I thought it was about time that something was written on this blog about my Wedding Photography. I also decided that I’d use images from a couple of Weddings that I photographed over the last two weekends to illustrate this blogpost, one at Stonehouse Court Hotel in Gloucestershire and the other at Bowood Golf & Country Club in Wiltshire. Both beautiful venues and much more importantly two exceptionally nice couples. Hopefully this may be useful for prospective clients to view and perhaps of some interest to other photographers from a technical viewpoint.
Let’s begin with the opening example shot above; Signing the Register is what I’d call a ‘formal’ photograph, of course I take plenty of these, however I tend to adopt a more candid, documentary or ‘street’ style approach to weddings whenever I can. I suppose that if you shoot a lot of ‘Street’ and Weddings then eventually the two styles will merge.
So, with more of a ‘Candid’, ‘Documentary’ or even, let’s say it, a ‘Street Photography’ approach, we’re looking for off guard moments, a reasonable composition and preferably some thought towards layering whereby someone or something is in the fore, mid and back grounds to build up the photo and not appear flat or two dimensional. Clearly we require some tactfulness when making this kind of photo as we don’t want to capture anyone in an embarrassing or unflattering way. Similar to ‘Street Photography’ it can be quite chaotic during a wedding and so it is tricky to isolate what is required for a layered photo. Here’s an example of some guests at the Bowood wedding;
and another from the Stonehouse wedding. This one has some interesting elements once you cast your eye over the photo;
There are two reasons why I’m using this approach a lot more. Firstly it is something many couples are requesting for their wedding photography. They may not be comfortable with a lens pointing at them, those posed shots and this style of photography documents the day without being overly obtrusive. In any case, big and brash is out, small and intimate is firmly in. My second reason follows the ‘big is out, small is in’ school of thought in that I shoot with a Leica Rangefinder and documenting is primarily what a Leica is made for…
The Leica is a small camera when compared with a DSLR, especially when photographers couple their Canon or Nikon up with a battery grip and a huge zoom lens. The size of the Leica gives the photographer an advantage of being up close and personal, I find the biggest factor is that clients seem more at ease when the camera is pointing at them. Here’s a couple of images demonstrating that and they’re also in colour for those beginning to think ‘he only uses Black & White’;
Definitely relaxed I’d say, which is just how we like it…
When I first changed from Canon DSLR’s to a Leica M Rangefinder almost four years ago it was with some trepidation that I headed off to cover my initial ‘Leica’ Wedding. There’s a technical reason for that concern which I’ll return to later on. In the meantime you should know that I’m always a little anxious beforehand in any case, change of camera gear to one side. It’s natural, I can feel a bit of nervousness coming from the couple and those involved with the wedding itself, in turn I feel nervous for them. Also, I want to make the best photographs I possibly can. Yes I want the customer to be happy with the images, but as a lover of photography I too want to be happy and satisfied with the results, essentially it’s a matter of having a feeling of pride in my work.
For photographers reading this I use two prime lenses, no zooms. For the most part it’s a Leica Summicron 35mm f/2, which I also use for my Street Photography. For portraits or a slightly different look to a shot I’ll fetch the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 out of my bag. That bag also contains a couple of old flashes, I rarely use them, but I carry them for those times where there’s a lot of backlight, one example of that is where a venue might place the table for signing the Register up against a window, a nightmare when the happy couple are siting facing with their backs to said window.
The Noctilux 50mm wide open (f/0.95) does give a surreal look as in the photo above at Stonehouse, especially when used at a distance I find, but of course I also captured that scene of our couple at f/8 to bring us back to normality. Below and once again shot wide open an image of our groom and best man at Bowood, a little closer this time. It certainly adds some punch, especially as this wedding took place on an overcast, cloudy day;
Let’s briefly return to that feeling of trepidation I experienced with my first Leica Wedding; I knew I’d need to be on top of my game. I also knew how to shoot a wedding, this was going to be different though. With a DSLR I could focus track a moving subject (a couple walking up the aisle for example), there’s auto focus and auto exposure to give you a helping hand too. With the Leica M there’s none of that; the focus and exposure is manually adjusted, no tracking subjects, you will need to pre-focus to where you think they might be a few seconds later, or Zone Focus if aperture and light permit (they rarely do). In essence I was constantly monitoring exposure, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. So, with the pressure of not missing any vital wedding moments not being enough, I had added to it because I was operating everything manually. Surprisingly it went swimmingly well, I was delighted with the results and all though there was the occasional moment when I missed having a DSLR I knew that I would never change back. The Positives far outweigh the Negatives (no pun intended!) and I’m convinced that a Leica gives a more distinctive feel and perspective to documenting the Big Day.
Here are a couple of thumbnail grids which show some different sample images from these latest two weddings. They’re all in Black & White because that’s my preference, however I always deliver to the client their images in both Colour and Black & White.
Firstly from Bowood Golf & Country Club;
and Secondly from Stonehouse Court Hotel;
Generally I’m at a wedding for around three hours, I believe that’s long enough for everyone involved. Okay, of course I’m the life and soul of any party, but chiefly this is because of the type of wedding I shoot and the clients who want me to photograph their Wedding Day. I mention a little more on this in the About & Pricing section of this website.
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with either a Summicron 35mm or Noctilux 50mm Lens fitted.
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