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
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
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
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
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.