Getting into wedding mode!

I am not a wedding photographer but occasionally I am asked to undertake wedding shoot, which is definitely not for the faint hearted as you can’t shoot it again if you get it wrong!  As I am due to shoot a wedding in the next few days I have been looking over images of the last wedding I shot earlier in August.

Using CS6 and Lightroom I tried using black and white adjustment layers to hide and reveal colour.  Actually its a trick that I am not very keen on as it has been so over used by so many wedding photographers.  The image was taken with a Nikon D3 fitted with a 85mm f1.4 lens. 

DSC_8581

This image was taken with a Nikon D3 with an 85mm f1.4 lens.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission

Should amateur photographers do wedding photography?

Occasionally friends will ask me to take their wedding photographs.  My standard response on these occasions is to say that I am not a wedding photographer and they might want to investigate what a specialist wedding photographer has to offer as they will provide a more specialised service than I would be able to offer.
 
Having make this point clearly I am sometimes still asked.  The question is should I? Obviously wedding photographers will say that I shouldn’t!  However I take the view that if you explain carefully the approach you will take on the basis of what the couple want then you can safely proceed provided both the couple and the photographer have a clear understanding.
 
Every couple will have their own particular idea of what they want.  The couples I have undertaken wedding photography for seem to prefer a low key approach with emphasis on informality.  It is a pleasure to participate in these occasions on what is an important landmark day for the couple and I suspect that if you provided wedding photography as a business service you would lose this level of intimacy.  
 bradley-6834All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission
 

Back to lighting!

In this short blog I want to share a photograph taken at a wedding today.  I was not the photographer and therefore I wanted to stay in the background and remain unobtrusive, so I did not even use a flash.

The main light source came from a window which backlight the bride and groom, this also meant that it would be unsuitable to use AV or shutter priority, so manual settings were used and a negative exposure bias value to compensate for the backlighting.

The camera settings were 500 ISO, 1/50 shutter and f5.0 aperture on a 70mm lens.  The result produced was a rather dreamy high key image.  The loss of detail due to lack of front lighting contributes to the mood of the image.  I think it works!

Back lighting and its effects

The vision thing!

How do you take photography from the snap shooter level to something a little higher? I think all budding photographers ask this question. But there are some things that you can do to raise your game and it is not about buying more and more expensive kit! It’s about talking pictures that convey a mood and tell a story. When taking a photograph I try to ask myself if I am in the right place? Am I focused on the right thing? And is the photograph worth taking, why it is important and what is it saying? These questions are a good start, but it can be taken further.

I have been reading quite a lot of the Canadian photographer David du Chemin’s writings and viewing his photography and he talks quite a bit about having ‘vision’. What is he saying? Basically he is saying that how you see things, how you interpret them, what you are passionate about and believe in shapes your vision and as you progress in life your vision can change. In photography therefore vision is everything as it shapes the stories you want to tell through your photography. I recommend you google David du Chemin’s blog site.

It stands to reason that if you photograph what you like then your photographs should convey something of your vision and they stand a much better chance of inspiring your viewers.The starting point as you look through the frame to capture the scene is to ask what you are taking the photograph for and what you are trying to say? Also important is to exclude any distractions so that there is a clear focus point.

My final point in this blog is to quote the photographer Robert Capa; “… if your photographs aren’t good enough then your not close enough”. Getting in close provides a greater level of impact.

Over the past few years I have focused on the theme of Lambeg Drum playing and it’s unique association with Northern Ireland. I will let you decide if the story comes through!

Lambeg Drum manufacturer

Lambeg Drum manufacturer

Painting the drum shell

Getting ready for the competition

The March

Fife and Drum

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Seeking to enter wedding photography

When you have spent most of your time on various photographic projects ranging form photo shoots for editorial use and general documentary photography it is inevitable that at some point you will be asked by a friend to shoot their wedding.  This is a huge responsibility and my initial reaction was to suggest that a wedding photographer be hired, however I finally agreed.  The couple themselves wanted to keep things low key and to follow a documentary coverage style, so this suited by photographic style.

Carefull consideration and pre-planning is essential starting with a meeting with the couple to gain a clear understanding of what you can offer against what they expect to be delivered.  One wise decision was to arrange for a second photographer to join me, this turned out to be hugely beneficial as it enabled wider coverage on the day and it provided assurance of a level of contingency.

The shoot itself was not without its challenges, it being a November wedding with poor natural light and it rained heavily for most of the day ruling out a locational shoot.  The reception hotel was quite cramped making large group shots difficult.  So all in all it was an interesting challenge to ensure that all the must have shots were bagged.  Therefore knowing in advance what shots were regarded as essential was crucial but on the day the best laid plans can fall apart.  Crowd control was an issue, especially at the church.  We used four camera bodies, at different points two of them developed temporary faults, so I am glad we had contingency arrangements in place.  Two lenses, both fast f2.8 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms were used and these covered all requirements.  Two speedlites were employed and two brolly reflectors used in controlled shooting situations, the signing of the register and later at the reception location where we grabbed some time along with the newly married couple.

This wedding shoot was a positive experience and I would certainly recommend anyone engaged to shoot a wedding to give it considerable thought, to establish a clear understanding with the couple well in advance of the big day, to plan very carefully to allow for all contingencies and to have a plan on the day.  Also having a second photographer relieves the stress levels considerably.  It allows for each to concentrate on different aspects and it importantly builds in a level of contingency.  The following images are a sample from the shoot:

So what are the key learning points:

  • It was good that early meetings with the couple took place and that a clear understanding was reached;
  • An agreed shooting plan is also essential;
  • Checking equipment before hand and ensuring that you have ample batteries fully charged and sufficient media cards;
  • Two photographers on the job was a good move;
  • Reaching a clear understanding with the clergyman is sensible;
  • The use of off camera flash in controlled situations yielded good results; and
  • Crowd control will always be an issue, so good inter personal skills is important.

Its been a few months since my last blog, but I hope that if you ever think of shooting your first wedding that this blog will be of some value.