Behind The Lens
Last week my friend Jon Fleming and I had the occasion of sitting down to talk about his passion for photography. I was keen to learn about how he works, what he enjoys most about his art, and what he wishes clients knew about working with a photographer. Curious yourself? Read on!
Jon got started taking photos as a highschooler; it was a hobby and passion for him. He threw his hat into the ring of professional photography after high school. Starting as an assistant, he was mentored to the point that he could work independently, as he now does (his company is Jon Fleming Photography, a LGBT owned business). In addition to being behind the lens, he also is responsible for editing photos. And rounding out the photo services he provides, he also rents photobooths. His style is relaxed with true to color editing.
Unique Vantage Point
Photographers are invited into the most intimate moments in a couples’ love story: proposals and first looks, ring exchanges and vows. This is by necessity as the photographer is there to record these moments.
And it’s the intimate events that Jon likes most. Jon shoots surprise proposals and he relishes the opportunity to work micro-weddings and elopements. He explains that they are more relaxed, affording a glimpse of the couple’s unguarded personalities.
Of course, I zeroed in on the surprise proposals, wondering how he maintained the element of surprise. Did he “hide in the bushes” I asked. Not necessary, Jon explained. As many of the proposals are in public locations—the Lincoln Memorial being most popular—he simply hides in plain sight. In other instances, he does have to rely on a cover story, such as when he was aboard a small boat, with only the couple and the skipper (it worked, and he got great pics)!
Capturing couples’ love stories takes Jon amazing places. Travel really excites him; he said it’s a tremendous honor to have a couple like his work so much that they request he shoot an out-of-town event. The furthest he’s traveled for a wedding: Frankfurt, Germany! In addition to the honor of a couple asking him to cross an ocean for them, he enjoyed capturing German wedding traditions. I asked, “Do you ever find yourself thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this?’”. He relayed a story of a couple who flew to an inn on a helicopter, where he was waiting to snap engagement photos as they disembarked after flying along the Shenandoah mountains.
What a Couple Needs to Know
I wanted Jon to tell me—and my readers—a little about what couples need to know when working with a photographer. It all comes down to getting images that you love.
Jon suggests that couples wear timeless clothing in their photos. This will make them look as relevant in the future as they day they were shot, avoiding the time-capsule effect of on-trend clothing. We’ve all seen photos of wide ties and bellbottoms that have not aged well! Further, simple clothing places the emphasis on the couple, rather than on the clothes.
Lighting is the most important consideration for photography. Harsh midday sun leaves shadows under the nose and eyes. Planning an engagement, portraits, or other shoots in the morning or evening, when the sun is not directly overhead makes for better images.
Some electronics do not play well with modern professional digital cameras, including both projected images as well as Christmas lights. When Jon shoots an event with images projected on a screen, he uses special techniques to get crisp, clean images, something he’s picked up in his 10 years of experience. With many engagements happening during the holiday season, Jon has learned how to catch pics with twinkle lights in them. He explained that without taking the right steps, half of the lights will appear to be out.
Tell us about the photos from your special events. What did you do to make them special? What tips do you have for other couples?