This is an example of capturing emotion. I anticipated this photo
because I knew that something special would happen as this father
escorted his daughter down the aisle. The way that he is looking at
her shows how happy and proud he is. The photo was created with
Tim Hines is a wedding photographer living in Charlotte, North
Carolina. Tim is passionate about using his photography to tell
stories of people. His style is documentary with contemporary flair.
His aim is to make it fun, unique and artistic.
Tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
I am a photographer based in Charlotte, NC with a focus on wedding photography. Photography has been one of my hobbies since I was in high school. I started off with film photography so I do have some dark room experience but I wouldn’t know what to do if you put me in a darkroom today. My passion for photography really grew about six years ago when I learned to see the light. No pun intended. I had been shooting a long time without understanding the main ingredient of photography. That main ingredient is light.
Photography means to write with light so it’s very important to understand how to see light and control it.
When I’m not doing photography I enjoy spending time with my family, mountain biking, playing xbox and flying radio controlled planes or helicopters.
This is an example of a created moment. I posed the couple and the
magic naturally happened as they interacted with each other.
Why did you start taking photos?
I started taking photos because my dad gave me an old camera to play with it. It was a 35mm Pentax K1000. I figured that I needed to learn how to use it so I took a graphic arts class in high school. I also spent time a lot of time at the library reading photography books. Kodak used to publish some great photography books so I would check out as many of those as the library would allow. After I became fairly proficient with working the camera I started charging my classmates for photos. The profit that I made from those photographs allowed me to buy a new camera and a few lenses. I continued to practice photography by photographing anything that I could see.
This is a funny moment that I anticipated. Kids usually do funny things at receptions so I get down low and try to capture it. This image was cropped because I really wanted to focus on the boy and the legs that tower over him. I also like the expressions on the girls and family in the background. This was shot using an on camera flash and an off camera flash. The off camera flash adds a nice highlight to the legs.
I used the reflection as a compositional element in this photo. I positioned the couple against the window of a building and then positioned myself to capture the couple and reflection.
What inspired you to turn it into a business?
My friends inspired me to turn my hobby into a business. I used to do small shoots every now and then to fund my other hobbies but many of my friends thought I should start a business. They always provided me with great feedback about the photos that I took. That feedback was ultimately what encouraged me to start my business. I still love receiving feedback on photos whether it’s good or bad. Good feedback let’s me know what I’m doing right and negative feedback let’s me know what I need to improve on.
Both types of feedback are great to me because they both help me
grow as a photographer.
This photo was taken in a hallway. I noticed the cool color of the ceiling, the lights and the lines. I lit the couple with a flash with a grid on it so that the light only fell on them. A wide spread of light from the flash would have flooded the hallway with light and killed the ambient lighting that I was trying to capture. I framed the photo so that the lines in the ceiling would lead the viewer to the couple.
Why are you fascinated with weddings?
I am fascinated with weddings for a few reasons. The first reason is that a wedding is one of the most important events in a couples lives. I love being able to capture those moments in history so that they can be shared for many years.
A wedding covers a large variety of emotions and feelings. At weddings I see happiness, ambivalence, excitement, nervousness and
laughter. I try to capture those emotions so that I can generate an
emotional response from the viewer of the photos. I love it when a
bride tells me that she cried when she viewed the slideshow of her
wedding photos. That let’s me know that I did a great job of
capturing her wedding.
One of the other reasons that I like photographing weddings is because wedding photography is a blend of all forms of photography. As a wedding photographer I do fashion photography, portrait photography, architectural photography, macro photography, product photography and journalistic photography all in one day. I can’t think of any other genre of photography that allows you to do all of those things.
This photo was taken at the condo that the bride got ready in. I positioned her close to the window to utilize that beautiful window light. Window light is always a great light source.
How do you capture the love and feeling of a wedding?
I capture the love and feeling in a few ways. I hunt for it. I am constantly observing what is going on around me.
Like a hunter I try to go unnoticed because I want to capture the
moment and not disrupt it. If people know that I am trying to
photograph them then their natural instinct kicks in and that causes
them to look at the camera and smile. When they are not aware that
the camera is on them then they behave naturally. That is when I get
to see genuine feelings come out. I also anticipate things to
happen. For example I know that the mother of the bride is going to
smile or cry as she sees her daughter come down the aisle. I always
keep an eye on the mother because I anticipate that to happen. I can
also anticipate that the groom is going to show his feelings on his
face as his bride comes down the aisle.
