Your Storybook Wedding
The way I like to work with weddings is to capture the whole day start to finish capturing all the magic moments as they happen from the Bridal prep right up to the first dance. Every wedding day is different and in order to get the most out of it as a wedding photographer you have to be dynamic and be able to go with whatever direction the day takes you. The sun wont always be shining the traffic wont always be light there will always be the unexpected or unforeseen but you have to be able to think on your feet and improvise. You might have plan for a lovely colourful sunset shot only to find it clouded over but thats fine this makes for a dramatic broody image. You have to work with what you have. I would like to think that I am a people person and have an ability to put at ease the people I work with. I have found through my years of experience shooting weddings that although the big formal shots and family shots are important its the candids and quirky little shots from the day are often most cherished. Often when meeting clients to preview there images from the day I am met with the same responce "i don't remember you taking half of those shots" its your big day and it passes in a heartbeat and its my job to make all those fleeting moments last a lifetime, the tears of joy, and nervous wait, the children playing, the first kiss. The one compliment I hear time after time is the fact that I work really quickly and efficiently we have all been to weddings where the bride and groom go missing after the church for hours for photographs this is completely not necessary its your big day and you should be spending it with your guests. I often taught of the different sections of the wedding day as they play out and Im going to try outline how I work to make your day as memorable as possible . I once read a piece about how you can tell when a referee has had a good game is if nobody remembers who reffed the game well this analogy could carry over to a good wedding photographer at the end of the day your wedding day is all about YOU not me and its my job to work with you and capture every moment without fuss or drama.
Act one the preparation
This part of the day is perhaps the slowest paced of the day and this allows me to be really creative and artistic with a use of natural light and selective focus. I would normally call to the brides house that morning and get shots of the dress hanging and any of the other details that present themselves eg flowers bridal jewellery etc. Its also a great opportunity to get really natural candids of the bridal party preparing. These shots make for great spreads at the start of the wedding album. After capturing what I need that morning I would head away from the brides house and return after the dress was fitted. These are often some of the most emotional shots of the day as mum, dad and bridal party lay eyes on the bride looking resplendent this is the moment it becomes real and is a culmination of months and sometimes years of preparation. There are great opportunities for images here and I like to shoot these scenes wide to try to capture not only the beauty of the bride as she catches a first glimpse of herself in a mirror but by shooting wide you take in so much more every little expression and emotion around the room. As I leave the bridal preparation the next time I will see her is in the back of the wedding car at the church. Typically when I would catch up with the groom and his groomsmen would be at the church but if time and logistics allow I can visit the grooms house that morning too. It always amuses me how this time spent outside the church in anticipation of the arrival of the guests and ultimately the bride changes the most confident and cocky of grooms into far more sheepish almost nervous souls. Invariably you will be asked on arrival something along the lines of "well how is she is she a bag of nerves" knowing i had just left the brides house but reading between the lines its assurance that everything ok is whats being looked for. Its this time where I get my shots of the groom and his party just interacting with each other another great time for capturing natural candids. This section finishes up with the brides maids car appearing around the corner and a big rush to usher everyone into the church with calls of "she's on her her way".
Act two the Church
Following the arrival of the bridesmaids car is the arrival of the bride. This is the classic part of the wedding day the first big shot on offer here is father of the bride in the back of the wedding car and from here on classic shots follow one after the other. Churches can be challenging to work in you find the lighting can be tricky but when you get it right your images really have the wow factor. When the bride and here wedding party are outside the church I use this opportunity to take the first formal shot of the day with the whole bridal party in the doors of the church the when working with videographers they are normally delighted with this time to get up to the top of the church to get set up., Next on the list is the walk up the aisle first the flower girls and page boys next the bridesmaid and at long last the bride. Again there are great photo opportunities here the bride can be shot backlit from the light outside creating a silhouette shot or the bride and dad can be shot really wide to take in any nice details from the back of the church like arches or stain glass windows when the bride is about half way up the ailse I would make my way to the top of the aisle and capture images including both the groom at the top of the ailse and the bride on her way up these shots are normally perhaps the most dramatic of the day when the groom turns around to catch his first glimpse of his bride finishing with a little kiss or hug the bride and groom are finally united. For the ceremony I would normally set myself up on the left the side the bride is on because at the end of the day its all about the dress. Im always looking for the little smiles and glances that go between the couple these shots are part of the very fabric of any wedding album. Photographing a wedding is so much than coming up with a collection of technically perfect images its probably more important to capture the mood the tempo and the emotion of the day. Having covered as many weddings as I have there is nothing that surprises me Im always where I should be when I should be for all the marquee shots eg putting on the rings, Lighting of the candles the vows and the first kiss. Its quiet a balancing act as you need to get your shots but its every bit as important that your not too intrusive your guests or your priest for that matter wont appreciate a photographer that was up on the alter in every-bodies face throughout the ceremony. After the signing of the register I would typically move the register to the center of the alter for what would be the second set of formal shots with the bridal party including the priest priest. If I were dubious about the weather outside i would normally get family shots done in the church I might not use these shots afterwards for the album but at least if it rained for the day and we couldnt go outside for family photos we would have these to fall back on. All this only takes 5 minutes tops I know its important to keep up the tempo and avoid lulls theres nothing quicker to kill the atmosphere than everybody hanging around. with these done I would make my way down the aisle for the and start the round of applause for the newly married couple to walk out.
