As Crystal and Tyler’s dream wedding unfolded at the Greenbrier Resort, I looked for any opportunity to capture beautiful natural-light portraits of them.
The first thing I look for in a photo is the background. Right before the ceremony, we noticed this elegant room with the large mirror and as would luck would have it, there was beautiful light pouring through a window. The key in making a portrait like this is to communicate your vision to the couple. Then, you need a plan. For me, that’s Pose, Light, Lift, and Refine.
For the Elegant Room photo, I wanted to capture the bride’s back profile, with her shoulders at a 45 degree angle to the camera. I turned her face so that she was looking towards the light. I had my brand new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at waist level so that there wouldn’t be any distortion in the body or face. Tyler was much taller than Crystal. To get them more equal in height, I asked Tyler to stand with his feet spread apart and keep his face close to hers. I then asked him to turn his face slightly towards the light while continuing to look at Crystal’s face.
When harnessed and used properly, window light is a photographer’s best friend. The biggest mistake photographers make in window light portraiture is turning the face straight towards the window, which creates flat lighting. In the Elegant Room photo, I asked Crystal to turn her face gently to the right, to create shadows on the inside bridge of her nose. Once I determined the correct exposure on her face, I used my tuxedo jacket to darken the light from the bottom of the image, creating a natural vignette.
In the final moments of the exposure, we always ask for a slight lift in the posture, for a regal look. I asked Crystal and Tyler to adjust their postures in every shot so they would look their best in the final images.
Before making the final exposure of the Elegant Room portrait, I examined everything in the frame and double checked my settings. I made all of my refinements with my eye on the ground glass, asking for slight adjustments with specific instruction. Then I took the image, which ended up being one of my favorites from Crystal and Tyler's wedding.
The camera sees with one eye; we see with two. Learn to see with one eye. What this means is that you should always look for a foreground, middle ground and background to create the appearance of a three-dimensional image. We are fooling the brain to seeing a more rounded image than flat, and using off-camera lighting can help create more shape and dimension in your subjects. Also, keep your eye out for backgrounds that are unique and identify with the wedding.
Canon Explorer of Light - Clay Blackmore
Clay Blackmore discusses his career and passion for photography in our series of videos introducing our Explorers of Light.
For more information on Clay, please visit his Explorer of Light bio page.