Before the wedding

The tables are laid, all ready to go……a scene from a recent country club wedding in Suffolk.  Though I’m not overly concerned about capturing the inanimate details of a wedding, preferring to concentrate on people and how they interact, these shots help to present a rounded picture of the occasion and pick up on little things that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

So for instance here, there isn’t much going on, there’s no-one in the frame, but I liked the linking of the inside and outside spaces (and for anyone familiar with the venue, the buildings in the background might well help to locate it). There is a sense of something about to happen.

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I’d like to wish season’s greetings to all – and advance notice that I’ll be publishing a post with my five favourite wedding photography images of 2013 by the end of the month.

An Italian wedding

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I’m still deriving plenty of interest from going through some photographs I took on holiday in Vieste, Italy in October 2013, some of which featured in my blog post of October 20th. Here are a couple of my favourites from a wedding I came across at a delightful small church in the town centre called Chiesa Santa Croce. I frequently prefer a black and white conversion in the case of these Italian people shots – something about the dark suits and sunglasses makes this feel right.

In the first picture I’m standing right inside a group of wedding guests, a couple of whom are looking in my direction, but what I like about this picture is the younger man on the left, whose attention is taken by the woman in sunglasses centre right.

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In the second picture we have a group of men standing next to one of the wedding cars. This was taken near to the hotel used for the wedding reception, coincidentally the hotel were staying in. I’d just walked back to the hotel after taking photos of the guests milling around outside the church.

Again, I’ve use black and white here to remove the distractions of colour. The group includes (as I remember) the groom. They’re looking at the car, they’re talking among themselves. There isn’t a great deal going on in this picture, but I like it as a commentary on weddings, Italian style.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

This week I found the opportunity to post on the blog in response to WordPress’s weekly photo challenge. The theme was illumination. I’m always looking for a theme where wedding photography can brought to bear, and this week I just about had time to prepare and post an entry. It also allowed me to tinker about with the hue and saturation controls in Photoshop to experiment with presenting a black and white image.

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This was taken last April at an evening reception at Sprowston Manor Hotel near Norwich. I love taking pictures of children at weddings, and many of my favourite images from last year have children as the subject. Here I liked the expression on the girl’s face as she was obviously enjoying herself – with the boy sitting next to her totally unaware. The disco lighting from the right illuminates them quite softly. I prefer to use black and white in this particular case as the colours behind her head were a little distracting. Compositionally, there’s a left to right diagonal leading the eye out of the frame towards the focus of their attention.

Canon EOS 400D, 1/80 at f2.8, ISO 400.

Two favourites from 2012

I’ve been debating whether or not to choose a favourite image from the weddings I photographed in 2012. There were many to consider, ranging from images of the brides and grooms to all sorts of images of wedding guests in a variety of settings. Some that appealed to me greatly at the time have lessened their impact a little since then, and it’s been far from easy to pick just one image. So in the end I have fudged the issue somewhat and picked a closely related of images – as I rather liked the similarities and differences.

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IMG_8840e_600Here are two photographs of three bridesmaids from a wedding in June at the Old Rectory in Great Melton near Norwich. We had been wandering around the music room with a couple of other members of the family while the bride’s preparations were underway, and I was in the process of taking pictures of them wandering around the room exploring the musical instruments and generally relaxing and enjoying themselves. Some of the pictures I took in this room are among my favourites from the wedding (I find children often make the best subjects and they were no exception).

In both pictures the girls are posing for someone else off camera to my right. In the first one, they aren’t fully settled in to their poses and still show fairly natural expressions – admittedly each one is different. In the second picture, taken a couple of minutes later, they are posing and their expressions are quite different. I prefer the first one – but taken together, they tell something of a story and I think they have much more meaning than if they had been looked at separately. Just a small point, maybe, but for me it’s an interesting one nonetheless and that why I have made these my favourites from 2012.

Image of the month 9

This month I’ve gone back to a wedding I photographed in June to look at some of the pictures I didn’t really rate at the time as among my favourites, in case they appealed to me. I do think that’s a useful exercise, as it’s all to easy to be drawn to certain images and skip over many of the others without thinking about their full potential. To some extent it’s just a question of numbers and trying to keep the process manageable.

