Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 6

Good Afternoon Everybody,

57093-13JUNE(155).jpgHey gang, It's good to be back home after our great visit to New Orleans. The weather is still as hot as in New Orleans but, without all the gulf humidity it doesn't  seem nearly stifling.  As usual, things are crazy around the studio. We seem to be going 1,000,000 miles an hour since we touched down last Thursday morning.  August is shaping up to be a huge month. 

The main reasons:

1. I've got to get my second book completed this month - still lots to finish up.

2. I've got to get everything pretty well in shape for next year's Photo Pro Expo 2013 by the end of the month too.

3. I've got all my Spring and Summer brides to contact and have them visit the studio to make their image selections for their wedding albums and get all their orders processed  and albums designed before leaving for Photoshop World on September 2.

4. And add to that all the unexpected day-to-day activities that go on around the studio on a daily basis.

Why is this Sword of Damocles hanging over my head? Mainly because of our Fall schedule. On Labor Day, we jump on a plane and head to Las Vegas for Photoshop World and then back home for a family wedding on Friday September 7th. For the next 10 days we'll be hanging at the studio wrapping up any other loose ends.

The Truly BIG Reason For This Busy Month!

Italy2…. is because LaDawn and I are heading out of town for two months on September 18 and not returning until November 8. That's right, you heard me. Were heading to Europe for TWO MONTHS!  And, have to complete everything before we leave.

Part of the time will be spent teaching but most of the time will be spent on doing what I've been looking forward to my whole life – traveling, eating, enjoying time with LaDawn, and shooting images for my portfolio. Our trip will take us through Italy, then a 12-day cruise throughout the Mediterranean including the Greek Islands and Istanbul, Turkey.  Then we fly to Barcelona and Madrid, Spain. 

I'm presenting programs on both the beginning and the end of our travels so it should be a kick all the way around. Anyway, if I sound a little stressed in my blog this month, that's mostly the reason why. Too much to do and too little time. What's new, right?  But, somehow everything always gets accomplished. Wish me luck and hang in there with me this month.

The Wedding Series: Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 6

This past weekend we had some of my favorite clients over to make their final image selections for their bridal albums and family albums. I'm thrilled to say that they put together a tremendous selection of images that truly capture the essence of their fabulous wedding weekend in Northern Michigan.  Today I want to move on with Part 6 of my wedding series which features that wonderful wedding weekend. 

BGRB-1015-DZ_SchulerW12Rehearsal dinner images are a great way to augment wedding coverages. We always book the rehearsal dinner coverage with our destination weddings. My thinking is, that because we’re already in town, why not give the client the added benefit of having a rehearsal dinner coverage. And, since we’re up there for the rehearsal dinner, I generally stick around for the Sunday brunch. The Sunday brunch is most often a sendoff event for all the out-of-town guests before they all travel back home.

Destination weddings can be a big expense for anyone planning one. That's why, when discussing the photography plans for any destination wedding with my clients, I always include in the discussion the rehearsal dinner coverage and the Sunday brunch coverage. Since I'm already in town I provide special pricing to my clients.  That way they can have the most complete coverage possible for all the weekend festivities.

In today's post I want to walk you through the rehearsal dinner we photographed in Michigan a few weeks ago. In this series, so far you've seen a lot of images discussed and a lot of challenges that we encountered. In today's post I’ll walk you through the actual rehearsal dinner shoot.  You need to know that rehearsal dinners can take place anywhere - country clubs, restaurants, the backyard of the bride or groom's parents home….. That means that the challenges that occur during rehearsal dinner coverages can be quite varied.  And, we had of a few of our own to deal with during the rehearsal dinner that I'm discussing in today's post.

BGRB-0925-DZ_SchulerW12The venue was Blu Restaurant, I believe to be one of the finest restaurants in the entire state of Michigan. In fact, LaDawn and I drove back Sunday evening to have dinner in this fabulous restaurant – it was everything we expected it to be.

The restaurant, as you'll see in the photographs I’ll share with you today is quite small. Seating maybe for only 55 or 60 people. The restaurant has a very light and airy atmosphere to it. That's mostly because two complete walls of the restaurant are huge plate-glass windows with a large skylight making up the ceiling.

We were beginning coverage at six o'clock in the evening with dinner wrapping around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. That meant that most of the photography was going to be taking place in this very brightly illuminated location. So, what do you think the lighting challenges would be? The answer to that question is whether to use flash or not.

