Tag: Technical

Photographer's Assistant / 2nd Shooter

by on Apr.07, 2010, under General, Photography Tips, Technical

Kansas City Wedding Photography

You might have seen our request for an assistant/2nd shooter recently.  If you want to know what that entails or what you might learn, then please read on!  You might also find this interesting if you are looking for or considering a Kansas City wedding photographer, or Kansas City portrait photographer.  What follows is my response to a recent inquiry about being an assistant/2nd shooter!  There is a lot more to wedding photography than taking pictures.  It requires extensive knowledge and hard work, but is also very rewarding.  We have been doing weddings since 2004 and know that no two weddings are alike.  It takes a lot of experience to be ready for the constant changes in lighting and situations that arise during the day.  There is much more that goes into what you are about to read, but this is a very minimum of what you need to think about when preparing to capture someone’s most special day!

Dear applicant…

There is a lot to learn about wedding photography and if you are willing to learn, I would be willing to help you achieve that goal.  It is a great opportunity to learn about posing people, lighting, color management, equipment, working with people, time management, angles, creative thinking, and much more!  I have met many photographers that hate weddings, but do it because they want to make some money!  It always appears apparent in their photography that it is not what they want to do.  You need to be able to produce consistent results, think and work fast and be prepared for changing lighting conditions and weather conditions as well as people’s moods and emotions.  We love doing weddings!  We love working with people!  We love a challenge!

There are various stages of a wedding that we capture and many images we take that we incorporate into the album.  Long before the wedding, we have an engagement session with the couple to get them used to working with us and learn more about them.  We might have a bridal session as well where we focus on the bride, her gown, and perhaps her flower girl or dad!

Before the wedding, we like to schedule a planning session to go over the schedule and sequence of events.  That takes place a few weeks prior to the special day!

The day of the wedding!   There are setup images such as the church, venue and perhaps a special vehicle.  Background images of flowers, programs, family, shoes, gown, rings, tuxedo, special mementos and other miscellaneous things.

Then there are getting ready images of both the bride and groom with their family and wedding party.  These are primarily photojournalistic and candid images with a few posed when necessary for special effect.

After that depending on if the bride and groom are seeing each other, there is a private moment session and then the formals.  Sometimes we need to do many formals without the bride and groom seeing each other and that takes a lot of coordination.  Most of these images are posed and directed.  Considerations for lighting and shadows and backgrounds must be taken in to account and prepared for.  We use off camera flash and sometimes a room light.  We might use reflectors or blockers depending on the light and the effect we are looking for.  This portion can be indoors or out and sometimes can be a combination of both.  Again, quick decisions and the ability to set up quickly is key!

At this point, the wedding party might be put away until the ceremony starts.  The images however keep on coming!  We capture images of the wedding party in their waiting rooms, the guests signing in, meeting and greeting, gifts, folk being seated, special guests and many candids.  We also need to make sure that our lighting is ready for the ceremony shots and that varies by location and officiator or church rules as to flash or no flash and where we can move.  Our goal is to be respectful and unobtrusive while capturing the key elements that tell the story!

The ceremony begins!  Again, we take images from different angles of parents being seated, special guests, the groom, the wedding party coming down the isle, the flower girls and ring bearer, the bride and her dad, the hand off, the looks on parents faces, little boys and girls, etc…  During the ceremony, we focus on the bride and groom while also taking some wide angle shots of the wedding party and guests from different angles.  We get the ring exchange, candle lighting or sand pouring, the kiss, the walk down the isle, the wedding party following and from there, it depends on the flow of our plan for the day.

Many times there are more formals at this point, once the guests have left.  That means having the lighting set up and ready to go again!  It also means managing a large group of people to make sure we cover all the combinations of images we need to capture.  We work our way down to the bride and groom so we can spend some time with them capturing some very special images of just them.  After that, we might go to a park or special location, or directly to the reception.

We now need to get our lighting setup and be ready for the grand entrance!  We get the wedding party, bride and groom, guests standing and clapping, smiles and much more.  Photojournalism at it’s best!  Depending on the schedule, we need to get pictures of table settings, gift tables, cake, guests, bride and groom mingling, food and many other images.  We coordinate with the DJ to make sure about our timeline and sequence of events to make sure we capture all the ceremonial stages including toasts, cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter removal and toss, first dance, parent’s dances with their daughter/son, and any other significant part of the reception that is important to the bride and groom!  Then it is time for dancing, partying, drinking, mingling and much more.  We get many candids and background images during this time and perhaps a dollar dance, circle of love or some other tradition the families might have!

We check the time and if we are staying through their departure, make sure we are ready for the couple’s exit and entrance to their limo!  Once we are done, we inventory our equipment, pack and head home!  From the time we started many hours ago through this point, we need to make sure along the way that we have color balanced and time synched our cameras.  We color balance our camera bodies each step of the way, to make sure we have consistent color between the bodies and at each location or lighting change as well as lens changes.  This makes our post processing much easier!

Done!  Not really!  The next stage depends on if we have a wedding the next day or not.  If we do, we need to get to the studio and load images onto our server and do backups while charging batteries and getting ready for the next day.  Clean lenses and sensors are a must along with fully charged batteries and equipment inventory and packing!

If we do not have a wedding the following day, then we start the downloading if images at that point.  We import into Lightroom, go through the images and pick the rejects, make sure our time synch between the cameras was on, color balance, rename images, make folders for the categories, double check everything and then begin the upload to our online service.  Once uploaded, we select about 100 favorites and create a slide-show, set it to music and release it to the client.  The can then send this to their guests and all can have a great memory of the day!

At this point, we are done with this wedding for a period of time!  We have posted anywhere between 800 and several thousand images for the client and family to look through and choose.  The bride and groom create a folder and select their favorites.  Once they are done, they let us know and we take those images, edit them, design and lay out their album without the use of templates!  Background images are chosen by us to enhance the storybook layout.  We make sure that each set of facing pages tell a story that flows.  This means working with layers in Photoshop, more color balancing, framing and being creative so that no two of our albums ever look alike and each album is unique!

Every wedding we do is different and requires creative management on many levels.  Many time when I pose a couple, I might be envisioning a certain layout for their album or a signature print, or perhaps the cover for their album!  You need to be able to visualize the final product long before you take the first image!  Each couple brings their own story to the table and our job is to capture the moments and tell their story!

Thanks for your inquiry and if you are still interested in learning more, you have my number!

Have a great day!


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White balance and sensors…

by on Sep.26, 2009, under Equipment, news, Photography Tips, Technical

I recently got an ExpoDisc to set white balance on my cameras.  In the past, I used a calibration target, which worked great, but was big and in some mixed lighting conditions did not always produce the desired results.  I still use that in the studio, but at weddings the ExpoDisc seems to be easier in most cases.

Prior to each event, I clean all my lenses and sensors on my cameras, just to make sure there are no foreign objects in there that would cause more post production work.  While playing around and getting familiar with the ExpoDisc, I was looking at images on my screen.  I had not noticed until I got to looking at the image taken for calibration, that I had a couple of big dust bunnies on the sensor.  They really stand out on those white images.  It is something I would not have noticed with my calibration target.  So, if you use an ExpoDisc for setting your WB, be sure to take a look at those images real close to see if your sensor has any foreign object on it!  This is an easy way to look at your sensor!



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