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New, Unique, Visually Interesting, Cutting-edge Techniques for Wedding and Event photography.

todd frederick

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After 15 years of wedding and event photography, I find that I'm

getting into a rut: same old photographs, revisited, over and over



I am trying to revive my small wedding and event business and I want

to offer some special techniques and image styles.


I respect the suggestions and techniques of the forum members here.


Could some of you share some of your special ways you make your

photography unique, interesting, and creative...even it it's just one

or two photos per event?


I would especially like to see some image samples with technical date

and suggestions, of course. I am a visual learner. Just telling me

about it doesn't do it for me!


Thank you.

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Hi Todd. I was actually going to post something similar, but from my own perspective of just starting out in wedding photography. I spend most of my time at work brainstorming about different ways of photographing the wedding 'standards'.


One idea that I have that I am going to try out is during the speeches to photograph the bride and groom from behind the person giving the speech. I will try to use the out of focus speaker and dias(?) to frame the subject. Hope this was the kind of thing you were looking for. Scott.

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Try using only off camera main light sources, and not a single on camera flash.I found that a 2nd light makes my images pop off the paper with an almost 3D look.


I set my on camera, bracket mounted "fill" flash two stops below the 2nd "main" light.The 2nd light is carried by an assistant, and is always 4-8 feet off one of my shoulders.(My assistant is also a good photographer in her own right,and knows where the light will hit,and what effect it will have.And where the shadows from her light are falling).



This, combined with shutter drag takes ordinary pictures to another level.Simple dance floor candids, suddenly have depth producing shadows, and what appears to be portrait lighting.

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Your favorite song this week is absolutely HATED by the d.j. on the radio. Why? Because you've not heard the song as often as the d.j. has heard it.


Same goes for what you may percieve as a rut. It's only cynical for us to think the Charlie's Angels shot is "corny." But for the bride, it's the first time she's posed like this! It's exciting for her, but for you William, you've shot this so many times before, you immediately think we'll think it's corny. The important thing is that if you are bored with any given "pose," and it shows, it won't fly. The bride loves the pose, and it works.


For posed shots, I like to fire off a shot (with flash), and then say "SAY CHEESE!" Then I say, "wait, I always get those mixed up." It always gets a laugh, then I fire off another shot.


But Todd, to address your initial question of what makes our photography "unique, interesting, and creative," is not what WE think it to be unique, interesting and creative, but what does the bride think? It's our response to what we perceive as mundane and what they see as creative. Balance it out.


Otherwise, I get inspiration from magazines when I'm waiting for my hair cut. I'll thumb through a magazine and notice a particular pose or lighting technique. Look at album covers. Why do you know it's an Old Navy commercial on TV before they say it's an Old Navy commercial? Can it be emulated? Look at Marc's website and hire that bride and dad as models!! (GEEZ I love that shot!)<div>00BSHq-22287784.jpg.5c5f9b7760bd587ff28e541255fef20d.jpg</div>

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...oh yeah, I like Steve's idea too, with the off-mount flash as the main flash. I've been playing with that technique in my living room. I fear that my kids are going blind from the flashes popping every ten seconds!


I'm just not certain how I feel about the shadows it creates. Is it acceptable for the bride? I'm not fond of it, but my opinion is secondary.

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Hardly cutting edge but a couple of things...


I am thinking ahead to my third wedding shoot in May and something I will really try and do on the day is, in between the portraits, look for close-up details, like clothes, hats, hands, shoes, the menu card (if there is one), flower arrangements, etc. I've got an idea that some years down the line some of those otherwise forgetten aspects will bring smiles when the couple look at the pictures again.


The first wedding I did, for my sister-in-law, was a smallish affair, around 40 guests. In addition to the normal stuff, throughout the course of the afternoon I went round to absolutely every person present, young and old, and took a good clear head shot of them looking at the camera and smiling. I don't mean couples or family groups, but every person separately. Nice mug shots you could call them, but you can see the colour of their eyes and their make-up and hair detail. The bride and groom appreciated having at least one good clear close-up image of everybody's face on the day.

