Flatland: A Wedding Deconstructed

Recently, RJ Kern and I got together with a whole host of our friends to put together a test shoot. The idea behind the shoot what a kind of paper doll, Eyewitness Books, ingredients for a wedding style shoot. Everything was on the ground, and we shot from above using a wireless tethering system (see RJ’s post for more about the technical side of this shoot.)

Jim Harper and Brian Martinez shot and Jim took on the momentous task of editing together our behind the scenes video. I met Jim when he was transitioning from photography to video, and this is the first time I’ve seen him in action. He’s AMAZING, and I would happily recommend his work to our couples. He suggested doing the time lapse footage, and I just don’t think the video would be the same without it. You can see more of his work for this shoot and behind the scenes images here.

As we’ve worked through this process, several things have come to mind. This was a heavy duty shoot, and the time to edit has given my brain some space to think through “test shoot” implications.

Left Brain vs. Right Brain

You may have seen this Mercedes ad floating through the internets lately. It represent the common knowledge idea of “left-brained” people and “right brained” people. And you know what? It’s a lie. Creativity is both a right and left brain process. Were you to break down the roles RJ and I took on for this shoot, you would think RJ was the left-brained guy photographer doing guy things with cords (argh) while I was the right-brained creative girl delicately arranging flowers and pretty plates (double argh). That “common knowledge” view says nothing of the lists of props and size charts for models, the organization and timeliness required for styling. It says nothing of sculpting the light just so, choosing the right tools for the job, and the intuitive, creative-problem solving of the technical side of the shoot. Mercedes makes the right brain look like a better, more fun, creative place to live, but it’s certainly not telling the whole story.

I’ve pulled together a Pinterest Board showing  some artwork that really showcases the right and left brain working in tandem. It also shows some inspiration and jump off points for the Flatland shoot itself.

Pushing the Button

During the video I mention that pushing the button is not the act of photography. Of course it’s part of the act of photography- if the shutter never fires, you don’t have a picture, and Henri Cartier Bresson certainly proved the importance of the decisive moment. But pushing the button is only part of the act of photography, and its piece of the photography pie varies from shoot to shoot. When I shoot dance, pushing the button at the decisive moment might be 75% of the act of photography. For this test shoot though, I would argue that 60-70% of the work of photography RJ and I had done before we even walked through the door. Pre-planning is huge, and without it this shoot would have come apart at the seams.

Applications of a Test Shoot

Why do we do test shoots in the first place? There’s the joy of working from inside your brain and seeing it come to life in front of you- wedding photographers generally work the other direction; they are given a set of circumstances externally and use the camera to focus their vision to tell the story from there.

You get to work with people you know and like (I’m looking at you Kelley Prather, Alicia Swede, Scott Stebner, and Brian Martinez), you get to work with people you’ve known briefly, get to know them better (Hi Samantha Koch and Jim Harper) and see them really shine. And you get to meet new folks, all the people over at Citizen Pictures, Matt Steaffens, and our fabulous models specifically.

There’s real world applications for the things we learn on these shoots as well. While this test shoot was very commercially driven, the idea of shooting from above on an actual wedding day appealed to me, and my friend Jen Tsoi was willing. The beautiful mosaic on the floor of the rotunda at the St. Regis Monarch Beach made the perfect place to try it out!



Photography, Lighting, Styling : Amanda Tipton // Kokoro Photography and R. J. Kern // Kern-Photo
Videography : Brian Martinez // Käntrast Media and Jim Harper // JHP Films
Video Editing : Jim Harper // JHP Films
Venue : Phil Swanson // Citizen Pictures
Hair & Make-up : Samantha Koch // LadyCharm Artistry
Cake: Kelley Prather // Kelley Kakes
Florals: Alicia Schwede // Bella Fiori
Graphic Artist : Matt Steaffens // Mathieu Ryan Photographers
Production Assistant : Scott Stebner // Stebner Photography
Models : Jordan Perkins, Alisha Hazel, Ryan Otto, Kirsten Sletten