"We know what we would do with the great light in this shot, but what about when we don't have great light and have to get creative?", said Ryan Brenizer as we walked into the lush and extravagant Sofitel Hotel on the Palm in Dubai. In one of his more recent interviews on flickr Ryan was asked why he describes himself as a problem solver and a storyteller, and goes on to explain how when shooting a wedding in New York; "it's like playing a video game on hard mode. You don’t have a lot of natural light, you have a lot of cavernous spaces, you have people in the background everywhere, it’s hard to get from one place to the other".
True to his description; standing in the lobby of Sofitel hotel that morning Ryan was immediately listing all the problem areas, the mixed light, the abundance of choice, the noise, the busyness. He was talking, or more meditating - a stream of thinking consciousness being verbalised. Like a well oiled machine working, clunking and clicking away, Ryan's brain was working and we were hearing the process, the formula and all the intricacies into how he would go about taking a shot in the vast and hectic Sofitel hotel lobby.
You would think that the couple would be getting bored by now- but they weren't. Amongst all of this; he made the couple feel completely relaxed, letting them stand or pose how they wanted to and just be natural, would adjust them or move them slowly and accordingly not picking up the camera to his eye once. And when they were least expecting it - then he would take a shot.
More talking, some posing, another shot, moving them towards the window, another shot. He wasn't pressed up against the view finder for more than 5 seconds. He engaged both with the workshop attendees and with the couple whilst planning how to find the best light in the room, posing them and seeing through his ideas. We then also got a chance to shoot the couples in the way Ryan did; from reflections in floors, tables, framing the subject, silhouettes, backlighting using the sun, free lensing and the infamous Ryan Brenizer technique.
Putting one and two together you begin to realise that Ryan has some serious experience under his belt and is not only someone who understands light extremely well, but also is an incredibly talented cat herder. In the flicker interview he also goes onto admit, "Of course for weddings there are always problems and it’s very important to our clients to make them as calm and as happy as possible and then the photos will be of calm and happy people. It doesn’t matter how good you are at taking photos, you are going to be taking photos of stressed, uncomfortable people"
The Problem Solver/ Storyteller workshop took place over two days apart of GPP 2015 and true to his word Ryan continued to create set ups highlighting what to do in 'worst, bad or uninteresting' spaces. (For example the bathroom shower, a plain wall and a table lamp, harsh midday sun or a wide open grass feild). He also led us through how to make things less awkward, time limits and sudden problems that may arise. He got creative with lights and used a variety throughout the two days- but take note gear junkies, the rule is that he takes with with him only what he and his partner Tatiana can carry or wheel around, for instance; an LED video light that changes colour temperature, an off camera flash, a tri-flash to combat midd day sun and light two subject, additional off-camera flashes, a few modifiers and of course the sun. The gear was light, in fact I kept asking his assistant Preet where the rest of the gear was and if I could help out. (There was a definite void to be filled after assisting Lindsay Adler in my Part 1 of this article.)
Overall it was a great couple of days, Ryan and Tatiana are two of the nicest people I have met, and with a world of experience behind them I feel that they redefine what it is to be a wedding photographer. They are also both extremely passionate about what they do and I learnt an incredible amount in the short space of time we had. I would definitely recommend doing the next workshop that comes along.
Here are some behind the scenes shots from the workshop. The locations included Sofitel on the Palm and the Park Hyatt Hotel- Dubai Creek. I would say the only real problem Ryan faced for those two days was that the hotels were too nice!
Until next time.