Updated: Dec 28, 2022
I was lying in bed one sunday morning, drinking tea and recieved a text, "its at one o'clock." I replied, having no idea who the text was from, "what is at one o'clock? "the wedding" - "what wedding?
Apparently, whilst on holiday on Alonissos a couple of weeks before, I had seen a Facebook post. The post explained that a photographer had been booked for a wedding and his wife had been booked to play the harp at the wedding. However, she now had Covid and the photographer was worried that he might get Covid too and had asked if anyone could cover for him in the extremely unlikely chance that he would get Covid. Well, no surprise what so ever, come the day of the wedding, he was quite ill and in bed. Could I go to Chester and shoot this wedding?
It was quite a shock as I had forgotten about the original conversation, fortunately I had nothing booked. Chester is nearly three hours away, I quickly walked the dog and set off.
The venue was a large hotel in Chester called "The Queen," a quite beautiful building. I went to reception, they seemed very pleased to see me, it would appear that the original photographer calling in sick had caused quite a stir. I was ushered to the bridal suite, which was also beautiful. I met the bride and her daughters. What a lovely family - I am thinking - what a lovely day I am going to have.
I set about setting the scene for the wedding day. Jitka was very photogenic and keen to get a wide range of images.
I think that people, particularly the main characters at a wedding, look better on the day, than at pretty much any other time in their lives. So much effort goes into the preparation. Many careful hours are spent making themselves look perfect. I like "mirror" shots, the above one to show how much care had been taken with Jitka's hair.
I had not had a chance to to check out the venue very much when I arrived and I was trying to think how this was all going to work. Then I had the idea of going to find the wedding organiser for the hotel. She was the most agreeable lady. She had lots of ideas of where to take photos, the set family images and so forth. The rather lovely Roman themed gardens had been reserved for the afternoon, but unfortunately it was coming onto rain, ruining that option.
The bulk of the guests were arriving and meeting in the hotel bar, I got a selection of images from there, capturing most of the guests. I love a girl in a red dress.
The day progressed smoothly, with the ceremony taking place in a room where we would eat later. The "Registrar was a lovely lady who encouraged me to get lots of intimate and romantic shots. Then back to the bar, for more family shots, while the room was being setup for the wedding breakfast.
A good many of the bride's family had travelled from the Czech Republic for the occaision. I felt that it was important to get a number of photos of this part of the family, as they did not meet up that often. Particularly important, were the bride's parents. Despite neither of them speaking any english, or me speaking any Czech, we got along really well. I took lots of photos of them.
This refers to my blog - (https://www.axiom.pictures/post/and-then-she-died ) and the importance of getting memories of the people that we love. The way that our memories work (or don't work) the images in our minds eye, need refreshing from time to time. Weddings would seem a very good time to do this as so many of our family members are present, in mind and body! As the official wedding photographer I have the opportunity to get these shots, it's the presence of mind to make them.
The day progressed, still smoothly, to the wedding breakfast. I had been given a place close to the top table so I could take photos. I feel that we should not take photos while people are eating as it's rarely a good look. However the odd event occurs that need a photo.
The dining room was very elegantly laid out and the food was superb. Being the photographer, but treated as a guest was a significant factor for me. I felt very at home and comfortable with these people, who I had not met before. I had no preparation time, just thrown in at the proverbial deep end. Everyone accepted me as part of their family and I just got on with my job, making the memories of this beautiful day.
After the breakfast and the speeches I had a couple of hours to make images of the wedding party and had great fun doing so. Everyone had drunk a glass of wine or two and were relaxed and enjoying the day. The rain had gone off, so we were able to go outside. It was summer time, the light outside was good and it stayed light long into the evening
This is a clssic shot, a favorite of the hotel, with a good number of framed prints around the hotel, of whole wedding parties, on these stairs. Outside there was a "romanesque" statue of the Muses, I know that is a contradiction.
The young ones were quite invovled in the whole day, as they should be, this is the close family. I took a lot of photos around this, it was all quite aesthetic!
Getting people to pose correctly at a wedding does seem to be quite simple. I like to get shots of people as they arrive at a wedding, all dressed up and looking fabulous. As the day progresses, and people have a glass of wine or two, they seem to want to be in front of my camera. Some choose sensible poses, some outrageous ones. Either way, it does seem quite simple and a great deal of fun. I have been at weddings where I have been asked for just "candid" shots and no staged ones. Later, when I show the family the staged shots, they say something like - oh, thank goodness you took those!
Let me do my thing and I'll get the shot!
Eventually the room was made ready for the evening party and many more guests started arriving. I set about making images with them as they settled in for the evening. This was a lot of fun.
By this time I was getting tired, so I got the first dance into the can and made my excuses and left. The first motorway services I found, I pulled in and went straight to sleep. A quick 30 minute nap then set off home. Whilst driving I was able to reflect a little on a surprising and wonderful day. Surprising because I was not expecting it, wonderful, because it seemed to go so well. I had taken about a 1000 photos, some of which I knew were good.
It is almost as exciting processing the photos as it is taking them. I worked carefully through them, over the following couple of days. I cull the out of focus ones - not many I am pleased to say. Some I simply don't like, most are ok. Some of them, just a few, are beautiful. I look at the image and think, how the hell did I get that? Then I remember that I am supposed to be a professional photographer, that is what I am supposed to do!
Shooting a wedding is a privilege and an honour. They are however, very hard work. There is often a days preparation, meeting with the Bride and Groom and sometimes their family, planning what is going to be done. The day itself, which can easily be a 12-14 hour day, on your feet the whole time and having to concentrate all day. As with the above wedding, I took a 1000 photos. I look at every single one, often they are ok. Sometimes the white balance needs correcting, I crop out a lot of stuff on the edges, stuff I can't miss when I'm taking the original shot and a bit of curves and levels, which is a contrast thing. The photos are loaded onto a hard drive and processed and backed up to an online respository. They are also uploaded onto my website for distribution. All this takes two or three days work. All together, its a weeks work, hence why photographers charge so much to shoot a wedding. If a photographer is not charging enough, be very wary.
A few weeks after I shot this wedding, I had a thank you e-mail, saying that the client thought that the photos were wonderful. They loved all the family shots, which I had painstakingly crafted. Then I realise just how important the photos are to the whole family, both the Bride's and the Groom's.
You will also be pleased to know that they paid me the following morning.