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Photographing in the golden hour

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The golden hour produces stunning early evening light for relaxed photos of you both. This light always remind me of long days off in the summer, bbqs, camping and outdoor adventures spent with friends in my youth. I always love using wheat fields and the countryside as I grew up in a beautiful rural area of Wiltshire.

Some photographer’s refer to the time before sunset as the golden hour, as it produces a wonderful side light from the sun which looks dramatically beautiful for most subjects. It produces long shadows and completely different visual effects depending on whether you shoot towards or away from the sunlight.

If you’re planning your wedding, you may want to consider when this hour will be and reserve 15 minutes or so to get a couple of photos of the two of you together. In winter this hour tends to be between 2-4pm and in summer it can be between 7-9pm. Check when sunset is on your wedding day and work an hour backwards from there. Your photographer should be able to advise you on this and how you can fit into your wedding day schedule.

It’s also nice to get away from it all for a moment after dinner, and have a moment together. By this time the formalities are usually over and you can relax a bit more, so take a moment to enjoy each other’s company now the nerves have settled and you’re beginning to enjoy a long and happy marriage!

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Shooting against the sun will create a flare in the lens and usually create a nice haze on the photo, picking out the edges of objects with a strong highlight.

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Shooting at this time can create very high key images, with everything looking light and giving everything a light glow.

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Shooting side onto the light also works well. The background glows in the light and the long shadows add some good contrast to the bright sunshine.

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Of course, it’s not always possible! You may get less than desirable weather or not have time. You can always do things a bit later inside the venue with some flash photography instead!

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Photography timings on the wedding day

When I meet clients for the first time and discuss the details of their wedding day I always advise that they give at least 90-120 minutes between the ceremony finishing and the wedding breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a suggestion and I don’t want to dictate and plan someone else’s wedding day but it’s important to allow yourself time to get everything done on the wedding day. The photography is usually straight after the ceremony and nerves can still be very high, so it’s good if the process is relaxing and not rushed!

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The Photography Schedule

I always ask my clients for a schedule of the wedding day beforehand and advise on how long I think everything will take, and there’s always some adjusting of what photos we do when and in what order. The gap between ceremony and reception is the busiest time for photographers, as all the important shots happen in this window of time and there’s not a chance to get them again! I’m talking usually about the following shots (I’ve put links in to info I’ve written about these shots before!):

The Confetti Shot: 10 minutes

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A large group photograph: 10-15 minutes

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Formal group photographs: 30-60 minutes

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Photographs of the Bride & Groom: 20-30 minutes

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Total time: 90-120 minutes

During this window of time, though some other things may happen too and you’ll need to consider and budget the time accordingly!

Travelling to the reception venue: 30-40 minutes (depending on distance)

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It totally depends on the distance, but allow a generous amount of time for everyone to get from A to B! If you get married at a church or other venue, before heading to a different location, you’ll need to bear in mind that guests will have to get there as well, so you can’t expect everyone to get there at the same time (people also get lost) so try and plan this time accordingly. You can always do some shots at the ceremony venue and more later at the reception venue. If you arrive at the reception venue first, then perhaps do shots of the two of you together whilst you wait for the rest of your guest to arrive.

Receiving lines: 20-30 minutes

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You may wish to greet your guests at the end of the ceremony or at the beginning of the wedding breakfast in a receiving line. Note that, depending on the amount of guests, saying hello to 60-100 people does not take just 5 minutes! I’ve seen some receiving lines take well over 30 minutes. Think about it, you may not have seen these people in over a year, so there may be lots you wish to catch up on and they’ll all want to congratulate you, tell you what a nice day it is, how wonderful you look etc… They’re a lovely thing to do and they look great on camera, but be warned, they take longer than you think!

Wedding Details: 10 minutes

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There will probably be a bridesmaid running around making everything perfect whilst you’re having your pictures taken. The caterers/venue staff will be busy finalising the wedding breakfast preparations, lighting candles, laying tables etc… Your photographer will also want to get in before anyone else and get those shots of the finished venue that you’ve spent a year planning the decorations for. This can take a good 10 minutes and the window for this is usually pretty narrow! It’s also nice for you both to be able to see the venue once it’s ready and check that everything is how you pictured it.

Guests mingling, wedding games and other activities : 15-20 minutes

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It’s always nice to have some time spare too! Enjoy the day, say hello to good friends and family, stand back and appreciate the canapés, the details, the games, have a drink and maybe spend a moment together just the two of you! I tend to photograph the other goings on at the wedding whilst you do these other activities, but it’s nice to have a some time to actually enjoy your wedding day with your guests without being rushed through the photography and other more formal activities such as confetti throwing and receiving lines!

Try and ensure you have enough time between the ceremony and reception but it always depends on when you get married and when you and your guests will probably be hungry! It also depends on the light as well (especially in winter weddings!) and what you’ve got planned in terms of photographs. You certainly don’t have to do all of the above and it’s very rare for people to do everything I’ve written about.

