It’s an occupational hazard it seems of escorting your daughter in the processional, or making a speech about her, but I think fathers seem to pick up an inordinate amount of tear duct dust in the course of a wedding. Just saying. Not too much to report on this one, save the fact I enjoy the idea they’re both experiencing emotions of their own whilst joined by the hand as they would have been 20 years previous to this day perhaps. It’s written on their faces. And of course compositionally this is a lead in, a story of diagonals.
If I had a penny etc. The amount of times I receive ‘the eyebrow’ from a well-meaning guest questioning me because I’m shooting into the sun, against the light, driving the wrong way down Photon Street is equalled only by my other favourite question; “How many shots have you taken today?” I am genuinely intrigued or perhaps inspired by what lurks in the shadows, or the natural vignetting you get from get from allowing darker corners to invade your composition and one good way to achieve that is to run against the luminance tide. That way you unleash the power of rim lighting and intense refection. Here’s a father, honing his speech for later on.
Exif data: Sketchy on this one, but I do know it was taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro2. I was travelling light overseas. Two bodies, four lenses. I have a feeling this was the 35mm. It’s a Fujinon lens I favour.
It’s the end of week 1 for 2018’s 365 and I’m appreciative that I’m in here for the long haul with this project, 365 days, 365 pics. I spend a lot of time at weddings, so it’s inevitable that most of the catalogue will be something to do with someone somewhere in the world saying “I do,” but I’ll tie in other stuff too, promise. So, to today’s. Unashamedly and particularly because I’m making a YouTube series for the first time from seven featured pictures each week, I’m going to revisit some favourites. And this is certainly one. It’s a split composition, and if in your photography you can look for these situations to slice your frames in say two or more pieces to create more than one story in one frame, then it really can become a money shot. You can split a story with anything really, a door as in here, or a tree, a street sign, a person, a car, so so many ways. This is one such split. Bridesmaids excitedly awaiting the bride on one side of the split, while hubby-to-be waits in a stony silenced ceremony room to the right of that same split. It’s one frame, but two exceptionally different feelings.
One from Farnham Castle. It’s a reasonably awe-inspiring day, a wedding, I think. And if you’re a wee bairn, there’ll be multiplication factor atop. You’re wearing a suit, possibly for the first time, you’ve got brand new shoes on, a stranger has stuck a flower in your lapel for some reason you can’t quite fathom when you’re only five. Everyone seems very busy around you, there’s possibly a heightened level of anticipation and you’re a kid with an inbuilt stress-o-meter of course. So it’s not surprising that even though the ceremony is still half an hour away and the celebrations haven’t even properly begun, that you need a silent corner, and a kip. Photographically, keeping some context is important. Finding that context can be the challenge, but it’s supplied in definitive style by a bridal reveal here.
The thing about shooting a wedding is how the so called ‘usual’ briskly becomes unusual – and I think this photograph made during last moment bridal make up preps demonstrates that. And whilst you’d correctly question why a man applying make up in a state of modernity should even be considered extraordinary, I think it’s as much the skull bands and greying whiskers of a make up artist as comfortably employed in the film industry as he is at a wedding applying lipstick for his bride daughter that draws me to this image for a 365. In tech terms, I’m a fanboy for the 85mm focal length and from exif data I see this one is Canon’s flagship 85mm, the original mark. Now whilst this lens is a solid piece of quality glass that wouldn’t feel or look out of place in a kit bag belonging to any photographic great, it’s undeniably the slowest focusing lens known to man, well, to Canon at any rates. You can raise a family, send them to university and then if poetic ending allows, see them good for their wedding day by applying make up as a star guest MUA father at your daughter’s wedding day in the time this lens takes to find and lock on to a focal point. The bokeh is legendary though.
