Saturday, 31 July 2010

Candid and posed photos

This is a pre-wedding meeting and the photo on the left was the first photo that I took. It is more usual to take photos of backgrounds for the venues but I didn't hesitate to take this photo after a slip on the grass. I remember the first time that a wedding guest was crying. I hesitated to take the photo but I haven't hesitated since then. You don't get the option of whether you like a photo if it is never taken.

The photo on the right is a much more common photo. This pose shows off the back of the dress and allows the couple to get used to the type of photo that I want on the day. I think that preparation is always useful and the couple are almost used to the poses before the day itself.

Happy snapping

Friday, 30 July 2010

Christopher Murphy

I received this caricature in the post yesterday. I have bought a few of Chris Murphy's sketches for other family members but they are so good that I finally decided to get one for myself. They are definitely flattering as I am willing to show you this photo but I generally like to stay behind the camera. You will find many more examples of his work at

A couple are getting married in August and I have asked them and Chris if I can use their sketch to give him an advert on my website. I look forward to adding this to my homepage.

On his website you will see that his sketch often appears in the top corner of the page. I'm not sure if you can call it a motif if it varies but I must ask him about putting this caricature on my website.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Zenith EM

I read a book recently entitled 'Lee Frost's Simple Art of Black and White Photography'. The introduction attracted me to the book because I am a similar age to the author (well I am slightly older but I won't go into detail) and we both owned the same SLR as teenagers - a Zenith EM. It was well known as a basic camera and for its good lens, but the main advantage was that it was a cheap. There was a simple light meter built into the camera but you didn't have to worry about buying batteries because there weren't any.

The lack of automation meant that anyone who used this camera had to know about light readings, exposure, shutter speeds and apertures. You had to know the basic physics of photography. If you didn't then there was no point in buying an SLR. I used to make jokes about one day they would invent a camera you could just point and shoot. They were around but they were more expensive, and if you bought one of them then you didn't need to understand how the camera worked.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Portrait manipulations

I took this portrait on Saturday and I gave the CDRom back on Monday along with 52 prints. This was one of my favourites. I like it because of their expressions but also because of the digital manipulations. I extended my black background (£4.50 from the market) to make it look like it was a huge background in a huge room. It wasn't. I also like the high contrast monochrome version on the right. take a close look and you will see that there is a 'barn door' effect. The bottom of the photo is a little darker. Again this was all done by manipulation. Why bother buying specific lighting effects when a click of a button will do it?

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Blatant Advertising

I thought that I had finished the blogs from last week's wedding but while I was waiting for the meal to finish I noticed that there were quite a few framed photographs in the bar. I asked if there was room for one more and the owner was happy to add one more to his collection.

I wanted my photograph to stand out. Well monochrome stands out in a field of colour and I have already written that I prefer this particular photo in monochrome anyway. It was a fairly simple technique to add a speech bubble and a few words. There is a slight gap at the top of the bubble but this allows for space taken by the frame. Saying something nice about the venue may lead to a prominent position for the photo, and last but not least I added my website address.

The only thing left to do was to check that it was alright to put words into the bride's mouth. It was and eight days after the wedding this framed photo was handed over to the owner of the venue.

Happy snapping

Monday, 26 July 2010

Backgrounds for couples

Following on from yesterday's blog, pre-wedding meetings are also for finding backgrounds when I am taking just the bride and groom. On the left you can see Lake Windermere in the background. It is a little more obvious on the right.

It is good to see the photos again on the monitor. I am fairly sure that the couple were safe on dry land, but the photo makes it look like they are almost in the lake. Next time they will stand a yard away from the water.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Which do you prefer?

There are a few reasons why I like pre-wedding meetings and one is to find the background for the main group photo. Very often I don't know which is the best background until I get home and look a the photos on the computer monitor.

Much more important than my opinion is that of the bride and the groom. It doesn't matter whether it is the background or whether a certain photo should be converted to monochrome or sepia, I much prefer to be told their preference. With the advances in technology it is so easy to say here are some choices, which do you prefer?