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Nobody gets it perfect, but give yourselves enough time to enjoy the day, time for photography to be relaxing and not too rushed but be aware that some guests may have travelled a long way and might be a tad hungry!

 

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Engagement shoots

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Have you considered having an engagement photo shoot? You don’t necessarily have to have one just after you’ve gotten engaged but it can be nice to do a photoshoot outside of the wedding day where you get shots of you both together in casual clothing.

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An opportunity to get some great photos of you both before the wedding. You can feel more relaxed in your casual clothing (or feel free to put on black tie and look dynamite), this shoot can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera and you can use photos for your wedding invites, wedding decorations or to have around the house. You can also get a framed print from the shoot to display at your wedding or at home and you can get guests to sign the aperture mount for your guest book! The session can be as chilled out or as creative as you like.

You can do the photos at your wedding venue or at a place that’s special to both of you? I’ve done photoshoots in the city or in the countryside on the south downs. We’ll take a few different shots and thing usually last around 1 hour.

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Some clients have used these as decorations for the wedding by framing them and placing them on the card/guest book table.

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You can also involve the family if you want and get a family photoshoot, just bring the parents/kids/siblings or even the grandparents. Contact me for a quote and further details.

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Top 20 photos of Brides & Grooms

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Hi All,

I’m actually updating all my portfolios with last years work, so I haven’t had a chance to do a decent blog in a while. So whilst I’ve been doing this, I thought I’d show you my top 20 photos from last year of Brides & Grooms. And as it’s valentines day very soon, there are loads of photos of people smooching!

Enjoy!

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Ashley & Charlene’s wedding at Earth Trust, Didcot, Oxfordshire

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What a delightfully unique wedding! The venue was a stone’s throw away from the iconic Didcot power station at Earth Trust in Oxfordshire. Charlene had handmade so many of the lovely decorations including the table plan, wedding signs, table names and even the cocktail stands!

The Humanist ceremony was in a dimly lit room, with fairy lights and lanterns everywhere along with a banner draped down the aisle with their vows printed on. Everything was very personalised, including the wedding rings and orders of service. There were also lots of garden games in the courtyard, including space hoppers, connect 4 and giant jenga. I loved the mix of cocktails they served for reception drinks and it was nice to see the incredibly rare Kites that flew overhead in the local area.

The light and weather were exceptional, we had gorgeous winter sunlight all day which was perfect for photographs. Have a look at the ones we took around sunset in the Oxfordshire landscape.

View the full wedding here or a selection of images below.

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The Wedding Dress Hanging Up

One of my favourite shots at the beginning of a wedding day is this one. Just a nice photo of the dress before it’s been put on. Here are a few of my best, and why I like them.

A couple of tips for Brides:

  • Make sure you have a nice hanger for the dress, usually the shop supplies you with one, but a nice wooden hanger will do.
  • Consider where you’re getting ready from a visual perspective. Staying in a nice hotel room the night before can be pricey, but think of it as an investment your photographs (as they will look nicer) and that the room will be large and tidy which will help you feel more relaxed and give everyone plenty of space to get ready.

There are some good tips for taking photographs of the dress here too!

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The wardrobes in hotels are always usually very ornate and pretty, and most hotel rooms will offer plenty of space to get a really great shot of the dress. The dark wood also helps the dress stand out nicely.

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In nice weather, I’ve actually taken the dress outside (with careful help from a bridesmaid) and hung the dress in a nice nearby tree if there’s one available. This always produces a beautiful result, particularly with nice full dresses like these as they blow in a light breeze.

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Hanging the dress against a window only really works with dresses that have lace patterns as part of the design. The light coming through the dress really helps to bring out the pattern work.

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My absolute favourite, taken in Perugia Italy. We were in a hotel right in the centre of the town, which is right on top of the hill (If you’re never been to Perugia, I throughly recommend it) and so you can see a stunning Italian vista in the background. This shot required a huge amount of flash power to balance the exposure of the curtains and dress against the strong Italian summer sunshine.

Lisa_&_Nicky_Wedding_Eversholt_Hall_Milton_Keynes_0002And I also love this shot of two bridal dresses together from a civil partnership I shot a couple of years ago. I like how the dresses are different and the hangers are different colours.

 

 

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Marc & Hannah’s wedding at Worthing Dome

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Marc & Hannah’s wedding was held above Worthing Dome Cinema, which is a beautiful Art Deco cinema on the seafront, perfect fro a chic, retro and vintage inspired wedding. They served fresh popcorn as wedding favours for guests before we all headed over to the pier for some photographs by the beach.

My favourite shots were actually taken inside the cinema with Marc & Hannah. We snuck in to the movies between screenings and had some fun with lighting, using the seats and the red curtain for the background.

A very musical wedding too, with the Spicer sisters singing during the ceremony, a guitar being used for the weddign guest book and all the tables were named after Beatle’s albums. The evening’s entertainment featured the Vintage DJ stylings of the Still-Moving DJs and was illuminated by vintage string lights and candelabras around the room.

View the full wedding here!