The wedding of Pamela and Pete took part over Easter weekend. Shooting their wedding was done as a favour for Olyvia (who had modeled for me at the Great Trentham Collaboration). Olyvia was Pamela’s youngest daughter and she had described as being an older bride.
The wedding and reception were to take part in a community hall in Paraparaumu. As is my practise I went to the venue the week before at roughly the same time, to ascertain what it looked like and what lighting conditions were. The venue was very plain and I knew that lighting would be an issue. Also there really was no attractive place for the photos. Forunately the beach was a stones throw away so that location was chosen.
The week before the wedding the remains of Cyclone Debbie hit the country with high winds and torrential rain. While overcast shies are great for wedding photos hurrican force winds and driving rain were not.
The night before the wedding that was exactly what persisted through out the night. Fortunately by morning the wind abated. We still packed the studio lights in case we had to shoot inside.
As it turned out that was not required and in fact we had the opposite issue of too much light outside. Inside the venue was a different matter. While the ceremony was taking place in a different place than I thought it might, there was no way to shoot in their without using flash. As a general rule I dont shoot flash at the ceremony.
As it turned out using flash caused an issue with the Auto ISO function on the camera and rather than helping it actually worked against images. Between the second shooter and myself we managed to get enough images to satisfy the bride and groom but not for our standards.
As is normal at weddings getting everyone togther for the groups shots at times resembled “herding cats” but we managed to get it done and then the formals at the beach went well.
The reception was the usual busy affair however by this time the sun was low enough that it was actually coming inside of the building so we didn’t have to solely use flash.
In 2009 the Camera Club I belong to ran a regional conference where the main speaker and workshop sessions were on “trash the dress” which was an American concept of shooting a bride where you didn’t worry about the dress. In preparing for this the club bought a large number of dresses on Trade Me, and since that event they had sat in bags at a former club member’s house.
In late November she contacted current members and asked that we collect them or else they were going to the tip. As no one else wanted them I offered to give them a home. It made quite a sight having 13 dresses airing in the line.
Brittany (styled by Zaria and makeup by Matty)
I contacted Donna from Voda Model Management to see if we could arrange to use them in a shoot and she suggested that we could do something with them. Furthermore she said that Zaria Portion (Ghost Train Design) could use the material and stylise a shoot.
This was all arranged to happen in the week after Christmas, and in the end it turned out to be a large scale event with three photographers, two makeup artists, one stylist and four models.
Because of peoples availability the models were made up one after another so all photographers shot the same model at the same time. It was quite interesting to see how different people would use the same model and location but come up with different concepts.
The shoot had originally been planned to take part at Kaitoke Regional park which is just north of Upper Hutt. It gave us a great variety of locations including some small streams that would enable to dresses to out in water while ensuring that the model was safe.
Unfortunately for us this park is very popular and the weather between Christmas and New Year was stunning resulting in the park being very crowded. After both Donna and I visited the park on the two days before the shoot it became obvious that it would be practically impossible to actually shoot there. So at the last minute the shoot was changed to Percy’s Reserve in Lower Hutt.
This location still gave us a number of different environments, however it lacked the running water that I was looking for. Brittany did agree to go into a small stream at the back of the duck pond. We have a number of great photos of her expression as she waded through the mud to get to the position we wanted.
For the final image I wanted something quite different and so the whole crew moved down to the Hutt River, so that Jess could get into it. By the time we got to this shot it was around 6:00pm but the sun was still very bright in the sky.
I had fun on the day, but every time I shoot outside it makes me appreciate how much easier it is to shoot in the studio.
One of the best things you can hear when you deliver images to a client (especially a wedding couple) is when the bride says that she loves all of the photo and that they were exactly what they wanted.
That was Chloe’s reaction when we delivered their wedding photos last week. The wedding happened on January 24 but with their honeymoon and then the death of grandmother the actual delivery of the images was a week later than originally planned.
As we were recording the whole day, the shoot involved my wife (Vicky) and daughter (Samantha). Samantha was officially second shooter but as she hasn’t got her licence yet needed her mum to run her between locations.
Final preparation was done the night before with chips formatted, all batteries fully charged and the clocks in each camera synched as this would make it easier to work through the shots later especially in the church.
For the day I stayed with the groom and Samantha stayed with the bride. It is quite amusing when you look through the images and see how long each side takes to get ready.
We knew from the rehearsal that the church was very small and shooting angles would be tight. Having three shooters did leave us with an advantage that I could cover the front, Samantha shot from the back, and Vicky stayed outside. That way we had all of the areas covered.
