Month: May 2015

Photographing a Wedding pt 1

Photographing a Wedding pt 1

Wedding event preparations

I’m writing this blog on a Wednesday for a wedding that isn’t until Sunday afternoon. I wanted to put together a few posts over the next week or so about how a photographer approaches a wedding commission and then continue on as we begin to organise the images and albums. 

As you are probably aware I live and work in Kenmare, County Kerry which is on the Wild Atlantic Way in the South West of Ireland.  This weekend’s wedding however is in Wigan, Lancashire (the UK).  I’ve been excited about it for the best part of a year, the couple have gone to extraordinary lengths to put on a celebration that everyone who attends will enjoy.  It’s a genuine privilege to be asked to be a part of couple’s day so there’s no such thing as being over prepared.

Having frequent online chats with the couple since we first met has allowed me to understand the kind of event they are planning. During that time I’ve sent many image ideas across to the Bride – and she’s done the same to me (I’ve just discovered Pinterest and I think I’ll be using it in the future).

What follows here are a few things that are currently running through my head, I’m travelling tomorrow, so you’ll understand why I’m already thinking about packing up my equipment.


Wedding venue preparations

The church is new to me, and whilst most churches are pretty similar I took the opportunity last summer to visit and have a good look around. I also had a chance to meet the vicar who had some great input as to where I might place myself.  Churches are typically quite dark places and whilst the temptation is to document everything, there are probably fewer images to be taken during the service than you’d imagine.

It’s considered bad form to interrupt any church ceremony with shutter clicks and flash guns, so I’ll simply be looking to capture 5 or 6 images during the service. Technical bit – > I’ll be doing this with a decent shutter speed and increasing the camera’s sensitvity to light (ISO) to make up for the low light.  I’ll be doing that with my camera on silent mode – which to be fair isn’t exactly silent, but it’s not far off.

The all important wedding images during the service

  • The bride entering with Dad;
  • the groom waiting at the altar;
  • the bride and groom smiling at each other. (If there is a ‘you may kiss the bride moment’ – then that’s a biggie also);
  • A wide angle image of the couple and the whole congregation
  • The couple and witnesses signing the register;
  • As they exit the service and walk down the aisle as man and wife.

At this stage anything more is overkill, and as it’s also the last part of the day where I’ll be sitting down; And as I’m not getting any younger,  I won’t want to be tiring myself out! 

Immediately after the service is when the photography fun really begins and it’s probably the busiest and most difficult part of the day. Everyone wants to congratulate the happy couple, but at the same time we’ll be looking to organise the family groups.  As you can see above the church is amazing and as there is a huge lawn right beside it, I imagine we’ll use that.

Formal wedding portraits

blog-101The specific brief for this wedding is to capture the fun and life at the celebration after the church service.   However as the groom’s grandparents also got married at the same church we will be incorporating the same posed wedding image into their day.  The archive image is of them standing in the archway of the door above and it’s a priority for the couple so we’ll definitely have the time to get it just right. Am really looking forward to this!    

The formal portraits shouldn’t last more than 10 minutes, but I’m keen to make the most of a glorious canopy of leaves in a space behind the church. Hopefully we won’t encounter any mud!

I’m a firm believer that every wedding should generate ONE image that transcends all the rest. Obviously everyone wants a beautiful collection of images, but in 20-30 years time the wedding day will be remembered by that one single image.  The pressure is on the photographer for that (regardless of any venue limitations or weather problems).  There’s no room for complacency,

My wedding photography equipment
Normally whenever I’m working overseas I have a well rehearsed approach to packing and carrying my equipment, but as I’m using the ferry and train from Dublin to the UK (instead of a plane) – I’m not as tightly bound with my carry-on luggage.  For the wedding itself, I’ll be working solo and using 2 cameras. I’ll be carrying 4 different lenses but in the main I’ll be relying on my 50mm and my 85mm.  I know a lot of photographers would be more comfortable with a 24-70 and a 70-200, but that’s them and I’m me.

