Wednesday, 30 September 2009

How to remember the good old days

Some people find it difficult to pose but others are naturals. Here are two examples that fall into the latter case. She was smiling all the time. After the second photo she asked me why I was counting. I told her that I normally count to three so that people know when to smile. I didn't need to count at all with her.

She also posed quite naturally. On the left I asked her to hold a frame, just like I do with brides. It gives people something to do as they get over their nerves for the first few photos. There were no nerves here. On the right I gave her a newspaper to read. It does say when she had her photo taken (OK it's a few days out as it is a weekly paper) so that will be a useful guide in the future. In sixty years she can look back and say that she remembers the old days especially 2009.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Portrait changes

My portrait photography has a similar basis as my wedding photography. I take photos of whoever wishes to have their photo taken and then I work on the photos to make them monochrome or sepia. Then I return within a couple of hours and they have a disc with a lot of photos.

Today (28th Sept) I took photos of this young girl. There is nothing wrong with photos in a living room but I wanted a plain background and suggested that they come over to my house where I have three backgrounds - a black, a white and a cloud effect. The answer to a plain background was much easier. We found a white wall and took a few more photos. On the left I converted the photo and gave it an oval vignette. On the right we have sepia and a rectangular vignette. As it only takes a couple of clicks I am open to suggestions as to how to amend any of the photos.

Happy snapping

Monday, 28 September 2009

What to use for a motif

When I was looking for a motif for my wedding photography website, I wanted an image that instantly told you that it was related to a wedding. I also wanted a photo that could not identify the bride or the groom. Typically a photo of the bride and groom would serve this purpose except it would identify the couple. They would recognise themselves even if the photo was taken from the back.

It would have to be a close-up and the photo of the bouquet on the right was a contender. Mostly the bride's flowers fit a portrait format rather than landscape, and I wanted landscape. I decided against this photo because it is too distinctive. I am sure that more than one bride has carried a bouquet like this but it is not traditional and the combination of the rare flowers and the white gloves put me off using this as a motif.

The motif that I chose may be seen on any page of the website (and on my notepaper) at

Happy snapping

Sunday, 27 September 2009

More on Glasson Dock

Yesterday I asked where I was. Today I could ask the same question but the answer is the same. It is Glasson Dock. You see we do get nice weather. It was a warm evening and it felt like I could be walking along a docks in France or Spain. Package holidays killed off the British seaside resorts but it is possible to be lucky with the weather.

Lancaster has a quay but you don't see any boats there. The river has silted up and the tide would leave you high and dry for a large part of the day. Lancaster was chosen as a site for a fort by the Romans because you can cross the river here at low tide. Well I suppose that is still possible but I wouldn't recommend it now as there is a footbridge. It is still tidal at Glasson Dock and as you can see from the photo on the right, if you want to get your boat into the dock you are going to be limited to high tides.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Where am I?

The photo on the left could be a 'where am I?' question. Is it a place where they make Kellogg's cornflakes? It isn'tactually anything to do with cereal manufacturing but the cockerel is a traditional design for weather vanes and although they are generally decorative weather vanes do have a functional role and the place where the points of the compass are most important is at sea. In the background are two cranes and this may lead you to think of a docks. If your name is Poirot you may now guess that I am in Glasson Dock. Well I was there yesterday. If you are not sure then look at the photo on the right.

Happy snapping

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sunderland Point Part Two

These are very similar photos to the ones I published two weeks ago. One difference is obvious, the second photo is sepia rather than monochrome, but I didn't go to Glasson Dock to make the photo sepia. I went because I was sure that the photo could be improved by taking the photo earlier in the day and by using a telephoto lens.

This time they are cropped to 6x4 instead of the panorama view that I published last time. I have put a little more contrast into the photo. In the sepia version I put a small vignette and finally there has been a little sharpening.

