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Wednesday 23 October 2013

Top 10 Photography Tips for Wedding Guests

For any keen photographer, a wedding is a target rich environment, a seemingly endless supply of photo-opportunities of happy people in great clothes at lovely venues. In fact anybody with any imaging device understandably seems to get caught up into the magic of the day and sooner or later just has to take a picture.

As professional wedding photographers we bring a lot of cameras, lights and lenses because we have to get the shots, whatever the conditions. But when we are guests at weddings we bring a only a small compact camera each and no lights...we get some great shots and can still enjoy the wedding. We encourage you to do the same.

Here are some tips as to the most appropriate equipment to bring, how to get the best shots, how to work well with the other photographers at the wedding and also how to balance the sometimes conflicting demands of "getting the shot" and enjoying the day.

1. PRIORITIES - Enjoy the wedding - it is more important than the photography

2. ETIQUETTE - Work nicely with the other photographers. Be aware of who has their camera up and where they're shooting towards. If somebody is shooting wide, don't jump in front of them. The golden rule is: always shoot from behind the professional photographers

3. EQUIPMENT - Our advice is always don't bring much and never bring a tripod and never bring lights. Regarding focal lengths, you're better off having a wide angle zoom than you are with a long lens. Wide angle lenses are short, light, less obtrusive, create some great drama and keep you close to the other guests. Wide angle lenses can let you capture some great reportage shots showing how groups of guests interact and you don't need to be far away from them. Long lenses can encourage you to stand off from the action which isn't so good if you're a guest.

Don't forget that this is a wedding and you are a guest. Your highest priority is to enjoy the day. You're not on an assignment. You don't have to take everything from every angle for the entire day. Chill and take some nice pictures when you feel the urge.

4. Phone-cameras - are amazing quality, easy to carry, light weight and unobtrusive.

5. Tablet-cameras  - on the other hand are a pain. They are big and look dreadful in other people's pictures, many times obscuring a subject in somebody else's sight line. The quality of the camera in a tablet is no better than that in a phone, so our strong recommendation is to leave the tablet at home and shoot with a phone.

6. Point-and-shoot cameras - are great. They are small, usually have good quality and are unobtrusive and usually come with a useful amount of zoom.

7. Bridge cameras - are a little bulkier and heavier but can be quite useful at a wedding with good image quality and usually quite a big zoom range.

8. Micro 4/3 or Mirrorless compacts - are very expensive but small, light, unobtrusive, excellent image quality and have all the sorts of controls easy to hand that most professional photographers come to rely on. It is these sorts of cameras that we would normally take to a wedding as guests.

9. DSLRs - They are big. They are heavy. They are noisy. They are valuable and they have many accessories. Guests with DSLRs are best if they bring a minimum of equipment. Some guests bring big accessory bags full of stuff which is heavy and bulky and doesn't look good in other people's pictures. Even if you just go lightweight, with no flash and a wide angle zoom, it is still a bulky camera with it's big camera strap that you have to find a safe place for during the meal.

10. WHAT TO SHOOT  - Don't necessarily try and shoot what the professional photographers are shooting. They will have gone to some bother to expose the shot in a particular way, often with careful consideration of balancing the various light sources and compositional elements. You'll never match that because you won't have the same equipment, you won't know the exposure and you won't have the same angle. Instead look for your own opportunities where the lighting is more favourable to the equipment that you may well then get a better quality image of something that the professionals didn't see because they were shooting something else.

For example, the professional may well shoot portraits into the sun. This gives soft lighting on the subject's faces and creates a great rim/separation light on their hair and shoulders. But they will probably have used manual settings and possibly lights in order to make sure the faces are not silhouetted. If you try and shoot the same thing with your bridge camera set to auto and no lights, the bride and groom may be nothing more than dark shadows.

Instead, turn through 180 degrees and shoot some reportage of guests waiting for their turn in the group shots. With the sun behind you, your camera set to auto will do much better and you will get some shots that the professional won't because they were pointing the other way.

