All About: The Ring Shot!

Rings aren't the first thing most people think of when they hear "wedding", but I'm also not most people. Rings are my absolute favorite part of the wedding day to photograph because like the couple, the rings they choose are quite unique to them. Taking those rings and incorporating various elements from their wedding day I get to create completely unique and personal pieces of artwork for the couple. No two ring shots are ever the same, just like no two weddings are the same.

paint brush ring shots

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The ring photos always take me back to that wedding day. These rings are from a downtown San Antonio wedding, a wedding I was second shooting for the amazing May Carlson. She is a local film wedding photographer, and this was my first wedding shooting film at! She's basically my hero. Okay, so anyway, back to the wedding. The couple hired Keely Carnahan of Nobel Art to paint (yes, paint) a painting of their wedding reception, and as soon as I saw this gorgeous engagement ring I knew I needed to do something special. Keely was kind enough to allow me to borrow one of her brushes, we set the rings carefully on top and proceed to make magic. While we took two or three other set-ups of ring shots before these brush ones this set is my favorite.

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metal airplane wing ring shots

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This set of ring shots included a small metal airplane, and they show exactly why I'm obsessed with using macro lenses when photographing rings. The metal really reflects light well, and using a macro lens helps separate the rings from the background, creating such an interesting background for these beautiful rings. The groom is a pilot, and the couple included a lot of airplane themed decor at their wedding, so it only made sense to include these objects in creating ring photographs! There is one more ring shots from this wedding I really loved, it involved a new technique - and water! It's the first image in this blog post!

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lime & linen ring shots

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Not all weddings have such personal, unique decor I can use in the ring shots. These two images are from two different sets of ring shots at a recent wedding of mine. In San Antonio we love our tequila, and you can't have tequila without limes. Each table at this wedding reception had a plate of limes, and lucky for me there were a few extra limes I was able to use for this one photograph I've been wanting to try out! Just a simple ring shots with limes in the background, but by adding extra light to the limes I really got a good pop of color out of them! For the image below I just used the rings as a napkin ring, pulling a bit of the blue cloth through the rings. While there aren't any objects that are specifically personal to the couple, I included their wedding color with the linens and a little San Antonio with the limes.

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The Difference Between an Artist and a Photographer

In the age of iPhones cameras that are more technically advanced than my first DSLR, the term photographer doesn't mean what it used to. It's very easy and affordable to get started in photography today and there are a lot of people who enjoy taking photos in their free time. I love working with people who have been bitten by the photography bug, and it's so much fun to see the excitement in their eyes as they discover new things and learn to see the world the way a camera does.

My first few years with a camera I was so frustrated with any portraits I took. I had so little experience with overall composition and was just starting to learn how to read and use light. The photos just never looked very good and I was so distracted by all the different technical parts of creating the images that I never connected with my subjects - I didn't even understand how important it was to connect with them in order to create great images!

A lot of other photographic artists might disagree with me, but like I mentioned before society is basically at the point where the word "photographer" doesn't refer to anyone with any specific knowledge or experience so I'm going to use the term "artist" to describe myself from here on out. 

I'm an artist. Photography is my medium, and weddings are my studio.
 

Spending the last 10+ years experimenting with photography and learning the technical side of things has finally begun to pay off! My eye now automatically seeks out the good light in a situation, and it's almost like muscle memory - getting the right settings to use that light is now second nature. This leaves me to focus on the emotion, the facial expression, and the moment which is the difference between the current "photographer" and an artist. 

This is so important when it comes to wedding photography! Think about it - how many times have you posed for a picture, felt awkward in front of the camera, and the photos just didn't show your personality? For so many people, the first professional portraits they have are taken on their wedding day. 

Getting to know my subjects is the most important part of my job as a wedding photographer, and I think this is why I am draw to weddings over family / senior portrait sessions. I need more time to get to know who you are as a person so I can make that person show in the photographs. I absolutely am in love with capturing a person's essence in a photograph, and with couples I get to capture not just who they each are as individuals, but also who they are together. 

Creating beautiful photographs is one thing, but creating beautiful photographs of the essence of a person is another. As a LGBTQ person I've spent an insane amount of time finding out who I am and accepting myself. It's taken years and that is part of why I'm so focused on capturing the essence of a person in a portrait. For some people it comes so natural, it's so easy to just be themselves but it's been a very long and hard struggle for me to even know who that person is. I absolutely love being able to find that person within my clients and bring it to the surface, visually shape them with beautiful light and create art of them!

Photography 101

I've been obsessed with light and photography since 6th grade. I remember the exact moment.

It was a crazy foggy morning and our school district was on a fog delay. The property around our house was wooded and I was in awe of the early morning light streaming through the fog and the trees. I grabbed my purple, plastic film point-and-shoot camera and centered the sun in the frame, so the rays of light streamed off to the sides of the image, and pressed the shutter. That was years ago, and I haven't been able to find a copy of the photo - the moment just lives in my head. That was my moment.

Sharing my love for photography doesn't just mean sharing my work, it means making all that I've learned accessible to others. Read through blog posts below to learn more about photography, or become a Patreon of mine for access to detailed photography tutorial videos, image reviews and more!

 
 

Wedding Planning Tips

Wedding planning is no easy feat! This is a collection of a few tips and ideas gathered at the weddings I've photographed over the last few years!

- Parker