I've been growing my business slowly over the past five years, up to a point where I now photograph around 40 weddings each year. This means I get to meet a lot of brides! This also means I get asked a LOT of questions by said brides - and grooms I guess, but let's face it they mostly leave organisation to the ladies...sorry to all you pro-active grooms out there!
One theme of questions I seem to get asked quite often is about where the bride and groom should be getting ready for their wedding. Will their home be "photogenic enough", or should they book into a fancy hotel to make the photographs "prettier"? Will they have enough space? The list goes on...
When I initially started working as a wedding photographer I was always secretly quite relieved when couples told me they were getting ready in a hotel or at the wedding venue itself. I used to think it would make my job easier, having more space and a "photogenic" room. However as I have built in experience and of course confidence I've realised that, honestly, it doesn't matter! It's all about finding ways to make each space work to my advantage. I have learned not to merely shoot what I see, but to look for opportunities, angles, little pockets of light etc, to create images that everyone else in the room at the time doesn't see.
I'd like to talk about a wedding I shot towards the end of July to demonstrate this. Michelle and Joe (here they are above with their daughter Eva in the grounds of The Granary Hotel) got married on the 22nd July - they had a beautiful Catholic ceremony at Our Lady & All Saints Church in Stourbridge followed by a reception at The Granary Hotel in Kidderminster. I remember Michelle mentioning to me a few times ahead of the wedding that she was concerned there wouldn't be enough space at her home for the photography, or that it would be too messy or the light wouldn't work. I assured her we would work round things and it would all be absolutely fine.
In the end, even I underestimated how lovely it would be for all of them getting ready at Michelle's home. Michelle grew up in Scotland and so her family all travelled from there for the wedding. I could see how much it meant to her in the morning to have her parents and her bridesmaids getting ready with her at home. The mood was so relaxed and their daughter Eva was of course completely relaxed spending most of the morning watching Peppa Pig on TV!
I'm not afraid of moving things around to get the most out of the light in a room, as well as using little props taken from around the house - this really injects the couple's personality into their detail images...I can never do this in a hotel! I'm also always looking for ways to bring depth into my images, whether this be shooting through objects, using mirrors for reflections, or getting up higher for a more unusual angle. This really came into play as Michelle was putting the final touches to her prep as you'll see from the last couple of images below.
So basically, what I'm trying to say with this blog is don't be pressured into booking a fancy hotel or spending money you don't need to spend because you think it will make your photographs "better". The best images are those that mean a lot to you personally, those that make you relive the moments, those that you often missed in the excitement of the morning. Sure, I love the creative sunset shots just as much as anybody and I love creating them, but to a point, the couple expects those because they remember making them. Keeping it real, unimposing, relaxed - that's when those moments appear. And where are you ever going to feel more relaxed, more "you", than in your own home?