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As a South Wales Wedding photographer, photography runs in the family. My dad started photographing and filming weddings in South Wales as far back as the 1960s, mainly shooting weddings in the Swansea and Neath areas. Black and white photography on film and cine film for moving images was the way to do work back then. He started of course like we all do, filming and covering weddings for family and friends. He was an accomplished wedding photographer and filmmaker before moving on to vhs videos of weddings and becoming a South Wales videographer in the 1980s with the launch of the home video camera. Back then I used to help him put the titles on wedding films which was great experience for a young Karl Baker as a child! It wasn’t though until 2008 that I photographed my own first wedding in Swansea for a friend. The style back then was far different than it is today or even further back in the 80’s and 90’s. The vignette was in trend as was spot colour! The method of highlights of colour brought out on a black and white photo! From that first wedding though I was hooked and quickly worked out the wedding day plan for shooting a great wedding. Everything from family group photos to natural, candid guest photos to dramatic bride and groom poses in stunning landscapes. The next step was then really getting a large quantity of weddings booked in, regardless of price in order to gain wedding photography experience. This was a crucial as a first step which is so often overlooked by new wedding photographers who are starting out who perhaps concentrate more on money and price than the gaining of valuable experience.
I soon started to work at many more wedding venues in South Wales, especially wedding venues in Swansea such as Oldwalls, King Arthur hotel, Oxwich bay and Norton House in Mumbles. Although the way a wedding is photographed doesn’t change from wedding to wedding, knowing how different wedding venues and wedding co-ordinators work can help you progress as a new wedding photographer and give you the valuable experience and confidence in the early days as a wedding photographer. You get to understand and work out and study the landscape and backgrounds of each venue. After a few weddings at the same venue, a photographer can then easily photograph a great wedding set much more easily due to the previous experience of working at that venue. Wedding photography really doesn’t change that much, and it becomes a process that gets followed for each wedding through the flow of the day. It starts with bridal preparations quickly followed by ceremony, photograph time, wedding breakfast, speeches, turnaround time then cutting of the cake and first dance.
As a photographer I usually start work around two to two and a half hours before the wedding ceremony to start with the story telling of the wedding. Even though bridal preparations start sometimes six hours before with makeup and hair needing to be done for bride, mother of the bride and often up to six bridesmaids. I often start with jewellery, perfume, rings and another wedding details. These are photographed using a macro lens and flash so that the items look large, sharp and stunning as images of their own. Following this the wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses as well as any other dresses such as flower girls or page boy suits on a hanger. Finding a clean looking background such as a door that’s de cluttered is a must. Clean looking well composed wedding photos are always the way and style in which I’ve worked as a wedding photographer in South Wales. Next up is brides makeup, leaving this until the makeup is finished so that the bride looks stunning. Makeup photos are important to help tell the story of the wedding day. Candid and natural wedding photos of the room, people, and anything that stands out is also snapped as a record of the morning of the wedding day. If there is the time and the Bride is in her wedding dress early, then maybe a few group photographs plus a reveal photo to her dad can capture emotional first look moments that are considered key moments that form the essential list of every wedding photographer.
A wedding ceremony is typically half and hour. It starts with the bride arriving by car outside the church or ceremony room. I always take a photo of the bride in the car with her dad which is another key photo of the day before covering the bride getting out of the car. Bride with bridesmaids and then dad is shot in the church doorway or outside the ceremony room only if there is time. The next step is to be at the front of the ceremony room to the left hand side in order to capture the brides face for the majority of the ceremony, this is called bride facing. Coverage of the bridesmaids, flower girls and bride are all captured walking down the aisle. My preferred lens is a 70-200mm zoom rather than a wide angle whilst the ceremony itself is a mixture of zoom, 35mm and 16mm wide angle for the occasional shot too. Guests during the ceremony are all shot with a zoom too. There are some amazing wedding venues in South Wales, which have some stunning gardens, lakes and views for a South Wales wedding photographer.
It’s usual for a two hour period after the ceremony for official wedding photographs, Once the family group photographs are done it’s time to take the bride and groom to a few different locations around the wedding venue for their wedding photos. A mix of lenses are used both wide angle and zoom and also a mix of natural and candid photographs are done too. Bride portraits and poses are a must. A question I often get asked by new photographers is how many photos of the bride and groom do I deliver ? The answer is around twenty to thirty. These are the most important wedding photos of the day and must take priority over any other photos, especially if it’s raining on the wedding day. I will often shoot these photos first before any family group photos if the weather is bad. Next up in the order of a wedding day is the wedding breakfast and speeches. This is where we take a break but not before photographing the bride and groom entering the room to a round of applause. Most good venues in South Wales will feed the photographers and videographers to the meal as well. This is sort of an unwritten rule amongst the wedding industry in South Wales and it’s usually three courses! When speeches start it’s the job of a wedding photographer to capture the emotion of the guests and reaction as well as the groom, best man and other speakers making speeches. We tend to photograph this with a zoom lens. Usually after speeches have finished we can quite often get a second wedding photography window especially during summer weddings, this is perfect for any family photographs or other wedding photography images that we were unable to do during the first wedding window. This can often be helpful if bad weather hits during the early part of the wedding day and gives us a second opportunity to capture more wedding photos outside. As wedding photographers we call this the turnaround time between speeches and evening party. This can quite often be anywhere up to two hours. Ideal then for grabbing some finishing touches to your wedding "set". Early ceremonies allow this second window. Below is an example of a second window shot at 5pm in a winter wedding where we popped out for sunset after speeches were complete.
The day of course doesn't end for us as photographers when we shoot first dance and go home - Next comes backups! Where we must backup all our photos from the wedding day, usually making three types of backups, one to a large drobo style multi drive system, the other to the cloud and I usually make an off site backup too, putting photos on a drive and keeping them in the glove box of my car just incase of an absolute worse case senario where my house burns down and I lose my other two backups!!