Wedding Photography Notes for the Photographer

OK this is inspired by a book I read once by Robert Bresson called Notes for the Cinematographer in which he explained his philosophy on making motion pictures.
Needing a place to collect all this data that I collect in my head and notebooks everywhere around my house I thought it would make sense to put some of this down electronically so I myself can revisit from time to time and save it from destruction. Of course I welcome the visitor who will happen to stumble upon these posts, although I am not keeping my hopes up. Right now I am a needle in the haystack of the internet and I dont think people will easily land on my website. But you never know.

Here goes Note #1

Some thoughts on lighting for the wedding photographer.
Without going into too much detail on the theory of light (quality, direction, color, intensity) or contrast ratios I will write about what I look for on a wedding day. A more practical approach.

So the best light that can flatter people (that are our subjects) is basically SOFT, DIRECTIONAL Light. A.k.a Window light.

Anything that can kill the overhead light and funnel it through a hole (large enough to spill on our subject) is good. I think of this as a shoebox with a cut out side on one part.

Something similar is a garage with the door open.
In nature, outdoors its a canopy of trees over our heads forcing the light to come in from a tunnel. Watch out for green color cast.

In a residential area it can be shaded cover by the side of a building that happens to have protection overhead too.
The overhead protection is important to protect from the sun causing racoon eyes on our subject.


5 Tips I saw in a youtube video today for portraits of couple

  1. Dont forget to shoot the details.
  2.  Find and use window light. (flat, rembrandt, shoot into it, profile..)
  3.  Close ups of the couple (heads touching, head and shoulders – vertical and horizontals)
  4. Elevate your position. Flatters them, from slightly above eye level
  5. Get different angles. (not looking at camera, casual, behind them..)


9 poses

  1. The V-up (touch at hips, no hands at sides, in pockets, holding hands, at hip) – (look at us, away, each other, one at us..) (hand on chest, waist) (frame placement right, left, middle)
  2. Open. (feet at us, separate bodies, hand holding) (groom on the right side, flip-groom on the left side). Vary shot size (cu, med, wide)
  3. Closed. (bodies at each other, no gaps, kiss) (hands holding, at waist, on chest, on face, back of head etc). Look down. eyes closed etc
  4. Stacked. (him behind her, his arms around her waist or chest,) (eyes looking off camera distance or at each other) (interactions and location)
  5. The Lift
  6. The Dip
  7. Staggered (one in front of other, sitting or standing,
  8. Meet in the middle ( with a kiss, bend at hips,
  9. The walk


Backlit, shooting into the sky from low position.


JUNE 2017 update

Something I consider of utmost importance and I have noticed in works of photographers I admire such as Todd Laffler or Fabio Mirulla – especially in their later current work- is the ability to ISOLATE THE SUBJECT.

They do this via 4 methods.

  • Filling the frame with only their subject (walking in with a wide lens, or zooming in with a tele)
  • Using a beam of light (ie off camera flash or a beam of sunlight coming in) to isolate from darkness
  • Using bokeh  usually in the form of objects in the foreground or other peoples shoulders etc. This blocks out the subject.
  • Clearing the space around them. There may be a wider context but its non distracting. A pale wall, leaves, texture, open sky, etc. Your eye goes to subject again.

Also if we are in the getting ready stages and not in the ceremony or portraits or reception part where the emotions will carry the photo here are some tips.

  • You want the subject to be in ACTION.
  • Meaning he is either handling props. Reading, writing, shaving, combing hair, adjust tie, cuffs, etc
  • Or he is interacting with other characters with them helping him get dressed etc
  • Different stages of the actions help too. With his regular clothes, without jacket, with jacket.


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Quotes from PJ photographers.

Got these following quotes from the foundation workshop website.

I find many of these from time to time so I figure I will start collecting some of them as posts here in case they are gone someday from the other site. Plus they will all be in one place here where I can come back to and study them.

