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Kyle started at our first wedding from zero knowledge shooting on Auto, to now making amazing photos at every wedding. He’s one of those people. You know the kind. The ones that can pick up any instrument and learn to play it. The kind who just instinctively know how to create something out of nothing. His hero is MacGyver, if that gives you any clue of what his children and his wife deal with on a daily basis. Check out his and his wife’s work at jadeandkyle.com
You’ve just been asked to gather your gear and shoot a wedding in Texas. If you have been in the trade for a while, you already know the basics, one rule being that you can never over-prepare. You also know that shooting a wedding in one location is different from shooting in another. What do you need to know to successfully capture a Texas wedding?
1. Adjust your exposure settings for bright sun and sharp contrast.
In Texas, it is common for the weather is bright and sunny, so chances are good you will find yourself shooting with partly cloudy or completely clear skies.
This means that if you are shooting at midday or during the afternoon, you may be dealing with bright, harsh light and hard contrast. This can cause difficulties capturing the bride’s gown, which the camera will perceive as a glaring white. This may either wash out the dress, or your camera’s light meter may overcompensate, darkening the gown.
You can prevent this issue simply by adjusting your camera’s exposure settings to correctly compensate.
2. Find ways to use the bright Texan sun to your advantage.
If you are clever about it, the bright sun can actually be your friend. A backlit shot of the bride can infuse her gown and veil with an angelic glow. Just remember if she is facing the camera that you will need to highlight her face with fill light from another source.
3. Brace yourself for hot weather in the summer.
When you’re focused on your work, it can be easy to neglect yourself. Temperatures ranging above 90°F are common in Texas during the summer. You may be surprised by just how quickly you can get sunburned, dehydrated, and fatigued. So come prepared with sunscreen, water, and a change of clothes. Freshening up throughout the day will keep you motivated through the long hours of a shoot.
4. Take advantage of color where you find it—and be ready to enhance saturation in post production.
Bright days can scatter the light so that it washes out surfaces and colors. Even a clear blue sky may have a hazy look. The result is that hues in your environment may appear muted, both to the eye and to your camera. So focus in on bold colors where you find them: in the venue’s architecture, in foliage and flowers, in the décor, bridesmaids’ dresses, and arrangements. In post production, you may need to adjust the saturation to deepen the hues and really bring them out.
5. Consider some black and white shots for a classic, nostalgic look.
Then again, sometimes the most exquisite wedding shots have no color at all. Black and white wedding photos instantly evoke an air of timeless elegance. Try taking both color and black and white photos. You may find that there are shots where black and white does a better job expressing the moment than color—especially on a bright, hazy day where the colors are subdued.
6. Take advantage of sunset in northern and western Texas.
The northern and western regions of Texas are renowned for their fiery, breathtaking sunsets. If the wedding or the reception are scheduled to take place outdoors in the evening, be prepared to take advantage. If you are lucky, one of these spectacular displays of color will ignite the sky, offering you a stunning backdrop to work with and a warm, rosy glow which is quintessentially romantic.
If the reception is to take place indoors, consider talking with the bride and groom about taking a few photos outside (if there is a suitable spot) at sunset. Keep your distance and let them soak in the romantic atmosphere. You should be able to capture some beautiful candid moments between the newlyweds.
7. Watch out for humidity in eastern Texas.
Eastern Texas can be incredibly humid; if you are not used to shooting in muggy conditions like those you find in Houston, you may be surprised by just how susceptible digital SLRs can be to moisture.
In fact, a complete equipment failure is not out of the question. To prevent this, keep desiccant packets in your camera bag, only change your lens when you absolutely have to, and consider using a teleconverter or tele-extender to keep moisture out of the body of the camera when you do so. Also watch out for fogging on your lens if you are stepping in and out of doors a lot.
It also isn’t a bad idea to rent a spare camera just so you have a backup on hand!
8. Frame outdoor shots with the beauty of the environment.
Texas is a land of contrasts. The outdoor venue where you shoot may feature an ocean backdrop, a graceful grove of trees, or an open expanse of desert. Many venues also include cultivated gardens and tranquil pools. Use these elements to frame your shots for graceful composition. Remember that you can also work with architectural elements. Arbors, bridges, and even props like empty picture frames can lend artistry to your photos. You can even use the crowd itself to frame a shot of the bride and groom.
9. Visit the venue the day before to learn about the lighting.
No matter where the wedding will take place, it is essential to scope the location out in advance—even if you have been there before at a different time of day or during a different season. This allows you to go in with a game plan. You will find out which locations offer the most beautiful light, how the shadows fall, and what gear you need to bring to make the most of it.
10. Always consult with the couple in advance to learn their vision of their special day.
Finally, the single most important tip for shooting a Texas wedding is the same as it is for shooting a wedding anywhere, and that is to sit down with the couple beforehand and find out what their style is. While they hired you because they trust in your artistic talent, they also have their own special vision for their day.
Ask them to describe that vision in just a few words, like “romantic,” “rustic,” “fun,” “vintage,” or “fairytale.” Then plan a series of shots through the day to capture that style and essence. But don’t forget to improvise—the most amazing opportunities are often totally candid. All you can do is be ready for those picture-perfect moments when they unfold.
Texas presents challenges for wedding photographers in the form of heat, humidity, and bright, high-contrast days, but it also offers an abundance of unique opportunities. Take advantage of the gorgeous scenery and out-of-this-world sunsets for which the Lone Star State is renowned. Above all, focus on the passion of the couple that has hired you to capture the soul of their relationship, and you will have all the ingredients you need to work your photography magic!
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