Monday, 30 May 2011

Vintage Themed Wedding Photography

Here goes - my very first blog - so please do bear with me....

I'm a photographer and I thought I'd share a few experiences having recently been asked to cover a vintage themed wedding. Wedding photography is one of those things that after a while becomes almost second nature. Almost, but not quite.... I have found that however experienced one is or however many weddings one has covered, something always causes just that little bit of added stress; it might be a flash failing to fire, or unexpectedly quick battery drain or a host of potential equipment malfunctions, and that's before you throw in the variables caused by each unique wedding venue, weather conditions and guests etc.

The bride & groom (Kev & Helen) for this wedding were actually friends of mine (and still are!) and I'm never quite sure if that adds to the stress or not. They actually invited me to their wedding a little while ago and asked if I'd like to take my camera along with me to take a few snaps. Well, any professional photographer out there will hopefully agree with me when I say you really do need to be either one thing or the other ie a guest chilling out enjoying the bucks fizz, or the photographer, poised ready to pounce at any opportunity to capture that special moment in time that is guaranteed never to be repeated.

Anyway, Sue my wife was not going to pass up the opportunity of getting dressed up in vintage garb, so the next few weeks comprised mainly of her buying dresses from charity shops, frilly gloves from ebay and me hitting vintage shops in places like the 'Needlemakers' in Lewes, East Sussex, where I found a smart waistcoat. Sue looked great in her outfit, together with black fascinator. I eventually found a quality vintage suit, and the thing I most looked forward to about this wedding was wearing my treasured gold pocket watch in my waistcoat! This had a special place for me, as it had been given to me by Jack, Sue's dad and my friend - a short time before he had died.

For wedding photography, the way I operate is pretty much as a husband and wife team. Sue is that extra personal touch who really connects in a special way with the key individuals from a wedding party. She understands the bride's requirements and little idiosyncrasies, enhancing her experience immeasurably. I've even seen her running around as an extra helper, doing all sorts of things just to keep everything under control. But she is also a great sounding board for me when we bounce around creative posing ideas. For me this was hopefully going to be a perfect chance to capture some wedding images with a difference.

Sue and I visited the registry office venue (Southover Grange, Lewes) a week or so prior to the ceremony at about the right time of day to just get an idea of where the sun is going to be for the outside shots - those shadows can assist or play havoc with an image, so its best to be prepared.

The registry office was fairly well lit, with a mixture of natural window and tungsten light so I'd just need on-camera flash gelled for tungsten. I knew that Kev and his brother Doug his best man, were going to be wearing kilts and had checked the colours of those and the dress etc. I knew Helen would look fantastic, so I had to get the colour balance just so.

During the pre-wedding venue check we also explored the lovely gardens in the grounds and I started to look at possible vantage points for a few eye catching  shots. I knew I'd probably need some added lighting and a reflector, as it was likely to be very sunny on the big day, so I would need to fill in some of the potentially harsh shadows that would be created.

There was also an area in the gardens I quite liked, where there was an old wall which has a couple of arches cut from it. I thought I could do something with this, but it was quite shaded, so I'd need my mobile soft box. Maybe here I could process with a touch of antique sepia.....

Finally the big day came and all went well and without too many hitches from my point of view. Sue did a great job assisting me and Kev & Helen were appreciative of our very low key, relaxed style. The church blessing and marquee reception was planned for the next day. This was going to be covered photographically by another friend, so Sue & I reverted to plan A - bucks fizz mode!!

However, the one thing I managed to do in the interim was to process my favourite image of the couple and to mount and frame it, ready to present it to them at the reception the next day. To say they were pleased was an understatement. I love to see peoples faces when they love their images - it makes it all worthwhile... :)


  1. When Jeff turned up with an old brownie camera on an ancient wooden tripod and shouted watch the birdie, we all dived for cover as the flash ripped through the air and smoke covered the venue. A Vintage wedding Jeff not vintage photography!

    Jeff said he had the quintessential dichotomy, whether to be guest or professional! So did we! Both Helen and I knew they would deliver a quality product working 100% to capture every moment of our day and not allow time to enjoy the celebrations on the day. So a simple solution, have two wedding days, perfect! On Friday, Jeff and Sue worked and on the Saturday, they partied! What amazing pictures they produced. Yes, with state of the art camera kit. He made comment about relaxing his subjects to get the most out of the shots. They did it perfectly. Does it help being friends? No because as Jeff says, it puts more pressure on all. That was my perception prior to the event. During and after, my view changed because of their work ethic and partnership. They had done their homework and visited the site. They knew every place that a picture would be created to capture the moments. Guests were all at ease with their relaxed manner and personalities that were without being too slushy, in perfect harmony with the environment, conditions, location and of course, the most unpredictable of all, people!
    We knew the pictures would take some time to edit and prepare then upload for an initial unveiling. As with life, the best things are worth the wait. But we didn't have to wait too long for what I can honestly say, is the best picture I have ever seen of us.

    On the Saturday, after the church blessing we made our way to a field. Yes a field, for our reception decked out with marquee, bunting, jam jars full of amazing flowers, tea lights in trees, camp fire, games and great food. All guests dressed appropriately in vintage clothing. Jeff and Sue, as always, going for it in style. They looked amazing. It was their time to relax. But they couldn't! Both insisted I came with them to their car where they handed me a large parcel. "Open it Chip, go on!" They were like two excited kids. When I did unwrap it I realised why. The picture is the one he is using on his front page. Helen was overwhelmed with the quality and effect. It now has pride of place and copies are being requested for parents. Brilliant! Then a few days later, all pictures are on the website! What a service!
    So if ever you intend to get a friend to take your professional wedding or other event pictures, don't! Unless they are called Jeff and Sue Woodall. Thanks mates, perfect!

  2. Kev,
    I really appreciate your kind comments - so glad to get such a testimonial. By the way, I did have a box Brownie once!

  3. Hi Jeff. Great to see you doing so well and still taking amazing pics. You were always the teachers pet! ;-)
    Looking forward to seeing more of your blog as you write about more weddings! Hope you are all well x

  4. Hi Jeff,

    I am surprised to see these wonderful pics. How did you capture these beautiful wedding photographs in amazing style. The setting and focus of lenses of camera is very well.

    Wedding Photography Sussex