Seeing the light

What’s Occurring
Beautiful classic bridal portrait with the bride’s reflection in a pond

Last Friday I went to London to meet Martin Graham-Dunn, top International wedding photography trainer, for an all day one-to-one session.

I wanted to review some recent work as I’ve hit a plateau.

I met Martin at Liverpool Street station and we went to Starbucks to review the pictures I brought. Martin appeared reassuringly impressed.  Generally the standard is good except for minor faults, which is what I suspected.  Over the next couple of hours we covered a whole range of topics such as:

  • Using digital enhancement for aesthetics and artistic merit.
  • How over processing can spoil an otherwise good picture.
  • He felt some of my images were harshly marked in competitions while images by other photographers I’d used for inspiration were marked too leniently.
  • Create the correct lighting patterns depending on the angle of the subject’s face relative to the camera – full face, 3/4 or profile.
  • Finer points for compositions and dynamics and the impact of visual design.

Martin retouched a couple of images and got me to use a few advanced techniques in Photoshop.

Around lunchtime we took the underground to Charing Cross where we were meeting Lexie.  Lexie is an actress who I hired for the afternoon to model for me.

Another station and another Starbucks.

When Lexie arrived we discussed the plan for the afternoon, which consisted refining my skills in a local park.

I had taken a wide range of camera lenses from 15mm fish-eye to 70-200 zoom telephoto lens.  But Martin got me to work with my 85mm prime lens the whole afternoon!

Only using one lens made me work a lot harder.  It wasn’t possible just zoom in, I had to find a suitable shooting locations by walking around.  I then had to ensure Lexie was positioned under top shade.  And she was posed appropriately for the direction of light to create the correct lighting pattern.  My explanation is very simplified but illustrates how much goes into creating a great wedding picture.

Martin set specific tasks.  And I had to go off and create several interesting pictures using the environment.  The sun came out in the afternoon, which often made it hard to find suitable locations under top shade to avoid harsh light.  When we returned from the first task, Martin reformatted my camera’s memory before sending me off to repeat the exercise.

Martin deliberately sent me off alone so I had to work Lexie with no assistance from him.  I was only allowed to go on to another exercise after completing g the task successfully to Martin’s satisfaction.

Lighting, posing, composition and exposure all had to be correctly captured in camera as is always my aim.  Photoshop may make a good picture exceptional but it won’t make a poor picture good.

After successfully completed several tasks Martin was happy for Lexie to get changed into her bridal dress.

The tasks then got even harder.  My final task was to create a picture with the potential to achieve a gold award in a photographic competition.

As we entered a new area of the park I got excited when I saw the statue of a woman leaning against the pedestal that had a statue of a man’s head and shoulders on top.  My idea was to pose Lexie in a mirror image of the woman statue on the opposite side of the pedestal.   Martin also liked my idea saying, “that’s it, now you’re thinking out-of-box”.  Unfortunately Lexie couldn’t raise her arms high enough due to the shoulder straps in her dress.  The picture below was my Plan B.

Afterwards we went back to Starbucks.  Martin choose the best two images and went through the process of editing the images to create the beautiful classical pictures you see here.

Beautiful classical portrait of the bride posed next to a statue.Now I’m all fired up for my next wedding next week! 🙂

About the author: Director, Photographer & Artist of PatB Photography. Award winning photographer and member of SWPP & SIFGP. Featured in cosmopolitan.co.uk, Photo Pro, Alt Fashion. Clients include; BT, Samurai Sports, ItalClean, KeyAgent & AutoTrader.

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