God, what a relief to be in a deep, verdant Chevy Chase backyard with its riot of flowering trees and shrubs and an eclectic assortment of friends and family instead of anywhere near the Mall with Rolling Thunder and other logistical Memorial Day Weekend, DC headaches. After the ceremony, I jumped into my Subaru Outback and hightailed it to Woodend, ahead of the guests to make sure Chris, my assistant had lights set up inside for the reception. By the way, assistant means schleper of stuff. The guy who keeps the engine running when a speedy getaway is required. The one who makes sure I’m hydrated. The behind-the-scenes equipment set up person, gone shortly after the posed family photos are taken. All on the QT. My first question whenever I interview a potential assistant is Can You Drive A Stick? Assistant never means second shooter. Mine is not a team effort. Aside from my three dogs, Maggie, Nina and Ozzie Spumanti, collectively known as The Aristocrats, there are no Associates. I believe in crafting a recognizable signature style and having a point of view over providing blanket coverage. Sometimes less is more. Chris actually is a great assistant. He can drive a stick, always shows up on time or a bit early, and he brings along a light meter and a couple of spare Pocket Wizards.
At Woodend, the light outside was nearly perfect – the time of day when the sun is more color than heat, the grove suffused with muted light. The kind of light photographers and Impressionist painters alike go wild about.
Here is an example of good planning. At three in the afternoon at the end of May, the sun is punishing, the light harsh and contrasty. Colors wash out, shadows accumulate like sink holes. Inside, however, the light reflects and bounces off the white walls. This is what you want on a wedding day:people inside bright rooms when the light outside is harsh, gradually transitioning to outdoors later in the afternoon.
The indefatigable Matt Odom from Venice Beach, CA, without a doubt, the coolest videographer I’ve ever met.
A perfect transition from outdoors to in. The natural light now almost completely gone, I switch over to my remote controlled strobes mounted up high on light stands, bouncing them into the cream colored walls. This helps create that same soft but modeled natural light effect as having a large window letting in a lot of indirect light that bounces around the room. Light is the aesthetic component of photography. It’s the quality that counts. It’s why pictures taken outdoors in the middle of a clear, bright sunny day or pictures taken with direct flash look like crime scene photos. The light is dreadful.
This is more of what I’m going for – the little moments that take place regardless of whether a photographer had been present or not.
Thank you Olivia and Sean for picking me to document your wedding day. Thanks to Alexandra Kovach for recommending me and also to her team who did an outstanding job (as usual). It was also a pleasure to finally meet the wonderful Sidra Forman.