Finding locations for great Wedding Photography Portraits

Another wedding came and went yesterday. It was an all day wedding, and those are mentally and physically demanding; especially when working alone. Imagine for 13 hours you’re trying to keep thoughts fresh and exciting, whilst remaining relatively anonymous and talking to yourself.

Before any wedding I like to go and visit the location/s beforehand if I can. So on Tuesday, with a two-year-old suffering from chicken pox in the back seat, I trundled off to Helsingør in the northeast of Sjælland. Via Kirke Hyllinge, which lies in the central northern part of the island. A round trip of no less than 185km

Got to the church first, and it was quite similar to most Danish churches. Nothing much to report there, apart from a huge hare that my daughter and I spotted and chased around the churchyard for 15 pleasant minutes. So we continued to location number two, where the reception was going to be held.

My GPS took me straight to the farm and I pulled in to the long driveway that led to the house. At this point I was faced with the agonising decision to get my daughter out of the car again (that part is easy; it’s the getting back in that sucks) and go and ring the doorbell, or taking a mental picture of the area and plan my portrait session back home. I chose the latter.

The one-hour drive to the evening venue, Højstrupgård, was enough to send Aja back to sleep, and she was long gone by the time I arrived and parked up. I had hoped that she would have been awake by this point (it didn’t help that she’d also slept on the way to the church, which was not necessary at 10am). But alas she couldn’t be woken and so I had to sprint around the grounds as fast as possible, taking snap shots with my phone of the best locations for wedding portraits. I was back in the car within ten minutes and she was still in dreamland.

The point of all this, is that absolutely nothing went according to plan on the day of the wedding. As I followed the wedding guests to the farmyard reception after the church service, I was more than a little surprised when all the cars turned in to a completely different one than the GPS was sending me to. In other words, the working photographer in my head was about to be rudely awoken.

Realising that the bride and groom must have taken a detour in order to arrive last, I disappeared in a flash to go and find some decent locations. Thankfully, the farm itself was a treasure chest of inspiration, but my mind was battling the Negative Nigel inside, who was saying “that won’t work; nor that; face it, you suck and this is going to go wrong.” Admitting these things publically is never encouraged, but is reassuring to all the other photographers out there who are going through the same emotions every day.

Eventually the newlyweds arrived and we set about the task, and within a few minutes I was starting to feel relaxed. The Bestman – my new lighting assistant – was doing a fantastic job of doing exactly what I told him, as were the bride and groom, who were most definitely enjoying the opportunity to kiss over and over again.

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A couple of hours later and we had arrived (for the second time in less than a week for me) at Højstrupgård and needless to say, things weren’t going the way I planned them. Only because it was raining like a bitch and there were no plans – or time available – to go and take more portraits in and around the grounds where I’d been just days earlier. It was a shame, really, as I had a lot of great ideas. Still, the focus is on the bride and groom and not my own selfish desires, so I went with the flow and switched over to Event Photographer mode instead of Master of Portraits and Lighting (which I call myself these days).

But I have to be honest and say, that it was one of the most relaxing evenings I’ve had at an all day wedding. I was fed a three-course dinner (which is always very much appreciated); I never felt pressured to take pictures just for the sake of it; I always managed to make it back in to the room whenever anything special occurred or anyone spoke, and I got through quite a fair bit of editing – something that normally doesn’t get started until a couple of days after the event.

As the night came to a close I was determined to try out an idea I’d never attempted before, and the bride and groom were totally game. So, armed with the Bestman again, the father of the bride, and a shit load of umbrellas, we opened the doors and ventured outside. The wind was blowing a gale and my kit was already covered in rain, but we soldiered on and marched to our final destination.

It took less than three minutes to get this picture right, from setup to execution, and I was grinning like a cheshire cat. Piss-wet through, obviously, but still grinning.

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