Wedding + Portrait

Why These Photos Made It To Print: The RF Editors Pick Their Favorites of 2017

December 15, 2017

By RF Staff

The Rangefinder team picked one photo from an Rf 2017 issue and one from the photo industry at large to share what grabbed their attention this year and why, along with a tip on the best ways to get in touch with an editor. The photographers who shot the team picks also share their insights on how they got their shot.

Photo © Kresten Fjord

Kresten Fjord
Portrait Awards 2017, LensCulture Competition Early Entry, Editors’ Pick ­­

Danish photographer Kresten Fjord’s striking portrait from his “Under the Surface” series is an evocative image that channels some dark fears and potential panic attacks. It’s also a technically challenging image to execute—through glass, with bubbles and a model who has only a few seconds to nail the pose. As a lifelong Metallica fan, it’s hard for me not to give an extra nod to an image of a person who appears to be “Trapped Under Ice.” — Greg Scoblete, Senior Technology Editor

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "I live on a small island where the ocean is frozen during winter time. Sometimes I lay on the ice and watch the world. The thought of what might happen if the ice cracked and I went under has always sparked my imagination. For that reason, the series Below the Surface was created. I had many failed attempts before encountering the perfect method: a large piece of glass, held by two people on the surface, and then a subject who can hold their breath for an entire minute. I was then able to focus on sharpening through the glass with manual focus. It takes more than a few attempts before getting the perfect shoot and in the process, I also discovered that the natural evening light provided the best result. I did, however, have to use a lens with great lightening sensibility: the Panasonic Leica 8-18mm f/2.8, paired with a Panasonic G80 camera. A lot of bubbles were required before one was bullseye." — Kresten Fjord

Photo © Jonnie + Garrett

Jonnie + Garrett
Photo of the Day, Rangefinder
A Jaw-Dropping First Look

This photo made me smile. How could it not? It’s not contrived. It’s not stage-managed. It’s just sheer, unabashed surprise and joy. You can’t fake that. It’s also a great reminder to me of why we take photos: to preserve moments in time. Moments, like this jaw-popping smile, that would have almost certainly passed too quickly for the mind to even register, much less savor, had it not been for the attentive shutter of Jonnie and Garrett, a destination wedding duo based in Arizona. But now this father and daughter have this moment, forever. I hope they treasure it. And print it. — Greg Scoblete

Greg's Tip: 

Be professional everywhere. The first thing I do when I research a prospective photographer as a source for a story is Google them, find them on social media and generally do a mini background check (nothing creepy, of course). So, it definitely behooves photographers and filmmakers to be sure that they have their best virtual foot forward on any conceivable public platform. Keep your Instagram, Twitter and public Facebook feeds professional.

Photo © Billy & Hells

Billy & Hells
New York Magazine, Fashion Issue, February 6, 2017
“The Fleabag Mystique” ­­

I lingered on the story about actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of the dark, clever, complicated British comedy series Fleabag) in New York magazine because of this portrait. I think it’s because I want to call it classically beautiful, but there’s something mysterious about it. Each of the elements are deceptively simple—the straightforward crop, the primary colors, her calm expression, the 1950s housewife hair (shout-out to its stylist, Shukeel Murtaza)—but somehow all together, the end result has an air of peculiarity. Of course, photographers Andreas Oettinger and Anke Linz of Berlin’s Billy & Hells put their signature on it: a sort of textural autochrome. The portrait certainly complements the TV show’s essence for those who know it, but it’s still an intriguing image on its own. — Libby Peterson, Features Editor

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographers: "We used only one light, a 4 x 6 softbox, 45 degrees from Phoebe. This is also the perfect light to get the shadow on the background that we often want to have—it is proof that the person is no vampire. We did lighten up the shadow side a bit, however. Phoebe is a self-aware, beautiful person. It was easy to work with her because she is intelligent, knowing that a good picture not only helps the team and the magazine. It was so cool that she came alone without an agent and spent a bit of time with us so that we could really do something. We've always been fascinated by autochromic procedures, polachrome, cibachrome and stuff. Our aesthetic post work is about bringing an illusion of chemical chance onto the digital surface. And it is also about balance between soft and hard, dark and light, black and colorful—and imperfection. Imperfection touches something unobtrusively." — Anke Linz and Andreas Oettinger

Photo © Adam Hourigan Photography

Adam Hourigan
Rangefinder, The Filmmaking Issue, April 2017
WPPI The Annual Winners Gallery ­­

