J&N – Willow Falls Resort – Blue Ridge, GA

– J & N Wedding –
Willow Falls Resort  |  Blue Ridge, GA  |  March 25, 2023

Photos by:

Boon Vong
Ek Vong

Hi everyone, just wanted to share a few main photos, bts images, and thoughts on the lovely wedding from last Saturday.  I know I usually just post photos one after another, but here are some random musings from the perspective of a working photographer, and general lover of all things camera and picture taking related.  (Also, I payed my website hosting fee today–I’ve had this thing for 20 years now.  That’s just crazy.  Thanks for reading along in its different forms over the many moons.)

Willow Creek is a really pretty venue all the way up in Blue Ridge, Georgia.  The weather had me worried since we had a bit of “false spring” followed by crazy bitter cold and rain on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  On the drive up you go through apple country and I was hoping for flowering crab apple and peach trees that I could use as a backdrop, but no such luck.  The elevation is pretty high up compared to good ol Gwinnett county.

Today was blessed with lots of sunshine and a breeze though, which I’ll gladly take.  Logistically this one was a bit tough as the ceremony venue itself is in the lodge building in between the two distant cabins, each housing the groomsmen and bridal party.

Not to get too gear oriented, but obviously this work can’t be done without lenses and cameras.  I opted for both a Nikon and Canon setup.  Both have strengths and weaknesses, and different out of the box rendering in terms of color.  My favorite camera once again is the instant one.  I’ve been saying forever that I need to just go all in and cover an entire event with just these selective amazing frames.  It would be crazy expensive, but the charm and simplicity of it really does encapsulate why we take photos in the first place.

Juggling so many cameras, I only managed 3 instant shots.

Here’s some photos of our new friend, a super friendly duck!  I assume he lives on the property and is quite used to people.  While I was taking detail shots it swam up and sat there the whole time.  Sorry sir I had no snacks for you.

This photo was taken on the back deck on a lawn table with interesting ironwork.  The lighting that morning was on point.  Even the side of the cabin which was in open shade had some interesting light glinting off the roof and bouncing back.

For the groomsmen the theme was “Peaky Blinders.” I thought it would be neat to see what the photos would look like run through a filter that simulates wet plate photography.

The following random photos I just liked personally.  I think they show a wide range of emotions, from the sheer joy of friends and siblings, to the love of a parent.

The first looks for each group had to be staggered.  Here’s a shot of me in the first session from the vantage point of the main venue.  Again the logistics of mobilizing and even walking from place to place on this property is something to consider.

Here’s our friend the duck again!

I think the best lens for wedding photography might be the 35mm.  It’s so versatile and draws life in a pleasing way.  Portraits and magazine covers will still “need” that look that only long lenses like an 85mm or 105mm can give you, but the 35 is tailor made for photojournalism.

Highlighted with the box above is something nit picky photographers (such as myself) can attest to–visual eyesores really really seem to pop up everywhere on purpose. 😉 So my main position for these types of weddings is at the front with my many cameras.  Crouched down I couldn’t help but notice that the orange extension cord on the wooden beam was going to be in every wide shot.  The 35mm again sees just about right, since it’s the king of layering subject elements, but man that orange extension cord really stuck out visually.  In the following pictures I had to manually paint the cord in Photoshop-color blending mode, then darkening mode.  For oh about 30 images. 🙂  But I really like the images and the mood of the ceremony, helped by the big windows giving ample light that can be toned whatever direction in post.

So that’s me in the corner with a 35mm, 105mm, and 70-200mm.  When I was a young man I really loved the 70-200 and could carry it all day long.  Not so much anymore, as the mileage on my body is really adding up.  Still though, in the last month since I’ve been using it again, I remembered how really pretty the images are from it.  It’s not as clinical as the images from other zooms.  I also ran back to our gear depot to grab another camera with the 10.5mm fisheye lens.  A camera for every lens I always say.  Even if you only use it for a few pictures, if it does the job, it can go back in the bag.

After the family pictures there was just a bit of time for couples photos.  The area across the pond with the wooden benches and cross was in too much shadow and the remaining sunlight was just about to dip below the treeline.  This area is somewhat hidden in the mountains so the sunset was going to be a lot early than the 7:50 time for metro Atlanta.  On my first location visit I was hoping the grape vineyard was going to have some leaves, but sadly no.  But the sunlight came through once again and was really nice for backlit photos.  The time stamp on the right photo when we first started shooting was 6:28 PM the photo on the right was 6:35 PM.

I think black and white photos really need a white border, or in some matte board.  And even normal color photos just have a nicer feel with the trim around the borders.  You have to find the printing services that re scale and then add the border, as opposed to overlaying a white stroke on top of the image though.  I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that nit picky photographers mean for every single space in the composition to be where they are down to the quarter inch, and that includes the breathing room of subject elements in relation to the edges.

So it’s going to be hats and caps for me for the foreseeable future.  After shaving my head and becoming a monk for my mom’s funeral in February, it’s taking its sweet time to grow back.  Funny how I used to get antsy if I didn’t get a trim every two weeks.

At almost every modern wedding in every type of culture, there’s probably going to be a mother/son dance.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about my own mom, and how that opportunity won’t come to pass for me.  Not that I have the coordination or that my mom would have even wanted to dance either, but still, it’s just going to be there going forward.  But photography is a good type of work.  Good as in it allows me to contribute something back to this world, and good in that it really lets me focus on the task at hand regardless of personal emotion or investment.  Guess I’ve always been that way.  The humble photograph, so amazing in its simplicity and power to document these fleeting moments we have together. -B

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