Tips + Techniques

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Creative Risks at Weddings

October 15, 2019

By Kyle and Bianca Thompson

© Oak and Iron Photography

We are far from fashionistas, but an outfit alone can inspire an interesting portrait. We wanted to show off the bride's incredible attire, so for us, a double exposure made the most sense.

We live in the wonderful time of SD and CF cards, which allow us to take an absurd amount of photos. We know that’s not the most romantic way to put the state of digital photography today, but it’s true. So if you have some sort of vision for a gnarly photo, as the legendary Shia Labeouf has exclaimed, just do it! At the end of the day, what client doesn’t want to look at their photos and be reminded of how truly badass they are.

Of course, we aren’t saying go use a neon smoke bomb during the first kiss at a wedding, but taking tastefully timed wall-hangers are always a fun way to kick up the most special of days. (We do want to make it clear that we are not here to define what creativity is to you. Our version of creativity might be different from your version, and that’s good; it’s what makes the land of imagination so wonderful.)

Sometimes the venue you are photographing can have restrictions on where you can go. This particular church asked that we not go anywhere near the front of the sanctuary, so we had no choice but to shoot from the back. This ended up being perfect because we noticed how amazing the lights were, so we prism-flipped the church to add even more of the awesome lights to frame the ceremony.  

The way we approach our own photographic spice blend is a solid 80/20 split: 80 percent good ol’ fashion memory lane riders, and 20 percent “Well, that’s interesting”-ers. That 20 percent is full of double exposures, light manipulation, compositional conundrums and just a little angst against society. Incorporating these elements into the whole story of the day, that’s the secret ingredient.

[Photographing Your Way Out of Creative Roadblocks]

Keep in mind that being consistent is the name of the game, so if you want to let that tropical storm of inspiration turn into a full-blown hurricane of “Woah, that photo is next level,” just do it, and then remember that now you’ve got to stay on that magical road you just paved. Show more of the photos you want to take on places like your website and social media so that people can see what you enjoy, and pretty soon you’ll have people hiring you to do that creative stuff!

This double exposure happened after we talked to the clients about a photo they had seen on our Instagram page. They asked if we were big into Photoshop, and when we told them that we like to do everything in-camera (if possible), we showed them by shooting this double exposures of the whole family, with the help of some nearby trees.

We mentioned previously our 80/20 split, but let’s make a minor pit stop at the 80 percent: Genuine moments beat literally everything when it comes to photographing a wedding or lifestyle session, and that is why they deserve the most attention. More often than not when clients reach out to us, sure, they are super into the double exposures and the non-traditional compositions, but it’s the capturing of real, raw, candid moments that drew them to us most. So, for the love of Salvador Dalí, don’t put your portfolio before your clients’ memories. Get the not-so-trendy “family just standing there being humans” shot; it’s part of the day and the most likely to be printed and put on a wall for all to gaze at for the next decades. 

[3 Ways for Creative People to Kick Emotional Burnout From Their Minds]

Back to the 20 percent. Knowing how to read your audience is important when doing the not-so-traditional portraits. This can be done in a number of ways, like in the form of a questionnaire or sit-down consultation.

You probably get by now that we are pretty obsessed with double exposures, but that is only because they are so versatile. For us, they are perfect for showing movement in a still image, like this musician who was playing for a wedding party.

Let’s pretend you got hired with no other information besides “I dig your work.” It’s important to ease into those full-blown photographic masterpieces you’ve been thinking up while you were watching old music videos. When it’s time to photograph, feel it out and talk to your client in between taking their photos about your idea to see if they are down.

When we first started documenting weddings, we felt like our brains were literally busting open like a treasure chest full of gold, but instead of gold, there were neat ideas for alternative wedding photos, and we’ve never stopped shooting them. Like us, you might find yourself photographing a wedding and then getting struck with a bolt of neat-idea lightning from Zeus himself and baboom—you could make a frame that yet another person will look at say, “Well, that’s interesting.” So when you find yourself choosing between listening or not listening to that creative voice in your head—picking the red pill or the blue pill, if you will—pick the one that’s going to make your heart sing like a bird. 

Kyle and Bianca Thompson of Oak and Iron Photography are a quirky husband-and-wife wedding and lifestyle photography duo based in Central Florida. They’ve spent the past several years showing that being a professional photographer doesn’t have to be all turtlenecks and fancy vest—having a good time is what it’s all about.