How we did it: a portrait from above

February 04, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This portrait is one of my favorites from Natalie and Craig's 1-21-17 wedding. It's obviously a different kind of wedding portrait. It's a little mysterious and (to me, at least LOL) it feels a little artsy. I'm always happy when we make something that feels like art.

We made some of Natalie and Craig's wedding portraits at their downtown Troy home.  When Jeanette and I walked in to the house, we were immediately drawn to the three-story staircase. I started drooling over the prospect of shooting the couple from above. I just wasn't sure if time would allow it.

After all, making a picture like this is not a quick process. The couple has to be perfectly placed in the frame so that they viewers can see them even though we're shooting from a narrow opening and from three stories high. Oh, and they need to be posed well and lit with an off-camera flash (and off-camera flashes often don't like to fire from a distance or without being in a direct-line-of-sight with the camera). 

But Natalie and Craig were game, so we decided to give it a try (getting a shot that included the staircase and the checkered floor that they're standing on in the photo was on their list). First, I went to the top and fired off a test shot to gauge the composition. I was not concerned about exposure for this shot. I was just looking at how the framing would work.:

2JFP07052JFP0705 We immediately saw that the runner on the second floor had to go. It was distracting. So, groomsmen pulled it away for us and I hustled down to the first floor to pose Natalie and Craig. Jeanette stood just out of the frame (slightly above the couple), ready to light them with a flash aimed through a diffuser. I ran back to the third floor, gasping for air. Working with a Canon 5D Mark III, a Canon 70-200mm lens and a Pocket Wizard, I took another test shot. This time, we were looking at the lighting.:

1JFP77741JFP7774 It was too harsh, the spread of light was too wide, and it wasn't coming from the correct direction. I yelled down some suggestions to my wife and, after she changed her settings and her position, I fired again.:

1JFP77801JFP7780 Ah, now we were so close! I didn't love the position/angle of Natalie's left hand, and I wanted her eyes slightly open. So, I ran down the stairs and explained that we were really close to something special (and that we had to nail it this next time, because I was also really close to needing an AED). 

Finally, after 3 minutes and 30 seconds of shooting and tweaking, we got what we were looking for (edited in Adobe Lightroom and On1 Software):


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Did you know that Jeff and Jeanette, the husband-wife team that make up JFP, have a camera to thank for their marriage? Jeff was working as a photographer and Jeanette was working as a model ... The rest is, as they say, history!

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