Inspiration: Vertical Images From History by Bradley Hanson

With some regularity, I get private email messages from photographers commenting about the vertical images I’ve posted on Instagram (@bradleyhansonphotography) or on my website. I’ve redesigned my wedding portfolio to feature my vertical images, something of an anomaly in this industry that appears to be 99% horizontal. I get it. Walk into a wedding reception and you see the tables spread out wide. Go to the ocean and you see width. Our eyes are side by side, not on top of each other. For these reasons and more, vertical images can be compelling as they are outside of our day to day perspective.

In 1987, I bought Ralph Gibson’s book “Tropism,” from the bookstore at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I had seen vertical images before, of course. They are not new, and many of the images in the gallery below are from the 50s and 60s, most likely a Leica M3 camera with a 50mm lens. Still, there was something about Ralph Gibson’s high contrast vertical images that made them even more abstract and surreal. While paging appreciatively through the book, I discovered that one of my favorites, the glowing hand at the opening door, was an image I’d seen before on the inner sleeve of Joy Division’s classic 1979 record, “Unknown Pleasures.”

The simple act of buying this book changed my perspective on photography forever. I didn’t suddenly starting shooting only vertical photographs, but I often found myself seeking out compositions in that format and trying to change the way I saw the world to be open to this exciting format. The 3:2 ratio of 35mm film (aka “full frame” in digital format) also lends itself better to vertical compositions because it closely approximates the “golden ratio.” (Click here to read the Wikipedia page about the concept).

To address my feelings about vertical image, to share some of my favorite vertical images from history, and to discuss why I regularly shoot vertical photographs with my wedding work, I’ve decided to create this blog post to provide additional insight. You can view my wedding images via the two galleries under “portfolio,” or you can view my favorite vertical wedding images through this link here:

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail.

Downtown Minneapolis Snowy Wedding In The Historic Lumber Exchange Building by Bradley Hanson

Illyas walks out on the roof of the Lumber Exchange Building as the snowstorm begins on March 9, 2019.

I’ve been photographing weddings for 20 years now. I’ve personally been to 600 of them. Yeah, I know. It’s gone by quickly since April 1999. Anyway, 13 years of that was in Seattle, the last 7 here in Minneapolis. As someone who grew up in Minneapolis, the feeling is often that there is snow on the ground 6 months of the year. It can start as early as October and it can happen as late is May. We don’t get the kind of heavy snow we used to get all winter when I was a kid, but we are getting wild extremes. This year, we had a bone dry December, then February was 40 inches of snow rather than the average of 7.

Snow gets old when you grow up with it, but it still has a magical quality to me, particularly the first snow of the year. There is a quiet and peacefulness that happens both from the visual minimalism and the sound deadening of the snow itself. It literally absorbs sound and the combination enhances the beauty.

When Anna and Illyas hired me to photograph portraits for them, it was a relatively humid day. They had just gotten a sweet little dog named Louie who didn’t want to be away from them during our time together.

Fast forward to a week ago. The wedding day, March 9th, came quickly and meteorologists forecasted a late winter storm of 8-10” in the Twin Cities. I was excited because I could finally take photographs of a bride and groom in the snow. Well, the serious part of the storm ended up hitting the part of the state south of Minneapolis and while we ended up with more like 5 inches of snow, it was beautiful: large, heavy and dense snow that fell slowly and accumulated quickly.

In a brief moment after the wedding ceremony, Anna, Illyas and I went to the roof of the historic Lumber Exchange Building to take a few photographs it was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I rarely use flash, but with snow it highlights every flake on its way to the ground.

I’ll be adding images to this blog post in a few weeks.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail.

