Through product test drives and innovative workflow solutions, wedding photographer Gary Fong continues to parlay his photographic knowledge into works that benefit other wedding photographers and the industry itself.
Gary Fong has made a name for himself within pro shooter circles over the past two decades as a consummate Los Angeles wedding photographer with a distinctive, subtle style.
"Shooting a wedding is so rich visuallyyou have colors, textures, and lighting that you won't find anywhere else," he says. "I enjoy looking for backgrounds and textures to use in my album designs. It may be a pool of water, or an old textured door with peeling paint. There are also challenges to overcome, such as shooting a woman dressed in mostly white with a man wearing mostly black. And there's the aspect of timing. I much prefer being at a distance with a telephoto lens and capturing a great moment with the shutter. For portraits of the couple alone, I prefer casual conversation and a lot of praise for each good shot, such as, 'Wow, you two look so unbelievably amazing . . .' I've found that you cannot flatter a portrait subject to excess.
"Digital really helps here, too, because you don't worry about paying $1 for every squeeze of the shutter, the way you do with film."
Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and his desire to pursue other personal undertakings, Fong no longer shoots weddings full-time. He still shoots occasionally to test drive new cameras, and, subject to his schedule, will cover a wedding if he and the prospective client can agree on the package.
In November, Fong tested out the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro at a wedding in Atlanta being photographed by his friend, fellow photographer Kristen Alexander. (See his take on the camera below.)
He also recently shot the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro National Ad campaign. It was held at La Venta Inn, Palos Verdes Estates, California, where Fong shot his first wedding 20 years ago. Our cover image this month, as well as the images within this article, were all created for the campaign.
"I shot the cover images and the interior photos on Program mode with my Lightsphere II on TTL to even up the lighting," says Fong. "I use PNY 512MB cards with the camera setting at 4 megapixels JPG normal, so each shot is about 800KB. This file size may sound small, but after extensive testing, I've found it's optimum for wedding photography quality and workflow."
When asked what he considers his most compelling words of wisdom, he offered: "Be wary of the common misconceptions about digital. There's a lot of incorrect information going around about color management, exposure techniques, interpreting histograms."
Fond elaborates on this issue and others in a DVD set he produced as an offshoot of his popular digital wedding photography summit.
THE POWER OF PICTAGE
One of Fong's most successful labors of love has been Pictage, the wedding photographer's online solution for viewing, selling, and printing images. While he's not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, he's an owner and currently on the board of directors, claiming a strong hand in Pictage planning.
"I started the lab with only two of us, and now it's this huge corporation with expert management, " he says. "The company has become a way of life for thousands of photographers. Mostly what I do as part of our strategic team is forecast where the photography industry is going, where its needs are going to be in the future, and how Pictage can be there waiting when those needs arises."
Fong is committed to helping dedicated pros separate themselves from the posers, which is why he's excited about Pictage's new Bridal Recommendation System.
"There's a lot more to being a great wedding photographer than the ability to put some great images on the Internet, and with the huge influx of brand-new people comes even more horror stories," he explains. "With the new system, brides looking through the photographer listings at Pictage.com now see recommendations and comments from other bridessimilar to eBay's feedback rating system. Unlike anonymous chat rooms and forums, recommendations can all be verified, since Pictage knows that the bride, photographer, and event actually exist and are connected to each other. This isn't available anywhere else."