Wedding photography, Beaumaris, Suzanne & Paul

Here are some photos from Suzanne and Paul’s wedding in Beaumaris:

Anglesey wedding photographer, Beaumaris, Suzanne & Paul

It was a great wedding and a bit of rain just added to the drama of walking down Beaumaris pier.

My photographer friend Liam Kurmos helped me deliver the photo-documentary approach that Suzanne and Paul asked and we were really pleased with the results.

I received this lovely email from Suzanne after the wedding:

“Thanks very much for the photos we received today, great work and some cracking photos in there, thank you. You’ve certainly caught some split second moments that capture the day really well. I particularly like the pier shots too capturing the fun of the journey there and back in the wind and rain as well as the stunning photo at the end of pier, nice.”

One of my favourite photographs from the day was of one of the flower girls:

Anglesey Wedding Photographer, Beaumaris

I used off camera flash shot through the banisters to create the lighting effect, something which I’d planned in my pre-wedding photography scouting trip – see a few posts down.

Planned shot from before wedding

Wedding photo scouting at St Mary’s Church & David Hughes centre, Beaumaris, Anglesey

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!

Wedding film at Portmerion, North Wales, photography at Clandon Park, Guildford, and a little piglet

Well, July was a bit of a crazy month – by far the busiest I’ve had since going fully self-employed about a year ago.

As I type I’m capturing footage from Mair and Iwan’s wedding, which I filmed at Portmeirion on July 2.

It was the first time I’d done a wedding at Portmeirion and it’s a great place to get married from a photo/video point of view. You can see my pics and notes from scouting it out here.

It was a great wedding and the guests certainly knew how to enjoy themselves, so I’m looking forward to the final edit.

I shot it using a canon xha1 (a video camera) and a canon 7d (a stills camera with video capability), and this was another first for me. It will be interesting to see how well the two video sources cut together… I think it’s going to look pretty tasty.

The day after that I was photographing a good friend of mine’s wedding down in Guildford, a five hour drive away.

They got married at Clandon Park, another stunning location. I think my favourite pic of the day is this one, although I’m not sure I was even looking through the viewfinder.

Helen, the bride, looked amazing and I liked this shot through the trees.

Bryn, the groom, scrubbed up pretty well too.

In July I also won a contract to shoot a food directory for Cadwyn Clwyd, an agency working on behalf of Denbighshire and Flintshire councils. This involved driving all over the two counties and visiting producers, farmers, farm shops, markets, and people working out of their kitchens. I was given a very tight deadline so it was pretty intensive, but also a lot of fun.

I do commercial work under the name Golau Media, which I’m in the process of building a site for, a job that keeps getting bumped down the list of things to do.

These piglets were really cute and almost made me consider going back to being a veggie.

In July I also filmed an art/nature event at Gwaith Powdr reserve near Porthmadog, Gwynedd.

It was part of a series of events to promote Discover Gwynedd, a new initiative to promote Gwynedd and the wildlife that can be found here, very worthwhile I think.

Thanks to the talented and super-busy artist Megan Broadmeadow for getting me involved in that one.

July also saw a big increase in inquiries for my wedding photos and film work, so it’s been a very exciting time for me. Caroline, my wife, has started helping with things like album design etc and making sure I’m organised, with efficient workflows and the such like. It’s working out pretty well so far.

Ok, final tape of Mair & Iwan’s wedding has finished capturing, let’s take a look see…

Portemierion pre-Wedding Film & Photography scouting

I’ve got two weddings at Portmeirion coming up – one where I’m a photographer and one where I’m filming – so I decided to take a visit.

In case you don’t already know, Portmeirion is an Italianate resort village in Gwynedd, on the coast of Snowdonia in North Wales (thank you Wikipedia!)

Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975. He incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion’s architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late 20th century.

Okay, time to stop copying and pasting from wikipedia…

Basically, Portmeirion is a beautiful little village with lots of interesting architecture and pastel colours. And it’s next to a beach/estuary.

Weddings at Portmeirion - Hercules Hall

Weddings at Portmeirion - Hercules Hall

I spoke to one of the Delyths  – the sales manager – and apparently they have about 100 weddings a year there. This is no surprise, Portmeirion is a kind of fairy tale place to get married and also about as good as it gets from a photographer’s point of view.

Hercules Hall, the Tudor Room and Mirror Room hold Civil Wedding licences for large and small ceremonies – I’ll be working in Hercules Hall.

The couple are facing the large window when they get married, which means they will be lit very nicely without using flash. This is a big help when it comes to filming/photographing.

The dark wood paneling means the light falls off very quickly, so the guests will be relatively dark in photographs. I think that’s fine, it helps highlight the bride and groom.

For filming the wood has less of an effect because my video camera has a higher dynamic range, i.e. more of what is being captured has a normalised exposure.

The ceiling is much lighter and has some incredible carvings on it. I think this could be incorporated into photos of the bride and groom by taking a low POV and looking upwards.

The floor is made of varnished floorboards, which will reflect the bride’s white dress and should look very nice. The reflection can be helped with a little flick of downwards flash.

Weddings at Portmeirion - backdrops for photography

Weddings at Portmeirion - backdrops for photography

I did notice a couple of large air-con units in Hercules Hall, which I was a bit wary of

because they could cause white noise on video footage.

However, I was told they’re turned off during the ceremony, so that’s ok.

As any wedding photographer knows, doorways are our bread and butter.

The light from the front and the darker background make them perfect for highlighting the bride and groom, so long as it’s not too bright and sunny.

Doorways also make great frames and can give photographs a symmetry that is aesthetically pleasing.

Not surprisingly, Portmeirion has so many that it’s hard to know where to start.

There is a doorway as you exit the building where Hercules Hall is, but this archway caught my eye.

I like the symmetry of the pillars, the pastel pink, and I think the bride would look gorgeous photographed here.




Wedding photography at Portmeirion, North Wales

Wedding photography at Portmeirion, North Wales

The best place for the groups shots is probably the lawn in the centre of Portmeirion village.

It’s on an incline, which makes it easier to get rows of people on different levels (so we can see everyone’s face).

That roman-esque looking building, with all the pillars, would make a good place for a groups shot of the men. The pillars can be used to frame them.

The tower in the background is the dominant piece of architecture at Portmeirion (in my opinion) and there are nice shots of the bride and groom to be had as you walk up the steps towards it.

The bride and groom I’ve been booked to photograph are very different heights, which can sometimes pose a challenge.

However, because there are so many different levels at Portmeirion it should be straightforward to position them to best effect.


Wedding photography at Portmeirion, North Wales

Wedding photography at Portmeirion






The wedding breakfast and speeches are held in the restaurant down near the beach.

The top table is in front of this wood paneling, which is ideal.

This photo might not look like much, but it’s actually a great backdrop for photographing/filming the speeches and the people on the top table.

The building also has a couple of stairways which make good locations for shots of the bride from above.

The evening entertainment and first dance are back at the top in Hecules Hall.

Why do I write up notes on these pre-wedding photos scouts?

The main reason is for me to know exactly what I’m doing on clients’ wedding days – I like to be uber-organised and prepared, it makes a massive difference on the wedding day.

Secondly, it gives my clients the opportunity to see exactly what I’ll be doing on their wedding day, which is always a good thing.

Hopefully these note may also be of use to other photographers who shoot at the same location.

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