September 1, 2010

Short Stack: A Different Angle

I thought I would kick start this Wednesday with a little short stack of info for you guys! After all, spiced pumpkin pecan pancakes have been running around my mind since yesterday afternoon! :)

I get a lot of questions about what it’s like working with J&M. Let’s just say, the job I have is a dream come true. Two years ago, I was miserable. I would drag myself out of bed only to drive to work grinding my teeth wishing I were going anywhere but my little gray cubicle in a little gray office. In a complete juxtaposition to my old life, I woke up early on Saturday morning, jumped out of bed, got ready in a flash, turned on the Miley Cyrus station and bopped my way to Saltwater Farms. And I was happy. Scratch that, I was ecstatic. As I was driving along, I reflected on how awesome my job really is. My alter ego …&J2 suits me to a tee and I couldn’t be happier!

A lot of people ask me how it works, being the third person to such a dynamic duo. Just where exactly do I fit in when we are shooting? The short answer is, I look for a different angle. Wether it be getting ready, the ceremony, or portraits, I make sure I am not standing next to either J or M and I also make sure I am not in their shots! When all three of us are in the same place at the same time, we really do look kind of like a tripod! We move around each other pretty effortlessly creating what I like to think of as a 360 degree view of a moment. I try to keep in mind which lenses they are using and look for a shot they might not be able to capture from their angle or with their lens. I often take shots of “slices of life”. Meaning the small moments that make up a bigger scene. A shot of the groom’s hands as he hugs his new wife or the way her veil blows and catches the light. I really try to think outside the box. If Mary is shooting the bride sitting in a chair, can I grab a shot of the way she is crossing her ankles? What does the scene look like from behind the chair? I spend a lot of my time trying to see the scene in a different way. I test myself to find a beautiful angle that is different from the one Justin and/or Mary are shooting. Which quite frankly is not always easy!! But definitely rewarding when I see all three of our perspectives come together to tell a story.

Before I go to a wedding I try to get myself psyched up to find that different angle! Here’s a checklist I go through in my head on my way to the wedding and as the day goes on!
1. Change perspective. I get low or higher up. I look for a balcony or stairwell I can use to grab a different angle.
2. Move. A lot! I move away from Justin and Mary so that my view of the scene is completely different from theirs. That way, I’m not tempted to shoot over their shoulders and grab the moment that they already have covered!
3. Be ready at all times. Some of the best moments happen when someone doesn’t know they are being shot!
4. Keep an eye out for what is going on beyond the main event. Are the flower girls watching wide eyed? Are the groomsmen grouped together in an interesting way? Are mom and dad teary eyed as they watch their daughter take bridal portraits?
5. Don’t be afraid to try something different! Shoot through something to set the scene. Are you at a vineyard? Try shooting through the vines. At a crowded cockatil hour, shoot through people to make the image more interesting!
6. Does a close crop convey emotion? Are the bride’s hands telling their own story? Take the shot!
7. Ask questions! Sometimes, I’ll ask J&M about what angle they would like to see covered that they can’t quite get! At a recent wedding, Justin positioned me outside the doorway as the bride was getting ready. If I hadn’t asked, we wouldn’t have gotten that angle! And now, I’ll always remember to consider that option!
8. Above all, have fun! I used to be nervous about handing over raw files if I wasn’t sure the composition was good or if the lighting was a bit different than the typical J&M style. I am learning, slowly, to trust my judgement! The more I experiment and have fun, the more I learn about myself as a photographer and about light and how my camera works!

Here’s a recent example from Becky & Tay of finding a different angle and working it! :)

Check back in this afternoon! Because we are ready for the big reveal of our design board for the Massachuttes edition of Walk Through a Wedding with J&M… and we are psyched! :)


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  1. MM

    I adore you. That is all. :)

  2. Deborah Zoe

    this is a great post Julia:) full of some great advice!

  3. Lou

    I love seeing posts like this! Please keep them coming! I enjoy mucho!

  4. Nichole

    I love reading/hearing stuff like this. Thanks Julia! (Also – awesome shot)

  5. maggieb

    Lucky &J2 and Lucky J&M! Fabulous team!

  6. Abbey

    Thanks for sharing your perspective Julia. It’s a struggle to come up with something different as the 3rd shooter, but it just challenges you to look at things differently. Can’t wait to meet you for the Boston Workshop!!!!!

  7. Sarah

    Great advice!! Love the perspective you captured in the shot above.

  8. Sarah

    Great advice!! Love the perspective you captured in the shot above.

  9. Tay Yilmaz

    This shot is exquisite!

  10. ajira

    Yes, this image stood out to me when I saw that blog post. Great capture!!

  11. Marissa Rodriguez

    You totally have a dream job Julia! Great post!

  12. feuza

    so true, I have been second shooting more and more and ever since a friend said dont stand right behind me it has pushed me to try new things, some angles are so weird and bad but I try any way to learn which ones are better

  13. Laura

    Holy Crow! That was an amazing set of photos! They captured all the youth, and hope and love and longing so very well. I’m so very sorry that I had another wedding that same time that I had to actually be in. I would have LOVED to have cheered you both on. Congratualations! :)

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