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Andrew Billington Photographyon

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dick Whittington at Oldham Coliseum

As well as my wedding work I also shoot production photography for theatres. On Friday I zoomed across to Oldham Coliseum to shoot their very traditional family panto Dick Whittington. Bright, colourful, fun and funny - I couldn't have hope or a more enjoyable afternoon.

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Eastington Hall Wedding

I'm spending this week designing the album for Tamatha and Richard after their fantastic wedding at the gorgeous Eastington Hall. I think I'll have fun bringing everything together.

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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Back to Basics

After my adventures into the world of extreme Photoshopping I had to revisit an image from a wedding in the summer, just to remind myself of the images I get most satisfaction from.
I like the simplicity of this shot - we have context (Manchester Town Hall), lots of lovely space around the subject, a bit of a narrative (What is she looking for?, Where is she going?, Where is everyone else?) and I love the shine from the floor.

PS - the answer to the questions are: She is nipping to the loo just before the ceremony.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Is this right?

I was out in the fog and general autumnal mist and mellow fruitfulness yesterday and snapped a quick image of some horses in a field. I liked the tones within the photograph and the way that the fog created a backdrop that just silhouetted the trees at the edge of the small field.
Then just a was dropping off to sleep last night my mind revisited the picture and I wondered what it would look like with a Bride and Groom instead of the white horse on the left - so I found a photo of a couple I thought might work...
An hour and a quarter in Photoshop later (my photoshop skills are fairly rusty as you can tell) I had my picture (see the top of this post). But the question is - should this ever be done?
Were my skills better, or I paid to have some proper post-production work done with the images, this could be a very convincing image. But should it ever be used commercially.
Personally I would never have the image on my website as it doesn't represent what truly happened on the day with this couple - they never walked in that field, the wedding and the field are 90 miles and 9 months apart! But had the reception been next door to field and they were up for it I would undoubtable asked them to create this shot.
As a photographer I could go and photograph St.Paul's Cathedral, Balmoral or the chicest boutique hotel and drop images of wedded couples into the pictures to advertise me as a photographer - but I don't think I ever should. Websites should be honest and show couples the style and a true representation of the images they will get from their weddings. I do post-process images to bring out the elements I want the viewers eye to be drawn to within the frame - to aid the narrative flow within the picture but I could never tell a lie! (How very George Washington)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Now THIS is a wedding video...

What happens when you ask a 'film-maker' as opposed to a 'videographer' to record your wedding day? Well you get a result something like this:

Now I think this is fantastic. It may not have the couple running away from camera, running to the camera or spinning around but I don't think that's something they would naturally do on their wedding day anyway (!). It's a great snapshot of the day, with all the texture and feeling.
I aim to be a 'photographer at a wedding' and not a 'wedding photographer'. In my mind it's a subtle distinction but a very important one for me. Any other photographer has an absolute right to work how they see fit and I'm not knocking it - I'm just trying to do what works for me and gets the results I'm looking for.
Well done Will Herbert for your refreshing approach to filming the day - I'd work alongside you every day of the week.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Engagement Shoot - Trentham Gardens

Popped out to Trentham Gardens yesterday with Ruth and Geoff for an engagement shoot - thanks for to them for being game and playing in the leaves and generally having a fun time, it can sometimes seem a little embarrassing to be in the middle of a photo-shoot in a public place but they didn't seem to mind at all - and I'm certainly over the embarrassment of climbing, laying down and generally looking a bit stupid to get the shot I want.
I love the Italian Gardens there and they looked great in the gorgeous Autumn morning sun. It was a while since I dusted off my 70-200mm lens but I think it worked really well for the shoot, it's great to use on portrait shoots like this but I think I'm still a bit of a fan of primes for weddings...

Visit my website at Andrew Billington Photography

Monday, 7 November 2011

Friday, 4 November 2011

Getting Ready for a Full Weekend

I'm preparing for a fun and full weekend ahead. Kit checked, clothes ironed, lists made and car full of petrol. I'm spending most of the weekend in the South West around Bristol and Gloucester - firstly for a Charity Ball this evening where I shall be taking some studio portraits of the attendees in exchange for contributions to the charity I support, (please check out their website and see if it's something you could see yourself supporting). I then shoot Tamatha and Richard's wedding at Eastington Hall on the Saturday - I hoping for a fine day as it's a beautiful location and it would be good for everyone to be able to use the outside space. Then it's back on Sunday for lunch with friends.... that's not a job and shouldn't really count as part of a full weekend :)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Damian McGillicuddy Workshop

