Monday, November 2, 2015

Behind The Frame: Finding Tension

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This photograph that I love so much, taken at Jane's Carousel, almost didn't happen.  It was the first week of November and an incredibly, unseasonably,  ridiculously freezing day.  I was shooting this gorgeous couple (and fellow very talented photographers) anniversary session in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, which is right on the water making the cold day even colder.  There was terrible traffic and they ran late and I started to panic that we were going to lose all of our lovely golden light because we had timed it for sunset.  They almost threw in the towel and cancelled the whole thing, but luckily decided to brave the blustery wind and bundle up for what has become one of my favorite sessions ever.  There are a lot of elements that went into making this photo a favorite of mine.  The first is the styling, which was 100% their doing and is a wonderful example of how to style your session for cold weather.  Their coats and matching leather gloves are absolutely beautiful and make the photographs feel classically New York while also seeming like they were ripped out of a page of a fashion magazine.  The second element is the light.  This is why you want to shoot at golden hour!  The gorgeous pink and golden light streaming in through the back of the carousel takes this photo from good to epic, or even iconic in my book.  The last part is the pose.  The bride and groom kissing is always a classic choice, but there are so many variations on that pose you can do.  We'd already taken a few sexier ones along the water where his arms were wrapped around her waist and her hands were in his hair- a pose that will always ready as passionate and urgent, but in front of the carousel I wanted something a little sweeter.  I had them stand facing each other and hold hands, which I loved because not only does it look good, but it feels right in the context of the day because it is a very natural thing to hold the hand of your spouse to keep each others hands warm on a cold day.  I took a photo first of them just looking at each other and then told them to kiss.  When I instruct couples to kiss I'll often say to move in for the kiss very slowly smiling at each other at the last second before your lips touch and to do the same as your lips part ways again- like you kissed for the very first time full of excitement and adoration for each other.  This moment is in the millisecond before their lips touch and you can see the bride still smiling at her groom.  The piece that really makes the photo for me though is the slight upward tilt as she stands on tiptoe to give him a kiss.  Not only does going on tiptoe make your legs look great, but it creates tension in the image.  It shows movement in an otherwise still photo and as a viewer you are drawn into the frame imagining her rising up on tiptoe to kiss him.  I always try to achieve a little bit of that tension in the frame and will often tell my couples to actively pull each other in- the bride tugging on a coat or lapel or the groom relaxing for a second then pulling the bride in at the waist so it is an active embrace.  It's incredibly subtle, but it makes all the difference in the frame.

This was shot on my Contax 645 on Kodak Portra 400 at F2.8, metered at 320 and pushed one stop.  Processed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab.

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