Well I used a telephoto as well as a tripod. I used the timer so that there was no camera shake from pressing the shutter. This must be the best possible photo that I could take. In fact there is still room for improvement. I didn't know it was going to be so windy! Maybe I'll get to Glassson Dock one more time.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Don't forget the props

I have written in an earlier blog that this hotel on the shore of Windermere is spacious. It is also quite grand. There are a lot of fixtures and fittings that photograph very well. However the main beauty of the site is the lake itself.

Take a few steps away from the hotel and you have a wonderful background like the one on the left. Walk down to the shore and you get photos like the one on the right. I think that the sunglasses were a prop that were going to be used whatever the weather. As it turns out they were not only props but served a useful purpose.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Surprise wedding photos

There was a surprise for the guests last weekend though they might have guessed what it was when they saw the boat at the jetty. I normally leave weddings at the artificial cutting of the cake but these two photos were among my last photos on Sunday.

We have not had a good summer but I have been lucky with my weddings this year. At one wedding we could see a really heavy shower out of the windows while the bride and groom were signing the register. Fortunately it was just a shower and we were able to get the photo of the venue in the background. The reception was in Morecamvbe and that afternoon we had bright sunshine. However good weather is probably more important in the Lake District than in most other places.

There was a 'plan B' at this hotel. Even if the weather had been poor the hotel was so spacious that group photos could have been taken and there would still have been great views of the lake.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

One more pose for the repertoire

I supply photos in a 6"x 4" format for my brides and grooms. Primarily this is because they usually want prints as not everyone has a computer and they can see at once what the photo looks like in print. These photos are in the 6"x 4" proportions which means that you do nothing to them if you want 6"x 4" or 9"x 6" or 12" x 8" or any other similar proportion.

There are two exceptions to this format in the hundreds of photos that I have handed over to them and both of them may be seen in the photo on the left. The two prints on the wall were square so I cropped two photos to become squares. I labelled them 6"x 6" but it doesn't really matter as a square is a square. Think of any number then square it and these photos will fit that format.

I don't think that there are any new ideas for poses. It is just how near the front of your head they are. I did think that I had the original idea about putting photos in photos and then I found other people do this! As for the photo on the right it is thanks to a previous groom and best man that this pose was in my thoughts (so thanks to Ross and Charles for this). I like the bar pump pose because it gives out natural smiles. In this sense it is like the piggy back photos, any lift of the bride or the confetti photos. In this case I did ask the best man if I could put him in the blog so here it is. Normally you just see brides and grooms as they are generally the only people I ask.

Happy snapping

Monday, 21 September 2009

Can you see the changes?

You may be able to guess that these photos from yesterday's wedding were taken on the shore of Lake Windermere. The weather was great which meant that we had a lot more photo opportunities.

A photo similar to these two photos was on the wall of the hotel and it is good advice to look at photos that have been already taken wherever you may be. If you are on holiday take a look at the postcards and you have a starting point for your photos.

In these photos there are a few changes from the original. There is a change in the cropping. A slight vignette has been added and contrast has been increased a little. There is one further change which you may not see unless you know the names of the bride and groom. Now take a closer look.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 20 September 2009

More candid natural light

Using natural light has its benefits. It is not as obvious that you are taking photos so photos are more candid but for me the best benefit is the lighting. You get some idea of the lighting in the room and here is an example from yesterday morning.

This is my father-in-law busy at work by the kitchen window. Windows are near basins so that you can see what you are doing but just for good measure they give good lighting for your subjects who happen to be working there.

On the right I thought I would add the same picture in monochrome so that you can see the difference. Is he working harder on the right? I'll leave that one to you.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 19 September 2009

She was really moving

This blog is late. I like to publish blogs at 12.05am so that if you look each day then there is a new blog which is for that day. I prepare them and post date them as I don't write them about midnight. However I have been away this weekend and we got together as a family in a cottage in Kirk Langley which is near Derby. This afternoon we went to Carsington Water and most of us went canoeing. Modesty forbids me showing you a photo of me in a websuit (well the rest of the family actually) so here is a photo of my youngest daughter. The photo on the left has changed little from the way I took it.

