I don't know if I've ever seen an actual boojum tree (I think I have), but the actual wedding venue itself is a pretty great place to take pictures in Phoenix. I think it's actually THE best place to take pictures in Phoenix, because I can shoot a heavy schedule there all day long and find great lighting at any hour.
I get that question a lot in emails- "How can you shoot all day long and still appear to have perfect lighting in your pictures, even at high noon?
The answer is: We truly do avoid shooting when the sun is straight up in the sky. But sometimes you can't avoid it, which is when you seek locations that have lots of overhangs, shade, and... more shade. At high noon it's difficult to find shade. But it's always there. Here are some tips for avoiding harsh shadows:
1. Shoot with subject's backs to the sun as much as possible
2. Do not take the picture if you can see shadows in the eyes of your subject with your naked eye. The camera will enhance the shadows and voila! you have racoon face. You can't fix it in Photoshop, so don't try. Always make sure your lighting is right in the eyes before you ever click the shutter. Turn that face in either direction until you see those gnarly shadows disappear.
3. Watch out for shiny things in your surroundings that throw back weird reflections on your subject.
4. Be aware of what's behind your subject. If your subject is in shade, but behind him is a fiercely bright background, don't take the picture. Reasons? a. It's difficult for your camera to expose correctly in that situation and b. you'll turn to your beloved photoshop to try and fix it and c. that will make you crazy, and d. a bright, overexposed background takes away from the beauty of the subject.
5. If any part of your subject's face is in the sun while the rest is in shade, don't take the picture. Like, for example, the tip of the nose. Again, it's nearly impossible to get the face exposed properly in this case just because your camera's meter can be easily thrown off by super-bright parts of a scene and super dark parts as well. (disclaimer: I have seen Tyler do some pretty awesome photos with faces in the sun but not the bodies.... but I think that because it's intentional, it works.)
6. Use anything, anything you can get your hands on to block harsh sun out of a face. Things I've used in the past:
a) a reflector
b) a poor innocent bystander
c) my camera bag
d) my long hair
e) a magazine
f) a table (this was a challenge)
g) a leaf (pretty hilarious)
h) the dad of whatever family we're photographing
i) a Mr. or Mrs. Blue Lily (whoever's not shooting)
j) roadkill (this is absolutely not true)
These are just my rules of thumb. Rules I've written for myself long ago to avoid that lame feeling you get when you notice the harsh light just ain't working for you. The most important rule: Light is either there, or it's not. You'll save yourself a lot of grief if you chant that to yourself a few times. There's nothing more exciting than realizing you can finally "see the light"... and that takes practice.
Look at the eyes. The eyes say it all. If there is soft, lovely light in the eyes- you've got yourself a purdy picture.
Oh, and by the way, R.I.P green couch. Let us all have a moment of silence.
BLUE LILY | Lifestyle Photographer | Salt Lake City, Utah