Happy snapping

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Last blog from last week's wedding

You don't always have to look at the camera to catch a nice portrait and it makes a nice change to look away. One way for the bride and groom to do this is for them to look at each other.

As for the photo on the right I picked on two photos and cropped them to 4"x 3". When you join two photos together that are cropped to this size then you are back to 6"x 4" and they are a nice size to add to a folded A5 card. Hey presto you have a thank you card. I know some of my brides and grooms have used this style of card and whether it is a card, an enlargement, a canvas or anything else then I am pleased that my photographs have been used. I really don't mind passing on copyright as my best adverts are the photos.

Happy snapping

Friday, 23 July 2010

Knowing where you are.

Take a close-up against a natural background and you could be anywhere. It looks very nice but tells you nothing about where you were. You also need photos with backgrounds that set the scene and here are two examples.

The photo on the left is the one that I used on the mirror yesterday. Even if you don't know the building, you do now because of the sign. On the right the couple have taken a few steps for a totally different background. Very often the bride and groom can stand still. I walk around them and find a great variation in background.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Large Images

This photograph was originally of a large mirror. Adding photos to photos is fairly easy but it makes it look like the image is huge. If I ever see posters or any large adverts in the background you can be sure that I will use them.

Compare the two photographs. In monochrome the emphasis moves away from the colour of the walls and the grass. It means that the eye dwells on the more important subjects. Sometimes colour is really important. Colour schemes in rooms and the colour of flowers can enhance a photograph, but this time I think monochrome works better.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Blurred Backgrounds

This is the main reason why I like to go back for the evening reception. Anyone can take this photo but I change the photo to make the background blurred. You don't want to see detail in the background.

On the right is the last photo of the evening. Again the background is blurred and so too is the foreground. To finish the photo I used a vignette. For some people the vignette will improve the photo. A couple of clicks on the computer and at least there is a choice.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

An arty grainy feel

Photos may be colour, monochrome, sepia or many other variations on this theme. I have my preferences and you will have yours, but the wonderful thing about digital technology is that it is not difficult to offer many variations of the same photo.

This photo was fairly straightforward and doesn't need explanation, but I like the expression. This means that I amend it to monochrome and sepia. As you can see on the right I also increase the contrast and cropped it quite a lot. You lose quality when you do these things to a photo, but it gives it an arty, grainy feel. I also feel that sepia gives an effect like a suntan and a darker version means more suntan. You don't need to go on holiday with photo amendments - just tweak the software.

Happy snapping

Monday, 19 July 2010


When I take photos of the wedding day I like to take a few moments for portraits. It really only takes a moment. I ask for two variations because if you just take one then eyes may be closed or the expression may not be quite right. I don't usually ask for more than two because it is also easy to get bored. In this way (willing) family and guests will receive three photos. A colour version, one in monochrome and as with these examples, a sepia with a white vignette.

Photos are taken wherever the bride, groom or guests happen to be, but take a look at the backgrounds. Very often a plain wall that you would not normally consider as a background works very well, especially when you point the flash to the ceiling. This gives a gradual change in tone from top to bottom.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Yesterday's wedding

When a bride and groom come to see me I have a spiel that lasts around an hour. I show them examples of my work on the computer, in picture frames, on a DVD and in albums. At some point in the hour I mention that I give away copyright which means they can print anything they want at any time. In return I ask if it alright to use their photos on this blog and on my website. The trouble is I can't remember asking. I can't remember anyone refusing but I am not sure if I asked, and that is why I did not publish any of their pre-wedding meeting photos.

I forgot to ask again yesterday. I think they agreed. I suppose the easiest answer is to publish their photos and presume it is alright. I can always change blog entries later. Now that I have decided to publish I will explain that this is the photo that I took back as an enlargement. It is 10" x 8". I decided on the sepia version with a vignette. I get a lot of comments about how quickly I manage to print a photo which is nice but I also like to show the bride and groom (and the guests) that I am able to change photos in various ways. Why am I thinking of the words "show" and "off"?

Happy snapping

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Reviving Rouen Cathedral

I like impressionist works of art. I like the idea that the viewer has to interpret a piece of art to fully appreciate it I like the French connections and with this painting I like the Rouen Cathedral connection. I have stood outside this cathedral looking at the same view. It is a famous work of art but it has faded. The impression that this canvas makes today is not the same impression that it would have made when first painted.

