Fine art Wedding Photography at lartington hall
Creating a Fine Art Aesthetic
Let’s be honest with each other, we’ve all seen exquisitely decorated and CLEAN bridal suites that look absolutely stunning on Pinterest and wondered how we can recreate that at our own venue.
Here’s a tip: don’t get ready in your Bridal Suite. If you’re looking for beautiful fine art images the morning of your wedding then it’s best to leave your room for the photographs only. Ask the hotel for another space, this could be one of your Bridesmaid’s rooms or, like The Principal Hotel York did last week, it could be a dedicated room somewhere else in the hotel. This other space is where you can throw all the make-up and hair products, it’s where you can have your glasses of champagne, and it’s where you can leave your bits and pieces.
The Bridal Suite can be left exclusively for 15-20 minutes of photographs in the morning. Here’s a tip: use this room to get into your dress, alone with one or two people to help; perhaps your Mother and Maid of Honour. We can photograph the final pieces of the dress, the emotion of those helping and your own emotion, as well. 5 minutes of quiet relaxed photographs later and you might want the rest of your Bridesmaids or your Father to come and see you. Again, this is a beautiful opportunity to get some emotional photographs in an amazing space.
What if you’re staying at a family house and not a hotel, I hear you ask? Well, the principle is the same. Allocate a room in the house to be the ‘bridal suite’ as it were. This room will be free from clutter and will represent the aesthetic you’re wanting in your fine art approach.
Here’s a tip: it doesn’t really matter what room you choose, but try where possible to prioritise beautiful morning window light. You’ll want a room that has nice big windows and gets the morning light. Other than that, it’s completely up to you.
You can see in the images below how there’s a relaxed, effortless, and ethereal beauty to them. These small moments are for you to be alone with yourself, to break away from the stress and the hustle of the morning, and to really contemplate how special this day is. By removing distractions you will feel free from any pressure and it will shine through in your images.
Aesthetically details are a big part of the fine art approach. How much so really depends on all the work you’ve tirelessly done before your wedding, all those small details like invitations, table decorations, and flowers. Obviously, just because something is a trope of fine art wedding photography doesn’t mean that you have to religiously stick to it. If you’re being non-traditional then celebrate that in your photographs! Just because other people do it a certain way doesn’t mean you have to.
That being said, if you are looking for those beautiful details captured then it’s important to bring them to where you’re getting ready. At this point, that could involve the invitations with beautiful paper and envelopes, and calligraphy; or it could be something completely unique and self reflective. Whatever you’re looking for with your detail shots, let your photographer know; tell them what you want photographs of, tell them if there’s a particular locket with a picture of your Grandma in, tell them if you’re not looking for images of trinkets but instead want a specific part of your dress or your children’s outfits. Communication is the best approach.
With the cake, ask the venue to display it near a window. If it’s in a corner or far away from natural night your images won’t be as good and we’re probably going to ask the cake to be moved anyway. Window light is the best kind of light for details, positioning things by them will help create stunning images.
Here’s a tip: as a photographer we often like to start with the details that you want captured. This allows you to acclimatise to our presence and it also allows us to ‘warm-up’. Think of this like playing a musical instrument or playing a sport; you don’t go immediately into Chopin. Instead, you warm your fingers up with scales or a specific piece of music. It’s the same with photography. And these first moments of the morning allow us to ‘get our eye in’, as it were. We are then able to build up to your morning bridal portraits because everyone is more accustomed to our presence and we’ve and a few minutes to get our creativity going.
A few portraits of the groom can help show the bride what the groom was like on the morning of their wedding. These images can have a different feel to those of the bridal preparation. Here we can play around with light and shadow more, sculpting form with the use of deep shadow. Much like Rembrandt did with his portraits.
I do not hold to the old adage that Men just want to look strong (or like Superheroes) and Women just want to look beautiful (or like princesses). In the modern age where gender and identity are as fluid as ever, it does not help if wedding photographers proliferate generalised gendered cultural constructs.
Instead, look towards the individual. How do they see themselves, what is their personality like, and how do they want to be portrayed on their wedding day? That is for your personality to shine through and not for the photographer to put you in a box that they think men should be in on a wedding. To be a man in the 21st Century is to be a multitude of things simultaneously, let us not reduce ourselves to only one aspect of our selves. If you’re dark and mysterious, be so; if you’re effervescent, then laugh and be silly; if you are both, then be both. Try not to play towards what you think you OUGHT to look like. Be true to your self and that will shine through.
With Fine Art Wedding Portraits the main difference for me is SIMPLICITY. That might seem strange. Wouldn’t it be about beauty and form and poise? All portraits are about that to some degree. For the Fine Art aesthetic to work it takes time to prepare and a little time to execute but in essence you want to keep things simple and timeless. You want your connection to each other to be the main subject of the portraits.
Here’s a tip: if it bends, bend it. So for instance, your wrist bends. Putting your hand on your partner can show affection, but it can also look awkward. But by bowing/bending your wrist it will soften the image and create a beautiful angle. Men, don’t be afraid of putting your spare hand in your pocket; it looks much cleaner than having it dangle by your side. If asked to touch your partner’s face, and this can be either of you, don’t use your palm as this will look possessive and aggressive; instead, use the tip of your middle finger. This has two positive consequences: it looks delicate and affectionate; and it should instantly bend your wrist to create a beautiful angle.
One final tip on portraits, if you’re asked to kiss or you simply can’t refrain any longer, it’s generally best to let your bride lean towards the camera side. This is not as problematic in same-sex couples, though you are not immune from this either to an extent. But generally the guy’s face will be larger and broader so if he leans towards the camera side the bride’s face will be mostly hidden from view. Whereas, in most cases, the bride’s face won’t completely hide the groom’s face. Again, it softens the image making it appear less possessive. If you absolutely have a specific side that you both always lean when kissing tell your photographer, generally all you need do is swap standing sides and you’re good to go.
Fine Art doesn’t have to revolve around elaborate posing. It can be intimate and loving. And if your photographer asks you to do something that you feel just isn’t really representative of both of you, then just say so. Don’t feel pressured into doing something because believe me, the image won’t turn out well anyway; you’ll be able to see how uncomfortable you are all over your faces.
The example I use of this is the DIP. I’ve never asked anyone to dip their spouse and kiss them, it’s just not me, and I find it uncomfortable to photograph – it’s too generic. However, the dip does occasionally happen spontaneously. When people are in the moment sometimes grooms (it does tend to be the groom) get a little over-exuberant when going in for a kiss, their partner naturally leans back to avoid being enveloped and bingo! A beautiful natural dip. But that image now tells a story, it’s the story of how much you love each other and can’t help but show it.
For this shoot I’d like to thank all those who contributed:
Workshop and Mentoring – Belle and Beau
Floral – Firenze Flowers
Styling – L27 Weddings
Hair – Olivia Kew Hair Styling
Make-up – Amy George Make Up
Hairpieces – Agnes Hart
Stationary – Phylecia Sutherland
Dress – Alexandra Grecco supplied by Ghost orchid bride
Cake – Poppy Pickering Cakes
Rings – London Victorian Ring Company
Silks – The Natural Dye Works
Location – Lartington Hall
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