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Laura & Rich - Hampton Court House

Laura & Rich were married at St Nicholas Church in Shepperton over the Jubilee long weekend. Their reception was held at Hampton Court House, a venue I’ve shot at a number of times over the years and it was great to photograph there again. I also had the pleasure of working with Toastmaster Jay Tough (what a name!) for the first time since 2009. Jay is a genuinely first rate toastmaster and a terrific bloke also.

It’s always interesting shooting at a venue that you know well. The aim is to try and use the familiarity to your advantage while not simply shooting angles you’ve used before. At the same time, there are sometimes bizarrely similar moments in similar places. One such moment occurred this time around as a group of little ones congregated beneath the same tree, without direction, at a similar time of day, in very similar light, turned and looked right at me. It’s not an exact replica of an earlier photograph, but it’s oddly familiar. Take a look:

2012 - Laura & Rich’s Wedding

2011 - Emma & Justin’s Wedding

Sometimes that’s the way of things and it highlights to me the importance, as a wedding photojournalist, of knowing the venues and the plan. Some locations are simply great photographs waiting to happen. The setting is there, the light, the composition, just awaiting a moment. I often talk about how great photojournalism is more than merely turning up with a camera and looking at what’s in front of you. Undoubtedly that is its essence, but I’m a big believer in the power of anticipation. Anticipation works on a number of levels, from minute to minute, second to second and over more lengthy periods of time. In one scenario it may simply be a case of pre-positioning yourself on the other side of the door a bride’s about to walk through, but on a longer timescale it’s possible to visit a wedding venue two weeks before the day itself and conduct a recce that pays dividends in the heat of the moment. Where will the sun be when? Which door is used for what? etc etc. Anticipation can be an investment as well as an instantaneous payoff.

Laura and Rich were a pleasure to work with and in particular they had some really cute kids at their wedding who made for fantastic subjects. My thanks to them all for having me.

As ever, here’s a selection from the day. If you have any thoughts, pop them in the comments below.


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Comments

Image of the Week - Light & Composition

emmajustin-388

The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic with consultations and wedding fairs, hence the delay in posting an IotW. I’ll try and post a second IotW later this week to get us back on track.

It’s sometimes hard, and often counterproductive, to condense the tenets of good photography. Nonetheless, over the past five years I’ve been trying to do just that. Perhaps a better way to describe it is an effort to roughly rank the varied, and sometimes competing, elements that are present in great images. What’s more important, timing or posing, DOF or composition? On one level, these are complete unanswerables, often moot and hugely dependent on mood, intent and subject. Nevertheless, I find the ability to offer some loose ‘sovereignty’ to one area of photography over another can be helpful in knowing where to begin. It helps bring order to the thought process. It’s a bit like getting into a suit. It doesn’t really matter whether shirt or trousers go on first, but if you do up the trousers before you put on the shirt, you’re going to have to undo the trousers to tuck in the shirt. Yet somethings remain pretty fixed. For example, Pants after trousers doesn’t work unless your name is Clark Kent.

It’s taken a long time to hone in on any sort of maxim that holds together, but in the last two years I think I’ve got there. Photography is such an opinion driven subject that an all-encompassing edict is impossible, so unsurprisingly what I’ve settled on is narrow in its scope. Nonetheless, I think it’s useful.

Outstanding photography begins with two simple elements: great light and great composition. If you combine these two elements and forget the rest, I’d argue that you won’t go far wrong. Light is the magic element in photography but its texture, colour and consistency varies immensely. Great light brings great drama. Composition on the other hand is the photographer’s primary art and what separates us from someone who simply points a camera.

For an Image of the Week post it may seem like I’ve spent a long time talking about something other than the picture at hand but, to be honest, everything I said above is condensed in this week’s photograph. Great light and composition are the making of this picture. It was shot at Hampton Court House during Emma & Justin’s wedding last August. It was shot at about 7pm, just as the ‘golden hour’ was starting. The golden hour is a term that refers to the hour or so prior to sunset when natural light’s colour temperature warms and, when the sun is out, goes golden. It’s a fantastic time to shoot as the light is less stark than when the sun is high in the sky and the colour brings life to an image.

These two little flower girls were absolutely adorable however all the being good had rather taken it’s toll! The Guests were finishing their meal and so when the opportunity to play outside presented itself it was far too good to resist. Hampton Court House is a bit like the book Watership Down - bunnies are EVERYWHERE. The gardens are literally awash with them and they hang about until you get very close indeed. This shot was after a couple of informal group photos with the girl’s parents and with the light so lovely and the bunnies in the background it was simply a matter of arranging the elements in a workable composition. I placed a bunny between the girls to give the sense that they were looking right at it and made sure not to disturb them. I wanted to bring an undisturbed quality to the picture.

A great image is often a simple image and frankly, the light and composition are all that this image required. It’s one of my favourites from the day because when I look at it, I literally feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and find the sense of peace and tranquility is palpable. I hope you enjoy it also.

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