Indian Wedding Gallery by Bradley Hanson

Since 1999, I’ve been photographing weddings all over the world in a candid, non-posed style. This allows my clients to focus on enjoying their wedding day rather than being directed by the photographer. I’ve found people are infinitely more interested in seeing what really happened rather than the photographer running them through a standard template of photographs that can be seen at any wedding. To me, the best photographs are ones that are moments that are just happening and that cannot be recreated or posed. For Indian and Hindu weddings, which typically occur over a 3 day period, there is a theoretically infinite number of moments to observe and photograph. Things usually begin with the Mehndi, which includes hennas, then the dinner called the Sangeet. The Baraat is the processional with the groom and his family walking and dancing (originally with a white horse, which still happens if the space allows for it) to meet the bride and the bride’s family. The ceremony includes the Saptapadi, which is when the bride and groom walk around the seven stations of fire. The reception has a number of events, including the Bhangra, a Punjab folk dance.

In 2001, I photographed my first travel wedding in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, entirely on film. I had already photographed many Indian and Hindu weddings in Seattle when I was commissioned to photographs weddings in Rajasthan, India and Bangkok, Thailand for the same couple in 2005. Since then, I’ve photographed over 20 Indian weddings, mostly in Seattle and Minneapolis. Clients can see how much I love black and white photographs in my portfolios, so I figured it was time to give these vibrant, colorful weddings their own portfolio as they tend to be significantly more colorful than my usual work.

This link will take you directly to the gallery. Like the rest of my portfolios, click the “+” in the upper right of the first image to scroll through them at full size.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail.

WPJA Wedding Photojournalist Association Contest Winning Images by Bradley Hanson

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These were four recent winning images in the WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association) wedding contest. It is open to photographers from all over the world, not just wedding photographers from Minneapolis.

There is some continuity between thematic elements in the photographs in that two of the three are backlit and all three contain scenes that were photographed entirely as found, rather than directing the action, which is my preferred method of working. The color scene was the bride and groom’s first dance, in the unusual twist of being outside at one of my favorite wedding venues near Minneapolis, the Camrose Hill Flower Farm in Stillwater, MN.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

Wedding Portfolio Redesign Featuring 75 Vertical Images And NEW Work From 2018 by Bradley Hanson

Back in 1999 when I began photographing weddings, I was shooting only film and I had a website. It was crude, clunky and designed and updated in Dreamweaver software. The images were only 300 pixels tall. My 2nd main website, designed in 2007, and featured images that were 1200 pixels long. It was Adobe Flash based, which meant it was literally invisible to mobile devices. While the portfolio kept evolving, I didn’t really start over with a 3.0 version until 5/10/15, (a date chosen on purpose because I like numerical patterns), with a version of a site that is similar to the one you are looking at right now. In order to allow the photographs to load quickly and at a reasonable quality, the images in the gallery are 1200 pixels tall and 1800 pixels long for horizontals.

The first book of photography that I remember buying was Ralph Gibson’s “Tropism,” published in 1987, at the Walker Art Center bookstore in Minneapolis. I was immediately excited and inspired by Ralph’s minimalist, abstract, high contrast vertical B&W images. I would later do a week long workshop with him in 2003 in Vancouver, BC, after I’d been shooting weddings for 4 years. While my work doesn’t look like his, the seed of seeing images vertically was planted and has remained to this day.

Although I loved my super wide format Hasselblad XPAN panoramic film camera and it remains the one camera I still miss, my eye seems to see the world in vertical rectangles. My old website didn’t reflect this. While I’m still working on sequencing as though I am creating a book of my wedding images, my new website reflects that 50% of my wedding images are made as vertical images.

To see any image below enlarged to 1200 pixels tall, clicking it will bring it up in a new window.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

FOR THE 5TH YEAR IN A ROW, I WAS A WINNER OF THE WEDDING WIRE COUPLES' CHOICE AWARD FOR 2019 by Bradley Hanson

This award is based on reviews from real clients from the 2018 weddings.

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You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

WPJA Wedding Photography Contest Winning Images by Bradley Hanson

As this will likely be my last blog post of 2018, I should end the year on a high note. These were three winning images in the WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association) wedding contest. It is open to photographers from all over the world, not just wedding photographers from Minneapolis.

