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The final photograph of the evening

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I like to finish each wedding with a final photo, a way to sign off and complete the story of the day. Sometimes this is just a simple shot of a sunset or the venue lit up at night but other times it’s a chance for me to flex some creative muscle and shoot a less traditional wedding photo of the Bride & Groom. I usually get a bit more time to plan the shot than my regular work and so I like to experiment with off-camera flash where I can and set up a shot a bit more carefully.

Here are a few of my favourites and how they were created.

Above: One flash used in a white umbrella as a soft light to the left of the couple – ISO 1600 1/80 f2.8

Below: Two flashes, at 45 degrees to the left and right. One flash has a 1/2 CTO gel on to warm it up a bit. – ISO 2000 1/160 f5.6

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Above: Going out with a bang! One flash set off manually toward the end of the exposure to the right of the couple. ISO 400 13 seconds f18

Below: A silhouete created by using just the ambient light along this cloister garden at Lancing College. ISO 1600 1/25 f2.8

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Above: The Barbican Centre has a wondefully lit garden in their wedding venue. This is just lit with all their wonderful lights! ISO 2500 1/8 f2.8

Below: One flash to the top left to illuminate the couple in front of Eastbourne Grand Hotel – ISO 2500 1/80 f2.8

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Above: The final curtain! This is taken inside Worthing Dome Cinema between screenings. There are two flashes, one either side. – ISO 2000 1/60 f3.5

Below: I had tried some flash behind the couple to illuminate them, but actually preferred this no flash shot, lit with the overhead lights. – ISO 2500 1/50 f2.8

 

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Preview – Craig & Karen Wedding, Brighton Mercure Hotel

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A sneak peek of Craig & Karen’s wedding at St Nicholas’ Church in Shoreham from Saturday. We had a few photos at the church before riding in a 60’s green Jaguar to the Brighton Seafront for some photos on the prom by the beach huts.

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Betting on the wedding speeches

Neil and Roisin_Wedding_Bartholomew Barn_Horsham_West_Sussex_0921This game seems to get increasingly popular at weddings I’m shooting these days. It involves simply having a raffle, quids-in, whip-round for guessing how long the speeches will be and the person with the closest guess wins the money in the pot. The above version goes slightly beyond this by allowing people to bet how long each speech was (so I’m guessing the pot was split but I really wasn’t paying attention; I was busy working!)

It’s quite fun and as everyone is more invested in the speeches (so it might help if you’re worried no-one is going to be paying attention to the speeches) it makes the whole wedding that bit more exciting. Though be prepared for some heckling as people realise they’ve betted too long or short!

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Some organise this officially but many weddings I’ve seen it tends to just be a spur of the moment thing, usually organised by a guest, usher or maybe the best man. It is very simple, get a guest to pass around an empty glass, asking everyone to put in a £1 coin if they’re playing and write their name and guessed time down on a piece of paper. I’ve also seen a version of guess the first dance song, which I thought was quite original and even seen quizzes happen at some weddings!

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What do you do with the winnnings? I think most people who win probably spend it all on drinks for friends and family anyway!  I have seens one man who, after winning the pot, went straight up to the bride and groom and gave them the whole thing. It may not look like much in a glass, but £50 would probably buy all your drinks for that evening (and then some!) I thought it was a wonderful gesture!

So how do you get the timing right? It will depend on the wedding but here are a few insider tips:

  • Know your speakers, if they don’t like speaking in public they won’t do it for long!
  • Best man is usually the longest, especially if they’re quite carismatic and funny people.
  • The Groom’s tends to be shortest as it’s (usually) the most emotional and mainly involes saying thank you to a lot of people. Some grooms will tell anecdotes and should always say heartfelt things about their brides too!
  • Watch out for surprise, impromptu speeches or speeches from Mothers, Bridesmaids or even the bride. It’s rare but it does happen. If you’re betting, don’t get bamboozled!
  • I find on average most speeches total time is between 20-50 minutes, so I would bet around 35 minutes!

