Drew and Darrell were married on a British summer’s day. It was a fun-filled and relaxed wedding with plenty of song and dance. Starting at the beautiful St Leonard’s Church in Beoley, Drew and Darrell exchanged vows in the historic church before enjoying a lively and fun-filled reception at The Oak Hotel in Hockley Heath. AJTImages was there throughout, capturing the story of their wedding in our signature relaxed and natural style. It was a privilege to be a part of Drew and Darrell’s day, one which I thoroughly enjoyed photographing. Read more
11 day old baby Alfie with his new wardrobe.
The Wedding of Kieran and Marie Northall
Kieran and Marie, are a lovely young couple who were married at the Chase Hotel in Coventry, a fantastic venue with a delightful interior, and large grounds, all perfect for photography. Kieran and Marie, while initially quite shy in front of the camera soon warmed up and we were able to come away with some fantastic shots filled with emotion and joy on their big day.
The day progressed at quite a pace, and after officially tying the knot there was no let up in opportunities for a great image, whether creating a relaxed pose with the bride and groom and their closest friends, or stepping back and capturing the raw emotion of the day.
A big thanks to Keiran and Marie for using AJT Images and allowing me to be a part of this fantastic day.
Making group shots interesting.
My work as a photographer has often provided some interesting challenges. In this instance I am faced with the difficulties and complexities of a large group of people.
In all honesty big groups shots are not my favourite thing in the world. Often you find that the people in the photos really do not want to be there, and are only interested in escaping to the bar. Besides long lines of people who are not willing to do anything but stand there do not make good photos.My definition of a large group is 5 upwards. below that it is easier to move people and pose them effectively, above and you tend to run into problems with time space and often the mentality of the group.
There are exceptions however, and while this image still runs into a few problems with the size of the reproduction, it maintains enough interest throughout the picture to remain appealing.
The background behind the image was Norton in Hales, a village in North Shropshire being chosen to represent the Midlands in the Britain in Bloom competition. Upon arriving I was greeted with 8 people and a somewhat familiar sinking feeling. I was told that “the reporter” had suggested using a flowerbed they had planted in the churchyard, “yes but the reporter often has the photographic sense of a blind turtle so we shall see”. I left to look at this flowerbed (which was indeed a bit rubbish) partly to scout out my immediate location, and partly to stall for a little extra time in which to assess my next course of action.
Large groups can often be slimmed down by asking who actually wants to be in the photo, because if you dont want to be there I dont want you clogging up my frame and looking grumpy but you can still help by holding a light and normally be happy that you avoided having to pose. The alternative is to take two photos one boring lineup which is promptly binned or sent as an “alternative” with another shot including just a few people, which is normally the one that will be used.
In this case everyone wanted to be in the picture, but more importantly they all seemed flexible and willing enough to be shunted around for a few minutes. The backdrop for the image is classic Norton in Hales. It incorperates the centre of the village, flowers to illustrate the story, the church and a sign proclaiming this to be Shropshires best kept village, all good foundations for a group shot to build on.
Main triangular compositional elements.
When I do shoot a large group like this I will always start small and build the image up in stages. My first move is to ask everyone to move to one side and bring in the first person. This person was the closest to the camera large in the frame and a cornerstone to build the image on. This time I brought a seccond body in straight away posed behind the first to start to balance the frame. This seccond person also helps complete the composition involving the couple on the bench who were placed next, creating a triangle from the three of them and linking them and the bench to the rest of the image.
Third to be placed was the man sitting on the rock. Alone he seems rather insignificant in the frame, however he provides a lead in line to the church and completes a triangle involving the man seated near the front and the jumping girl who were placed next. The woman by the sign is in essence on her own. She acts with the sign but is separated from the rest of the photo by it, she does balance the picture though and without her presence the image would appear unbalanced and weighted to the right. Once viewed in its complete form, the picture fans out from the front in a triangle involving all parts of the image, framed by the two signs and leading towards the church and sky in the background.
Compositional layers and lighting.
The image can also be seen as possessing three distinct layers of interest as the eye travels from front to back. First is the front two figures the area where the eye initially falls and important as they need to catch your attention and dictate the path your eye will follow through the image. The second layer includes the rest of the people and contains the bulk of the detail and interest, with the jumping girl acting as a sort of hot-spot quickly drawing your eye from the front into the centre of the image and allowing it to spread to the other people. The third layer includes the church, sky and signs surrounding the group. Your eye is encouraged to follow the line of the church tower up towards the sky and then back down the signs on the edge round to the front of the image again.
Lighting the image was simple a few flashguns equipped with softboxes were used to lift the left of the image as light was coming from the right. One was used to light the very front section of the image where the eye naturally arrives first, placed on the floor and slightly higher than the ambient light to make the person in the front really stand out, and one further back to fill the shadows on the second layer of the image. A graduated filter was placed on the sky afterwards to add contrast and interest to the third and final layer. It was also necessary to shoot the image a few times to slightly correct some of the poses and get the jump correct.
From arriving this image took around 30-40 minutes to shoot, however 10-15 minutes of that was scouting and waiting for people to arrive, and a further 5 minutes was packing away.
Catching The Sun.
Sunshine and photography create an interesting combination with its own particular challenges, so much so that when faced with bright light and dark shadows, many photographers will be secretly wishing for a dull overcast day where capturing a usable image is easier.
Personally I love the sun, everyone seems cheerful and warm days are instantly associated with happy memories. It is all just a matter of controlling the available light, then deciding whether to add light of your own into the mix.
The easiest way to use the sun is to see it as a main light source, and place your subject accordingly. I will often place them so the sun hits them between 45° and 90° from the front of their face. This ensures that they, and the background are well lit with lots of contrast and colour. This will leave your subject well lit on one side of the face, but the other side may be obscured with dark shadows.
To counter this I will use another light placed between the camera and 90° on the opposite side of the subject, a technique known as cross lighting. This light will either be an off-camera speedlight or even a simple reflector. Other lights can be used and I will often use another light as a rim light, or to highlight an area of the subject.
Regarding power settings, if I am using an off-camera speedlight I will set the power equal or just below the suns intensity on the subject to maintain a well lit subject, and one which still maintains the contrasty vibrant look of a summers day.
The result is a fully lit image full of drama and vibrance, one which grabs the viewer and compels you to look at the image.
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