Tylney Hall Wedding – Sara & Mark Sep 2015
I was looking forward to another Tylney Hall wedding last weekend, this one being the wedding of Sara & Mark which I was particuarly looking forward as they had planned an outdoor ceremony. An outdoor ceremeony is something I’ve only done a handfull of times owing to the unpredicableWeather in Hampshire and I was quite disappointed for the couple on the morning to look up at Grey skies that promised rain.
The Wedding Build-Up
I arrived about an hour earlier than agreed in order to get some photographs of the venue outside before the heavens opened and as I had time, shoot some extra images I can use as ‘background’ space fillers for the storybook page layouts. The couple had indeed reverted to their backup plan of using the Tylney Suite which had been setup ready. As backup plans go the Tylney Suite is pretty impressive, it would be my first choice for a wedding service indoors and so there were no dramas there, just a nice airy space with plenty of light.
For today’s wedding Sara had elected not to have any photographs of her getting ready so instead I focussed on getting a few shots of the rooms all prepared before capturing guests as they arrived and mingled in the bar. Mark was running around around doing last minute errands os I didnt see to much of him which is quite normal before the actual service. I always find this is a great time to break the ice with guests before the main group photographs as it lets them warm up to me gradually and did seem to pay dividends later on.
I also managed to chat to the DJ to make sure we had been given the same timings and plan in advance what lights he would have up during the first dance. There is nothing worse than being all prepared only to find the DJ drops the main lights and then shoots laser beams all over the place unexpectedly! In this case he would be using lasers and low light which is fine, forewarned I can position myself with the couple between myself and the lasers so they wouldn’t spoil cakethe photographs.
I also had a chance to speak to Laura who manages a lot of the weddings from the operations side side whom I have also known for a few years now. Sadly Laura is off to Penny Hill Park next month and I’ll definitely miss her at Tylney Hall. Fortunately I have known her replacement Alon for a couple of years and he is more than capable of stepping up. I also checked timings with Alan the Toastmaster to make sure we are both working to the same schedule.
Sara arrived with her father in the car and I took a few photographs of both of them inside together and Sara exiting before she had her chat with the registrar. While she had her chat I moved to the Tylney suite were the groom and guests were waiting to get a few shots for the album. As well as the usual close-up shot of the Groom and Bestman I like to get a couple of wider ‘establishing’ shots here to set the scene for what is about to happen.
The service runs like clockwork and I even manage to capture a few shots of Sara getting slightly emotional. I always love it when the couple get a bit overcome by emotion during the service as it makes for some lovely images. I’ll take an emotional bride over a polka-faced one every time given the option!
As always with the British weather the only certainty was uncertainty and while we still had overcast skies it wasn’t raining! I usually give the couple a little time here to enjoy a drink and a mingle with their friends immediately after the service before the groups but with the threat of rain I felt it best to get cracking and so we started rattling through the groups with an eye on the sky.
More often than not I will move around a bit at this point to use different backgrounds for the groups but with time ticking away and still the potential for rain I elected to use a single area in order to get through the groups as quickly as possible. The area I chose to use was the stone staircase on the West end of the garden. The walls nicely frame a group and being tiered it can take a small or a medium group with ease. I also like the pattern the de-focussed steps make combined with walls which lead your eye into the centre of the picture. Being West facing I also had the light behind the groups when the sun finally came out to play. Not only does that create a nice little halo highlight just where I want it,, it stops everybody from squinting into the light. One of the benefits of knowing the grounds so well I guess, fortune favours the prepared!
I was lucky enough to have Alan the Toastmaster again, Alan and I have been doing weddings together for a couple of years now and understand how each other works and we make a great team. Alan gets the guests over to me and I arrange the groups as I need them. Between us we get through the 15 groups the couple requested in short time and with Alan there I dont even have to shout to gather guests up, that big Red jacket of his has magic guest herding powers!
There were a few little ones in the groups, always a challenge, if its not the children looking away its the grown-ups looking at the children to make sure they are looking! I learnt from my wife who is a primary school teacher and my own children the trick with little ones is to make them feel special. I always try to get down and talk to them at their level with a big excited voice and jump around like a lunatic if necessary, hopping on the spot, anything to catch and keep their attention. Afterwards is always a big ‘well done’ and thank you, I may need them in another group and its important the first one is a positive experience for them. If it makes them smile everybody is happy and that makes for a great photograph.
The Bride & Groom
We didn’t have a lot of time for the bride and groom sessions, about 19 minutes and so I took them through a well-rehearsed sequence of images I shoot which takes in 10 different backdrops within a 50 metre walk to give a nice varied set of backgrounds in very little time. Having all this stuff worked out beforehand and having done it many times means I know I’m going to get a great set of images. That said even I wasnt prepared for how much I like this particular set, having a young attractive couple doesnt hurt!
If there is time I always I do still try and find new angles to keep things fresh for myself. It not only keeps it interesting for me, even after years at Tylney hall I’m still finding new angles that work and building upon my knowledge of the grounds. On this occaision I was exploring the low depth of field options with my updated version of a 50mm prime lens. I’d had the older version for many years and recently updated it to the 50mm F1.8G and have been leaning on it more and more heavily over the last few weddings.
It would be wrong to suddenly switch to a new piece of kit until you thoroughly know its characteristics, but having used it on a few non-critical shots on its first outing, then progressively more over the next few I think there is a good chance its going to be permeantly attached to my camera going forward. I love the shallow depth of field I can get while keeping the couple nice and sharp and weighing next to nothing, a winning combination for me.
The Wedding Breakfast
With the couples portraits in the bag I leave them in the main building to catch the golf buggy to the Chestnut suite and make sure I’m ready for their big entrance into the wedding breakfast. At this point I become quite selective in what I shoot. I’m happy to photograph people in between courses but I always think guests need a bit of space when they actually have food in front of them. Nobody wants to be photographed eating.
I get treated to a lovely meal which is unusual these days and then then it’s on to the speeches. By this time its getting quite dark outside and without wanting to stand in anybody’s way I decide to light the speeches using two flashguns placed at either end of the room bounced off the ceiling and remotely controlled through my very clever radio trigger kit. This bit of kit is easily the best thing I have bought in recent years and allows me to use multiple flashes placed anywhere within 100 metres as though it was still on the camera and is so clever even Nikon can’t do it yet!
At this point in the evening there is usually a lull as the evening as the room is changed around and the dance floor uncovered ready for the evening. As usual it’s a bit squishy in the bar area and there is less scope to take photographs as I’m right on top of people.
What was lovely here was the number of guests who took the time to come up to me and tell me how good I had been all day and how much I obviously enjoy what I do. I do work really hard at weddings and try to integrate and have fun with the guests and so its always nice when that’s recognised and appreciated.
The room is re-opened and Sara and Mark cut the cake, expertly made by Sara’s mother and then go immediately to the first dance. On mention of dancing, Wow! Sara likes to dance! I don’t think I’ve seen a bride stay on the floor as much as that before. We had the Macarena, Saturday Night, Cha-cha slide and then a whole bunch of others I didn’t even know there were specific dances for! One of the guests was a dance fitness teacher and she got everybody up and from the smile on Sara’s face I could tell she was having a great time and it was lovely to watch her having so much fun.
At 10:30pm the end of my session came after a blur of Abba and other classic wedding disco songs and after saying my goodbyes I left a very happy but exhausted photographer to go home and backup the images before collapsing into bed.