I've always wanted to do a bridal shoot, one that wouldn't be tied to an actual wedding as there's a lot more time to set up the shots instead of being in the final rushed moments just before the wedding ceremony.
So I arranged a day with a model, Honey Baby88 (her modeling name), and we set about doing a shoot at Meek Estate Park in Hayward, CA. The interesting coincidence was that just a few hours after our shoot, a real wedding was supposed to take place at the location.
It was a little after 9am in the morning when we got started. There were just a few people milling about, plus another photographer doing a birthday shoot.
I like nice framing, so our first shot was amongst some green and white plants with Honey framed by two white columns. I rarely use a speedlight, but in this case I did so that I could wipe out the shadows. The Fuji X-T1's max mechanical shutter speed is 1/4000 and the flash sync speed is 1/180 so this necessitated the use of an ND filter. I chose to use the ND8. And the results were stunning!
I kept the ISO at 200 for this shot, but for the shots that follow, you'll see that I cranked it up a bit so that I could make the background and everything else around her brighter. I like to do as much exposure work in-camera so that I don't have to do that much later in post-processing.
We couldn't actually go into the building, so our next stop was another porch area by the front stairs. I saw a whole bunch of brilliant colors that would look lovely with the bouquet she brought. First I shot with the speedlight at low power, but then realized that it wasn't really necessary. Isn't she just radiant with that expectant look on her face?
Next we moved on to the gazebo. What would a wedding shoot be without one?
Same image now cropped to show the dazzling colors that go great with her dress and her hair.
There was actually no need for a speedlight in this shot because the sunlight was bouncing off of the white surfaces of the gazebo, creating nice, soft light in basically all of the spots that we needed. Again, that expectant look on her face.
Our next stop was a grassy area to get a nice shot of Honey sitting with the bouquet. We had to take advantage of the shade as the sun was starting to rise and the shadows were disappearing.
Again, all natural light and no need for a speedlight, though to keep a decent shutter speed, I left the ND8 on. In fact, I never took it off because I shot everything wide open at f/1.2. This gave me a chance to go full manual on my X-T1 settings. That's the beauty of having the live view on the X-T1 and having the actual dials on the camera. I was constantly adjusting the ISO and shutter speed to get the effect I wanted in-camera.
This final shot, I decided to go with black & white by using the infra-red preset in Lightroom 5. I wanted to have the arch of trees in the shot with Honey walking down an imaginary aisle. If you can imagine "Here comes the bride", playing, then you can almost picture the standing cherry blossom trees as wedding attendees gazing in awe at her as she walks down the long path.
With the sun starting to climb higher and the temperature inching up as well, we headed on out. The only hiccup of the day might have been -- no, not me forgetting spare batteries -- a few rather large bees who were drawn to Honey and her wedding dress. We had to relocate a few feet over to get away from one large bumble bee, but it insisted on following her.
This was one of the most fun shoots to date! Working with a model like Honey Baby88, who's got several years of experience, was a pure joy. And you can't pull off a photo session like this unless it's a team effort, so the success of the photos speaks volumes about her skills as a model as well as my budding skills as a photographer.
Gear: Fuji X-T1 with 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2, plus B+W ND8 neutral density filter. I also used a Calumet 13' light stand, Yongnuo 560 III speedlight, and Yongnuo 560TX Flash Controller.
You can find additional photos of the session in this Flickr Album.