Monday, August 5, 2013

San Antonio Mission San Jose Bridal Portraits

Photographers call it "chimping".  It's when a photographer looks at the picture he just took on the LCD display on the back of the camera.  I try not to do it much.  I've seen some photographers do it after every shot.  I admit I chimped this shot.  I knew my light looked good, and the pose looked great.  I wanted to see if I nailed it.  I was so excited when I saw it, I showed it to the bride.  I like to think that she had the same feeling I did.  In the window light, she looked absolutely stunning. It's been almost a week that I've been looking at it, and I think it's my best bridal portrait ever.

This is Katty.  I had shot Katty's wedding over two weeks earlier, but we never had a bridal portrait session.  Her dress wasn't ready in time for us to get the session scheduled and shot.  She asked me if we could do the session after the wedding and my reply was a quick "you bet!".  

Through a series of emails we had discussed locations for the bridal portraits.  Her wedding was at Lost Mission (one of the most beautiful venues in Texas) and she told me that she'd like to do her portraits at the Missions National park.  San Antonio is home to some of the oldest Spanish Missions in the world.  The most famous being the "Alamo".  Most people don't know about the others.  There are five missions in this area, all built in the 1700's by Spanish Franciscan monks.

I knew about the Missions, but have never shot at anything other than the Alamo:
Alamo Shot from last summer

Katty told me that she wanted to shoot the session at Mission San Jose, which is the most photogenic, and the most elaborate architecturally.  For other brides that may be considering this: the missions are controlled by the National Parks Service, and they require a photography permit to do portraits.  (don't get me on my soap-box about this... it's okay if you're a Chinese tourist to take pictures, but not if you're a local photographer).  The permit is not cheap at $100.

It was good to see Katty and Jared.  They had their honeymoon on the island of Antigua.   I enjoyed hearing about the beaches and their experience.  We met at the National Parks office and got our permit from Ranger Smith. (yes, he doesn't mind the jokes about Yogi Bear and Ranger Smith from older people like me who remember the cartoon)

As we walked into the mission grounds the temperature was hitting 103 degrees F.  This has been a hot summer, and this was the hottest day so far.  Good day to get a big heavy wedding dress on, and try to look comfortable for the camera.  Katty is such a trooper.  I know she had to be miserable hot, but she never complained or whined about the heat.  Her husband Jared must have been just as hot, wearing his black tuxedo jacket and vest.

Some days, the sun is not my friend.  That day, me and the sun were NOT amigos. Harsh shadows around the eyes are not good things for portraits.  It was around 3pm when we started, and you can see that there was not much of a shadow-cast.  In late summer, the sun seems to stay overhead all day, and then when it goes down, it goes down fast.

I decided to play with the shadows and try to have fun with them.  This area had arches and shadows.

Sometimes I get ideas for a photo shoot.  Okay, sometimes I steal ideas from other photographers.  On this occasion, I'd seen a bridal shot from Sal Cincotta (a photographer in St. Louis that I really admire) where the bride's veil was flowing in the breeze.  On this particular day... the breeze was zero. As in nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  We had no breeze.  Being a creative type who thinks on his feet, I came up with the idea for Jared to stand behind her, and throw the edge of the veil into the air and then move out of the picture so I could snap the image while the veil flutters down. Yeah, great idea... but every time he'd toss the edge of the veil, the whole thing came off her head.  My final solution was PhotoShop.  I took the picture with Jared holding the veil and use a little photoshop magic and erase him out of the picture.  The result worked and I was happy with the effect that I wanted:
BEFORE - straight out of the camera

After Photoshop
My wife Judi told me that this session is my best yet, and that I should submit them to some of the wedding magazines.  Unfortunately the wedding magazines in this area ("San Antonio Weddings", and "The Knot") won't talk to me because I don't advertise with them.  Okay, I can understand that.  

I think this session is my best bridal portrait session ever.  A part of me wants to say that maybe I'm getting better, but my logical side knows that it's a combination of skill, light, an attractive bride, gorgeous location, and most importantly, luck.  When you combine all of those, sometimes you hit a photographic home run.  

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