Pern's Ponderings

Check here periodically for my musings on photography. In this space, we'll explore how I achieved particular photographs, tips and tricks to get the most out of your camera or even just my thoughts on the world at large. 

Wedding Day

Working primarily as a landscape and nature photographer, I am often able to singularly focus on capturing whatever it is I have set out to photograph. Whether it's creating a unique image of a well-known landmark or capturing the critical moment as an osprey swoops toward its prey, there is very little pressure to create any one particular image. If I miss an opportunity, I'm usually the only one who will know that I missed it. 

Wedding photography, as you can imagine, is an entirely different animal, and with it comes an entire set of challenges and pressures unique to the industry. I had the great fortune of experiencing these challenges earlier this month while shooting Bria and Bill's wedding.

The challenge, of course, was to document the day in a such a way that I could express my creativity and my own vision, while telling the story of their celebration. It was equal parts photojournalism, studio photography and landscape photography. 

I've known the bride for years, going back to our days working together in a restaurant as teenagers. Bria and Bill are among the most low-key people you could ever meet, and their wedding suited their personalities perfectly. 

Shorts and sandals were more plentiful than ties and tuxes, and they didn't adhere to many of the more mundane wedding traditions such as cutting a cake or doing a first dance.

The bride and groom were very easygoing were hoping to have a few shots taken with their family and friends on their big day and they had very few expectations beyond that. 

However, having just gotten married a year ago and being tremendously pleased with the work of my wedding photographer, I felt a great responsibility to do as good a job for Bria and Bill as my photographer did for my wife and I.

Bria and I communicated well in the lead-up to her big day, and I knew exactly the shots she and Bill hoped to get. Their families and friends were incredibly friendly and accommodating, making it easy to set them up for group shots. They were always looking at the camera and smiling with eyes open. They were a group of models, I told Bria!

Thankfully, I had my trusty assistant, Al (who happens to be my father) on hand to help me out. He captured different angles of the big moments and different images of the partygoers — often one-handed, as he helped me swap lenses and set up equipment — that were a welcome addition to the final slideshow.

The jewel of the day was my idea to take a long exposure of Bria and Bill kissing under the iconic Towers of Narragansett, R.I. To me, the image represents what a marriage truly embodies — no matter how fast life goes on around them, Bill and Bria will remain as rock steady in their love for each other as the massive stone structure behind them.  

Which is a perfectly lovely and sappy sentiment, but I had to somehow make the image without getting my bride and groom killed in the process. 

We set up at the side of the road and I asked Bria and Bill to remain there while I stepped into the middle of the street to take some test shots. Once I felt like I had my settings down (11mm shot at f/8), I called Bria and Bill into the street, set my camera back down on the tripod and got ready to take a 6-second exposure using a 4-stop neutral density filter to combat the midday sun. 

The problem was, when we got in position, the drivers passing by decided to respectfully wait for us to finish and my first two images basically looked like Bill and Bria holding up traffic to kiss in the street! 

Thankfully, Al came to the rescue and began directing traffic to move around the bride and groom (not through them!) and we were able to capture the shot. 

We captured plenty more images during the ensuing five hours, but I was overjoyed to see this particular image I had in my mind come to life. 

Whatever pressure I put on myself to lend my unique vision to Bria and Bill's big day dissipated after that, and I knew I was going to give them some images I could be proud of. Of course, it helped that I had a good assistant and a bride and groom willing to risk their necks to help me get the shot! 

Congratulations to Bria and Bill. Thank you for allowing me the chance to broaden my creative horizons and be a part of your celebration. 

Please take a moment to view this abbreviate slideshow of their big day. A more complete gallery can be found in the password-protected client space. 

by Brian Pernicone