Every bride dreams of their wedding being like a fairy tale. Photographer Michael Anthony makes that happen using Profoto A Series and Clic Modifiers to create jaw-dropping portraits that are anything but typical wedding photos.
With one look at Michael’s cinematic-style wedding portraits, you would be shocked to learn that he never considered himself an artist. The former Los Angeles police officer first picked up a camera for the same reason many people do: to capture the lives of his family. For him that was his niece and nephew. It awakened a creativity Michael never knew he had. And he didn’t just enjoy it—he was good. People started asking him to shoot their own families. “I realized that I could make a career out of this,” he says.
Michael started his photography business with his wife in 2011, originally focusing on what he knew well—family portraits. But by 2012 they transitioned into wedding photography, drawn to the challenge of capturing people’s emotions on one of the most important days of their lives. “My artistic inclinations really came out when I discovered weddings,” he says. “I was able to create artwork for my clients on their wedding day.”
Painting with light
From the beginning, Michael has used Profoto products. They’ve helped him achieve the mix of Hollywood-inspired photography that he and, more importantly, his clients want. “Every composition is a blank canvas and light is your paintbrush,” he says. “You're capturing the image based on the lighting that you have available or the lighting that you can create.”
For location lighting Michael knows he needs lightweight, easy-to-use gear that he can set up and take down quickly. Which is why Clic Octaboxes—which come in a range of sizes and fold flat for easy transitions from location to location—and the Profoto A2s are ideal for his location shoots.
Looking to the sky
Even in Los Angeles the weather is occasionally cloudy, and that was the case on the day of this bridal shoot at Pasadena City Hall. For the exterior shots, instead of fighting nature Michael chose to play to the shadows on the Renaissance-style building, using the Profoto A2 and A10, along with the Clic Softbox 2.7 Octa to shape the light. This created soft shadows on the bride and groom, allowing them to stand out against the dramatic background. “When you’re creating a large environmental portrait, it's really easy for the subject of the image to get lost,” Michael says. “It’s important to utilize off-camera lighting to bring attention back to the center of the frame.”
Setting the scene
For the interior shots at Pasadena City Hall he wanted to recreate the magical light of a sunset. This is where the Clic Magnum Reflector and Clic CTO Gels came into play. Silhouetting the groom using a blue gel created dramatic tones, while the Magnum Reflector amplified the lighting and maintained the hard shadows Michael was pursuing to create that cinematic feel he’d achieved outside. “How I utilize light depends on the scene that we’re in and the story we’re trying to tell,” he says.
Pasadena City Hall has a magnificent, curved staircase and Michael knew he wanted to create motion down the steps with the bride’s veil. To create this fairy-tale like image, he turned to the Clic Softbox 2.3 to create flattering light upon the bride's face. The crisp shadows in the background capture the movement of the veil, making for a photo that feels like it’s in motion.
The modern architecture style of Walt Disney Concert Hall couldn’t be more different than that of Pasadena City Hall, but Michael’s goal was the same: to create a cinematic setting where the bride both blends in and stands out against the environment. Michael knew he wanted to capture how the sun was shining from behind the clouds onto the building as quickly as possible. He needed a larger, hard light source to match the light coming from the sun. So he did a fast set up with the A Series Lights, Clic Magnum Reflector and Clic Softbox 2.7 Octa. “I look at every individual situation on a wedding day as a moment in time,” he says of why it’s important to move quickly. “My job is to describe what is happening through imagery.”
In his final shot at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Michael wanted to showcase the busy street traffic in the background without distracting from the bride. A slow shutter speed of F/20 captured the cars’ movement while the Clic Magnum Reflector paired with the Profoto A2 shed fantastical light on the bride. “The magnum reflector provided more light output so we were able to expose the bride's face,” Michael explains. “Light is such a huge component of the composition of a photograph. It helps us direct the viewer’s attention to where we want it to go.”
Why light matters
“We can change the entire mood of an image depending upon the light we use,” Michael muses. “Contrasting dramatic light with shadows creates a more intimate feel, whereas the use of brighter, more ethereal light creates a more environmental portrait.” For him, Profoto gear is essential in achieving these things. “When it comes to location photography,” he says, “Profoto is the best system out there.”
Discover more of Michael Anthony's lighting setups and go behind the scenes on Share the Light and more of his work on his website.