I love these casual yet professionally lighted portraits of my family & friends enjoying this past 4th of July. I love how they’re informal, yet gorgeous. I wish some creative family would hire me to take photos like these of their next gathering. I promise they’ll become more precious with every passing day, to the point of becoming priceless. 🙂
For the tech geeks, it’s kinda cool that all of these shots are hand-held at between 0.6 seconds and 1.2 seconds, which is an eternity in camera terms. The Speedlite IS the shutter.
How do “available light” photographers shoot dark receptions and family portraits after the sun has gone down? I honestly don’t know.
Have you ever wondered why so many “available light” photographers have so few photos from the reception, or portraits after dark on their websites? It’s because they don’t know how to use off-camera lighting, and they probably don’t own any.
If you’re considering hiring an “available light” photographer for your wedding or engagement, you should know what this means for the quality and flexibility of your wedding & photography.
When photographers are starting out, we’re all “available light”, because we don’t own nor do we understand how to use off-camera lights. It takes years of effort, and a big investment, to get the gear and the knowledge to use off-camera lights.
Even though we bring 10 Speedlites & backup lighting systems (just in case), we typically shoot about half your wedding au naturel available light (don’t worry, I keep my clothes on LOL).
We at STEVEN JOSEPH PHOTOGRAPHY love available light photography, when the available light is great. But what about when it’s not great? Or when there is no light at all? Like when the sun goes down? Or when the party moves into a nearly dark hotel ballroom?
If you’re considering hiring an “available light” photographer, we humbly suggest that you ask them, what do they do when the sun goes down? How do they handle low-light / no-light situations that inevitably come up during your wedding? How would they shoot photos like the following, taken at night, or in very dark locations?
This shot is so fun and so beautifully lit – I love the dramatic sky and the couples’ long shadows.
Had this shot been made in “available light” style, it would have looked pretty much like the behind-the-scenes photo below: blown out white sky; nearly white grass; no depth or shape on bride and groom; and definitely no cool spikey backlight. Black Mountain Gold & Country Club.
This is what “available light” photographers see. Blown out sky. Dull flat light on bride & groom. Flat bland grass. The photo above this one is what I see.
Beautiful portraits are no problem when the sun is long gone, if your photographer brings his own light. This photo is hanging up in the offices of Springs Preserve, because they’ve had so many brides balk at the thought of weddings that go into the night. They wanted to demonstrate that twilight portraits are no problem – with the right photographer. If your “available light” photographer is trying to talk you into a daylight-only wedding – you should walk away.
This scene was so dark that I had to use a flashlight just to get my camera to focus. If shot in “available light” style, depth of field (DOF) would have been so shallow that front & back rows would have been out of focus, and we would have lost the beautiful orange sky and the focus on the bride & groom. Private Residence.
This bride wisely chose to get married one hour before sunset, which is a perfect time for a ceremony – the light is soft and magical and you look great while you’re committing to the love of your life. But it means that your family formals (very important to mom and grandma and many other people!) take place after the sun has set. With skilled lighting, not only can your formal portraits after dark work, they can look fantastic. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NV
Sun’s gone down? No problem. Notice the nice kicker light behind them, defining a nice separation line between bride & background. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NV
The Sun has just set and I’m using a key, a fill, and a kicker light during this trash the dress session.
Careful lighting puts our attention right on the faces of our couple. And it allows us to dial down the available light which turns up the awesome on those back-lit cactus. Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours, aka, “Nelson”.
I love the *pop* and texture and color and sharpness of this image – not to mention the wonderful moment between these guys.
I just saw an “available light” photographer’s version of this very same scene at the very same place at a very similar time of day. While it’s just one man’s opinion, her’s had tons of flare and was so washed out that you can barely see the amazing cactus, let alone any details of the couple she was photographing. That available light photographer’s work looked more like this one below. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the professionally lit example above. Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours, aka Nelson Ghost Town.
Do you see all the detail and depth you’re missing with “Available Light” photography? Flat. Flarey. Washed out. Yech.Here we use off-camera lights in order to blow out the background on purpose. I love this look! Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours, aka Nelson Ghost Town.This is 100% Available Light, and it’s gorgeous. We love available light when it’s good. Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours, aka Nelson Ghost Town.
