The wedding year 2014 was very specific for me. Not just that I participated on it from “the other side of the barricade” – I myself became a happy husband – I was also a part of one really uncoventional wedding photoshooting. “Aren’t we gonna shoot some really funny stuff for our wedding?” I was asked by the wife and husband to-be. “There will be some people on Friday too, so they can join us.” And I was like: “Ok! Why not!” And what happened after my spontaneous and excited consent could be divided into four phases.
Some of you may say that this is how it works always at the weddings. And I say “yes” and “no” because this time I could have created just ANYTHING and I knew that the pair was crazy enough to go for it. So the bussinesplan of this photoshooting is specific for its content.
Looking for an idea. I have to admit, this part was easy. When I was thinking about the conditions I got this: a couple that would go for any idea, photoshooting place I knew very well, unspecific number of people and perfect darkness. So I got main characters, old cottage and a cast. I was growing up on B-action movies and computer games. It is no surprise that I wanted to try something where I could just cut my imagination loose. And the result of my brainstorming is obvious from the headline: ZOMBIE.
Looking for an inspiration and making of storyboard. After I excitedly shared this idea with the couple I begun to work on the plan. I knew I wanted to try brand new flash triggers that I haven’t used for an year. I also knew that the result would be overphotoshopped. Because I just love retouching. For a long time now I have been inspired by many artists and in this particular case it was Benjamin von Vong, Adrian Sommeling and Calvin Hollywood. Their influence decided on the way how the final result would look like. So I picked the style, I chose the theme and what was left was the storyboard. What you can see on the pictures below is the mix of my own imagination and inspirations from movies, games, concept arts etc. Basically just hours and hours of googling the right pictures and analysing what was nice and what I could use for the set. Lets go!
Shooting and lighting. There were both good and bad sides to this part. The fail was that it took me awfully long to set up flashes and find the best composition (the 24mm just wasn’t wide enough for interior use). The final characteristic of light was not acording my plan at all. Yes, I am a theorist and this time the practice terribly kicked my ass. I went through Joe McNally’s book and I spent hours googling strobox and strobist. Which was nice but was worth nothing without a practice. That’s why my advice for every photographer is to actually take pictures, to try, to experiment, to fail and to learn from all of this because every experience will make you smarter and will help you to be better at what you do.
Well, and the great part about this was everything else. Even though it was happening the night before wedding and it was a bit tiring, nobody was stressing or complaining so I didn’t feel pressured. The atmosphere was perfect thanks to all the participants and maybe thanks to the beverage that some zombies was sipping the whole time. But back to the technique. What I was missing the most and what was a problem in the interior was grid on softboxes. If only the light was more focused, it wouldn’t flash over the whole room. “Nevermind” I thought to myself “the Photoshop will have to save the day.” It was better in the exterior at least from the lighting point of view. Even though the never-ending moving of the tripods, re-setting the speedlights and looking for the right intensity was annoying, I was grateful for Phottix Odin thanks to which I could deal with flash performances from behind the camera.
This part is not so much about the shooting, so I make it quick.
The first shot took me the most time to retouch because of the one and simple reason: I had to decide on one common mood for the whole serie (even though I had relatively clear idea about it). The whole project was designed to be a story, it shouldn’t have been just a separate zombie pictures. I tried many different techniques and colour gradings before the final desicion has been made. It took me 16-18 hours of trials and errors. I wasn’t taking notes about the rest except the last one which took me 4 hours. It could have been app. 7-10 hours per picture.
Only 5 pictures out of 7 made it to the final selection. One didn’t make it because it was too similar to another picture and the second one just wasn’t sexy enough. It was received by happy couple 8 months after the wedding. It was totally worth the hours of working and months of waiting. When I look back at this project I think to myself that if I was to do similar project again, the third and forth part would go differently. I will wait for another opportunity with the bride’s words on my mind: “I can’t wait to see that disgusted look on my parent’s faces!”
If you wanna see what happend next day, check the wedding album.
- Nikon D800
- Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8
- Nikon SB 800 + 2x SB700
- 3x softbox 60x60cm
- Photix Odin 3+1