Spotlight | Dave Shay

A phenomenal image was recently created by Dave Shay and we just had to get the scoop. The image is selected out The Wedding & Portrait Society’s monthly image competition. Each month the Spotlight image will help up us all learn and grow by breaking it down and finding out how it was created. Thank you for your participation Dave, sharing your thoughts and being in the Spotlight.

WPS: First of all, tell us the story behind the image. Like, why the tent, the stars and a pitch dark night for a portrait?

DAVE: This couple infused their wedding day with a campout and music fest (Including a pretty awesome after-party featuring another live band). Getting a shot that fit their love of outdoors and their camping weekend was top priority, so this worked out perfectly. Funny side-note- we actually grabbed the tent for the shot while all the guests were at the reception. All in all, I just wanted their images to reflect who they are.

© Dave ShayWPS: Most photographers would run from this but you totally embraced the challange. Was this your idea or was it a collaborative effort with your client?

DAVE: I came up with the general idea earlier in the day after seeing how far detached this field was from the rest of the campground, but they totally cheered us on and originally suggested stealing a tent (which we therefore took as a license to do so).

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© Dave Shay

WPS: In dealing with long exposures what are the obstacles you have to over come to achieve this type of image?

DAVE: The main thing we were dealing with was killing any ambient light. When you’re doing a shot with a shutter that long (6 seconds) any ambient light will show movement so getting the couple to stay still and making sure all lights in the area were off definitely took some effort. Also focusing in the dark was a challenge. We had to use gear to mark out the spot that they needed to stand since 2.8 doesn’t give a huge depth of field, even on a 24mm lens.

WPS: What equipment was used to create your groovy image?

DAVE: This was taken with a D750, Nikkor 24 1.4G, Ice light (in the tent) and two SB-700’s. One bare-bulb  behind the couple held by my second shooter, one in front with an umbrella and to camera right.

WPS: What was the biggest challenge you faced in the making of this image?

DAVE: In addition to focusing and ambient light, shots like this take some setup. Even knowing what I was trying to do took a few tries to get, but having a good second shooter and assistant made it go a lot faster, from having someone to stand and focus on, to having someone grab the couple so they didn’t miss too much of the reception.

WPS: Of all the images in the series why did you select this one?

DAVE: I had a few of the two of them with a few less lights and a couple with a few more, but it was the interaction between the two of them here that was just natural to them. Grabbing someone’s natural expressions or a good emotion is always going to trump any fancy tricks I can throw into a shot.

WPS: Most importantly, what did the client think?

DAVE: They loved it even on the back of the camera. They were a little uncertain about being pulled from their reception (even if it was only 10 minutes) and as soon as they saw it, they thanked me a dozen times over by the end of the night.

Here are a couple of more portraits from the wedding. If you wish to see the full blog post from this wedding with more spectacular images go for it!

©Dave Shay0004
© Dave Shay
© Dave Shay

You can view the camera details for each image by visiting the gallery below.