To most of us, weddings represent a beautiful and emotional day for two people and their families. For most of us, these are very special occasions that we only experience sporadically. For Christina Klas, a lifestyle and wedding photographer based in the Pacific Northwest, all the beauty, joy and emotion are part of a daily routine that never gets old. Christina’s photo of a tender father-daughter dance was one of the winners in the 2015 RF Photography Annual. WhiteWall had a chance to learn some more about Christina and her career and to find out how she got that winning shot.
© Christina Klas/ Teresa & Ross
Hi, Christina! How did you first get interested in photography? My dad was a wedding photographer when I was a little girl and I remember a wedding where he handed me one of his cameras and told me to be his second shooter. That was the most fun I've ever had shooting. I sat on the ground with the other school-aged children and took pictures from an angle and an eye no one else was going to get. I didn't do this because I was putting any deep thought into it – I just shot like that because I was having fun. It's what I've wanted to model my career around ever since. I want to have fun. And I want my clients to have fun. And we should! What better profession is there? What made you want to pursue photography as a career? It took me a lot longer to realize I wanted to shoot professionally than I wish it would have, after all, I was out there shooting for fun - it was my hobby, what I loved and had a passion for but people don't make money having fun and being passionate... right? So, I went to school - I got my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and went to work! Don't get me wrong, I have a love and passion for working with people and I thought counseling was the avenue I was going to best utilize that passion, but photography kept pulling at me. I happened to offer some friends a family photo session and they paid me for it! That was back in 2011 and I've never looked back. Therapy and Photography have been a happy marriage for me and I still do a little counseling work on the side and to be honest, my education has only enhanced my photography and helped me to be more relatable to my clients. I can help them relax and have fun and my desire is to bring out genuine smiles and emotion. Having a therapy background helps make that happen!
© Christina Klas/ Claire & James
Have you always specialized in wedding/portrait photography? What attracts you to this line of work? When I first started shooting professionally, I was doing mostly lifestyle work with children. I thought there were no humans more naturally emotive than toddlers - they are so much fun to capture at play - but then I shot my first wedding in 2013 and realized the joy of a wedding day is everything I've ever wanted as far as natural emotion. The joy and chaos and more often than not - craziness - of a wedding day is so much fun to document. A wedding is the most monumental moment having happened in the life of a bride or a groom - I get to be a part of that? I still pinch myself. What can you tell us about your winning entry? How did you take it? What kind of camera/equipment did you shoot with? How much post-processing is involved in a great shot like this? This photo of Claire dancing with her father was taken with a Nikon D800, 85mm and an old SB800 flash bounced off the ceiling (settings: 1/250 sec; f/1.8; ISO 500). There was light post processing. I am a fan of VSCO presets for ACR and lean towards Kodak Gold plus a little sharpening and contrast.
© Christina Klas/ Morgan & Brandon
This is a quietly emotional photograph! What’s the story behind it? Oh man. Claire is a daddy's girl. She was so excited to see him when we all arrived at the venue for the first time. Her dad was quoted that night saying that "The Bellefleurs love to dance." And they did not disappoint. Their dance started much more elaborately with spins and dips but then they sort of sank into each other and into this moment that they've already said they'll cherish forever! From the background, it looks like you might’ve been shooting in kind of low light, but still got a great shot – how do you manage to work around that at weddings? One of the things I love (and sometimes hate) about weddings is that every single venue is different. Sometimes, you never know what you are going to get until you get there and even still, the weather can really throw you for a loop (especially in the Pacific Northwest!) Thankfully, I'd had the chance to tour the unique event venue a few weeks prior and was instantly in love with the low ceilings. I knew it was going to be well past nightfall when the first dance happened so being able to bounce my flash on the ceiling was a huge relief!
© Christina Klas/ Kirkham Wedding
Any tips for photographers who want to achieve a similar look? I can't tell you how many times I've been burned by not getting my settings right before "that moment" arrives and I've either totally missed it, or it's difficult to recover in post-processing... I am learning to plan ahead - to be one step ahead of the bride. Everywhere else in life, being 'hyper-aware' of everyone around me, seriously gets on my nerves. In a wedding, however, I'm learning to read the actions of people around me, and if I am anticipating a sweet moment like the one between Claire and her father, I'll test my settings on others nearby so that when that moment comes I'm ready! And other times, staying alert just helps you get a lucky shot.
WHITEWALL TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT PHOTO PRODUCT:
To make sure the memory will remain every bit as vivid decades down the line, we had the photo made as an acrylic print for our stand at the WPPI Expo. And to keep the magic moment in the spotlight, we also put it in a custom wood frame. Andrea Scholtyssek-Kohlhase selected this particular look for this photo, saying:
“A bold frame is the perfect way to put the spotlight on this tender moment, and the maple tone really accents the warmth of the picture. Glossy acrylic doubles down on all the benefits of a high gloss photograph, making this a stunning piece to behold, not just for the beautiful photograph itself, but also for the quality of the print and frame.”
Christina Klas is based in Steilacoom, WA, but is also available to travel and for destination weddings. She enjoys bringing magic moments to light.