A weekly series where I ask some of the world’s best wedding photographers to pick out their favourite shot from their Jewish wedding portfolio. This week it’s the turn of Erika Szostak of PhotoMadly.
‘A chuppah in the dark’ by Erika Szostak
Sheli and Zack were married at a breathtakingly beautiful resort near Palm Springs, California. The resort was ringed by craggy mountains, which made for a stunning backdrop — during the day. The wedding ceremony was scheduled for sunset but as things often happen on wedding day, things ran late, and the ceremony didn’t start until about 20 minutes after schedule.
Well, not having worked at this particular resort before I didn’t know that the transition from light to dark at the base of the mountains is like going from white to black in the blink of an eye. Inexplicably, neither the venue nor the wedding planner seemed to know this either, and no one had thought to provide a single light source for the ceremony. So, the sun set and suddenly we all found ourselves in total blackness.
As you may or may not know, a camera’s autofocus does not function in the pitch dark. It needs contrast in order to work, thus you need at least one point of light in your frame. I switched to manual focus, but that didn’t help either because it was so dark I couldn’t see anything through my viewfinder. Total panic mode!
Luckily, my partner and second shooter, had had the forethought to hang a remote flash from a tree branch over the chuppah before the ceremony, thinking the chuppah would act as a nice diffuser and we’d get a bit of fill flash. We never imagined it would be the only light source! It worked though, and while disco-strobelight-flashing-chuppah is not the effect we were going for (and Sheli and Zack said they didn’t even notice this), it meant that disaster was averted and not only were we able to get the shots under incredibly difficult conditions, they were especially dream-like and dramatic to boot.“