Or, No Camera Flash in Church
It has always been my philosophy to not to use my camera’s flash in a church. No matter how dark the venue and how necessary the additional light may be, a flash popping off is disruptive when guests are trying to focus on the ceremony at hand. The gravitas of the words being said in a church deserve my respect. So with that challenge in mind, let’s see how this NYC Greek orthodox baptism photographer handles a beautiful, though poorly lit ceremony.
Little Nicholas was baptized on Saturday in the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. This Greek Orthodox church is one of the most beautiful places of worship in all of New York. Like most churches, the nave is quite dark. But with the ceilings being so high, even if I did use my flash there would be nothing of which to bounce it off, thus rendering my flash virtually useless. Luckily, the main altar area is well lit, with supplemental lighting coming from stained glass windows along the side of the church.
For any photography nerds out there (like myself), my settings were as follows: ISO of 3200, aperture at f/3.2, and shutter speed of 1/100. The photos of guests in the pews were the darkest (and thus, the noisiest in terms of pixel grain), but they still turned out great. The only time I did use flash was for the family photos after the service, with my flash pointed straight up to my bounce card. A tip for all photographers out there: if you do have any photos which have too much pixel noise, remember that everything looks better in black and white where noise turns into ‘film grain’ for an artistic edge.
This was the most elaborate church service I have ever photographed, including an Armenian orthodox wedding I shot several years ago. The baptism involved dunking the baby three times fully under water, anointing him with olive oil, cutting his hair in the shape of a cross, and wafting incense all around. On account of all the incense alone, Nicholas smelled great by the way. And while Nicholas loudly voiced his objection to being dunked (as would we all), he was the best baby during the service. If you would like to learn more about the ceremony details, please check out this helpful link.
Following the service, the family had dinner at Arabelle Restaurant in the Plaza Athénée hotel. The room was beautiful, and the perfect size for an intimate event with only 38 guests. Alexandra planned the entire event herself, and selected a carousel theme for the party, complete with a stunning cake from Cake Alchemy. I left before the cake was cut, but the cake proved to be irresistible to one of the younger guests.
Enjoy the photos!
Reception venue: Arabelle Restaurant at the Plaza Athénée hotel
Cake: Cake Alchemy
Baptism supplies, from towels to ‘witness pins’: Blessed Celebration
Would you like to see images from another Greek baptism? Check out photos from baby Penelope’s baptism at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn here.
If you would like to see more images from NYC Greek orthodox baptism photographer, Kelly Williams, then please visit her website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com