Saturday I joined 3 fellow photographers to snap away and celebrate Rachel & Ivan’s wedding celebration at the Palais Royale ballroom in downtown South Bend. While working with Matthew from Zeta Alpha Studios on what was undoubtedly the biggest and busiest wedding day shoot of the year for all 4 of us was also probably the most fun I’ve had behind the scenes hanging out with Ivan and the guys. What a riot.
Here’s one of my favorite photos from the ceremony, and the reason I keep a fisheye lens within reach for these wide shots of the celebration.
Ivan’s pumped up for the big day!
Ivan and the South Bend Skyline
Rachel and Ivan’s first glimpses of each other at the Palais Royale ballroom
Quiet moments with the couple in the Morris Auditorium foyer before the ceremony
(huge thanks to their event director for the hookup!)
Rachel & Ivan in the foyer balcony
Super cool guest favors – custom tickets!
Introducing the newlyweds!
Ah the Palais in springtime! Thanks Rachel, Ivan and everyone there for all the fun last weekend!
I didn’t say much about it when it was here, but Easter came to mind now that my sis is back in Missouri and it seems like things have slowed down here at the Bu home.
I spent most of the Saturday before Easter at the blue lake cottage where my dad’s family has met for holidays, birthdays and laughs ever since I can remember. It’s across from a camp that had a spooky old house we always told each other was haunted when we tried to scare our siblings and cousins.
I talked with my older, now 30-something cousins about all the topics that usually disrupt family gatherings – religion, politics, war, and taxes. And it turns out it was one of the best times ever talking about grown up things till 11:30 at night before we noticed the clock and headed home.
I no longer hold a seat at the kid table, and not because I’m soon 28. Most gatherings my cousins and I call seats at the “kid table” but with the eldest 3 cousins present with their kids I finally realized a little how we’ve all grown up a bit, and that we’ve all made some outright adorable kids. We’ve restocked the kid table with 6 great grandchildren that Grandma had a blast seeing all together. It felt like Christmas cheer everywhere with all the kids laughing and playing together. That’s the best way to describe it. Grandma didn’t want to go home till late and even my cousins from Chicago waited till near midnight to drive home to the Windy City.
My little sis came home from Missouri last weekend for Easter and to meet my baby Adrian. She missed her flight from Chicago to South Bend and made it to the Bucholtz (Polish) Easter late Saturday. Her flight back out early this week was canceled because of severe wind storms. The next was canceled because of this stuff – globs of slush falling from the sky. Something like 2″ of snow. It’s not Spring *yet* as far as the icy blasting snowstorms are concerned. Oh well, a few extra days to visit with sis.
Cold as it was, the snowfall got some Over the Rhine Christmas songs stuck in my head, and got me inspired enough to go shoot time exposures after midnight. This one was about 15 seconds with a little pop of fill flash just before the shutter closed. (It was still pretty windy so the branches were moving all over!)
Stay toasty. And if at all possible, play some Over the Rhine – this weather’s perfect for it.
“There are two kinds of light–the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.”
– James Thurber
It’s hard to say when it began to stir, but I welcome the nudge to do something new, to try new ideas, to expand on proven practice of what I understand in lighting.
The changing of seasons always seems to inspire me. New years has its resolutions and new start, spring breathes new life into the frozen, summer lets loose with bare feet and the smell of cookouts with friends, fall paints the landscape and gets out the warm fuzzy clothes as winter returns and the circle completes. Even while this current year’s winter inundated us with shut-in, bone chilling days, I do enjoy the seasons in Indiana. There’s something inspiring about the changes happening.
Weather patterns aside, it’s easy to get in a creative rut when you stick with what you already know and don’t get to try new ideas. It’s safe, but reliable, predictable but repeatable. Peppered throughout last year’s wedding season’s celebrations were so many photos that just popped. A new look, a different angle, a moment where everything just worked the way I hoped it would come together. It is in the pursuit of these dramatic, creative photos that I find myself wanting to do more with what I’ve learned and try new ideas. Inspiration can feel dangerous.
This March especially I’ve had a lot of ideas running through my mind’s eye. It is, in fact, some of those same creative brainstorms that kept me from returning to sleep early this morning. Watching the sunrise, even if I’ve been up most of the night leading to it, always sparks a bit of creativity and refreshing. As we count down till April 26th, the start of our spring wedding season, the stirring to hone my use of lighting has been growing.
To explain what has been stirring reminds me of the first few rolls of film I shot through my first SLR. What a sound as the shutter snapped! What a feeling to hold a manual 35mm body, focus a 50mm lens, and see your ideas in print. In 2003 when I checked out some photography books from the downtown library I was surprised to find a sticky note with my handwriting on it stuck inside some of my favorite books I read over and over when I started off with my 35mm camera.
Everyone needs a creative outlet, and more so, I think, when you use your creative outlet for work. When I was so busy with photo work last summer that I didn’t get out much to shoot on my own I picked up a Holga to try new ideas and get away from the things I did for work. I loved the break from the digital realm and really love the funky photos the Holga makes. It was a shot in the arm for creativity. I even snapped a few photos with this $25 plastic gem while at “work” with $10 grand around my neck and waist in optical Nikon stock. That’ll turn some heads!
Ambient light is best. (I love working with great ambient light and using minimal extra gear! It is, however, only one of the ways I light a photo.)
Competent on-camera flash. “It is comfy and predictable – which is not necessarily a terrible thing. Warm milk is not a terrible thing, either.” Eesh.
Overdone off-camera flash – going nuts with lighting setups, “nuke it till it glows” (not a problem I’ve run into, thank goodness!)
Experimentation – while the other stages are “comfy and predictable, experimentation is error-prone, and sometimes random in its quality. Which I will take over predictable and boring any day.”
The Bag of Tricks – knows what works, versatile and flexible, knows what will sell. Hey, can hear a camera shutter and know if it’s too slow for a sharp shot, or see a flash / lens combination and know if there’s enough range to get a good exposure. But then again, I should know it that well when I rely on reflexes to catch fleeting moments. I have a good bag of tricks techniques I use very well.
Personal and Unique Lighting Style – Often with this style comes huge financial success – and rampant, blatant imitation from others. (Not there yet on either account.)
Subject-driven Light – defined by absolute mastery of the craft to the point where it transcends into art on a regular basis.
The command of a wide array of techniques leads to a pure versatility unmatched by other shooters. The key is a variety of styles – singular or combined – from which to choose The Appropriate Response to a given challenge.
It’s the difference between a very good cellist playing a piece, or that same piece being owned by the late Pablo Casals.
It is being so far beyond the mastery of technique that “how-will-I-light-this” is replaced by sheer, instinctive vision. It’s craft to the point of genius. It’s Dean Collins in his prime.
So much to ponder. The sun’s bright in the sky lighting the overcast morning sky, coffee’s done and I’ve got music streaming. This day is looking pretty inspirational.