SUMMARY - enjoy taking photographs but don't forget to enjoy the wedding, don't bring much photographic gear, always shoot from behind the professionals so you're not in their shot, shoot your own compositions rather than those of the professional and don't shoot with a tablet....and oh yeah...don't forget to charge your batteries.

These are the recommendations we make from the many wedding guests we've seen at many weddings and noticing what seems to work best for them. We think these tips may be of some help to you next time you are a guest at a wedding.

by Steve Dunster

Sunday 20 October 2013

When Love Is At The Heart Of A Wedding

Hampshire Wedding Photography in Warsash Church, Hampshire

Most weddings have had months of detailed planning and there are usually so many gorgeous clothes and details and buildings and decorations...that it can keep two experienced wedding photographers very busy.

Amy and Richard's wedding was no exception.

Hampshire Wedding Photography, Bridal Prep

Amy looked stunning in her amazing wedding dress, the venues were lovely and the details were gorgeous.

Hampshire Wedding Photography - Veil Portrait

Most couples, of course, have a deep love for each other but it is not infrequent that this is privately held between them and on not on display except for the most fleeting of moments during their wedding day.

Occasionally though, we get a couple like Amy and Richard...who are so happy together that throughout the whole day, whenever they were together, they were so happy that it was as though nobody else existed.

When they looked into each other's eyes, nothing else in the room seemed to matter.

Hampshire Wedding Photography, Bridal Portrait

So despite the amazing arrangements they had made for their lovely wedding...their greatest part of their wedding...the brightest memory we were left with...

...was not their stretched limo, not her amazing wedding dress, not even the speeches that tugged at the heart-strings...

Hampshire Wedding Photography, Wedding Kiss

...but how obvious it was to us to just how much they loved being together. 

by Steve Dunster

Saturday 5 October 2013

The Wedding that Brought the Sun Back Out

The sun is welcome at any wedding but at Steve and Lucy's wedding it was particularly welcome.

Steve and Lucy were married on 6 April 2013 in the New Forest Wedding at the Balmer Lawn Hotel. 

The previous week we met them at the Balmer Lawn for a location visit. The weather was grey and starting to rain. This was no surprise to any of us. It was the end of a very long and grey Winter which came after the worst Summer we could remember and the onset of Spring was so late it was looking as though we might have a second dismal Summer.

One week later and the weather couldn't have been more different. It was warm and sunny with pretty white clouds. There were no leaves on the trees but other than that it could have been Summer.

We didn't know it then but their fabulous wedding was to herald the start of one of the best Summer's we've had for years.

Lucy had her Bridal Prep in the Bridal Suite of the Balmer Lawn Hotel.

The room had an awesome four poster bed.

It was the perfect place to get ready for her wedding. It had plenty of space, great atmosphere and lovely view across the lawn and cricket pitch.

It was so nice to be shooting in the sun again, we'd almost forgotten what it was like.

The week before on our location visit with Steve and Lucy we had walked down to the little stream across the road from the hotel. At the time we thought it unlikely that we'd bother to walk there on the day because it was muddy, the trees were brown, the sky was likely to be grey and the route was covered in donkey poo. We referred to it as "Donkey Poo Walk" and we wrote a blog post about it: Donkey Poo Walk and the Return of the Shetty

On the day though it was perfect. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the clouds were white and the water twinkled its blue reflection of the sky. It was just like Summer, apart of course for the lack of leaves in the trees...but also in the Summer, this particular stream in the New Forest would have been full of kids in bathing suites and inflatable boats. These sorts of portraits would have been very difficult in the Summer.

The sun coming out made the guests as well as the bride and groom even happier than they would have been.

It was a photographer's dream come true, the sun even lit up the venue.

Come the end of the day, the sun still wasn't done casting its magic.

It was as though the sun had been locked up for so long and that on the day it had at last been allowed out to play, it was going to make the most of every last second.

We had the most wonderful sunset shoot with Steve and Lucy.

The sun was magical, right to the very last moment. A wonderful blessing for a wonderful couple.