Wednesday February 15th, 2012 11:46 AM
“How do you achieve such emotionally moving photos?” That was what María wanted to know as she interviewed me for Wevents. María and her colleague Carlota have recently started the wedding planning business. The idea is that you tell them about your dream wedding and sit back while they get on and organise it. Wedding planners are well established in the UK and now, increasingly, in Spain too.
Anyway, back to the question and the answer is a combination of things. As noted in previous posts, light and composition but importantly too patience, observation and anticipation. And I get close to the action. It’s the best way to improve your photographs. The trick is to do so without bothering those around you or interrupting the proceedings.
Friday February 3rd, 2012 04:30 PM
The call came just as my feet were finally getting warm in my draughty study. It was -4C outside and snowing and I was happy to spend the morning doing admin. “Ah James, I bet it’s snowed lots in Ezcaray,” said the voice on the line. “How about going and getting us some photos.” It was Javier from Diario La Rioja.
I normally like getting calls from the picture desk of the newspaper. They call me up from time to time to go and take a portrait of someone or if something exciting is going on in my corner of La Rioja. Being sent out by the paper is a good way to meet local people and also gives me the chance to try out new techniques.
With the freezing weather yesterday, I was a bit less enthusiastic than normal but, on the other hand, how can you refuse the chance to play in the snow, even if it means numb fingers and toes? And of course it was nice to see this morning one of my pictures on the front page, despite strong competition from the paper’s other photographers.
Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 05:01 PM
I’m often asked to recommend cameras and whether one model is better than another because it has a bigger zoom lens. And I reply that, generally speaking, the best way to zoom into a scene is by using your legs. It’s also the cheapest option.
Take the image above and first two below at the recent wedding of Hanna and Bosco at Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Basque Country. They’re all taken with the lens set around 30mm. The first shows the overall setting and the amazing architecture of Frank Gehry’s building. The second is of those present and the third as Bosco comes over to thank his brother after a moving speech.
I could have stayed where I was and used a telephoto lens for the second and third shots but I doubt I’d have obtained an image that conveys the emotion of the moment while keeping the context and even a bit of the dusk sky. And that is so key to my style of photography.
I do carry a telephoto lens with me at weddings which is used mostly for the portraits of the couple. When I get back home, I typically find I’ve taken around 50 images with the telephoto and 950 with the wider angle lens set at 30-50mm. In this gallery of 33 images, only one is taken with the telephoto. Can you see which it is? And why?
The albums are here and they’re great. A thousand thanks for everything; your professionalism and understanding. We’d recommend you to anyone getting married in Alava.
A big hug,
Friday October 7th, 2011 06:29 PM
At weddings I try to record the drama and emotion without drawing attention to myself and that is one of the main reasons that I hardly use flash. It is too distracting and intrusive. I took around 4,000 photos at weddings in July and didn’t use flash even once. That said, I usually have a flash on me because, well, you never know…
And that moment came towards the end of Ixone’s and Sergio’s wedding at the Echaurren in Ezcaray last month. It was dark and I noticed the bride being sent to the far end of the terrace where there were no lights. While she had her back turned, her friends were given candles and flowers. Clearly something special was going to happen. But it was going to happen in, at best, candle light. Candle light is beautiful but forces you to shoot with slow shutter speeds where blurred images are always a risk.
So out came the flash. The key to graceful flash is to bounce the light off something large (normally a wall) so it comes back soft and directional. As luck would have it, Ixone was standing under a large white parasol – just perfect. The above image is one of my favourites of the wedding season.
Sunday August 28th, 2011 10:50 AM
There are many ways to add elegance and interest to images through the creative use of composition but, to my mind, one of the most effective is through symmetry and repetition. There’s something that the human brain likes about seeing a reflection or pattern in things.
I took these shots at a wedding in Ezcaray, La Rioja, in July and, looking over them again in recent days, was struck by how many of my favourite photos gained poise and balance through symmetry. I like the photo above of Cristina because of the beautiful light and also how it conveys the notion of a bride standing in the doorway of the family home about to step into a new chapter of life.
But it’s her refection in the mirror as she looks back over her shoulder which finishes the picture and adds a something a bit special.
Both in that picture and the first one below, it’s a doorframe which helps separate the different parts of the image. In the second photo the symmetry comes from the fact that Cristina’s mother and sister are both bent over in a similar way as they get ready before the ceremony. You can work out for yourself the symmetry in the third image!
You don’t want to overplay the symmetry card – it would destroy the element of surprise – but a few choice images help add panache and humour to a wedding album.