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.

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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.