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Chen Li and David at South Lodge, Horsham – Sussex Wedding Photography

Rain was the order of the day again at South Lodge on 11 July.  But Chen and Dave – and their guests – had a fantastic time.  I hope they have a wonderful holiday in Malaysia.

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Wedding Photography Techniques: Part 2 (Light)

At weddings I often get asked by enthusiastic photographers about equipment, and in particular what their next piece of kit should be. Noting that they already have half decent digital SLRs, my usual reply is that the equipment is much less important than the photographer. It is much better to develop style through a better understanding of composition and lighting than worry about a marginal gain in sharpness that an expensive lens might offer you for example. One thing that really strikes me is that many photographers have not grasped the difference between the quantity and the direction/quality of light. The quantity of light can easily be adapted to (especially with digital cameras) by changing the exposure.

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But good photographers must be able to “see the light”. Assessing the direction of light is not always obvious in non-sunny conditions but it is important for making an image more visually interesting (eg more contrast on the subject’s face); or helping ot model the poses outlined in section 1 above; or avoiding ugly shadows in the eye sockets from toplighting. Not understanding the difference often means flat pictures and/or overuse of flash lighting. On a grey day, you might need to “create” direction by placing your subjects under the edge of a canopy or tree. But seeing the light does not just apply to posing either. It also has important consequences for where you should position yourself, for example, during documentary shots.

That is not to say that equipment is not important, because it is. But good equipment will always get overshadowed by lack of technique and creativity. I sometimes use a fisheye lens to add drama to my photos.

For the record, my principal equipment is a Canon EOS 1D Mark III, Canon 24-105 F4L IS, Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, Canon 15mm, Canon 50 F1.8 MkII and a Speedlite 580EX. I also have back-up equipment on standby.

BIPP National Photographic Awards 2009

I was delighted to hear today that I have been shortlisted for the 2009 National Photographic Awards (British Institute of Professional Photography – BIPP).  This image of Rebecca and Andy is a finalist in the Contemporary Wedding Category.

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Wedding Photography Techniques: Part 1 (Posing)

The first thing to stress is that I don’t advocate a day full of posing people; and I certainly do not encourage excessive groups shots. Good photojournalism has its place for large parts of the day because a good photographic narrative of a wedding day is important.  So here I am discussing posing for the artistic shots with the bride (before the ceremony) and with the couple (30-45 minutes after the ceremony). These are the shots that dominate my portfolio (and many pro photographers struggle with!).

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My main advice here is to NOT to look at bridal magazines. In fact do not look at typical wedding shots for inspiration. Most traditional wedding shots of the couple make them look awkward or embarassed (how many shots have you seen of the bride smiling inanely at the camera with the husband placed clumsily behind for example). Instead ditch the flowers for most shots and look at good editiorial and fashion magazines such as Vogue. Now what I am not suggesting here is that you start asking the bride to pout and perform model poses with which she is uncomfortable. You should be looking for ideas for poses that do not rely on the couple looking at the camera. These are the questions you may wish to keep turning over in your mind:

- Which poses flatter the couple/woman. Why?
- How does the pose help the couple connect?
- What type of mood does the pose convey?
- Under which circumstances (eg in front a church) might the pose work in a wedding context?
- What type of light do you need to model the pose and what image enhancement would you need? (more on this in forthcoming parts 2 and 3).

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It is also important to assess realistically whether a particular wedding couple would be able undertake each pose. But with trust, a good wedding photographer should be able to lead the bride and groom into an exciting/emotional/dramatic pose with good explanation and gentle handling.  Wedding photographers are not really getting paid to stand the bride and groom next together and asking them to grin at the camera.

So in summary I would advise the need to constantly look for new ideas in the right areas; be ambitious; and keep practising (at home!).
You can see my latest article on wedding photography posing here.

 

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Laura and Stephen at Windsor Guildhall and Harte and Garter Hotel – Berkshire Wedding Photography

Another bad weather day in June (7th); but as with all weddings, the rain didn’t affect the underlying enjoyment of the day for the couple or their guests.  Stephen is about to re-join the army in Afghanistan.

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All images copyright Gary Roebuck AMPA ABIPP.