I did check and it is alright to take this photo as long as flash isn't used. However in order to take this photo without flash you need a tripod or a flat surface to rest the camera. In fact I used a chair for this photo but because the chair is so much lower than the painting I amended the distorting effect to make it look like the photo was taken at head height. I suppose I could have put a bit of colour back into the painting. Maybe that is my next mini-project.

Happy snapping.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Photographic Inspiration

I take photographic inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. In the Midland Hotel in Morecambe is a banner advertising the hotel as a wedding venue. You can see it on the left and there is a photo of a bride on their famous staircase. At the top of the staircase is the Neptune and Triton medallion by Eric Gill and this is on the photo.

It is a nice photograph so off we went to mimic it. Well not only mimic but improve on it. The problem was that I didn't want to change to a wide-angle lens, and I also preferred the mural as the background but this is not on the top floor of the staircase. The photo on the right is actually a compilation of a photo from the floor below and a photo of the medallion. If you look closely you will see that it doesn't quite match up e.g. there are no lights on the floor below. Maybe we will take this photo on the wedding day but this time from the correct floor.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Photos on Photos

This is The Midland Hotel in Morecambe and it is also the venue for the reception. By walking around 50 yards you get the whole of the building in the photo. It is the back of the building and we are planning to take photos there too. The front is a car park and the back is a public area. I don't shout people out of the way very often and I couldn't here, but with the aid of technology I can tidy up the grass and take people out.

If you haven't guessed 'before' is on the left and 'after' is on the right. I didn't spend too long on this photo as it is not going to be hung on any wall. Apart from changes, the composition leaves a space in the bottom left quarter. I could take the photo from lower down but there will still be a space. It is this type of photo that I use to add photos. Very often I add portrait photos of the bridesmaids but we'll see what we get on the day.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Morecambe Bay etc

What a great view. Again we have the Viking graves in the background but this time we are looking across Morecambe Bay. I am fairly sure that Grange is on the left of the photo on the left and I think Arnside Knott is somewhere near the centre of this photo.

It is nice to see the sites which include Morecambe Bay and on the right you see the remains of St Patrick's Chapel. Viking graves, the historic St Patrick's Chapel and Morecambe Bay are all seen in these photos. The church in which they are getting married, St Peter's is quite historic too as well as being very pretty.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Close-ups are needed

I like to use a vignette on a close-up. Sometimes I prefer monochrome and at other times I prefer sepia or even the usual colour version. However to get the couple into a frame like this then you need their heads close together.

An easy answer is to sit down which they have done on the right. On the left they are preparing to get the 'piggy back' photo. Certain photos give you natural smiles and any lift will do that. In this case the smile is in anticipation of the lift.

I like to come back to the evening reception to take the first dance photos. At the same time I give out surprise fridge magnets. Well it isn't a surprise now, but fridge magnets are small so close-ups are needed.

Happy snapping

Monday, 12 July 2010

Black Sabbath and Heysham History

At pre-wedding meetings we talk through the day and look at possible backgrounds for photos. In particular we are looking for a place for the main group photo. Small group photos tend to follow at the same place but these can be taken anywhere. On the left is one possible site for the main group. That is why the bride and groom are in the centre of the photo. Under normal circumstances, if the photo was going to be just the couple and the church then I would follow the rule of thirds and place them to one side - see the photo on the right.

If you know St Peter's in Heysham you will probably know that there are Viking graves nearby. You can see these historic stone graves in the background. For those of you who have little interest in Viking history and are more interested in Ozzy Osbourne you may like to know that these graves were on the cover of the 'Best of Black Sabbath' album.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Can you tell where we are?

Taking photos at the pre-wedding meeting isn't too important. It is much more important to know what the bride and groom want to do for their photos. You may recognise the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster's Williamson's Park as you can see it from the M6. However if you know the park very well you may be confused by this photo as there is a path which I removed. it looks like the couple are stood in the middle of a lawn.

