A Wedding Photography Bonanza!

To complete a trio of consecutive wedding-related posts, here’s one about my latest wedding adventure… The Rob Pugh Wedding Photography Bonanza!

I first met Rob back at the Gadget Show 2014 when we were both running Olympus cameras.  Since then we’ve both moved onto the Sony platform, but that’s a story for another day…  I did a photo walk around Bristol with Rob later in 2014, where I learned ways to set the camera up in the most efficient way using quick access buttons.

The Wedding Photography Bonanza workshop was a three day event to learn all about the wedding photography business.  From running a business, workflows for editing, albums and printing, lighting, and of course some shooting practice. Again Rob’s expertise in efficiencies shone through.

I learned so much, and realised the stark difference between a serious hobbyist like me who does the odd paid wedding or shoot, and a full-time pro who’s invested the time to get all their processes the most efficient and effective way they can be.  A good example of this is photo editing…  For Silvia and Dave’s wedding I spent around 40 hours editing the photos, whereas Rob would have spent less than six.  Using presets he’s built in Capture One his editing is so fast, and the results so good, he has more time for other income-generating work. 

A few other bits I learned were…  Using Rotolight kits to light brides and grooms and using the clever adjustable colour temperature to match other light sources and make the light look so natural (many of the photos below used Rotolight Neo 2 and Aeos lights).  Using Shootproof to build photo galleries for happy couples with print fulfillment using Loxley Colour.  And using Fundy Designer to design albums, again with print fulfillment by Loxley.

The day I enjoyed the most was shooting with three models, Sorcha, Jessica, and Marc, in wedding clothes.  We did shoots in a church, on the street (with lots of bemused looks from passers by), in a park, and in the hotel where we set up for the three days.  The models were all great, even with a chilly wind blowing outside, and assisted by make up artist Katie

These are some of the best photos I’ve ever taken, and it’s spurred me on to think about doing more photos of people with some proper lighting, and maybe more weddings too. In fact, after posting a few photos from the day I had a wedding photography enquiry! With The Photography Show coming up next month I’ll definitely be looking out for Rotolight and Capture One deals.

My first wedding shoot, with Silvia and Dave.

In my last post I said that I’d never aspired to photograph weddings. People have never been my favourite photo subject, and weddings come with the inevitable pressure and responsibility of capturing images that couples will look back on for their entire lives. There’s no second chance to get it right.

I’ve known Silvia for many years and had met her fiancĂ© Dave on a few occasions, and was delighted when they got engaged. Not long after, Silvia asked if I’d shoot their wedding. They’d seen lots of my photos before and liked my style, and really wanted a set of photos that their daughter could appreciate in years to come. It was a ‘yes’ from me, although I have to admit to wondering why I’d volunteered several times leading up to their big day.

The wedding was at the Steventon House Hotel in Oxfordshire. The three of us popped there a few weeks before for a drink, a look around, and to chat about what photos they wanted. The photographer in me came out and started to think about where the light and shade would be, where we’d do the formal photos if it rained, and creating a tick-list of their must-have photos.

Being my first wedding shoot I went well prepared with a spare camera body, all my lenses, spare batteries, and lots of kit just in case it was needed. I had no kit issues, and used just three lenses – the Sony 50 mm f/1.8, the Sony 16-35mm f/4.0, and the Sony 24-105mm f/4. I know most wedding photographers rely on a range of prime lenses, but I like zooms to ensure I can always get the image in frame. All the lenses performed well, although the 50mm is very slow to focus at times, even with the amazing Sony eye-auto-focus.

I had my Sony A7iii set up with dual memory cards, writing RAW and JPEG images simultaneously to minimise the risk of any errors. During the meal I took backups to a laptop, and the second I got home I copied all the photos to my main computer, giving me four copies of each photo. Shooting with JPEG meant I could do a couple of quick edits on the day to send to the bride and groom so they had something to share with friends who couldn’t be there.

What I hadn’t appreciated was the time it would take to process the photos. After culling I had over 550 photos to edit, which took me somewhere in the region of 40 hours to do (a little over four minutes per photo). After a few false starts I ended up using presets to do some of the processing, a trick I’ve since learned could take the processing down to under a minute per photo. So a few lessons learned if I ever shoot another wedding, but I’m very happy how the day went, and most importantly Silvia and Dave were delighted with the photos they received.

