Shooting Winter Weddings ~ Pictures and Techniques

Nov 21, 2009 | Flash, Location, Wedding | 14 comments

Coping with changeable light or dark gloomy or even low angle winter sunlit conditions is what this workshop was all about. I lit this shot with a single Speedlight.

Coping with changeable light, dark gloomy conditions or even low angle winter sunlight is what this workshop was all about. I lit this shot with a single Speedlight.

After last years launch of our Lighting Winter Weddings and Big Day DVDs we’ve been inundated with requests for more wedding shooting training. So Julie and I decided to put on some dates at the start of this winter season. Here are a selection of the pictures from the first two workshops that happened earlier in the week.

Julie and I split up in the first session. Each of us with one model and 4 delegates. We then swap over so that all delegates get to shoot all the scenes. This 1:4 training is by far the best ratio and enables us to give individual attention to the delegates as well as benefiting from the group learning experience that is so valuable. We have just one more workshop with places available on Monday 7th December. Details of this workshop are here.

Julie starts with the bridal preparations, keeping things simple and elegant.

Julie starts with the bridal preparations, keeping things simple and elegant.

Double reflections keep wide establishing shots interesting.

Double reflections keep wide establishing shots interesting.

Julie showed the deligates how to use the natural light creatively. The kick light on Natasha is a nice touch in this shot. Often furnature needs moving or curtains need closing to get the right kind of look.

Julie showed the delegates how to use the natural light creatively. The kick light on Natasha is a nice touch in this shot. Often furniture needs moving or curtains need closing to get the right kind of look.

Simple symetry makes this contra jour shot of the dress work so well.

Simple symmetry makes this contra-jour shot of the dress one for the album. We show delegates how to set up and shoot pictures that sell. Working smart, using time wisely is what makes successful wedding photographers.

I took this frame on my 24-70mm lens using close up attachments. I only like to carry three lenses at weddings so a macro lens isn't one of them. The technique I use to make big close ups takes a bit of practice but is very simple and repeatable.

I took this frame on my 24-70mm lens using close up attachments. Julie and I only like to carry three lenses each at weddings so a macro lens isn't one of them. The technique I use to make big close ups takes a bit of practice but is very simple and repeatable.

I show how to tell the story of the day with a less is more approach. The stone cill and scroll end window stay say a lot about the venue without resorting to big wide shots.

I show how to tell the story of the day with a less is more approach. The stone sill, mullion and scroll end window stay say a lot about the venue without resorting to big wide shots.

Next I showed telling a story from different angles to build a more intersting sequence. I suggested this type of pose could be used for the groom reading through his speach for the last time. Composition and lighting balance are key elements in this kind of environment. It's so easy to end up with heavy contrasty light that is more funerial than wedding.

Next I showed telling a story from different angles to build a more interesting sequence. I suggested this type of pose could be used for the groom reading through his speech for the last time. Composition and lighting balance are key elements in this kind of environment. It's so easy to end up with heavy contrasty light that is more funereal than wedding.

The second shot in the sequence uses diagonals, split focus and a low viewpoint

The second shot in the sequence uses diagonals, split focus and a low viewpoint.

This is the 'money' shot. It shows the 4 poster bed and the room. The money shot is a term from the film industry for a scene setter that shows off the set design and props.

This is the 'money' shot. It shows the 4 poster bed and the room. The money shot is a term from the film industry for a scene setter that shows off the set design and props.

All the pictures in this set are in colour. Getting good clean colour pictures is important and I showed how to use white balance creatively to make great looking jpegs or RAW files without having to resort to switching them to black and white.

Because it was quite a bright day at this point I shut all the curtains and showed how to use flash in the dark without it looking like a snap.

Because it was quite a bright day at this point I shut all the curtains and showed how to use flash off camera in the dark.

Back with Julie now and

Back with Julie now and bright clean uncluttered shots taken with the minimum fuss are the Lovegrove style.

Julie keeps all the verticles upright, the edges of the frame clean and the lighting balance spot on for this pre ceremony bridal portrait.

Julie kept all the verticals upright, the edges of the frame clean and the lighting balance spot on for this pre-ceremony bridal portrait.