On the right I have obviously made it monochrome but I have also put in some motion blur. I may show another photo in the near future and if the canoeist is coming towards the camera I will use zoom blur. The blur allows us to think that they are really moving. Well she was - but slowly.

Happy snapping

Friday, 18 September 2009

Instructions for wedding photography

When I take photos at a wedding there is a section of the day that is devoted to photos. I guarantee between 100 and 150 photos and this is fairly easy to achieve. I regularly supply around 400 photos which fit easily into two small albums that hold 6"x 4" photos. Of course they fit on a CDRom as well.

With all these photo opportunities it doesn't really matter about the restrictions put on photography within the church. I have been told that no photos are allowed during the ceremony. I have been told that there is only one rule on photography and that is that there are no rules. Between these two extremes there are many degrees of control. Don't take photos during the signing of the register is fairly common. So is no flash. Don't stand on the altar. It really doesn't matter as I just follow the instructions of the person in charge.

As for the photos, my preference is to take half a dozen photos with flash. This is discrete and there is no great change in settings, but faces do change and I also like some without flash. The problem with no flash is that if anyone moves then the photo is blurred. If I am not allowed flash then I take a couple of dozen photos in the hope that some will come out, and generally about half are good photos. I am conscious of the sound of the shutter which may be just as disruptive as flash.

The photographic limits are set in order to emphasise the ceremony and not to detract from it. The point is that the respect for the ceremony is much more important than the photography. Now any of the restrictions in the first paragraph have no link with respect. The best instruction that I have been given is to take photographs how I see fit but to do it with respect.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Last two photos from last Saturday

For the final photos before I leave this wedding I want to show you the interior and exterior of St Ann's church in Manchester. The photo on the left was taken from the back of the church. The flash doesn't work that far but it does show you how much light gets into the building. We had a bright sunny day so it doesn't always rain in Manchester.

If you look back in the blogs you will see that we prepared the backgrounds for the photos including the one on the right. I did get some leaves in the photo but when I came to crop this one it didn't look right to keep the braches in the photo. The manipulation that keeps the flowers is colour is fairly straightforward. I would say that you either love it or hate it but you can be indifferent towards this type of manipulation. I am aware of this so the bride and groom do get a version totally in colour and another totally in monochrome.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

I can't show the candid photos

I have been talking about the 'firsts' that were associated with this wedding. There were a few but all weddings are unique in some respects. This time I was too far away to get home and return with a surprise gift in the evening. The benefit of this was that I took a lot more candid photos. In fact it was a great help to have Wythenshawe Hall with all its shelves. They acted like tripods and meant that I didn't need to let anyone know that I was taking photos with flash. I was also given a meal which was a very nice benefit to me.

I'm afraid that I can't show you the photos when the guests weren't looking as I haven't asked them. So I'll stick with two photos taken in the church. The interior of St Ann's Manchester is really very beautiful. I would call it a Manchester oasis but I am sure that many other parts of central Manchester are also very nice. The register was signed in a room to the left of the altar. Now you know where you will find the oak panelling.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Bus favours

In yesterday's blog I mentioned that there were a few 'firsts' with this wedding. In these pictures you can see another of the firsts. The wedding was in the centre of Manchester and it is not easy for private vehicles to drive into the centre and park. For that matter it is not easy for public vehicles including the Routemaster bus.

All the guests were transported from the church to the reception, including yours truly. On the left we have a photo of the bus and the guests are just starting to get on board. On the right we have another transport link with a very nice favour. This photo was taken as the room was being prepared and this favour will certainly keep memories fresh from their wedding day.

Happy snapping.

Monday, 14 September 2009

A standard pose and a standard manipulation

Saturday's wedding had a few 'firsts' for me. It was my first Manchester wedding which happened to be at the most prestigious St Ann's Church in the centre of Manchester. It was my first trip on a Routemaster double-decker bus used to ferry the guests from the church to the reception. There were a few more firsts but I'll write about them tomorrow. As for today I will mention these two photos which are taken on a regular basis.

