“This image was part of a night engagement session I shot with my couple Karen and David, whose wedding is going to be November 08. We were running around San Francisco, looking for places with cool evening lights to incorporate in the shots such as theater marquees, bars with neon signs, strip clubs, etc. It was also raining. I had my assistant with me holding my off camera flash (a Qflash T2 with a spot grid to narrow the beam) on the couple for supplemental lighting–he would usually stand about 45 degrees between me and the couple, so the flash would illuminate them on the side facing the camera, but occasionally I would have him go behind them to rimlight or backlight them.
Anyway, we had just gotten done doing a series on Mission at some cool bars and were trying to find our cars, when I spotted this doorway. I loved the ironwork scrolls and the overheard light. I had Karen and David stand right under the light and hold each other real close, and was firing off a few test shots to see what the ambient was like while my assistant fiddled with getting the flash ready. I had the shutter speed low to absorb as much light as possible and was counting on the flash to freeze out any blur from that.
Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed this guy with an umbrella walking by and I didn’t think, I just brought the camera up and shot, and I got just one shot with him in the frame (he was walking fast). The couple was totally wrapped up in themselves, we had been shooting for awhile and they had gotten very good by then at just ignoring everything around them, as I had asked them to. And the guy, I think he was totally oblivious, or just too in a hurry to care what we were doing–most people when you’re shooting on the street will either walk around you or wait until you say it’s ok for them to go, which is annoying, because then they distract the couple and I would usually rather they just step in front and get it over with. Once he was gone, the flash was ready and we resumed shooting with the original shot idea (and I’ve included a 2nd shot to show what that looked like).
When I got home and looked at the images I just fell completely in love with this one–I love how the mystery guy is kind of blurry and very dark and blends into the walls around the edges of the frame, and how the blurriness plus some black object on the wall behind him blends with the shape of his nose, making him look almost witchlike. The black and white umbrella echoes the black and white tiles and its curved shape echoes the shape of the doorway. It’s kind of surreal and not typical for engagement shots, but still it shows that romantic theme of “us against the world”, and it’s sexy.
I love shots like this that are the unexpected result of something spontaneous, or even a mistake, that give you something way more, deeper, than what you thought you were trying to get at the time. Sometimes they can serve to tell part of the story that you weren’t consciously aware was there in the first place. It is only recently that I started allowing these kinds of shots into my website portfolio en masse, and now that I did, I wish I had done it years ago. Being upfront about my affinity for these offbeat, intense images–regardless of whether they are “wedding-y” enough–gets me couples that are more likely to think outside the box, who have awesome, fascinating weddings, and are more willing to trust me and value me for the ways in which I am unique.
1/50th sec f2.8
24mm (24-70mm f2.8L lens)
Processed and converted to b/w in Lightroom”
Here is the 2nd one: