Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday: Altar Returns - Anaysis of A Wedding Shoot - Part 4; Lightroom 2.2: & Mini Z-Ray Update

Good morning everybody,
Day three down in the Smoky Mountains - the drizzle may finally be letting up a bit today, at least I can see the top of the ridge this morning - so we may get out for a little walk-a-bout today. I'm looking forward to investigating the area.

There are two things I wanted to mention before getting to today's main post. In Monday's post, I mentioned the little LED flash lights - my Mini Z-Ray - I used when making my Cabo three minute portraits. I neglected to mention the color temperature of these little guys. Most LED flashlights work best at the camera's "daylight setting" - 5600K. I actually shot those images at 6000K which was in the ballpark. I've updated the post to reflect the new info.

And, did you hear the news? Adobe just released Lightroom 2.2 which supports Canon's 5D Mark II among others. I've already downloaded the new program and loaded up this past weekend's Bat Mitzvah. Things are looking gooood.

Click here to download Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2 (Windows)
Click here to download Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2 (Mac)

OK, gang are you ready for another episode of Analysis of a Wedding Shoot? Let's get on with Part IV...

Altar Returns - Analysis of A Wedding Shoot - Part 4
Boy, these posts seem to get longer and longer. So, today I want to try to shorten them just a bit. Anyway, let's get right to it. Let's discuss the images I take of the bride and groom, the wedding party, and family members in the front,(alter area) of the church.

Here are my 11 steps for shooting “Altar Return” photographs – Part 1

1 -- Assemble everyone together in front of the church. Be sure that they are not sitting too far forward in the pews or they may be in some of the photographs in smaller churches. I ask everybody to take a seat in the left side pews as we’re facing the front of the church. This allows my assistant to move freely through the pews as he is positioning the off-camera flash on the right-hand side of camera position.

2 -- I mentioned to all the guests that I'm going to be working quickly and I sure would appreciate it if they can hold their photographs until the reception. My goal is to have everybody finished up in about 20 or 30 minutes and then family and entire wedding party can head to the wedding reception. I also mention that with additional cameras firing, some of the wedding party may be looking into the guests’ cameras instead of my camera and that could be quite expensive for the bride and groom because of the additional retouching to get the eyes centered properly.

3 -- Here is the order in which I shoot the groups.
First, the Bride and Groom with the bride's mother and father.

4 -- Bride and groom with bride's mother and father and immediate family with spouses and children family. After photographing the immediate family, I ask the grandparents to join into the group. I always position them in the “matriarchal and patriarchal” position or centered in the group between the bride and groom. Then ask all family members to step aside and just photograph the bride and groom with the grandparents. If there are no additional extended family photographs, such as aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews alone with the couple, cousins..... the parents are free to leave first to attend guests already enjoying their cocktail hour or reception.

5 -- Now repeat the series for the groom’s side of the family. They become the second group released to the reception.

6 -- I typically have photographed the bride with the bridesmaids and grooms with the groomsmen at some point before the ceremony. Therefore, my next photograph is going to be of the entire wedding party. After getting them arranged in a very pleasing composition, my next job is to get the best expressions. I take several of this group, even up to a dozen of images and like to zoom in on the bride and groom coaxing the entire wedding party to give each other a group hug as I do so. The spontaneous expressions are wonderful. The wedding party is then released to gather belongs and load limos as I finish with the bride and groom.

7 -- There may be some other group photographs you might want to take at this point. They may be the bride and groom with their god-parents or, any other special family and friends that may have made the trip to be at the wedding.

8 -- You may even want to get a photograph of the bride and groom with the best man and maid of honor. I typically don't take this photograph at the alter area as I've typically already shoot these combinations earlier in the day but, it does come up as a request every now and then.

9 -- Once I'm finished with the big crowds, I need about seven or eight more minutes to work with the bride and groom alone. The first photograph I take of the bride and groom is a full-length photograph of them together, slightly turned towards each other inside arms around each other and looking back into the camera. This photograph is always taken full-length and always shows the bride’s gown in its entirety. Folks, this is the BIG money shot -- this is the image they will show to the grand kids.

10 -- Now the cool thing is, they're already standing there; we're shooting with our digital SLR with a zoom lenses attached -- so take several more photographs zooming in at various settings to get several additional photographs of the bride and groom from full-length all the way into a tight head and shoulder shot.

11 -- Another very important shot we need to get is a full-length of the bride alone. I simply asked the groom to step aside arrange the bride into a pleasing and flattering pose, be sure my assistant is in the right position, and shoot away. Then once again, I will zoom in and capture several additional images of the bride. This is repeated then for the groom but not quite as extensive shoot as with the bride.

Hey gang, that’s it for today. I’ll cover 5 more steps next week. These will be the “sizzle” shots that really make this part of the wedding coverage sing. So, until then, I’ll see everybody tomorrow for another Business Day Thursday: How Do You Present Your Work – Cafeteria style or Fine Dining Style?

See ya’ then, -David


  1. Priceless information, well synthesized! That's why I signed on Kelby Training, to have even more advices from you, David! :)

    A big thanks and take care!

  2. Thanks for the workflow on shooting the formals. I have been a bit chaotic and after hearing you lay it out, it has become clear and I see the reason behind your sequence. Thanks again, David.