Wedding Photography at Sunset, Bali

Wedding photography at sunset with fill flash in Bali, IndonesiaCanon 5D camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lensBack in the day I photographed many weddings, several hundred in fact. That's pretty much how I entered the industry as a professional photography. Not, like most, as a keen amateur wanting to make some extra money, but as a kid working with a 69 year old professional photographer with over 40 years of industry experience.

During the week (including Friday nights and Saturday mornings) I'd work in the camera store and on Saturday afternoons we'd be off to photograph a wedding. After just 2 years in the job old Ern died and, at barely 19 years of age, I was kind of pushed into taking over his remaining bookings. And that, as they say, is where it all began.

Initially that job was simply a way out of school, which I left early, but I liked it and it introduced me to a whole new world: one of light and magic.

Actually, I always found wedding work to be stressful. But, despite all the marshalling of participants, time constraints and dodgy weather I managed to do well. I began enjoyed documenting the emotions of the day and the fun of putting all the individual moments (back then that was around 100 images) into a cohesive body of work: the wedding album.

While wedding photography is no longer a part of my life I do still take an interest in the latest trends, styles and techniques. It's certainly a tough marketplace, with so many students, ex-students and part timers competing for work. Those at the top are usually O.K., those at the bottom struggle to make money and those in the middle, many of them experienced photographers, feel the (price) pressure of competition from the lower end of the market.

What's more the world of botox and sand-blasted models has made many brides much more conscious of the way they feel they need to look in their wedding pictures. By no means is this the segment of the industry in which to cut your photographic teeth. Not unless you are first able to assist a competent professional who is prepared to teach and share.

I was in Bali in March 2011, out and about looking for an opportunity to photograph the sunset, when I made this image. I noticed the bride and groom being led a merry dance as their photographer led them along the beach, dodging the incoming tide, and onto the rock ledge to photograph them against the setting sun.

I was careful to keep well away so as not to interfere. Professional photographers do not like other photographers standing behind them making pictures. Why? It is distracting for the groom and, as a consequence, will ruin the mood of the image. There may well be a lot of money involved and the bride and groom have an expectation of great images. To achieve this the professional photographer needs to promote a sense of intimacy, confidence and co-operation. Let's allow her to do so.

You may notice the photographer and their assistant in this image. (They're the poorly dressed ones). The photographer is directing the bride and groom and the assistant is holding a portable flashgun which, when triggered, helps prevent the bride and groom from forming a silhouette against the much brighter background. Firing the flash from one side renders the subjects with a greater sense of three dimensionality than would occur with flash positioned closer to the camera. Not wanting to interrupt proceeding I restricted myself to the existing light and a few Photoshop Jockey tricks on the desktop. 

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru