Thursday, November 12, 2009

When every detail matters...

Most of the time I like to only highlight one image, but I think it appropriate today to talk about several since they all illustrate the same theme. Printed on all my advertising materials is the slogan "When Every Detail Matters...Irene Jones Photography." And it's no secret that the bulk of my business comes from weddings, so when one puts two and two together it's easy to see the tie in. While I like to think our motto applies itself to all kinds of portrait photography, nothing we shoot requires the versatility or effort that is needed when turning a single day into a lifetime's worth of memories. For every wedding I shoot I have the following goals:
  1. Capture real people being themselves. 
  2. Make sure each image speaks to the personality and sense of style of the couple.
  3. Provide an album or collection of images that feels cohesive and tells a story that needs no words of explanation.
Often the way that couples best express themselves during their wedding can be found in the little things that make up a wedding. Here are some of my favorite photographs that best fulfill this goal. 

Travel more then an hour in any direction from downtown Seattle and you'll realize that Washington state has a diverse culture.  This is because beyond the eco-friendly, coffee guzzling, Microsoft worshiping metropolis we call the Emerald City, most Washingtonians are farmers or at least live in former farming communities in transition to urban sprawl.
The first image here I think best represents a wedding in which all of the variety found in the Northwest was epitomized. North of Seattle lies Snohomish County where I make my home. Keep going north into Skagit County and you'll find the pleasant town of Mt. Vernon, WA. Yearly tourists and natives alike visit the Tulip Festival here since the idealistic climate and fertile soil is perfect for these early spring blossoms. For this wedding the bride had requested a photo of all of the bridesmaids and herself in cowboy boots. Once the shot was taken the boots were discarded and so were the bridesmaids bouquets as they took a break from the hot sun. It was in this moment that Terice swooped in and lined up the boots and bouquets. By simply taking advantage of some simple props she was able to create a still life image that resonates well with the elegant/cowpoke theme this wedding embodied. Exposure was 1/160 @ F5.6.

Next up we have a detail shot of the wedding rings on the bride's gown. This image was shot while the Bride and Groom were getting ready, just prior to her dress going on. This Bride was all about the "bling" and I must say her wedding dress sparkled like a clear night sky in summer. Though the dress looked remarkable on her, the hanger did it no justice (which happens a lot) and the other shots I took of the dress alone really didn't do much for me. This was a great way to incorporate the sparkly dress with the wedding rings. I'll admit right now I don't own a macro lens, but I do have a macro filter that adds x10 magnification and I honestly can't see the point in spending the money on a lens that I won't use often. This filter is for my 16-85mm zoom and as you can see is a sharp piece of glass. The lighting comes from a 1600 WS at 1/4 power strobe pointed at the ceiling AND through an umbrella. I wanted some depth of field so I shot it at 1/20 @ F5.6. Even at F5.6 you can see a how much the depth of field is reduced when shooting at a 85mm focal length and through a macro filter.

 Here's a combo of action and still life. Just as with adding information about the environment can shape the feeling of a portrait, adding action into a still life like this one provides a context for the object's story. As bride and bridesmaids work in the background to lace up her wedding dress, the audience gets what feels like a secret glimpse into the behind the scenes of this wedding. Plus this bouquet says a lot about the style of this particular wedding. Feathers and pearls have been mixed in with the monochromatic flowers. The Bride also wore a feathered hair piece that hinted at a 1930's sensibility. These textural elements added to the turn of the century feeling of the venue and complemented the Bride and Groom's personal taste well. Theme was an important element to this couple so in an effort to match the style palette they had created for their big day I chose to shoot using only available light. Luckily, it was a beautiful sunny day and the house was filled with great window light in all directions. My exposure was 1/200 @ F5 with an ISO rating of 800.

As toasting glasses were being passed around a server set this right in front of me at the head table. I dropped to my knees so I was at the able to shoot from the height of the table and took advantage of the great mixed lighting. The evening light was dissipating and turning into that rich blue tint that comes just after sunset. Inside the venue was a variety of lighting, but mostly tungsten. My camera's white balance was set for flash (about 5500 K) and I left it that way in the interest of time. I knew I only had a minute or two to grab this shot before the official toasts began.  So with camera on tripod I set the camera to 1/2 sec @ f6.3 and took one shot. Sometimes that is all you need.

Finally, the shoes. So much can be said about a bride by what ends up on her feet. While some girls wear stilettos and bare limitless pain, others quickly replaces their fashionable footwear for flip flops or bare feet as soon as the "I do's" have been said. Then we have the third category. The girl that no matter how dressed up she may be can't be separated from her converse. These are often my favorite brides since they know what they like, and they aren't afraid to tell you about it.  During the reception the Bride lifted her dress to show off her shoes to a friend. I took the opportunity to snap a candid. Thanks to some carefully placed strobes, it was easy to grab the action as it happened. The exposure was 1/200 @F11.

To view more of our wedding photography work please visit the portfolio section of Irene Jones Photography Online.

Tomorrow: The High School Senior Portrait. Making images that show personality while keeping a creative edge.

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