Wedding Photography – The Importance of a Pre-Wedding Shoot and Venue Reccy

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After an initial meeting with new clients who have confirmed they would like me to be their wedding photographer we arrange to meet at their venues to take a look around together and have a short ‘Pre-Wedding Shoot’ of the couple.  For me personally as a wedding photographer, and for my clients too, this is an extremely helpful part of preparation in getting the most out of the photography on their special day.

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I get SO much out of this and really enjoy spending time with my clients getting to know them a bit more, and building a personal relationship with them, which helps them to feel more relaxed with me.  It’s very exciting to walk around the venues with the couple and get a chance to really listen to them and how they feel about their venues, any ideas they may have, and what’s most important to them then I can make sure I capture that really well on the actual day.

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I begin with research of the venue/s online – quite often a church or registry office and separate venue for the reception or sometimes all in one venue.  As well as location, directions and working out travel timings I like to know as much as possible about the venues.  I have a real interest in history of churches and old buildings (especially Norman and older!) which a lot of them are and so I enjoy finding out about that too.  Hotel and club websites usually have a ‘weddings’ section with pictures that can be a useful starting point for ideas of locations that work well.  Even just ‘images’ search results of venues gets my ideas flowing –  assessing common angles already photographed and how can I capture something different, something better?

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At Venues

On arrival at venue – I look for where is the sun in the sky, where will it be on their day at the time? (good to know your East and West!).  What will be growing at that time of year – how will the trees and flowers look?  If it’s raining – where are there sheltered areas we can do pictures?  Good to meet the Vicar or Priest at a Church if possible, so I can know where I will be able to take pictures from and whether they can be taken during the ceremony or not.  What will it be like as they walk out of the venue as a newly married couple?  Where are best places for me to be to capture that perfectly and where can we do formal group shots etc?  How can I make this work best with my lenses and my positioning?  I look for nice places and pre-visualise the couple in certain poses that could work well.

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Couple Shots

I’m careful when choosing locations for couple shots on the venue reccy to make sure I don’t duplicate shots too much – saving my favourite ones for the actual day.  Whilst photographing the couple I can get a feel for how they are in front of the lens – it’s good to see how they interact with each other; are they naturally touchy-feely, or will they need more guidance from me in how to stand and arms and hands placement etc?  They also get a feel for what it will be like having pictures taken on the day and having had me guide them through some practice poses they can begin to feel much more relaxed about it.

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The couple can also then possibly use some of these pictures as general portraits for home and family, or for wedding stationery, wedding day slide show or mounted pic for guests to sign during evening reception.

ImageUnderstanding People (Emotional Intelligence!)

I believe the difference between wedding photography and great wedding photography relies on a good emotional understanding of the individuals involved and knowing what is important to them for me to capture.   A couple’s wedding is all about their love for each other and the important guests they have invited to share their day.  Having a good relationship with them is important as you are sharing in that intimacy.   A wedding day can be quite fast and intense with emotions running high and as the photographer, you are there throughout it all, which requires patience and understanding.   I have a natural empathy for how people are and I am able to act accordingly and appropriately.

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Ellie

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Ellie is my Step-Daughter. We have a great relationship full of fun and love which begun when we met and she was just 6 years old.  I’ve been privileged to watch her grow into an amazing young woman.  She’s also a wonderful big sister and role model to my 2 young daughters – her younger sisters.

ImageI’ve photographed Ellie many times over the years now – she’s been a happy, willing subject for my portraiture practice and experimentation!  Obviously her ‘model-like’ looks help but her personality also really shines through too and that’s something really important to me in a portraiture session.

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we began with a smart kind of conservative look…

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…and worked our way to a more wild look with hair and makeup etc…

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Just gotta choose which one as final for website now… (and Ellie – if you’re reading this – love you and thanks for letting me take photos of you :))

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Glastonbury Tor

ImageSelf-Confessed Lifelong Glastonbury Tor Pilgrim

23 years ago a friend took me to Glastonbury Tor and we saw the New Year in on top of it.  I was instantly captivated – it became an ongoing obsession that inspires me endlessly to produce photography and works of art related to it.

I visit Glastonbury several times a year – sometimes staying for a few days or sometimes just an afternoon trip for a walk up the Tor on a summer’s day.

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Ok, I love the town itself too – it’s fascinating history and legends, events, colourful people and clothes but there’s something about The Tor that has the most prominent draw for me.

The Tor can be seen for miles around – a conical shaped hill with a church tower on top (the remains of St Michael’s Church) which is an unmistakeable site for those who have seen it.

The appearance of the hill is pleasing to the eye, changing shape and form when approached from different angles, both from a distance and close up.

‘First Glimpse’…             …and ‘Arrival’

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“There is such magic in the first glimpse of that strange hill that none who have the eye of vision can look upon it unmoved.   Each road around Glastonbury has its trysting place where the Tor first comes into view.

Whether from the train it be seen hung high in heaven, its foot among the orchards and red roofs; or whether, seen from the road, it lies far below, in the wide plain lined with willows and water cuts, never does the magic of the first glimpse fail.  What powers the ages have centred upon that strange hill who can say? The ancient Druids knew it; the earliest Christians knew it; and tradition tells us that ‘Avalon has never lacked a seer’.”

Dion Fortune – ‘Glastonbury – Avalon of the Heart’ HSC044s

I LOVE photographing the tor – it’s a life-time project for me to capture all possible perspectives of it in varying styles.

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I’m always inspired by the different shapes this hill can take on – from the surrounding roads and paths, to being on the slopes of the Tor… I never run out of new ideas for pictures!

One Subject – Many Medias…

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During my time at art college and studying photography I used the Tor as my main subject for learning and experimentation with all sorts of media and materials.   I found I could use it as a subject for dissertations too and it this was a lovely opportunity to learn more about Glastonbury Tor’s history and other people’s Tor art available in Glastonbury.

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As I walk up the winding paths normal thoughts peel away in layers, and my soul enters absolute clarity and peace.

For me it’s a place where I can reflect clearly upon the good in life, in an appreciative way, with a heart full of thanks and gratitude.

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 uncomplicated contemplation of life, truth, love, mind, soul and spirit

and just ‘being’ with our omnipresent Lord…

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Glastonbury Tor is a big part of who and what I am – it’s perpetually in my creativity, my learning and my life.

And I believe, like the spring waters that flow from within, it will continue to be an enduring source of inspiration for the rest of my existence.

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Baby Alfie Photoshoot

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I photographed Gemma & Dave’s wedding back in 2012 – they are a lovely couple and they just had their first baby, a beautiful little boy, Alfie, whom I am fortunate enough to have photographed a few weeks ago in my ‘Kitchen Studio’….

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My ‘Kitchen Studio’ set up is very simple really – I use white and black backgrounds, 2 continuous lights with large softboxes and reflectors. I usually place the two softboxes from front and sides for a nice soft portrait effect and I make good use of my Nikon Speedlight bouncing it off ceilings and walls – I enjoy trying out different angles and effects as I go along and seeing what works best.

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It’s very helpful if clients can send me some images they like the look of so I can get a full understanding of what they like prior to the shoot. Gemma had composed a very good plan with pictures detailing the type of shots they would like to end up with…

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I research, think about ideas and technicalities etc, and then peruse my posing apps over the days leading up to a portraiture shoot so I am fully prepared to get the most out of it. I write a ‘shots list’ so I can make sure we have those covered and then we can get creative and try out some spontaneous ideas of which, ‘Baby in a Basket’ was one…

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Alfie was not big enough to hold his head up on his own then so I looked for shot where it would work best and then removed Gemma & Dave’s arms!

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