Photography can be quite an insular profession so I always like to take the opportunity to expand my experience and see how other photographers work. I did this yesterday on a workshop in Warrington with internationally renowned portrait photographer Damian McGillicuddy. I was interested in his approach to studio lighting - he creates some very dramatic and arresting images with the simplest of set ups - and to learn a little bit more about photographing people in the most flattering and aesthetically pleasing way.
Damian has a very relaxed approach to teaching - it’s certainly not about theory and science - and dives straight into setting pictures up in his studio, which suits me fine. I’d much rather chatter, observe and absorb whilst someone works than sit in front of them whilst they ‘tell’ me how they do it.
It was a full on day with multiple set-ups and I came away with that extra knowledge and confidence I was looking for. Studio work doesn’t have to be complicated, just small changes in the position of a leg or hand can make a huge impact on the final look of an image and I think that it will be very possible to transfer the knowledge gained in the studio to working with real people in real situations - quickly and easily.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Danny and Jo's Wedding at Oddfellows

Shooting a wedding in the middle of a town with no outside space is not normally an enticing prospect but when I had the opportunity to shoot Danny and Jo's at Oddfellows in Chester I jumped at the chance. It's a cool, quirky place with great light streaming in through the tall Georgian windows on the front of the building.
The wedding took place in two rooms upstairs - the ceremony/breakfast room and the the bar (with small roof terrace) - and was more than comfortable for the 80 or so guests. There are loads of interesting little corners throughout the place which lend themselves to some characterful photography. The staff were fantastic at moving people from one room to another whilst things were turned round and the Master of Ceremonies kept everything running to exact time without it seeming too regimented.
I hope the images reflect the fun, happy and stylish nature of the day - I had a blast (particularly when the icing models of the Bride and Groom took a dive off the top of the cake just before the ceremony)!

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Monday, 17 October 2011

A quick look at this weekends weddings

Two very different weddings this weekend - but both with the same result (two people who love each other got married!). The first was at Dodmore House, a great venue in the heart of Northamptonshire with beautiful sandstone farm buildings and grounds to mingle. The second was at Oddfellows, a trendy bar in the centre of Chester, which has two large upstairs rooms and a bar terrace. Both weddings were very different but equally enjoyable. Here's a sneaky peek...

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Glass Menagerie, New Vic Theatre

My last commission before my holiday - production shots for The Glass Menagerie at The New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-lyme. Go see it if you can it's a really good production (and it's going on tour)...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Louise & Paul at Weston Hall

Here is a quick peep at Louise and Paul's wedding from a couple of weeks ago at St.Lawrence Church in Gnosall then at onto the reception at Weston Hall in Stafford.
It was one of those classic Autumnal days where the weather ping-ponged between bright sunshine and sharp showers that had us running for cover - in fact half the 'formals' took place outside and then inside the church as there was no way a bride gets wet on her wedding day!
Enjoy the day - it looked fantastic and everyone had a great time. In fact the Best Man had even composed a song about the Groom for the occasion that had everyone singing along at the end of the wedding breakfast. Now that raises the bar for future speeches...

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Carol and Mike's Liverpool Wedding

Here's a look at Carol and Mike's lovely Liverpool wedding. I started the day at their flat near the gorgeous Sefton Park (I shall be shooting a wedding in the Palm House there next year!) and moved onto St. Cecelia's Catholic Church for a solemn but enjoyable marriage ceremony.
But the day really found it's relaxed, cool vibe when we got to the reception venue at The Hope Street Hotel - a contemporary, modern establishment right in the heart of Liverpool. Getting there was fun on an old London Routemaster bus. Much fine food, speeches and dancing followed, I left at about 10pm but I'm sure things were going strong into the early hours...

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Monday, 19 September 2011

Sneak Peek @ two great weekend weddings....

I had two lovely weddings this weekend. Despite the changeable weather (we had to run for cover on both days) the most important thing was that both couples became husband and wife. Laura got to marry her soldier husband Rob...
And Louise was married to Paul in her local family church... A good weekend all round I think !!

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Becky and Tom at Somerford Hall, Staffordshire

I had a great day with Tom and Becky recently at Somerford Hall (one of my absolute favourite wedding venues - great staff, a beautiful Georgian House, superb grounds and the food's great too!). They had a very relaxed wedding day with a few quirky surprises: Mariachi Band, Casino Games and a great crooner after the meal who also sang the First Dance.
Here's the Photo Slideshow of the day :)

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Debt Collectors

I was asked last week to photograph John Godber's new play 'The Debt Collectors' at the New Vic Theatre, Staffordshire.
I love shooting theatre as, like weddings, there is a real adrenalin in shooting something that is happening live in front of you with no way to stop it or get a second chance at the shot. I have to anticipate what's going to happen and get in position to achieve the shot I want.
Try to catch the show as it tours the country - dates here - it's a brave two-hander from two excellent actors.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Photographing the Groom

Here is an except form a continuing on-line article I'm writing about my approach to wedding photography - partly aimed at photographers, partly aimed at anyone interested in weddings!

