Tuesday, October 8, 2019


My speciality is environmental natural light portraits. So, when doing family, high school seniors, or any individual portraits outside I decide when we start the photography session. I also usually decide where the session is done from my list of great locations. Since I want every session to be fabulous I need to control as many variables as possible in my portraits. That’s why I have our outdoor sessions start about 2 hours before sunset, depending on the location. Then we work the location saving the best spots for the “magic hour lighting”. Well, then there’s wedding photography; not the best field of photography for a control freak! With my 30+ years as a full time professional photographer nothing has been more challenging than doing weddings. Facing that challenge has made me a much better photographer in every area of my business.

Sometimes you only have 2 minutes to decide where and how you’re going to “get the shot”…
f4.5 @ 1/500sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm
It’s 3 o’clock on a very bright, clear, summer day at the Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, California. Obviously not my favorite time of day and the bride wants an image on the bridge—the most open area of the gardens. I oblige my client giving them what they ask for and then I move on to MY choice of location. 

Using my lens at 200mm with an aperture of f4.5, I blur out the background giving me some nice bokeh and isolating her.

Next I moved her into the shade…
f5.6 @ 1/800 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 200mm
Putting her into the shade of a big tree gave me the soft light I wanted on her face. Then I looked for some less harsh background light I could de-focus, creating separation against her face and the black wig. It required very careful framing to get the separation around her wig—especially the upper right hand quadrant.

Then I moved her again…
f4.0 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 400; lens @ 200mm
Using this large canvas, created by a visiting Japanese artist, created a relevant background and it blocked the strong direct sunlight behind it. An easy exposure using open sky creating soft light.  

At another shady area….
f4.0 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 800, Lens @ 120mm
Well known for their bamboo gardens I wanted some as a background. This was done in front of the visitor’s center. I liked the spotty backlight—I just made sure that her face stayed in the shade.

Then I moved her into the sunlight…
 f4.0 @ 1/800 sec., ISO, 400; Lens @ 200mm
Now I’m letting the sun light-up her white translucent shroud. This created a soft box effect—except her head is inside the soft-box!

This bridal session was challenging, but with such a great subject I was motivated to create something she would always cherish. We had a lot of fun too!

I’m open to questions…have a great day, until next week…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

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