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Breakfast Blend: What Are We Thinking?!

Ever wonder what is going through a photographer's mind during a wedding shoot? When we are shooting a wedding -- which is really a series of portrait and candid sessions strung together in different weather conditions and lighting scenarios -- our minds are constantly evaluating our surroundings, seeking out light sources, playing with different camera settings in our head and eventually, pressing the shutter release. 

For example, take this image:

Believe it or not, I didn't pull over on the side of the road when I saw a beautiful bride sitting (posing) on a vintage bench, with a backdrop of our wondrous Connecticut forest behind her. We made this shot. Here's what had to happen:

  1. We were shooting inside a house, so step one was checking out the property to see what we had at our disposal for a bridal portrait session. 
  2. While documenting the getting ready process, I knew I would have about 5-10 minutes alone with the bride, so I started thinking about where we could shoot. Inside by a window? Outside in front of some trees? about we exercise some creative freedom here...let's mix some natural surroundings with our own limited "props" to achieve a certain feel.
  3. Speaking of "feel", how did we know that we wanted an outdoorsy-chic shot? Well, for one, our wonderful bride (Shannon) is really laid back and was up for anything. Secondly, her dress was Anthropologie, which has an organic/natural style. Thirdly, the whole wedding was outdoors at a stunning lodge, so it just made sense.
  4. I saw the bench when taking detail images earlier in the morning, and with Anthropologie on my mind, I asked permission to bring it outdoors set it against this idyllic backdrop of a garden, fence and forest.
  5. Now we had to determine the shot...which lens? Lighting? What about posing? It doesn't just fall together. I wanted a normal angle of view, not too wide, not too close. So 50mm it is, shot fairly wide open. I wanted the background, but I didn't want to lose Shannon in it. I also didn't want to just blur the background out and lose the appeal of the green in contrast to the ivory/cream dress.
  6. Lighting: I opted not to use off-camera strobes for this image because it felt a bit counter to the whole "natural vibe" I was going for. 
  7. Pose: comfortable but stylish. Nothing extreme. Added some dynamics to the shot by giving her whole body a slant that has her looking off-frame. The pose prior to this, she was leaning forward and looking off the other side of the frame and it wasn't quite the feel I wanted. She crossed her legs on her own and I think it showed off the fabric of the dress perfectly.

So that's what it took to get the shot, in camera. Then we processed it in Lightroom with VSCO Kodak 100++ tweaked and added some light particles for texture. This isn't the exact image I gave her, because the light particles would have been over the top, but I added them later when doing some digital advertising, I felt like it added a nice touch without being gaudy. 

So there you have it...lots of though all going into one image! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments...

- Nate