Steve and Debbie Wedding, Dark Lens (31/3/14)

On Sunday the 31st March me and three other photographers, including Daz of Dark Lens, covered a wedding event. I wanted to help out to gain more experience doing wedding photography as I really enjoyed shooting the wedding previously. However, covering and photographing the event I found quite difficult this time as I felt there were too many photographers, all of us wanting to capture the poignant moments. Daz did give us individual jobs, which allowed some point of focus for each of us.

Daz had me photograph the Bride getting ready, having her make-up done and preparation for the big day. It was in a light, airy hotel room, meaning the use of manual settings was enough to light the subject. I didn’t use a separate flash, as I wanted to capture the bride in a candid way, which Daz was happy for me to do. I didn’t take images of the bride immediately. Instead we got talking about her and her then soon to be husband, how they met which wondered off into food, films and beauty products! Once we got acquainted I starting photographing the bride having her make up done, then documenting those in the room, including her Mum, sister, daughter and son. I wanted to document the peoples’ goings on but focused mainly on the bride. Once the bride was ready I headed into the reception area.

Daz had each of us stay within certain areas of the room. I was up high on the balcony and the others took up each side of the room, which meant total coverage of the marriage, Daz being at the front, in order to capture the bride and groom more intimately. I photographed the entire room, focusing on the guests and taking a few of the bride and groom entering the room and saying their vows. However, the images of the bride entering the reception area didn’t come out so well, as I was so far away, the zoom didn’t even suffice! Nonetheless I got some nice images of the guests and the event unraveling within the space as a whole.

After, the reception and marriage, we went into the bar, again a light airy space. We all circulated around the room taking images of the guests. I did not ask any of the guests to pose instead I just photographed moments I thought could be sweet candid representations of the day, an onlooker, looking in. Once the guests had a nice break we headed outside in front on the venue to take some nice family wedding portraits. It was an extremely sunny day, which was great as it meant I could use a very high shutter speed, meaning my images could be sharp and quicker at capturing things.

Daz had the bride and groom pose together to begin with then slowly introduced more family members. Upon reflection I feel we should have placed the bride, groom and guests in a more shaded area as, due to the sun in many of the images, the subjects are squinting. If I had been photographing the event I would have chosen a different area, an area more secluded and shaded. However, given the size of the family and the beauty of the venue I understood why Daz chose the setting he did.

When doing the wedding portraits outside, I learnt that outdoor poses don’t have to be regimented. Getting the whole family in a creative shot can be tough and so it was tempting to line them up. Realizing this we asked the family members to group together up and down the steps at the front of the venue, link arms and walk down the stairs together, as we stood back in order to get some great long shots of only a select group of family members.  However, in order to fit the whole family in one frame we did have to line them up eventually! Nonetheless, it showed me not to be afraid to direct and select whom to put together for a family photograph. We took the family wedding sets in two different locations around the venue in order to offer the bride and groom a range of images of them and their family.

Up next were the dinner and speeches. I took images of the bride and groom greeting the guests as they entered the dining area, facial expressions and sweet moments being the main focus. Inside the dining area, similarly to the wedding reception and vows, each photographer took up a different stance, covering a separate section of the room. I was placed up on the balcony again allowing me to photograph and focus on the guests quite nicely as the speeches were taking place. I took some shots of the groom and people giving speeches from behind as the guests faced them. I went in and out of focus, shifting between focusing on the groom and the guests.  This meant I got some great shots taken from the bride and grooms perspective.

After the speeches, there was an hour-long wait for the staff to prepare for the dance/party area. Me and the other photographers set up a small studio with a dressing up box to allow for the guests to have a funny picture taken of them during the night. However, no one actually used it! I thought it was a nice idea nonetheless and helps people get in the party mood but never mind. Once the room was ready, Daz asked for all us photographers to circulate around the room and take images of the guests and the night unraveling. We also took photographs of the cutting of the cake and first dance. During this time I used flash, as the room was incredibly dark so the use of a flashgun allowed me to control light sources more effectively.

Photographing this wedding taught me not to shy away from telling how to pose people. Whilst I always strive to capture candid, spontaneous moments with my photography, sometimes these sorts of images must be crafted in order for them to appear that way. Next time, I want to be more direct and tell the subjects how to pose if I see an opportunity for a great image. Whilst photographing the bride I should have asked her to smile more and experimented with more angles. I feel that creating mood boards or carrying wedding images that I find inspiring could also help in creating better wedding images. This is something I’ll prepare the next time I photograph a wedding.

This experience also showed me that having too many photographers could be a hindrance whilst shooting a wedding. I kept having to try and avoid the others, and didn’t feel I had to take as many images as there were so many of us photographing the same event.  As Daz feels I could photograph a wedding alone in coming months, I feel I would only need one other photographer to assist, one focusing on the bride and the other on the groom. Looking for locations around the venue also proved key as we found some romantic areas hidden away for Daz to photograph the bride and groom in.  Overall, after this experience I know now that I need to be more direct, communicate my ideas more and prepare visual ideas/stimulants before a wedding event. These will all help me in creating better wedding images whilst also improving my communication skills with subjects.

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