Shooting Winter Weddings Workshop

We all need to keep learning, right? No matter how good we think we are, there’s always room for improvement, and when a chance to learn from two of the best in the wedding photography business looms on the horizon, we’d be fools not to grab it with both hands.

Speaking of which, yesterday I had the pleasure to attend the Shooting Winter Weddings Workshop in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire with renowned wedding photographers Damien and Julie Lovegrove. Together they’ve photographed over 350 weddings, as well as releasing a book and a number of DVDs, so it’s safe to assume they have a pretty good idea what they’re talking about..!

The basic premise of the workshop was to demonstrate how to take (hopefully) fantastic photographs throughout the course of a wedding, often with very little light to work with. To quote from the official blurb, “This workshop is designed to give wedding photographers the confidence and skills to take beautiful images that the client will love. Simple, repeatable techniques are taught to provide you with all the necessary skills to take your wedding photography further.”

The day was divided up into three sections – the bride and groom getting ready, pre-ceremony portraits of the bride and groom, and finally shots of the ceremony and the couple together immediately after the ceremony. As a bonus, the day ended with Damien talking about lighting solutions for weddings, and Julie covered the psychology of a wedding shoot, from meeting the couple, arranging the flow of the day with them and so on.

What struck me most of all during the workshop was how possible it was to capture fabulous images in extremely low-light conditions using very low shutter speeds! For example, two scenarios spring to mind; the first was a shot of the bride Sarah in one of the corridors of the hotel against some beautiful wood panelling, where there was seemingly no usable light except for a splash coming through from a window opposite. Previously I’d have disregarded the location, and would have deemed it too dark to capture a usable image. How wrong I was…using a monopod, high ISOs, low shutter speeds (sometimes as low as 1/15 and occasionally 1/10…shudder…) and overexposing by +1EV on this occasion, it was entirely possible.

The other seemingly unusable location was under some trees just by the church. By this time the heavens had opened and the sky was bleak and angry, so the group looked at each other when Damien led us all under some trees where there was even less light. Again, using a monopod, a slow shutter speed, high ISO and overexposure, we all managed to capture an image that the couple would adore.

I’ve read numerous wedding photography / processing articles where the author warns against blowing the highlights and retaining all the detail in the bride’s dress. Julie was happy to dispel this myth, if it meant capturing some wonderful images. Damien emphasised this point by stating that all the shots should look like they were shot on a sunny day. After all, the couple hardly want to look back at their wedding photos and remember that it was tipping it down on their special day!

As you’ve probably guessed, I’d thoroughly recommend the workshop. It’s set in a beautiful location, Damien and Julie were extremely friendly, approachable and happy to help and assist along the way, the couple Alex and Sarah were extremely professional, and I came away with a renewed sense of optimism, enthusiasm and most of all, inspiration.

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