The most unforgettable day in one’s life
Mike Colón is a wedding photographer who is in high demand across the globe. He takes most of his pictures with the Otus lenses from ZEISS. “Their quality is simply impressive.
Mike Colón loves math, the regularities in the numbers. Chess is his favorite game. Where the average person might still be trying to figure out the original Rubik’s cube with 3x3x3 boxes, Colón has already solved the 10x10x10. So it was no surprise when young Mike decided to study electrical engineering in college.
But there was something else about math – the visual side of it. “I like things to be in order, especially my photographs,” says the Californian. So when Mike was 20 and still in college, he started creating order in photographs. Architectural photography would have been the most logical field for him to enter. Instead, he took a surprisingly different path and became a wedding photographer. “I’m an adrenaline junkie and can really let the adrenaline run free during the stress of a wedding.”
So a wedding photographer. But not just any. He’s one of the best. Only around a third of his assignments take place in California, where he lives with his wife and four children. The rest take him across the globe – to Japan, New Zealand, often in the Caribbean or Hawaii, and every now and then to Europe (though not yet in Germany). He still hasn’t been to the North Pole, Colón says with a grin.
Last year Colón was booked for a wedding in Beverly Hills where he created photographs of unique beauty. For example this one, which shows Erin as she dresses for the ceremony. She is reading a letter that Jock sent to her along with a little blue box from Tiffany’s. Colón has captured this emotional moment brilliantly. In this and many other images, the manual focus of the ZEISS Otus lenses played an important role. ”I zoom into the subject with the electronic viewfinder of the Sony α7 II, focus on the subject, and then don’t have to worry about the focus anymore,” he says. “That gives me the freedom to concentrate on the right moment.” In the past he used to take pictures with autofocus as well, but that was too unpredictable for him. Here, too, the math whizz shines through. Whenever possible – even when the subject is moving – Colón relies on the precise manual focusing of all three of his Otus lenses. “I take 90% of my pictures with them.”
But the real highlight of these lenses is their outstanding focus – and their special bokeh. Colón also has some very good Sony/ZEISS lenses in his bag, “but the three Otus lenses are even better for bokeh.” That is clear to see in the image with the two flower girls. While the priest in the background is blessing the bride and groom, Colón concentrates on something happening in that moment that might seem insignificant: the two flower girls are completely immersed in the little bouquet of flowers in their hands. The ceremony taking place behind them does not interest them at all at that moment. The photographer augments the impression of a secret snapshot by showing the shoulder of a guest in the foreground. Here again, the bokeh in the fore- and background creates a frame that is barely discernible. “And the girls’ skirts are wonderfully fluffy, thanks to sharpness created by the lens even at the shallow depth of f/1.4.” In this image as well, the aperture was completely open and the focus manually prepared in the expectation of capturing a good motif.
There was a similar idea behind a picture taken at a wedding in Durango, Mexico. It shows Ana, the bride, from behind as she is embraced by Alex, the groom. “I like to peer through objects in order to create a frame.” So the paper lanterns in the foreground are not ‘in the way’ by accident, but intentionally selected and taken with a lovely bokeh from the perspective of the viewer. What the viewer does not see — fortunately! — is the fact that next to the couple is a taco stand with tequila-pickled scorpions which the guests suck out, in line with Mexican tradition.
Anyone who can make as impressive wedding photos as Mike Colón is of course also in demand as a teacher. For one wedding shoot, Colón traveled to Northern Ireland. Some colleagues there took the occasion to spontaneously invite him to a workshop to share some tips and tricks. The colleagues brought along Sophia, a model, and a smattering of wedding clothes. The next two pictures were created during this workshop.
In both images, the aperture of the Otus is completely open, and the warm bokeh engulfs Sophia like a wistful, light veil, while the model herself is extremely sharp, especially in the image with the car. The photographer strengthened the almost dream-like scenes, with their light sepia tone, by using split toning in Lightroom. “That makes the shadows somewhat warmer.” In the picture with Sophia out in the field, he used manual focusing too. “I ran after Sophie at the same speed; as a result, all the images were sharp.” Mike Colón says he couldn’t do without his two Otus lenses. “I have enormous faith in these lenses and can always rely on them delivering terrific pictures.”
Series: At your service 3/3
About Mike Colón
Mike Colón, 40, is one of the star photographers in the genre of destination weddings. That is, weddings that take place in unusual places, for example on Hawaii or in the Caribbean, where many Americans like to go to celebrate the most unforgettable day in their lives. Colón is known for telling stories of wedding through pictures. The perfectionist, math fan and father of four also often photographs for designers of wedding apparel. Colón’s biggest motivation in his work is that the wedding photos of his clients will hang on their walls for a lifetime. “Wedding photos are forever – and the homes of my clients are my gallery.”