I've been growing my business slowly over the past five years, up to a point where I now photograph around 40 weddings each year. This means I get to meet a lot of brides! This also means I get asked a LOT of questions by said brides - and grooms I guess, but let's face it they mostly leave organisation to the ladies...sorry to all you pro-active grooms out there!
One theme of questions I seem to get asked quite often is about where the bride and groom should be getting ready for their wedding. Will their home be "photogenic enough", or should they book into a fancy hotel to make the photographs "prettier"? Will they have enough space? The list goes on...
When I initially started working as a wedding photographer I was always secretly quite relieved when couples told me they were getting ready in a hotel or at the wedding venue itself. I used to think it would make my job easier, having more space and a "photogenic" room. However as I have built in experience and of course confidence I've realised that, honestly, it doesn't matter! It's all about finding ways to make each space work to my advantage. I have learned not to merely shoot what I see, but to look for opportunities, angles, little pockets of light etc, to create images that everyone else in the room at the time doesn't see.
I'd like to talk about a wedding I shot towards the end of July to demonstrate this. Michelle and Joe (here they are above with their daughter Eva in the grounds of The Granary Hotel) got married on the 22nd July - they had a beautiful Catholic ceremony at Our Lady & All Saints Church in Stourbridge followed by a reception at The Granary Hotel in Kidderminster. I remember Michelle mentioning to me a few times ahead of the wedding that she was concerned there wouldn't be enough space at her home for the photography, or that it would be too messy or the light wouldn't work. I assured her we would work round things and it would all be absolutely fine.
In the end, even I underestimated how lovely it would be for all of them getting ready at Michelle's home. Michelle grew up in Scotland and so her family all travelled from there for the wedding. I could see how much it meant to her in the morning to have her parents and her bridesmaids getting ready with her at home. The mood was so relaxed and their daughter Eva was of course completely relaxed spending most of the morning watching Peppa Pig on TV!
I'm not afraid of moving things around to get the most out of the light in a room, as well as using little props taken from around the house - this really injects the couple's personality into their detail images...I can never do this in a hotel! I'm also always looking for ways to bring depth into my images, whether this be shooting through objects, using mirrors for reflections, or getting up higher for a more unusual angle. This really came into play as Michelle was putting the final touches to her prep as you'll see from the last couple of images below.
So basically, what I'm trying to say with this blog is don't be pressured into booking a fancy hotel or spending money you don't need to spend because you think it will make your photographs "better". The best images are those that mean a lot to you personally, those that make you relive the moments, those that you often missed in the excitement of the morning. Sure, I love the creative sunset shots just as much as anybody and I love creating them, but to a point, the couple expects those because they remember making them. Keeping it real, unimposing, relaxed - that's when those moments appear. And where are you ever going to feel more relaxed, more "you", than in your own home?
July! Without a doubt my busiest month of this year. To kick it all off, Holly and Matt tied the knot in Birmingham on the 1st.
Now, living in Worcestershire, the majority of my weddings take place in country houses, manors and the like. Think rolling hills, fields, rural scenery...we have a lot of green in Worcestershire! And it's great! I love living here - I've always been a country girl and that will probably never change.
So, when a city wedding comes my way, it's easy to get a little bit apprehensive about how I'm going to shoot it; what's the scenery going to be like? Are there going to be cars and people everywhere? Well, yes of course there are - but this is what makes these city weddings so dynamic and amazing to shoot. Sure, I have to think about it a little more, weigh up the pros and cons of specific areas to shoot in, consider my backgrounds and distractions. One thing I've learned over the past few years is to embrace my locations and make them work with me, instead of trying to figure out how I can perhaps make them "prettier". Pretty is not always about green fields and mountain backgrounds...
Holly and Matt got married at the popular Fazeley Studios in Digbeth; a fascinating venue with an abundance of history and culture. It's also a stone's throw away from the Custard Factory in the centre of Birmingham, perhaps one of the most colourful areas of the city I know. After Holly's morning prep at the stunning Hotel La Tour, the day unfolded beautifully to include a bright and classy civil ceremony, reception drinks in a beautifully renovated 19th century Unitarian Chapel, portraits amongst the impressive street art and some pretty impressive moves on the guests' part on the dance floor. Holly and Matt also hired my photo booth for their evening reception which went down an absolute storm!
