A black polished granite table provided the reflection in this shot of Lisa-Marie and Shawn and natural light did the rest. The difference that a few millimeters make in camera position is staggering when using reflections.
This week has been a tough one for me, It started on Sunday afternoon with… a 4 hour drive up to Manchester from Bristol that should have been 2.57 hours according to my sat nav but traffic got in my way. My week ended with a few days of filming in Manchester for my next DVD on using Speedlights creatively. And now I’m back in Bristol in time to prep for my flight to New York on Sunday.
I spent the first part of last Sunday evening with Chris Hanley scouring the Manchester Hilton hotel for corners and areas to shoot on the following day’s workshop. When any of us (photographers) walk into a venue we immediately see the unmissable locations for shots that include staircases and doorways and often it is hard to look beyond the self evident opportunities. That is exactly what Chris and I were doing on Sunday – looking beyond the obvious. We were deconstructing the light in each space to see the potential for pictures once we’ve added some light of our own. It’s cheating perhaps, but I think that this is the right thing to do.
The opportunity to make a great shot happens when planning, preparation and opportunity meet. The opportunity bit was a given for us as the next morning we were going to be shooting not one, but two gorgeous couples in couture dresses and suits.
That left Chris and I with some planning to do. The Hilton in Manchester is a great venue for any shoot and offers probably limitless picture making opportunities. The trouble we all have from time to time is seeing the opportunities when they are staring us in the face. If you look hard enough and for the right light and backgrounds you will be able to realise any locations potential.
Cherish pictures go way beyond the wedding shots we all take on a Saturday and into a new dimension where attention to detail is paramount, light is carefully controlled, colour temperature becomes critical, and compositional elements in the scene are treated with the utmost respect. A Cherish The Dress workshop encompasses all of these disciplines and adds a fashion element too.
Chris and I certainly have an underlying competitive edge that keeps us hungry for success. For me, it’s like having a sparring partner, for Chris it’s like getting one over on your teacher;-) The upshot of this rivalry on a Cherish shoot is an ever increasing and improving portfolio of work that pushes both of us to exhaustion and beyond.
If you want to be party to this devoted quest for excellence in imagery, get yourself on the next Cherish the Dress workshop (There are still a few places for Tuscany) and why not get yourself a sparring partner in your town too. When you push each other in a competitive way you will both improve immeasurably.
Here are our pictures…
The same shot as in picture 1 but taken from above my head.
Another red curtain shot but I added a splash of flash for good measure.
An important part of a Cherish shoot is the big picture showing the full dress. I lit this shot of Sarah with a Speedlite on a stand shining through the stairs from the right.
Flash guns make great back lights or effects lights as in this shot. I used one Speedlight as a key on a stand to the left of camera and one to light Sarah and Oli through the stairs to add the Holywood flare.
I used the area under the stairs to get a few clean uncomplicated shots of the dress too. Getting the whites clean and not grey is really important - think Daz. Don't be scared to give a shot like this ample exposure. You can still see the sheen and every fold in the dress. So many wedding albums I see have grey dresses where the photographer has played it safe with the exposure only to kill the life in a shot.
With a model this beautiful I can't help crash in for a close up. Sarah looks fantastic here.
I took this shot of Oli in exactly the same spot as the shot of Sarah above. I used a 580EX11 Speedlight to cast a manly pattern of light on the wall and placed into it.
I can't avoid beauty like this. Lisa-Marie was shot against a window to create this high key image.
Lisa and Shawn make a great partnership. I wanted to shoot a hint of the passion type images I have in store for Tuscany.
Simple crops often lead to the most revealing images. Less is more in a shot like this.
Marko has picked up on the tungsten light behind Shawn and slightly exaggerated the colour for effect.
Don't forget the back of the dress too. Lisa-Marie's key has created a great foreground shadow for me to work with. I used a full CTO ( colour temperature orange) gel on my Speedlight. The unlit areas took on a characteristic cool look.
A window becomes a canvas for art when it is used as an abstract element like this. I got the framing inspiration from one of the workshop delegates. There's definitely an element of give and take when shooting on these workshops.
One of my favourite shots of the day. I treated my Speedlight to a full orange gel and switched my white balance to 4000 kelvin. With a zoomed in Speedlight rigged on a stand like this I am in my element. I used an ST-E2 to trigger the flash.
My last shot of the day includes some random and contemporary flare. Pictures often look good with some of the technical edges knocked off.
And here are Chris’ pictures…
Chris started his session with Lisa-marie and Shawn at the window in the sky in the famous Cloud 23 bar. This two Speedlight set up is in true Lovegrove style but with the fun, verve and post production look that Chris does so well.
A swish and a near flash from Sarah gives this 'catwalk' shot it's energy.
An explosion of colour best describes this image of Sarah and Oli by Chris.
Chris does low key so well. He loves using a downlighter from time to time.
Chris does high key too like this shot in front of a first floor window. There's always room for a bit of humour in Chris's work.
Next it was time for the circular stairs.
Subject movement when combined with slow shutter speeds gives this great effect.
It's easy to get lost in a shot of a mirrored circular staircase.
Chris set his camera white balance to 3200K and lit Sarah with a Lowell battery light. This gave the shot it's characteristically cool look.
There's nothing quite like a bit of random to spice up a picture collection like this.
The corridors of power and a provincial hotel make great shots. Chris has lined up Lisa-Marie and Shawn with the window apertures.
This is what I call a geography shot that shows you the placement of the Lisa-Marie and Shawn in the next shot. I love the intersection of verticals and horizontal lines in this image.
This image by Chris is one of my favourites from the complete set. The kick light from a window combined with the low key background curtains is fantastic, and so too is the intensity of thought captured in Lisa-Marie's eyes.
The phone booth round the back of reception with a spot of light from a Lowell battery light was all Chris needed for this shot of Sarah and Oli.
How great is that shadow created by Chris.
There you have it. Our choice of 32 frames from a complete set of over 120 finished shots from the workshop. Each of the delegates had the opportunity to shoot these frames too and many more besides. Our thanks go to Michelle at Timeless Bride for supplying and tending to the wonderful dresses. Our thanks also go to Kate Rowson our make up artist. Why not join us in Tuscany or at our next Cherish The Dress workshop at Hampton Manor.
Please feel free to comment in the usual way below.