John and Stephanie booked me as their photographer for their wedding at Newick Park Hotel in East Sussex last week. I went to check out the hotel before the wedding and thought it was one of the nicest venues I’ve seen this year. A lovely old manor house set in beautiful grounds, there’s a lake, a gazebo, gardens and views over the surrounding countryside. In summer this would be a wedding photographers dream, in winter it becomes a little more tricky.
I got to Newick Park an hour or so before the wedding ceremony. I wanted to get a few shots of the bride in the daylight before it disappeared completely. There’s a quality to natural light that’s hard to duplicate with flash, and this was going to be the only chance I got before darkness arrived. I was quite pleased with some of the photos of Stephanie in the bedroom window seat. I also managed to get plenty of details such as the shoes, dress and the bride’s hands, all useful when it comes to putting an album together.
The ceremony was at 2.00pm in the library. The registrar was happy for me to take some photos during the ceremony, I just had to stop for the vows so I didn’t disturb the moment. By the time it was over it was beginning to get dark, so everybody came out for a quick group shot at the front of the building before the reception. That was it as far as outside photos went, the light went, the rain started and we were inside for the rest of the day. I had brought some studio lights, so I set up in the library and we took some formal photos and family groups. This worked well, but shooting inside with lights is quite different to working outside on a summers day, it takes a lot longer to organise and you can lose a little spontaneity in the process. We were quite lucky at Newick Park, as there’s plenty of space to work in, but using lights in smaller venues can be difficult.
For the photos of the bride and groom on their own I used a smaller lighting set up, just a speedlight and umbrella on a stand. These aren’t quite as powerful or versatile as proper studio lights, but it means I can move around to different spots and vary poses quite quickly.
Winter weddings seem to be becoming more popular, I’m certainly getting a few bookings for this time of year when they used to be quite rare. I try to think of anything I can do to get better results in winter conditions and this is my list so far:
- Check the venue for suitable spots for photography. Make sure there is a large clear area available for groups. Arrange for furniture to be moved if necessary.
- Make use of any natural light that’s available. Try to take shots earlier in the day.
- If the room looks dull, think about dressing a section of it for the photos, drapes, flowers, chairs for posing etc can all help.
- Bring studio lights and set them up before the ceremony if possible.
- Use off camera flash, speedlights with umbrellas etc. If you are covering a whole day bring lots of batteries.
- If it’s dry, look for well lit buildings or streets that could make good backdrops
- Make sure curtains can be drawn if you have to work in front of windows, they will reflect lights. Look out for mirrors too.
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