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Winter Formal at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago

When business school students dress up, man, do they go all out! It was my great pleasure and honor to have been the official photographer for my school’s winter formal this year at the historic Palmer House Hilton hotel in downtown Chicago. Our formal theme this year was Casablanca. Everyone looked so gorgeous!

First off, the venue is a luxurious dream, I think I had a moment of “I wonder what it would be like to get married here” before I was dragged back to reality with my bank account balance. Anyway, check out at all that detail on the ceiling!
Palmer House Hilton formal

And there was a wedding on the main floor – you can see the wedding party lining up to go inside the Empire Room

Palmer House Hilton formal

With a 700-person formal, we got the Grand Ballroom

Palmer House Hilton formal

Palmer House Hilton formal

Palmer House Hilton formal

 

Props to the amazing GBC formal committee who made all this possible – especially Oindrila!

Palmer House Hilton formal

I did about an hour of “photobooth” portraits of everyone coming in. It was like a fashion show… everyone was dressed to the nines. It’s no wonder this formal sold out

Palmer House Hilton formal
Chicago wedding photographer
Chicago wedding photographer
Chicago wedding photographer

We had both a live band and a DJ. The live band was Rock Candy and they were freaking amazing!!!! Our DJ was JMaximillan

Chicago wedding photographer
Palmer House Hilton formal

Here’s me, your dancing photographer. I added a super-comfortable and super-affordable gel guitar strap (thanks Emily Ku!) to my Shootsac – I didn’t feel any pain in my shoulders the next day!

Palmer House Hilton formal

This image is an example of the flash power of the Nikon SB-900 – the only ambient light in this photograph comes from the dimmed candles in the chandeliers. It’s all flash bounced off the ceiling – me standing on the ground floor and shooting up to the second floor

Palmer House Hilton formal
Chicago wedding photographer

For the non-photographers – Your wedding photographer should know how to use flash and in which circumstances it is appropriate, especially if any part of your wedding occurs indoors! Professional flash is not the same as the tiny little flashes on point-and-shoots – professional flash still can keep things looking natural and add a pleasing 3-dimensional look to your photographs. The reason why consumer flash makes everything so flat is that it sits right next to the lens and usually fires too much light. It also shoots forward – I point my flash upwards so that the light bounces off the ceiling and falls down like a regular lamp. Also, professional flash – we can control how much flash power we want, when we want it timed, etc. Consumer flash just doesn’t have control. The majority of the dancing photos were taken in near-pitch-dark conditions, and yet professional flash can bring out all the beautiful detail on people’s clothes and the expressions on their faces.

For the photographers – Even though flash fired in most of these photos the treatment was kept as natural as possible. Photos that used only ambient light are the wide venue shots and the detail ones which I was able to shoot before the formal. All the photos here are shot using ONLY 35mm f/1.4 lens I previously blogged about – in terms of focus speed, it did really well but does take a little bit of searching if I’m not looking into the viewfinder. It did struggle when it was pitch dark – but the same would be said for any lens including my 24-70mm. I continue to be impressed in the lighting power of my SB-900 flashes. I switched between a combination of 1 off-camera speedlight, on-camera speedlight + off-camera speedlight, and on-camera speedlight only, these decisions were made typically within seconds because everything happened pretty quickly, but I did arrive early to the venue to previsualize as well. Other than the bounce card that comes with the SB-900s, no diffusers, reflectors, gels, or other modifiers were used. Given that I had none of my trusty Boston assistants  and very little room to maneuver, minimal equipment was the key here.

Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

March 1, 2011 - 1:30 pm

Emily Yay looks like everyone had a great time!

March 12, 2011 - 10:32 am

Melissa I love that you are a “dancing photographer”. I do not think I would trust a photographer that wouldn’t dance :-)

March 18, 2011 - 12:54 pm

Michelle from wedding photographer Wow..these pictures are amazingly irresistible to look at..it makes the pictures more beautiful and sweet to look at.

The way the shots look, this is a work of art..one look of it and it catches all your attetion.

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