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First Dance Photography

Ending the Wedding Day As I mentioned at the end of my last post on wedding photography “The Wedding Meal” there is often a gap before the evening guests arrive. During the summer this evening time gives the best light of the day. The sun is lower in the sky which lights from the side rather than above. It also has a warmer quality, less harsh than at the middle of the day. When the light is perfect for portraits I often ask the couple if they would like to go out again for a short series of photographs. Evening Guests Evening wedding guests being greeted by the couple is often a good time for happy and relaxed wedding photography. This is a good time for informal groups photographs too. Everyone is less stressed once all the formalities of the wedding ceremony and speeches are over. In fact the whole wedding day is almost over from my point of view. However coverage ends with one of the most important and yet photographically challenging, the first dance. Working with the DJ I always check with the DJ to find out what lighting they plan to use and ask for a demonstration if possible. It dosn’t matter how the first dance is lit but it helps to know in advance. I do ask the DJ to turn off any laser lights just during the first dance. This is because the lasers make bright coloured dots or lines on the couple as they dance. These sometimes show on their faces, spoiling what would otherwise be romantic pictures. Romantic Images Keeping the romance in the first... read more

The wedding meal

It is now less common for there to be a formal “line-up” greeting as wedding guests make their way into the room for the meal. This is a loss in some ways as a line-up is an opportunity to take some nice close-up photographs of the main family members. Almost everyone will greet guests with a smile and this often makes for really relaxed and happy faces in the photographs. The problem with a line-up is that it can take quite some time and more often these days guests will go straight in and wait for the bride and groom to join them. Whether or not there has been a line-up the entry of the bride and groom will almost always be announced and guests will stand and applaud to greet them. It is worth checking the route that the couple will take to get to their seats and maybe even advising them as to the best way to go so that you can get good pictures. I also remind them that it is nice if they hold hands and take their time as they make their way through the room. I started to do this after seeing a couple walk into a dining room and then separate and take two totally different routes around the tables to their places – It did not look the best way to start a marriage and certainly did not make for good photographs! The view will be obscured to some extent when all the guests stand so it is important not to be caught out. I often use the technique of holding... read more

The Golden Hour of wedding photography

Before the ceremony and the wedding meal there is normally a drinks reception of some sort. If the ceremony has taken place at the reception venue guests might have drinks at the same time as the formal wedding photographs are taken or, in the case of a church wedding, then this happen as guests arrive at the reception after traveling from the church. The important thing is that this is usually the golden hour of the whole day. There is a lot happening in this time and I need to work flat out to make the most of it. It is a time for the guests to drink and relax but I am at my very busiest! There is a need to balance how much time to allow the bride and groom to spend with their guests and how much time is taken up with shooting what I call the “mantelpiece” pictures. These are the classic wedding photographs of the couple together that family members will display on the wall, piano or even sometimes on the mantelpiece! There is an example above that fits with the format of the photographs on these pages, but this shot would normally be an upright “portrait” format picture. To get these shots of just the couple on their own inevitably requires taking them away from their guests but I always keep this time to a minimum. By being organised and knowing the locations that I plan to use in advance I find that I can get more than enough pictures of the couple in no more than 15 to 20 minutes. I even make... read more

Formal wedding group photographs

Links to previous posts in this series by Lincolnshire wedding photographer Chris Marsh: Part 1 Getting ready for the wedding Part 2 At the wedding venue Part 3 The bride arrives Part 4 The Ceremony  The trend in recent years has been towards reportage wedding photography and this is a change that I welcome as I feel that, unless you are working with professional models, natural photographs of people are better than contrived ones. That said I also think that a limited number of formal wedding photographs are required as a core around which the rest of the story of the wedding day, shot in a more contemporary way, can be built. These photographs make a link through the generations and I have had several occasions where the couple are having their wedding at the same church as their parents did. Which brings me to the first and the most traditional wedding photograph of all – the bride and groom outside the church door. This is a photograph that goes back to the earliest days of photography and I think that we have a duty to carry on that tradition. Not only is the setting traditional but the pose too with the bride holding her husband’s left arm. You will have heard the story that they stand this way round because of the husband wanting to keep his sword arm free to “defend” his new wife. I have doubts about the accuracy of this story because when photographing military officers (who really do have swords!) the tradition is to have the bride on the husband’s right so she does not get hurt by... read more

The Ceremony

Links to previous posts in this series by Lincolnshire wedding photographer Chris Marsh: Part 1 Getting ready for the wedding Part 2 At the wedding venue Part 3 The bride arrives Although just a short part of the day this bit is “The Wedding” and so effective photography is critical to the recording of the day. That said I think that the couple should be concentrating on their vows at this point and they and their guests should not be distracted by a photographer moving about in their eye-lines. This is why I almost always photograph from the back of the church or room at the wedding venue. From there I can get wide views showing the guests but also zoom in to a tight close-up of the bride and groom. The couple usually turn to face each other as they exchange vows and will almost certainly do so for the exchange of wedding rings. From the back of the room I am in the perfect position to photograph the bride and groom in profile as the wedding ring is placed on the finger. Occasionally there will be a gallery allowing a view from above making this picture better still. In either case I am very aware of the need to shoot at the exact moment where the ring is most clearly visible. This is often closely followed by a kiss between the newly married couple, but I don’t expect the cue “you may kiss the bride” as these words are not, as many people seem to think, a standard part of the ceremony! The signing of the register is almost at the... read more

Arrival of the bride – The wedding begins!

