Samantha Adkins and John Bawden

One of the areas I have been experimenting in is groupings. It’s easy and fast to line everybody up in a straight line; and when I am short on time, that’s exactly what I will do. However, if I get some time, I like to play with different arrangements. Groupings have their own language. By the way you place people in the group – front to back, side to side, top to bottom – makes a statement. It makes a statement about how that person relates to the group and each person’s role in the group. You look at the image on the left, and you can tell immediately who the groom and the best man are just by how they are positioned.

Maggie Blice and Derek Mason

I will photograph at Walnut Creek several times a year. I like the people who own it and run it. Walnut Creek treats their customers well, unlike some chapels I have photographed in.

I will often tell people that weddings are combination of the created and the captured. The image on the right, taken by my assistant Andrea, is very captured – just a spontaneous moment with the flower girls. The image on the right is created – the bride and the groom didn’t just happen to be in that spot posed that way. “Wedding Photojournalism” is nice, but it only captures. Some images must be created to illustrate the emotion of the day.

Nichole Simms and Michael Fischer

After a two year hiatus, I end up photographing Coles Garden two weekends in a row. It’s odd how that happens. I’ll photograph a location consistently and then I don’t photograph there for awhile.

I think this is my favorite image of Coles Garden’s signature waterfall. The waterfall faces east, so it is lit early in the day. This, of course, would put the couple looking directly into the sun [read: not good]. Later in the day the waterfall is back lit, and it loses its appeal. This image was taken well after sunset.

Lori Brown and Joe Kreke

Coles Garden is both great and awful. I love all the green, the water features and the nicely manicured spaces. It is a wonderful place to take photographs – but only at certain times of the day. The lack of tree cover and shade make light control extremely difficult during the middle of the day. And if you’ve ever heard me talk before, light control is paramount. Good lighting makes you look good; bad lighting, well… Anyone can take a flash and put it on top of the camera (bad lighting). It takes work to make good lighting, and at Coles it takes even more work.

After the groups and formals we had a wonderful time wandering around the grounds creating some fantastic images of Lori and Joe. Coles Garden really is a beautiful spot for weddings.

Alyssa Thomas and Jerod Fitzgerald

Trinity Nazarene is large church with beautiful columns out front. I didn’t predict it would become the focal point of two of my favorite images.

We had a little time left over with the guys before I started with the ladies. Captured using two of my favorite toys (the Infra Red camera and my fish eye lens.)

I would have really preferred that the second image have been shot at sunset. However, the timing of the ceremony did not allow that. So we did the next best thing and did a night shot.

Rapidly Declining

The quality of wedding photography – on the whole – is rapidly declining. It saddens me to see this.

The problem is, a lot of people with decent digital cameras decide they can photograph weddings. Most of these newcomers have no knowledge of what actually makes a good photograph. They take their flash and stick it on their camera in TTL mode, put the camera in Program and take hundreds or thousands of photographs. “It looks right on the back of the camera, so it must be right. Anyways, I can fix it Photoshop.” Both of those statements are inaccurate.

Every photograph rests on four foundational pillars: 1)Focus (including depth-of-field), 2)Exposure (including color balance), 3)Composition (including lens selection) and 4)Lighting. The better the foundation, the better the photograph. A camera with an on camera flash in program mode IS NOT capable of getting creating a quality photograph. It is – quite simply – bad photography.

The magazines that cater to professional photographers are not helping matters. They publish images that lack the fundamental basics of good photographs. Professional photographers have not helped themselves either. Many are just lazy and use poor techniques when it comes to photographing weddings. Prices of good digital cameras continue to decline encouraging more people to move into the business.

Take all those ingredients and stir them up and what do you get? It’s not pretty and it smells bad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.