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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Creative Wedding Photography Weekend, Rockhampton

It was once again my distinct pleasure to be asked to return to Rockhampton in Queensland's Central coast to run my Creative Wedding Photography weekend workshop. Some of the photographers who had been to the wedding workshops I ran there only a few short weeks ago repeated the weekend, and there were several new faces also. Apparently, those who repeated the class said that they had too much fun last time and wanted to do it again! Fair enough! Who am I to argue with them. Hopefully, they learned something as well, eh?

It is always interesting to see the varying levels of understanding that different photographers have before they undertake the responsibilities of wedding photography. Some are very adept at manipulating exposure, understanding lenses, depth of field and composition - and then others have very little knowledge at all. Nonetheless, these newcomers to photography feel that they can photograph weddings capably and creatively.
However, often it isn't until you are told what is possible that you realise what you don't yet know. For many photographers who attend my wedding workshops here and interstate, this is often the case and I feel a terrible sense of responsibility and desire to change and improve wedding photography if I can. This is not to say that I know everything as there is much I would like to improve upon myself. But if there has been one downside to digital photography it is the misconception that today's cameras will take care of everything for you and that all you have to do is come up with the idea. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, my workshops often become lessons in metering and basic exposure techniques, composition, lenswork and perspective. Much depends on the overall knowledge, experience and understanding within the group and this will vary from workshop to workshop. Wedding photography is not something for the neophyte photographer to undertake. Nevertheless, they try and it is understandable from one perspective. There is the lure of earnings and renown, and the unrelenting need for artists to be recognised for their creativity. But as wedding is a very responsible undertaking. It is the bride and groom's one day and they hire people who know their craft because there are no repeats of this event intended. The wedding photographer has one chance to get it right and hopefully that doesn't occur as a result of 'machine gunning' away a the bride and groom while using 'trial and error' shooting to correct exposurse that were just not well handled by the camera's programmed automatic modes. I couldn't tell you how many times I have heard these kinds of stories at my workshops. Wedding photographers need to understand light, exposure, dynamic range and the limitations there cameras have in all these respects. Plus they need to be creative, as well as technically proficient. I believe it is my job at these workshops to change their understanding of photography to the degree possible when it comes to their knowledge of these important factors and techniques.
I teach the benefits of selective metering, composition, lens perspective and depth of field so that images can be taken and printed directly from the camera and still be high quality photographs. I like to teach the principles of light and its importance and the notion of posing for the light as a priority. These things seem to click well (pun deliberately intended) for wedding photographers at my workshops.
One of the other techniques often well received at my wedding workshops is the use and understanding of off camera flash and various strobist techniques. On a few occasions over the weekend I found opportunities to teach the beauty of being able to put your 'sunshine' wherever you wanted it to be, manipulating the balance between ambient and flash lighting to create images in camera that do not exist to the naked eye. When these images appear on the back of a photographer's camera during the wedding, it empowers him or her as a creative soul that the bride and groom will trust implicitly with his or her ideas for photographs. This is just good business. The same applies for the use of selective metering techniques which can dramatically alter an image in camera. The bride and groom will probably have no idea how you created the image. They will revere you as a wonderful photographer who can create a beautiful portrait from a shaft of light and a concrete wall.
A shaft of light, a concrete wall and a bride
Once again, when this is done and the camera is turned to the couple to show them what is on the screen, they believe that you really are a true professional. This kind of trust and elevation of your skills can only work well for you on any wedding day. Again I say - that is just good business...

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