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Anticipating Moments - Creative Storytelling

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

Anticipating Moments - Creative Storytelling

Jay Cassario

As a wedding photographer, what could be better than delivering a truly candid image to your couple that genuinely means something to them?  These images may not be super flashy or ones that you can throw up on Facebook and expect to get a whole bunch of "likes" from.  They often times are images that don't even make our portfolio.  But, these are images that you can deliver to your client knowing that they will love them.  In the end, that is all that really matters in our line of work.  

To capture these moments requires a lot of anticipation and well, luck!  Yes luck!  The biggest reason for this is that we personally don’t believe in interrupting or aiding a special moment for our couples to make a better photograph.  I would rather shoot an average image that captures the genuine moment, than an amazing image that won’t mean as much to the couple because we interfered with something that was genuine to their wedding day.  That said, all we can do as Photographers is put ourselves in a good position, with good lighting (when possible), in anticipation of a moment.  Then we wait and keep our fingers crossed for some good old fashion luck!  Tyler Wirken has a great acronym for this but I don’t remember exactly what it is.  However, he lives by Lighting, Composition, and Moment (that may actually be the acronym....) and I couldn’t agree with him more about that. I only strive to do it as well as he does, though!

So on to some images from this past year where everything did come together just perfectly and they ended up being images that did make the top of our portfolio, and got a lot of "likes".

With this image, I already knew the bride wanted to do a reveal with her bridesmaids because she told me she did.  I also knew that she was going to get in her wedding dress upstairs which meant the Bridesmaids would most likely have to be waiting for her at the bottom of the steps.  In an ideal world all the bridesmaids are layered within the mirror.  In a typical wedding day world, there isn’t a single bridesmaid standing in view of the mirror.  On this particular wedding day though, a little luck was on my side!  I missed a few bridesmaids, actually about 1/2 of them with this shot.  But the result still told the story that I wanted to tell and it told that story in a very unique way.  Most importantly though, it told that story in a way that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with my Bride and her Bridesmaids.  Keep in mind, as soon as she stepped off of the staircase I immediately stood up and stepped back to capture all 8 of the bridesmaids seeing her.  Always get a safe shot!  Even if I’m about to contradict that statement……

With this next image I may have not been following my own rule about getting a safe shot but I had a vision and from experience, I knew I could get the shot, well I was pretty sure.  

I was told before the wedding day that they were going to be doing a sparkler last dance to end the evening.  With this image I wanted the sparklers to really pop so I dropped my shutter speed to 1/15th of a second.  The flash was gridded and pointed directly at the couple from the camera’s hot shoe, no that is not a typo.  I used direct on camera flash and was happy about it.  The reason for that was I wanted to provide just enough fill to freeze the couple's motion but at the same time affect the sparklers as little as possible.  That was my thought process and when the DJ gave me the heads up that it was the next song I got into position and was ready to go.  One problem.  My idea of a last dance with sparklers didn’t involve a lot of fast dancing and jumping around.  Jeff & Reid’s version on the other hand did.  Well I wasn’t set up to freeze that kind of fast paced motion.  Decision time.  I could bump up my flash power and speed up my shutter speed to get something I could deliver.  Or I could stick with the shot I knew I wanted.  I stuck with it because based on experience, I knew that at some point they would stop to kiss or exchange a loving look.  Anticipating that, and with a little bit of luck in the fact that they stopped to kiss in exactly the right spot, I got the shot that completed their wedding story.  And it won us Junebug’s Best of the Best Wedding Images for 2015.

Here are a few more images that I absolutely love and I think truly had meaning to the couple.

Moments-101-10.jpg

These are just a few examples where everything came together.  The anticipation, the moment, and a little luck, all combined in the perfect storm to create something I feel was really special.  These are images that I think really show the emotion of a genuine moment.  A moment that we had nothing to do with besides documenting it with a photograph.  Now don’t get me wrong, we pose and stage all the time for portraits and love doing it!  But that is during the time that the couple gave to us on their wedding day to be in control of.  The more photojournalistic approach is what we take for everything else.  It’s our job to find a hands off way to make those images look awesome!