Working a scene

If you ever happen to stumble upon a professional photographer on a job, they’re usually in constant motion.

They might be standing on a chair or laying on the ground or might be constantly moving closer and further away from their subject.

It’s working a scene, something I always think of when I’m photographing a certain subject.

This is especially true when I’m photographing which seems simple or something that I think could turn out to be truly special.

Did I try every type of shot I could think?

Did I discover every angle?

Am I finding the right moment?

These are just some of the questions, which help me work the scene.

It makes me try a wide-angle shot of the entire environment and then forces me to move up and isolate a tiny subject with a closeup.

I try everything, because many times you don’t know fully how a shot is going to appear until it’s on your computer screen and although experience helps you discover the most dynamic shot earlier in the game – it’s always better to have the shot in your camera then to not have it at all.

I played out this exact thought-process at the last wedding I photographed.

Usually I’m taking pictures in Milwaukee, but for this wedding I got to travel a little bit and see some of the beautiful more-remote locations of Wisconsin.

The ceremony started in the country church the couple grew up with in Beloit and then everything moved to this beautiful lake-side location in Janesville for the reception. The reception location was Camp Rotamer and it bordered Spauldings Pond (just a bit of specifics, in case anyone ever wanted to see it for themselves or book it as a venue).

With the setting sun and the colors flying off the water, this setup was a dream for even a novice-hobby photographer.

As the day grew old, the couple and I made our way out on to a deck, which T’d off into the water.

I have to shout-out to the bride for being willing to hike up her dress enough to brave a somewhat-rickety gangplank connecting the main deck with the shore.

Once we were out on there, I knew this was something special and I wanted to make sure I got it right.

Since the whole environment was beautiful and perfect, I started the shoot with my wide-angle, capturing the couple, the deck, the pond and the dark blue sky.

I got lower to get more sky, which simultaneously cleans up the background, and this has been something that is usually a go-to move of mine.

I get lower and it makes the subject seem more powerful and dynamic. It works great to get more sky in the picture as well (a wise move, considering my name is Big Sky Photo).

However, it can also be unflattering and as is quite obvious, people at weddings want to look good!

So what do you do?

Pictures are best when you have a clean, simple background.

That’s why I usually get lower than my subject and never shoot straight on, but it works just as well getting higher.

This is perfect for weddings, because a shot taken from above is also the most flattering. Millions of selfie takers know this very well.

I then moved closer and above, framing them in the deck with just the water visible.

With a quick look through my shots, I realized things were looking really good, so I moved around them and then moved them to the edge of the deck.

I then took my favorite shot of the whole night, by holding the camera above my head and getting the couple kissing with only the water ringed by a tree-filled shoreline in the rest of the frame.

When you work a scene, sometimes your best shot is the first, but as I already mentioned sometimes that that last creative juice you threw at a situation really pays off.

I think it paid off here, but I’ll let you judge for yourself.

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