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Juan Ruiz: Captivating Wedding Photos with Nikon D850, Godox, MagMod

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Speedliter's Blog is excited to feature captivating wedding photos from Austin, Texas based photographer Juan Ruiz. Juan's attention to detail extends beyond his photography as he creates an experience for his clients while capturing their expressions and personalities. This approach enables him to create images that represents both their individuality and their partnership.

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What gear did you bring to this shoot?

MODIFIERS: MagSphere, MagGels, MagBox

STANDS: Savage Drop Stand, Manfrotto 7’ monopod with a ball head

Why do you use the camera and lighting brands/systems that you use?

The Nikon D750 was my first professional camera. It was not a matter of brands for me at the beginning. But Nikon is doing the job right now. The D750 is a beast for low light situations and the D850 is a phenomenal camera with all its features and design. It makes my work easier. Soon maybe I will move to the mirrorless system.

The same thing with my Godox products. I wasn’t too excited to buy branded Nikon flashes, and after researching a few affordable options I went with Godox. My ideal choice would be Profoto, but at the moment Godox is working. Godox may be one of the most versatile and dependable lights. The AD200 is a mini strobe and works great in any type of light situation. For my needs it fits perfectly. We like details in our portraits and for that you need a dependable light that goes along with your style. I use the Godox X-Pro controller with my lights. It works wonders when I need to change settings quickly or I am far away from my light with my 70-200mm.

Another tool I love is the spider holster for the dual camera system. When we are in our session we interact with our clients for posing, reactions, etc. We have to move and guide them while we talk to them. We also switch gear constantly and we need to be mobile and able to use both hands. For all this the holster belt works wonders. I have also used the dual shoulder strap, but I’m more efficient with the belt.

How did you approach this shoot from a planning perspective? What was on your mind?

There are 3 important things that we consider:

ONE: First, we consider our couple's personalities and expectations for the shoot. We like to listen to them and make sure we are on the same page. As creators or artists we tend to forget that, in the end, the perfect photo is not the one we like the most, it is the one they love and will cherish forever. When we remember that, we can create an amazing experience with the shoot. Their personalities play a huge role because during the shoot we will collect their expressions and vibes. It is important that they love themselves as they view their images.

TWO: Location, location, location! I like to investigate and scout our location before the shoot and visualize the client in the space. I ask myself how does the natural light fall? Is it too busy? Where will we start and end? What are the things I can or cannot do at this location (permissions, flash photography, hours, renovations, etc)? Addressing these details ahead of time helps me feel prepared so on the day of the shoot I can focus on creating unique images without losing time or feeling stressed.

THREE: I create a list of photos that I need. Preparing a session is like preparing a meal: you need the right ingredients (and the talent) to make great results. I think ahead about what vantage point I will use (close up or panoramic) and what expressions I want to evoke (funny moments, sassy, badass). It's also important to plan to capture small details like the engagement rings, some people bring their cars, or bikes etc. I make sure I include everything that they consider important and part of them - even furry family members.

This approach helps me create a professional look, enjoy the session, give my clients a great experience, and take advantage of every minute with them.

What were you thinking when you staged each photo?

PHOTO #1: I was thinking about a new angle for my couple - something that they may wanna hang on their wall like a romantic quiet view. When I posed them I ask them to give me something serene. I guided them on placement of hands and posture. The wide angle lens is one of my favorite lenses.

SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/200 f/ 9 1/125

CAMERA/LIGHTS/MODIFIERS: Nikon D750, Nikon Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Godox AD200 + MagSphere on camera left

PHOTO #2: For this shot I wanted an architectural view with a complicit smile. The wind was really crazy and messing with the veil, but they were enjoying the pose and having fun with each other. I love the final result. I’m down on the stairs with the 14-24mm at 15mm. I was careful not to tilt my camera too much because the distortion could kill the shot.

SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/250 f/10 1/100

CAMERA/LIGHTS/MODIFIERS: Nikon D750, Nikon Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Godox AD200, MagBox camera left

PHOTO #3: I usually do not use the wide angle lens for close ups, but the result of this frame is something I love. I had them face each other and covered them with the veil while I shot from a low angle. We were in an open shadow so I went with natural light.

SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/200 f/10 1/160

CAMERA/LIGHTS/MODIFIERS: Nikon D750, Nikon Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Natural light

What software and tools/processes did you use for post-production & retouching?

I use Lightroom for all the tone and color correction, straightening and cropping. Then I do advanced edits in Adobe Photoshop using a variety of techniques.

What do you like most about the final images? Is there anything you would do differently next time?

I love the feeling of accomplishment after a great shoot. I love the colors that I used, and especially the details. At times I like creating a shallow depth of field, but the higher f-stops in these photos give them that movie poster sensation. Growing up I used to collect Nat Geo and Popular Mechanic magazines and what I enjoyed the most from those magazines were the amazing photos, the panoramas, the colors. I know my style is different from the photojournalistic one, but I also enjoy seeing my couple’s smiles. It is like I’ve created their Romantic movie poster.

I guess for every photographer the common feeling may be that they could’ve done better. As happy as I may be with a session there is always something I feel I could have done differently or integrated to make the results better like a different light formula, a different composition, a new pose, or perhaps a better panorama. And I think it is good to have higher goals for your photography. But remember, it is the journey not the destination.

Where can photogs see more of your work?

Instagram: @juanruizphoto

Facebook: Juan Ruiz Photo


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