Building a Wedding Portfolio

Wedding photography is something I’ve never aspired to do.  I prefer to shoot landscapes, nature, and wildlife than people.

I’ve been asked a few times if I’d photograph a wedding and had always declined the opportunity.  Last year a friend asked me to photograph her wedding.  Her and her fiancĂ© both liked the style of my photos on Facebook and were quite relaxed about their wedding.  I was very honest, saying I’d never photographed a wedding before, and they’d get better results from an established wedding photographer.  But they were sure they wanted me, and I found myself saying yes. 

Before the wedding day I knew there would be a few things to get sorted.  I needed a flash in case it got dark, and picked one up at The Photography Show.  I needed a spare camera body in case mine failed, and managed to borrow one from a friend.  I really needed some practice, and The Trained Eye (https://www.thetrainedeye.co.uk) had just the thing. 

They run a ‘portfolio builder’ day (https://www.thetrainedeye.co.uk/courses/wedding-portfolio-builder/) aimed at solving the conundrum of photographers needing a portfolio of images to get work, when you need the work to build a portfolio.  The day is all about giving lots of opportunities to get stunning photos, with real-world wedding photographers on hand to give pointers along the way.  Experienced models, like Bethany Rose, dress up in wedding outfits to be brides, grooms, and bridesmaids. 

Luckily for me there was a portfolio builder day scheduled just four days before the wedding I was due to shoot.  It was convenient for me, being hosted not far from home at Notley Abbey (https://bijouweddingvenues.co.uk/venue/notley-abbey/take-a-look-around/).  So I signed myself up and I’m very glad I did.   

The day gave me the practice I needed, and definitely did what it promised – giving me a great portfolio of images to use in the future.  It also really boosted my confidence before the big day.   

My first photoshoot with a cat!

As you can probably tell from previous blog posts, I’m a bit of an animal lover.  And there’s no animal I love more than a cat.  So when my friend Libby asked if I’d get some photos of her friends’ cat I jumped at the chance!

We popped round to see Stacey and her little bundle of trouble, Effy.  Effy is definitely one of the more lively cats I’ve seen – zooming all over the place and not at all scared to use her claws.

I knew a photoshoot with a cat would be fun.  Cats aren’t always too keen to have their photos taken so I took a long lens (Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ) for getting photos at a distance, and a fast lens (Sony 50 mm f/1.8) for capturing speedy photos. 

Stacey and Libby kept Effy entertained with toys and food while I snapped away.  Here’s my favourite ten photos from the shoot.

Canada 2015 – The City of St. John’s

My Canadian holiday last year was split between two cities – St. John’s followed by Toronto.  St. John’s is a city on the east coast of Canada, about as close to the UK as you can get and just five-and-a-half hours flight from London.  In fact you can fly directly to St. John’s Airport.  It’s where my friends live, who kindly offered to put me up for eight nights and show me the sights before heading onto Toronto.

Surrounded by the natural beauty of Newfoundland, pronounced ‘Newfinland’ by the locals, St. John’s is built around a harbour and overlooked by Signal Hill.  It was my first experience of Canada and the North American continent and it definitely lived up to my expectations with wide roads, big cars, and friendly people.

The city itself sprawls from the harbour to the countryside, with the downtown area being a hub of offices and shops.  It’s quite different to a UK town or city, as the ‘centre’ doesn’t have a high street with full of commonplace stores, they tend to be on retail parks and malls dotted around the city.

I explored the bars, restaurants, and shops downtown.  What made it stand out for me was colour of the jellybean row houses, the sight of arriving cruise ships, and the views from Signal Hill.

I also used St. John’s as a base to explore some of Newfoundland, and even with a week in the area I only managed to cover a small part of what Newfoundland has to offer (the part known as the Avalon Peninsula) getting as far as Come By Chance.

If you get to visit St. John’s I recommend visiting these places…  Tim Hortons for amazing coffee, Quidi Vidi for lovely walks and a local brewery, Signal Hill for views over the City, The Bagel Cafe for the best breakfast known to man, the Johnson Geo Centre for some entertaining education, George Street for endless bars and the opportunity to be screeched in, and The Yellow Belly for Canadian Poutine.