I sometimes create love and feelings so that I can capture them. I do a lot of photojournalism on the day of the wedding but sometimes there are times when I need to create a scene of love and emotion. I do that by posing the bride and groom together. I may pose them in a way that suggests love. Love can be interpreted as the way the couples look at each other or the way they hold each other. Posing them together usually puts them in a situation which allows those feelings to naturally come out.
This was taken in a hallway at an old bed & breakfast. I noticed that there were several recessed lights in the ceiling so I positioned the bride under one of hem and I had her direct her face toward the light so that it fell across her face.
I bet you can tell me about some challenges you faced or awkward circumstances. Tell me about some memorable moments.
The most challenging part of a wedding for me is doing the formal portraits after the ceremony. Photographers have a small window of time to photograph several family members and wedding party members. The challenging part is dealing with all the people at once. Some wedding parties are large and it takes time to properly position them. Sometimes, some of the people that need to be in the photos are missing so that causes delays. Sometimes I have to deal with wedding guests that try to photograph the same pictures
that I have composed. The problem is that the guests taking the
pictures may divert the attention of the people that I am trying to
photograph. I need all eyes on me when I take the photo so that I
can get it done quickly. The guests can also be a problem because
they try to get the people in the picture to stay in the same pose
after I shoot it. I need to move on to the next photo because I have
limited time to work with. Wedding Photographers often need to be
assertive at that time so that they can do their job.
I haven’t had many awkward circumstances. (knock on wood). I have run into a few situations in which the parents of the bride were divorced and I was not aware of it. It can be awkward if I ask the divorced parents to take a photo with the bride if they don’t get along. I’ve ran into that situation a few times early in my career. To prevent that from happening I usually talk discuss the family structure during our pre-wedding consultation.
This photo was also taken at a bed & breakfast. I noticed the glossy floor and the patterns on it so I decided to use those items as compositional elements. I posed the bride so that she was facing the window to take advantage of the light. I laid on the floor to get my lens as close to the floor as possible to help maximize the reflection.
What are some other photographic projects you enjoy working on?
I am not currently working on a photography project but my next project will be to photograph Charlotte, North Carolina at night. Several years ago I did a project called Charlotte After Dark. I plan to do it again because the skyline of the city has changed a lot and I want to capture those changes. I’m also thinking of doing a water drops project. I’ve seen some really cool photos of water drops so I’ve been planning to give it a try.
This photo was taken at a train station. The couple was lit with a Canon 580EX in a softbox. The structure helps frame the couple and lines lead into the photo.
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and how do you select your equipment?
I shoot with Canon 5D MK II bodies and an assortment of lenses. The lenses that I use at weddings are:
70-200mm 2.8 IS, 50mm 1.2, 17-40mm 4.0, 24-70mm 2.8, 100mm 2.8
One of the criteria that I use when choosing equipment is
it’s ability to perform in low light. As a wedding photographer I
often find myself in low light situations. I have several 580 EX
flashes but I can’t always use them in churches and sometimes I
prefer to use natural light. Some churches do not allow the use of
flash during the ceremony. To handle those situations I primarily
shoot with fast lenses and camera bodies that perform well at high
ISO. I also like fast lenses because they allow me to isolate the
subject from the background due to the shallow depth of field that
The Canon 5D bodies are great for low light because
they allow me to shoot at 1600 ISO or higher and see very little
noise from the images. I also like the fact that the 5D bodies have
full frame sensors. Image quality is another factor that I look at
when choosing lenses and camera bodies. There is a noticeable
difference between some lenses and bodies.
I often read reviews and get feedback from other photographers about equipment but in the end I have to decide what is best for me. It’s always good to rent equipment or borrow it to see how you like it before you invest in it.
I positioned the bride in between two massive columns. The columns act as a frame and provide leading lines. Natural light was used for this photo.
