Destination Wedding Photography - Bulgaria 2015

One of the greatest parts of my job, as a Scottish Wedding & Portrait photographer based in Ayrshire, is the gorgeous scenery and venues which we are blessed with in Scotland. However, I'm equally as happy when given the chance to shoot further afield and regularly shoot weddings and ceremonies across the UK and Europe. With the cost of modern air travel and accommodation deal websites, it can be surprisingly affordable for a couple to ensure that their preferred wedding photographer is able to capture their big day. Sometimes, however, an opportunity comes at the right time and you have to grab it with both hands, and that is exactly what happened during a recent trip to visit my wife's family on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. 
My good friend, and Bulgarian Wedding Photographer, Ivan Slavov, needed a 2nd shooter for a wedding which was coming up in a couple of days and, as I was there already, '... would I like to shoot it?'. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance! I've been fortunate enough to have shot weddings and ceremonies all across Europe although it'd been a couple of years since my last wedding in Bulgaria (my wife is originally from there, so I've built up many contacts and friends in the country and this, inevitably, leads to the odd opportunity to shoot) but this was to be my first fully traditional one.
In my camera bag - a ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 30  - I carried the following:
Fujifilm X-T1 & X-Pro1 bodies and an X100T.
Fujifilm XF 35mm f1.4, 60mm f2.4 macro, 50-140mm f2.8 and Samyang 12mm f2 lenses
Yongnuo YN560 II speedlites with Phottix Strato II wireless triggers.
For most of the day the X-T1 wore the 50-140mm f2.8 and the Samyang 12mm f2 stayed on the X-Pro1. This allowed me plenty of scope for close ups and detail shots as well as beautifully sharp, wide shots of the interiors and building exteriors and also allowed me to get in nice and close to the action. I also shot a lot with Black & White in mind to give some variety as Ivan is predominantly a colour shooter.
One of the surprises, for me, included the groom and his friends & family travelling to the brides' home and forcing their way in before paying the dowry. In my head it would all be for show - how wrong was I? With some big guys on both sides, the door nearly came off its hinges!

Traffic cops? Who cares? It's a Bulgarian wedding - just leave the cars here! 

As the 2nd shooter, the responsibility for the formal portraits lay with Ivan and allowed me to shoot candid shots throughout the day, although he and the Bride very kindly offered plenty of opportunity for me to capture some formal shots of my own.

 One surprising thing was that Ivan as allowed to set up FOUR speedlites inside the church - something which UK photographers wouldn't usually be allowed to do.

After the church ceremony, there was a 2nd ceremony at the reception venue, Sunset Resort in Pomorie, followed by the reception where I saw many more Bulgarian traditions along with singing & dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

The one who breaks the largest piece of bread rules the marriage... 

Boy, is he in for a surprise! 

I would like to say a huge Thank You to Ivan for asking me along and to Milena & Atanas for allowing me to share such an amazing day with them and their families.

UPDATE - JUNE 21st 2015:
I am delighted to announce that three of the images taken at Milena & Atanas' wedding have won National awards from the Guild of Professional Photographers! 
One Silver Bar award and two Bronze Bar awards from the same wedding is an achievement, but to have them all from a wedding which I shot overseas is something which I am truly proud of!

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


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