I just wanted to share that my photos from a wedding last year at Sotterly Plantation were used in an online publication called Rustic Weddings. Here’s the link for you to go and read the article and see the images: http://rusticweddingchic.com/real-rustic-wedding-hollywood-md-sotterley-plantation
So Amanda and I are getting closer to the due date for our first child, Zachariah. People always think that since I’m a photographer that we shouldn’t have any problems getting pictures for my own while she’s pregnant. The truth is that as much as I love to, it’s also a struggle because I’m always so busy for everyone else. But I saw an opportunity with the beautiful weather today and put all else aside. I know we’re getting close and I don’t want to miss the opportunity. I can’t wait for Zachariah to arrive, and I want to make sure we have plenty of photos of his mama as she went through the process. She even did a belly cast recently at the birth center we’re using (midwifes, no doctor), so after she paints it, we’ll have to hang it with some of the other photos we’ve done. I want to take images from different stages, including Zachariah as a new born, and make a wall grouping of gallery wraps to display it all. We’re both very excited, and we know God is using it to bring not only a new chapter into our own lives, but also into that of my photography. God is absolutely perfect in His plans and His timing.
Trashing the Dress
Most people cringe when they hear, “Trash the Dress,” but the dress is not always being trashed. The name is just what everyone has come to call what people have actually been doing for years before the name was applied. The idea is simply to put a bride into a situation that contrast the typical picture perfect setting, which often can mean there is a potential for the dress to get dirty or trashed or maybe not at all. Where and what to do is an open door. Anything from walking the beach, to swimming in a pool, to riding a horse, riding an ATV, or playing on an old rusty train car. Whatever the concept ends up being, end result is fun and memorable pictures.
Amanda and I have worked together on numerous occasions over the years ranging from her wedding three years ago to various photographic jobs here at ONI. She knew my interest in doing a “Trash the Dress” session, and she had an extra wedding dress. So we scheduled a day, and made all necessary arrangements.
The plan for me was to use my Quantum Trio flash unit off camera (wireless) to gain a certain look. I love using off camera lighting, and in every circumstance, including ways people say won’t work. But as luck would have it, Murphy’s Law happened. We showed up on location, and suddenly my lighting gear was malfunctioning. I brought various reflectors, but with the gray weather outside, they proved useless. So the day became available light only. No flashes, and no reflectors. Only the glowing, hazy light radiating from the overcast clouds above.
The Shoot: Part 1
The shoot was split into two different locations. The first took place at the abandoned train cars off of Crain Hwy in White Plains, Maryland. These train cars where covered with graffiti and trash, full of broken windows, rusted to the hilts, and located out of the back windows of the Charles County Health Dept building. Of course a few weeks after the shoot, the cars and tracks were removed to expand the Rails to Trails project that runs through there. Thankfully we did the shoot when we did, or these pictures would have never happened.
When shooting, I had a few different concepts that I was aiming for. I wanted to give them their cute, happy, warm fuzzy pictures first and foremost. Other concepts where a grungy fashion looks, story telling pictures, and plain old crazy fun photos. Everything was exposed and shot manually in camera Raw.
Some of the images not seen are from inside one of the cars. I put my camera on a tripod, my shutter speed at about 1.5 seconds, told Matt to stay very still, and then had Amanda move in various ways. The result was very dramatic images of a lonely groom inside of an old train car with the ghost of his bride hovering around him. Very dramatic, but with the ghostly look and feel of the inside of the car, it was the only appropriate images to capture.
The Shoot: Part 2
The second part of the shoot took place on my neighbors property, where they have an old bar that looks like it’s going to crash down any day now, a riding mower so old that most people never heard of the brand name, and land that looks like something from a fairy tale. Along with the fairy tale look also came the rain, requiring that I protect my equipment from getting wet. We used tree lines that separated fields, open fields for running, and a mossy covered lawn that was covered by trees whose branches are only a few feet off the ground and sprinkle their tinny pedals on the ground like various colored show flakes. On this mossy area is where the tiny frog was discovered, along with a hundred others in the immediate area alone. Amanda was afraid to step on them. When she picked one up because they were so cute, I couldn’t help but tell her to hold for me to capture.
What everyone can’t see in the pictures is the flip slide of a picture perfect fairy tale that included intense humidity from the rain that just left as the sun was coming out, followed by the enormous amount of mosquitos eating us all alive. Mainly Amanda who exposed the most bare skin due to her dress. But like most women, she endured long enough to get the shots knowing that it’d be worth it. I’ve found over the years that women tend to be tougher and less complaintive that us guys when it comes to enduring anything at a photo shoot. I can tell some stories!
So the days fun is over. We’ve successfully trashed the dress with an old rusty train, and lots of wet grass. For those of you in shock that we could completed destroy an expensive, elegant, and beautiful wedding dress, the dress was almost completely cleaned with the help of Oxy Clean and a water hose while hanging from our horse trailer. Also, the dress only cost Amanda about $100 originally, and was not the dress she actually wore on her wedding day. The tress was also donated after we got it cleaned. So relax and take a sigh of relief. The dress is ok.
Now we have tons of pictures. What do I do with them? The looks you see printed obviously are not what the camera captured. I do my initial work in Aperture, which is an Apple product what allows me to manage and do basic adjustments to my images such as various color and lighting corrections, as well as some basic retouching tools. Once I’ve decided what pictures to apply special treatments to, I then use the famous Photoshop where I’ll address some of the additional details that Photoshop is better equipped for. I’ll remove or lighten some wrinkles. In cases such as the photo where the pink slippers are visible, I had to remove an awkwardly located hose that what was part of the train. Depending on the photo, I’ll use various color treatments, modify my depth of field appearance, add texture overlays and frames or framing effects, and so on. For some stuff, various plug-ins for Photoshop come in handy, which is how I can quickly create many of the looks seen on the prints.
Not every photo needs this extra stuff, which is why I make a clean version and an extreme version of a picture when I’m having fun. The common mistake is going too far simply because we can, when in reality we should probably be keeping it simple. By nature, we often need to find that extreme limit of where we can go. You just need to make sure you keep that safe spot you can always go back to. At the end of the day I can reflect back on a day of fun where I gave someone an experience, I gained more experience, and we now have the pictures that you can enjoy.