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South Jersey wedding photographer Jay Cassario blog. Writer for SLR Lounge and Shotkit.com. 

Shooting Between The Lines

Jay Cassario

This past Saturday, I shot my first wedding since moving into our new office/studio. I knew that bringing camera gear back and forth would eventually lead to me leaving something at the studio that I needed for a wedding. I just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. Low and behold, as I’m packing the truck to leave for our wedding, something was missing. Yep, I did it, I left one of my favorite cameras, my Leica M240, at the studio. Not only did I not have time to drive 15 minutes in the opposite direction to go pick it up, I really didn’t want to hear the “I told you so” speech this early into owning the studio. So, I sucked it up, and while I was pissed at first I quickly realized this could be a good thing.

I’ve found that anytime I’m using one camera/lens combo too much, its a bad thing for my creativity. I have been using the Leica M240 + 35 or 50 combo A LOT the past 10 weddings or so. Knowing that I wouldn’t have it, I decided to completely change up how I see things and use the Pentax645Z that I really haven’t used all that much because of the 90mm lens that I have for it. I don’t typically like shooting with long lenses, even my 85mm primes, it’s just not comfortable for me. My mind I guess doesn’t work that way. I also wanted to use the tilt-shift lens more since I haven’t been. Lastly, I wanted to really focus on using lines creatively. We were going to be walking around a small town for bride/groom portraits, so I knew there would be plenty to work with. Plus, we had an awesome bride and groom to work with who left everything in our hands as far as creativity goes and the shots we would take.

Below are a few images that I processed already, and wanted to share my thought process a little with three of them. I’m glad I left the Leica at the studio, cause I probably wouldn’t have gotten these shots, I would have been shooting my Leica instead. I really love the lines in these images, so I wanted to share them with you all, and really push you do pick something like this each wedding to get outside of your own box. Lines are something I use a lot in my shooting, but I really focused on them even more at this wedding.

1. The first shot below, I used a very tight ally leading up to their apartment. Normally, for a shot like this, I would go with the Sigma 24mm shot wide open at 1.4. For this shot though, I wanted switch it up and go with a very shallow DOF. In order to get the walls still in the shot, to make use of the lines from the bricks, I knew my best chance of getting the look I wanted was with a pano shot. I chose to take the risk and go with a Brenizer shot, 9 shots merged together in PS, to and luckily since I’ve been doing these more recently… it came out perfectly. I shot this with the Pentax645Z and 90mm f/2.8, which has a pretty large file size with one image let alone 9. Once the images were merged, I had to downsize it from 18k Pixels wide, ha. Theres another Brenizer shot below that I did as well, see if you can figure out which one it is :)

2. The 2nd shot, I used the 45mm tilt-shift on the Canon 5D Mark3 to change up the focal plane. Scoping out the area, I knew the lines from the overhead structure at this coffee shop would work for something creative. Since there were so many lines to work with, my eyes were drawn more to the empty spaces in between. I noticed the empty space you see in the image below, and knew I wanted to get their heads or upper bodies in there. The problem was that when I got down low to shoot it, it was a bad angle. It was an unflattering angle since I was using a 45mm focal length. Sandi and I looked at each other and immediately thought the same thing, see if they would hop up on the small tables. Sandi looked over at them and asked how risky they wanted to get, they smiled and said they were up for anything. So, that's what we did, and it worked perfectly. We had them climb up on two separate tables and hold hands. Once they were up there, I was able to get their upper bodies in the empty spaces without having a unflattering angle. (My favorite shot of the day)

3. This is an image that most would look at and not think of lines, but it was a very big part of how I shot it. The bride wanted a veil shot, and since I have been doing the same thing with them for a while, I wanted to do it a little different. I usually like to put the veil over their heads and try to get a clean shot of them from underneath of it myself. This time, the material was easy to see through, and she had such stunning eyes, I wanted to shoot through it. BUT, that alone wouldn't be enough, I needed to use lines. I wanted to have the angle of the vale opposite of the lines of their faces. I had her slightly tilt her head back, had him lean his head forward, and I had Sandi hold the vale so that it gave me a straight line. I was using Live View so she could see exactly what I was seeing and she held it at the perfect angle to get the shot we wanted. I took 2 shots, this was one... and we were done.

Hopefully you learned a little something and if nothing else, you'll pick something to work on at your next shoot or wedding. Below are a few more images I processed from the wedding. You can see how I used lines in some of them as well, a couple of them I just threw in here cause I liked how they came out :)