Time to start talking about past weddings and their venues! On this occasion I have chosen Manley Mere Sail Sports which I shot during quite a hazy May afternoon.
The venue itself has some terrific grounds with plenty of opportunities for photos. Some fine trees, an orchard, a large lily pond with a feature bridge making its way under a huge weeping willow. Space aplenty outside and space aplenty inside with a good sized bar! Decent sized bars are very important as it can be irritating if you have a wedding do on a hot day with 200 or so guests and the bar is only six feet long! Then there was the sailing lake. If only we had time to get them in a dinghy and go for a whizz! In other words, an excellent venue for a relaxing wedding!
I could have spent all day dragging the bride and groom round all the features and activities available at Manley Mere. The trouble is that I always have to remind myself that what I would like to do and what I will have time to do are very different things. The couple (Amanda and Paul) chose me partly for the name I was using at the time - Silent Assassin Photography - which meant that I hid and watched them enjoying themselves. Don't get in the way too much, just go with the flow. Also, this was a time when I had no assistant to help with lighting etc.
For those who did not know that I used to call the service Silent Assassin Photography, it was called thus to depict a quiet and sophisticated operator who just got on with the job. The trouble was that too many people were taking the name too literally! So that's why I decided to rename the service as simply me this year. Besides, there is so much more to my work now than weddings, so the name Silent Assassin doesn't really work with wildlife photography!
Anyway, despite my constant 'if only' moments of thought, this was still one of my best wedding shoots. Also, if honest with myself, if I wanted to do everything, it would have taken three days!
Gemma and Paul (he having trained as a photographer himself), gave me a free reign to do just roam. They were not interested in group shots. We literally did just one outside Daresbury All Saints Church (another super place and a very nice priest) and that was it.
I used to hate doing group shots, so that made me more than pleased, but now I get a kick out of arranging smaller groups in to more interesting scenes. The usual sardines stood in a line is all very well if you have a pile of guests, but there are so many opportunities with smaller groups. On one occasion, while shooting the men, I just said "look at the person next to you and do the first thing that comes to mind" and the variety of responses were hilarious from play fighting to one having his head polished! All us males tend to refuse to grow up and there was the proof! I dare say some bride's mothers would disapprove of such group photography, but that's me - I like rock n' roll photography!
Back to Manley Mere Sail Sports! Such a lovely day and most guests were outside enjoying the sun and getting tipsier by the minute. As the day progresses, my job gets easier as the guests start to let their hair down and I can get some incredibly animated and quirky moments. Take for instance this shot below. This was my favourite of the day and possibly to date! For those of you who don't see it, let me try to explain.
The spontaneity of the image combined with the weather was almost perfect. Bright sun coming from behind the subject creating fabulous shadows. The wind animating the bride with an almost 'Monroe's billowing dress' moment, despite her attempts to retain her dignity. The bride's brother switching from fag to pint with simple grace while shielding himself from the wind and another guest sporting a short skirt throwing caution to the wind, you might say. A real contrast of poses (if you can call them poses!) and instantly showing the personality traits of the subjects. Switching the image to black and white brings this into greater focus still.
This wedding photograph won the Silver at the BIPPNW Awards in the Wedding Reportage category. I felt it should have won, but I got the Bronze as well for another of my quirky moments!
All in all, a successful day's shoot then! It certainly helps when you have a great venue to work with! And of course, the couple! We got on like a house on fire and their trust in me gave no end of encouragement! Thank you Gemma and Paul! :-)