Finding my Zen – Same place, different couples, different weather, days apart

Elyse + Bill (left) smooch with flair; Emily + Jared have a quieter moment along the same street.

I’ve worked the same wedding venue back to back many nights and shot engagement sessions in the same location on the same day but no matter how often and how similar the locations, no two sessions are ever the same. As a photojournalist I know its the people I photograph that make my photography come to Life and give it its Essence. My job is special in lots of ways. I don’t sit in a cubicle (no offense to anyone who finds that appealing), I never watch the clock (ready to slide down the dinosaur’s tale when the quittin’ time whistle blows) and I’m usually always surprised how this job keeps me present in the Right Now without me feeling overworked or overburdened. This is Zen in the Art of Photography at its finest.

My aim (no pun intended), like Eugen Herrigel’s in his famous text Zen in the Art of Archery, is to somehow allow my subjects to photograph themselves. No I haven’t lost my mind. I want this to feel effortless even as I hump my gear and myself up trees, into ponds and and all over the place, quickly switching lenses and perspective, changing position all the while keeping the mood light and fun and engaging. Tons of contradictions abound but I truly want the camera to find a way to shoot itself. Much like Herrigel’s arrow finds its natural state at the center of the bullseye so to do my subjects find their organic bullseye framed within my sensor confines–that is their natural state. This process is best when it happens in the viewfinder but sometimes must be found in the edit and brought to light (The number one reason you hire a professional photographer).

The examples here are with Elyse + Bill and Emily + Jared and show how their own personalities play in some of the same environmental spaces. They are running the show even though they don’t know it. They are crafting the look and feel of their photographes without being aware of it. Sure I am framing things and swapping lenses, etc but it is their own confidence and insecurity to be vulnerable that allows the moment to happen.

I want my posed or orchestrated moments to have the look of spontaneity–as if  this is all happening organically.  Except that I’m Present yet unconscious. It is effortless.  A long slow Ujjayi breath out and I never feel my finger release the shutter–maybe 6 frames per second even. There is a flow and a sequence but in the end there is the unconscious talking to the conscious mind in the edit room.  This process takes patience and balance. My subjects, like the arrow, have already found their perfect resting place.

Tulips frame Elyse and Bill in the Public Garden (big assist from Jordyn with the fill light).

Here bare limbs and new leaves for Emily and Jared.

Light from a gold reflector (thanks again Jordyn) give Elyse and Bill a strong pressence…

Emily and Jared from the same spot with just great flat overcast sky lighting.

Just being themselves and not, since I’m instructing– they find the humor in its weirdness.

Same thing happening here with Elyse and Bill in a location that is only feet apart but worlds different.

Emily and Jared truly lost in some effortless conversation…

Where as, Emily and Jared were driving the previous shot here its all about light and shadows for Elyse and Bill.

Body language finds a similar chord for both couples–although I did a fair amount of encouraging in each.

Emily and Jared k’noodle.

Where everybody knows your name and is photographed to prove you were there.

Giving Elyse and Bill time to find their comfort zone in front of the lens.

Another kind of unnatural Natural state, Emily and Jared amid the clamore of Cheers.