How to Balance a Portrait Subject and Beautiful Background
Photographer Annabelle Agnew acknowledges that it can be challenging to shoot portraits of people near amazing views, only because she doesn’t want the vista to compete with or overshadow the subject. Here, at a wedding in Québec, Agnew says, “I feel like I managed to find a balance by having the window light on her dress look like a painting.”
The bride had been getting ready in this bedroom with stunning wraparound views over the picturesque La Malbaie. Agnew stood in the farthest corner of the room in order to crop out the bed that was smack-dab in the middle—upon which, moments earlier, hyperactive nephews were jumping excitedly. Agnew wanted to calm things down, so she framed the shot to get all of the dress in the frame as well as to “hint at the extent of the view by getting more than one window in the shot,” she notes. She asked the bride to first look at her, then look out the window and take in the landscape. “We had a few minutes of quiet together for the day and I was hoping that she would feel that silence and pause.”
It was only later that Agnew realized that the photo reminded her of a film she watched on repeat growing up: A Room With A View, a romantic period piece. Still, she notes, the photo “had enough of a modern spin given the aesthetics of her dress and room décor. I also loved how the twist in the curtain mimicked the detail of her dress.”
To her, this photo represents something else, a feeling more in sync with the times we’ve endured: “I feel like this year has been a period of reflection, and I like to think that this photograph encapsulates a lot of the looking outward from behind our windows: pensive and hopeful.”
Photographer Turns Bad Venue Lighting into Balanced Ambience
With everything going on at a wedding, it can be tricky to fix bad lighting while you’re photographing the big day. Once you learn how to seamlessly incorporate off-camera flash at weddings, we’ve learned that strobes in particular can come to the rescue on tricky lighting situations.
Here, wedding photographer Tory Bass noticed this wedding venue’s beautiful interiors, it was not lit with a wedding photographer in mind. “To compensate,” Bass explains, “I used two flashes set up at opposite corners of the dance floor. This allowed me to focus adequate light directly on the couple while maintaining the ambience of the wedding space.”
Competing for “The Shot” at a Photo Workshop
It can be challenging to shoot photos, especially portraits, during photo workshops and conferences, but Dani Toscano considers these to be “incredibly healthy challenges,” she says. “You’re faced with quick, high-adrenaline moments where you have to make instant calls on how you want to pose your subjects, frame the light, and create a story within the image.”
Take, for instance, a shoot inspired by sirens at The Hybrid Collective. Other photographers were vying for a shot. Toscano stepped back patiently and observed, waiting for “this quiet moment and movement” in her final frame, “one where the light was painterly, where a photograph could translate light less literally and more so as a beacon of hope and awe.”
When a Couple Needs to Redo Their Wedding Photos…
Phylicia Willis answered the call: A couple had reached out because their original wedding portraits were not what they expected. So she met them at Le Méridien Hotel in Tampa, Florida, to “redeem their experience,” as Willis puts it, “even though it was cloudy outside and very dark indoors.” To compensate, the photographer pushed her settings and used off-camera flash when needed.
“Even though I was able to push my settings,” Willis notes, “I always advise to be prepared lighting-wise. Always have at least one flash and trigger in your kit because you never know what the weather and location situation can be.” The setup allowed her the flexibility to move the light, bounce and angle it easily, all the while making the light look natural, “because nobody wants those flashy-flash images,” she says.
Featuring Wedding Couple’s Flair for Fashion
Aside from one of the bride’s British Sign Language interpreter, photographers Jake Owens and Tim Easton were the only witnesses at this couple’s London elopement. The duo, who run E&O Photo, knew that the brides’ unique sense of style deserved to be fully featured throughout the day.
“Both Tim and I love to photograph details at weddings,” Owens says, “so this shot seemed like a good way to get both of these things together in one image. Personally, I love the contrast of Lucy’s hand tattoos and dress against the softness of Jess’s outfit and accessories.”
At this point of the day, Owens and Easton were just outside town hall “and the wintery, afternoon light had such a great quality about it that we knew that this was the spot for some photographs.”
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