We walked around the park and looked at three possible routes. It is a lovely park and the building itself makes a great background. This point marks the point we have to walk to if we want the Memorial in the background. If we walk further then there are plenty more opportunities.

Don't worry about the path. The bride and groom will get the original which includes the path along with my variations.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Rarer Poses in Monochrome

Yesterday I saw one of my wedding photos enlarged and in a frame. I also got a thank you note from another couple for whom I had recently taken the photographs. There is no doubt that it is nice to be thanked but for me it is nothing to knowing that my photos have been enlarged and are on display - and that's why I give away copyright. Well it is a good advert too. The photo that I saw was monochrome so I knew that someone had gone to the trouble of enlarging and framing and for me most importantly, choosing a photo and choosing monochrome.

That is partly the reason that today's and yesterday's photos are moncochrome but partly it is to take away attention from the bright background colours, especially in the playground photo. It is nice to use any available props even if it is a child's slide. The simple technique here is to add a motion blur which makes it look like they are sliding even if they are as stationary as in most poses.

Happy snapping

Friday, 9 July 2010

Planned Poses

I like pre-wedding meetings. It gives the bride and groom some details of how time will pass on the day and gives them the chance to say where they want their photos to be taken.

It also gives me a chance to talk about poses. I can give them an idea of how they may stand for the artificial cutting of the cake or simply talk about the usual poses. Normally a couple will stand together facing the camera. On the left the couple are standing towards each other and this is more obvious on the right.

Although we don't want to consider bad weather we do need a plan B. You may be able to see that we are indoors on the left. It is nice to know the alternatives beforehand. As for the monochrome - well I just liked it, and the couple will get all variations of the same photo.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Colour and sepia

If the bride and groom sit down then if there is any difference in height then you don't see them in sitting. Similarly with this pose, you can't tell who is taller. Apart from height differences it is also useful to use other poses just to get different expressions.

On the left is the usual colour version. On the right I have converted to sepia. It takes the emphasis off the flowers and onto the faces as the bright red flowers and green leaves dominate this version. In sepia we are not distracted by colour. The other advantage of sepia is that it makes the skin look like it is tanned. if I had made the photo darker or increased the contrast then the tan effect would have increased.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Details from the day

Close-ups are useful if you want to see a photograph of the ring. They are also useful if you have things like detail of a uniform or more usually detail from a wedding dress.

The white vignette gives a dreamlike feel to the photo. The whole of the wedding day is often a blur so there is a link with this type of photography. On the right the photo was converted to monochrome and then to sepia. By increasing the contrast a little it looks like the bride has a suntan. Who needs to go on holiday!

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Standing close together

I give out an instruction to stand a little closer together when I take this kind of photo. Well you don't normally stand this close together even if you are newly married. However if you want to fit in the flowers and you are taking a 6"x 4" photo then you have to get close.

Caps don't help if you want to keep light on the face but I didn't amend this photo to make the face any lighter. There is the obvious change that I made to keep the flowers in colour. It is a fairly easy step but it is even easier to convert fully to monochrome or sepia so this couple received all these variations.

Happy snapping

Monday, 5 July 2010

How to get natural smiles

Natural smiles are seen when the bride is lifted, when confetti is thrown, during speeches and generally when someone says something funny. It was a comment about garters that got the smiles on both the photos.

I never know if the bride is wearing a garter. Occasionally I see a garter among the items to be photographed before the bride has put on the dress but generally I only know that this photo is possible if I am told about it. I do have a list of photos that is completed by the bride and groom but I must add the garter shot to the list.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Thank you from last weekend

These are the blog's last photos from the wedding last week. I like to put two photos together to make one 6"x 4" and this means that by cutting it in two you have two photos to stick on a piece of card to make a "thank you" note. It is a simple technique that means cropping to 8"x 6" which is the equivalent of 4"x 3". Add two like this together and you end up with a 6"x 4" i.e. a really cheap way to make a distinctive and relevant note for all friends and family.

The only trouble I had with this was choosing the photos and that's why this couple ended up with two cards. Once the photos have been cut they can always use one photo from one photo and one from another.

Happy snapping