They say you can take the boy out of the
city, but you can't take the city out of the boy. Bob Ortiz, a
wedding photographer based in Orange County, California, epitomizes
this age-old axiom.
"I'm from the inner cities of Brooklyn," he says. "When I shoot weddings out here in California, where everything is so laid back, I'm still so fast that people can't believe it."
The New York native, who shoots around 65 weddings a year in the Orange County area—with a few national weddings thrown into the mix for good measure—blends a from-the-hip shooting style with a passion for photojournalism. The result: photos that exude high energy and animation.
The typical process involves a consultation with the bride and groom, where Ortiz carefully explains his different style of photography. "I don't really intrude in their day," he says. "I take 10 minutes of prebridal pictures; the same thing with the groom before the wedding. At the ceremony, I shoot photojournalism. After the wedding, I'll do family groups."
The appeal of photojournalistic shots for Ortiz? "My clients say there's an animation in my images they haven't seen with other photographers," he says.
"Some even think I took the pictures with a movie camera. You can get a nice photojournalistic shot as long as it's not too soon or too late. I'll often think, if only that photographer could have just waited another second."
With his roving signature style, he's more easily able to shake taggers-on. "When I was a portrait photographer, people would come up behind me and take pictures and steal the shot," he recalls. "Now, because I shoot photojournalism, people don't see what I see. That's the beauty of it. We're not stagnant, we're not standing in one place."
Ortiz tries to capture everything on the big day as naturally as possible, using artificial light sparingly—"it's only when I need to go indoors or when I do a reception that I put a flash on the camera." He shoots wide open on the lens—"if my lens says 2.8, I shoot at 2.8." Having just recently jumped to digital, he shoots with the Canon 1D. "I use a 28-70mm, a 70-200mm, a 17-35mm, and an 85mm f/1.2, as well as a fish eye."
And while he does have PCs souped up with Photoshop, he uses the software enhancement features very rarely. "I see beauty in the natural lighting, so I don't want to correct it or do a lot of tweaking."
When the bride and groom come to the studio to review their wedding photos, Ortiz likes to "hold their hands" through the process, spending up to three hours putting together the perfect album.
"I do previewing on the Web, but people still want that human touch," he says. "I guide them through and explain why I took a certain shot or why I made one picture large."
Ortiz's career started humbly enough: He lugged around the camera bags and did cleanup work for photography pioneer Rocky Gunn and his colleagues, biting his tongue as he proved himself as a photographer.