but cannot be considered professional grade. Tamron does, however, produce excellent professional grade lenses and this is one of them. using Low Dispersion (LD) glass and high quality optics ensures you get clean, crisp and quality light through to your camera sensor. These lenses are way more expensive than the entry level lenses, but the cost is worth it.

3. Control of Background (Bokeh)

Though Bokeh (blurring of the background) can be achieved using virtually any lens it is just so much easier with an f/2.8 lens. Using this lens I am now able to blur the background even with a full length photo of a subject in a landscape shot.

Sony A77 with Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Landscape Sample

The ability to blur the background on a full length landscape shot brings focus to your subject. Though you may not always want this it is there for those times you have a background which you prefer to blur out slightly. Some people try to do this in editing afterwards, but this always produces an unrealistic looking image. Bringing your subject to halft-length shots creates even more bokeh as in the below example:

Sony A77 with Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Half-Length Sample

Since my subject is now close to the lens the depth of field shortens (or becomes shallower) which produces larger Bokeh circles for your background. This now completely separates your subject from the background. This is an advantage when you shoot in situations where you cannot always control what appears in the background. Since the background is now so far out of focus it almost doesn’t matter what is in the background as it will hardly become distracting. This is not only great for wedding photography, but also model and portrait photos. When bringing the subject even closer for head and shoulder shots the Bokeh effect increases even more.

Sony A77 with Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Head and Shoulder Sample


So there you have the main reasons for my decision to purchase this lens.

If you are interested in this lens or something similar then head over to SACamera where you can find the best professional photographic and studio equipment at the best prices.

Outdoor Bridal Make-Up

Carla having make-up done outdoors

As a wedding photographer I get to see make-up artists of all kinds using their own techniques to achieve great results in bridal make-up. Most make-up artists will do the make-up in the bridal suite under the existing lights, but a few prefer different light, such as outdoors. I recently again experienced a wedding photo shoot where the make-up artist did the brides’ make-up outdoors, and the results were fantastic.

I got to thinking about this and dug through some older photos to confirm my theory that outdoor make-up gives better results. The make-up artist picks a spot with some shade and goes to work in an open and comfortable environment where they can move all around the bride and check the colours and shades of the make-up under real daylight conditions. The bride will be spending quite some time outdoors and especially during the couple shoot the bridal couple will often be outdoors, so the colour and shading of the make-up becomes fairly important. This is not only because there is more light outside but also has to do with the colour temperature of light (see: Color Temperature on Wikipedia) and a make-up artist who can work outdoors or under lighting which provides the same colour temperature and intensity will achieve better results.

I am not saying that all brides should insist on outdoor make-up, but it is something to consider when having your make-up done.

Carla Wedding Make-up

Photography is not a game!

A macro shot from my art collection taken during late March 2012

The last month has been a little crazy. Though I never tire of taking photos it is tiring editing all the photos after the shoot. I use Lightroom 3 to speed up my workflow and catalogue my work, but it also has the added function of tracking my work and number of edits. For the last 30 days I have worked on 11509 images! Amongst these were 2 big weddings, 2 large stage events, a school sport day and a host of studio and location shoots and a couple of art snaps (just to relax!).

When you consider that you spend a minimum of 1 minute per photo doing adjustments and small fixes then 11000 photos becomes 183 hours of work. The average working individual works 40hours a week (5 days & 8 hours a day), or 160 hours a month, so editing 11000 takes up a whole month to edit with an additional 20+ hours! And this does not even include the time spent doing the photography.

Wedding Photo taken during March 2012

Wedding photography is always fun to do, but they are also the most work. I more often than not find myself happily clicking away during a wedding filling up my various memory cards without concern for the number of shots I take. After much practice it has become a simple process of checking the source light and background to compose the next great shot and I easily achieve a shot rate of 2000 or more photos in a 6-8 hour wedding. But once I get home and download all these photos I again realise, much as the person who wakes up with a hangover and swears never to drink again, that I take too many “keepers” (photos which will make it to the wedding album) and load myself with too much editing work. But, for me, it is an addiction. Even when I know I have more than enough photos to make the bridal couple happy I simply continue taking photos because I see the next great scene unfolding before me.

I spent half my day today just updating my galleries on my website, so take a look around.

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