While the rain slowed things down a time or two, it certainly didn’t stop anything when it came to this wonderful wedding.

Friends and Family:   Be sure to log in at Brandi & Charlies Wedding Collection Gallery to be notified when the entire collection is released online next week.

 

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and of course some of the wonderful vendors who made this day so special:

Venue: Dunafon Castle
Caterer: Footers Catering
Cake: Bundt Shoppe
Flowers: Stems
Entertainment: Greatime DJ: Bob
Photo Booth: The Traveling Photo Booth

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In August of this year I had the pleasure to attend the FIND (or Film Is Not Dead) Workshop hosted by film photographer and author Jonathan Canlas.  While there’s a larger post/review in the works I wanted to share a few images from a late (like midnight late) night photo walk down around Colfax just east of the capital building.   Being one of the few Denver residents of this workshop I did recommend the safety in numbers approach and between one large group, and later two smaller groups I think everyone had a great time.

My night shots were captured on a tripod mounted Mamiya RZ67 ProII an amazing studio and fine art camera.  Film was Fuji’s 400H.   Exposures where 30-60 seconds at F8.

It’s been a long time since I’ve shot long exposure on print film, when I shot stuff like this back in the last century it was usually slide film so I would have to worry about some machine figuring my dark skies needed to be medium grey, but with the right film and a pro lab like FINDLab the results where wonderful.

Prints are available in my Personal Projects Gallery.

 

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It’s been a few years since I first wrote this so I thought I’d come back and give it an update since my own styles have changed a bit since then.

 

Wedding Photography Styles and the newly engaged couple

When couples start looking for wedding photographers (and to an extent all wedding vendors) they are overwhelmed by choices.   In the case of choosing a photographer one of the most important things to use in the narrowing down process is “photographic styles”.   The problem is most couples don’t have a really firm grasp on styles – and from spending a bit of time browsing photographer sites, I’m pretty darned sure there’s not shortage of clueless shutterbugs out there when it comes to styles as well.   It seems to my eye that a lot of “aspiring” – and a few established –  photographers think photographic styles is nothing other than another set of keywords to use for google searches.

Wedding Photography Styles versus Shooting Styles

One think to keep in mind is in my mind Wedding Photography Styles and Shooting Styles are two different things.   A wedding photography style is how I approach covering a wedding and presenting the results afterwards, whereas a shooting style is how I like to take pictures.

For example:

Shooting everything wide open at F1.2 to 2.8 is a shooting style – common to bokeh addicted photographers.

Available light photography is also a shooting style of someone who perfers not to (or more common these days – doesn’t know how to) take control of the light with artificial modifiers and flash units.

There is no RIGHT style

There is an important thing to remember, neither of these wedding photography styles are any better than the others.  There is no shortage of photographers who shoot each style nor clients who appreciate each style.   My personal bias might come out in my discussion of these style – but that doesn’t mean my bias should apply to everyone.

Overview of styles

I tend to break down current wedding photography styles into three areas.

  1. Traditional
  2. Photojournalstic
  3. Illustrative

Traditional Wedding Photography

One of the major elements of traditional wedding photography is the emphasis on posed and setup looking pictures taken from the photographer.   In this style the photographer becomes somewhat of a wedding official, directing the flow of the wedding.  These type of photographers tend to work from shot lists and make sure every element is captured in the same way they usually capture it.  I know one photographer who even has each couple go through their cake cutting in the exact same way, right down to the groom taking a dab of frosting and touching it to the brides nose.   Key elements of the ceremony will likely be restaged to get various closeup and alternative angles of the ring exchange and kiss for example.

There are benefits to this type of photography style since the photographer is following the same routine they have followed many times before.   They have taken that cake cutting picture so many times they can nail it perfectly each time – to them it’s like shooting in the studio and the bride and groom are the models.  This type of photography is great for the couple who are most interested in those perfectly taken key posed photos.   They want the full run of family formals, posed wedding party shots along with the somewhat more cliche ones (now all the bridesmaids and groomsman jump, look shocked as the bride and groom kiss, etc) and of course table shots at the reception and are willing to design their timeline around the time this takes.

Now of course the the downside to this style is it can be very time consuming and the bride and groom will typically have less time with their guests and more time posing in front of the camera.   While the end results will likely look good they can be predictable and tell more of the story of how the photographer sets up the shots as opposed to any spontaneity of the day.

While this style is most often practiced by photographers who have been doing this for some time there seems to be a lot of newer photographers who do use this style – even if they don’t realize it.  They my pooh at the notion of “traditional” wedding photography yet have a portfolio filled with nothing but obviously posed bride and grooms.

An example of a nationally known photographer who in my mind is that best of the Traditional Wedding style is David Ziser.

