Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wedding photography lighting workshop

Wedding photography, more than most other forms of photography, is a constant learning process. For the most part, standard portrait photography stays fairly static but wedding photography is always evolving in style and equipment. Add to that the fact that every location is different ( for example, if you are a wedding photographer in Tampa Bay you better know how to take pictures on the beach ) and you find yourself constantly learning.

Last week I attended a seminar by David Zizer. David is from Ohio and is considered one of the best wedding photographers in the country. The current trend in wedding photography is photojournalistic but David still concentrates on more classic poses and lighting. I firmly believe that there is a place for both styles at a wedding and since David is the best at what he does, I wanted to see what I could learn from him.

First of all, I was pleased to discover that most of what he taught was old news to me. It was nice to learn that I already have the skills necessary to work in his style. Still, there were some nice surprises at the semeinar. I picked up a few lighting tips that were new to me.

One of the things that David is well known for is his use of wide-angle lens. Most wedding photographers will claim a zoom lens as their "go-to" lens but David is the exact opposite. He likes to shoot wide and capture the surrondings in striking detail. I think that the reason many photographers don't shoot this way is because they don't know how to light the subject and still preserve all the details in the background. Plus, the ambient light in the background is always a different temperature than the flash and that presents a problem as well.

After the seminar I spent a late night working on David's techniques and I feel I got a firm grasp on his style. The picture below is a self-portrait ( I was up late working, don't be cruel.. ) that shows the sort of style that I will be using more often for my formal portraits. The tricky part of a picture like this is that you have to match the color of the flash to the color of the chandelier light, then light the subject in a complimentary way. It's very tricky but when done right it can be a very rich image instead of one where the entire background is dark and uninviting.