Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On Assignment: Engagement Session

You might remember Rachel form a previous blog where I was testing out some new gear and then later when I did another session with Rachel and her brother. Rachel and I used to work together and she must really like my work because she called wanting me to do her engagement session.
We were discussing locations and I happen to throw out the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens requires a special event fee for professional photography on their property. When I suggested it, I was thinking of keeping it on the down low, only bringing a camera and 2 lenses. Many photographers have done this without any problems. Rachel loved the idea, but wanted to make sure we played by the rules and she made the arrangements and paid the special event fee. Rachel, you rock!

Since we had permission to do professional photography on location, I decided to bring my normal gear including a light stand and 60" umbrella. The special event fee also allowed up to 10 guests. Rachel invited her mom and stepdad, I invited Robin, a photographer & friend to help assist. I've assisted Robin on a couple weddings and I figured since I don't do weddings, this might be a good idea for Rachel & Robin to meet. If you're looking for a great, reliable and talented wedding photographer, check out her site here. Thank you Robin for your help, I couldn't have done this without you.

Once we were in, we had no problems. I actually thought that maybe we would be escorted or have someone that would be checking in on us, but we were left alone the entire time. Phil, Rachel's fiance was a little worried thinking that I might make him do goofy poses like jumping or something silly. I assured him that would not be the case. I don't try to force or stage a pose if it's not part of an individual's personality. I want my clients to be comfortable, relaxed and themselves in front of the camera. Most guys are not comfortable in front of the camera anyway. Later at the end of the shoot, Phil said it was not as bad as he thought it would be and actually enjoyed it.

I shot almost everything in natural light. Only using a reflector or scrim to help fill or diffuse the sunlight. You can't get a better backdrop for an engagement session than the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. A great looking couple in a beautiful backdrop and you've got some gorgeous shots. Here are some of my favorite of the day.

 I typically don't do black & white processing, but as I looked at some of the images, I knew they would look better in black & white instead of color.

I'm lucky to get a great looking couple. Seriously, in some of these shots they look like professional models or like they could be on a magazine cover.

I only used my flash for one setup shot. I liked this particular location, but I wasn't getting the light I wanted. Specifically, the sky was blown and going nuclear. I wanted the clear blue sky that I was seeing at the time.
 The image above was shot at 1/250 at ƒ/5.6 ISO 400. I exposed for the subject, but the sky is too bright. I needed to under expose the sky and that required a flash to help balance the light levels. Also notice the eye are dark. 

Big difference in these last 2 shots. Camera settings were 1/250 at ƒ/5.0 ISO 100. 580EXII flash at full power using a 60" reflective umbrella. Although shutter speed was the same and aperture setting was almost the same, I adjusted the ISO - 2 stops to bring down the ambient light. Bringing in all of my gear helped pull this shot off.

Had a great time at this session. It was my first time at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It's going to be difficult to top any future engagement sessions. Congratulations Rachel & Phil. I know you'll have a beautiful wedding and a wonderful marriage.

Robin, thank you for being my sherpa, hauling my gear around and holding the reflector & scrim. Your help was greatly appreciated and you know I'll return the favor.

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.

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