7 tips of the trade

The New York Times recently profiled famous photographer Denis Reggie. As the article says, he has photographed some pretty spectacular weddings – Chelsea Clinton and Vera Wang – to name a couple.

Denis introduced the wedding world to photojournalism. It’s the idea that weddings should be captured and not directed. We love that approach!

Here’s his list of 7 tips for great wedding pictures.

1) Overlook the obvious. Skip the cliche moments. “Look for the unexpected,” he said. “The reason so many people don’t get those real moments, is they are busy trying to orchestrate them, ‘Come over here, you’re here, turn this way.’”

2) Be unobtrusive … somewhat. “Weddings are inherently crowded spaces, so while a long lens can be great for a garden wedding, they are not the ultimate tool for capturing people shoulder to shoulder, trying to get a glance at the bride’s sparkly ring.”

3) Work fast. A key to capturing those real moments is not trying to force them. Mr. Reggie does take classic group shots of the wedding party, but, “I think it’s an 11-minute process,” he said. “Eleven minutes is about all people can tolerate.” Any longer and people begin to look bored and stiff.

4) Use a flash — carefully. Light bounced off a red wall shouldn’t tint the bride’s white dress pink.

5) The eyes have it. The most important thing to have sharp is the eyes. If shooting a couple where one is closer to the camera, “Aim a third of the way behind the nearest point you want in focus,” he said. “Maybe it’s her shoulder, maybe it’s his boutonniere. That is most likely to get both sets of eyes tack sharp, even though the focus wasn’t on either of them.”

6) Edit hard. Because he is looking for the unexpected, Mr. Reggie keeps his eye to the camera and shoots a lot of images, an average of 3,500 for his typical 10 hours at a wedding, he said.

7) Photoshop lightly. “Photoshop is salt and pepper, not the steak,” he said. “Photoshop is at its best when the use of it is not evident.” He uses it for emergency repairs only. “I hate to modify reality, but when a moment is perfect, I don’t want something to distract.”

Most of all, Mr. Reggie said, keep in mind you are recording an event, not orchestrating it. If you miss a moment, you can’t get it back—and you shouldn’t try to. “I like to never ask anyone to ‘do it again.’ If I miss a kiss, let it go,” he said. “I think people know if it’s real or staged — it shows in the eyes.”

Read the full New York Times article here.

Thanks for the link, Nancy!

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