How-to: A grand wedding composite
Photographer: Charmi Patel Peña
Date: June 23, 2019
Location: The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
Subject: Shauna and Saheelan and their large bridal party
Equipment: Nikon D850, 28mm 1.8 lens, Speedlight, and Magmod grid/sphere combo.
Notes from the photographer: Shauna was extremely glam and wanted a glam bridal party photo. A single light just wouldn’t have produced the vision she wanted. Knowing this is a busy lobby, we started by posing everyone in their places, starting with the bride and groom and slowly building out from the center to keep a balanced image. Once we were done posing, we asked a few people to step out of the frame. (Some declined, and that was fine.)
I wanted to show off the highlights of the lobby with minimal noise, so I set the aperture to f/5 to make sure my subjects were in focus, and I exposed the image for 1/200 second at ISO 2000. With my camera on a tripod (and a frustrated doorman behind me) I stood a bit outside the main doors in the vestibule while my assistant went person-to-person lighting them. I made two images of the bride: one for her face and one for the bottom of her dress.
The 21-image composite was masked into one in Photoshop. It took about 15 minutes to set up and shoot and five minutes to edit.
I think it’s a bit unexpected for a wedding to go this far with lighting and posing, but I know that for this couple it was special to have this glam portrait with their closest friends. This is one version of who they are.
Eric Minton is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C.