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I like to a new film or lens every once and I find myself coming up with a bunch of new ideas. For example, I'd use a roll of IR B&W along with my regular shots at an outdoor wedding or some highspeed B&W for some bride-getting-ready shots. I'm never really sure what will come out (especially with the infared- that's a real surprise), but it always adds some nice variation to the wedding album and I have fun. I also like try a few extreme wide angle shots. That can really give you a new perspective. Hope that helps,



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Look at your personal work and see what is emerging that turns you on.


If you don't do personal work, start.


You may need to find some other areas to work in if you are bored with weddings.


On the other hand, a wedding is not about you. It's about the bride and groom and their families, and after 15 years you can help them capture the memories more than someone with less experience.


Go deeper into your self. Study depth psychology. Go to therapy, even if you don't think you need it.

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After many years, there are certain routines in a wedding that become automatic. I enjoy weddings, though tiring, but for me, it's a one person event. I had a chance to have a friend work with me on a few weddings last year and that was stimulating. I also enjoyed it when I was working with a studio and we had a chance to share results (good or bad) with others at the studio. This is one reason I benefit from seeing what you are doing.


I do agree that I want to do more in the way of available light. I like the reflection in the piano, and I also usually ask the couple if they have any special poses they want, cheezy or not.


I also want to decrease my weddings for many reasons, and do more in the way of family portraits.


Thanks, and keep the ideas and samples coming.

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Well I slept on it. Not an easy question there Todd. My real job is evaluating and coaching

writers, art directors, designers, photographers and film makers, then helping them push

their own personal envelope. But, as usual, it isn't easy when you're close to the problem

yourself, as is the case here.


IMO, I'd say that you are doing a number of things to stimulate new approaches

already. Moving into digital is one of them. As new techniques become familiar, you will

integrate them into your creative process. Sometimes when things become easier, you will

experiment more frequently ... which often happens with digital because of the instant

feed back.


The other more important aspects of creativity, with-in the boundaries of a commercial

job like wedding photography, has a great deal to do with establishing an intent IMO. The

best way I can explain that is by stating mine and show an example.


While I formulated my shooting style pretty much intuitively while doing street

photography, it was the evaluation afterward that revealed an intent I could aspire to. I

realized I was shooting very candid situations, but in a way that had a sort of designed

formalism to them. Contemporary and of the moment, but classic. My very best wedding

work does exactly that ... my worst work is that which strays from that intent. Both

shooting, and more importantly editing, is how it is realized.


Here is one of my personal "street" shots taken in Paris well before I ever thought to shoot

weddings. Totally candid, shot with a Leica rangefinder which allowed me to see the man

approaching from below before he entered bright frame. Yet, it's sort of classic and

timeless in both theme and composition. From this type shooting it was a natural to use it

in wedding photography ... which is how I got here ; -)<div>00BSVU-22292384.thumb.jpg.271c5fce6ca01c431752b9ecc9db7f1e.jpg</div>

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Todd - For me the only way to keep it fresh is to approach each wedding as a unique event. For me it is all about the people, the venue (most of the time in this DC/VA/MD area we get to shoot at new places), the dress, the details and the different personalities of every couple and their friends and family. <p>Todd - I also work very hard to make a wedding easy for me to be creative. I take my husband and one assistant. They carry everything, load batteries, film etc. All I have to do is pay attention and interact. I want to have fun! If I'm having fun - my couples are too!... I also try not to work more than 6 hours. Sometimes I do 7 and rarely do I do 8 hours. This keeps me fresh and not burned out. <p>All the above just keeps me excited and looking for the right light/the right location and encouraging fun or romantic interaction with family and couples. For me there is no rut.. or "sameness". That is because the people and location are always different. I don't know if this helps... <p>ps - I've also been doing this for 15 years..
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Thanks for a great question. I have been thinking along these same lines for several weeks. After I retired early from the sporting goods industry I wanted to shoot nature/wildlife/landscapes, e.g., hunt with a camera instead of a gun. There are a zillion images of deer & elk and two zillion of the G. Teton Mountains. It takes a lot of creativity to capture one of those shots that is different from all the others. I got my share of these shots but I found the creativity part needed to get that one different shot was very difficult and required a lot of hard work for me. I finally decided my artistic creativity and imagination was limiting my results.


