Athena and Camron

What we learned this wedding season

This blog post is designed for photographers wanting to learn helpful advice and encouragement from fellow wedding photographers! And if you are a bride, it’s helpful to learn some of what goes on behind the scenes in your wedding photographers brain as they are learning to grow and be better at their craft!
It’s in the details.
This season we paid particular attention to small details at weddings. It required us to arrive earlier to give more time to shoot the sweet little details using the environment around us. We shot almost every single one of these with our Sigma 85mm f1.4 – it’s the very best lens for capturing the small details!
A fast workflow is absolutely essential.
In August we had the busiest two weeks of the year – 5 weddings and 1 styled bridal shoot. Each wedding gave us about 6,000-8,000 images and the bridal shoot gave us 8,000 images. To handle this many files without effective systems in place just wasn’t an option – we had brides waiting excitedly for their highlight photos, and we knew that in a few weeks from then we’d be sitting down to absolute chaos when we had to edit their entire wedding. We learned so many new ways to increase our editing workflow this wedding season and we wanted to share with you our three favorite:
  • Use Photo Mechanic as a way to view and sort through your photos – it is hands down the program that saves us the most time
  • When you have finished your first two rounds of culling and drag your chosen files into lightroom, build smart previews – it cuts down the time your computer takes to process the files as you’ll be editing on a ‘preview’ it’s made, rather than the huge raw file
  • Invest in PFixer – this is our first wedding season using a plugin for lightroom to adjust keyboard functions. We barely touch the mouse anymore, speedily editing the exposure, temp, tint, shadows, saturation, even cropping and auto white balance, just with our fingertips! This has been my favorite new addition to our workflow this season

Buy our Workflow: Editing Guide for $20 to get an exclusive insight into exactly how we speed up our workflow. It’ll save you hundreds of hours and earn you more money doing what you love.

You don’t need the most expensive gear in the world.
This was a humbling realization this wedding season. It first started because we were shooting an out of state wedding and we realized that each of thought the other had packed our flashes. It was 1 hour before we needed to leave for the wedding and we panicked! We didn’t have the funds or the time to go out to a store that had the fancy expensive canon speedlite flashes, so Camron dashed into a store and bought the best one he could find. It was $50 and we were pretty sceptical. We ended up loving its performance so much we used it for the rest of our wedding season! It’s the Neewer NW-670 and is $52.94 on Amazon.
See our Dance Floor blog post for some tips for shooting the d-floor and plenty of examples of our $52 flash! Click the photo below:
Use your gear to frame emotion.
There were so many circumstances this season where we used our gear for emotion! Here are a few examples to help you understand what we mean:
We borrowed a Canon 100ml macro 2.8mm lens from a friend to shoot Jen + Andrew’s wedding. We paired it with the 24mm f1.4 to capture the moment Jen + Andrew became husband and wife. Having both angles meant that the emotion was captured so uniquely – the wide to capture the moment of community celebrating them and their postures, the close to show the intense emotion on their faces. See how close Camron got? So cropped in and very intentionally to capture exactly their expression in that exact moment! The closer angle is shot with a canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens and we were really impressed with how it worked – I love the close intimacy of the emotions combined with the wide context shot
Andrew told us he was going to kiss Jen at the end of the isle, so we put on our Sigma 24mm f1.4 lens so we could get a nice wide of the moment. But he forgot (I’m sure because of his elation), so it wasn’t until they were here that he pulled her in and kissed her – which made us fall in love with the moment even more, their family and friends out of focus.
Our go to lens this season was, as always, our Sigma 35mm f1.4. The thing about this lens is that it’s pretty accurate to what we see with our eyes. As I hold the camera up to my face it captures what I see with my eyes. Which means however far away we are from our subjects is what we capture. This brings more intimacy to the moments as I have to be close to them to capture their emotion. We probably captured 60% of our images this entire wedding season with this one lens (which is saying a lot!). Here are some of our favorites – pay attention to how to framing captures emotion and where I would have been standing to capture that.
Capturing more context shots
We have always loved and admired landscape photographers. They use the right gear, lighting and framing to capture the landscape so perfectly. We wanted to work harder at capturing wider shots that show the environment better. Camron prefers to shoot these shots on a higher f-stop – f4-f8. I prefer to shoot them at 1.4 (if there are people in them). We have a combination of both from this season:
Using wide lenses for portraits 
We’ve never done this before because it’s like this unspoken rule that you’re not meant to use wide lenses up close! However, especially for getting ready shots of the guys, Camron found that he preferred to use our Sigma 24mm f1.4 for a lot of the shots. The reason he was able to do this so effectively was because he would keep tit at 1.4 (which provides the softness our eyes long for with portraits of faces), and we also enabled profile corrections and corrected any warping around the edges.
We have the special privilege of being a calming presence on the wedding day. We help our clients slow down.
This was something huge I learned this season. Before each wedding Camron would take my hands, look into my eyes, and speak this truth over me. He would remind me that we have the privilege of slowing everything down. Our literal job is to freeze these often rushed joy-moments so that later they can come back into them. But we also have the opportunity to slow everyone down in the moment. I can’t remember how many times I literally said to my bride and groom or the girls or the parents, ‘everyone take a deep breath all the way in…’ and I would wait and motion to breathe in, ‘and let the breath out…. now again, breathe all the way in, and out.’ It sounds silly, but in the moment it actually helped us all breathe it in.
We used prompts to draw out emotion from our clients (coming soon with our unposed guide, but you can get a taste of it in our Shoot Experience Guide available now), we gave ourselves permission to slow down enough to really see them. To not see them as projects or even clients, but two real people with real emotions and real affection for each other. It’s our job to draw that out, and it was an unspeakable privilege.
There is a whole lot more we learned that couldn’t fit into a blog post. A few would be:
  • We learned to always, always save off our photos in multiple locations. We heard too many horror stories to put off buying larger hard drives any longer. Our current favorite is the WD Elements 8TB Desktop Harddrive for $149.99 on Amazon.
  • Always make sure when shooting group shots you up the aperture to >f4 (because if you leave it at f1.4 by mistake you’re going to get many people in the image out of focus!)
  • Bring your own lights (like fairy lights, a little strobe, even your iphone light) for the dance floor because it makes killer images
  • Always arrive early. You’ll have more opportunity to get the lay of the land, shoot detail shots and plan/vision for the day
  • Don’t control emotion. Invite it. Create space for it. You can only shoot what they give you – so help them out. Use the tools in our Shoot Experience Guide to begin, and purchase our Unposed Guide (coming 2019) for the full teaching on this!

We are so excited for 2019 and our wonderful brides and grooms who will get to experience the joys of MARRIAGE!

Athena and Camron

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