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Shane & Rachael’s Christmas themed wedding at Cripps Barn, Bibury, Gloucestershire

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Shane & Rachael’s wedding was on 23rd December last year, just two days before Christmas! They got married at Cripps Barn, just outside the pictureseque village of Bibury in Gloucestershire and hosted a wonderfully rustic and wintry reception.

Rachael had decorated the venue with loads of autumnal fodder, pine cones, twigs and tree bark all featured in the wreaths and decor of the barn. They’d also hung mistletoe over the dancefloor and Rachael’s bridal bouquet featured lots of pale greens and evergreen sprigs to compliment the flowers.

The ceremony was held within the barn itself, a rustic and ancient building of limestone and decorated with fairylights and a roaring fireplace. They also had a sing song in the middle, singing ‘You’re my Best Friend’ by Queen with all their guests. Amazing!

The dining hall also featured more of the Christmas goodies with miniature christmas trees and more pine cones on the tables & small trees decorated with fairy lights and powdered fake snow. The cake was wrapped in woven threads which had also been used to make ‘Mr & Mrs’ bunting to hang over the fireplace. There was an awesome serving of roast beef to be carved by guests at the table, reminiscent of the christmas feast to be had only two days later, with a plentiful serving of mince pies in the evening buffet too!

The evening was illuminated with fairy (and disco) lights as guests danced to Festival Sons play some ‘Mumford & Sons’ style tunes and we had sparklers outside to finish the days festivities.

Check out the full wedding here or scroll down to see my favourites!

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Lewis & Rosie’s Farleigh Winter Wedding

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Lewis & Rosie had their wedding at Farleigh Golf Club in November. The weather was surprisingly quite good, despite the rains that we’d had earlier that week. Unfortunately the course was a little waterlogged for playing golf (or taking photos on the course) but we did get a few nice shots in a golf buggy!

Rosie has to be the most organised Bride I’ve ever met! The day was well planned, with even a bridesmaid itinerary for hair and make up. Loads of details had been put into the day, including personalised hangers for the flower girls, personalised confetti on the tables and even a personalised apron for Rosie (who even baked her own wedding cake!) I also had the pleasure of working alongside Andy from Andy Bird Wedding Videos.

They used Ivory & Navy colours which I wanted to also use when photographing the evening (but I don’t have a navy colour gel so had to settle just for blue!) whilst they had a solo singer for their first dance. Don’t forget to check out the Photo-Booth gallery too!

To view the full wedding, click here.

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Preview – Christopher & Victoria Wedding at Russets Country House, Surrey

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A few preview shots from the wedding last weekend. The pond at the bottom of the garden is very pretty, and there were plenty of ducks to keep us company! I was particularly happy with the shot we did using flash as the illuminated stairs are such a great feature at this venue. Had to stand on a chair to get the right angle and height though!

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A walk in Stanmer Park in Brighton, Sussex

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I decided to give my creative muscles a good stretch yesterday and just went for a walk in a local place I’m very fond of, Stanmer Park. I’ve spent summer afternoons there playing rounders and picnicking with friends and I also go on small field trips with a small photography class I run. I went for a walk up through the woodland on a spring afternoon, continuing on to meet the farmland at the back and running into a few horses which were beautifully backlit by the late afternoon sun.

Stanmer House is a venue I’ve not yet had the pleasure of shooting a wedding at yet, and I’ve little idea what weddings are like there, but I’d be very keen to after shooting these photos! What I really enjoyed about doing this was that I felt free to explore photographing the park as I wanted to without any commercial pressure or client to please. I had a blast just playing around with composition, changing lenses every now and again and just chasing the light through the forest as the sun got lower and lower. I usually take a tripod with me for this but in the spirit of leisure, I left it behind (Though I did take a flash gun to do a couple of experiments for tomorrow’s wedding…).

It’s such a shame but I never really get time to do this sort of photographing as a professional. It really was quite liberating to just go for a walk in the woods, having so much time to photograph and change to aperture settings I usually don’t dare use when shooting weddings. Photography is a really great hobby to have, and I can see why so many amatuers are drawn to it year after year. Hopefully you’ll see more blogs like this from now on, but I’m not promising anything!