There is some continuity between thematic elements in the photographs in that two of the three are backlit and all three contain scenes that were photographed entirely as found, rather than directing the action, which is my preferred method of working. The color scene was the bride and groom’s first dance, in the unusual twist of being outside at one of my favorite wedding venues near Minneapolis, the Camrose Hill Flower Farm in Stillwater, MN.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Late Autumn Family Portrait Mini-Session In Minneapolis by Bradley Hanson

We’ve been having mild weather in Minneapolis and decided to use the opportunity to take some quick family portraits of my wife Jackie and I with our youngest son, Oliver, at sunset. Traffic was a little more congested than expected, but we arrived just as the sun was hitting the horizon. This left us with about 15-20 minutes to try a few things. As always, anything involving our son Oliver was a mix of fun and adventure.

These are in relatively chronological order as the light temperature kept evolving. Just before it got dark, the gray sky had deep background pockets of pink and orange.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

WPJA Wedding Photography Contest Winning Image by Bradley Hanson

Although I am buried in the tail end of peak wedding season tasks (shooting, editing, uploading/downloading, backing up files, responding to client calls and emails, meeting potential clients, etc), I decided to enter the WPJA international wedding photography contest because I made my favorite photograph in a long time while at a wedding last month. The WPJA contest judges have worked as staff picture desk editors at major news publications or are working photojournalists having won the highest news industry awards.

As members, we are allowed to enter 10 per contest, but I decided to only enter one because I believed in it. It is good to know I am able to trust my gut…

WPJA contest winning image taken at St. Wencelaus Catholic church in New Prague, MN moments before the wedding ceremony. The church was built in 1907.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Katie And Ryan's Elegant Wedding And Reception At The Machine Shop In Northeast Minneapolis by Bradley Hanson

While Ryan was getting ready at The Depot Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, Katie was getting dressed at their apartment in St. Paul. Their wedding ceremony was at Our Lady Of Lourdes, the oldest church in Minneapolis, near the Mississippi River. Their reception was nearby at the lovely and spacious Machine Shop a couple blocks from Main Street. Between the ceremony and reception, we stopped at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Park.

Rather than going on about my photographic perspective of the day, I thought it would be more interesting for the reader to have some background information about the Katie and Ryan and how they met.

This is from Katie:

“It was June 2014, the summer before our senior year at Iowa State University (Ames, IA). I was at home in Wayzata, Minnesota, living with my parents and working at a wedding and event planning company. Ryan was spending the summer in Ames taking summer classes and living on campus.

One week in June, after a tough week at work, I decided to drive the 4 hours back to campus for a few days to visit my best friend, Megan. Shortly after arriving, we decided to go out to the bars. We stopped at a few before landing at Mickey’s Irish Pub around 10:00pm.

We walked up to the bar and stood in line for a drink before I noticed a tall, handsome and red pant-wearing Ryan. In my college years, I was quite set on finding a “preppy” boy. They were fairly uncommon on campus and when I saw his red pants, it caught my attention. Megan encouraged me to talk to him and when I finally introduced myself, I mentioned something about how I liked his pants. He kindly thanked me and our conversation began to flow. Before we knew it, 2:00am had struck and the bouncer was making his rounds to kick everyone out. We exchanged numbers and parted ways.

I can’t explain it, but something inside of me really felt like he was “the one.” It just clicked. In the days that followed, I told my friends all about him. The two of us texted back and forth for awhile before I returned back to school in August. As we started our fall semester, we began to hang out more and more and in October we officially started dating. By February we had said “I love you.”

In the past 4 years, we have grown to love each other more every day. Our wedding day was absolutely perfect in every way and we feel so blessed to have exchanged vows with so many loved ones by our side! We’re looking forward to many more beautiful years together!”

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.