Colorful Inspiration

When I met with Jessica to plan out the details of her wedding photography, she had one specific request. She had a family photo of her parents walking up the flower lined aisle after having just exchanged their own wedding vows. The photo was primarily black & white while the flower petals were brightly colored. Jessica let me know that it was very important that I get a photo much like this one. It was, in fact, so important for her to have a photo like this of her own that she made sure the aisle was similarly lined with flowers on her wedding day while her guests had buckets of petals to toss.

No problem,” I told her, and indeed it wasn’t. But it did take a bit of forethought to get it right. The process of coloring only a specific part of the photo is something I have quite a bit of experience with. What I was more concerned about was making sure there were enough petals flying through the air to ensure a feel of movement and make the color apparent. Typically you get three or four petals in the air at any one time as guests tend to throw rather sporadically.

So on the big day, while I hoped everyone threw their flowers at the same time, I knew that probably wouldn’t happen. My backup plan was to shoot numerous exposures and combine different handfuls from several photos into one… which is exactly how I had to do it.

I shot roughly a dozen frames as the newlyweds walked from the altar and later picked the best of the bunch to be the base image. In the end, I stole the flowers from three additional images shot just before and after, pasted them in place and carefully blended them. I also wasn’t fond of the sky. It was a cloudless evening which left the sky a very bland blue-gold as the sun set. It wasn’t blown out, there was just nothing of interest. So I pulled an appropriate set of dusk clouds from my stock sky library and lightly put it in place. The trick to making the sky look good is not overdoing it, so I reduced the opacity until it was just a hint of cloud in the sky. I didn’t worry about the off color balance since it was going to be black and white anyway.

Finally, I gave it my 25 step enhancement, turned it warm monochrome and painted in the color for the flowers. In Jessica’s parents’ photo, it was likely shot on black and white film and colored by hand with diluted oil paints, but in Photoshop it works the other way around. I start with a color photo and essentially remove the color except where I want it.

So, there you have it. Five photos, 23 Photoshop layers and some manual labor later, Jessica has her must-have photo from her wedding. I hope I captured the essence of the original, but with a little Patrick Pope flair.

In the end, Jessica had this to say, “I LOVE the photo! It is exactly what I wanted! Thank you so much!!!!… I am so glad we trusted you to capture the day for us! I don’t know if anyone else could have given me the perfect picture!”

I’m sincerely touched by her kind words, but more importantly I’m glad that she was happy with the end product. That’s what it’s really all about.


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