I’ve written a couple of blog posts recently about my approach to wedding photography. The first was about the fact that I’m not a wedding photographer and why. The second was about the fact that I cover less formal rites such as Christenings and Renewal Of Vows. So it’s somewhat ironic that this month I’m actually covering two civil unions.
The first was between an English girl and her American boyfriend, who will be formally tying the knot later in the year in the US. They wanted a ceremony in the UK to declare their devotion in front of friends and family who will not be able to travel to America for the official ceremony. This as an occasion presided over by a respected member of the community known to all involved. The ceremony involved an exchange of vows and rings, much like any other formal union. My role was to photograph the ceremony and take formal posed photos immediately afterwards.
The second is a Registry Office wedding at Hertford’s County Hall, followed by a reception at Hertford Castle. The brief here is to provide informal reportage coverage of the wedding, rather than traditional big-budget photography.
If you’re interested in having your function photographed without a big budget then why not get in contact for an informal chat.
One of my oldest clients is Hertford Dramatic & Operatic Society and every year I’m delighted to be asked to photograph their youth group’s annual production at Hertford Theatre.
This year’s production was The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and featured a cast of around 40, together with a supporting adult crew of technicians, make-up artists, chaperones and front of house staff.
Shooting takes place during the final dress rehearsal, which typically runs in real time, stopping only for serious technical issues.
The photographs are taken from the auditorium – anywhere from the back of the raked seating right up to the front of the stage.
As with all theatrical productions I never use flash. Stage lighting is more than adequate and a lot of work goes in to putting together a lighting plot that adds visual drama to the production.
I ran in to Schrodinger’s Strings recently whilst taking some promotional shots for a local music festival. I’ve worked with the band in the past, taking promotional and live performance shots and this particular location lent itself very well to the character of the band.
I tried a number of different angles but settled on this one as the best. I used Photoshop to enhance the exposure but otherwise the shot comes straight out of the camera.
Update: The band used this image on the cover or their recent CD.
I took these shots of RiverCity Studios after I was called by an existing client who needed some publicity shots at short notice. They needed some wide views of the premises for their website and printed brochure. I was called at lunchtime and took the shots later in the afternoon, delivering unedited shots in the early evening for review.
I’ve written previously about the fact that I don’t do weddings, due to the fact that it’s a specialised skill (you can find the article here). However, I’m happy to cover less formal (and lower budget) functions, such as christenings, anniversaries and other ceremonial events.
One such recent event was for a couple who wanted to mark their ten years of marriage with a Renewal Of Vows.
The ceremony took place at Hertford Registry Office in front of around 20 guests and I was asked to cover the afternoon from the arrival of guests to formal photos, taking in the ceremony itself and the happy couple exiting the Registry Office to flurries of confetti.
I met the couple a few weeks before the ceremony to discuss their requirements and to look over the location to get an idea of the environment and best places to take formal shots.
I also made a point of keeping an eye on the weather forecast in the days before the event as this can have an impact on the available shots.
If you’re interested in having a family function or social occasion photographed you can find out more about what I can offer by visiting my page about Party & Family Function photography.
The months of February and March are when many civic institutions hold their formal dinners. I covered one such event last week when the chairman of East Herts District Council hosted a charity dinner at The Rhodes Centre, Bishop’s Stortford, in aid of Cazfest, a local charity that works to raise awareness of heart risk in young people and to help finance heart screening for sixth form students in Hertfordshire & Essex.
The brief was to provide formal photographs of guests – mostly local dignitaries such as mayors and the chairs of council committees – the reception, dinner and entertainment, which was provided by the Bishop’s Stortford High School Swing Band and the Jacqui Ison School of Dance and Theatre Arts.
Prior to the event taking place I was able to visit the venue and chat with staff and the event co-ordinator so that I could get an idea of how the evening would work and what I would need.
One of the main requirements was for an area where I could set up the mobile studio so that I could take formal photographs and print off instant 6×4″ prints for anyone that wanted them (these proved popular). I was given an area of around 15sq.m in the corner of the bar and this worked well, allowing me to set up a background and lighting, together with my camera, laptop and portable printer.
As well as formal shots, I also took a selection of informal shots of guests arriving and socialising before the main dinner. Timescales during this part of the evening were quite tight as there was only a 45 minutes period between guests arrived and the formal start of the dinner.
As part of their promotion for The Witches Of Eastwick, I was asked by Ware Operatic Society to take some shots to accompany a press release about the production. The idea was to have the character Darryl Van Horne pictured on a bed surrounded by the three witches.
Luckily, I have a contact who owns a furniture shop and he was happy to allow us to use the bed department for the shot. One of the beds was particularly well lit with ceiling spotbulbs, saving the effort of lugging the lighting gear up the rather narrow stairs to the showroom at the top of the building. The shoot was quite brief, as the performers were quite good at arranging themselves on the bed!
The only post-production work was some adjustments to the lighting levels and the addition of the vignette. Oh, and blurring of the hideous woodchip wallpaper behind the bed!
Last month I was asked to take some promotional interior shots for Parkhurst Music Studio to be use on their website. The two floor studio is used for teaching a variety of instruments, including guitar and drums. The former stable block has recently been renovated and is light and airy.
The studio is south facing and on my first visit there was strong sunlight streaming in to both rooms. This is far from an ideal lighting situation due to the strong shadows and high contrast between the direct sunlight and ambient light, so I returned an hour later when the position of the sun had changed.
The ground floor studio has plenty of light, with large windows along two walls. I used off-camera bounce flash to light the darker corner of the studio to balance the lighting with the rest of the room.
As well as wide shots of both studios I also took photographs of instruments on display in both the studios and entrance hallway.
To get a greater feel for the environment I included some close up shots of instruments, music books and sheet music.
If you’re interested in promotional material or interior shots please feel free to get in touch using the contact form on my website. My catchment area covers much of Hertfordshire and the Essex borders.
I recently uploaded a video of images taken during this year’s festival season. It’s a selection of shots from events such as the Stortford Music Festival, Wilkestock, Woodyfest, Bash In The Barn, the Musical Mystery Tour and Folkstock – 12 days of shooting in all.
The video is set to a soundtrack of Bound To Nowhere by My Little Empire, who are from Borehamwood and regular performers at Wilkestock.
The quest for the perfect camera bag is journey that many photographers are familiar with. For those that have yet to find the ideal bag, the Think Tank Retrospective may bring that search to a conclusion, if you’re prepared to spend the money. I bought mine online from Speedgraphic after reading lots of positive reviews. Unfortunately it appears there are virtually no shops that stock the Retrospective so I had to buy purchase sight unseen and based purely on photographs and Youtube videos.
I was looking for something to replace my Lowpro Event Messenger 150, which I’d outgrown, so I plumped for the larger Retrospective 20, which at 13″ x 12½ x 7″ is not a small camera bag. I fact it may be too large for the average photographer, but given the negligable cost difference between this and the smaller Retrospective 10, I chose the 20.
All of the reviews I read commented on the quality of the bag – and indeed the materials and manufacture are top class. One reviewer remarked that you could probably tow your car with the strap and he may well be right. This is a bag that is made to last not years but decades. And the quality doesn’t stop with just the physicakl properties of the bag. Think Tank have put a lot of thought in to the design as well.