It’s pre-wed season at the moment and I’m meeting all the cool upcoming couples in advance of their big days for a catch up & a photoshoot!

Most recently I met Lisa & Steve in Harrogate

They’re getting married and hosting their reception at the grand Old Swan Hotel.

I’ve photographed a good few weddings there before and love the Victorian Splendour of the big Harrogate hotels.

(Though I’ve always been a little concerned that the giant old swan, high upon it’s perch outside the hotel, is chained up to a choker round it’s neck!  I don’t think it’s for security, it appears to be part of the design.  Poor old swan!

Anyhoos!  After a natter about the big day scheduling and logistics, Lisa, Steve & I took a little turn around the hotel.

The sunlight was absolutely perfect. You can’t ask for better light than this, gently back-lighting the hair and outlines of our soon-to-be-weds!

The front entrance (with its fun revolving door!) makes for a nice frame to start at, so we started our shoot there!

I’ve got a thing for funky shoes!

A few details I snapped of around the hotel.

At past weddings I’ve photographed there, there used to be a dilapidated Old Swan Garage round the back (which has since been knocked down to allow more parking), and I loved the peeling paint and vintage signage.  You can see a bit of it on a blog here of a very vintage winter wedding I snapped there back in January 2010.

I like this one of Lisa & Steve casting long low shadows as they we explored the grounds

You can literally see the rays!

I even let a bit of flare join the party.

For the shutterbugs out there (yeah you photo geeks!): On all my lenses I screw on protective UV filters (£15 on eBay for multi-coated, slim ones, which I use instead of lens caps), and not only do they protect your exposed element (oh err!) at all times, but also creates a flat surface on which you can play games with lens flare!

I also don’t use the lens hoods that come with lenses, for 3 reasons:

1. I think they intimidate the subject by making lenses look bigger and more ‘zoomy’ & in their face

2. They’re an extra element to turn round and attach from packed-away-mode to action-stations

3. Without them I rarely have any trouble with flare, but when the sun is positioned behind your subject you can play with it creatively.

Top tips right there kids – sell your hoods and use your winnings to buy UV filters!

Forgive me, I’m geeking again!

Where were we!

Oh aye!  Lisa & Steve, ‘swanning’ their modelly flex around the grand ol’ Swan!

And some less grand ol’ areas!

I always seem to find the knackered old bits round the back attractive!

Not only are these shoots super useful for upcoming couples to get used to how I shoot and experience a photoshoot before their wedding day, but I also find them useful as an opportunity to explore and scout some potential locations for the big day!

I rather liked the frame of this doorway into what must have once been a walled garden.

This crispy brown hedge caught my eye and I thought it’d make a great background colour to bring out their outfits.

Without them moving, I thought I’d snap it on 2 different lenses for comparison.

The one above was on the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS

…and this one was shot on the 35mm f1.4 prime, wide open at f1.4.

Which do you prefer?

The background blur is quite different.

I love this final shot of a little back-lit smooch in the bushes.

It was great to see how chilled out Lisa & Steve are together.  It’s always a joy photographing a couple who are really comfortable and in love.

Bring on their big day in May!  Watch this space for a blog of their highlights a few days after their actual wedding.

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