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Andrew Billington Photographyon

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

National Wedding Show at Olympia, 18th-20th Feb, 2011

I took a trip to the National Wedding Show at Olymplia last week to get an idea of the sort of things that people were offering to couples for the coming year - and a little research on the wedding fair front as it something I don't do and wondered if I should.
Approximately 300 stands (10% of which were photographers) and plenty of choice for couples touring the show BUT the sad thing was I think the choice was pretty much between different degrees of very 'vanilla' wedding goods, so much of the goods you would find in the High Street or via a very broad 'google' as to render the bringing together of everyone obsolete. Doing two circuits of the show I found 3 companies that I thought offered interesting and well thoughtout goods or services with a passion for something different.

Wonderland Bakery - bespoke, handmade decorations, favours and cakes. Vintage and gorgeous.

Shropshire Petals - natural, bio-degradable petals in a fantastic range of colours, and I net the farmer!

Staggered - A male wedding planning website for blokes who feel left out!

As for me I wanted to be wowed and excited by all the ideas that brides were being offered to design their own days and create a really unique wedding - but I wasn't. I'm sorry to say I left disappointed knowing that for the majority of people attending who wanted to create a truely original day to remember that reflected their passions and style the search would have to continue... I should have gone to the Designer Vintage Bridal Show in Birmingham the same weekend - I was going but I came back from London with a sore throat that left me flat on my back for the weekend so I missed it!
There was a good Catwalk show at Olympia and I'll be blogging that soon with lots of pics.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A Narrative Approach to Wedding Photography, Part 2

This is the second of a series of articles I'm currently writing - thought I'd pop it on the blog. More will follow in the next few weeks....

In the first part I touched on what I think makes good wedding photography - how it should be a personal choice, a story that YOU want to tell, an aesthetic that is your vision - and in saying this it simply means that I can't hope to dictate or impose the sort of images that you should be shooting nor would I. So simply over the next few articles I'm going to talk about how I prepare for a wedding shoot, what I look for, how I conduct myself, how I choose to shoot and how I post-process the images afterwards. Take from it what you will but make it your own.
Pre-shooting Preparation:
There are three fronts on which I have to make sure I'm prepared. Firstly, equipment. I always have 2 camera bodies with me (and I'm often shooting on both) and if I'm away for a night doing two consecutive weddings I'll have a third body locked in the boot of my car just in case. The night before a shoot I make sure that cameras are cleaned, lenses dust free, batteries charged, spare batteries charged, memory cards formatted, cameras are pre-set to the settings I anticipate I'll be using so I only have to make minor adjustments straight out of the bag. Flashes are checked and re-chargable batteries topped up with spares ready to go. My current equipment list is as follows but it's only how I shoot and I am using Canon cameras for the simple reason that I learnt on them and know them well (I don't get into the Canon/Nikon/Sony debate):
- Canon 5D mk 2
- Canon 1D mk 4
- 28mm Prime (wide and great in low light) - hotel rooms and family houses
- 50mm Prime (classic documentary length) - Reception and congratulations
- 85mm Prime (great close portrait lens) - Ceremony in smaller rooms, portraits
- 135mm Prime (Superb fast telephoto) - Big churches, reception and speeches
- 16-35mm (ultra-wide and a bit funky) - Evening Dance
Flashes, batteries, spare batteries, cleaning material, lens hoods for everything, memory cards, off-camera flash cable, business cards, water, snacks, breath mints.
Secondly, details about the day. I talk to my couples about the day the first time they make an enquiry - I want to know what their choices are and how they are tailoring the day to suit them. I then meet up with them at the venue about a month before to make sure I have the final timetable of how the day is to run and any last minute thoughts, ideas or special things that they might have decided (write EVERYTHING down, you won't remember it the night before or on the day). Then armed with all this information I can tailor my photography to their day. The night before I make myself a crib sheet that I can slip into my pocket and refer to on the day (it has on it the timetable, anything special things of note and when they might occur, any special requests and on the reverse a list of all the formal shots requested).
Thirdly, and this is the most esoteric of everything I do, I prepare mentally for the day ahead. I rehearse the day in my mind - when and where are things happening, what space is available to me, what's the journey between venues, how long am I physically shooting before a break, what shots do I want to achieve (now this might fly in the face of a documentary approach but I want to make sure I've 'banked' certain shots to create a framework for the story of the day and then I can hang the reactive and situation led shots on that). I get my head into a place that is calm, observant, reactive and hopefully tuned to the day ahead.
Next time what happens when, after all this preparation, I step into a room full of people getting ready and try to put everything into practice.