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Friday, January 30, 2009

Behind the Scenes Secrets! - From Zach

Today we are going to show you guys how we do what we do and give you a little insight into a particular shot from a wedding this past season. Whenever we are shooting a couple - whether it is totally candid or a shot that we have set up and orchestrated - we are always looking at how we can take it from the best angle and shoot it in the most flattering way possible for that client.

We shot a wedding in Columbia, SC this past September 4th, with Paul & Laura Morris who are amazing and moved all the way to Nashville just to be friends with us (actually, for a job, but we like to say it was for us:)! After the wedding ceremony we were out taking some photos of them and when we were just about done, I noticed this little nook under a walkway and down through some big ol' bushes. I saw the shot in my head and knew how cool it would be, but to look at that little area, one might have thought Jody and I were nuts to take some wedding photos there. The bride and groom went along with it (what troopers they were) and we did a quick set up and took a handful of shots just before the reception began.

Here was the set up.

As you can see, it looks more like we should be taking shots of the handyman from the church there, and not a cute bride and groom! While it is very important to know what lens you need to use, what setting to put your camera on and how much of that big flash power we need to use, it is also equally important to know what to include in an image, and what not to include. Looking at the set up shot, you can clearly see a whole bunch of things that are not that pretty and would be distracting if they were in the final image. So when I framed the shot in the camera, I really wanted to emphasize the couple lost in this vine foresty place of bliss! So this is how I shot it.

The reason this shot works is because:

1. The light we put on them makes the couple the brightest part of the photo so you naturally look to them.
2. They are not directly in the middle of the frame, but off to the side, and the vines on the left "lead" your eye into the shot and make it more interesting.
3. There is nothing competing in the shot; meaning that the only truly interesting element is the bride and groom. There is nothing else distracting in the shot like those giant air conditioners, or the big railing just above them that you saw in the first shot.

All of those elements combined make for a powerful portrait of two really great people!

For those super tech nerds (like me) who want to know the hard info on the gear and settings used, here you go!

Camera - Canon 5D
Camera settings - f/5, ISO 100, 73mm
Lens - 70-200L 2.8 IS
Flash - Photogenic Powerlight 500 watts, 32 inch Westcot softbox, Triggered by Pocket Wizards
Color corrected on location with Expo Disc

Adjusted luminace of skin tones in Lightroom.

Shooting this way is how one can avoid spending tons of hours in Photoshop trying to make the image look like you want it! 5 seconds of post time and you're done!

Feel free to leave comments on the shot and any questions are welcome!!


  1. thanks for sharing your technique! I'd love to see more!

  2. You two rock it as usual oh Genius Ones!! =)

  3. What a beautiful picture! This reminds me of when Zach was shooting our engagement picture on the and he curled up inside the railroad track to get the shot. The photo turned out amazing and we all had a good laugh at how flexible he is!

    Jaclyn & Daniel

  4. Thanks for being willing to "give back" in this way for those of us who are earlier in our photographic journey.

    It is both interesting and informative to better understand the process you go through and what's going on inside your head in the process for set-up of a great shot!

  5. This is why yall are the professionals! You have such a good eye for scenes and lighting. I am happy that you use your talents so well!

  6. Wow amazing! What a neat shot. You guys never seize to amaze me.
    - Laurie

  7. Thanks for all of the information included in the technical breakdown. We love your techniques and it is great to see what you do to create each amazing shot you take. Oh, and kudos to Jody for the great behind the scenes shots. :)
    - Heather & Kevin Autry

  8. you two are truly inspirational. I don't think I have half the talent you two have but maybe one day.... thank you for sharing this wonderful information!

  9. Hey guys just wanted to know, what you all thought about the new 5d markII, and if you were going to stick with the original or upgrade?

  10. And this is what makes you two "professionals." You have the eye to get the creative shots, you know how to make a shot work, WHY it works... you know your art. Ya'll are fabulous! Maybe my guy will propose soon so I'll have a good reason to call. :)


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