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Andrew Billington Photographyon

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

"Bridal Preparations - Part 2"

Here is another of a very occasional series of articles I'm publishing.

The way I work there is a lot of waiting around. I’m not hurrying people to get things done or arriving after the fact and asking people to stage what has already happened, I like to be there when it does occur, hence the waiting. If I know I have loads of time to cover the preparations I’ll occasionally step out of the room to get some other texture shots - if at the bride’s/mother’s house then something personal to them that will mark this transition phase of the relationship (parental wedding photos with something apt reflected or good luck cards) or if it’s at the venue then I might take the opportunity to photograph the ceremony room/wedding breakfast details.
There will always be things happening - hair is teased, make-up applied or checked, bridesmaids arrive, mum arrives, flowers delivered - the list goes on and on but in a logical progression, everything is building to getting the dress on and going to the ceremony.
Most of the time I’m standing and observing, waiting for those moments of activity that push the story forward and then it’s a flurry of activity from me as I move around my subject getting the story from various angles and from close and wide. This is where I’m constantly aware of the light - I love to have a good amount of natural light coming from one direction and will ask that things take place in this light if it’s necessary to move people (I used to be so hardcore as to not interfere at all but then I’d just be there cursing to myself that there was this beautiful light and no-one was in it!). If the room is dual aspect and you have light flooding from two directions I have been known to ask if I can close one set of curtains to get some beautiful directional light rather than have a very overlit, flat scene - but mostly you are fighting for light rather than fighting an abundance of it.
Preparation shots fall into a couple of categories for me: detail and scene-setting. I love to get the finer detail of what is going on: dresses being fastened, hair teased, make-up applied but also the situation in general: How busy is the room?, Who is around?, How many things are happening at the same time?, What’s the scene that the bride will remember? Are there any moments when people walk in and see the bride for the first time?(When parents walk in and see their daughter for the first time on her wedding day emotions run really high and there are only a few moments to capture this - I step back so as not to be part of it but capture the scene in a wide and with some close ups).
I always arrange with my brides when they are getting into the dress so I can get the details of this happening - quite often it’s tense, joyful, difficult, exciting but never dull and it creates a natural end to the preparation phase. If there is time after the dress is on I might see if I can take a quick portrait of the bride (in that nice directional light) as this is the freshest and most perfect she will look all day and it’s often an opportunity to get a nice portrait that you can show her in the back of the camera so she knows how fantastic she looks.

Next time I want to look at the groom and everything I might try to capture about him before the ceremony (normally you’ll find him in the bar).

Monday, 18 July 2011

4 Seasons in One Day…. well nearly.

What a weekend. The middle of July and the kind of unpredictable weather you’d expect in November or April. The brides were very matter of fact about the possibility of having a rainy wedding - there is really nothing you can do about it - but I had to feel for them because if you plan a wedding in July you can think it’s a strong possibility that it might be dry, and even sunny!
What the weekend did do for me was keep me on my toes in being able to constantly adapt to the changing weather conditions - it was like a three day workshop in shooting weddings in Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Rain, bright sunlight, dull and cloudy, showers and lots of gusty wind… and these conditions seemed to alternate every 30 minutes. But thankfully everything went smoothly on all the days and we didn’t miss a single shot, even if the timings and locations had to be in a constant state of flux.
Here are four seasons from a weekend in July.





or sometimes you just have to stay indoors...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Contemporary Wedding Photography by Staffordshire based Andrew Billington

I recently put together a slideshow of images from the weddings I shot in June to show couples who made enquires. I think it's good not just to show my 'greatest hits' all the time but often more recent images are the ones I'm most enthusiastic about and can talk about with a vigour and relevancy.
Here it is....

Friday, 1 July 2011

Busy time for Wedding Photography

It's ramping up to a busy time on the old wedding photography front - obviously it's the key season for us contemporary wedding photographers and I'm finding that preparation is all. Every wedding day I want to give my best and serve couples with some exciting, interesting and original photography so putting in time doing the groundwork has proven invaluable.
Pre-wedding Venue Visits - Essential. I always offer to meet up before the day to discuss the timetable and get the opportunity to walk around the venue with the couple. This lets me know what is special about a place for the couple and to make plans in my head of where it is best to shoot things and what features look good (I'm always wanting to give a context to my wedding images and if I can know a place beforehand then I feel fully prepared). I'm thinking of making the pre-wedding meeting almost mandatory.
Lists of Formal Shots - again pretty mandatory. My style of shooting is less about spending lots of time lining groups up and more about capturing the day as it unfolds but it's inevitable that when certain people are gathered together you wouldn't want to formally put them as a group to capture the occasion. I shoot on average 6-10 'formal' group shots per wedding (which couples tend to agree is enough) and try to get this done in about 10 minutes so the day can flow. So having the list of groups before the day helps me to know what I'm shooting and put them in the most efficient order - plus I can give a copy to the Best Man and use him as a 'roper' to get everyone together.
Knowing the Style or Theme of the Day - this is part of all the discussion with the couple beforehand to know what sort of day they are looking to have (Casual, Vintage, Relaxed, Formal) and it really helps me to add that feeling to the photography on the day.
Anyway - this is all part of the pre-wedding day prep that I like to do which means that I feel much more free on the day to capture the essentials and then look for the unique, interesting and personal.
Here are some recent shots from weddings at Sandhole Oak Barn and Landmark Arts Centre