When taking the first dance shot we always make sure to take a full body (either vertical or horizontal) and then take some closer, more intimate shots afterward. We composed this shot vertically to be able to capture the couples’ full body (and some of the scenes behind them) but at the same time cut out a lot of the messy distractions that were to each side of the couple.
Shooting vertically with the 50mm lens was the best way to achieve this. We made sure that the couple was in the middle of the frame and that the spotlight to the top right was within the frame to illustrate to the viewer where the light was coming from. Also, In order for this shot to work, I needed the couple to dance as much as possible within the spotlight so that they would be illuminated and separated from the background by the outline of light. Just before the first dance started I had a quick chat with the bride and groom and asked if they could try and hover within the spotlight area. I also explained to them WHY I was asking them this and let them know that the result will be totally worth it!
Single point continuous focus (center frame) with the viewfinder, I focused on the bride’s face, locked the focus, and then recomposed the shot (‘focus and recomposing’ technique).
Single Shot Autofocus
On the bride's face
The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:
Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.
Whenever we take first dance shots we always want to try and use natural light if we can. We’ll only use speed light if it is so dark that the photo will be too grainy and unusable (which hardly ever happens). I was fortunate that day that the DJ brought 1 big spotlight with him! When shooting a couple that is backlit by a spotlight, the effect can be really cinematic and it can be a really good way to separate the subjects (the bride and groom in this case) from the background.
The DJ originally had the light pointed on the crowd behind the couple so I asked if it would be possible to point the light in the direction of the couple to get the backlit effect that I wanted. He also had some colorful laser effect lights ready to go so I asked if he could switch these off just for the first dance because, in my opinion, the lasers would have ruined the romantic and classic look of the scene.
Firstly the image was cropped and centered correctly and then our Emotive color preset was added. White balance and tint were adjusted to create a more natural-looking light and a brush with some extra exposure was applied to the couple to bring out some more detail in the upper half of their bodies. Finally, I used the brush to make the people in the background a little bit darker so as they didn’t distract from the couple dancing.
Just a minor challenge. It was a big wedding with A LOT of guests in a small space so my primary concern was making sure that there was room for us to stand where we needed to stand. It happened a few times in the past that we were last to the dance floor and couldn’t find an ideal position.
At every wedding, I make sure to position myself in a prime position a minute before everyone starts to congregate around the dancefloor.
Wedding / Event Venue
Communicate with your couple and explain to them what you’re trying to achieve. Not everyone thinks like a photographer and sometimes when you ask them to stand in a certain spot or do something specific they might not fully understand what you’re trying to do or may even be questioning what you’re asking them to do. Explaining things to them means you’re all on the same page and are all invested in getting the best result.
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