You’ll most likely note the fact that while I offer many links for the styles listed after this I really only have one for this – and well that’s simply because it isn’t my favorite of styles.   I don’t like to browse traditional photographer styled websites and blogs as much so I just don’t have a bunch of links ready for them.   It is what it is.

Photojournalistic or Wedding Photojournalism

Wedding Photojournalism came about in the 90′s and is largely credited to Denis Reggie.  The idea being the photographer is there to capture the nuance and emotion of the wedding as it organically happens – to document the wedding as it unfolds – instead of a proactive and director of the wedding and wedding photos.  The emphasis is on story telling and capturing the moments instead of telling people where to stand and where to look.

This is a style suited for couples who don’t want to spend a lot of the day posing but rather want to an accurate capturing of the day to remember the day they planned, as they planned it and as it occurred.  They just want to savor their day and have photography that will capture the feel of their unique wedding and story.

There is a downside to this style as well in that since the photographer is capturing the day as it occurs the resulting images can be unpredictable and can vary a lot from wedding to wedding.   Since there tends to be less flash photography used in wedding photojournalism the results can also be poor in the hands of an inexperienced photographer without the proper cameras and lenses to shoot under those conditions.   It’s easy to be an “available light” photographer in a slightly overcast but bright day outside but it’s a different story when dealing with a dark church.

When it comes time to choosing images for albums some clients might regret not opting for a more traditional photographer and a stronger emphasis on posed and staged pictures, their parents often being the first to complain about the lack of traditional posed shots.   Famed wedding photojournalist Joe Buissink once said something like, “There is no perfect picture, only a perfect moment”, but honestly not every couple (or their parents) see it that way.

Some amazing wedding photojournalists (besides myself of course)

Denis Reggie

Joe Buissink

Jeff Ascough (his black and whites are a huge inspiration to me)

New to the list:

Kevin Mullins – A documentary photographer in England who uses the Fuji X camera bodies (my favorite digital and the the only digital bodies I have left).
If you look at Kevin’s article, “Shooting Weddings with a Fuji” you’ll get a glimpse of what these amazing little cameras can do and why they are my only digitals now.

At the opposite end of this if Jonathon Kohn a film photographer who has recently switched to shooting weddings entirely in B&W film with Leica’s and a Rolleiflex.  I adore his dedication to his art and style – is it for every client – heck no, but for those who swoon at this thought he is amazing.

Illustrative or Fashion Inspired

Note: This style is also sometimes called Fine Art wedding photography – but I think “fine art” can be used to described wonderful pieces of photography from many different styles so I prefer the term Illustrative.

This style is the newest and growing in popularity due to no small fact that many wedding blogs love to showcase this style of work because it does look like a illustrative shoot from a fashion magazine in many aspects.

The illustrative photographer produces images that reflect design elements by placing subjects in settings and compositions with backgrounds – as well as lighting and post production work – to give it that fashion shoot type of feel.   The style is somewhat mixed between traditional and photojournalist in how the photographer acts with the clients, giving more direction and posing than the photojournalist yet encouraging a spontaneous feel in their posing rather than a formal look.   The resulting images bring out more of the photographers artistic creative and compositional skills rather than merely capturing the moment or setting up the perfect shot.

To an extent this may sound like the best of both worlds to many couples – and in some cases it is.  It’s not as posed nor as spontaneous as the other two styles.   But it does have it’s own disadvantages as well.   One of the problems with this style is since it revolves so much around the photographers “artistic” style – the resulting images could have an over photoshopped and dated look to them in just a few years.   Right now texture overlays and 70′s looking faded colors are all the rage – but will that style last forever and if not do you want your photos to feel dated on your 20th anniversary?   The other drawback when it comes to photographers who do a lot of post production work is that their style and image processing tends to evolve faster than the other two styles.   The post production you fell in love with in their portfolio might be something the photographer shot last year and the images from your wedding next year might not be done in the same way at all.

Photographer in this style as I see it:

Jose Villa – Since he shoots mostly film I really love his work even if it’s not entirely my style.

Jerry Ghionis

Yervant

Sallee Photography - emphasis on their artistic post production (photoshop) work

Styles and Photographers

In my opinion many photographers these days are slight blending of all of the above but with a preference to one style over the others.

For example I view myself as about 75% photojournalist - 15% illustrative and about 10% traditional to round it out, the illustrative and traditional being mostly seen in my medium format portrait work. .   The vast majority of the day I’m working on my own capturing events organically as they unfold without my interference or direction.  When I do have to take control I prefer to set scenes and allow the clients to interact with each other (almost entirely how I do engagement sessions) and create that way – and when I absolutely have to resort to traditional posing for that few formal shots to keep mom happy and if the bride REALLY wants the shocked bridesmaids gasping at her garter picture before letting me go back to doing my own thing.