Julie closed the curtains for this shot leaving just a small slit of light to reach Natasha.

Julie closed the curtains for this shot leaving just a small slit of light to reach Natasha. D700 1600 ISO at f/2.8. A clean bright radiant picture in a dark gloomy room.

mm

Julie and I love shooting into windows or using windows in our pictures.

When you are shooting with window light you often need to control contrast to keep the picture bright and alive. A low key option is available too but we like our winter weddings to look like summer weddings. It's this kind of personal choice you make at the taking stage.

When you are shooting with window light you often need to control contrast to keep the picture bright and alive. A low key option is available too but we like our winter weddings to look like summer weddings. It's this kind of personal choice you make at the taking stage that we teach on the workshop.

I lit this shot of Glen with a splash of flash triggered with an ST-E2. I teach how to shoot quickly with flash and avoid resorting to put the flash on the camera.

I lit this shot of Glen with a splash of flash triggered with an ST-E2. I teach how to shoot quickly with flash and avoid resorting to put the flash on the camera.

Natural light, a low viewpoint and a bright background make this shot a keeper.

Natural light, a low viewpoint and a bright background make this shot a keeper. When you know how to find great light it is easy to take shots that make your clients look healthy. Bright clear skin and eyes are essential.

Lit with flash and natural light.

Lit with flash and natural light. f/5.6

As above but at f/16 Choosing the right aperture is not a task for a light meter it is done by looking at the screen on the back of the camera and deciding on the look you want.

As above but at f/16 I explained and demonstrated to my delegates why choosing the right aperture is not a task for a light meter, it is done by looking at the screen on the back of the camera and deciding on the look I want.

You can even go a bit mad if you want to.

You can even go a bit mad if you want to.

Meanwhile Julie was shooting on the spiral staircase using natural light.

Meanwhile Julie was shooting on the spiral staircase using natural light.

We run our shooting weddings workshops at Stonehouse Court near Stroud because it is just 3 minutes from the M5, it has a great church in the grounds and the old country house hotel and bedrooms are perfect for our needs. Natasha and Glen are our new Wedding models and will be with us for the final winter wedding workshop of the season on the 7th December.

Next it was off to the church. We shared our secrets to shooting in dark churches in the winter and had time for a couple of portraits too before heading back out into the cold.

Next it was off to the church. We shared our secrets to shooting in dark churches in the winter and had time for a couple of portraits too before heading back out into the cold.

New light through old windows

New light through old windows

I showed how to shoot the big wide shots throughout the day using a monopod.

Next, I showed how to shoot the big wide shots throughout the day using a monopod. I use a nifty system that guarantees success. I devised it over the past 10 years and the sales of prints from 'sky shots' have earned us many thousands of pounds.

As well as high angle viewpoints I like to shoot from the ground too.

As well as high angle viewpoints I like to shoot from the ground too.

If I recall corectly it was actually raining when I took this frame. Without the flash the shot would have been a silhoette.

If I recall correctly it was actually raining when I took this frame. Without the flash the shot would have been a silhouette.

There's our church. Picture postcard stuff.

There's our church. Picture postcard stuff.

Into the undergrowth we ventured for a few natural light beauty shots. For some of the delegates this sequence was a revelation.

Into the undergrowth we ventured for a few natural light beauty shots. For some of the delegates this sequence was a revelation.

Another natural light shot taken under some yew trees.

Another natural light shot taken under some yew trees.

Here's a shot for mum and day. Great light is all around us. You just need to know what to look out for and how to use it.

Here's a shot for mum and day. Great light is all around us. You just need to know what to look out for and how to use it.

If you want to hone your wedding shooting skills and learn hot to shoot to sell in a calm unruffled fun manner then join us in a few weeks time with the same couple at the same venue for the same workshop. Julie and I hold no secrets back, We cover business, psychology, and the customer experience as well as the practical shooting, lighting and picture composition training. You can use the pictures you shoot too for self promotion or to liven up your website.

Please feel free to comment on your experience of the workshop or comment on the pictures below.

