It’s the one word that defines Greg and Clair. I knew it the first time I saw his 365 work on Flickr and I heard it from everyone at their wedding; his parents, her family, their friends. He’s a brilliant photographer. She’s a genius designer (just look at their wedding poster!). And, um… I’m their photographer. Pressure, much?!
I’d never shot a wedding, but when your friend asks you to do something like this for him you can’t say no. Wouldn’t dream of it. But under the cool-as-ice exterior that is Flash Parker (cough, cough) I was nervous going in. Very much so. It’s well established that these are creative people. They know what they like. More importantly, they know what looks good. Some hack job with their memories just isn’t going to cut it. So the first thing I did when I agreed to take the job was ask Greg if he had a list of shots in mind. I wanted to know what he was thinking so I could do my best to go above and beyond (creativity is the keyword here, remember). Plus, I like lists. They make life easier. And it was a good way to get inside his mind.
I got what I asked for in spades. Five pages worth of shots. The last time I was at a wedding it was over in a day, I remember thinking. Maybe they last a week now. Maybe I’m shooting a cricket test match. If there’s one thing I wasn’t going be at this wedding, it was want for things to do.
We arrived at Goege Island late Friday from Seoul via comfy bus and were picked up by Greg’s friends and ushered out to the coast. Megan and I spent a few hours scouting locations and going over shot lists – the bride and groom’s and our own – before giving up for the cold. We shut it down around 3 and I was up at it and making test frames outdoors by 8am Saturday morning with the ceremony set for 1pm. Not a lot of time, especially when you’re shooting all over a hotel, up and down the coast and using a whack of lights and equipment in virtually every shot (thank you, blistering noon sun)
Incredibly, I used nearly everything in the kit I packed at one time or another, save for the umbrellas (I brought those as backup in case my softboxes were blown into the ocean). I even used the Holga for a couple of rolls of film… until I broke the back open and exposed 12 shots to the sun. Despite what I did pack into my enourmous backpack and light bodybag, I managed to forget some vital pieces; I left all three of my reflectors on the floor at home (not like you’d have any use for those on a sunny day…) and my viewing bucket for chimping in bright sunlight. What’s a viewing bucket? You’ll have to read the next post to find out. On a positive note, I didn’t break anything. I can’t remember the last time that happened on a shoot this size.
* I’m sharing but a few frames from the event. I think it’s only right that the bride and groom get to sort through their favorites from the Signature Series and share them with friends and family before I go and blow the lid off. I’ll be posting future articles [and photos] on specific techniques I used at the wedding, so check back soon.
… especially at a wedding. Greg and Clair, wearing their Hanboks, slice into the wedding cake Greg’s loving sister slaved all weekend putting together. Deep beneath this cake’s frosty exterior exists a heart of pure fudgy goodness. I may have had a piece or three. I may have.
When I can’t or don’t want to get in the way of everyone I eschew my light stands, softboxes and other modifiers for one of two techniques; a simple, on-camera bounce approach (given white ceilings or walls nearby), or a strobe on a mighty MONOPOD!!, which creates great lighting flexibity but is more difficult to handle on my own. In this case I was bouncing light all over the place; I took into acount the soft afternoon ambient coming through the picture windows (background) and dropped in just enough of my own light to carve shadows on the cake and flowing sleeves of the hanboks from bove. Depth. Colour. Cake. I’m hungry.
By the time I got the bride and groom to myself outside it was just after noon. I kicked them into the sea asked them politely to sit down on the rocks and worked as quickly as I could with the limited time I had before the ceremony. Conventional photographic wisdom would have kept me from even trying something like this. The light at noon isn’t eactly the most forgiving of the day; it throws hard, angry shadows across faces and carves up supple features into week-old pumpkins. By all rights, had I exposed for the couples’ faces, this scene should have been one angry, nasty highlight. Sure, there are times when that look works – I love going to the ultra high key myself from time to time – but it’s not what I was going for here. Anyone can do that. I wanted soft (or as soft as I could get it) light and I wanted it to mix well with the ambient. There’s one strobe in a softbox behind Greg’s right shoulder backlighting and droppig in those nice highlights and there’s another strobe low and in front of the couple bringing up the light on their faces and clothes. Angry sun. Simple setup. Smooth light.
I brought a list of my own to the party. A nice list. A grand list! Alas, I knew it would be difficult to shoot everything I wanted to shoot given the time restraints and commitments of the day. I suggested we skip the ceremony entirely; while Greg was for it, Clair wasn’t so keen (kidding!). But when I did get a chance to drag the newly minted married couple into a scenario where I could get one of the shots I envisioned, I went to work. Megan worked the MONOPOD!! camera left while I spun Greg an Claire into position. Sure, they knew what I had in mind, but the right moment can’t be prearranged or predetirmined.
I only wish we had more time together. Say, a week. Maybe two. Perhaps then I’d come away feeling like I did this amazing couple justice. Thanks again to Greg and Clair for making me a part of their special day. My only hope is that my images capture them half as happy as they are with one another.