How to shoot a bride in a Walmart parking lot

  As promised, here's the behind-the-scene photos from the bridals and formals I posted the other day.  This was an experiment/demonstration I did for my intern Abby, and is something I've been working on in my head for a long time.  So here it is, how to shoot a bride in a Wal-mart parking lot.


Photographers: Myself and Abby (my lovely intern), with Thomas shooting "behind-the-scene"


Models: Lybie and Ravi

Location: Wal-Mart Parking Lot

Purpose: To prove that there is ALWAYS a beautiful photo to be found, even in unsuspecting locations.


First, here's me :)



I have learned many principles from many people through my photography years, and I have been grateful for all these lessons.  I found a couple of these principles were most applicable to this kind of location shooting and would like to share them with y'all.


Principle #1 - The best photos are taken from below 3 feet and above 6 feet (while most photos you see are taken from between 3ft and 6ft, general standing/crouching height.) Here we shot from low to crop out the parking lot and other distractions to show the sky, with the tree, bush, and light post (love having the light posts in parking lots to work with!) framing her.  3 lights, fill light on the camera, main light from left, backlight from right.  Sometimes I would put a fourth light below the tree to help light it up, but the main light was doing a good job already.



...and this is what we had to work with for that shot, and the next...



Principle #2: Bokeh.  Leaving the bride and lights in the same place, I stood up and actually used the cars and parking lot as a background, but zoomed in as far as possible and dropped the f/stop for a shallow depth of field.  Now instead of obviously being cars and parking lot, it's just a lot of texture. Lybie really wanted an edgy look, and I feel like this complimented the messy-hair and unique bouquet.




Principle #3: Empty space is ok!  And wide open sky shots do not have to include the subject's feet.  This is a simple thing, but one I've been working on recently.  I feel that this photo would not have been pretty if we included the asphalt!  Also played with white balance - warm vs. cold plays an important role in the atmosphere of the photo.  Fill light on camera, main light from the right, car headlights as back light from the left.



Principle #4: Who cares what the background is when the subject fills the frame?




Principle #5: Lighting is everything!!!   This is the photo I'm most proud of.  Yes, she is standing in front of a dumpster.  It might not have smelled fantastic, but we don't have to see the smell on camera!  And with the shadow from the tree on the dumpster, the car lights shooting across it, and backlight on the bride, it makes a great textured background.



...and this is what we had to work with.  Beautiful bride, but an interesting scene indeed.



And again, 200mm, shallow depth of field.  This could be a cool classy downtown night scene, but if you look really closely, you can almost read the Wal-mart "Always" sign behind them.  :)




So here's the deal:  I love shooting at places like Thanksgiving Point Gardens or La Caille, but at the end of the day, it's not the location that determines the quality of the photos, it's the angles, the composition, the depth of field, the lighting, and having awesome subjects to work with.  We can take a location as ordinary as a Wal-Mart parking lot and without walking more than 20 steps in any direction get a wide variety of photos.  I was so excited to have this opportunity and hope to do many more of these experiments in the near future.


If you'd like to see more photos (and behind the scene photos) from the session, take a look at the full gallery here.