It’s been a YouTube day back in the office and with the sounds of Sigala and Ella Eyre’s summer hit from 17 ringing in my ears, today’s offering is this one. In all my meetings with couples who enquire about availability, if I have the chance to share my portfolio, I enthuse about how I feel about a wedding over anything technical or even pictorial. And I think that’s often the facet missed about being a wedding photographer. Feeling these life events is as important as photographing them and whilst that can sound a touch flowery, I truly believe it. So moments like this are the reward really. You can’t help but photograph fuelled with empathy when you encounter such joy and an outpouring of emotion. Does that make sense? As Ella Eyre sings…
There’s a simplicity to what I flippantly refer to as ‘the hug-a-thon.’ Hugs are probably the staple diet of palpable indefatigable documentary moments, as far as reportage styled wedding photography goes. And you need to be ready for them, particularly when favourite nephews and nieces dressed to the nines in bridal party regalia run unexpectedly into a room. This is one from the weekend just gone, a new year’s eve wedding at Rivervale Barn in Yateley. Ideally I like to photograph on a level plane with children instead of aerial style capture, so this is a grab shot; it’s undeniably so. There’s a warmth to it though and for me, that’s equally important.
Lest you forget, I also shoot portraits; admittedly nowhere near the number of wedding pictures in a year, but it’s a discipline on my radar to practise a little more in 2018. This was made during a shoot midway last year, a ‘day in the life’ styled family session. I’d been shooting since lunchtime and this was part of the daily routine; bedtime story. I’m a big fan/advocate of the ‘shoot through,’ as you’ll see repeated in different scenarios across this year’s 365 series. This one is through a door into a bedroom, the scene lit by a single standard light, with all other light sources switched off, or closed – as in curtains. You can barely make out the door that leads the eyes into the room, but it’s there and this door to the left and wall to the right goes a distance to naturally vignette the scene.
Three years ago I signed off on New Year’s Eve with the final image in a series of 365 daily pictures across the year I’d posted. For sure, I missed a few days, it was inevitable – but I was pretty loyal to the 365 cause. I’d seen friends and peers ‘print’ their own 365s two years previous and I knew it would be a cathartic and rewarding challenge to attempt my own for a year. But as I pressed ‘publish’ on that final image I suggested; “Never again.” It’s not that I couldn’t find enough pictures, it was just like with any daily diary piece, there’ll be days the poetry just doesn’t flow as easily. So, borrowing the early 80s title from a Bond movie, I’m back to publish a new series of 365s for the year, though this time it’ll be somewhat more pictorial and a little less literary. But what I will do where metadata allows is publish some tech stuff. Happy 2018 and I promise never to say never again. First offering, a cheeky slice of guest reportage.
Elmore Court, Gloucestershire. As an English country home, it’s certainly beautiful; a Grade 2 listed mansion; without doubt the stuff of chocolate box England and the classic Englishman’s Castle. As a wedding venue, Elmore Court is remarkable on many levels. It has the kind of family history that heritage tourists salivate over. It’s enveloped by lush green fields, decorated with magnificent mature trees, where echoes of grazing flocks of sheep complete the sound of the countryside. Shut your eyes and you won’t even hear distant traffic’s faint murmur. But within this stately home, a party is brewing, in a house that claims 740 year old roots. It’s history is now Aniket and Russell’s history. There’s nothing very sleepy about Elmore Court tonight as the Photofilm and accompanying wedding pictures will show. My congratulations Aniket, Russell. I’ve gotten to know the boys very well over the past three, four, is it possibly five years? I’ve photographed them as a couple in London and told their story pictorially; how they met and their personal journeys to reach this important point. Their friendship circle includes guests whose own weddings I have shot. It was practically a reunion and one in which I was introduced to couples’ children, the next chapter in their adventures. I know it’s often proposed that a couple should pause in impromptu fashion during their day, to observe and survey all that is going on around them, to breathe in this auspicious occasion and appreciate what an incredible privilege it is to be with friends and family who want to share this story. I equally found myself doing the same on Aniket and Russell’s big day. For one fleeting moment during the afternoon, in each corner seemingly of my eye’s composition, there appeared to be a couple for whom the privilege had equally been extended to me to document their own precious days, a momentary compilation of what for now is my life’s vocation. Aniket, Russell, I look forward to the next chapter in your wonderful story.
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