19th January 2010 – The Wedding of Simon and Becky

Written on January 19, 2010 – 10:31 pm | by BryonyParkes |

At last! I can blog about the lovely wedding of even more lovely Simon and Becky. I wanted to make sure they had seen the images before I blogged, it seemed only fair.

The day was just beautiful. By the time the wedding party arrived, the sun had come out and the snow was heavy on the ground as far as the eye could see. It made for picturesque scenery.

The snow did mean however, that I had to drastically rethink a few things upon arrival. I had visited the venue only the weekend before, pre-snowfall, to get an idea of what was about and had lots of ideas for shots within the grounds, including by the canal. Alas, the snow meant that it was bitterly cold, and it would be extremely wet against satin bridal slippers not to mention making it more difficult to get about… nonetheless, I decided that it was better than dull rain. And the exposure challenges provided by the light glaring from the snow would do me good, to think on the spot.

The shoot itself went well. I was very nervous, being my first ever wedding shoot and also I was still recovering from my operation two weeks previously. I got to the venue early, which was at Marston Farm Hotel near Sutton Coldfield. The first thing I did was to check the ceremony room out and find the cake for some close up shots with nobody about to wonder what an earth I was doing.

The ceremony room turned out to be a different room to the one they had told me it would be the weekend before – but far easier to shoot in from an angle point of view which was a huge relief.

I busied myself for a while, re-visiting the areas around the grounds, testing the pathways and depth of snow. I took a few detail shots around the hotel, played with settings and had a breakfast bar or two to steady my nerves.

And then the Groom and his Best Men arrived!

Don’t they look dashing?

Before I knew it, it was time for the Bride to arrive! This was where it got difficult. The ceremony room was quite dark but there was still a bright white light coming through the windows which contrasted everything in the room to shadows. I was also not allowed to use the flash, or move around too much so the shots I ended up with I was quite disappointed with. Nonetheless, I’ve since found out that there are plenty of other photographers who have the same problem, and I knew I’d make up for it later on.

One of my favourite shots of the day, is a really natural shot of the Bride and Groom, plus the best men and the Bride’s sister walking up to the canal after the ceremony. We were still in shadow of the building, so the light was easy to work with in quick succession while they were walking, and you can see the utter delight in their faces as they relish in the first hour of marriage wading in snow wearing their finery!

We had some fun by the canal, I thought the arch would be a good backdrop. Becky and Simon were great sports and did everything I asked. Some ideas worked, some didn’t!

The group shots were a lot more straightforward in the courtyard which had much easier light to deal with than the direct winter sun. My favourite shot was taken from above, but in the future I will definitely watch out in advance for intruding open umbrellas covered in snow which are nigh on impossible to clone out!

Back in the warm, and I had some time with the couple on their own. The first shot was a real challenge editing wise. There was a curtain issue, shall we say? But I’m pleased with the end result.

I used two lenses today, my trusty 50mm (although am now craving a 35mm due to fixed focal length of the 50mm creating space issues indoors especially highlighted during the wedding) and my new 18-200mm. I was so pleased that I exchanged my kit lens and zoom lens for the 18-200mm. It gave me far more scope during the day for shots where previously I may have not bothered due to the changing of lenses back and forth. The shutterspeed where possible, was kept as high as possible and the ISO kept at 400 or below where I could. My D90 isn’t too fussed on ISO of 800 or above, so apart from the ceremony shots where I was forced to bump it up, I avoided it at all costs. Fortunately, the snow outside, projected some lovely light inside which meant that my favourite shot of the day, in my opinion, where I was able to take a shot in the style that I think I do best; just the most loveliest of lighting was available, it’s this one:

It was a fantastic opportunity for me, to shoot Simon and Becky’s wedding and I cannot thank them enough for putting their trust into me. I think following this experience I would definitely be open to more offers for wedding photography, but I won’t be venturing past parties bigger than say, 50 or so for now. Unless I second shoot for a more experienced Photographer, which I really hope I can do one day.

The biggest challenge for me, was to get to grips with Photoshop once and for all, and to get into a steady swing of editing. It took me a long time to get all the images sorted, edited and tweaked until they were at a standard I was happy enough with to post out. I know as time goes by I will get quicker and I will get more competent and confident with what I’m doing. I don’t feel I was particularly consistent with my editing throughout the final images, I much prefer the softer shots and am not a fan of the sharpening tool. However this will get better with experience, and I’ll find my feet soon enough I’m sure.

I will finish with the e-mail that I received from Becky when I got home this evening. It made my absolute day. I am so thrilled to hear that they were pleased with their images, and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish them a very happy future together;

“Hi Bryony,

CD has arrived safe and well – the photos are amazing, more than we hoped for!

