My favorite part to capture in a wedding is usually the end of a reception party. This is when most people finally let their guard off and show a side of themselves that only appears only at this moment. I captured these images during the last hour of my first Indian wedding in Pennsylvania.
The reception is usually preceded by several hours of work that requires the most intense focus and concentration from all parties involved. The wedding couple can be nervous as they hope that everything will be just right on their special day. As a photographer you are fully aware of your responsibility to hopefully capture all of the key moments as history is made for your client and couple. So by the time of the reception I definitely feel a bit drained from hours of intense work. But I always feel a resurge of energy when I see the joy and exuberance on people’s faces as they celebrate this special and joyful occasion.
From the technical point of view I usually set my camera on full manual mode to capture just enough ambient light without pushing my ISO too hard to avoid too much digital noise in the images. I like to keep my shutter speed fairly low to capture a sense of motion as people dance the night away. Then I use my flash to as a fill in to give the photos a punch. By setting my Canon 600-EX speed lights on a second curtain sync mode, I can add nice light trails to the images. Finding just the right balance requires some experimentation but once I hit the sweet spot, I get onto the dance floor and fire away… while trying to stay out of the way:)
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Here are a few shots from the latest wedding I shot this summer in Connecticut. The ceremony was held at the Ethel Walker Chapel in Simsbury, CT. The church has great window light from both sides of the building, which is wonderful from a photographer’s point of view. The reception was held at the Riverview in Weatogue, CT. We did a quick post-ceremony portrait shoot at the beautiful Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge in Simsbury, CT. It was recognized as a 2014 “Editor’s Choice” winner in Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide in New England.
I had a great time shooting the wedding of Andrew and Lymarie in Connecticut. The day before the wedding it was pouring rain all day, which made everyone a bit nervous since the reception was outdoors at the beautiful grounds of the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield, CT. But to everyone’s relief the wedding day turned out to be a perfectly beautiful, sunny day. As usual, I used my Canon 5D Mark iii for all of the shots and my assistant had a Canon 6D. Having an assistant is a great asset and allows us to capture the action from two angles simultaneously. This is especially helpful during the reception but also during the portrait session when the second camera man can also help out as a lighting assistant. I find that the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is wonderfully versatile and covers most of my needs for the fast moving and at times chaotic wedding photography. Its long range comes especially handy during wedding ceremony when you need to get those intimate close ups without getting in anyone’s way. The other lens that I find irreplaceable for weddings is my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. This wide angle is especially helpful for the “getting ready” shoots which often take place in a considerably restricted environment, such as hotel rooms etc. The wide angle is also priceless for the reception where you might want to get more of the action in your pictures.
Prior to the wedding we did a post-wedding portrait shoot with the wedding party in a nearby park. There were some large trees nearby that provided deep shadow for the wedding party which is normally a positive thing as you don’t want your wedding party standing in the hard midday light with a lot of shadows cast on their faces. The challenge we had in this particular scenario was that the beautiful, natural backdrop was completely exposed by the hard midday sun. As a photographer you have to be careful to not to allow your camera to set the exposure for the bright backlight as this would cause the wedding party to be underexposed. On the other hand if you expose for the shadows you risk overexposing and loosing all the detail of the beautiful background. To help compensate for the bright back light I had my assistant use a large, 6′ x 4′ Lastolite reflector to throw in some fill light for the wedding party. This can be tricky at times partly because of the large size of the reflector and partly because some people’s eyes can be very sensitive to the reflected sunlight. The trick is to do it fast and to break it up every minute or so. Also it can be a challenge to get even light for a group as large as I had here, a total of 16 persons. You can also have the couple look away from the reflector, as I did in this shot.
Often a lot of action takes place during the more relaxed atmosphere at the reception. This is an opportunity for some real fun, memorable, candid moments. At the same time, the reception can be a real challenge as far as good lighting goes. This is were those speedlites come in real handy. In this particular occasion the wedding party loved to rock the dance floor and I had fun capturing all of the fun. As I was shooting with the wide angle lens I needed to mix and mingle with the wedding party in order to really capture the joy and exuberance at this party. I used the second curtain sync option available in Canon’s speedlites to create fun light trails from the colorful lights illuminating the dance floor. I also use Canon’s Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT which allows me to hold the speedlite (with a dome diffuser) off camera in my left hand while holding the camera and shooting with my right hand.
After the ceremony I shot a few quick portraits in the golden light of the setting sun. The narrow time frame between the wedding ceremony and the reception can easily make for one hectic portrait shoot. My recommendation therefore is to take the portraits before the reception if possible, or even day before the wedding. However in this case the ceremony ended just before the “golden hour,” which left us less than 60 minutes to get some fantastic portraits before it was completely dark. With the help of my assistant I used a three Canon 600EX-RT speedlite setup to provide fill light for the couple while retaining the beautiful colors of the sunset in the background.
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Here are a few of my favorite shots from the wedding of a beautiful couple, Daudi and Sarah. The wedding took place on a beach in Lubec, Maine at the easternmost point in the USA. The day before the wedding it pretty much rained all the way as we drove 15 hours from NYC to Lubec. But thankfully on the day of the wedding the weather was great!