Links to previous posts in this series by Lincolnshire wedding photographer Chris Marsh: Part 1 Getting ready for the wedding Part 2 At the wedding venue The arrival of the bride is, for me, the real start of the wedding. This will be by car or carriage at church (though I have photographed a few brides talking a short walk from home to the church) or the moment she leaves the room she has used to get ready if it is a venue wedding. Normally the bridesmaids will arrive before the bride and it is good to get some shots of them as soon as possible, particularly if they are young children, as they may be getting bored by the end of the ceremony.  This will also help them pass the time while waiting for the bride. It can be helpful to remind the maids that the bride could some help getting out if she is arriving by car. Photographs of the bride and her escort (I never assume it will be her father though it often is) in the wedding car or, perhaps, as they come down stairs at a venue are a good idea but I also like to take a more formal picture of the two of them standing together just before the wedding ceremony. If it is her father escorting the bride there can be very touching moments just before they walk into the ceremony together as he realises that his “little girl” really has grown up and is moving on. As I normally photograph the wedding from the back of the church/room (more about this in my next... read more

At the wedding venue

This is part two of my blog about wedding photography you can find Part 1 Getting ready for the wedding here Part 2 At the Wedding Venue The first thing to note about getting to the wedding venue is the importance of getting there as early as possible, there is a lot of photography to do before the ceremony begins and there will be no second chance! If the wedding is at church I will often check out the church on the way to the reception venue or vice-versa. Nothing beats checking out the locations for the photography on the day of the wedding, it is done days or weeks in advance then lots can have changed in that time. Building or groundwork might have started, and someone might have parked a digger just where before was the perfect background. Checking on the day also means that I  know exactly which shrubs and flowers in the grounds look their best and which have died off or have still to come into bloom. Most importantly, perhaps, I have a good idea of what the weather will be like and if I will need to find locations for the photography out of the cold or rain or wind or even some shade from the scorching summer sun! Normally I try to meet up with whoever is taking the wedding ceremony as soon as possible  They will be busy too and it is important to reassure them that I know what I am doing and won’t get in the way. This is particularly important when working in church, this is the vicar’s regular place of worship not just a location for an hour... read more

Getting ready for the wedding

This post is the first part of a series by Lincolnshire wedding photographer Chris Marsh. If you have not already done so you might like to check out my first post Introduction to Wedding Photography Let’s start by talking about getting ready, not only the coverage of a bride getting ready for her wedding but also what a photographer needs to do before they are ready to photograph a wedding at all. If you are an aspiring professional photographer let me say straight away that wedding photography is not the place to begin. If you don’t know the technical side of photography inside out and backwards then you have no right to charge clients for covering a once in a lifetime event like a wedding. So if you are starting up as a professional photographer go out and get your experience in some other area first – maybe portrait photography, where you can invite the client back for a free sitting if something goes wrong or commercial work when a mistake will only ruin your reputation. To be a wedding photographer you first need to be a really great photographer! If you are an amateur photographer i.e. photographing friends or family’s wedding for free that is fine but only if you are doing it because they really can’t afford a professional and you have made clear to them that they are taking a risk and things could go wrong! That said, anyone, amateur or professional might be in the position of photographing their first wedding and good preparation is the key. Make sure that you know exactly where you need to be and when – don’t... read more

Introduction to wedding photography

Hello There, I am Chris Marsh and I’m a wedding photographer based near Lincoln, Lincolnshire. Working as a photographer might not be quite the sort of dream job that being a Paradise island caretaker or an F1 driver is! But being a photographer still often comes up when people are asked what job they would most like to do, and for good reason. A professional photographer earns a living doing what hundreds of millions of people do as a hobby, they often have the best possible view of the events they cover and, if they are as lucky as I have been, they can get to travel the world all expenses paid. This might sound great, and it is, but there are also responsibilities that come with the territory. An amateur can have an off day, make a mistake, not be in the right place at the right time and no-one will really care. As a professional photographer things are very different for me, I have to be on top of my game from the moment I start an assignment to the very end. The saying “You are only as good as your last job” was never truer than in photography. Wedding photography takes this responsibility to the extreme. Couples these days put very large amounts of their hard earned money into producing a brilliant day of celebration for their family and friends. It is the wedding photographer’s job to capture images that will bring back to mind in detail all the atmosphere and events that made the day so special. There is no going back and doing it... read more