14 Comments

  1. Deniz

    Damian, one thing I’ve not grasped from your blog is your overall approach to lighting at weddings – not the portrait shots which are set-up – but all the other grab shots, speeches etc that take place indoors. Do you always use off camera flash on stands?

    Do you ever use a flash diffuser on camera? Have you ever used the GF Lightsphere II or bounced your Speedlite off walls for example?

    I’m really keen to hear your thoughts on this subject.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Deniz, I have no general approach to lighting weddings. I have a lot of specific systems for the multitude of situations that occur. It’s such a big subject I made a DVD dedicated to lighting winter weddings and I run a days dedicated training on the shooting weddings workshop. It’s very rare that I put a Speedlight on a stand. I’ll use my Broncolor Mobil on a stand for the groups if necessary and I’ll use my Arri on a stand for couples shots etc. I use Speedlights off camera but rarely on a stand. Take a look at the trailer for shooting winter weddings DVD and read the spec pages for more info. There’s also a big chapter in my book on wedding photography but words can’t explain completely how I light a wedding like a DVD can show. I use a Sto-Fen when I need a Speedlight to be multidirectional. Have a great Christmas, Damien.

      Reply
  2. Allan Scott

    Thanks Damian. Great response as always!

    Reply
  3. damien

    Hi Allan,

    I would not use the Arri for groups. Shots lit with the Arri are typically ISO 800, 1/60th at f/4 and I prefer a lower ISO, a faster shutter speed and a greater depth of field for wedding groups. I use my Broncolor flash kit for wedding groups.

    Here are more of my Arri pictures.

    There are others here too.

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  4. damien

    Hi Lloyd,

    Thanks for your kind words. Have a great wedding season, Damien.

    Reply
  5. Allan Scott

    Fantastic shots. This is one course I would have loved to have attended but unfortunately time did not permit.

    I have 5 weddings coming up over December & January and the Arri light really interests me. Can it be used for group shots? It would be great to see more examples of wedding shots you have done using this light.

    Keep up the great work!

    Thanks,

    Allan

    Reply
  6. Lloyd Siddall

    Hi All
    I was on the first course on the 16th of November. A fantastic day great location learnt a lot. You won’t be disappointed.
    The techniques showed are simple, easy to remember and very effective.
    If you get the chance BOOK (no I’m not on commission).

    Best regards

    Lloyd

    Reply
  7. damien

    Hi Carole,

    You are right. I am doing a studio portrait masterclass for 3 shooters on the 8th. I thoroughly recommend both days. You will not be disappointed.

    Regards, Damien.

    Reply
  8. Carole Kelly

    am I getting confused, I thought you had one the day after as well??? i was thinking of doing both, if I travel all the way down might as well do every thing in one hit : ). One on studio and one on weddings.

    Reply
  9. damien

    Hi Barb, Phil and Carole, Thanks for your comments.

    Carole, the workshop is a one day event but because of demand we ran two workshops back to back. It’s a completely new experience from the ‘big flash in the country’ workshop you came on. If you can make the date book 7th December because it will be the last one of this season.

    Phil, As mentioned, if you want to bag these shots and the knowledge / experience then book a place on the December workshop. I’m not sure there will be another opportunity. We really do share far more than the shooting techniques. It’s a value packed day.

    David, This workshop goes way beyond the DVD. It’s all new lighting scenarios in a new venue with a new couple and new kit for that matter. A DVD is a great start but it is no replacement for the experience of being there. You will also get the shots to use for self promotion.

    Thanks again Damien.

    Reply
  10. David Lowerson

    Hi Damien,

    With regards to the winter wedding workshop, will this be the same techniques as used in your excellent DVD’s or are there new ideas to try and learn?

    Awesome images.

    Reply
  11. Carole Kelly

    These are lovely and the thought of two workshops over two days is very tempting. Will I need a car once I am there? I went on your big flash in the country work shop so would like to do these two.

    Reply
  12. Phil

    lovely images ……….im going to have to find the time to attend one of your courses

    Reply
  13. Barb Cameron

    Beautiful images and direction. Your workshops look like they are packed with ideas and inspiration.

    Reply

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