Thank you so much for doing our photography, they really are pictures that captured the day and that we can treasure forever.

Becky and Simon”

… and THAT is why photographers do it. They go through the preparation, the pre-visit, the shoot, the organisation, the editing and the sending off, all for that end result. It makes it worth it to know that your clients are happy and you’ve provided them with images they will treasure forever.

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2nd August 2009 – My first go at Semi-Pro!

Written on August 2, 2009 – 10:59 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Had a very busy weekend, we went to the wedding of two very dear friends yesterday. My husband was the best man, and I spent most of the day looking after two little grouchy girls trying to keep their dresses clean!

I told myself that I wasn’t going to take many pics cos I didn’t want the pressure of taking good ones (that I always put on myself) on top of what I already had on my plate. I was quite happy with this (usually I’m at the front of the crowd!) and stood at the back instead while everyone else clamoured.

HOWEVER, the weather was absymal. Well and truly AWFUL before and after the ceremony. The photographer had everyone outside in the rain getting really wet and needless to say, I imagine it was all a little rushed as people, including the bride in her stunning dress just wanted to get back inside. I also imagined that the photographer wouldn’t be able to get many location shots done due to a fair being held in the park where the register office was, the rain really put a dampener literally on this, which was a shame as I understand the tog was a highly reputable one although I bet he did a great job regardless and I can’t wait to see the official pics.

But I felt really sorry for the bride and groom, Vicky and Ben as once the evening kicked in, the sun came out and the sky was gorgeous with that post storm freshness that this country gets. By now we were at the golf club so the grounds were stunning, but the photographer had gone as his hours were up. I felt sorry that these photographic opportunities were going to been missed as the photographer had long gone and so I wanted to help out.

As I now had my parents and my in-laws to help with the girls who had come along for the reception, I plucked up the courage to ask Vicky and Ben if they’d like me to take some shots for ten minutes of them outside while it was sunny and clear and in the grounds of the reception venue. I made sure the knew there were no obligations, and I was just giving them the chance if the wanted it. I didn’t want them to think I was being intrusive and ahead of myself or stepping on any toes! But they jumped at the chance!

So here is a small selection of the shots I took:


I’m really pleased with the results. I only had 10 minutes but I was bursting with ideas once I got into it. I had consumed probably 2 or 3 glasses of wine by this point as well, so my head wasn’t as clear as it could be. I found I slotted into “tog mode” quite quickly and bossed them about a little bit and they seemed to be having fun as well. It certainly helped that I know them and they know me, very well. I found myself wishing that we’d had more time as if so, I’d have obviously been able to concentrate on my settings and take them to other parts of the grounds and I’d have tried different angles and perspectives. I wasn’t the official tog though, for the time I had I wanted to only take shots that they wouldn’t have got otherwise.

I am quite embarrassed to admit, after all my "I’d never do wedding photography" comments, particularly on my blog post the other day, I actually really enjoyed it!! I am now really hoping that I can second shoot for someone one day when I’m better and have a better camera for the experience and to check it off the “challenge myself” list. It did make me realise that I do need to get to grips with my technical knowledge though. Although I only ever shoot on manual, a lot of my settings are still trial and error which wastes valuable time, especially when the light is fading fast like it was yesterday. I know that I needed a faster shutterspeed, but I didn’t want to widen the aperture too much as one of the main reasons for taking the photos was to get the background in! I think I should have raised the ISO, as it was only on 200, and for an outdoor shoot I think I’d have got away with 400 just to raise the shutterspeed but I didn’t think of this at the time. Fortunately as it was just adults in the shot, and only two of them, then the shots are alright.

I learnt a lot doing this and looking at the results afterwards, as well as having fun. More about poses and what works and what doesn’t, being more aware of surroundings (branches coming out of heads and the like). I think that reportage photography is so much more natural, but I understand that poses are still important as well. My favourite shot within that 10 minutes is actually this one!:

I’m going to use this blog post as an excuse to get another couple of shots in as well, as I really enjoyed the sunset:

Note to myself though, after all this, for goodness sake woman, read the Low Lighting book and crack how to take a decent shot in low light. The first dance shots are awful, see below for an example (best of a bad lot believe me!):

All in all, it was an amazing wedding and I wish Ben and Vicky all the happiness in the world. They are two very special people and along with their daughter Saskia, I hope they have many many happy long years together x

Photos (of b&g outside) taken at 1/60 and f/7.1 and (of sunset) taken at 1/100 and f/8.0 and (of first dance) 1/10 and f/3.8

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