If you circle me on Google Plus, you'll often read about my experiments in photography. Creative experimentation for me is among the most valuable exercises as an artist that I can imagine. Experimenting allows me to grow creatively and sometimes, if I work the results into my business, finically as well. The photography world is moving rapidly into a hybrid of still + motion & sound so I've found myself experimenting more with hybrid than any other area. Some experiments crash and burn while others, like the one below, are almost like a gift of new skills and portfolio pieces delivered on a silver platter.
As an experiment in hybrid photography, I photographed the wedding of my friends Katie and Justin. Being given full creative control on this shoot allowed me, as a portrait photographer, to capture a wedding in a unique way.
Although weddings can be a challenge I thought that shooting a hybrid wedding would be more difficult than it was. I have to give a big thanks to my Lumix GH3 which handled all the mixed media files I could throw at it like a champ. Jumping between stills and video on the fly was as easy as going from the shutter release to the Rec button. Moving with ease from still to video, color to retro color to monochrome and back to color again is as simple as turning a dial.
I have great respect for anyone that can shoot weddings full time and shoot them well (big difference). Weddings are a challenge especially when you get a couple that is not wanting to work with the photographer but I lucked out with Katie and Justin. They were just awesome to work with and very relaxed in front of the camera.
Tip - When shooting motion, keep the movements of the subject subtle and the camera movements to a minimum.
Everything was captured with the Lumix GH3, 12-25 f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8. I would capture video with exactly the settings as my still photographs which is the ideal way for a still photographer to shoot motion - like a still photographer. If I were trying to make a short film for a wedding I would need to shoot like a cinematographer which is a completely different mindset requiring different tools and an entirely different process. Since I was shooting a Hybrid Wedding my goal was to capture 15-30 second motion portraits along side my still photography.
Post was done in combination with Lightroom 5 and Premiere Pro CC although I could now do the same video you see below with ProShow Web.
Through Experimentation Comes Valuable Lessons
Although my speciality is portraits for editorial and advertising I often desire to challenge myself both creatively and technically. In this experiment I learned a ton and am grateful for the experience. Here's some lessons that come to mind -
- Weddings are challenging - Respect those that do it well and don't try to think you can just jump in and start a wedding business. If you are going to shoot a friends wedding, practice with your friends before they actually get married and see if you think you'll want to shoot the ceremony. If you do prepare well in advance.
- If you find that you want to shoot weddings full time - Seek out credible pros and pay them well to teach you. Buy their books, take their workshops and ask them lots of questions.
- Those that shoot weddings well love to shoot weddings - If you are like me and don't love shooting weddings don't get into the business.
- If you are going to shoot a hybrid wedding (or anything hybrid) use the right gear. Shooting a hybrid wedding with a DSLR would be a nightmare unless you have the budget to hire a larger team to manage the process. Going in solo or with a small team of three to shoot a hybrid wedding with a DSLR could be a disaster in the making. Get a camera like the GH3 that is designed to easily move between still + motion.
- Keep your post production simple - I shot this wedding in JPEG + RAW so I get the best of both worlds. The JPEG's were delivered to Katie and Justin and since the color in the JPEGs were the same as the color captured with video, I sprinkled the JPEG's throughout their video. The results were consistent color and my post was kept to a minimum. I kept the RAW's as backup incase I wanted to take a photograph originally captured as a monochrome B&W and make it into color or the other way around.
Cinemagraph made in Photoshop CC
What have you shot lately to challenge yourself?
When you do come up with ideas to test your skills write it down and keep detailed notes. This is important in the event you might be getting in over your head, you'll be more likely able to see it in advance and make the adjustments so you can get the most from your experiment. That said, don't give up when you reach a roadblock because if you are challenging yourself you'll most likely run into some obstacles. Visualize what you would like the outcome to be and play into that. The finished results might not be exactly the same as what's in your minds eye but you never know, you might surprise yourself and exceed your own expectations.