For this month’s selection I found a shot of the bridesmaids sharing a happy moment with relatives quite early on in the day and as soon as I saw it I could see the potential. A crop to remove some of the distractions in the foreground and to the right of the group (plastic bags, clothes, a rucksack), and a black and white conversion to remove the distraction of the red bridesmaids’ dresses, with a fair amount of contrast, gave me the image I was looking for. The composition of the group is tight and balanced, the mirror helps to pull the elements together. Not quite all the distractions can easily be removed, but for me the spontaneous emotions of this scene make the shot a good one – and one that is true to my style.

Wedding cakes!

Last Sunday I called round at a nearby wedding fair held at the Oakllands Hotel, in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, just out of interest. I’ve never really felt the desire, as a wedding photographer, to exhibit at wedding fairs but I thought I would quite like to see how things looked and the sort of things couples might be attracted to.

I’ve always had a soft spot for really creative cakes and so it was fascinating to look at the beautiful cake displays of two wedding cake suppliers:Time 4 Cakes www.time4cakes.co.uk and eventISS www.eventiss.co.uk

Here are four of my favourite photographs:

Image of the month 8

 

This month’s image is from a wedding I photographed (in my usual documentary style) earlier this year. This one left me in something of a quandry when it came to editing – as to whether  to convert to black and white, after carrying out a quick fix of contrast and levels, or leave it in colour. The red object she is carrying is rather distracting, as is the rim lighting around it. I could have adjusted this, but decided to leave it as it was. The reason the image appealed to me was  the way the light strikes her forehead, her concentration on what’s happening out of frame, and the narrow depth of field. The picture has its flaws, but I rather like it the way it is.

Weekly photo challenge: ‘mine’

Each week there’s a WordPress photo challenge – an invitation to post an image related to a particular theme, this week’s being ‘mine’. I decided to use this to post an image taken at one of this year’s weddings. The picture I chose was of a small girl at a woodland wedding I photographed in June. She was sitting in a tent, eating sausages in a bun. This is just one of the shots I took of the children – they usually make the best subjects as they tend to be uninhibited and rarely seem to notice the camera. Of course, this isn’t obviously a photograph taken at a wedding, but this was hardly a run of the mill type of wedding anyway. For me, I’m sure she is thinking the bun is most definitely “mine”.

Lost in the moment

Here’s one of the photographs from Tracy and Ian’s woodland wedding held in June in the grounds of The Old Rectory, Great Melton near Norwich. I hadn’t given this picture much thorught originally, partly because I had so many images of the bridesmaids that I really liked. But going back through all the pictures taken in the house, around the time the bride was getting ready and the young bridesmaids were exploring the property, this is one that interested me.

In the music room there were all kinds of musical instruments set out, to the great delight of the bridesmaids, who no doubt were glad of a break between getting ready and the time when they would have to go out through the gardens to the marquee where the ceremony would be held (and hoping that the rain would stay away). I went into the room with them, hoping something interesting would happen.

She’s so lost in what she’s doing, she’s taking no notice of me as I capture her concentration. For me, it’s one of those things easily missed, and probably not even looked for if you’re concentrating totally on the bride of even just switching off for a while. Of course, the image isn’t obviously taken at a wedding, but it’s one of the parts of the day to record and appreciate just as much as shots of the main activity. It’s an ordinary shot, but it’s full of meaning.

Putting details in context

When it comes to photographing weddings, I’m a big believer in getting those detail shots in such a way that their context is clear. On its own, a picture of flowers, table decorations, place cards, shoes or whatever isn’t going to have anything like the same emotional resonance as a picture that relates the detail to people, or at least something that shows it’s clearly taken at a wedding.

As an illustration, here’s a picture I took at a wedding earlier this year in Norwich. It’s in a church, it looks like a wedding, the people are obviously concentrating on what’s being said, but the focus is clearly on the coloured ribbons in centre shot, and that’s exactly what I had intended. I like other elements of the composition – the strong curve of the wooden railing linking the people together and drawing the eye to the centre of the frame, but for me the main thing here is to establish the context of the decorative details.