The ceremony went without a hitch and we managed to capture all of the important elements (first look, kiss, rings etc.), exactly as they happened, rather than resorting to faking the shot later.
As a guest you would not have said that the weather could not have been better as it was clear blue sky without a single cloud and warm. As a photographer I was wishing for the cloud because I knew that the moment we moved outside we were going to face issues with the light.
The family group shots had been planned to occur on a small grassed area outside of the church and we had positioned a car there to ensure that it didn’t end up being used for parking. While it normally would have been a perfect location, the light was creating such strong panda eyes and squinting that we moved everyone to the shade of a hedge.
The location of the formals offered no such shade and so I had work with using the sun at the couples back (with fill flash) or shading them in some way using a diffusion panel. During the practise shoot my wife had been very concerned about the safety of everyone shooting so close to a main road and certainly on the day in question the cars were all travelling at 60kph. As it turned out on once you put a girl in a white wedding dress and surround her with bridesmaids the cars all slow down for a closer look, and in fact at one point the traffic stopped completely to let me get the shots. Chloe was having a great time acknowledging the toots she was getting as the cars and trucks went by.
The formals ran perfectly to time and we delivered the couple to the reception at exactly the agreed time which really surprised the management there as they were used to photographers running late.
Vicky had gone straight from the church to the reception and had photographed the venue before the guests had a chance to play with it. With the reception we tried to shoot the main elements. During the speeches I concentrated on the speaker while Samantha photographed reactions.
Once all the formalities were over we gathered on the dance floor for the first dance which started out traditional and morphed into something completely different.
We ended the day around 10.00pm and headed home. Once I cleared the cards to the computer there was 1915 photos to worth through. They were taken into Lightroom and before anything else was done to them a backup was taken on a removable drive.
The next morning I did a very quick selection and chose 16 images that provided a snapshot of the day. These were given a quick edit and sent to the couple so that they could post on Facebook.
It was a really long day, but very enjoyable. With the planning that had been done everything went pretty much t
I am always amazed when I hear about wedding photographers who simply show up on the day and are very inflexible in the timeframe that they will cover.
Now I will admit that we do not photograph that many weddings a year and we certainly don’t shoot the ones we do solely for the money. As such I am willing to give as much effort in order to ensure the couple get the best service on the day. And for a wedding that starts with attending the rehearsal.
For the wedding of Hayden & Chloe the rehearsal happened on February 22 and as with most rehearsals I have attended it was a fun and happy event. Unlike the nerves that will kick in on the big day the rehearsal is often very relaxed. For me these are the main reasons why it is important to attend the rehearsal:
It give you an opportunity to meet and discuss your requirements with the person performing the service, and to get agreement on such things as the use of flash, where you can and can’t go. Better to find this out two days before the event than 20 minutes before.
If they are present it also lets you talk with the videographer so that you can determine the best angles for both of you.
It gives you a real opportunity to view the venue and work out the best angles for shooting that will both give you the images you want but at the same time not block key people from seeing the events. It also lets you work out where you and your second shooter will stand.
It give you the opportunity to see what the plan of the service will be so that you can ensure adequate coverage.
It lets you play with settings in the camera when if you fail to get a clear shot it really does not matter.
From this rehearsal I realised that it was going to be very tight at the alter and realistically the best angles for many of the activities would be from the rear which meant that my second shooter would take care of those. The Minister made no unreasonable demands, and video guys were very co-operative. We did have an issue with one camera not giving us the best results so that ended up being used outside the church only.
Next weekend we are shooting the wedding of Chloe & Hayden which is being held in a small church in Pauatahanui and in planning for it I met with the bride & groom and carried out a small pre-shoot with them starting at the church and then moving onto some of the locations that i have planned to use for the formals.
Now some photographers refer to this as an engagement shoot but personally I clearly state that it is a pre-shoot, because I believe that they are fundamentally different.
To me an engagement shoot happens as soon as the contract to do the wedding has been signed which may many months before the wedding. The purpose is solely to allow the photographer and couple to get comfortable with each other. as such the location is irrelevant.
A pre-shoot has a similar goal to enable a rapport to be established between the couple and the photographer plus to plan for the actual shots on the day. When I book a pre-shoot I try to arrange it for a location close to the where we will be shooting on the day and if possible shoot at the same time. That lets me determine where the light is coming from and what issues I am likely to run into.
It is also a good opportunity to try out poses with the couple, and to see whether they like the locations your are thinking about. It is also a great opportunity to sort out transport issues on the day, rather than when you have a large wedding party in tow.
The shots below are a selection from the pre-shoot and in captions I have outlined what the situation I was looking for.