Ceremonies and I do locations!
As a photographer, I love a great location, but what makes a great location? I’m possibly a little spoilt because the majority my couples tend to factor in some universally appealing aspects and or venues on their wedding day, but I’ll go into some locations and why they work and why some don’t a little later. Firstly, as far as your ceremony goes, if it’s going to be in a church, then much of the mood and atmosphere is pre determined, by the style of structure, and the type of religion will play a part also, particularly in the type of interior. A grand Greek Orthodox church for example often looks quite humble on the outside, yet the inside, I would have to say is one of my very favorite. It’s a gorgeous surprise, much like opening a clam. Fairly plain on the outside, but shiny and full of colour on the inside. The icons and lighting, the colours and scale all come together to create a very atmospheric environment for not only the bridal party and you selves, but also the guests. Jewish Schules are also wonderfully atmospheric and have a great sense of history, Like the Greek ceremony, they too will allow you to move fairly freely ( always discreetly of course ) and this in turn helps to tell the story and capture so many more angles and people attending etc. Catholic churches are often similar in scale, but with far more muted lighting and this in turn adds a more somber tone to the people inside… but remember if the mood is upbeat with plenty of characters in any situation, then I’ll be sure to capture that also. There might be tears from mum or little kids with their bored heads snuggling up to gran. Tricky lighting eg scenes that have very mixed lighting that has both dark and light in it or odd colours are often great to shoot in black and white. Particularly if you capturing lots of different people and portraits candidly, then black and white has a fantastic mood and really suits the photo journalistic style I have. In fact over the years I have actually had many couples request their whole day be shot in black and white. I would rarely have anyone ask to have the whole day shot in colour only. Of course colour can become black and white in post production, but you get the idea.
So far I’ve talked about churches and ceremonies indoors, but when you take things outdoors, then so many more options open up to you. Apart from introducing structures such as Chuppa’s ( generally a square sheet to cover the couple and Rabbi, with poles attached to each corner of the sheet and held up high, usually by close family or friends in Jewish ceremonies, or non religious variations on the chuppa ( also very popular ) when there is simply nothing near you, to give focus to the couple and form an altar of sorts. For example if you’re in the middle of beautiful field or on a beach, some form of overhead structure looks fantastic and can provide shelter from sun. Shelter from sun is good for a photographer, because it puts faces in a more uniform/ even light, which means they’re not squinting or sweating for example. You can of course decorate these structures to your hearts content and this is probably a big draw card for many, truth be known. I love how unique the outdoor ceremony has become and because your not confined to a building, you really can hold your ceremony anywhere you like. Obvious things such as permits and access will always need to be attended to, but if you have your heart set on a forest to exchange your I do’s or a beach or a paddock with swaying grass, then start looking, because it’s probably doable.
The outdoor ceremony allows for your personal touch so much more and as a visual story teller, so many options open up. Being able to roam around the entire gathering and shoot from pretty much any angle really makes for exciting images and as a photographer, you can be a whole lot more creative. The weather and the scenery in the background all play a major part and the guests seated or standing are all part of the one scene. Obviously focusing in on your intimate moments and I do’s, including kisses and signing and rings and side ward nervous glances, even the half cut uncle in the back row is well worth getting. These sort of shots can be done quite discreetly also, because you have both plenty of light and the room to use a longer lens. This is great for capturing candid shots of groomsmen and bridesmaids and details that catch your eye.
Of course the outdoor ceremony can happen almost anywhere and I’ve shot them on rooftops and balconies, particularly in Melbourne venues such as Luminare, The Deck at Circa, the ground floor deck at Carousel, yacht clubs, golf courses and even warehouse’s. Private homes and gardens are often intimate and can have great meaning. Trees and garden nearby are great as this lets a photographer shoot through foliage creating a wonderfully soft mood and even better if there’s warm light filtering through. Trees etc also help in framing an image and I look for this where I can even on general locations.
There are obviously so many possibilities when it comes to an outdoor location for your ceremony, but the style of seating ( it could be hey bales and logs if that’s your thing ) layout and decorations, including flowers, signage and even musicians all make up an outdoor ceremony and become very much part of that location, where ever it might be.