To Light Or Not To Light - That Is the Question

Blu restAs I surveyed the location I knew we were going to be facing some lighting challenges, particularly if I chose to use any kind of on-camera or off-camera flash. I had huge plate-glass windows on two sides of the restaurant which meant that I had a huge “reflection” problem if I was using flash of any kind. But on the other hand, this location did have those huge plate-glass windows and that huge skylight above filling the venue with beautiful soft lighting.

DAZNOTE: Well, I say soft lighting but that wasn't always the case. There were some moments during the rehearsal dinner when the sun was settling down on the horizon and casting direct sun rays onto some of the seated guests.

Because of the restaurant being opened to the daylight on two the four sides I knew that fact would give me a decent “direction the light” falling on most people attending the dinner. I also knew that with the other two walls being a very bright white, I should have enough fill light on the scene as well. I took a few photographs with just the natural light streaming into the restaurant and was very pleased with the results.  I decided to photograph the entire event sans flash.  That’s right, no flash at all – totally natural light.

My Favorite ISO In This Situation

After making the decision to shoot everything with just the natural available light I had to determine the ISO that would work best for me in the shooting situation. I knew there would be photographs capturing the excitement, emotions, and spontaneity of the event. These kinds of moments generally require a faster shutter speed to be sure that we stop the action adequately for the photograph. Because of the brightness of the room I chose a higher ISO – ISO 2000 – and began shooting away. Because of the high ISO characteristics of my Canon 5D Mark III camera and the noise reduction capabilities of Lightroom 4 I knew I would have no problem with noise.

Which Lens To Use?

Tamron lens2The other consideration was which lens to use.  All of you reading this blog know that my new favorite all-in-one lens is the Tamron 28 – 300 mm VC lens. It's long 10-1 zoom range allows me the versatility to cover just about any candid situation particularly at this kind of event. Because of the very bright ambient light in the restaurant I knew I could use this lens even with it’s fairly small F5.6 maximum aperture. At ISO 2000 and maybe above, I would still have adequate exposures with respectable motion freezing shutter speeds.

So, those are some of the specific challenges facing me in photographing this rehearsal dinner.  In  the video below I'll walk you through several images from the rehearsal dinner and discuss, in greater detail, the challenges presented to us during that shoot along with the type of images I like to capture for my clients. I think this tutorial will be a good roadmap for you when faced with shooting your next rehearsal dinner. Why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I’ve challenged myself to get at least the first two chapters of my book finalized. That means I've got a move through 16,000 words, fine tuning and word-smithing the text, and preparing the illustrations to be added. The polishing up of any opus should be fun for the author. It's during this polishing process that you actually see the book taking shape.

As previously promised,  I'll share some excerpts of the book with you here at DigitalProTalk.

On that note I'm back to the keyboard. Have a great rest of the day and I hope to see you again tomorrow for Technique Tuesday  - once again on Wednesday.

See you soon, David


  1. David,

    The couple always wants photos posted on social media sites. Who should sign model releases to protect ourselves when posting candid group photos, like a wedding or rehearsal, on-line?


  2. Mr. Ziser,
    Sir, thank you for taking the time to post this, and the other videos in your series. They are a tremendous help and I look very forward to getting the chance to put these tips to use. The only wedding that I have had the honor of shooting so far was my brother's wedding, and a last minute wedding of a friend of mine while in flight school. I wish I had seen your videos prior to those two shoots. Great stuff and I look forward to seeing more. Thank you again for spending the time and effort to put this together for us novices.
    Thanks and God Bless...
    Ben Register

  3. The one thing that really caught my ear while watching this informative video was that we're there not to capture the sharpness, but to capture the moments of the specific event. I've found myself and friends obsessing with getting tact sharpness in our photos and throwing out great moments just because it didn't seem sharp enough. Thanks a lot for reminding us about what's truly important and I learned a great deal out of this video and the others in your Wedding Weekend series!

  4. Hi Ed,
    I'm not an expert on these kinds of things but, what I do here at my studio is have the bride and groom sign a model release for any images I may choose to use of them. I think it's fair to say that the wedding is a fairly public event in that there's no right to privacy for guests a wedding party at that event. Because of this fact I've never sought model releases from the rest of the wedding party.

    I'm certainly not an expert in law on this point and would suggest that you ask some others their thoughts on this.

    Hope this helps, David

  5. Fabulous and informative as usual David...

    Hoping you post the next in the series soon!