That doesn’t mean I think all photographers can shoot, at least not well, any of the styles.   When I see a photographer state how they’ll approach your wedding day coverage any way you want then I get the feeling what  I’m looking at is one desperate for work photographer who thinks being all things to all clients is the way to go.   If a photographer is that desperate for work it’s usually because they aren’t that good.

Couples – look at some of those sites above and get a feel for the differences of the styles and then look at the portfolios of the photographers you’re thinking about and not just whatever they call themselves, remember not every photographer even knows what their own style is or is using whatever name they think is currently trending to gather more clients (there’s that desperate photographer again).  Finding the photographer whose style you most want to see in your wedding photos the years following your wedding is vital to making sure you’re happy with the investment in wedding photography you make.

Photographers – be honest about your style and present it as it is.   Don’t worry there’s a lot of clients looking for everything and you’ll do better in business focusing on finding the right clients instead of just any client.  Stop thinking of style as nothing more than a google keyword to get more page views and focus on finding those clients that just love your style as it is.

Colorado Wedding Photojournalists

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I’ve often said one of the greatest gifts a photographer can have is a lot of friends who don’t object to getting their pictures taken.   When I recently wanted to try out some new gear and posted on Facebook that I was looking for a redhead to pose for me, my good friend Annie volunteered.

Gear List Film
Pentax 645n medium format camera with a 67 105mm lens adapted to it.
Mamiya RZ67 ProII with the 110mm F2.8 lens
Leica M6 with the Leica 90mm Tele-Elmarit

for Digital
Fuji X-T1 with a Helios 44-2 lens

 

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  • Lisa O'Dwyer - August 20, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Love them! My favorite it top right of her resting on the tree.

Today on the blog I’m going to do something you won’t see a lot of photographers doing – and that’s showcasing another photographer in their own market.

Lisa O

Lisa O’Dwyer is a fine art film photographer based in Colorado, but who photographs weddings worldwide. Lisa studied Art History and Fine Arts in college. After further studies in Europe, she worked in Japan for 2 years where she met her Irish husband. She lived in Ireland for 10 years and became a professional photographer in 2006. Lisa still travels to Europe to photograph weddings in historic locations, but also loves to photograph weddings in beautiful outdoor locations in Colorado.

I “met” Lisa originally through a Facebook forum dedicated to film photography when she still lived in Ireland.   I noted her work because like myself she was returning to film after many years of digital work, and I adore Ireland and was more than a little jealous of the idea of capturing weddings in that amazing country side with a medium format film camera.

I even referred  work to Lisa while she was in Ireland – I was meeting with a potential wedding client (who unfortunately couldn’t book me for their wedding because someone else secured the date before they made their final decisions) that had mentioned her and her fiancé where traveling to Ireland and had hoped to find a photographer there to do their wedding photography, so I directed them to Lisa.

So flash forward a year or two and Lisa finds herself in Fort Collins Colorado.  So after a few months of planning on trying to get together for coffee or something I opted just to have her come along to one of my favorite wedding venues on one of my weddings and be a 3rd shooter – just capture the day her way and I also got a chance to interview Lisa a bit.

 

First here’s the interview with Lisa.

