When I met Jennifer and Jordan, they had a clear idea of what they wanted before they even hired a photographer. However, they had not yet found a wedding photographer who could do more than just environmental and available light portraits. They liked the way that I use shadows in my wedding work, but they did not know I had a strong studio foundation as well. To go off on a slight tangent, shadows are important. They define our visual selves – our faces, our eyes. The use of shadow is the same as the use of light, the very foundation of what makes photography possible. Our couple wanted a studio session instead of your typical outdoor portrait shoot, but they also wanted it in a certain style.
As fans of old Hollywood glamour and film noir, they wanted a certain classic finish to the final product. I knew I could do it. I’ve had years of experience on commercial and studio jobs. The catch though was that I’ve never been asked to shoot something like this. How many photographers actually deliver old Hollywood glamour portraits? How many fans have what it takes to pull off the look? I was excited for a challenge. These unique opportunities are what I live for.
This was also an amazing chance to put my Mamiya RZ67 to work. After Jennifer had her hair and makeup done and picked out her favorite dress and jewelry in the studio. Jordan donned a timeless tweed jacket and pants combo that complemented Jennifer’s vintage style. We put on a playlist with tunes from the 1920’s and 30’s. With a couple of rolls of Ilford HP5, getting rich shadows and grain on black and white was a perfect tool for executing Jennifer and Jordan’s vision.
Hair and makeup – mariaaspegren.com
Sunsets are great. As is cool architecture. Crowds, on the other hand, are not my favorite thing. We waded through the sea of people to emerge through the surface of the very popular Griffith Observatory. For a crowded space where you do want to include the environment, put some space between the subjects and the background. In the case of this engagement session, take a walk to achieve the composition for the wide shot.
That one photo with a black border? Kodak Portra 400 on my Mamiya 6. The way it renders color at sunset is quite spectacular with those orange and purple hues.
Tidbit: I met Kawhi Leonard a few months ago, but this tall gentleman claims to have been dunked on by him, which is a way cooler story to tell.
I am an introvert. An unapologetic, low-talking, low-key introvert. My photos deliver my message and I love what I do. I may not be the bubbly, high-energy social media presence some people have come to expect of wedding photographers, but I am devoted to building genuine rapport with everyone I meet. I am far from the loudest person in the room, but I am always reading the emotions around me to translate them into the vast majority of my photos. I am not clique-y with photographers that group by camera brand, gender, or ethnicity (sorry, they exist!). Rather, I embrace my growing up in an environment that celebrated diversity. My inspiration is not so much other weddings, but real life.
I love a photo that is well-timed and technically sound. Some historically recognized photos and institutions known for their stringent criteria, such as National Geographic and Magnum Photos, exemplify these traits.
Naturally, given the opportunity to be myself, and truly just myself at a wedding, allows me to shine my brightest. I fell in love with the this day and the photos I was able to produce. There were no other voices chiming in for photos or video, no reenactments. This is triple-distilled, single-origin Stephen Tang, not the blended stuff. If you’re a storyteller, this is what you live for – sitting front row and center to perform your craft.
Wedding Venue – Wayfarers Chapel