To a photographer, light is everything. You literally can’t take a photo without it, and the quality, direction, and color of the light can make or break an image… so the idea of photographing an entire wedding in a dimly lit basement with no windows in the middle of winter, starting after dark, and never going outdoors is pretty terrifying prospect if you are the type of photographer that relies too heavily on good natural light to make your photos work. That’s just the scenario I found myself in with Hanyang and Haikun’s wedding which took place in Ada, Michigan on the lower level of River House Ada after sunset in late December. They are both from China and had a very intimate winter wedding with Hanyang’s parents being the only family in attendance and just 13 guests total. I had to use my flash or other lighting tools on nearly every image that I took. Luckily, I love working with light and crafting it to suit my vision so I rather enjoyed the freedom of being able to make the photos match my vision with lighting rather than being constrained to what the light was doing naturally.
After Hanyang’s mother helped her into her dress, we had some time to do a variety of gorgeous bridal portraits with various looks and lighting styles.
I love the drama and classic beauty in this last one. The subtle red backdrop was simply a red curtain that divided the hallway near the bride’s getting ready room from a storage area. With the proper framing and lighting it became the perfect background for this bridal portrait.
Of course we also did some cool portraits of Haikun. I used a flash down low firing up toward the brick wall in the background to really bring out the texture, while using a second flash to give a nice soft light on our groom from the front.
The couple opted to do a first look so that they could get straight to dinner after the ceremony and enjoy their guests company without having to worry about setting aside time for portraits in between. I love the look on Haikun’s face when he sees his bride for the first time!
After the first look we did some lovely romantic portraits of the bride and groom.
Haikun’s family was not able to make the trip from China for the wedding but they were able to watch the ceremony live via Skype! Amazing how technology can bring people together from opposite sides of the globe.
After the ceremony Hanyang changed into her red dress for the reception and we began with the cake cutting.
We decided to do a few more cool portraits at the end of the night. First, a silhouette taken in front of the frosted glass of a door.
This shot was taken in a very unlikely location, under a stairway in a tiny corner. By firing a flash through the metal grating between the steps I was able to project the lines of shadow across the scene. Another flash was used to put beautiful clean light on the bride and groom, and by shooting with an ultra-wide angle lens I was able to exaggerate the perspective to make the space look lager and the image more dramatic.
Finally we went upstairs for the first time and used the Christmas lights hanging in the windows for this cute portrait of Haikun and Hanyang snuggling together.