Just when I think after 500ish weddings I’ve run into all of the challenges out there, life shows me how wrong I am … and I’m thankful for it. Without challenge, growth is slow and meandering.
On Friday morning, Tatiana and I got an e-mail from Kristin asking if we could do a long-exposure shot with shooting sparks. There were just a couple challenges 1) We had never taken this kind of photo before. 2) The wedding was also on Friday, and we were packing to leave.
Generally, photography tricks are modifications and extensions of existing techniques. I never would have thought up the so-called “Brenizer method” if I hadn’t already been experienced in regular panoramas, and while we’d never lit anything on fire and violently swung it around for a wedding photo, I was experienced enough in the other basic skills of night-time long exposures — such as exposing and composing a photo without being able to see anything that you’re doing — that we said we’d give it a try.
When pushing the envelope at a wedding, it is absolutely vital to manage expectations. I often ask couples if they want to take a given amount of time for something that might be awesome, or might be absolutely terrible. In the rare situation that we’re trying a new technique on the wedding day, we made absolutely clear that the result might be no photo at all, especially given that by doing this during the time of the reception we had time for only one frame.
That’s right — this photo is not only the very first time I’ve tried this technique but also, as of this writing, the last. Treading new ground on a tight time frame could only have been achieved with the capable help of Tatiana, who talked them through the posing and lit them with flash.
Important note: while I wasn’t sure whether we’d get a photo, I did make really sure that at least we wouldn’t set anything or anyone on fire. The bridge wasn’t just a pretty bit of symmetry for the photo — it also made sure we were surrounded by steel, concrete, and water. I was also farther away than it may look, though there is no such thing as too paranoid, especially when around highly inflammable things like lace (which we weren’t) or hair-sprayed hair (which distance and angle of velocity made exceedingly unlikely to get hit, but anything is possible, hence eager, informed consent from bride and nearby water).
Thank you Michael and Kristin for encouraging us toward creative and literal sparks.