Challenges challenges…

About a month ago I had the enormous pleasure of doing a pre-wedding shoot with Abby and Ben. We decided to do it with their children at the venue that they are getting married at. This was great for me as I always like to do a reccy of the venue in advance so that I know what I am dealing with when I get there. The interesting thing about this venue is that if the weather is going to be fabulous on the day, we are in for a total treat! If however it is going to pour down with rain, we may have a problem! Obviously all shots can be done inside, whether it is the creative shots or the family ones. It doesn’t actually matter which ones, the only problem might be that the house itself is so chocka full of items, like stuffed animals and enormous vases and paintings that I am going to have to come up with something pretty special. I love the challenge of this, but it is definitely a challenge. At the shoot itself we utilised one of the bedrooms for a couple of shots and this worked really well as the bed was a four poster and the ambience of the room was dark and cosy and old. It was good fun and the children of course loved it. However, I am not sure that the family, mum, dad, Auntie June etc are quite ready for the bedroom shoot! There is however a fabulous staircase that I think would be perfect!

I learnt from a previous wedding not to be put off by the weather though, and instead invested in a mountain of umbrellas as it was forecast rain for the whole day, and boy did it rain, and boy did we put those umbrellas to good use! They were worth every penny!  I still have those, but feel I might have to invest in some more.

One thing I need more than anything though is an assistant. I need someone, especially if it is raining, to carry my umbrella!! How decadent! I could also really do with someone arty to help with the posed shots. I would love to be able to actually work with someone on these, not necessarily a photographer, but someone who is more prone to art direction and bounce ideas back and forth. I think a partnership works brilliantly like that, and there are many male and female, couples/wedding photographers around. I think they kind of have it in the bag. It’s great that they can also show their wedding couples how they would like them to stand or look, as they can use each other so that the couple understand and can really visualize what is expected of them. This is not a request for getting married to a photographer by the way… simply an observation!

Getting people to pose is also quite a challenge. I feel it is very important to make people feel comfortable and that is one of the reasons that I see the pre-wedding shoots as really important. I believe that if you are going to get the best out of our couples, you all have to like each other and you all have get on. They need to know how you work, and like the way you work, and you need to know what their limits and capabilities are. Wedding photography is not a one way process, it is a partnership, a collaboration. However, many people are not comfortable posing, so you have to be really gentle and careful and not expect too much of them. Sometimes the candid shots that are taken at the same time as the posed ones come out even better than the posed ones, because they are the natural, in between shots. I love these. I much prefer natural to posed, but I do see how essential it is to also have some of the posed ones, simply for posterity. I think that if a bride didn’t get the posed shots (even if she said she didn’t want them) that she  would feel like she was missing out. I would hate for that to happen.

Lighting is another challenge. Outside lighting is very easy. I am a natural and available light photographer. I don’t like using a flash of any kind, whether on or off camera. I like the way that using the light we are given, gives a truer reflection of what is going on and where we were when the photos were taken… that is not to say they can’t be manipulated afterwards to look more sunny and less grey, but in general I would say I prefer the truth of natural lighting. I think I will have to look into using a flash a bit more, when necessary though, as I have an idea that with the extra lighting the quality of the images may be better too. It’s not that easy when you are inside though, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and use a flash. The other thing you can do of course is to change the white balance of a set of images in post production. That can be really helpful, and actually using the luminance tool and noise reduction to get rid of unwanted pixels can often help as well. We have ways and means though I would still very much like to be able to take pictures that don’t need too much post processing. That in itself is a huge challenge.

I need time though… more time please… just to play around with photography… I imagine that one day I will earn enough money to be able to simply take photographs day in and day out, being like David du Chemin; the photographer, the Nomad.

I began this post talking about Abby and Ben and them getting married and having a pre wedding shoot and have come away from that and started talking about the challenges of photography. I want to say though that there is something so very, very special about being asked to photograph people, whether for a wedding or perhaps someone’s children. I may have said it before, but it really is a great honour to be part of or invited into people’s lives in that way. That is how I felt when on this shoot. Seeing two people so utterly devoted and in love and being part of that, fills me with so much joy and actually makes me realise more and more that I am doing the right thing. I came into photography very late on, but am doing my very best to make up for time lost and continue on this golden path.

I’ll leave you with a few images from the Abby and Ben shoot that I love. I do love a good family shoot!!!

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