The first is a standard pose for the bride and groom with a very pleasant background but it does not tell you where the photo was taken. I like to take this anonymous type of photo along with similar photos that do identify the venues. The photo on the right simply translates this photo onto a computer screen. It is now part of the bride's thoughts as she prepares for the ceremony.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Same pose, different photo

Today's wedding (12th August) was different for me because I didn't get home and print a photo and some fridge magnets. I try to race back with these gifts because I am so nice (well it is my best advertising as well). It was too far away to do this as the wedding was in Manchester. The advantages were that I could continue to take photos as soon as the meal had finished and I was given a meal as well!

The meal had just finished and I had ten minutes with the bride and groom. Although the pose may be similar to other photos of the day, this photo is more relaxed. It must be something to do with the evening. It was starting to get dark but as soon as you use flash in this type of light then it looks like all daylight has gone.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Sunderland Point Part One

We have had a lot of rain recently so it was nice to get out in the sunshine today. I went to Glasson Dock for only the second time in my life. It is just south and slightly west of Lancaster and it is south of the river Lune. The river winds through Lancaster and reaches the sea at Sunderland Point which is just across the river. It definitely winds because this row of houses at Sunderland Point is facing east. This means that I will have to go back and take this photo again in the early morning.

The photo on the left is about a third of the original photo. There was little of interest in the sky or in the estuary, hence the panoramic cropping. I will know next time to zoom in close. With the photo on the right I have tried to make up for the hazy sunlight by increasing the contrast a lot and decreasing the brightness a little. The cropping is a little tighter still and making it monochrome highlights the outline of the buildings.

You can see the changes on the computer but I will take this photo again when I am able to get to Glasson Dock and when we get our next nice morning, so don't hold your breath.

Happy snapping

Friday, 11 September 2009

You have to get the close-ups

On the left is a typical close-up from a wedding. I like to take close-ups so that you can see the detail of the buttonhole flower. Close-ups may also show off details in the waistcoat or the bride's bouquet. Especially important is the detail of the bride's dress and the wedding rings. I often get this detail with the groom's left hand on the back of the bride's dress and the bride's left hand on the groom's waistcoat.

I amended this photo by putting a vignette around it and on the right I have also added my website address. Take the address away and this is the photo that I used as my motif which is found on each page of the website and on all my headed notepaper. You do need to get the standard poses but at times you have to get the close-ups.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Last two photos from last Saturday

The tarmac on the left was black to begin with. By changing the photo to monochrome you would not guess that it changes the tarmac much however it has gained a new quality. The texture becomes more clearer. When a photo is in colour then obviously colour dominates. In this example the car in the background has become less obvious and the focus is more on the outline of the building and car and also on the bride and groom. We were very lucky with the weather on Saturday but you can also tell that it has been raining. The tarmac is gleaming and clean.

The final photo from this wedding is taken just before they walk into the room for the reception meal. For me it mimics the bride entering the church with her father. The end of a life as a single person is now reflected as the start of a married life. This sounds rather poetic so you can just think of them as similar poses.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Classic Poses

There are good reasons why 'classic' poses are classic. They have strong links with what has happened and certainly at weddings walking down the aisle is a classic photo. I like to take this photo when the bride and groom have just started their walk. This is because the organ music has just started and this alone can send a shiver down the spine. If you get a shiver it usually comes out in the expression. The photo on the left is taken about three quarters of the way down the aisle and the reason that I take this photo is because it gives a background of guests.

The photo on the right was taken minutes later. The lawn needed a little bit of tidying but the church looks great behind the couple. You may recognise it as Morecambe Parish Church and that is why it is a classic pose.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Use a tripod and the timer

I like natural light. Flash has its place and if you want to light subjects that are close to you then flash does very nicely. It's no use taking flash if your subject is in the distance. So here are two examples of distant subjects. Alright the subjects are the same and the photos were taken within a few seconds of each other but you get the idea.

