Story Behind the Photo: The Toss

March 27, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This is my latest favorite photo. Not necessarily because it's perfect, but because of the story behind it.

The bride and groom had just cut the cake on the other end of the reception hall. I, of course, was right there in the thick of it, with a wide lens, because as you know if you don't get close to the bride and groom as they cut the cake, you'll literally get boxed out by the guests. People like cake. So they cut the cake, and as I step in to get a shot of the cake with a slice taken out of it, I hear Beyonce's voice: "All the single ladies! All the single ladies. All the single ladies!" I go to rush back to the dance floor, and realize that between me and all the single ladies is a sea of about 100 non-single lady guests who have yet to turn towards the dance floor. They're still facing the cake. People like cake.

I make my way like a parent with a stroller through Disneyland, but realize to my horror as I'm only about halfway through that the DJ has already begun to countdown the toss from ten. I double my efforts, now like a parent with a super rad double-kid stroller through Disneyland. At this point I realize that there will be no time to do anything with my camera once I arrive at the dance floor. So as I'm wading my way through people, I take a quick look at the distance from the already-ready bride and all the single ladies behind her. About 15 feet. I want to pull focus to the bride just a bit, and I'll be by the looks of it about 2 meters away from the bride. So 5.6 on the aperture for about a 12 foot depth of field. Everyone's moving fast so I don't dare go below 1/125 on the shutter speed. I'll do 1/160 just in case. That means flash needs to go up to 1/2, pointed almost directly above me and a little behind. No time to let the camera focus or to manually focus through the viewfinder, so I'll blind focus as I run to about 2 meters. Nope, videographers have already taken the good spots. 1.5 meters. Bump the aperture to 6.3 to compensate. 

I get there right at "2! 1!", duck beneath a videographer, around a speaker pole, make sure my flash can bounce off the ceiling, and snap. 

I'm pretty proud of this photo.

Cameras and focus systems and fast lenses these days can do an incredible amount of work that you no longer have to do...provided you're in control of your environment. And remember that in the wedding business, you are quite often not in control of your environment. At all. Never underestimate the importance of learning old-school photography techniques like distance focusing and depth of field calculations/estimations. A wedding is so much more than the half hour of portraits.

Splendid.
Karl.


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