3rd time lucky - what happens when a bride is let down TWICE!

I haven't blogged a wedding for a wee while, but I just had to share this tale. As 2013 draws to a close, I shudder to think just how many calls and emails I received from brides who had been let down (usually at short notice) by their 'wedding photographer'. A variety of excuses were given ranging from sickness to equipment failure, although a handful had been honest enough to admit they had taken on some weddings thinking it was easy money and soon realised there was a lot more to it than that. Now, I'll admit that not every enquiry booked my services - either I was already booked for their date or their expectations on pricing and mine didn't quite match up - but I did manage to help three brides for their big day. Laura and Alex had, unbelievably, been let down not once - but TWICE by different people. Thankfully, the second had given her a few months instead of the usual day or two. One of my bride's Aunt's is friends with Laura and suggested she should give me a call. We met up, had a great laugh and they decided to book me.
Fast forward a couple of months and we met up for their pre-wedding shoot at their venue, Seamill Hydro (http://www.seamillhydro.co.uk), where we discussed the timings etc. for the ceremony and went through a few ideas and poses. It also gave me a chance to use the Rick Sammon 'Sun Dial' app on my phone (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/rick-sammons-photo-sundial/id689328812?mt=8). This amazing app is absolutely essential to me when it comes to planning a shoot - indoors as well as outdoors - as it shows the sun's movement throughout the day and allows you to select any date, location and time and it'll show you exactly where the sun is going to be, as well as elevation and a whole host of other great information (including photo tips to help you get the most out of it if you're just starting out). It's so good that it made it into my list of '8 Essential Accessories for Wedding Photographers (http://ksgphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/8-essential-accessories-for-wedding.html) . Laura also took the opportunity to quietly tell me that she had hired a VW camper van to shuttle Alex to the wedding, and ask if I'd mind heading over to their house beforehand to get some shots as his surprise arrived. Obviously, the old romantic in me said 'Yes' :)

After that it was time to go and see how Laura and the girls were getting on. Anyone who has been near a bride as she gets ready will know the utter chaos which ensues as the bride has the final touches applied to her hair, make-up and accessories. Surprisingly, she seemed incredibly calm - something I couldn't say about her bridesmaids, as they fussed over her and did their best to make her feel like a princess, but her Mum was on hand to make sure everyone kept their heads.

Before everyone knew it, it was time to 'tie-the-knot', quite literally, as they exchanged their vows (cheered on by their wee girl, Lily ;) ).

After the group shots, it was time to get some shots of Laura and Alex alone - a part of the day which I absolutely live for! I love the whole 'story-telling' part of my job, as it captures the parts of a day which are either missed or forgotten due to the pace of the day. However, most brides will spend a considerable sum of money on their dress - and it's my job to provide them with something special to remember it with. It's at this point in the day where I switch from being a spectator (or photo-journalist/ reportage photographer as some call it) to full-on 'High-fashion' mode.
Now, sadly, due to the tide we knew that any shots on the beach meant they were going to be surrounded by a lot of seaweed (yes, I check the tide times when my venues are near the beach - call me anal, but I believe that you simply cannot plan too much for shooting a wedding) but we grabbed a quick shot anyway, just in case nothing else came good. Admittedly, it may not be a world-class shot, but I feel the contrast between the pristine dress and the seaweed work nicely.

Not being one to admit defeat easily (my wife readily tells friends that it took nearly three years of marriage to 'break me' ;) ) I used the wee pagoda in the hotel garden for a few shots, but I still had other plans in my head.

Okay, so these last couple of shots are a bit more 'processed' than I usually do, but I like to try new things to see whether they work for me or not. They won't replace my usual style of work, but sometimes I find something useful to add to my bag of tools.
As the time for speeches and the wedding breakfast drew closer I knew that the sky was going to give me something special (remember, I knew exactly where the sun was going to set WEEKS ago, and I knew the tide was going out, so I was ever-watchful as the day progressed) but the only problem was it would probably happen half-way through the meal! A quick word with Laura - just a simple "If you let me steal you away at some point during your meal, for no more than 10 minutes, I promise you it'll be worth it" - and I was given a green light. So, as I led the couple outside between the main course and dessert, I did get a few inquisitive looks (from the staff as well as the guests) but I'm used to that. Having already been on the beach, I knew exactly where we were going to shoot, so I took a quick ambient light reading with my Sekonic L358 light meter (http://www.sekonic.com) and set my camera to underexpose by one stop. After getting Laura and Alex into position, I quickly positioned my speedlite just out of the frame, zoomed it to 85mm to prevent any spill onto the sand, took a test exposure which showed I needed to drop the flash power by 1/3 stop. Once this was done I took two shots - one with them looking at the camera and one of them kissing (okay, I took this last shot in portrait orientation as well as landscape, so technically it was three shots). 60 seconds after arriving, we were heading back for dessert.

I've had a lot of emails from other photographers asking how I photoshopped this image (and I've read some pretty elaborate descriptions of how some think it was done - blend this layer, erase this part, subtract this part, throw some rats tails & frogs legs into a cauldron while chanting "wibble" etc.) but I can honestly say that, with the exception of a slight contrast boost, this is the shot which came out of the camera. Like I said, earlier, you cannot plan too much when you're shooting someone's wedding!
But, my tale doesn't end there. You see, Laura had mentioned that she didn't want to see anyone else wearing her dress, so it wasn't going to be sold. Similarly, she didn't think her daughter would probably grow up and want to wear mum's dress. So, a plan was hatched to do something different once the big day was over...
I searched for somewhere to photograph Laura's Rock The Frock shoot and found it in the shape of an old, abandoned farm quite close to where I live. My eldest daughter is only seven years old, but she's already proving very competent with a camera for her age. So, at her request, I asked Laura if she would mind the wee one coming along and taking a few shots with my G15 camera. "What a great idea! Yes, go for it!" was her response, so we pulled on our wellington boots and headed off to a very muddy farm-yard.

Regina, took a few behind-the scenes shots with the G15 until she asked Laura if she could take a couple of "..proper shots" - again, Laura was happy for her to get involved "If she's keen to do it, Kev, I'm happy for her to go for it!" Now, I don't usually take my wee ones on a wedding shoot, but Regina has accompanied me to a lot of mountain bike races and model shoots and she genuinely loves taking photos. I only asked Laura as her and Alex had grown to be good friends in the few short months we'd known each other.
Yes, I've had to create her own logo :)

Once I managed to get my bride back, we decided to get the dress a bit dirtier, so we headed out onto the fields - thankfully Laura had brought her wellies too ;)

Sadly, we just couldn't get enough mud on the dress - so Regina came up with an idea...

As I had a speedlite set up on a stand, using my Phottix Strato II triggers (http://www.phottix.com/en/), Regina asked for one of my EOS 7D's with the 17-40L lens so she could get a shot of the action (the light was almost gone and it was starting to rain, so she "wasn't getting what she wanted" with just the G15. Not only did her shot of me kicking mud all over a gorgeous bride and her designer dress make it into Laura's wedding book (yes - Laura insisted!) but Cotton Carrier, who make the chest rig I wear, have used it on their Facebook page. On top of that ThinkTank Photo, who make the Skin set belt system I wore are currently using it on their "Share the moment' section of their website (the great thing is that she now has THREE of her photos on their website! Not bad for a seven-year-old) and Laura has already booked her to shoot their daughter's wedding when she's a bit older ;)

So, there we have it; a bride who was let down twice and was, in her own words "Third time lucky!"

If you'd like to see some more shots from Laura and Alex's wedding, click HERE for their Youtube slideshow.

Making a fraction of a second... last a lifetime


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