I left Suzanne and Paul waiting in the rain because I’d got mixed up with the day I was supposed to be meeting them – not the best first impression.
However, the more we talked the more excited I got about photographing their wedding, which is going to take place in Beaumaris, Anglesey, and thankfully they were still keen to book me.
They want to have a documentary approach to their wedding, which is something that very much appeals to me too.
The idea of documentary/photo-journalistic photography is that the photographer does not pose his subjects – in this case the couple – but rather anticipates and captures moments as they happen.
When done well the resulting photographs have an immediate and ‘real’ quality. When done badly you potentially end up with a series of badly composed ‘snapshots’.
It is pretty difficult to do well.
For a posed shot I could find a background, key in my desired aperture, shutter speed, and iso, even compose the shot, then ask my couple to pose for me until I get a photograph I’m happy with.
For a documentary style photograph all this has to be done in an instant, otherwise the moment will have been and gone.
Taking this into account, I have the following strategy:
> I still take a lot of posed shots, just to be safe
>For Suzanne and Paul’s wedding I will have an assistant, to cover more angles and get more photos
>I spend a lot of time at the location beforehand, so I know what the light’s like, where there are good backgrounds are, and what settings I’m likely to need in my camera.
Some photographers will take a purely documentary approach, with no posed shots at all, but I prefer to mix the two approaches.
I started off my photo scouting at Plas Coch House, next to St Mary’s church, where Suzanne is getting ready.
The living room has large bay windows, and even when the rain is lashing down there’s still plenty of natural light. No need for flash, easy enough to work around people as they come in and out.
Regardless of the weather, the directional window light will be good for portraits.
There are two flights of stairs at Plas Coch, so of course I spent ages messing around, looking for angles and what have you. For this shot I thought I could get my assistant to fire a wireless flash through the banisters to create some interesting shadows on the bride (I couldn’t quite get the angle right doing it by myself).
There’s also a great shot to be had looking straight down from the top of the stairs of people at different levels. Might have to pose this a bit though.
The hallway leading to the front door makes a good lead in line for a silhouette of the bride standing in the doorway… wow, I just spelled silhouette correctly on the first attempt!
The floor’s also a little bit reflective, which should give the image a bit more depth.
The other room I noticed in the house was the bathroom, which is larger than average, large enough to take photos in. I’d quite like to get a shot of the bride in her dress sitting next to the bath, or something equally quirky and different. We’ll see.
St Mary’s church in Beaumaris is a beautiful place, although the light switches are well hidden. It’s larger than I expected and has stone arches which trisect it, much like Bangor Cathedral but on a smaller scale.
It was very dark when I visited, but the overhead lights are powerful (I only found the switch for the ones at the front) and give out a nice white light (as opposed the green you get from fluorescent lights (can’t spell fluorescent tho…).
I will stand at the front of the church, to be in position for the bride walking down the aisle, the service, exchanging of the rings, the kiss, etc
In addition, the arches make good pointing lines towards the couple and the stonework makes a good background with a bit of editing in photoshop.
The couple get their blessing near the stain glassed window and the red carpet makes a great lead in line for a shot of them kneeling. The archway also frames it nicely for when they walk back.
I noticed there are stairs at the back of the church, where the organ is, where my assistant could potentially get some stunning shots from an elevated level… need to check on that one.
It’s a five minute walk from the church to the David Hughes centre, where the reception is taking place. I would have taken more shots along route, but it was raining very heavily so I need to go for a revisit.
Hopefully the weather will be better on the day. If so, the couple will be having ice creams in the grounds of the church which I anticipate will be great for some spontaneous moments and there’s plenty of space to work around the guests.
En route to the David Hughes Centre I noticed a kitchenware shop that had graffiti style painting on its front which might make a cool background.
For the group shot of everybody I can lean out of a first floor window. For smaller groups there’s plenty of lawn space.
There was an art exhibition at the David Hughes centre when I visited. The lights are neutral coloured and there’s a fair amount of natural light. The walls are white. So no problems here.
Beaumaris is a seaside resort and has a castle, so it would be good to get an element of this in the photographs. However, the fist time I tried scouting for photos it was very windy and the second time it was very wet, so I’ll have to play this by ear.
Either way, I can’t wait – it’s going to be a good one!