Documentary wedding photography blog – Ali & Lawrence at Hayne House, Kent Wedding Venue
When I met with Ali & Lawrence I was delighted to learn that they were looking for a documentary photographer, to capture the intimate moments of their wedding, using a natural and unobtrusive style of photography.
They spook passionately about wanting their day to be relaxed, but for their photographer too, yes to capture the details and ensure there were some group shots. But more important to them was the real need to capture their nearest and dearest who were coming from Scotland and South Africa. They wanted the photographer to capture their personalities as they interacted, celebrated, caught-up, cried, laughed, ate great food, drank their carefully selected wines and danced into the night.
I was also excited to learn that they were one of the first couples to be getting married at Hayne House, in the purpose-built Orangery, a building I hoped would really suit my style of photography and play to my strengths.
So I was so excited and thrilled when they booked me to be their wedding photographer, as and natural and un-posed images are at the heart of my ‘work’.
So you won’t be surprised to learn, the day started and ended with smiles, bubbles, laughter and more laughter.
The wedding venue: Hayne House, Kent
I had photographed at the Kent Wedding Venue before. However, I was acutely aware that throughout the autumn and winter of 2017 and 2018, that the team at Hayne House were pushing hard to open their purpose-built, all-under-one-roof Orangery, no mean feat in my opinion!
I already loved the exclusive nature of the venue, the private gardens, landscaped estate and have always loved working with the wedding team, as they work tirelessly to give the couple their perfect day but they are also great at briefing me, the photographer, keeping me up to speed on proceedings and working with me to help capture the couples special day.
So imagine my joy as I walk into a lovingly designed Orangery, with the couples’ needs at the centre of every decision making it is an amazing building. But I also think, the team must also have taken some advice from a photographer friend or someone in the know, as the new building is like a dream come true – light, bright, clean lines with the gardens as the backdrop, something a photographer dreams of but rarely gets the pleasure to work in. I was in photography heaven. Every angle is photogenetic, the couple and their guests, bathed in natural light, were just radiant. As I was capturing the day I could help but be excited, I honestly couldn’ wait to get into my editing studio, and paw over the images!
The light was abundant in the stunning newly built orangery which made it even more important that I was able to use my knowledge of light to the full. I shoot in RAW and manually meaning that I decide how I am going to expose an image (i.e. how much light is going to reach the sensor, via depth of field, shutter speed and ISO). This is vital, particularly when faced with such contrasting light. The golden rule always is to expose for the brides’ dress!
The light on the day was extremely strong – full sunshine and no cloud cover. As a mainly documentary wedding photographer (I firmly believe a limited number of pre-arranged group shots have their place at a wedding) this kind of light can bring some challenges but also opportunities for creativity with shadows, saturated colours and as sunset draws closer some beautifully lit portrait shots, silhouettes and sun flare.
For their group shots, I chose to photograph this element of their day in the gardens under the shade of some extremely tall conifer trees. To my mind, shooting group shots in strong sunlight isn’t an option and I’ll either find shade or find a suitable location inside a venue. If left with no other option, I’ll backlight these shots.
I also choose, when I can help it, not to use flash during the day’s events (other than a bit of fill light for the group shots). I like to use a number of off-camera flashes for the dancing element as I find I achieve a more 3-dimensional feel to the images. Although the light in the Orangery was still plentiful by the time Ali & Lawrence had their first dance, I set up some off flashes on light stands to freeze the movement for when the dancing commenced – I loved their first choreographed dance to surrounded by their nearest and dearest ….of ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)’ by Sleeping At Las.