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This Is How: ‘The Money Shot’ by Jesse van Kalmthout

Delighted to have Jesse van Kalmthout on the site today, telling us all about how he got this fantastic Reportage Award-winning capture from Collection Six. This is an absolutely brilliant piece, with great insights into capturing emotion, his thought process and exact technique, observation and so much more…thanks so much, Jesse!

I’m the type of guy that thrives on two things. Not just in life, but even more specifically during weddings: energy and emotion. And if one thing really, really resonated with me during all the workshops I followed, it has to be the sledgehammer Lanny Mann hit me with during Ball’s Out in Greece. It was a double whammy, actually. The first is ‘swinging for the fences’, which to this day reminds me to obey my gut feeling when it says something awesome is about to happen and sticking to it. The other, knock out punch, was when he said I ‘shouldn’t show what a moment LOOKS like, but what it FEELS like’ (which is a quote by David Alan Harvey, as credited in the Two Mann workshop).

Personally, to keep the metaphor going: this image of Eliza and Daniele is the biggest homerun I’ve ever hit. For me, it came right off the meat and is still sailing. Forget sending it into the stands; it’s currently somewhere on its journey to outer space.

It was during the ceremony of their simply brilliant wedding in the hills of Piedmont in Italy. Bride (Dutch) and groom (Italian) each had three of their closest friends speeching. Daniele’s mates obviously took the piss out of him every single time, which had the audience (sitting on hay bales and bathing in glorious sunshine) in fits of laughter. And then one of Eliza’s bridesmaids would go extremely personal to make things so intimate and quiet you could hear a pin drop, and then we’d be back again at taking the piss out of the poor groom.

Every time one of the bridesmaids turned up, I could see the emotions boiling up on Eliza’s face. And it was this moment when a tiny Lanny appeared on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. Show me what it feels like. And I did.

I decided there and then that all fits of laughter and Italian pranks were donzo. That there would be no more shots of anyone else other than Eliza. That I would be giving it an almighty whack if the moment occurred.

I found a space on one of the hay bales, perfectly distanced to frame their faces with my favoured 135. Dialed in my numbers, made sure the groom would be sharp enough to add to the story, did a little prayer to the photography Gods. And waited.

Ria, the final speaker, nailed her speech and I could just see Eliza wasn’t going to keep it dry. No way. And when Ria finished her story with the Namasté-salute, Eliza – a yoga teacher – mimicked the gesture, burst into a huge beaming smile and an even bigger tear. It has a Hallelujah-moment if I ever witnessed one. I instantly went Babe Ruth mode, spanked the shutter as fast and hard as my poor 5D would do and immediately knew I had, for me at least, THE perfect image.

Why I call it my Money Shot? Two things. It encompasses everything I value most about wedding photography and it has become my standout image. Literally every couple I book, points to this image when I ask them what made them contact me in this field of extremely skilled wedding photographers.

I guess it speaks volumes that I, three and a half years on, still have it as my very first image you see when you visit my website. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it stays like that forever.

Thanks to Jesse for this brilliant piece! You can see more of his work on his website, or his TiR profile.

We have lots more wedding photography tips by our TiR members, too; over 100 of them so far and counting!

The deadline for our first Collection of 2019 (Collection Seven) is just two days away: Submit by 23:59 GMT on 24th January 2019. Members receive 10 Reportage Award entries and 3 Story Award entries per Collection, with six Collections per year – that’s a total of 60 Reportage Award and 18 Story Award entries per year, all included in our membership fee. Not yet a member? Apply for membership over here.

Aga Tomaszek

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