An engagement session at the famed Ice Hotel The Hotel De Glace in Montreal, Quebec? YES PLEASE!A few winters back I was so lucky to have my close friend and colleague Tammy Swales, a Rochester NY based wedding and event photographer, invite me to join her on a trip to Quebec to photograph her couple at the infamous ice hotel! I had heard about this place and was super intrigued and curious and instantly on board for the adventure. It just so happened that I was going to be in Vermont not too far from where we needed to be and the stars just aligned for this to happen proper, so how could I resist?
The twist: Tammy and I both write for our favorite gear rental company, Lens Pro to Go, so Tammy suggested we turn this into an assignment for them. The challenge: how do two photographers with the same couple and same lenses see the same location differently? To be honest this is one of my most favorite parts about photography; how two talented and experienced people with the same level of gear can interpret light, people and location so differently. It fascinates me!
Over the years when I am working with second shooters I love being surprised when I think that I know what they are after. And then I don’t! It keeps me on my toes, helps me see people and light and color and composition and environment so differently. After being a photographer for longer than I care to remember I definitely have a way of seeing that is my go-to. I can read light quickly and assess rooms and lines and environments and create images that make me feel good when I look at them. The down side? I definitely have a way of seeing after being a photographer for so long. It gets challenging to change stuff up, or try to see things in a fresh new way. I can feel stuck in a rut, and even though it feels good and may be my go-to… I feel stale.
Assignments like this that challenge me and push me are so helpful. Even just going outside to see how the other kids play can either challenge or reaffirm what you do and why. I was so happy watching Tammy do her thing, see how she interacts with her couple, how she gives direction. Was she so too quiet? Too loud? Too much direction or not enough? I never get to observe other photographers working like this anymore so I felt like I was back in school and was poised and ready to learn.
My Top Three Take Aways From Photographing Side by Side with A Pro Photographer
Creating limitations makes me more creative. Using a lens or piece of gear you don’t normally use is wonderful for this. Force yourself out of your comfort zone to create images that you never would have made! Create parameters within your session to help. Oddly enough I get more creative when I have limitations placed on me. It’s true! Some examples would be: only use a 35mm lens for portraits or only create horizontal or vertical images. I got in a flow of mostly shooting vertical because I was doing a lot of magazine work and that’s what they wanted. It’s also great for Pinterest. Then I can easily forget how much I love to see in horizontal formats, so I will swap back!
If you keep going back to a specific way of doing things, that’s OK. During this shoot I was getting frustrated that I kept being so mindful of all of the arches and leading lines and framing. I thought I had to not do that in order to shake things up, and while yes that’s true, it also led me back to how I love to see. And you know what? That’s ok, because honey buns it looks so good!
When you think you are done? Girl nope: You wrong. The last image was lurking in my heart from the word GO. But there were people and crowds and people and crowds. And people. And Crowds. YUCK. I would have to ask people to stop doing something enjoyable so I could make a photograph. UG. I hate hate hate this part! But I showed Tammy what I was thinking and she was all ‘Girl you dumb you HAVE to do this’ So Miss Tammy helped corral people and pause people and manage the crowd and I was already all set with what I needed from the couple and so BAM, 2 minutes and I am done!
All photographs by Carla Ten Eyck
Here I watch Tammy set up her shot and stand back and observe. I love this big arch and even though there are people here now I am hoping there won’t be when it’s my turn!
BAM! Waited some people out and made this.
CHAOS. This spot was a major thoroughfare for people to get other places but I saw that chandelier and the spaces down the hall and I knew I could make some magic. If only there were no people in my way….
Tammy held some people back for a sec and I was able to make this image! I love it. Most of what I love is the sense that they are alone, when the reality is there were so many people around us, poking around and peeping and looking at the Ice Hotel because it is really cool! Pun intended!
My buddy Tammy all bundled up getting her shot!