10 Tips for Photographing in Boring Locations
I am very fortunate that I get to photograph weddings in some of the most amazing and gorgeous locations in the world. However, every once in a while I end up photographing a wedding that isn’t on a California beach or the mountains of Colorado or Nepal. In those cases I need to reach in to my bag of tricks. The following are ten tips and tricks for photographing when your location is less than ideal.
1. Follow the Light
The number one rule in photography should be to follow the light. This image was made in a very small bathroom. I liked the light coming in through the blinds on the shower curtain, so I had the bride sit in a chair in front of it. Then I pulled the shower curtain over her shoulder. The result was a lovely high key portrait.
When used properly, lines are a very powerful element of an image. In this image the lines made by the bridge lead the eye directly to the couple. Although not everyone has access to a ironwork bridge, think about similar objects such as a hallway or tunnel. An object does not have to be pretty to add beauty to an image.
3. More Lines
In this example, I used the lines created by a spiral staircase on a playground to frame the couple. The lines from the steps and rails also direct the eye to the couple, and the steps create negative space on the right side. The idea is to use simple items to create visually appealing images.
4. Add your own Light
I almost always carry a video light in my camera bag. It really is one of those tools than can really help you out in a pinch. For this image, I had my assistant shoot the light through a fence to create the light on the brides. You can really do this with anything with a pattern like the back of a chair, a piece of ironwork, or anything else you find around. Increasing the distance between the light source and the object will make the shadows sharper.
I love long veils. I always keep a couple of 20 foot long pieces of tulle in my car at a wedding just in case I have time to attempt a shot like this. Veils are exciting, and they also work to create leading lines to the subject. In this cast they work with the lines of the sidewalk, wall, and bridge to draw the eye right to the subject.
If you have a glass or water, you have the opportunity to create some interesting reflection shots. This was taken in an alley in Denver in the middle of the day. Potentially the worst place and time for a wedding photo. But the reflection combined with the leading lines from the alley resulted in an interesting image.
7. Get Closer
Again, you need to have nice light like the light that was coming into the church through this open window, but getting extremely close to your subject is another way to get a strong image when your location wouldn’t normally allow it. This turned out wonderfully despite the fact that there is a crowd of people standing right behind the bride.
Windows not only provide great light, but they also provide great moments and a feeling of anticipation. It is rare when I am at a wedding when someone isn’t looking out a window a guests arriving. When you try these, expose for the person’s face, and let everything else fall where it does.
Doors are everywhere. Not only does a doorway make a strong compositional element in a photo by providing shadow and framing, but doors also symbolize change and can be a great metaphor for the entrance into a relationship.
10. Experiment, Play, and Practice
The best thing you can do to insure you are ready for any situation is to constantly play and experiment with the ideas of composition. Also, when you do fine yourself in a gorgeous location, do not forget to check out and play with other things that might be around. Sunset on a beach is great, but what about the light under the pier. Play with light, composition, framing, and even shutter speeds and see what you come up with. Remember, wedding photography is a home run contest, not a batting average competition. Don’t feel like you have to hit it out of the park with every shot. Be confident enough to play and experiment, and if something isn’t working, move on.