We shoot most ceremonies at 100% Available Light. Wisely these two beautiful brides above and below decided to get married just before sunset when the light was great. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NVWisely selecting the Magic Hour for their ceremonies, the two brides above pushed their formal family portraits into darkness. No problem if your photographer is skilled with lighting. A big problem if your photographer is “available light”. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NV
Just how dark are windowless hotel ballrooms? This dark.Lighting up this very large hotel ballroom took a lot of lights. But the results were beautiful. The Wynn, Las Vegas.You wouldn’t believe how dark this windowless hotel ballroom was. That’s why we bring 4 or 5 small discreet speedlites just to light up the reception. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NVGreen Valley Ranch, Henderson, NVFor some guests and family, your wedding reception might be a rare opportunity to get a nice semi-formal portrait. Best to be sure that your photographer has the skills and equipment necessary to work in near darkness and to get this once-in-a-lifetime shot. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NV
Mom wanted an impromptu family reunion portrait, squeezed in between toasts and dancing. No problem. When’s the next time all these folks are gonna be in one place? Four speedlites around the room made this very special portrait possible. Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, NV
This man is a pharmacist. But he’s also a sheep rancher. When I interviewed them about themselves, he didn’t say much at all about pharmacy, but he lit up about his ranch and his flock. He clearly loves his avocation. So the look and feel and topic of their family portrait was obvious to me.
These guys wanted a family photo that was a little different. So they got all dressed up. I busted out my big studio lights. We went to the gorgeous Aria hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. And we made gorgeous.
Smartly, they got permission from management to make our photo, so we were not even approached by security. This family were good sports, letting us pose them while we moved our lights from left to right. I don’t know about you, but I love it – don’t they look hot!?
Because it is much more challenging, and because it looks so different, I must say that this kind of styled, studio-lighted photography is among my favorite types of family photography.
But I also love the simpler family portrait in the park, like these below we did yesterday.
I was honored recently when Natalie Howe, one of the most successful, awarded and famous wedding & portrait photographers in Australia chose FogartyFOTO to do some portraits of her and her beautiful family here in Las Vegas.
Her husband and she had an uber-fun renewal ceremony @ Graceland Wedding Chapel (why Graceland? ‘cuz Bon Jovi got married there! of course! 🙂 )
Natalie and Chris have been married 81/2 years (very important not to forget the 1/2, right Chris?)
My wife Chris & I met Natalie and her husband Chris and their son Tom and Natalie’s fellow photographer Kate Lindsay at Graceland, and off we went!
Natalie is so use to posing her own clients, she automatically posed herself and her family! Nice job Natalie! Even Kate got in on the action by assisting Steve with some gear. She is so use to being Natalie’s assistant, it was pure instinct. We had so much fun with these guys. We did a lot in a short time.
The only thing we didn’t do was ” throw another shrimp on the barbie!” Maybe next time. Have a fun rest of your vacation traveling all over the US.
As they had some Vegas things to do – shows to catch, parties to make – we didn’t have that much time. But that didn’t stop us from making some awesome magazine-style portraits.
This shot was taken by Kate from inside the air conditioned car on this 108º Vegas day.
You wouldn’t know it from the photos but one of these folks is suffering from heat stroke or the like – not enough snickers bars & water to fend off the intense Vegas sun. They were all good sports about it and we shot through it.
This was truly one of the most rewarding and fun photo shoots we’ve ever done!
These beautiful guys were visiting Vegas from northern Europe, via California, where they now live. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful, fun, relaxed family. We spent an hour or so over at Sunset Park in Henderson. I love how we created formal, lit portraits and in-the-moment photojournalistic photos alike.
Jennie’s sister was kind and generous enough to arrange this photo shoot for her sister and her family.
Las Vegas Photographer STEVEN JOSEPH PHOTOGRAPHY. Las Vegas Headshots. Las Vegas Food Photography. Las Vegas Event Photography. Las Vegas Convention Photography. Las Vegas Photobooths. Las Vegas Wedding Photography. Las Vegas Elopement Photography.