A bad exposure doesn't mean a bad picture...

(click on image to view larger in a new window)

Well, I think it's a good picture, but then again I could be a little biased.

But my point is this, are we really shooting for the "perfect" exposure every time? Or are we shooting for an image the evokes an emotion, that "speaks" to us and to our clients?

There are many situations when we can "nail" the exposure, and we should, but I think this image is a great example of the impossibility of getting it perfect.

If I exposed for the bottom half of the dress (which is blown out), the top half of the dress would be way too dark (essentially I would have ended up with a picture of half of a dress and nothing else).

If I exposed for the interior of the church (which was as dark as a cave), the bride would be so blown out she would simply be a big white blotch.

What I went for was getting as much of the bride as I could and all else be damned.

When I first got into photography... oh how I would go crazy when taking an outdoor shot and trying to preserve detail in the sky and my subject at the same time, then it (finally) dawned on me one day, "does the client really care what the sky looks like in this senior portrait?".

It was then that I started asking myself better and smarter questions, what's the subject of my shot? What's important to my client? What do they want to see?

So when my bride sees this picture will she be disappointed with the blown out area of her dress? Will she wonder why the inside of the church is so dark?

Or will she smile because I captured the feeling of her walking through the door of the church and was able to bring her back to that moment of that day?

That's my 2 cents on exposure, I would love to hear yours, so please take the time to write a comment and share your thoughts.


Helene said...

Yippee! Hooray!
Having just started concentrating on macro photography, I was told by a 'pro' that my flowers do not have any 'eyes.' That is, the viewer (he) was not being pulled to that one spot as he would be viewing a good portrait image. I did not bother to explain that my focus concentrated on that one petal that curled in a particular way and not on the stamen of the flower. Another 'pro' indicated that my florals were too 'soft.' I did not bother to explain that I was shooting wide open and up close to obtain the blur that you might want to portray the scene as if it were 'fiary-like' or 'of another world.' Yes, I know I don't always get my focus right and I am practicing but, when I come across a shot that envokes a certain mood and that mood suits me, it's a keeper. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I love this photo just the way it is.

Miguel Palaviccini said...

I absolutely agree. I just got back from Scott Kelby's "Crushing the Composition" workshop. One thing that I really took away from it was that when you like a picture (or when an image emotionally moves you), you don't really know why right away. You just like it! Meaning, you don't look at an image and ask yourself: "Is it correctly exposed?", "Did they use the rule of thirds?", "Are there leading lines?" ... and so on. But instead, you get an instant emotional connection to the image, and THEN you may start to decompose the image to see why you like it.

I think the same can be said for exposure. There is no "correct" exposure for any said capture, at least I don't think so. I bet if you gave a single image to 10 photographers and told them to only change the exposure to suit what they wanted, most of the images would be different. Moreover, I bet that if you gave the same image to the same photographer at different times and asked them to do the same thing, you would probably get different results.

And that's my two cents :)

Matt M. said...

Scott, I agree as well. Great image!

Luke said...

I definitely appreciate proper exposure, but in this case it's fine the way it is. In my line of work, taking pictures of Soldiers in combat, I can't really worry about small stuff. I have to get the shot and as long as my subject is in focus, nothing else matters. As far as the bride, it came out very well. She is moving out of the frame of the picture into the frame of her new life. Captured. Good job.

maryann [Maryann's*****Fotos] said...

Definitely agree! When exposure or any other technical element can't be "perfect" we have to consider the subject of the image and use our artistic instincts to make the best choice. That's what you did and it is loaded with impact. The subject is the bride not the church. Nothing else distracts from her pose. The window is enough for context. Sometimes "rules" are broken in artistic photography.

half blind said...

In street photography I deal with this scenario every day. I cannot choose a location to take my subjects to, the wardrobe or the lighting where the shot is. I try and shoot the intriguing moment and focus on what captivates me. You did the same Scott. Perfect!

LM said...

I think the photo captures a great moment. While the details of the dress might be lost, the moment is still capture and it's perfect as a black and white. Well done.

Rachel said...

I just became a follower of your blog so I am catching up on some of your past posts. This was truly inspirational and meant a lot to me. Sometimes I'm too hard on myself and my work, always worrying that the images are perfect and professional. I learned that the whole picture doesn't have to be properly exposed and the main focus is the person or object in the picture. If you are happy with your work then your client will be happy too. Have faith in your work and your clients will have faith in you!