Three year ago I started shooting weddings, for friends at first and then for a studio. Last year I shot 30 weddings. As I started this wedding season I reviewed last years work. Wow! Different people, different venues but otherwise they all look the same. I?ve been asking myself what I can do to expand my work. Part of the problem is that the studio wants every wedding shot the same way ? traditional with formal poses ? so I have gotten in the habit of shooting to get their expected results. The few weddings I have shot on my own I have tried to break that habit and shoot more freely, but I find that during the rush of the day that it is easier to do what you always do, e.g., get the same shots that you know will go in the album and make the B&G?s mothers happy.


Before each wedding I study the work of artistic wedding shooters. I have 31 sites bookmarked that I am constantly reviewing for inspiration. A couple of notable sites that PN?ers will recognize are Marc Williams?, Mary Ball?s, Robert Watcher?s, and Jeff Ascough?s. I think these people are artist ? they have the ?eye?. I get inspiration from their work and I?ve even been known to *copy* one of their shots. If I see a shot I like I will try and duplicate it but with my own twist. I?ve added a few shots to my bag doing this.


I?ve conclude there are some great wedding shooters that have the ?artistic eye?. I think there are also many competent wedding shooters that do not have the ?eye? but that have found a way to produce professional results. I consider myself in the later group. I don?t think I will ever be able to count myself among the first group. I don?t know Todd, but maybe you are in that same group with me.


If anyone has a method for a non-artistic type to acquire the ?artistic eye?, which I think was Todd?s original question, please let me know.



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In terms of driving forces:


I was home on 911 and heard about it on the radio soon after the first plane hit.


I stood transfixed in front of my TV for hours until I couldn't take it any more.


Then I got out my camera and lights and set out to make the most beautiful picture of a vase of roses that I possibly could.


That has been my driving force ever since: to make the best images I possibly can.


To that end, I do a post mortem on every shoot and look for ways to improve, and I constantly dissect pictures in shelter magazines looking for problems and thinking how I might prevent them.


In terms of HCB moments, try this. The silhouetted guy was walking back and forth. The first shot missed, and when he turned around I got lucky :-)

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Looking at the Charlie's Angest shot (pun?)above, I wonder how many of you get special requests. I had one of the bride pointing to her list of things not to forget. She was pointing to the rings, which she forgot!


My photo style tends to be fairly traditional with a documentary objective, but not risky. I recall booking a wedding a couple of years ago and then got a referral to photograph her friend's wedding. Well, her friend's husband wanted crossprocessing, tilts, and cheezy poses. I don't do that and turned it down. In the end, my client received their proofs in about a week and was very happy. Her friend didn't receive anything for over a year and the shots didn't contain any of the special requests!


I also worked with a rather pricy Austrailian photographer, while working with a studio, and he spent over a half hour arranging ties and cuff-links for a magazine style album background. I don't do that either.


So, I'm looking for some new ways to liven up my current techniques within my confort range:


What I've learned here is to do some B/W, do some infra-red, use a slow shutter (S.Liu is great with that and there is one really nice sample above..I like that), focus in on little details (hands, feet, portions of the dress, flowers), use available light, and so on.


Good ideas.


I just booked a Vietnamese engagement party next Saturday (for long time family friends...I've already done two weddings and one party for them), and I think I will practice some of these ideas there. It's a safe place to practice. I would like to share some of my attempts.


Thanks again, and keep the ideas coming.


Marc, great photo!

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