Here's just a little snippet of their day in pictures.
The Summer is in full swing and I've been blown away by the fabulous weddings I have been part of so far this year...the great thing about what I do is that every wedding is so different - new people, new places, fresh ideas, colours, themes. I never really know how a wedding day is going to pan out until I'm there, no matter how many hours of planning, meetings and discussions I have with the couples beforehand. It's one of the things I love about being a wedding photographer.
Holly and Jack's venue wasn't even built until a few days before their big day! When I went for a "venue visit" with them, I was faced with an empty field, a few men pacing out floor plans and the requirement to use a LOT of imagination. These are in some ways the most difficult kinds of weddings from my point of view - I can't pre-plan set ups for photographs or test my lighting and white balance in advance; I can't guess what the weather will be doing on the day and there aren't really any "rainy day options". On the other hand, they can also be the BEST as I literally have a blank canvas to work with.
Holly and Jack's Claverdon Church ceremony was just beautiful; the sun came out just in time for their Pimms reception in the church grounds afterwards and we got some lovely shots in the adjoining field before heading off to what was just the most amazing marquee reception! These guys definitely know how to party and the fireworks to wrap up the evening were the perfect finish.
Wonderful people, beautiful locations - a pleasure to be a part of :)
The end of May brought along a new venue for me in the shape of Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove. When I first met with Becky and Jon and the told me where they were getting married, I thought how great it would be to do something a little different - away from the usual (however stunning they all are) 'traditional' wedding venues. This place certainly didn't disappoint and I had a fantastic day with Becky, Jon and their families and friends.
How many weddings can you say you have been to where the reception entertainment consists of a ride-on miniature railway? Well...
Pretty awesome huh?! So apart from spending far too much time on the train (ha!) what else did we get up to?
Becky got ready at her parents' house along with her bridesmaids and flower girls and travelled to Avoncroft in a vintage VW Campervan, courtesy of Creme de la Creme Wedding Cars. Their day had a lovely vintage theme with afternoon tea, handmade decorations and a swing singer on the evening...although he was a little drowned out by all the Disney songs being sung to the Bride's Mum throughout the day!
All in all a fantastic wedding - one I won't forget in a hurry and some really lovely people to spend the day with! Here it is...
So it looks like summer has finally arrived properly! This weather proves to be a bit of a double edged sword for me...I LOVE being outside when it's hot - but when it's hot, I am usually up to my neck in wedding images to edit! Which is why I am sat at my computer at 10pm at night starting this blog and planning out my next two hours of editing - yep, you guessed it - I caved and spent the afternoon in the sunshine so it's now catch up time!
To be fair, looking back through my weddings of 2017 to date I can't really say this is work. All of my couples have been such fun to work with and I have had the privilege of attending some absolutely stunning venues so far. Which brings me nicely to the wedding of Aaron and Rebecca; their day was spent at the beautiful Pendrell Hall in Codsall Wood - one of my favourites!
Becky and her bridesmaids had one of the most chilled out preparations I have ever seen! After bagging the detail shots and a few girly moments, I headed downstairs to meet (a slightly nervous) Aaron and their guests. Being March they opted for an indoor ceremony which went beautifully, and then it was time to get stuck into the family and bridal party photographs. Who says 'formal' shots have to be boring?? I loved every minute of getting to know Aaron and Rebecca throughout the lead up to their wedding day and throughout the day itself - such a laid-back, fun-loving couple who I just know will have a lot of laughter in their marriage for a long time to come! Here's a few shots from their day...
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Recent PostsBridal Preparation: Making the Most of your Photographs Holly & Matt's Digbeth Wedding Holly & Jack's Claverdon Marquee Wedding Rebekah & Jon at Avoncroft Museum Aaron & Rebecca at Pendrell Hall The Pre-Wedding Shoot. Keeping it real & when things don't quite go to plan... Rachael & Hoang at Holy Trinity & Moxhull Hall Laura & Matthew at Moxhull Hall Autumn Love in 2016 Charlotte & Sue at Albright Hussey Manor