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Wedding Prep at the Bellevue

I’ve probably photographed more weddings at the Hyatt at the Bellevue than just about any single venue in my career. Bellevue weddings have an old-world Philadelphia feel to them, and all of the wedding photos at the Bellevue that I’ve had the pleasure of making tend to stand out in my mind as some of my very favorite images.

This image was captured at a Bellevue wedding while the bride was getting ready in the bridal suite. A few years ago, a potential client politely said "I really like the picture but it seems a little dark." I totally get it. I do. I understand why she may look at certain images that aren't over lit, overexposed, and over-processed, and call them dark. Yep. But when I took a moment to explain that there was no need to use flash, no need to overexpose it or to have every element within the image bright and shiny, she saw exactly why it's NOT dark!

Much of it comes down to style. I prefer to make the light a part of the story. I have to give Joe McNally a shout because when I heard him speak about "the language of light"—and when I viewed his images—his use of light always speaks volumes about the story he was telling.

When I shoot weddings, I'm doing my best to capture things as they unfold and use the light available to give the moment as much graphic impact as possible. I also prefer to use the light in a directional fashion, which gives the texture, dimension, and mood which has become my photographic style.

I have no problem understanding that my style isn't for every single couple, and that someone could easily say this image is dark. But the question I asked this particular bride was "what exactly would you like me to make brighter" and "can you think about what would have happened here if I used a flash here bounced all over the place?" I explained that a documentary type image while a bride is getting ready should speak about what she was feeling, and I wanted to maintain the mood of the environment for her and her mother. I told her this was achieved through the mood of the light, and the moment they shared. She got it. She understood completely. She said it's what drew her to my work to begin with, but couldn't put her finger on it. I'll be shooting their wedding next year.

This is Carissa and her mother just before she was to put on her gown her Hyatt at the Bellevue wedding. They’re NOT dark. I promise!

Nikon D3S, Nikkor 35mm 1.4G 1/250th @2.0 at ISO 2000

Location: 200 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

1/250; f/2.8; ISO 2000; 36.0 mm.