I had the dumbest smile on my face when I saw this photo. It’s pure joy, almost as if the photographer, Adam Hourigan, wanted to encapsulate the genre of wedding photography in one frame. He didn’t overcomplicate the concept, and while it looks timeless, the clean lines and poppy lighting give it a modern twist. The black-and-white edit is impeccable, ranging from the brightest white to the darkest black with every shade of gray in between. Hourigan didn’t want the hallway walls next to him to be lit in this scene, so he placed his flash on the other camera, held by the father of the bride, and when Hourigan snapped his shutter, only the flash facing her fired. How clever is that? — Libby Peterson

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "The father was a keen snapper and had been running around all day taking photos of every little thing. Seeing as we both shot Nikon cameras, I gave him my flash and asked if he’d put it on his hotshoe. I set the flash to remote, and with the commander on my D810, set the flash to 1/16 power. I zoomed the flash head to 135mm so I’d actually get a beam of light on the wall from the spill of the flash and not wash the whole scene. It was a deliberate choice to make it obvious that Dad was photographing her and still put the attention on the bride. I think it speaks to a lot of us who find Uncle Bob in the way, except this was her dad, and he was very accommodating and really proud. I wanted to make a shot that showed that in a different way." — Adam Hourigan

Libby's Tip: 

Make sure editors have a direct line to your inbox. We should not have trouble finding a photographer’s email address online to collaborate, but it happens quite a bit. When I want to inquire about a photo I’m interested in featuring or a story I think you could contribute to, I don’t want to be stuck filling out a required form with my spouse’s name, wedding date, location and color palette. That makes sense to streamline contact with clients, but an impatient editor would simply move on. Make your email address visible somewhere on your website—if your squeamish about putting it there, put it on your Facebook business page.

Photo © Rocco Ancora

Rocco Ancora
Rangefinder Power of Print Issue, January 2017
The Cover

To me, the best wedding images are the ones that tell a story. Even better, they can be preserved over time as a beautiful print. This image, by award-winning photographer and WPPI speaker and Print Comp judge Rocco Ancora, is bold and compelling, has movement and shape, and feels both vintage and modern at the same time. A good print has longevity, not just in its physicality, but also in its content. This portrait fits the bill on all counts. — Jacqueline Tobin, Editor-in-Chief

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "A single speed light placed behind the wall on the right was used as the light source in this picture. The flash was not diffused or modified as I wanted to achieve a strong, clean, sharp shadow, adding to the overall impact of the image." — Rocco Ancora

Photo © Sam Trotter

Sam Trotter
Personal Assignment, 2017

This portrait, of University of Michigan offensive guard Michael Onwenu, made me wonder: Is he rejoicing? Is he singing? Is he always this joyful? A more obvious choice might have been for the Detroit-born and Los Angeles-based Sam Trotter to photograph Onwenu in his football uniform, maybe even on the field, but this (literally) stripped-down version is so much more impactful and shows us the real player behind the game. The 19-year-old Trotter is known for his bold and brash imagery, and here he does not fail to deliver. As Trotter himself explains it, “I’m inspired to create because documenting others’ stories reveals my own. It’s challenging to tell a story that I can’t relate to, so I aim to capture moments that have an underlying, current theme in my life. As I shoot, I increasingly learn about myself via my subject.” — Jacqueline Tobin

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "I took this photo in early 2017 during the winter. It was the first winter I spent back in Detroit since graduating high school. I had a lot of friends in town as well that played football and thought it could be really cool to photograph them in a manner that didn’t really relate to the sport. There wasn't too much of a vision outside of attempting to document a different side of an athlete while displaying personality and intimacy. The setup was very simple: I used natural light against a racquet ball court wall." — Sam Trotter

Jacqueline's Tip: 

Send me a handwritten note with direct mail pieces that showcase your best work and your signature voice. And don’t go smaller than a 5 x 7 card. Sometimes the best promo piece is just one incredibly impactful, full-bleed image on the front and your URL on the back, and that’s it!

Photo © Brad Ogbonna

Brad Ogbonna
The FADER, The Diaspora Issue, May/June 2017
“Who’s Afraid of Linda Sarsour?” ­­

One of my favorite portrait photographers, Brad Ogbonna, shoots work that’s as relevant as it gets. He effortlessly identifies what is unique about his subjects and portrays them in the most flattering and relatable way. There is strength, dignity and humanity in their postures. This is especially true in Ogbonna’s portrait of activist Linda Sarsour, which was commissioned by The FADER. His composition is genius, simplifying Sarsour’s profile through basic shapes and colors, with a focus on her iconic red hijab. The image is made even more appealing by the creamy texture of the lighting. — Moneer Masih-Tehrani, Director of Creative Services

