Wedding Photography From The Heart; Creative Techniques To Capture The Moments That Matter

This article is an excerpt from “Wedding Photography from the Heart: Creative Techniques to Capture the Moments that Matter,” by Joe Buissink and Skip Cohen, with a foreword by Denis Reggie, published by Amphoto Books (2009; $29.99; ISBN: 978-0-8174-2454-1).

The bride and groom were actually waiting for me to come down to take their formal portrait—but this was a perfect moment! This image was heavily burned in and vignetted in the darkroom, a technique that brings the focus where it’s intended, on the bride and groom kissing. Your eyes settle first on the couple, and then wander outward to take in the rest of the image.
Nikon F6, 17-35mm F2.8 lens, f/6.3 at 1⁄50 sec.
Photo © 2009, Joe Buissink, All Rights Reserved

Voted as one of American Photo’s Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World, Joe Buissink is a photographer esteemed by peers and sought after by the rich and famous for their own weddings. In this book, Buissink has collected 200 of his most stunning images (including many from celebrity weddings) and incorporated text packed with creative inspiration and unparalleled advice for a behind-the-scenes look at his acclaimed and highly sought-after style of wedding photography. Through engaging commentary and insightful analysis, readers are invited into his world of creative genius to learn how he created some of his most beloved photos. “My job as a wedding photographer is to crystallize moments in time so that they live on forever, from generation to generation,” he says.—Editor

Here the bride is looking in the bathroom mirror; the rest of the magic was effected in the darkroom. The printer saw the result in his mind’s eye and created an image that otherwise might not have made the cut. This is a prime example of an image that simply would not work if it were shot in color. With black and white, light is light; you’re not distracted by colors in the background that don’t work together. It’s photographic simplicity at its best, taking advantage of the various shades of gray in the tonal range. You have to constantly practice your craft to see the potential of images like this.
Nikon F6, 80-200mm F2.8 lens, f/4.0 at 1⁄125 sec.
This was the last shot of the wedding as the couple left the venue. The spotlight was actually trained on the wall so people could find the restrooms! Seeing the potential for utilizing shadows and light, the trick here was to set up the camera with the center focus locked. Notice how the railing is out of focus; the focus is instead on the subject, in between the bars. Normally, the autofocus feature would lock on the railing, and the subjects behind it would be out of focus.
Canon 5D, 70-200mm F2.8 lens, f/3.5 at 1⁄20 sec.

Photos © 2009, Joe Buissink, All Rights Reserved

Looking Beyond Your Subjects: Shadows And Light
Learn to look beyond your subjects—literally. Often the most powerful point in a photograph isn’t the subject, but just beyond him or her, in the shadows. It’s about learning to see and training your eyes to perceive texture and contrast. Too many photographers panic when faced with uneven light. But shadows and contrast in lighting are two of your best allies for creating truly amazing prints. Learn to understand every aspect of how your equipment performs and how your subject will look using lenses of different focal lengths. When working with low light, you need to use high ISO film, which is more sensitive and thus requires less light to expose your image. Film (Editor’s Note: and digital sensors set) with this higher sensitivity therefore allows you a wider range of aperture and speed selection.

The bridesmaids were enjoying a toast, and I first photographed them from the front. However, the more powerful image was actually cast on the wall behind them. The shadows tell a better story, right down to the maid of honor holding two drinks. Had I not had a second camera set up and ready to go, the moment would have been missed.
Canon 5D, 24-70mm F2.8 lens, f/6.3 at 1⁄125 sec.
Photo © 2009, Joe Buissink, All Rights Reserved