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Romantic Portraits That Have Fireworks!
by Gary Bernstein
With Photography by Tony Florez

In July, the kid in all of us thinks "fireworks." Let's face it--we're conditioned. But we're also photographers, so the photography kid in all of us thinks "WOW! FIREWORKS!" And, while fireworks always make for spectacular images--at least once a year, I don't know too many photographers who don't already know how to make great photographs of great fireworks...

So the more mature, sophisticated and sensual photographer in me...thinks "Wow, sexy and alluring July photographs of loving couples." Notice, that I'm keeping this G-rated...

And when it comes to making the fireworks sizzle in romantic summer portraits, the master is ZugaPhoto.TV star--and fashion, engagement and wedding portraitist to the stars, Tony Florez of Southern California...

Tony has a very special talent. It starts with his vision. He is a romantic who has the ability to put his heart on film. He does it with consistency. The camera simply becomes an extension of his mind's eye and his emotion in the purest sense. He is also a communicator. I am not referring to the wonderful way his images communicate to the viewer--an experience that would fail to exist without a far more important communication skill: His ability to communicate with his subjects; the confidence he builds; the responses he evokes. Only a master director achieves the kind of results that appear with regularity in a Florez image. And indeed, his images all appear to be freeze frames from European films...appearing uniquely unposed, how nice, how real, how romantic...

I know that Tony is a traditionalist when it comes to the tools of his trade. Although he shoots a lot in digital, these image were made with film and on medium format. He likes natural light. He is also a believer that you first must get the maximum quality into the image--get it in the "can" as we say--and then one is free to manipulate and create as needed after the fact. Most of Tony's results, however, appear as they were captured originally. And I assure you, the one thing you can't alter after the fact is the attitude, emotion and the look of your subjects. You either get it at the moment of capture or else it's lost forever--never to be recreated after the fact.

There are four ways you can attempt to learn from Tony's vision...
This column is a start, but the written word only goes so far…
To see the man in action...go to ZugaPhoto.TV and watch his shows 24-7 (now there’s an idea--especially with many of Zuga’s shows going FREE this month!). You can buy the How to Take Great Pictures DVD, or attend Tony’s private classes by getting in touch with him directly at http://www.tonyflorez.com/.

Let’s start with step one...
A stream-of-consciousness approach from the master himself as we look at six of his recent images:

“I shot this black and white silhouette on location in Fiji...in bright sunlight for a more dramatic look--deep blacks--crisp whites, and the palms just edge the picture as a frame to force attention to the subjects. With a fashion pose, and the hands in the center, they are united.”

“A couple on the beach. What could be more romantic! He lifts her and holds her in his arms...and gives her a kiss. I used natural light with a reverse process transparency film.”

“Just like out of a fashion magazine--shot on location in Careyes, Mexico, let them romance...close the eyes...it tells the story. Shot on film.”

“Like an Italian movie, the man on his knee...shot with natural light...the bride and groom look away...a low camera angle--always dramatic--makes stars of those who aren’t...an arch and a windswept veil...shot on film.”


“An engagement portrait in natural light...a unique pose--a unique camera angle, let the subjects play--no reason to look at the camera--we are watching them. Perfect makeup--and soft expressions--with artistic outfits--all of which is very important.”

“The bride and groom kissing...tilted camera for artistic effect. A very stylish bride, with greenery in the foreground to add depth and intrigue to the photo. Her touching his cheek while he kissed her added needed romance to the image.”


See more of Tony Florez and a world of other top shooters at ZugaPhoto.TV and on the How to Take Great Pictures DVD. For now this is Gary Bernstein...See you next issue of the RitzCamera.com photo newsletter!

Show off Your Romantic photos here!