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "Immigration and identity were among the most widely discussed topics of 2017. Emily Keegin, the photo director at The Fader, and I thought it'd be interesting if I were to do my take on passport photos and photograph Linda from different angles, displaying the images side by side or as a quad. I like to use natural light whenever possible, but since we had to shoot in the basement of Linda's office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I set up two strobes on softboxes. The basement had really low ceilings, so I had to play around with the lighting for a bit with my assistant before we found the right balance. I tend to use an array of colorful backgrounds to keep the mood light and show off the personality of the subject I'm shooting. I asked Linda to wear a hijab that she really enjoyed and that would feel unique to her. I was really happy with her choice of red because it really stood out and made the photo feel memorable." — Brad Ogbonna

Photo © David Bastianoni

David Bastianoni
Rangefinder, The Power of Print Issue, January 2017
The Section Opener ­­

From the subtle smirk on the bride’s face to the gorgeous, rich-yet-muted color palette, David Bastianoni has won me over with this photo. It’s such a sweet and innocent portrait of a bride that looks completely timeless. Bastianoni’s perfect use of ambient light adds to the painterly, Baroque quality of the photo, making an ornate and composed moment feel casual, genuine and delicate. — Moneer Masih-Tehrani

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "The ceremony and aperitifs were finished around 8:30 p.m., and the lovely Lea was doing a change of hair and makeup to get ready for her entrance. My vision was really clear, inspired by the masters of the Renaissance: I wanted a very simple pose that indicated that the wedding was done and another story was ready to be written. I cleaned up the background because it was too chaotic and closed other windows to have a more dramatic effect. I only used natural light here with my 35mm f/1.4 lens at aperture f/2.8. The mother of the bride and some girls wanted to talk to Lea, but I had just 5 minutes before the light would be gone, so I started to try to convince everyone that something super cool was happening in other rooms to have a bit of privacy." — David Bastianoni

Moneer's Tip: 

Your website should carry as much impact and personality as possible. I am immediately turned on or off by the work you open with on your site. Your portfolio sequencing matters just as much. Like a gallery show, guide your viewers through the work on your site and consider grouping work by theme or project rather than chronologically. Start strong, preferably with something that showcases your newest work because it will be the most relevant. Keep your site design simple but thoughtful. Your fonts, colors and graphics shouldn’t clash with your work’s style. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s advice on all of this.

Photo © Will Anderson

Will Anderson
PDN, The Food Photography Issue, February 2017
“Will Anderson On the Dark Side of Food”

When PDN published its Food Photography Issue back in February, I was blown away by the experimental vision many photographers were bringing to the genre. Will Anderson, who got his start in photography by shooting musicians, fashion and still lifes, had never shot food prior to an assignment from independent food magazine Gather Journal. Fortunately, his fresh take and nontraditional background was just what the editors were looking for. “I didn’t even think of it as food, in a sense,” he recalls of that first shoot. “I just approached it as creating an image that would go in the magazine. The food was secondary in my mind.” This particular image, shot for Gather’s Spectrum Issue, is one example of Anderson’s unique vision. It may not whet your appetite, but it sure is a feast for the eyes. — Stacey Goldberg, Online Editor

Behind-the-Scenes with the Photographer: "Gather Journal assigned each photographer a chapter and a color to narrate with the recipes. It was a joint vision that Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo, the creative brains behind Gather Journal, came up with, and then we worked together with food stylist Maggie Ruggiero and prop stylist Theo Vamvounakis to create the image. My chapter was rainbow. These shoots are very much creative playtime on set. It's a very well organized and thought-out conceptual process beforehand with everyone involved, and on set, it's just a matter of putting all the elements together. We decided to go 'Space Age Restaurant Menu Image' with this one. This was one of my favorite food shoots—plus I really enjoyed eating this at home after the shoot!" — Will Anderson

Photo © Maria Shiriaeva

Maria Shiriaeva
Photo of the Day, Rangefinder
Capturing the Mood and Light of a Morning Shoot in Bali”­­

I can’t help but think there’s something magical about this photograph, captured by Maria Shiriaeva in Bali for the wedding of couple Anton and Alexandra. Perhaps it’s the bokeh in the foreground, created by the morning dew that’s still fresh on the flowers, or perhaps it’s the majestic Balinese architecture in the background. It certainly helps that the bride and groom seem to be so effortlessly in love, and that the glow of the morning sun hits them just right, creating a subtle heart-shaped halo around them. The closer I examine this photograph, the more I can feel the warmth radiating from the scene—and that in itself is a magical experience. — Stacey Goldberg

Stacey's Tip: 

When posting to social media, use popular hashtags that pertain to your work. This is not only useful in attracting potential clients, but that’s how I like to find new talent too. I look at general hashtags like #weddingphotography or #destinationwedding, and sometimes I’ll dig in to more specific keywords, like #dallasweddingphotographer. My favorite hashtag though? #RfPOTD!