"Photographing the Groom seems to fall into two categories for me. Either I don't get to be with the Groom till he arrives at the church/ceremony room or I'm flitting between the Bride and the Groom because they are in the same location getting ready. So I'll treat these as two separate approaches although the principal is the same: what's the story and how can I capture it in the best way.
At the Hotel/House:

I'll always arrange a time when I'm going to find the Groom and his party so they know when to expect me. This is very important because I want to get the story of getting ready as it happens and not have to re-stage it (which I wouldn’t do anyway). I shall almost certainly have been with the Bride first so I arrange a time that allows the Groom’s party plenty of time to change and get to the venue/church thus allowing me to get back to the Bride for the getting into the dress shots. The approach to shooting the guys is basically the same as the bride: be relaxed, let the story unfold, know where the best light is and gently move people to it if necessary. There are certain moments I'm looking for that I know will tell the story visually and it depends on what has had to occur before I get there as to how many I can capture - I can't be in two places at once (I'll talk about second shooters in a separate article).
Ideally what I would like to be there to see is:

Shaving/ post shower towelling (nothing naked, although some men have no inhibitions)
Other groomsmen arriving
Suits hanging up
Shoe polishing
Getting suited and booted
Cufflinks and watches (think of these as the male equivalent of tiaras and earrings)
Buttonholes (these may not arrive till the church)
Rings being handed over or checked
Any of the usual macho male bonding rituals - unlike with Bride’s friends the Groomsmen see it as their job to undermine the confidence of the Groom at very opportunity. (Please note that I am generalising greatly but as a man and a husband I might have the right.)

Generally men get changed very fast so you have to be on my toes. There is no taking your time and savouring the ritual that you find with the Bride, getting into the suit is the prerequisite for getting to the pub/church/venue as soon as possible so the day can begin. For me the same image rules apply but you might have to shoot fast: I'm looking for wide establishing shots to give us the context/setting, medium shots to show relationships and emotion plus lots of detail shots to show us the rituals of the 'uniform' being donned (it might the best the Groom ever looks and he will want images that reflect how smart/fashionable/individual and 'hot' he looks - it's no different from the Bride).
Once everyone is ready it's nice, if time allows, to spend some time just melting into the background and capturing the interaction between the group of friends as they prepare to leave. They are the smartest they are going to be all day, filled with anticipation of what's going to happen and certainly playing on the Groom’s nervousness (despite what anyone claims I'm sure that any Groom is apprehensive about his role in the day). This time is an opportunity to get some interesting, fun and sometimes touching images of the Groom’s party interacting amongst themselves - the rest of the day they will be with other people and have duties to perform.

At the church

Often the first contact I have with the groom and his party on the day is at the church (or ceremony venue). Preparations have ben done at this point and I don’t tend to ask them to stage any of the getting ready list (often photographers will ask the groom to show his cufflinks or get the Best Man to hold up the rings but it’s not really my style so I tend not to start the day by making them do this). More often than not though the buttonholes arrive at the church. Flowers will have been delivered to the Bride’s house and the buttonholes then brought on to the church - I’ll often volunteer to take the buttonholes myself as I then know that when I arrive I’ll at least get shots of them being pinned to suits.
At the church I tend to step back initially and get reportage shots of the Groomsmen performing their duties - handing out orders of service, showing people to seats, welcoming guests they know - it’s all the texture of the day. I’m moving constantly from inside to outside the church, many different stories are playing out both side of the arched doorway. I’m aware that the Groom and Best Man will be together getting instruction from the vicar/registrar - I’ll get a shot of the interaction but always from a distance, I don’t think it’s appropriate to get into people’s faces when important information is being imparted or risk distracting them.
One really important thing to do at this stage is to try to have a word with the minister/registrar to confirm what level of photography they are comfortable with during the service. I don’t just assume that I’ll be allowed to do my thing - more often than not there are restrictions. This may sound obvious but I want to appear polite and professional so I always announce my name, shake hands and tell them I’m the official photographer. Before they can trot out their usual rules I try to make clear the style of photography I employ - low-impact, natural light, no flash, not moving around and respectful of the most important part of the day, the marriage ceremony. This usually allays any fear they had that I might be intrusive or distracting and might mean that I get fewer restrictions than other photographers. However, some have been ‘burnt’ by photographers before and I have been faced with, “No photographs during the ceremony at all, one of the kiss and only from the back of the church on the way in and out.” And I don’t argue - I don’t want to make a fuss on someone else’s day BUT I do tell the groom of the restrictions, I don’t want to be accused of not doing a proper job.
Moving from inside to outside a lot means you get to know your camera settings very well. I used to shoot ever wedding on manual setting and was constantly having to commit settings to my short term memory as I flitted in and out and make adjustments on the fly. Now I know the look I want - subject isolated by narrow depth of field - so I’m on ‘Aperture Priority’ for most of the time and can let the camera make shutter speed decisions, just making sure that the shutter speed never drops too low (anything above 1/125th is good for me). I always use ‘Auto ISO’ settings, which I love, just making exposure compensation adjustments when shooting against the light - it really beats forgetting to change the ISO when moving outside and finding everything is blown out because I’m still on 1600 ISO.
If there is time and the Groom doesn’t look too stressed there are a couple of shots I like to cross off my list before the service. I’ll aim to get a ‘Hero Shot’ of the groom - a nice portrait in natural light. It creates a nice symmetry in an album as I have a similar single shot of the Bride. Also, if I can gather all the Groom’s party together (and I haven’t done it just after they were ready) I will shoot the portrait of the Groom with his Groomsmen - two reasons to do it now - 1. They look the best they are going to look all day & 2. I can cross it off my ‘Formal’ list and don’t have to soak up time doing it later.
So by this stage of the day everyone is dressed, the Groom’s at the church/ceremony room, guests are arriving (I don’t shoot everyone arriving but try to capture the build up by shooting a few happy, excited family members and friends), the Bride is on her way and the first big focal point of the day is about to happen…"

