"Thank you for our wonderful pictures. They are stunning - more than we could have hoped for. I have enjoyed reliving the day through the images as well as being completely blown away by some! Thank you again for fulfilling our brief in such a professional and accomplished way. I am forever grateful!" ~ Emily & Charlie
Whilst I still have plenty of weddings to share from last year, there's no way I can stop myself from blogging this one right now. There are too many milestones wrapped up in this one beautiful Wiltshire wedding to delay it being on the website. After a few weekends off in March, this wedding at the start of April actually felt like the beginning of the 2014 season for me (which has been non-stop since).
So, those milestones: it was my 100th wedding of all time (which is quite a nice one to achieve), the first I had shot entirely using just mirrorless cameras (the Olympus E-M1 that I've discussed before), the first where I shot mainly manual focus (80% of the day), and the first where there was going to be a flypast. Yes, a flypast. I can't imagine they'll be many more like that!
My involvement in the day was fairly late in terms of the wedding plans (a few weeks before) when Emily & Charlie decided they wanted to have extended coverage of their day in addition to what had already been arranged with another photographer. It is unusual for me to accept a wedding photography commission when I am not the exclusive photographer in attendance (it is in my contract), but Emily & Charlie did a good job of persuading me, and after meeting them and hearing about their plans I was excited to do so.
My normal approach now is to not write too much and focus on the images, but with the various things that featured on this day - there were many, and they were beautiful - and as someone into both aircraft and cars there are two things in particular that really excited me: Aston Martin DB5, Supermarine Spitfire. Read on to find out more...
Getting ready at The Vineyard
I began the day with Emily at The Vineyard in Stockcross near Newbury, where she was with her mother and bridesmaids. It was very relaxed and a lovely environment to work in. I shot some details of the dress and shoes, and some relaxed photography whilst makeup and hair was being done before Emily got into her incredible dress. Jaw. Dropping. She looked absolutely stunning and the look on dad Alan's face when he saw his daughter was priceless.
The first glimpse into Charlie's family passion for vehicles was when Emily was picked up by her father-in-law-to-be in his stunning Lagonda. A gorgeous vehicle and way to arrive in style at your wedding. Although I wasn't there to see Charlie arrive, he rocked up in the DB5. It doesn't get better than that!
Following the service in Ramsbury, Emily & Charlie were taken by horse-drawn carriage back to Charlie's family estate where the rest of the wedding celebrations were taking place. I was lucky enough to be chauffered between venues as well - another first for me!
Undoubtedly one of the highlights was the Spitfire flypast Charlie had arranged for the afternoon. Charlie is a commercial pilot, his dad runs a logistics company, and with absolute precision timing and coordination from Master of Ceremonies Paul Deacon, everyone was ushered outside of the marquee to witness the 7 minute display from this iconic aircraft, finishing with a pass over the house. Breathtaking. Paul is utterly professional and truly defines what a Toastmaster should be. The best I've ever worked with.
Charlie & Emily's love for each other, as well as the deep affections between all of their families, parents, brothers and sisters, was apparent throughout the day. Another type of affection which was really wonderful to observe was the absolute adoration that Emily's flower girls all had for her. Emily is a teacher, and the flower girls were some of her pupils. It was obvious how loved she is as a teacher.
My time at the estate ended when the party was getting going with a DJ set over one of the finest PA systems I've heard at a wedding. I had to drag myself away in the end, but knowing what an incredible day I had captured it was time to head home.
Here's a selection of images to tell the full story of their day. Click the double arrows in the top right corner of the gallery below to enjoy in higher definition.
For Photographers - An update on wedding photography with the Olympus O-MD E-M1
I've written before amount about my transition to smaller mirrorless cameras, most recently the Olympus E-M1 which I have been using for wedding photography for almost 6 months alongside my usual DSLR kit. This wedding was the first where I switched things up again and adopted the system of using dual E-M1s with prime lenses. I had my trusty old Canon 5D Mark 3 in the bag with me in case a scenario came up that it might have been needed, but it stayed in there the whole time. The Olympus kit performed superbly.
It was also my first commission using the Voigtlander manual focus, hyperfast prime lenses. Now these are mechanical marvels and hefty pieces of kit on the Micro Four Thirds system (whilst still being much smaller and lighter than fast primes on full frame cameras). I spent much of the time shooting them wide open at f/0.95 - which gives a razor thin area of focus when you work close in - using manual focussing via the excellent peaking function of the E-M1. It didn't take long to get used to that approach and I found it absolutely workable in a wedding environment. Looking back at my image metadata, I in fact shot just over 80% on the Voigtlanders.
The only times I switched to my autofocus Olympus lenses (of which I have a lineup covering 12, 17, 25, and 45mm focal lengths) was during the first dance / evening party when I was using flash (on and off-camera) and it was preferable to be stopped down and have smaller / lighter lenses to move around the dancefloor, and also during tracking shots such as the confetti throw and when Emily & Charlie walked into the marquee.
I'm thrilled with the current setup. The cameras and lenses are enjoyable to use and offer me a distinct choice of shooting styles. Using the manual Voigtlanders has pushed me creatively as I need to slow down and really think about what I am capturing. The rendering of those lenses is easily the equal to my previous full frame equipment with the ability to just suck light in. There is a distinct look to these lenses which I would either describe as classic, or even Leica-like. They certainly have something approaching that style. Either way, it's a look that I love and strive to achieve with my documentary photography work. Having the option of smaller and lighter lenses when needed gives me a more mobile option which still offers fantastic image quality and the benefits of autofocus which is useful at times.
At the time of writing, I've covered 4 weddings with this setup and I am refining the best way to make it work for me. There are certain adaptations I am learning to get the absolute best from the equipment. It is incredibly flexible and I am very happy with how the finished images are looking - that is of course the most critical element in a professional context - but also of huge importance to me: I had no back and shoulder pain either during the days of use or following. That was one of the driving reasons for me having to make these changes. Coupled with the fact I know the cameras can deliver the goods and match the gear they have replaced, this is a huge benefit. I continue to be amazed by these little cameras and what can be achieved with them.
As always, I'd love to know what you think so let me know and please ask any questions in the comments.