The Wedding of Kristi & Taylor – The Big Day

This is a somewhat longer post that usual and it covers the actual wedding day of Kristi and Taylor. Given that it covers over 12 hours of shooting I make no apology for its length. You can read about the pre-shoot and rehearsal sessions in the previous two posts.

The actual ceremony was taking part at 3:00pm but as we were providing a full documentary coverage my shooting started at 9:00am with the bridal party starting at the hair dressers. We then moved back to Kristi’s parent’s house for the rest of day.

My daughter Samantha was shooting the grooms preparation so she didn’t start shooting until around 12:30 at the couples house. We were both carrying two cameras. I had the G9 as the main camera for the ceremony and used my older Nikon D600 to shoot the earlier events. For the shots at the house I fitted a 50mm f1.4 lens as this enabled me to shoot without needing flash. This just meant that I had to zoom using my feet.

Even something as simple as the makeup being applied is worth capturing.

With documentary photography you are there to capture the day as it unfolds. I do this by basically blending into the background as much as possible but always keep an eye out for things happening. You also need to have discussions with the bride as to whether there are items that are particular meaningful to them.

Kristi was wearing a pearl neckless from her grandmother so we ensured that we got her captured in some way.

While the majority of time shooting at the houses was simply to capture what was happening, we both had a list of images that we wanted to take. While they represented things that would have happened anyway they were arranged so that we could get the best possible image.

Taylor does not wear ties so there was quite a performance getting one tied right. In the end his brother Mark stepped in to help.
Putting the buttonholes on is another classic image. They proved quite tricky to attach. In this image Taylor pins one on his mother.

It is also important to capture details of the day. This cane include personalised items such as the named clothes hangers.

Samantha was given the task of shooting the rings and so she had my macro lens with her. The shallow depth of field that the macro lens has does make these tricky shots to capture.

The whole day seem to move quite smoothly and by 2 o’clock everyone was ready and the cars had arrived. This gave me the opportunity to get some photos outside with the family and wedding party and not have to rush about it.

While the morning has been cloudy by this stage the cloud had started to break up and so I was dealing with bright sun. This presented some challenges in how to pose the group. When it was not possible, to angle them away from the sun I used the technique of getting them to close their eyes and then open them on my countdown. This meant that they weren’t squinting.

I headed off to the church just before them and positioned myself at the front as I had practised the night before. Samantha positioned herself at the rear so she could shoot as they came in and then down the aisle. She managed to capture Taylors look when she first saw Kristi.

In many ways shooting the ceremony is to most stressful part of the day especially as it is filled with single moments that you simply can’t recreate if you miss them. The two most important are the exchange of rings and the first kiss. Fortunately I was really pleased that we managed to capture them both.

At the end of the ceremony we had allowed a 15 minute gap in our shooting to give Kristi and Taylor time to greet the guests. This also let us have time to set up for the group photos.

I had asked them to prepare a list and then to have a wrangler to get the groups together. We started with the largest first and then moved down. This meant that people did not have to hang around.

The couple wanted a photo of everyone at the ceremony so I had brought my wide angle lens and a small ladder so I could get an elevated view. We then moved through the groups. For these I shot at a lower level with the camera on a tripod. For each group I would take about a dozen photos as this gave me plenty of scope should I need to do a “head swap” later in post.

As it turned out this was only needed on one image.

With a clear list and good organisation we were able to get through all of the group photos within the 15 minutes that we had allocated for part of the shoot. That meant we were well on time. It was a real luxury that everything was running to time as I have shot weddings where the time allocated for the photos has ended up being squeezed by other events running late.

We then got into the cars and headed off to Harcourt Park to shoot the first series of the formal photos. By this time the sun had come out quite strongly and so I was dealing with dappled light on a number of occasions. This meant that I had to do a little bit fix-up’s in post on the images.

While we were now dealing with a much larger party, the time spent on the pre-shoot, enabled us to move on quickly between the locations at the park and nail all the photos exactly as we had done on the visit the week before.

We then moved up to the gardens at Ashton Norwood where the reception was being held. The staff provided a basket of food and some drinks on our arrival, and as we were running well to time, we let the party relax and eat. Personally I do not like taking photos of people eating as the facial expressions are generally not that flattering.

When we started shooting we actually did some images that we had not tried the week before. I mounted the camera on top on a light stand which Samatha held up at full height and the I controlled the camera via the app on my phone. This let us bring in the circular garden not possible at a lower angle.

As it turned out it did not get selected for the category but I have no regrets as it was a fun shoot.

We then moved around the gardens and shot at all of the locations agreed the week before. The sun was getting lower in the sky by this time so for a number of images I used it behind the party and them used my flash to provide some fill.

We were working to a timeline for the day that was very generous and amount of time allocated for the photos. We needed to get them finished by 6:20pm so the couple could have a 10 minute break before they were scheduled to make their official entrance into the reception, via a stairway, at 6:30pm.

As it turned out we were finished the photos are 5:55pm and so the order was changed around so that they would make the entrance early and then have time to mix and mingle with the guests before everyone sat down to eat.

I positioned myself at the bottom of the stairs and Samantha shot across the room from a distance. There was a point half way down where light was flooding in from a large window and Samantha managed to capture them as they came through the light. The couple absolutely loved this image.

The stairway gave us the advantage to get some higher angled shots , and I also packed my wide angle Olympus lens so that I could capture the whole reception area. Normally windows behind the bridal table are a nightmare to shoot with and I had anticipated needed to use flash to capture images of the speech. As it turned out the sun was coming in through the high windows on the opposite side of room lighting the table from the front. This gave me workable light until much later in the evening when I had to resort to flash.

Glen (Father of the Bride) speaks

We shot through the speeches and then into the first dance. For the speeches I would generally shoot the speaker, while Samantha shot the reactions of the bridal party. For the first couple of dances I continued to shoot stills while Samantha set her camera into video mode and recorded them.

Shooting video was not part of the arrangement but we like to add a little bit extra and it was well received.

The first dance

For the final shot of the evening I grabbed the couple and their unity candle and took a photo of them in the entrance way. This was only lit with the candles and a slow shutter speed. It replicated a shot that I had done at Kirsti’s sisters wedding that I knew she liked.

The last images from the evening. Lit only with the candle.

We got home around 10:30pm and my day was not over as I downloaded all of the cards into the computer and took a backup of them on a separate drive. That meant that I had three (and sometimes four) version of the same image before we started the edit.

I hope that you have enjoyed this series on the wedding. This was planned to be the final instalment in the posts. However in writing this post I realised that there will be a fourth post that quickly covers how I go out about culling and editing the images.

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