Sunday, May 22, 2011

Laura and Brian | May 20, 2011 | Pittsburgh Wedding Photography

It was a beautiful day in Oakland on Friday for Laura and Brian's wedding. Laura was the maid of honor in a wedding I did a few years ago and I was honored she remembered me when it came time to plan her own wedding. Once again I was assisted in the coverage by my good friend Mike Reed.

We met up with Laura for a few portraits as she got ready at the Wyndham Hotel. I love the soft light from north facing windows, but hotel room backgrounds are usually not the best. There are basically three ways I combat cluttered backgrounds: first, place the subject very close to the light source (window) so the background goes very dark because of the difference in exposure. Second, use a very fast prime lenses wide open, I usually use an 85 1.4, to throw the background out of focus, or three, pull the sheer curtain out and use it as an impromptu background. For the portrait of Laura I used two of the techniques and it worked wonderfully.

While I was working with Laura to capture a beautiful portrait, Mike was busy looking for details, moments and other angles. A sharp second photographer is invaluable in expanding coverage. But the key is to find one who sees in a similar style as the prime shooter so there is a continuity and flow to the photography. Since I've worked with Mike for many years some of my vision has rubbed off.

Photograph by Mike Reed

Photograph by Mike Reed

A good photographer is always looking for the right angle and right moment. But it always helps getting lucky, too! Without the light from a guests flash this would have been a nice picture of Laura and her dad walking into the church, but with the small bonus of a beautiful rim light you have a memorable image.

Photograph by Mike Reed

The wedding ceremony was at one of Pittsburgh's most beautiful churches, St. Paul's Cathedral. And once again luck provided us with a better picture. Usually at St. Paul's the alter is bathed in a light so bright it causes a dramatic imbalance of exposure across the scene, however, Friday afternoon the lights did not come on and for the first time I can ever remember I was able to capture the church in its full glory. A 16mm full frame fisheye lens allowed for a full, stylized view of the interior.

After the ceremony we went to a few famous Oakland landmarks for some photos.

Finally, we were ready to go the reception when, all of a sudden, something amazing happened... the SUN came out! Well, we couldn't let that opportunity slip away so it was off for a few more shots. I just LOVE long veils as they float to the ground or get whipped by the wind. A 14mm lens allowed for the expansive view from the camera held overhead at arms length. Over the years I've gotten pretty adept at shooting without looking through the viewfinder. As one of my mentors said, "you must feel the photograph before making the photograph." It's a Zen thing.

One thing I've discovered after 36 years doing this called photojournalism -- amazing images will happen when you just let people be themselves and stop trying to create emotion. It's a wedding. They're in love. Trust me, there's enough emotion to go around, just wait for it.

Finally it was time to head off to The 20th Century Club for the reception. Now I've been to a lot of weddings over the years but this was the first time I had made it to this particular venue. What a treat! This is one of the nicest places I've been in town. First off it's a beautiful facility, but most important the staff was outstanding. Bravo!

Spotted at the cocktail reception. Oh my, the competition is getting younger and younger!

The first dance. Beautiful backlight provided by Anna Marie of Ambiance Video Productions. I love to shoot wide open into the videographer's light. It can be a difficult shot to pull off because of lens flare, exposure problems and focus, but when you capture the pure emotion and interaction of the couple during this moment of their wedding it's worth it.

Then the party really starts!

Laura and Brian, thank you again for allowing Mike and me to be a part of your day. It was an honor and an absolute blast! Look forward to seeing you after your honeymoon!

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