Kenneth Linge is the photography world’s equivalent of a Jedi master. He was a terrifically acclaimed photographer in Norway before he moved to Utah around 2000. After moving here, he promptly took over a lot of the top wedding gigs in venues like La Caille, Sundance, and Thanksgiving Point. He now works mostly with commercial photography, but still does the odd wedding now and then. He’s a genius when it comes to lighting, composition, and focus, so when he announced he was doing another Photographing People workshop I jumped at the chance to hear what he had to say. Not only is he incredibly talented, he is an extremely kind and open person and rocks a wicked awesome accent to boot. He teaches along with his wife Marylyn who is a superb photographer in her own right, and does amazing Photoshop magic in their editing for the studio. I already feel much smarter having attended this workshop. :D
A couple of highlights from the workshop:
One of the biggest challenges for a wedding photographer is that you can’t really dictate when a wedding ceremony or reception should be to get the best natural light. You can do it a lot easier with engagement and bridal shoots, but clients aren’t usually up for scheduling their wedding day events for the first or last two hours of the daylight (generally considered the best natural light by photogs). Thus, wedding photography often takes place during harsh midday or early afternoon light.
Enter the Jedi. Kenneth actually says that around midday is one of his favorite times to shoot as it gives him a lot of options with lighting. He spent quite a while in the workshop explaining and demonstrating with a model different principles and techniques on how to manipulate bright sunlight to give spectacular results. The secret lies in manipulation of reflectors and diffusers (sometimes just one of each, sometimes more than one), along with a better understanding of where the primary light source is, how it will behave in the photo, and how shade will play a factor.
Quote of the day on lighting: “Good light and a crappy background always trumps crappy light and a good background. Make sure the light works, and then work within that to find the right background.”
Incidentally, the “right background” for Kenneth is sometimes just a blanket held up behind the model by an assistant. I loved the idea, especially as it can be a way to bring in more color to the photograph. I will definitely begin to keep an eye out for any awesome blankets that would work well.
A key aspect of composition in photography has always been how you are directing the viewer’s eye to your subject. Framing and leading lines are primary ways to help the photographer accomplish this task. Kenneth touched on an interesting phenomenon that he has noticed and I thought it was something to definitely keep in mind in my own work. Historically, people from Europe and the US have always looked at or “read” photos from left to right, and so it was important to make sure any leading lines in the photo would take the eye from left to right directly into the focus of the subject. People from China and the rest of the orient would traditionally look the photo from right to left. What Kenneth has found is that recently, more and more people now are “reading” photos from top to bottom (an apparent effect of the internet with just scanning pages instead of reading them). The point is that it is important to make sure that now you have lines directing the eye to the subject no matter where you look. While this is a fairly subtle distinction in photography, he underscored that keeping in mind the way clients will view the photo and composing the shot accordingly will help produce shots that “just look better” and stand out from the crowd.
Capturing “the Moment”-
Wedding photography, whether it’s in Utah or elsewhere, is all about recording moments and the memories they contain. The first time the groom sees the bride in her wedding dress, the bouquet toss, the bridal couple’s first dance…. All of these are examples of moments that must be captured in the exact instant and on the very first try. There are very few “do-overs” in wedding photography. Kenneth stressed the importance of knowing your camera. A professional photographer should know his or her equipment as intimately as a professional musician knows his or her instrument. Kenneth talked about how he would sit watching his cat and practice with his camera almost like a target shooter would practice his quick draw. As quick as he could he would bring up his camera and take one photo, focusing and adjusting as quickly as he could. “You must know every switch, every setting, and every dial by touch. When the moment comes you must be able to SHOOT. You can’t take 30 seconds or 2 minutes to make sure your camera is in the right setting before you are ready- by then the moment may have passed.”
While I LOVE my new D700, I definitely plan on taking some more time to practice my own “quick-draw”.
An additional point Kenneth made in "capturing the moment" that I thought I would pass along is to make sure to photograph everything and everyone as soon as you can; don't procrastinate the shot. If you arrive at a wedding reception and the cake is out, take a few shots of it immediately- you never know if it will melt, fall over, or be crushed by a guest later on. Get the shots as early as you can, even if the light is not ideal, and then if you have time go back and fiddle with it to make it perfect. You never know if "now" is really the only opportunity you will have, so make use of it. ---
After all is said and done, I thought this was a WONDERFUL experience. I highly recommend Kenneth’s workshops, whether you are a professional photog or only have some experience and want to learn some of the finer points of photographing people. The classes are small and intimate, and he’s a blast to listen to. And if you are a wedding photographer, I recommend you look into Kenneth’s Wedding School. It’s an intensive three-day workshop that focuses on technique, business strategy, marketing, and everything else that makes for a phenomenal wedding experience. He did one earlier this year, and it looks like he is doing another one this November.
You can bet I will be there, front and center!