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Photographing people is challenging because of the infinite myriad of expressions, shapes and nuances in a human face. On a wedding day, I photograph the couple, their families and friends, trying to catch the perfect shot that embodies that specific moment in time. Sometimes the expression on the face is what makes the photo work perfectly. Other times it’s the dynamics of the people and objects surrounding the subject.
I often work in ‘stealth mode’, as described by one of the brides whose wedding I photographed. Remaining as inconspicuous as possible lets me capture moments that happen simply because the subjects are at their relaxed best. This might explain the popularity of black attire among wedding photographers. Black absorbs light, so we remain as indistinct shadows amongst the real action. It also ensures that if we ever do get caught on camera accidentally by another photographer, our black attire helps us remain in the background.
Oftentimes I work with available light to illuminate my subject properly. Available light usually results in the subject appearing as natural as possible.
But if available light is simply not available (pun intended) or insufficient, I use a speedlight (or multiple speedlights) to create the light. The photo below was created with TTL on-camera flash, with the ballroom spotlight providing a rim light.
A portrait session requires a different set of skills from shooting the wedding day. It requires the ability to direct the couple, and choreograph their actions and poses so that you get the shot you have planned in your head.
Shot with available light:
and with a speedlight to fill in the shadows:
A speedlight was used for the hair light here: