We get a huge amount of questions/compliments about our Astro-Engagement/Wedding photography sessions (Can we do these during our Los Angeles wedding? How long do I have to stand still? Is it photoshopped?), and since these sessions were just featured on PetaPixel, I figured now is a great time to answer some questions and help if you want to plan one of these astounding sessions.
First of all, no it’s not photoshopped. Felicia and I are very lucky to have clients that utterly trust us, even when we tell them to meet us outside a dodgy motel in the middle of the desert at 2am, then get in our car and drive to where we can find the least possible light. Then, through a very technical mixture of long exposure, speedlites(flashes) and couples who are willing to hold very still while I tinker like a madman, we are able to create a unique mix of astrophotography and portraiture that I personally had not seen before (not to say I invented this or that no one else out there is doing this).
Secondly, no, we probably can’t do this at your wedding, or anywhere within 100 miles of a major city/light pollution. In Death Valley we have to contend with the lights of Las Vegas and on the horizon in Joshua Tree we are glimpsing Palm Springs. Sometimes these lights can add to the picture, but mainly they just affect the ability to truly appreciate our night skies. If you have never stood in the middle of the desert on a moonless night, you are in for a treat.
Speaking of the moon, we don’t want that either… if we want to see the most stars, we need it to be as dark as possible. I haven’t experimented with this rule yet, but I like to schedule these session +/-5 days of a moonless night. I am interested in shooting a long lens, full moon session (think moon silhouettes), but that’s next on the list of to-dos.
Lastly, and most importantly, clouds will ruin this shoot quicker than anything else – so up until now we have stuck with the dryer climes of the California deserts (but this too may change soon).
We love finding new and unconventional techniques and locations for our shoots. Thanks again to our amazing clients who trust us and our seemingly crazy ideas!
The light in the sky at the bottom left of the above picture is actually Las Vegas, which is about 100 miles away from where we were shooting. It’s a bit insane, but even the smallest light in the distance can be extremely amplified when working with the long exposure time of astrophotography.
Mandi & Lior got married a few weeks ago at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach. It’s always weird to look back and realize how quickly time passes. As Mandi’s Dad pointed out, they first met us about a year out from the wedding date, and now, just like that, it’s come and gone.
Each year we have a few couples that we consult with over the phone because they live far away, and it’s always extra intriguing to meet up with them right before launching into a full photoshoot. Thankfully, Agnes & Daniel were even more awesome in person!
We started at Malibu Creek State Park where Rob showed off his impressive Eagle Scout skills and fashioned a rather sturdy tent out of the materials Agnes & Daniel brought (the sticks for the tent frame were cut from a tree in their parents’ backyard). Robert Paetz Photography: now includes campsite set-up.
We had an incredible time with these two, nevermind the onslaught of crazy gnats at Point Dume.
Thanks for being so much fun, you guys! Can’t wait for the wedding!
Daniel is a photojournalist, so they brought a vintage camera, which we managed to shoot through (right). The apple’s for Agnes, as she’s a professor.
Avi & Angie came referred to us by Justin & Christa, and though we figured that could be a hint that Avi & Angie could be pretty cool by association, we did not expect to be spending 2 hours with them at Starbucks talking about everything & anything, including a debate about the merits (or demerits, according to Avi *ahem*) of The Life Aquatic. Obviously Rob is a big fan.
Rob says you need to watch this, so here goes:
But despite that minor hiccup – it’s OK, Avi does actually like Wes Anderson – just not that particular movie, and Angie is a badass – so these two make for pretty rad couple,as they would say.
A couple of weeks ago we hung out at Union Station, took some pictures, got told to leave, crossed the street, took a few more pictures, got asked if we had a permit (seriously, LaLaLand…), kept shooting, and then sadly had to leave instead of having drinks with them because we had a meeting to attend. Wop wop….
But it’s OK. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of these awesome people before their wedding.
Last year in October we first photographed Mildred & Kristian, and having done the woodsy/beach looks, this time they’re back for a second engagement session for a sleek urban feel in downtown Los Angeles. They make for such great company and are so much fun, we certainly did not mind photographing them on Memorial Day, i.e.: the day before Rob’s birthday!
Mildred, you’re awesome for walking up & down all those stairs and covered so much ground in those heels, AND stood in water when we suggested it!
Thanks for another awesome shoot. We’re looking forward to your wedding!
Last year, when Rob and I were still visiting in Singapore, we received an email from Mike, who is based in Maryland. He was planning a California vacation with his girlfriend, and… he was also planning to propose! Mike is super meticulous, and carefully researched sites and locations, wanting nothing but perfection for this special surprise.
So six months later, we finally get to meet Mike & Amanda. Apparently Mike only told Amanda about the shoot right when they pulled up in Laguna Beach, on the pretext that it was a surprise birthday gift to her (yay May babies! Like Rob and myself!), and to capture the beautiful California landscape.
They were both really easy-going and we had lots of laughs, so hopefully that helped calm Mike’s nerves! Incidentally, we were talking about how birds are jerks because a swan pecked at me when I was a child, and Mike readily agreed because a row of birds seem to particularly enjoy pooping on his car. Right when we finished that conversation, I lifted the camera to my eye, and found a big milky white streak on it, and on my jacket…
That confirms it. Birds are jerks.
I was told that being pooped on by a seagull is good luck. Well, it was a very lucky indeed day for Mike & Amanda then, as the surprise proposal was a resounding SUCCESS!
Mona and Michael are planning a wedding in Egypt this fall, but celebrated their engagement here in California. We met up in Cerritos a couple of weeks ago and spent a beautiful afternoon wandering about and creating some memories for these two.