It works whether the lighting is artificial or natural. It could be that light was streaming through the window or it could be that the lights in the church are directed towards the altar. It doesn't really matter. The result is that the bride and groom are well lit. The problem without flash is that there is not enough light to allow you to hold the camera. Camera shake occurs because the shutter is open for so long. The answer is to use a tripod and to use the timer so that there is no shake from pressing the camera shutter.

Happy snapping

Monday, 7 September 2009

Colour versus monochrome

I like all the photos that I pass on to the bride and groom. This time I will be handing over 390. I generally have a favourite and they are often photos like the one on the left. In this photo you have the portraits and the flowers in close-up and it fits well within the 6"x 4" format. Having said that it does fit well with many sizes of photo.

The obvious difference with the photo on the right is that one is colour and the other is monochrome. The background is similar but the cropping has changed. With very little movement from the bride and groom you get many differences in the photo. Colour picks out the flowers, but monochrome emphasises the folds of the dress. I think that both photos lead you to the faces wherever you start looking at the photos. Try looking at any photo like this. What do you look at and what influenced you to look there? It is clearer on the right but you follow the line of the dress to the point of interest.

You may also notice that the lawn is quite neat. I will leave it to you to decide whether the lawn had been digitally tidied.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Don't strangle the groom

Earlier this year a bride and groom chose their photo for the local newspaper. They chose the photo of the bride getting a piggy back from the groom. I was pleased with this because it is something different and it certainly stood out in the newspaper.

Since then I have tried to always suggest this as one of the photos of the day. Sometimes the dress doesn't allow this photo to take place but you can always mock it up as with these photos of the bride and groom from yesterday.

Natural smiles are found when confetti is thrown or when the bride is lifted. This photo also gives a natural smile especially if you ask the bride to put her arms around the groom's neck but not in a strangling sense.

The second photo is just a sepia version with a little tighter cropping. I usually put a white vignette around the sepia version of photos but this one looked like it didn't need the vignette treatment.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Cheapest and best advertising

The wedding last Sunday was not just a wedding but a Christening too. This couple do have other children but these are the main three people on the day. I hadn't thought about a thank you card. I know that brides and grooms may not use these photos as a basis for their thank you cards but even if they don't then they have another 6"x 4" photo which is made up of two photos that are 4"x 3".

Although I had forgotten about making up a card like this there is good news here. It meant that the couple could tell me which photos they wanted and the numbers needed. This also meant that I could get them printed for no extra charge. This may seem very generous but I don't know any advertising that is better or cheaper apart from word of mouth.

Happy snapping

Friday, 4 September 2009

Put more into enlargements

A few years ago I went to a printer in Morecambe and ordered a poster. He asked if he could use some of my photos for an advert for his banners and of course I said he could use my photos. Soon after this I went back for my own poster which I take to wedding exhibitions. In fact you can see it on my home page at and as well as this you get the added treat of me standing next to it. I don't get into the frame very often but I thought it was only fair for people to see me on the website.

This banner is a combination of very many techniques that I use. Take a look and you will see examples of black and white and colour in the same photo. There are vignettes and photos that are sepia. You will not see that the weeds have been taken out of the lawn and you will also not notice that a building in the background has been changed to trees.

What you will notice are my details. If you enlarge to the size of banners then words are easily read. I like the idea of words that are personal to brides and grooms added to a photo but unless you enlarge the photo then words may not be readable.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 3 September 2009

'Truth' may be a blur

Here are two examples showing off focus and blurring within the same photo. The photo on the left was manipulated by the camera. The depth of field is shallow if you focus on something near to you like a buttonhole flower. The guests in the background are blurred because they are not within the depth of field of the camera lens.

On the right I have contrived a blur effect on the computer. The 'focus' is placed on the ring but you get an idea of the setting with the blurred background. Whether the photo is contrived on the computer or contrived by the camera, the result is a photo that may be pleasing to those concerned. When Manet painted his lilies his eyesight was failing. His 'truth' was a blur and you may like the blur anyway.

Happy snapping