Find me at my website: Andrew Billington Photography

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Wedding nightmare at the end of the day....

I was just checking out The Izaak Walton Hotel in Dovedale on Trip Advisor when I came across this review showing how a perfect day can be ruined at the last by a bad experience.

Talia Protheroe-Smith writes:

"Well where do I start I booked 11 rooms out for myself and our guests to stay as we were getting married at tissington hall. I spoke to Scott and was assured all booking were fine I had the bridal suite booked and chose the one I wanted perfect. We were told we could check in after the wedding reception around midnight all would be perfect. We have the most amazing time at tissington hall all outstanding and dreams were made a reality. We arrived as a group at the izaak Walton everyone started checking in, me in my wedding dress went upto out room to walk in and see it was a basic room, so we went back to the reception and said not the right room in the mean time my parents had gone to their room to walk into two people in bed!!!! The reception guy hadn't got a clue he then gave our basic room to my parents and gave us keys to the bridal suite argh perfect we thought so my husband took our bags up ...... He then appeared with our bags look angry the bridal suite was the couples who were holding there wedding at the hotel, the room was filled with gifts and cards . We asked the receptionist what was going in and he kept smirking, there was no room for us. He just kept giving us other peoples room keys he didn't know who was in what room or how many people were staying in the hotel which is a healthy and safety nightmare. Let alone a personal security risk.eventually a guy who had a bit more of a clue appeared and proceeded to check room availability, we were then informed there was a room A double executive, what rubbish we went into the room and it was two single beds pushed together!!!!! What a great bridal suite. Our issues our that 1 we put time into checking the booking and ensuring people had suitable rooms. 2 health and safety and 3 our wedding day was completely over shadowed by there shear incompetence. We spent time and money ensuring everything ran smoothly and it was a nightmare at the izaak Walton after a truly magical day. We eventually got to go into our room about 2:20am after sitting around in my wedding dress for nearly two hours. I am still awaiting contact from the hotel manger and I gave heard nothing two weeks later!!!!!!! Avoid this hotel if you are looking for a special occasion to end a perfect day."
Much sympathy goes to Talia.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Tutbury Castle Wedding

It’s been a busy week for editing - three weddings and some looong days but I like to be able to get images to people quite soon after the wedding day - I think that when you get back from your honeymoon you are ready to keep the momentum of the day going by reliving it through the photographs. So two weeks is my yardstick for editing and getting images to couples.
Therefore there are three weddings to blog this week but I’ll try to spread them through the week and not inundate people’s inboxes!
First is a great wedding at Tutbury Castle - fantastic venue, great couple and beautifully designed day. Have a look at the Slideshow and let me know what you think...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Wedding photography is still keeping me busy...

It's been another busy couple of weeks on the contemporary wedding photography front (it's the season after all so it should!) and I've had a couple of fantastic weddings I've photographed recently. I ventured up to Manchester Town Hall to shoot a ceremony and what a great venue - Victorian architecture in all it's glory and because Jen and Chris booked the room on a Saturday we had the whole place to ourselves (bargain!). There is also the wedding I shot in the Winter Gardens in Hexham (video below) - great day, superb venue and relaxed celebration, my three favourite things.
I'll save talk about the wedding at Tutbury Castle for next time...

Monday, 1 August 2011

Wedding Photography from this weekend...

I've decided to have a rest day today after the previous couple of days (weddings in Hexham then Birmingham) but couldn't resist pulling some images out after uploading the memory cards. Here's a quick sneak-peek...