Weddings are often made up of quick flashes of moments that are almost so fast that you can blink and miss them. They’re the hand of a parent that lingers across the shoulder of their newly married child, the adoring smile from a younger sibling, the goofy face from your nephew while you say your vows, or as it was in this case, it’s the brief second that a young niece hands the wedding day rings over to the groom’s awaiting palm.
A lot of times these moments require me to be in the right place at the right time for the correct emotional impact and while it is physically impossible to be everywhere and to see everything, it’s important to be ready and to cash in that ticket when that moment aligns.
But it isn’t always just the angle that makes the picture, it’s frequently dependent on the correct light to give it that extra push. If the subject is too heavily backlit, you can be ready for the moment but still “miss” it simply because the light just doesn’t do justice to the scene that played out. Or in the other case, it can all happen in a dark corner of a room where there’s no contrast in light – no brightness in the faces or the side light of a window.
There are times where I can be photographing one thing and then out of the corner of my eye I will see something awesome happening and I can swing around and get a picture to document that split second event but I will later criticize myself because if I had juuuuust been a psychic and known that was going to happen and have been able to be a little to the left or to the right, it would have been even more magical (we’re always our own worst critics, right?). So while that image may have been enhanced if I’d had magical powers, I still deliver it to the clients because the moment trumps my version of perfection, but I always think about the “what ifs” whenever I see those images in my portfolio.
With this image that won in the WPJA contest I happened to actually be in a really tough spot for a ceremony. It was an intimate celebration with just the couple’s immediate families but the couple were standing under the traditional Jewish chuppah which requires four people to hold the poles that support the ceremonial fabric that the couple stands beneath.
Since this was an informal celebration that took place in a park with the thundering waterfalls just to the side, the rest of the family filled in the spaces between each of the four corner people and were in tight next to the family so they could hear the couple’s vows. I was prepared for the closeness and had my wider angle lens ready to go so I could capture as much as possible, but it meant that gathering reactions and faces of the ceremony was going to require me to really move around while also being super close to the couple without being too distracting in the meantime.
Add in that it was a super sunny day so the people outside of the shadow of the chuppah were in bright light while the couple were in shaded spots (which makes your camera really force you to choose between exposing for the shadows OR the highlights/bright spots – not both) which meant I had to be fast with my manual exposure more than usual as I switched between photographing the guests and the couple.
When the moment came for the rings to be presented, I didn’t know that their niece was doing the honors of passing over the rings but when I saw her bound forward just as Tylor cupped his hands for her just outside of the shadow of the chuppah, I fast as lightning adjusted my shutter speed so that most of the scene would fall away to darker shadows and the light that was on the hands would become the center focus.
Photographing in this way is called exposing for the highlights and it means that there is going to be contrast to the images where deep shadows will sit and the highlights will always be properly exposed so you can see the detail in a white dress, or the texture of hands. To me, it’s the preferred way to photograph because you retain all of the information of the scene and your eye is really drawn to the part that tells the story. It also keeps the day true and doesn’t turn a colorful bluebird day into a washed-out scene of white and really muted tones.
Not everyone will photograph in this way so it’s always important to check out a photographer’s portfolio and keep an eye on what they tend to show the most (is it people and moments or is it things and decorations) as well as taking note of their style of photographing to make sure it’s the perfect fit for what you’re looking for.
If you’d like to see more from Shoshana and Tylor’s White Mountain elopement in New Hampshire CLICK HERE! It was a beautiful and intimate day where we went over to Jackson Falls and moved around in the bright and dark spaces of the woods of Jackson New Hampshire.
If you’re interested, feel free to take a look at my full profile on WPJA to see the rest of my award-winning wedding images by heading HERE!
Maine & New Hampshire elopement photographer, I AM SARAH V Photography, photographs events for wildly in love couples seeking an NH & Maine wedding photographer with a photojournalism & cinematic approach. You can see more of my work online at www.iamsarahv.com or on Instagram. I photograph many locations including being a White Mountain elopement photographer in Jackson New Hampshire and I’d love to photograph your day too! If you’d like to contact me directly, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
return to the blog main page