Often it’s not possible, but it’s lovely to do a pre-wedding engagement shoot at the venue where a couple are having their wedding. It means that, as well as making some portraits, there’s the opportunity to look at possible locations for the big day itself. Two birds, one stone.
Sarah and Andy are marrying at Arley Hall next month, and a few weeks ago we met to make some photographs and talk through the wedding day plans. It was good to see them again – the last time had been back at the start of the year – and since then plans for the big day has crystallised into much sharper focus. Wandering around the gardens, we talked about the timings and plans for the wedding, noting places that would be great to visit for portraits on that occasion.
I have one golden rule if shooting an engagement session at the wedding venue – don’t use the same places that we’re going to visit on the wedding day. After all, why would you want copies of images that you’re going to be making in the future? So we headed to the far corners of the Arley gardens, where we had a bit of privacy too.
Engagement shoots follow a pattern. Because it’s often the very first time that a couple have been photographed professionally, there’s a little shyness and awkwardness at first. But, once the camera comes out, the first frames are captured, an understanding starts to develop. People often assume that making portraits involves posing. Usually, it doesn’t. Or, if it does, the posing is very easy. A good portrait reflects something about the subject, and this doesn’t mean being elaborate or striking an unnatural pose that you’d never adopt in real life. Unless you’re a fashion model of course. But for the rest of us, it simply means being relaxed. Sure, there are little tips and tricks – angles and ways of standing that make you look better in the photo – but on the whole it’s all about keeping it simple.
So, under leaden skies, and dodging a couple of showers, we made portraits. In fact, the showers drove us indoors where we were able to make some beautiful black and white portraits using window light. And anyone who knows anything about portraiture will tell you … it simply doesn’t get better than that.
More to come after the wedding at the end of September.
Martin Hambleton wedding photographer | Cheshire wedding photography | Pre-wedding engagement photoshoot