Tuesday, 9 September 2014

To Be Or Not To Be.

Or I could say it another way...to do it or not to do it?   One of the most oft quoted Shakespeare lines is very appropriate to this post. On many a wedding day photography shoot 'that is the question' !

I place great importance in trying to instill a little bit of reality about wedding day photography with couples who book me to cover their wedding day. I say this because this is what I do and have done for many years. It is my profession and I have learned many valuable lessons over the years in relation to what can go wrong on a wedding day.

If something is going to go wrong on a wedding day, you can rest assured that it is going to be related to time or put it another way, the lack of time!  Wedding days fly by. Just ask any couple who have been married what would they do differently if they could have their wedding day all over again and I can guarantee you that most of them would say they would have an earlier wedding!

I have couples who will ask my advise about the day and they will take my suggestions on board, or most or some of them. Conversely, I have couples who will ask for advise and then ignore it!  What most couples fail to understand at an early stage is that I am the one person on the day they are going to be spending some time with and there is no one more conscious of time on a wedding day than I am!

Having said that, normally the question arises about the amount of time I will be spending taking photographs. This is a very reasonable question as I am conscious that this is the Bride & Grooms wedding day and not my day!  The answer to this question will depend on various factors involved on the day. For example, are they planning to go somewhere specific for their photographs?  If so, how far away is the shoot location?  It may take a half an hour to get to the shoot location but I may only take 15 minutes to take the required images.  Normally this distance is not factored in and thus it looks like I now took an hour and 15 minutes to take the shots!

Realistically, on most wedding days I will take no longer then 30 minutes to take the main body of shots required. I will always tell the couple not to be afraid to ask if  'I will be long more' as this is my que to wrap it up!  Honestly, this very rarely happens and the only time I have to put the couple under pressure to get some shots for them is if they have run out of time due to their days timings going awry.

The other side to this is in regards to the advise mentioned above.  Sometimes a couple will make a suggestion regarding photographs, and I am always open to suggestions. However when the day arrives they may change their mind for what ever reason.  Maybe they have had enough and just want to relax, maybe they think they have enough images taken already or other reasons.  At this stage most couples will ask my advise generally in the realm of  'do I think its worth it'?

This is where my experience comes in.  Often a couple will suggest going to a certain place for photographs and I have to weigh up the factors involved such as will the return in the amount and variety of images justify the time used on their day?   I will try to be as honest as possible with the couple and I will not say 'I dont think that worth it'  just so I can have a cushy day and finish early! Sometimes its a little easier and I use the sample image below to get my point across.

On this particular day, which by the way was a lovely wedding day with some beautiful images taken, the couple arrived at their hotel.  We had finished the majority of the photo shoot at another location and just before we left the bride & groom mentioned the possibility of having some images taken in the location shown in the image.  I knew where they were talking about but was not sure if it was suitable as up to that stage it was no more than waste ground.  As I approached the hotel I slowed down to have a quick look at the site and decided that I could certainly do something interesting there as it had been cleaned up and some paths and seats put in.

When the bride and groom arrived at the hotel, I mentioned going across to the area for a couple of quick images. They looked at each other and asked if they had enough photos taken. They were earring on the 'enough' side and asked what I thought.  I said that it was basically a 2 minute walk across the road and that I think they should give it a shot and that I would make it very quick. I also added that I think it would be well worth it and that I could get some nice images.

They took my advise and it turned out that it was one of their favorite photographs taken on the day. Afterwards the bride said that they would have been so disappointed if they had not listened to me. The image was used across two pages of their finished album to show it to good effect.  It is the quintessential image of Wexford town and a lovely image to have on your wedding day if you are from the area. Incidentally, it was one of several nice images taken in the area.

So, to be or not to be, that is the question my dear Hamlet!  Its hard to beat experience and good advise.!

From Brides to Beer!

One thing in common with most Irish Weddings and indeed, is the case with most Irish social occasions, is that there is always a suitable amount of beverages involved, normally of the alcoholic variety! From the chilled bottle of pink champagne at the Brides house to the various cocktails laid on by most hotel venues, we like to celebrate with one of our favorite tipples.  This summer was an absolutely terrific one and any kind of liquid, alcoholic or otherwise, was keenly dropped back by many a guest at the various weddings I covered due to the unusual heat.  I have been known to knock back a well deserved pint of diet Coke at some weddings myself if there is any chance of me getting near the bar and this summer I added to Coke's revenue on many occasions!

Although I am not a beer drinker, I do appreciate the look, not to mention the mental effect the cool liquid must produce on a scorching day. I also appreciate the fact that so many recent Irish entrapanuers have started up production of craft beers manufacturing on this small island.  This is something I can really appreciate not just from the new business point of view but from the craft involved in turning out a product that is unique to the market in a highly competitive industry.

