For me a big part of 2014 was photographing three weddings and each one presented different challenges. The last time I was the official photographer at a wedding was back in 2010 so as my photography has improved a lot since then it felt like a fresh challenge.
The main thing that helped me was to be as prepared and experienced with my equipment as possible, allowing me to adapt if plans changed. Little things like asking each couple to write up a list of group photos that they would like and having a print out of the itinerary for the day certainly helped.
In this blog post I have chosen five photos from each wedding that show a brief flow of each day and some of the challenges that came my way.
Scott & Amy
I was a bit nervous for the first wedding of the year which was for a friend of mine called Scott and Amy. It took place in June at the Liverpool Marriott Hotel in the city centre which conveniently is only a five minute walk down the road from where I currently live.
Alongside taking photos I shot video which was a challenge as I had very little experience in this. However, I was confident that if I followed a few tips and tricks I would do a good job.
I approached this by setting up a camera on a tripod as the main angle which would run for the whole duration of the ceremony, speeches and the first dance. With the other camera that I was taking photos with I would occasionally capture some extra footage so that I could get different angles to mix in with the main angle. This multi-tasking was tricky and I had to remind myself to switch to video as it was easy to become focussed on taking photos. I also recorded audio separately as microphones on cameras are considered to be poor so that was another aspect to take on board.
One of the other main challenges of the day were the formal photos. They were taken across the road from the hotel in St.George's Park which was a challenge for two main reasons.
Firstly it was a bright and sunny day which isn't desirable for formal photos as you will have harsh light and heavy shadows if people are positioned towards the sun. Additionally if the sun is in people's faces they are going to be squinting. So I positioned Scott and Amy so that the sun was as far around to their backs as possible and under the shade of a tree to defuse the light.
Secondly with it being a public space people were occasionally walking into the background of the photo and sometimes stopping out of curiosity. People were nice enough to move when asked though so it was not a big problem.
The day went smoothly and so quickly that it was over before we knew it. In the end I was pleased with the photos and the video. It took me longer than I expected to put it all together but I wanted to make sure I was happy with it all.
Andrew & Nicola
The second wedding of the year took place in the middle of August and was Andy and Nicola. I've known Andy for about 15 years as we went to school together and I have become friends with Nicola in the past few years.
For this wedding they asked if I could go to Nicola's Mum's house to get photos of the ladies getting prepared for the ceremony as she wanted to share them with Andy. It was different taking photos of people in the calm and quiet moments before the ceremony and the whirl of the rest of the day.
This wedding took place in a little church in Rhos-on-Sea in North Wales and the day before the wedding I attended the rehearsal which was very useful in giving me a better idea of how the ceremony would flow and where I needed to be standing and moving to.
I was very pleased with the way the big group shot turned out. We hadn't fully decided on where we were going to do it and figured we would give it a try outside the church. I was surprised we were able to get everyone in the shot in a tight space. To get some elevation I used a small mound of grass which you can see on the right side of the confetti-throwing photo (above). The clouds also helped me out in defusing the light so I didn't have to worry about harsh light.
It was quite an honour to photograph a long-time friend's wedding. They had changed their mind on their original photographer so I certainly needed to make sure I delivered the goods and I believe I did!
Marcus & Victoria
The third and final wedding of the year in October was for Marc (a good friend of mine from my University days) and Vicky.
Being asked to photograph their wedding was at shorter notice than the other weddings as they wanted to get married before their baby arrived into the world (which happened on January 17th - congratulations again guys if you're reading this!).
This time I was spending time with Marc and a few friends and family before we made our way over to Calderdale Registry Office in West Yorkshire.
I didn't get to attend any kind of rehearsal and once we arrived I didn't have much time to get my bearings so I was having to photograph quite instinctively.
I was quite pleased with how the large group shot turned out which was taken at the reception venue in Brighouse.
There weren't any great places to take a photo like this outside the venue so we decided on this spot but it was pretty dark so it required the use of a flash and light stand to light it.
I was asked to take a few impromptu shots like this one of Marc and his brother. I was happy with these as they combined a formal look of posing for the camera, but being asked to do them spare-of-the-moment gave them a relaxed feel. For these I had the flash mounted to the camera and bounced the light off the low ceiling, softening and defusing the light. I also positioned these shots so that there was a decent amount of distance between the people and the background, softening the background and creating separation.
In the above photo of Marc, Vicky and James (best man) I captured a nice little moment of affection and happiness. I enjoy the challenge of capturing candid moments as you need to keep your eyes peeled and react quickly. Sometimes you just miss out the best of a moment but when you time a photo well it is satisfying.
Photographing these weddings was definitely a challenge for me and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It's given me some great experience for the future whether it's photographing more weddings or even other types of events.
I'd like to thank the couples who asked me to photograph their special day as it's a nice feeling to know that people trust you to do a good job of capturing their day. I would like to think that they will look at the photos I took for them and enjoy looking at them in years to come.
In the next blog I will write about what I do with the photos after the day of the wedding (click here to read). Thanks for reading!
Click through the gallery below if you would like another quick look through the photos and subscribe below to receive updates on future blogs and updates.