Next up.
I’m travelling tomorrow (Thursday) and meeting the couple for a quick chat on Friday at the church and the venue. That’s when we’ll get a chance to  discuss the finer details. I’ll try and get some words typed up then – with some of my close up thoughts just before the day itself.

A trip to Agaie

A trip to Agaie

Agaie is a very small town half way from the Capital of Nigeria and the town of Bida.  I’ve been to Bida 2 or 3 times before – trust me when I tell you the road is the bumpiest road I’ve ever been on. The pot holes on the road are 12 ft wide.

woodcutter3-118The trip wasn’t a work one, but I knew that we’d find lots of opportunities for images. The town is known for it’s woodcutters who use traditional skills to create amazing pieces out of tree trunks.

If you follow me on twitter you may have already seen two or three images from the day, but I held back on the one below. I definitely knew what I wanted from the image.  I’ve been reading a bit this week about travel photographers and how they often struggle with reluctant passers by.  I have to say I’ve never had this problem. This young man practically begged me to take his picture.
Maybe it’s just Nigerian’s who love having their image taken?

Don McCullin (legendary photographer of global conflict) spoke about this topic recently at a UK seminar and he made the point that when he approaches someone he doesn’t know ; instead of asking whether “he might take their picture?” he asks “if he can capture their portrait?”
I’m not sure if this would work for everyone but I can see the sense in the slightly altered approach. 

I’ve a very busy 2-3 weeks ahead with some First Holy Communion portraiture, an exciting  UK wedding and then back across the water for a local school’s annual portraiture.

We’re also currently updating the website so please if you find any spelling mistakes send me a quick message!

I thought I’d leave you with this portrait from Agaie, the young man makes carved tables and then has them sent to Lagos for sale. So very intricate and I’d have bought one had it not been for the weight and the bumpy road home. : )

As ever if you think I may be able to help you with any photography please don’t hesitate to send me an email  via this contact form.

All the best : ) 


You can view a larger version of the image by clicking it.


Communion Portraits

There is something special about spring, having dusted down their portrait lenses it seems like every photographer I know is currently making a bee-line for fields full of blue-bells. It’s definitely a great time for outdoor children’s portraiture.

For me it’s a time of first communions portraits, which I enjoy.  Seeing the pride in the eyes of parents as their child begins a new chapter in their life is brilliant. Whilst a lot of my ‘regular’ children’s portraiture involves siblings or wider family groups; A first communion portrait is different. It’s a time for a single child creating a classic portrait.  It’s maybe the last time they’ll have a formal portrait of them taken as a young child.

Perfect outdoors portraiture in Kenmare, County Kerry.
Perfect outdoors communion portraiture in Kenmare, County Kerry.

With every child portrait sitting I’m looking to create something unique, a timeless piece of art that perhaps could be repeated by future generations. I love the idea that in a 100 years another photographer might want to re-create one of my images for some of my client’s descendants .

I know that celebrating a communion can be a costly affair for parents, but I would encourage anyone who wants to capture this special day to consider a professional portrait.   My portrait day appointments at Reenagross and Derreen Gardens are priced at €120, we have 45-60 minutes to create something stunning that you can treasure. It is a perfect chance to combine a family walk with a beautiful breath-taking image.

Pricing Details For your investment of €120 you will receive a 9 print mount pack of your preferred image;

When you view the images (usually 3 or 4 days after the appointment) you may want to think about purchasing a larger framed print that would be suitable for your wall. My wall hung finished frames begin €140 and are prepared by the finest framing company in Ireland.  I always stress that this is a no-obligation viewing and there is never any hard selling. 

Update: Reenagross Appointments on the 16th May are now full. Two appointments at Derreen Gardens are currently available. To enquire about a booking, please contact us here.

600 Faces – One Image

600 Faces – One Image

pano_1I’ve been all over the place in the last couple of weeks. You may know I make regular trips to Nigeria with work and when I’m visiting I tend to get a lot of varied kinds of assignments.  One day I could be working with rural farmers and the next I find myself standing in front of 600 school children;

I’ve taken this particular image annually for the last four years and have found that my nervous tension is as good as any calorie controlled diet.
When it’s printed it’s 48″ wide.  : )