When I met Stefanie and David for the first time to discuss being their wedding photographer, there was a quiet calmness between them. At first, the quietness made me nervous that perhaps I wasn’t saying the right things or that I was going to miss out on an opportunity to work with them. However, the more time I spent with them, the more it became evident that the calmness was more of a contentment. Stefanie and David were just happy to be with each other. It didn’t matter what they were doing, where they were, or what the day may bring, they were just happy to be in each other’s presence. I suppose this is what happens when you are high school sweethearts who have spent the majority of your teen and adult years together.
This contentment really showed itself on their engagement session. We scheduled to shoot at the Edsel Ford Mansion; what began as a beautiful sunny day turned into a downpour of abnormal July rain. The rain was so heavy that it lessened our ability to see. Regardless, Stefanie and David huddled under a tiny clear umbrella and ventured out into a rose garden to capture some of my favorite shots of the season. Again, it didn’t matter that the session was “ruined” or that her white dress got wet – she was just happy to be in his arms.
As it would turn out, the morning of her wedding day was filled with rain with the possibility of showers later in the day. Hair and makeup were running late. David was lounging in the hotel’s robe. Things weren’t going to schedule. Still, Stefanie was unshaken and content – these little things didn’t matter. She was marrying her best friend who has proven himself as a gentleman and a partner for the past 8 years.
As luck would have it, the rain cleared and held off for the remainder of the day. We still squeezed in their First Look. The grounds at the Inn at St. John’s were green, lush, and beautiful. She would walk away with the love of her life and beautiful wedding photos to remember the day.
Stefanie and David’s wedding at the Inn at St. John’s located in Plymouth Michigan. The Inn at St. John’s is a beautiful golf, conference, and wedding venue.
I met Richard and Brianna two years ago when they booked me for their wedding. I was a bit nervous to take them on as clients as all three of us seemed to be more introverted. What I didn’t anticipate was just how much both Brianna and Richard would open up when in each other’s presence. During their engagement session, the seemingly quiet couple embraced, laughed, and displayed a sense of partnership using the city of Rochester as their backdrop. Their demeanor was no different on their wedding day. Brianna was so excited to get her day started that she was dressed and nearly ready to walk down the aisle when I first arrived at her house! Richard was quiet and contemplative until he got to see his bride for the first time. His initial speechlessness turned to words of admiration and praise during their first look. From that point on, both the bride and groom became both their own selves as well as one, having fun and focusing their attention solely on each other. We spent the morning at Bald Mountain in Lake Orion, taking photos, hanging out with their friends, and making memories before heading to Christ the Redeemer just a few miles away for their ceremony.
With every wedding, I shoot for three things – elegance, emotion, and timelessness. By shooting in nature, the backdrop reflects their love – calm and timeless. These photos from their day are some of my favorites of the wedding season so far.
Outdoor wedding in a field. Bridal party wore read dresses while the bride held a complimentary matching red bouquet. The groom and his groomsmen donned tuxedos from The Black Tux and rocked their longboards in an epic portrait. While the wedding didn’t take place outdoors, their wedding formals took place in nature (Bald Mountain in Lake Orion, Michigan). Ceremony took place at Christ the Redeemer in Lake Orion while the reception took place at Rivercrest in Rochester. Rodney Page deejayed and provided the guests with a live violin performance as well as some improvised beatboxing.
Two years ago, I sat down at a table with some old friends at one of the weddings I was shooting. It was great to catch up on what everyone was doing. There, I got to meet Mike’s then-girlfriend Laura. Their partnership was impressive. Mike, co-founder of a data-based technology start-up with contracts with the federal government. Laura was working on her Ph.D. in an equally impressive field. They split their time between Chicago, where Mike’s business was based, and Seattle, where Laura was working on her advanced degree. Despite the physical distance between them and demands on their time, their relationship was solid. I joked with Mike later that night, “so are you next?” He bashfully told me, “we will see.”
Mike and Laura both went to the University of Michigan, where they met through mutual friends. It only seemed fitting for them to begin their marriage where they began their relationship. Both of them got ready at the beautiful Campus Inn, a luxury hotel located on campus. From there, we headed to the Law Quad, where Mike and Laura quietly held their First Look under the towering oak trees. With few onlookers since school hadn’t yet started, they had the entire Law Quad to themselves. The afternoon was a casual affair with their bridal party and family joining us for formals before the ceremony, which was held at St Mary’s Student Parish. On our walk to the church, we stopped by the Art Museum and other U of M landmarks before ending our night dancing and celebrating at the Michigan League.
As the night began to wind down and the photography slowed, I couldn’t help but to be happy. Mike is one of the most kind, intelligent, and hard working guys I know. I know he will work just as hard at his marriage as he has on his career. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the unconditional love his wife will offer him. Best wishes to you both…
This wedding photography took place around the campus of the University of Michigan and included such locations as the University of Michigan Law Quad, University of Michigan Art Museum, St. Mary’s Student Parish, the Campus Inn, and the University of Michigan League.
This year I wanted to add a new dimension to my photography and a new tool in my creative tool belt. After taking a workshop with one of my favorite photographers, Scott Robert Lim, I decided to invest further in my education of off camera flash. If you have been following my posts on Facebook and Instagram, you might have seen some dramatic bridal portraits that have incorporated flash. These portraits and the flash set ups used add a sense of depth and drama to the image and the wedding day. (I actually did a video tutorial explaining an image I created using flash, which you can check out here. The set up is simple and the gear isn’t too expensive for the effect it creates.)
Today, I took some senior portraits for a friend and found an opportunity to use flash again. Many of my portraits and wedding day shots are taken using natural light; however, when the situation presents itself (and I have a few extra minutes to set up the gear on a wedding day) I will bring in a simple lighting set up. Let’s take a look, step-by-step, of the lighting, the gear used, and the final product. Below is a photo in natural light. The small stream and large rock located in it presented a great opportunity for a nice portrait. Luckily, he was adventurous enough to wade out there without any shoes for the shot (thanks Dane!)
Not a bad shot, but there could be a bit more separation of the subject from the background and it would be nice to fill in the shadows from his brow. Wanting a little more pop to the photo, I put a flash with a simple octobox modifier to camera left, dialed in, and got this shot:
Ok, closer but not exactly what I was looking for. We got the separation between him and the background a bit. I liked how the sides of the photo have more of a vignette to it, but now we have more shadows on his face because it is just one light. I couldn’t have him turn more to his right since it would look uncomfortable, and I couldn’t move the light to the right, closer to the camera because of the stream. Instead, I filled in the shadows with another flash, powered two stops below the main light and shot through an umbrella to get this image.
This, I can be happy with. The subject now pops and stands out from the background, the light is concentrated more on him than the rest of the foreground, the pose is masculine and the smile is genuine. This is a framer that mom would be happy with.
Let’s compare side-by-side to see the difference.
Right now, being a “natural light” photographer is all of the rage, as if it is more of an organic way of shooting. Am I a natural light photographer? 95% of the time, yes. But there are opportunities when bringing in off camera flash produces a more appealing and classic look than natural light. Every photographer who is comfortable knowing, using, and controlling flashes can be a natural light photographer, but not every natural light photographer can be a flash photographer.
All of the images are straight out of camera, meaning that no touchups or Photoshop has been done to them.