Can you name some tips for those who want to start a wedding
- Tip number one is not a photography tip but it’s extremely important – if you plan to be a wedding photographer. That tip is to backup your photos, backup your photos and then back them up again. This tip is very important because as a wedding photographer you will be responsible for protecting priceless images. There are no do-overs if you lose the images. My home was recently burglarized and the thief took several laptops and external hard drives. If I didn’t have multiple backups of those images then I would have lost several thousand wedding photos. I’ve also had hard drives fail. Without a backup I would have been in a bad situation. Make sure that you have several backup on site as well as off site because your home could burn down or be affected by some other disaster.
- This is another non photography tip.
Invest in business insurance. I recently lost $9,000 worth of
equipment when the thief broke into my home. I had weddings to
shoot in a few weeks and most of my equipment was stolen.
Fortunately it was all insured so that I was able to replace it.
- Find a local wedding photographer to shadow so that you can gain experience. Weddings are very important events. You don’t get a second chance to shoot it. Weddings are fast paced events. You don’t have time to play with your camera settings. You have to be able to work fast and deal with pressure. Shadowing an experienced wedding photographer will help you gain the experience that you need.
- Look for good light first and then look for a nice background in that good light. Most new photographers look for nice backgrounds to use for photos. We all like to have nice backgrounds but if the light around the background is bad
then you won’t get a good image. Lighting makes a huge
difference on how an image looks. The only exception to this
rule is when you are providing your own light with strobes.
- Learn how to use your flash. Natural light isn’t always available so it’s important to know how to provide light with strobes when needed. Learn how light travels and how to control it. Many new photographers point the flash straight at their subjects because they don’t know any better. Direct flash is unflattering to subjects. It’s best to get the flash off the camera so that it can be placed in a location that will provide depth to your image. If you can’t get the flash off the camera then point the flash head at a light surface so that the light can bounce off of the surface and then onto your
subject. I was recently showing a friend how light provides
depth by using a flashlight and paper towel. I turned out the
lights and held the flashlight directly above the paper towel.
When the light was in that position we were not able to see the
patterns imprinted in the paper towel. I then moved the light to
a 45 degree angle and at that point we noticed the patterns on
the paper towel. We were able to see the patterns because moving
the lights caused highlights and shadows to be created. Those
two things provide depth so it’s important to understand how
light placement can control them.
- Practice, practice practice. Anything that you want to become good at requires practice. Constant practicing allows you to be able to do certain tasks without thinking about it. When I started shooting weddings I used to forget to change my ISO as I went from shooting indoors to shooting outdoors. Now it’s something that I do naturally because I practice. Some of you may not have a person to practice taking pictures of. If that’s the case then do like I did and buy a beauty school mannequin head. I used to practice
lighting it indoors and outdoors. Practice different lighting
patterns on it such as butterfly lighting, short lighting, broad
lighting and back-lighting.
- Learn how to compose images. The composition of an image can make or break an image. Learn the rule of thirds and know when to break. Learn about leading lines, frames, shadows and reflections. All of these things help create a strong composition. It’s something that I’m still working on because I realize how important it is. Last year I had the privilege of attending a David Beckstead workshop. He is considered to be one of the best wedding photographers when it comes to composing images. It was great to watch him in action as he shared his thought process with the students. I highly
suggest that you try attend one workshop a year to develop your
skills. There are lots of workshops out there which focus on
different aspects of photography. It’s up to you to determine
which one you need to attend.
- Learn to use the equipment that you currently have. Many beginning photographers think that they have to go out and buy the most expensive cameras, lenses and lights to create great photos. Those items are just tools of the trade. They do not make you a better photographer. I can run out and buy the same type of cameras and lights that Annie Liebowitz uses but those tools won’t enable me to create the same type of photos that she can create. Annie knows how to compose images, she knows how to light images, she knows how to interact with her clients and she knows how to pose them. Those are skills that Annie has developed over time. Once you have those skills you can create great images with an iPhone camera or a point and shoot camera.
I was playing with shadows for this photo. I positioned the guy on his knee in front of fiance as if he was proposing to her. I had to readjust the couple a few times to get them positioned perfectly so that the sun created the shadow in the right place. I decided to convert it to B+W because shadows pop out more in a B+W photo. The color didn’t add much to this photo so B+W was definitely the way to go.
Thank you Tim for sharing these insightful tips and magnificent photos. Continue your success into the future!
You can see more stunning photos from Tim Hines at his website