Hey there, and a very Happy New Year to you fine folks!
On the first day of a new year, I like to reflect on my previous years wedding photography by selecting photos that are most special to me.
2015 was a fantastically busy year, and reviewing a full years’ wedding photographs reminds me what a pleasure it is to do this job. Since starting shooting weddings 10 years ago, I’ve stood by my tagline “Relaxed portraits, stunning details & timeless moments”. It’s a constant creative challenge to distill such a special day into a beautifully documented memory. While I didn’t shoot any destination wedding photography abroad this year (which I love to do!), I’ve covered the length and breadth of England; shooting as far South as Devon, as Westerly as the Wirral and ventured many times far North into Gods own county, Yorkshire! There’ve been plenty laughs, a few tears and an impressive amount of tweed (Yay! I LOVES THE TWEED!)
I make a highlights blog post a day or so after every wedding I shoot, and it’s from these that I’ve created this SUPER POST! The problem with making cull on literally thousands of images, is that there are too many faves to choose from, and it ends up being ridiculously long! So I’ve to make this into two more manageable posts, with the same narrative story of a wedding day, but cut in half. This blog – Part One – shows the scene setting of beautiful locations, both sides of the morning preparations and up to the fun confetti bombs once the knot has been officially tied. Part Two takes us from the afternoon reception, through the mingles, portraits and groups, and into the meal, speeches & evening knees up and can be viewed here!
So here goes with part one… up until the confetti goes off!
A key part of my approach is to tell a story with images – almost like in a film – setting the scenes with establishing shots before drawing in on characters and relationships.
Weddings are so often set in grand buildings within beautiful locations, so I love to flex my landscape & architectural photography skills to give the story a sense of place. The location of a wedding venue is often of great significance to couples, and some return to their homeland when getting married (eg a couple living in London coming back to marry in the Yorkshire Dales) so I try to reflect this symbolic importance in the story.
Plus, in the morning, getting ready at home or parents houses, I also set the scene with exterior establishers and details, as one day, when looking back at wedding photos, a street scene or sign may unpack a whole set of place-based memories.
Some couples do things a bit differently at their weddings, and it’s always refreshing – like when Katie & Tom decided the tradition of not seeing each other on the wedding morning wasn’t as important as going for a bike ride to the pub with all their pals!
Now, for me the morning preparations so often lead to the most creatively rewarding, arty opportunities of the day…
Wedding photography draws on many disciplines, and shooting the details like dresses, shoes and flora, draw on still life / product photography.
It’s bizarre how placing a sexy pair of heels in one particular way makes them dance, but in 35 different positions they look flat!
It does help though when couples find funky takes on the traditional, like these broach / origami bouquets…
The main thing I like about the morning preps is that our characters are often (but not always!) relaxed, with emotion and relationships there on display for the photo taking!
We English traditionally don’t like to show (or at least be caught showing) emotion, but yet it’s human nature to warm to seeing it. A photo showing real love and affection – be it eye contact, a big screaming hug or fatherly tears on seeing his daughter on the wedding day – speaks a thousand words. So during the morning proceedings, I’m always on the look out for these fleeting moments.
I love this little shot of grandma and her great granddaughter above, having a nice chat in the morning of the wedding.
And you can almost hear this laugh…
I also love catching the moment when it all suddenly gets real!
Another key to my wedding photography style is having two shooters.
Fundamentally: two pairs of eyes = better coverage of all the day’s proceedings.
It means we can be in two places at once – at the front and back of a church without disturbing grumpy vicars; covering mingles while groups & portraits are being papped; eyes trained on both the top table and reactions during speeches – there are many times the ‘2nd shooter’ is indispensable – but the best thing about having two shooters is so we can document both sides of the morning preparations.
Sometimes I use other pro shooters and step in to help other pros (which is a creatively liberating day of fun, to be fair!), but this year I’ve mainly had one wingman, Hamish Irvine – a photography student at Leeds College of Art, and my very own, mini-me padawan apprentice on weekends! He’s been an absolute star, is a hilarious bundle of excitable energy and really strives to create images to make me proud. Not all of these are his, but these are some of the lovely frames my second shooters have delivered from the dude preps through 2015.
High 5s to all of you who’ve tag teamed for BAWP!
Cutting a dash can be done in so many ways, and the military always look snappy, but nothing says Yorkshire more than a gent in a tweed three-piece!
Another massive highlights this year was shooting Matt + Simons gay wedding up at Yorebridge House in the Dales.
I shot their preparations and it was so lovely seeing them hang out, help dress one another & give thoughtful gifts.
Back with the ladies, it all gets serious when it comes to dress time!
I try not to stage emotional moments, but it’s great to release loving parents into a room once their daughter is all dressed and ready to get married!
These often end up being some of my favourite moments of the day!
I love the frame of beautiful Hannah (below left) shows her nervous butterflies before it’s all about the get real!
Sometimes there are a few minutes before the ceremony to to do a cheeky teamshot with the girls, and I love to make these a bit of fun.
I like this one of Kathryn giving her dad an embroided hankie with a emotional message on it, before setting off for the church
Then this is a shot of them in their car on the way to Grasmere. To me it’s another contextual storyteller, showing the lake district and bridging the story between preps and the ceremony. Plus on a technical level, I also like how the car & background are crisp, yet there’s motion blur on the walls and road (1/100th of a second, photo nerds!)
And b r e a t h e …
Once a couple meet at the end of an aisle, the wedding whirlwind starts in full force, and I feel my job as a wedding photographer is to continue to capture the moments and details, while controlling things to keep the flow of the day. Extending the whirlwind metaphor a step further, a photographer’s experience shows in their being in the calm eye of the storm rather than being blown around by the chaos!
Again, a 2nd shooter is able to be outside the door to capture excited moments like this as I find my position at the front!
The walking down the aisle moment is often the most nerve wracking bit for a bride and groom, and I’ve often pondered on its’ resonance. One thing I’ve realised is that by the time people get married, they’ve often experienced many of lifes’ key emotional experiences (often bar having a child). Walking down an aisle to get married is something you (usually!) only do once and it’s a genuinely new and unique emotional feeling. We photographers usually have the best seat in the house to capture it, and it’s so often really electric with emotion.
Then its back down the aisle as man & wife, and the party can really begin! Which it certainly did at Will + Laura’s incredibly fun wedding.
Immediately on exiting a wedding ceremony you get another great set of emotional moments, especially when proud grannies meet their newlywed grandchildren!
Once everyone’s out from the ceremony & receiving line greets have completed, I love to set up a big monster ‘confetti bomb’ moment!
Again this is a great testament to the two shooter view, as while I’m usually on a chair getting an overhead shot like this…
Wingman Hamish is at ground level getting a boom frame like this!
So that’s part one of my 2015 wedding faves! Well done getting this far. I hope you enjoyed the photos and a bit of insight into why I shoot they way I do!
You can now check out Part Two by clicking here!
ps. If you’re interested in booking me to shoot your wedding, use the contact form at the top of this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll fire over a price guide.