creating the scene


So sometimes (Most of the time), as photographers, we cannot control the backdrop we will be working with. In any scenario, you must "See the scene". Simply put, that just means looking at what is in front of you to decide how to capture it in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Other times, we must create a scene. A majority of the time I am not given a pristine set-up that looks photo ready, it's actually quite the opposite. Starting out in a small town with limited public settings, in places that everyone had used to photograph, I was faced with the only option I saw fit: Make it new. I made it my mission to make each place new, so everyone had unique images. At the time I didn't fully realize what I was doing, I just set my mind to it and made it happen that way. Then I started getting questions from people who had photographed or was very familiar with these areas, about my locations. Their response to my reply was usually disbelief. 
A recent wedding is a perfect example of these instances. It took place in a church with bright, multi-colored walls in the classrooms, and it was raining outside. 
 Assess the surroundings. Above is an un-edited image and just a small glimpse of the layout of this room. Every couple of feet were painted a new, vibrant color, oh and don't forget the painted animals. When I got a chance to do portraits, I knew exactly where I had to take them. There was a small patch of pink wall that I knew I could tone down, and even better? It was near a window.
Yet another unedited image to show just how much wall I had to work with and keep her in the window light. The light coming from the window was dim, due to the weather, so she had to stay near to it. 
 Adjust in post-processing. This is finished image in that spot. Obviously I moved closer to her and brightened and desaturated a lot of the vibrant color in post-processing.

Shoot with a wide aperture. I also shoot with a very wide aperture to bring more light in and have a smaller point of focus. That makes a huge difference when you have some background mess that the picture could benefit without.
Black & White creates a new setting. Black & white is a treasure when working in less than wonderful situations. Crazy colored walls and carpets? No problem. Of course you can't shoot everything in black & white (Unless thats a specialty) so this won't completely cover you, but hey if it provides some extra shots for your client, it's amazing. 

 Get creative with angles. This isn't always possible if you're sandwiched into a small place with the brides whole family and bridal party, but the above shot was in the bathroom of the church, and it was just the two of us. I tried many different angles to take the fact that it was a bathroom out of the picture. There will still be some that give it away, but you don't want toilets in the background of all of your pictures.

 Use silhouettes. As mentioned before, it was raining, and most brides aren't willing to possibly ruin their dress and makeup before their ceremony. If you want to mix it up a bit, place her in front of a window or door with a good amount of light and make her a silhouette. It just adds a little more to their portraits with a dreamy, soft image.

I hope this helps a bit in those tricky situations. Remember to always take a breath and think rationally when faced with wedding day horrors. The more situations like this that I am put in, the quicker I think on my feet, so try to take them as a lesson. ;)