Its a little bit like the photography industry in a way.  If I could make an analogy with the drinks industry, it may be something like this: You have your run of the mill 'Jameson whiskey' photographers and then you have the 'Stitzel Weller Small Batch Bourbon' photographers!  These are the discerning photographers who are always looking to try to reach the peak of their profession and really want their work to be the best it can be and to stand out from the mundane.  I would like to think that I am in the latter category!

Anyway, as this post heading says 'From Brides to Beer' you may be under the impression that beer is somehow involved...and you would be correct!  However its not drinking it I am concerned with, but photographing it.  I have been doing some recent test shots for a new craft beer manufacturer here in Wexford for their social media outlets and to help them generate a following and basically get word of their business venture out there.

Although I am not a confirmed advertising or still life photographer, I used to undertake some advertising work in the past so the knowledge on product shot photography is still buried somewhere in my short term memory! Taking images of bottles and glass is one of the hardest areas of product photography to get right but, just as with my wedding and portrait photography, I really enjoy the challenge of turning out something a little different!

So here are some of the test images I undertook for the Blackstairs Brewing Company and with various advert copy included.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

There are props and then there are props!

It is normal for a photographer on the day of a wedding to use certain items that may be involved in the days activities as photographic props, a term borrowed from the movie industry.
These props can be anything from a Vintage umbrella, a horse and cart and more commonly, a classic car. Depending on where the couple are having their photographs taken, the prop can be an important factor. For example, if the hotel does not have a garden or a  limited one for photographs, a good photographer can think on his feet and use the prop, say a classic car, to his and the couples advantage in obtaining some nice shots. For one recent wedding however, I must have had the crème-de-la-crème of wedding day props - a fully fledged Lear Jet!
It helped that the groom was the pilot of the Lear Jet. The fact that the Lear Jet is an executive jet  its size was ideal for the images as it was not overbearing and could be used in close-up shorts and as a backdrop. It will be hard to beat this one! Some shots from the days shoot:

Monday, 20 May 2013

Been a long time...!

You will have to excuse the lack of blog updates over the last couple of months. It has been a very busy few months between business and also due to the fact that last October I started a full time, 1 year Masters degree in photography. This has been something I have wanted to do for years but unfortunately up until now there was no Masters in photography available in the Republic of Ireland.
The course has been busy to say the least! I did not expect it to be easy at this level so I have been spending a lot of time on the road with lectures and late nights burning the midnight oil, with a business to run in between!  The course is challenging but very interesting and it is providing me with a great insight in photography research and the world of fine art photography. At this stage I am heading into my last semester and my Major Project so its going to be an extra busy summer.
The course is an off-site programme from the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture & Design at London Metropolitan University and is been run by the National Media College in Dublin.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Behind The Scenes

Clients often ask me, ' what do you do when you are not taking photographs for a living? Well, I tell them, I take photographs for pleasure! Photography is a very practical discipline and not something you become good at by leaving your camera gathering dust in its bag! I nearly always have a camera with me no matter what I am doing or where I am going. I like to record things that interest me and keep a photographic record of my family life. How many times have you often heard someone say, 'oh I wish I had a camera with me to photograph that'! Although smart phones have now changed that to some extent, at present they are still very limited in their technical ability. I recently shot some record and PR images for my local variety group of their version of  'Oliver' based on the classic Oliver Twist movie. I shot most of it in black and white to add to that grungy feel that most of us associate with the movie. Here are some of the images from the shoot.

Rain, Rain & More Rain!

Ask any wedding photographer how his year has been so far with regards to the weather and I am sure you will get a few choice words or worse!  For a country that has a reputation for 'soft days' it has, without doubt, been one of the worse wedding seasons I have had in many years. It has played havoc with so many recent weddings I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to see the sun again for any wedding shoot. Well all my wishful thinking came through on Friday last for a lovely local wedding here in the Sunny South East which lived up to its reputation for once this summer.
A lovely couple and stunning weather allowed me the opportunity to get some great photos along the Quay side in Wexford town. These images represent what I consider to be some of the most important elements for good wedding photography: a bride & groom who are having fun and enjoying themselves, reasonable (in this case great) weather and a simple setting. Magic

Monday, 16 July 2012

Candy Floss & Hotdogs

Candy floss, hotdogs, popcorn and jellybeans. No its not a night out at the cinema (I dont get many of those!) but some lovely delights for the guests at a marvellous wedding I photographed on Saturday in the lovely South East. And yes we had a few sprinkles of sunshine but the rain stayed away for a wedding day that also involved ferries, beaches, pubs, and an artist. Who says you cannot have some fun on your wedding day! I will post some more images later in the month - keep tuned.