Leica Wedding Photographer

HOW I SHOT IT - VALLEY FORGE PHOTO

Learning to get out of your own way…


That phrase really is the best way to describe how I created this shot. This was taken after the sun had already dropped down below the tree line at a beautiful venue in the Valley Forge Historical Park, called The Philander Chase Knox Estate. It’s a venue that I’ve shot at 5 or 6 times now over the past 3 years. The spot that I took these three photos is one that I’ve literally stared at more times than I can remember, simply trying to figure out a creative way of shooting it. It’s a simple man-made pond with a brick walk-way surrounding it. On one end, up near the estate, there’s a little area made of brick that was probably built by hand in the 1700’s, with a small water fountain and concrete statue. On the other end, if you look closely at the photo below, you can see there’s a concrete lined canal or or waterway that leads down to a river. There’s an identical concrete canal on the estate side as well which is a little easier to see in the cell phone photos I had the venue send me. Each canal was made of concrete and had about 6 inches of water running through them.


In the past, I’ve shot photos using reflections from the pond and other similar shots with the estate in the background but nothing that I’ve ever really been happy with. Each time I walk out the back door of the estate it looks at me and screams that there’s creative ways to shoot it which absolutely drives me crazy because until this past wedding, it’s only left me scratching my head.

So, what was the difference this time? Before I took any gear out of my bags, I walked out back and looked at it as if it were the very first time. I forced myself to forget all of the other ideas I’ve had that didn’t work, or simply weren’t all that creative. I’m sure some of you experience this as well, but I have a bad habit of going through the same creative thought process over and over again. Going through the same mental steps that for the most part have treated me pretty good over the years. Well, breaking that process can be pretty challenging but I was hoping that it would be what I needed to finally create something artistic that my clients would love and I would be happy with.

 
 

I walked around the entire pond, looked at it from different angles, but blocked out any thoughts of gear or lighting (both natural and artificial), and within just a few minutes had a brand new idea in my head. I squatted down about 15 feet down the concrete canal between the pond and the stream and had a pretty good vision of what I wanted to capture and how I wanted to do it. Later that night just as the sun went down, I set the shot up, took a couple of test shots and was ready to go.

As much as I feel confident in my creative thought process that I typically use, I’ve been trying more and more to switch things up and break it now. This is the shot I’ve known was there all along, I just had to find it... with new eyes.

FEARLESS PHOTOGRAPHERS - Right On Awards

I simply placed the bride and groom exactly where I wanted them (right in front of the brick wall up near the estate) and asked them to take a few minutes to themselves away from all the excitement. I brought two camera/lens combos with me as I walked around to the other side of the pond and basically laid down over top of the water canal leading down to the stream. There was a concrete ledge about 6 inches wide on each side where I was able to put my knees and elbows.

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The first couple shots I took using the Leica SL and 50mm Summilux M-mount because I specifically wanted to use a little lens flare to help add that little something extra to the composition and draw the viewer’s attention right where I wanted it. I had an AD200 strobe up near the estate, behind the brick wall, about 6 feet above the bride and groom. It was aimed right at me with a Magmod grid and full CTO (my setup for creating lens flare when I don’t have the sun). From my test shot below, you can see how there isn’t a lot of separation between my wife and the brick wall, so I wanted to add another light to create a little more. I put an AD600 strobe right behind the bride and groom, about chest height so that it wouldn’t be too much work to edit out, and I aimed it right at the wall behind them. This brightened the wall and gave me the separation I wanted to see, really making them stand out.

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It only took me 3 shots to get the photo I was looking for and the lens flare exactly how I wanted it. I then had Sandi move the AD200 and move it off to the side a little so it wasn’t directly behind the couple anymore. I switched to the SL and 90mm setup and took a few shots. That was it, done.

The first shot below was taken with the 90mm and the black and white photo was taken with the 50mm, only I turned off the AD200 and only triggered the AD600.

Leica SL  +  Leica 50mm Summilux  | Only the AD600 behind the bride and groom

Leica SL + Leica 50mm Summilux | Only the AD600 behind the bride and groom


GEAR

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COMING SOON:

I just filmed a video tutorial on how I create that beautiful golden hour sun using just one light (GoDox AD200) and what I use to get the awesome lens flare you see in the shot above. It’s all in the light, the lens, and the way that I shoot it, none of the lens flare you see in my photos is created in post.

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New Shotkit Feature

Click on the image below to be taken to my new updated Shotkit feature. I was one of the first featured photographers on the site back in 2015 so it was time for an update. Being that I’ve become good friends with Mark, the owner of Shotkit over the years, I’ll be writing a few new articles for him over the next month or two as well.

A Look Back - Favorite Wedding Photos From 2018

A handful of my favorite wedding and engagement photos from 2018. Click on the image below to be taken to the blog post on the Twisted Oaks website.

Acadia Family Adventures 2018

I started vacationing up in Maine, right outside of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, ever since I think I was able to drive. A good friend and his family have a house on a lake up in Ellsworth and once they offered the house to us once, it became a family tradition. I started dating my wife Sandi when I was 19 and I took her up with me a year after we started dating. We traveled up there just about every year after, skipping a year here and there, but not many. In 2016, after 7 long years of struggling with infertility, Sandi was 8 months pregnant with our son when we decided to head up again before having him.

That year, which was 3 years after my Mom passed, we drove out to a tree that she had always taken pictures of. It’s a tree that sits all alone in a wide open wild blueberry field. It’s the most picturesque looking scene I think I’ve ever seen. There was always something special about that tree for me, and I wanted to give it an even more important meaning in my life… in my family’s life. I took a few maternity photos of Sandi at the tree that year and had the idea of going back to take a new photo every couple years of the two of them. This year, 2018, my son Luke turned 4 while we were up in Maine. I will admit, we had a busy year and were originally not going to go, but it was because of this one single photo that I decided to make the drive anyways. Luke turns four today, September 30th, but we celebrated his 4th birthday while we were up there with him. On Wednesday, we drove out to the tree and I was able to get the shot of Sandi and Luke together. You can see all three shots below. Not only did Luke get bigger with each photo, but so did the tree, interestingly enough.

 
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We had a great week and stayed at a new place right in Acadia this year, just to switch things up a little. Having been two years since Luke had last been there, it was pretty neat to see just how different this trip was for him. Much better on his feet compared to the last time, he was a lot more adventurous and if anything I had to constantly keep my eye on him as he had no fear. Both Sandi and I bring our cameras with us no matter where we go when we’re up there. We also make it a point to only have them out for short periods of time. Each and every year while I’m there, I tell myself to put the camera down. Each and every year once I get back home and see the edited photos in a gallery, I tell myself I should have taken more.

2016 Adventures

Creative Storytelling (Full Video) - B&H Event Space

A little bit about how I got started in wedding photography, building relationships with my clients, to taking your storytelling game to the next level. 

Skip ahead through the silence to the 2:40 mark.