About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Wedding Bonus for Photographers


I DON'T DO THIS

Don’t Shoot the Wedding, Shoot AT the Wedding

I always have problems getting family and friends to pose for nice candid portraits.
The Salute
My son has responded to my attempts to photograph him with his raised middle finger so many times that a few Christmas' ago he gave me a coupon book with; "10 photos without the finger".  Most often my subjects don't go to such extremes, but resort to the usual excuses; “I'm busy”, “Not in these cloths” and the standard, “Oh, I look horrible”.  Frustrating.  Now imagine a situation in which everyone is dressed beautifully, with make-up fully installed.  Place all these people on a happy occasion, in a lovely location, and enfold them all in an atmosphere in which everyone expects to be photographed. Ok, now you have a wedding, and there is no better opportunity to capture beautiful candid portraits.

"Do You Do Weddings"
Over the years I have been asked the dreaded question numerous times, “Do you do weddings”.  Each time I dutifully explain that I am primarily a landscape photographer and that brides are definitely NOT the same as trees.  I then discuss how wedding photography is a very specialized art form and that it would be insane to risk the most important remembrance of their special day on an amateur.  Usually By this point I have convinced the couple to seek professional help and I am off the hook.  If I am attending the wedding I will typically add that I will be bringing my camera and that they will be welcome to use any of my pictures they like.  And that’s my opening.

Matt & Crystal, Quietly Panicking
Emergencies

On a couple of occasions I have been approached at a wedding by a distraught bride panicked by the fact that the official photographer had been suddenly taken sick or had suffered a car break-down.  In those situations I have expanded my portfolio to help capture the event.  I agree to this only on the condition of low expectations and that no money will change hands.  For Matt and Crystal’s wedding I actually photographed decorations, and a few set group poses.  I had fun but these experiences have only served to reinforce my commitment to never take a formal wedding job.


The Wedding Advantage
No Finger
My preferred goal at weddings is to go after the intimate candid shots that are teed up for me in this magic environment.  I drift about with my 85mm fast portrait lens and often find that my usually reticent family and friends are suddenly open and, dare I say, even happy to be photographed.  All of their standard excuses seem to melt away.  I take pictures of happy groups, but my favorite shots are the simple close-up head shots.  I have always been fascinated by faces and the less distraction the better.  The key is to approach subjects with a relaxed happy attitude and they will most often respond in kind.  Again there is no easier and more natural time to move in than at a wedding.























Rules.
A wedding is a great opportunity, but I found that a few simple rules can improve the experience.

First and most importantly,  stay out of the wedding photographer’s way and don’t steal his/her set shots.  Photographers work hard to get everything right and they don’t need a bunch of leeches trying to feed off all that effort.  Often the key moment lasts only a second and,  if uncle Herb jumps in front to block the magic, the resulting homicide will be fully justifiable.

Keep things unobtrusive and fun.  Know when to back off.  A few people may not want to photographed.  Unlike the wedding photographer you don’t have to get every shot, just grab the ones you like and are welcome.

Watch your background.  Weddings can get pretty hectic making for excessively busy and distracting backgrounds.  Shooting wide open to restrict the depth of field can help, but sometimes a step or two to one side or the other can yield a much simpler background.

Game Over
Get your shots early, before the alcohol takes its toll.  There is often a fine line between relaxed and bizarre.

 And finally , don't forget to have a good time.  As you record all the joy and excitement pause, put the camera down in a safe place, and get crazy on the dance floor.





Jeffrey Newcomer


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