Act three the Big Shoot
This is the part of the day where the mood changes dramatically the job is done and from here everybody can relax and the fun can begin. After the greetings and well wishes from the guests at the church door I would typically bring the couple back into the church for some shots you would be amazed what you can achieve in a church with that lovely moody light or by using nice stain glass as a nice blurry background. From there we would head off to our preselected location for our intimate shots this where the wow comes into the wedding album. I have my own unique style when shooting on location couple that with my post processing skills we can make what might look like mundane ordinary conditions and turn the finished image into big scale dramatic hi impact images. I like to shoot what is for all intensive purposes a landscape image using the couple as a focal point rather than the old style of filling the frame with the couple. Sometimes it has far more impact when the couple are used more as an anchor in the image rather than have them front and centre all the time there is no point in going to these scenic beauty spots if were not going to make something of them. My years of experience have taught me the art posing and the importance of little tweaks to accentuate the poise and beauty of the couple. I cant count the amount of times that a bride or groom have said to me in one of my pre wedding meetups that they either dont take a good picture or that they hate posing i assure them that there are loads of little tricks and tweaks to getting the absolute best out of there shoot. from the minute we arrive at our location my aim is to put the couple as ease your clients would not look at comfortable in the images if they are not at ease with you. If I take a shot and I see something on the back of the camera that could be changed to improve the image I will show the couple, as the old saying goes a picture paints a thousand words. when we take a series of images at one scene that I am satisfied with I show the client on the back of the camera this does two things firstly it gives the couple more confidence in themselves and this confidence carries through in the next series of images and secondly it gives the clients more confidence in you thus making them more open to your suggestion and direction for the next set of images. One of the most important things that wedding photographer is responsible for outside of the finished product is in keeping up the pace and the tempo of the day or at least the parts you are involved in. This is where I excel I work really quickly I'm decisive and I work efficiently. One of the compliments I receive again and again is that clients tell me they were delighted how quickly we got through what we had to do and how much we achieved in that space of time. At the end of the day your wedding day should be spent with your guests not away with some clumsy indecisive guy fumbling around with the settings on there camera.
Act four the Venue
When we get back to the hotel I would tell the couple to relax meet there guests and have a drink and tell them we have the back broken in the day but to be conscious that we still have one more series of formal shots to take we need to take the family shots but for now relax. The great thing about being back at the hotel is that you can enlist the help of a bridesmaid or groomsman to organise the families. I tell every couple that I work for that when were back at the hotel if any of there friends or relatives see me doing enjoying some downtime to come over and ask me to take photos of them these are all included on the client disc at no extra cost. when it comes to the family photographs experience has taught to start big with the groups as in the brides family with aunts uncles spouses the whole group then strip it back to family and spouses then immediate family and finally the couple with parents and likewise with the grooms family. This system cuts out the messing and speeds things up but more importantly it makes it almost impossible to skip over any of the formal shots. The way I shoot family groups I take loads of images if I were to perhaps to take just one or two shots per group instead I could almost guarantee that at least one of the group would have there eyes closed or mouth open or more likely both but fortunately my post processing skills allow my to be able present my clients with every group shot with everybody looking great drawing from the multiple images taken of each group. Following this series of images I am delighted to tell the couple that we have just one more posed shot to take I like to get the bride and groom into the ballroom to get a shot of them cutting the cake. Doing it this way serves a couple of functions firstly it allows me time to pose and light the couple to perfection this probably wouldnt be possible in the dynamic environment of the actual cutting of the cake later secondly I can insure good eye contact this can be tricky when you have twenty other cameras pointed at the couple and thirdly it frees me up get a different more interesting angle on the couple as they cut the cake to include the guests around them. with all this done its all about the candids and the fun shots people are relaxed and enjoying themselves and you find that even what were earlier the most reluctant of models loosen up and buy into the magical atmosphere that can only by found at a good wedding nothing staged or posed just images capturing your guests having fun and enjoying the company. in my full package I stay right up to the first dance so the possibilities are endless. Normally the last image in my bespoke wedding albums is a shot of the first dance so we try make it an epic. There are several ways or techniques I use to achieve this a favourite of mine is to use the lights used by a videographer or else the lights from the band and i position myself opposite these to create a really nice rim lighting effect between the bride and groom or another favourite of mine is to change the angle you can effect the mood of an image so much by just getting low. I am always trying to come up with something new and more importantly something original i am aware that there is a place in wedding for cliche but its equally important that each wedding have its own stamp on the images something new something nobody has done before for me every wedding has it own personality each wedding takes on a life of its own some are funny all are romantic some tinged with sadness shadowed perhaps with the recent death of a loved one. If you were to more analytical again about about it all couples are different some couples like contemporary some classic some couples are funky some couples are conservative some are eclectic some are mainstream and I really feel that its so important that when you view there images or pick up there album that those traits and emotions that were present on the day are show through in there images. This was a quick walk through of a typical wedding its easy to look at a photographers portfolio and you are only presented a carefully chosen segment of that photographers best images without any idea of weather or not the photographer is a good fit for you. I have written this article to give you a little more information about me and so much more that just a snapshot of my best work.