  • Photojournalism is 99% mental – Tyler Wirken
  • “If you can only think of context first you’ll find your compositions a lot sooner.”
  • If you don’t believe in Santa Claus, you’re not going to get him to bring you any presents  — Brooks Whittington
  • Always have a smile on your face – Brooks Whittington
  • Make a picture.  Make it better – Tyler/Brooks
  • Fear is what holds everyone back.  Fear of something – Tyler/Brooks
  • If I were going to ask you to fill in the blank, photography is a ________ thing, you’d say “visual” right?  Photography is about listening, right through here (pointing to his heart).  Photography is NOT a treasure hunt.   – Matt Mendelsohn
  • Photographer has to find a subject reflective of their personality.  Either look out the window or look in the mirror.  – Brett Butterstein quoting David Alan Harvey.
  • Find your angle, your interpretation, take risks, shoot less obviously, less literally.  – paraphrased suggestions from Brett Butterstein’s presentation
  • Work good scenes to death, watch for body language, never be satisfied, perfect your compositions, wait for the action.  You have to keep trying things.  – Brett Butterstein
  • You can’t spell “photojournalism” without an “I.” – Matt Mendelsohn
  • Don’t try to be here and be someone you’re not.  – Greg Gibson
  • Photography today has become endless cycles of hero worship.  – Matt Mendelsohn
  • Listen to all of it (what you hear at Foundation), then throw out what doesn’t work for you. – Greg Gibson
  • There’s no such thing as bad experience.  There’s just experience. – Matt Mendelsohn
  • I wanna see the good, the bad, and the ugly. – Greg Gibson discussing not deleting images
  • How does _____ (student) need to be challenged? – Huy Nguyen, in meeting assigning stories.
  • What you’ve got is the raw ingredients, now you’ve got to make something of it. – Matt Mendelsohn
  • “So this is the new stuff?”  Matt to student.  “Unfortunately,” student reply.
  • Don’t ever take one photograph.  – Brooks Whittington
  • No winners or losers here.  The only way you lose is if you walk out of here without learning something.  – Greg Gibson
  • This is not about the assignment.  All that matters is that you learn and grow as a photographer. – Greg Gibson
  • Shooting weddings you should be sweaty even if you’re not fat. – Brooks Whittington
  • I am a compositional freak.  – Brooks Whittington
  • The guy who came here and moved things, I almost choked him, and I’m a pacifist. – Brooks Whittington
  • Notice your projections and change. — Amy Deputy
  • Women tend to apologize for their power. – Amy Deputy
  • Formulate some ideas how you want to shoot something, and then let it develop.  – Huy Nguyen
  • You shouldn’t need a caption for your photo.  – Huy Nguyen
  • Think of ways to show us things we need to know.  — Huy Nguyen
  • What are the pretty parts?  What are the ugly parts?  How do I get rid of the ugly parts? – Ben Chrisman
  • Sizing up a room, always evaluate the light.  — Huy Nguyen
  • I feel like everyone is shooting scared.  They just need to lose that.  – Ben Chrisman
  • I feel like your compositions are a little wild.  Think of everything in the frame. – Ben Chrisman
  • Think of having a dominant element and other things not competing.  – Ben Chrisman
  • Find balance.  Get to a place where you can function and feel it. – Huy Nguyen
  • Show us the coffee shop the way you feel it/see it.  – Ben Chrisman
  • Shoot the transition. – Huy Nguyen
  • There are moments there that we don’t know are happening. — Huy Nguyen
  • From the side, doing stuff.  That is really high on my bad angle list. – Huy Nguyen
  • That’s a one framer.  Realize mistake.  Move.   Show me a boring frame and then move. – Huy Nguyen
  • I see a lot of missed opportunities. – Jennifer Domenick
  • Light.  Composition.  Moment.  And FOCUS.  We’re adding a fourth requirement.  – Huy Nguyen
  • “Did you get a good night’s sleep last night?”  David Murray asked.  “All three hours.”  Dexter Lo replied .
  • You are not giving up on this.  You’re like a pitbull on this picture. – David Murray
  • What do I want people to see?  What do I like?  — David Murray
  • The rest of the frame is neither simpler nor important.  – Becca Spears
  • Too literal.  – Erwin Darmali
  • Don’t spray and pray.  – Tyler Wirken
  • Don’t be too quick to be content.  – Tyler Wirken
  • Look past what is staring you in the face. – Tyler Wirken
  • Hands and eyes are the most expressive elements. – Brett Butterstein
  • Every photo needs to have a purpose.  Don’t shoot blindly. – Ben Chrisman
  • Get past yourself.  Forget yourself.  Get completely absorbed in them.”  Ben Chrisman
  • Fall in love.  What is it like when you describe a person you fell in love with.  Transfer that to the pictures.  – Amy Deputy
  • It’s a CAN portrait!  You CAN pose that can!  — Huy Nguyen discussing a Lone Star beer can.
  • Maybe the photoshop fairy will  come visit us tonight. – Huy Nguyen
  • I feel like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen the place. – Tyler Wirken discussing an overall shot.
  • Make it clear.  Sparkly clear. – Tyler Wirken
  • The point is that you didn’t get it, which should piss you off even more.  – Sergio
  • You’re a fishing photographer.  Practice good fishing, not bad fishing. – Tyler Wirken
  • That’s your squirrel.  SQUIRREL!!! – Tyler Wirken
  • You’re moving too much. – Tyler Wirken
  • You’ll be doing too many things well and not enough things great. – Tyler Wirken
  • Showing what’s going on – make it great, then make YOUR picture. – Tyler Wirken
  • You’ve got to commit to the making.  – Tyler Wirken
  • This is a pedestrian point and shoot angle. – Tyler Wirken
  • I’m really unhappy right now.  Everything you wanted to have happen in this picture, happened in this picture.”  — Tyler Wirken
  • There is nothing wrong with your work.  You’re in between levels in your work.  You’re trying to go to this other level, but you’re not good enough yet and you miss it.  It’s painful to be in that in between stage. – Tyler Wirken
  • That’s why you’re here, to see different.  You didn’t come here to be told how you see is perfect.  – Sergio
  • This picture works, because it shows the saloon.  This picture doesn’t work, because it shows Billy Bob the beer guy. – Tyler Wirken
  • The reason is the R word, “Relevance.”  — Tyler Wirken
  • Whenever I have a thought for a pic where there’s a “maybe” involved, then I’m going to prove to myself if it is or isn’t.  – Tyler Wirken
  • Sometimes you’ve just got to let cool rule. – Tyler, referencing a “no relevance” pic.
  • Wanting to get the people in the picture by shooting 1000 pictures of no people in the picture isn’t going to work.  You need people in the pictures to get people in the picture.  – Tyler
  • Slow your shooting down and shoot what matters.  Tighten it up. – Tyler
  • You’re going to say, “Yeehaw and Bullshit” a whole bunch of times. – Kari White at the Broken Spoke.
  • Stop playing with random animals.  Stop playing on slides.  Wash your hands.  Don’t get sick. – Coach at the Cheer Factory