1) I’m curious as to if there’s any big cultural and tradition differences in weddings in Ireland versus what you’ve seen here in the states and Colorado specifically?   Do they not do bouquet and garter tosses,  is the chicken dance still popular?
The first dance in Ireland usually happens at 9:30/10pm. I don’t photograph it too often there. But when I do stay for the dancing, I can’t recall seeing the chicken dance. Garth Brooks is pretty big there so there is line dancing and lots of waltzing too! Traditional Irish set dances are popular and some Irish dancing (like we know from Riverdance) too. There are no bouquet or garter tosses. The dancing usually lasts until about 2am and people don’t go back to their rooms until 4 or 5am! That is probably the biggest difference. Weddings in Ireland last until very early in the morning with a late bar still serving pints early in the morning. My typical day was only 7 hours photography-wise and I left as soon as the couple sat down for their meal. The meal typically lasts from 6-8:30pm. Also, most ceremonies are in churches and not outside due to unpredictable weather, tradition, and the law.
1B)  on the same theme, what about the difference in importance in wedding photos, is it about the same as couples stateside?
Wedding photography is very important in Ireland. I find that a lot of couples still want the professionally made album there and they make sure to include this in their budget. Professional services are well respected. Family group photographs are very important and these are the photographs that they will want for their wall. I find that Irish people are a bit humble about displaying large prints of themselves individually or as a couple though. Also, engagement shoots are a not a necessity for the Irish couple. There is not a tradition there of Save The Date cards. But I did love the engagement shoots I did there as the historic locations and romantic countryside and ruins provided fabulous backdrops for a shoot! 
These are some engagement shoots I did in Ireland on my webpage: 
http://www.lisaodwyer.com/portfolio/deirdre-andrew/  (an Irish couple, I am shooting their wedding at Castle Durrow in October)
and this American couple visiting Ireland who wanted an engagement shoot on their holiday: http://www.lisaodwyer.com/portfolio/star-jp/
2) So like many photographers it seems you learned on film, went to digital sometime over the last dozen years, but at some point have come back to film, what for you is it about film that brought you back?
Yes! I am 40 years old. I grew up shooting film. I studied Art History in college and also Fine Art, including B&W Photography. So I learned how to develop and print my own film in the darkroom. It was always a magical process for me. A real art form as it was necessary to compose in the camera and then to print according to how you wanted the image to look on paper. I shot with my Nikon N80 film camera up until 2005. That is when I started my photography business. At that time, everyone was shooting the new digital SLR cameras. It was the future. Film was like the backward cousin no one wanted to talk about. It was old technology. I bought two Canon 20D SLRs that had a 6mb RAW file and that I was what I started my business with. 
I found that over the years, as my business grew and I had more wedding commissions, that I became frustrated with photography. I wasn’t enjoying it because I was bogged down in the digital darkroom editing files. It took the art out of for me. I was never a fan of faddish photography anyway. I didn’t want to do digital filters and effects so I didn’t enjoy editing at all. In 2010, I discovered the fine art wedding photography of Jose Villa. I realized that film wedding photography was still a viable business model. I also realized that with film I could get back my life as I wouldn’t be condemned to the digital darkroom anymore. Plus, I would be shooting more meaningfully instead of being trigger-happy with the shutter button.
I studied how to become a better film photographer with books and the internet. And lots of trial and error with film cameras, film stocks, and labs. In 2013, I decided on my preferences and changed over my business to be a mainly film aesthetic. I still shoot digital, but it is maybe 20% or less at weddings. 
3) Do you ever see yourself going to all film or do you think digital will always have a place in your kit as well?
I shoot all film at sessions like engagements, portraits, etc. At weddings, I shoot film around 70-90%. It really depends on the lighting and how much the couple has invested into their collection and coverage. If I had the right conditions to shoot film 100% at a wedding, I would! I am in love with film and dedicated to it. Digital isn’t a substitute for it, but sometimes digital is handy in difficult lighting if I want color photographs without flash.
4) Favorite Film Camera?
Hmm, I like different cameras for different applications. I love shooting landscapes on the Pentax 6×7. I love portraits on my Mamiya 645 AFd. And I love candid street photography in B&W on my OM-1n.
5) Favorite Film and lab?
I LOVE Portra 160! It used to be Fuji 400H, but I believe that look is too ubiquitous. I think Portra 160 has great skin tones and great punchy color. I’ve been using the FIND Lab and Mammum recently, which are both great!

6) What is something you miss about living in Ireland?

I miss the great sense of history and the historic buildings and landscape. I miss how Ireland feels like one big family too. People know their past and who they are, and people look out for each more there. I feel there is a greater sense of community and sympathy for one another. I sometimes feel America is too individualistic and that people are sometimes only out for themselves here (even though I am American and born in Pennsylvania). I miss my family there too. My husband is from County Clare on the West coast of Ireland. We plan to go to Ireland every year though and I keep myself busy with destination weddings.
7) Something you love about living in Colorado?
SUNSHINE!!! I love that is usually blue skies and dry air here. I love that we can plan a hike in the Rockies or a walk on the prairie and it will not rain. I love that weddings happen outside in nature here. I love that there are great things to do with kids here like dedicated bicycle trails and playgrounds with fantastic amenities. I love that my family are here too. My sister and her family live here in Fort Collins and my parents just moved here from Pennsylvania. I also love that the wedding community here is so friendly and meets up for networking so often. I am looking forward to the years ahead!
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One thing I loved about looking through the images Lisa shot at the wedding up at Dunafon Castle is that even though we shoot the same film, use the same lab, and have similar camera – the look and feel of her images are uniquely her own.   It’s very true that if you give 5 photographers the same thing to photograph you will wind up with 5 different photos.
Below are some of Lisa’s images from the wedding and if you’d like to see more of Lisa’s wonderful work be sure to check out these links:
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  • Lisa O'Dwyer - August 20, 2014 - 10:16 am

    Thanks so much Mark! it is always a pleasure to connect with another film photographer that is as passionate as I am! So happy to meet you in person and spend the day photographing with you!