A West Sussex Engagement shoot and a Wedding Photographers take on the whole extravaganza
There's not much more of an exciting day out than a going to a good shin dig, and whats one of the best shin digs out there, A Wedding day.
As a West Sussex Wedding photographer I obviously I love a good wedding, and being able to photograph such a special occasion for my clients is so much fun. Its like you get all the credit for there hard work, don't get me wrong I work hard on a wedding day, and for several days after as well editing all the hundreds of images. But lets be real for a second, its the wedding couple and maybe a few close friends and family that put in all that time and effort to make the day so outrageous, I just document all of that work, and all of the fun laughter and love that is created because of it.
Now an engagement shoot for me is a good excuse to sit down with a couple, have a cup of tea, maybe some food, explore a the country side and chat about what makes you tick. We will also get some great images of you together and start documenting that life long journey you embarking on together.
This pre wedding shoot with Alex and Roz was so much fun, we decided to meet up in the picturesque setting of Arundel, for those of you who are not local, its a little way west of Brighton. Its a old town full of history and interesting architecture, we spent most of our day down by swan lake though, mainly because its a beautiful walk around the lake, but also because town was a bit busy and I wanted to actually be able to chat to them both without to many people bustling past us.
One of my key goals on any photo shoot is to try and get some absolute beaut images within the first 10 minutes or so. This is important for several reasons, if I show a wedding couple 5 gorgeous images of themselves after only being in front of them with a camera for 5 minuets its a safe assumption that they are probably now going to trust in how good I am as a photographer and put all there worries aside they may have previously had, no matter how good your portfolio, until people see images of themselves they aren't going to fully trust in you. It also puts me at ease, I know I now have 5 or so great shots in the bank, I can relax a little and not worry about if the weather changes, if the couple has to rush of for some reason, anything.
Now this may sound easy, get a few good shots early and relax, but from experience the key to success is preparation, if you can scope out your location before the day of the shoot, go for a walk and take some test shots, and if this isn't possible then at very least get to location an hour or so before your arranged time and find the spots you want to shoot the couple in. Always Consider the fact that the sun is going to be moving throughout the day, so plan this in accordingly, just because a spot looks good when you turn up, it may well be ruined 2 hours later when the sun is hitting it from a different angle.
I set up my first shot where I knew we where going to be parking, this may sound strange but the location was almost made for the engagement shoot, a beautiful row of tall chestnut trees towering up above us on either side with the sun breaking though the leafs to create some stunning background highlights and bokeh (blurry bally looking bit for non photographers) I almost always use off camera flash in my photography so this was my next step, to balance the flash with the ambient lighting. I'm a strong advocate for not being lazy as a photographer, if I have a bright background with stunning colours and I want my wedding couple to be exposed properly, the only possible way of doing this is either to blind them and make them look toward the sun (cue squinty faces) or use some kind of off camera lighting, this might be as simple as a big diffuser or reflector, but I personally love off camera flash, I think it is one of the big differences between professional and amateur looking images.
This set up turned out to be my favorite images from the whole day heres a few more to look at.
You cant always prepare for everything.
We then decided that it would be fun to try and rent a boat and head out onto the lake, I had no idea how this would go as it was slightly impromptu, I had an idea how I wanted to set up the shoot, although that goodness Alex and Roz talked me out of it. My plan was to wade out into the lake and set up two lights on the lake bed (its really shallow almost the whole way across, so seemed totally manageable) But they both insisted that they didn't want me wading out and getting soaking wet just for some pictures of them (maybe this will change on the wedding day)
So instead I just snuck all my lighting gear out onto the boat with me and paddled out behind them. We went to the opposite side of the lake into some shade plus it was a lot quieter and I was about to start setting the light stands up and drop them in but something in my brain told me to stick an oar in and see what it was like first, sure enough with almost zero effort the oar plunged effortlessly though the foot of water bellow me, and then effortlessly down another 3 or 4 feet into the silt bottom of the lake, at that point we all started laughing out loud and I was pretty grateful that they had stopped me wading out. We got some great photos none the less with me just hand holding the flash out on a pole and generally being very uncomfortable in some strange positions.
Also, don't forget to get the ring shot, its as important on the engagement shoot as it is on the wedding day.
Lastly I always really like to get some individual portraits of the couple, its partly a personal thing, I just love individual portraits, but also more importantly I want that intensity that is brought on by being on your own in front of the camera, on the wedding day both bride and groom will be on there own at some point, whether in quite contemplation or getting ready for the day, and those moments will need to be documented. If I can get the couple feeling confident individually, they will be bullet proof when I put the together in front of the camera.
We worked through a few poses and different ideas working on what felt comfortable, but also what made them feel like they looked good.
All in all a super fun day spent with this awesome couple. I cant wait to spend there wedding day down here in Chichester West Sussex at the very beautiful Southend barns with them and carry on celebrating after when I get to relive it all again looking though the images.