– See more at:

June 2017 some new ones of my own and other.

  • Get close to your subject
  • Dont worry about photos. Have fun and the story and subjects will reveal themselves.
  • Always have the camera ready to shoot and anticipate.
  • Explore the space
  • Embrace failure, balls out. Buying lottery tickets, more chances the better.
  • Work thru the scene, may be the click after the one you just took.
  • Body language and expression
  • Quirky
  • Not settling for the obvious. Seeing beyond that. Picking up on the little things that may or may not work.
  • A different way of showing whats going on.
  • Lying on your back perspective shooting up.
  • Hiding the eyes.
  • Subjects relationship to each other, to the space their in, to the light and to the camera. (Sam Tziotzios)
  • Seeing faces emote and hands gesture. The 2 vehicles of communication. With Greeks its mostly the hands 🙂
  • You dont need much embelishment. Just the recognize the power of the expressions and grab it and keep it clean (Huy)
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Portrait of Lena

Between the ancient towns of Corinth and Arogs I witnessed these beutiful flowers and tree blossoms marrying magenta and yellow.

We had just picked up Revekas mom Lena and were returning home and stopped to enjoy the scenery.

A 55-250mm Canon lens was used on a crop Canon T2i making it an effective 400mm lens (250×1.6=400)

flowers in Corinth


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Clouds reflected

reflected clouds greece
I’ve always wanted to take this shot, its a very common one in landscape photography where one sees rich clouds reflected in a wide body of water underneath.
I was driving between Nafplio and Argos on a rural side road when my eyes caught this image on the side of the road. In the distance one can barely notice the castle of Argos. It is clearer on the second closer shot.
MarchWebs-7542 MarchWebs-7550March Webs-7565
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