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Enhancing Your Perceptive Abilities at Wedding Shoots - part 1 of 1 2 3 4

by David Beckstead Published 01/09/2006

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With all the activities of a wedding day,it is so easy to get caught up shooting situations you have always shot: focusing a narrow vision on what the bride is doing becoming caught up in getting the safeshot, and backing up your safe-shot with more safe-shots because you have not yet developed confidence to branch out and try new imagery.

A real enemy to creativity is the all-encompassing dread of missing a safe-shot. I will tell you this; I miss safe-shots at every wedding. I have learned to not worry about it. I know that my overall wedding shoot will thrill the bride and groom and a few missed safe-shots will not be in their minds while looking at the proofs. Because what I have gained by experimentation overpowers a few missed shots.

Instead, why not learn to believe your LCD and recognise the safe-shot is in the bag so you can give yourself time to play! You may only have one minute or less to try a different angle, look for an unusual composition, or just have fun shooting images for you. You may have more time to really study a situation and attack a scene with passion, thus creating more art by increasing the complexity or narrowing down your compositional elements for more elegant simplicity.

This playtime is your playground for enhancing your perception. It is very good to zero in on your subject and capture pure emotion. It is equally good to pull back and heighten your awareness by seeing and feeling what is going on around you. Not just 180 degrees in front and to the side, but 360 degrees and at different locations within an area such as the preparation room for the wedding party. (1)


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wedding, day, bride imagery David Beckstead

Let's take a nice hotel bridal suite layout; the bride is in the open door bathroom putting on make-up; the bridesmaids are getting ready in front of the mirrors located around the main room. What type of lighting do you have? How does the natural light play on the room and subjects? How does the tungsten light mix with the natural light? How do the lines of the room interact with the subjects? What is in the way of compositions and what will enhance them? These are perceptions you can nail down in one minute. Really! The tendency is to go directly to the subjects and start shooting actions without taking a moment to see all. I ask my brides, months in advance, that on the day, they put on makeup and get their hair done by natural light windows. They say yes, but sometimes brides forget. I have been known to ask if the bride will step out of the tungsten-light bathroom and into the natural light. But before I ask this, I walk into the bathroom and see if there are other compositional elements

that help equal out my desire for nice natural light windows. I may perceive that the mirrors, reflective surfaces, angles and lines in the bathroom give me more room for creative play. (2) Now with any room there may be a limited amount of natural light. How do you see what is there very quickly and utilise it to the best of your knowledge? I have a method that works: walk into the room, squint your eyes so all the complexity of the room fades away to nothing but darks and lights. Open your eyes wide and go to the light.

Stand next to the light or in it, and then look for your intended subjects. Now first, see if this natural light can be used as a line, a pointer, or a guide to your subjects for a creative image. Then back off and perceive how the light can be used in an overall composition. Now that you have the natural light in a room dialed-in, get your first safe-shot (often using the natural light) and utilise your time between safe-shots to be artistic. Let's go outside! There is such a mass of natural elements and architecture that it can be overwhelming. Learning to be perceptive enough to isolate the composition into images with powerful stories can be daunting. How do you make compositional sense of it all?

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1st Published 01/09/2006
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