B&H Wedding Guide: Photographer Vilson Lleshaj

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Vilson Lleshaj is a senior photo advisor at B&H Photo Video Pro Audio. He started producing monochrome darkroom prints and studio portraits on his 4 x 5 Linhof in Kosovo in 1987, leading to a fruitful career in wedding studios and professional photo labs doing color and black-and-white prints. He is currently a partner and the chief photographer at Photography
by Alfonso Studios in White Plains, New York, and specializes in wedding, event and portrait photography. HIs work can be seen at www.photographybyalfonso.com.

In the image below, Lleshaj was working with the wedding couple during their formal portrait session. The location he was a large, empty building with little ambient light available, and as such he had the opportunity to produce a dramatically-lit portrait that flattered the couple as well as accentuated the space around them. Using two constant hot lights equipped with spotlight reflectors, he positioned the lighting in front of and behind the couple to bring out the detail in their faces while also providing a concentrated point of light behind the bride’s veil. By using tungsten-balanced hot lights, Lleshaj was able to balance the color temperature with the chandelier and sconce in the lower portion of the image without requiring the use of CTO or CTB gels. Additionally, the narrow reflectors also contribute greatly to the drama created in the image, by leaving much of the scene in near darkness and giving prominence to the couple, despite their distance from the camera.

This image is typical of Lleshaj’s style when he works with couples, as he tries to make them comfortable and at ease in the environment. He typically works in a flowing method, rather than rigorously posing his subjects for numerous shots at a time. The use of two assistants also allows him the freedom to work in a more mobile way with greater control as well as the ability to refine the overall placement and quality of the lighting quickly.

When making formal wedding portraits, he typically has between 30 minutes to an hour to photograph the couple in the chosen location. He uses the location and its intricacies to inspire the type of photographs he produces, and takes that time to become more acquainted with the subjects in order to establish a relationship that draws the most from them and their interactions with the space. In this manner, the rapport between photographer and subject is strengthened to the point at which more natural poses can occur, and in turn result in the most successful images.

Camera Canon 5D Mark II
Lighting System Metz 60 CT4 (2) and Canon 580EX II (2)
Wireless System Pocketwizard FlexTT5. One transmitter, two transceivers. 
Lens Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
Bag An older Tamrac shoulder bag. I now recommend the Tamrac 5797.
Best location Marina Del Ray, in the Bronx
Worst location There are many places to which you don’t want to be invited.
I don’t want to name any names.