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Photocrowd Winner – Smiles & Laughter

I recently entered one of my wedding images into a photography competition with the brief “smiles & laughter”.

And I won!

My winning image, as seen at the top of the page, was judged by London-based fellow professional photographer, Michelle Marshall from 500 photos. Whilst the opinion of my clients will always be the most important to me, it’s great for the soul and very gratifying when a completely independent judge reviews your work and declares that your image was the best of those submitted. Of course, at the end of the day it is only someone’s opinion, the competition wasn’t hugely prestigious and my prize was modest; but nonetheless I am extremely happy to have one of my wedding photographs receive positive recognition from one of my peers.

The photo was taken in August 2014 during the bridal preparation at the wedding of Darren & Sarah at the Hilltop Country House, a beautiful wedding venue in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. The bride made a Skype video call to her friend in Australia who was unable to make the wedding and this is the exact moment that she got through. This is what the Photocrowd competition judge, Michelle Marshall said about the photograph:

“This is such an irresistible display of emotion, a mix of surprise and utter happiness. It is so descriptive I could almost hear the bride laugh. It is a nicely framed and well captured shot, which works really well as a black and white image”

Additionally, Anna Walker from Photocrowd has interviewed me for a forthcoming feature on their website. You can read an extract below:

What compelled you to take this photo?

I was booked to shoot a wedding at the Hilltop Country House, a beautiful venue in the Cheshire countryside. Bridal preparation is probably my favourite part of a traditional wedding day as the bride is usually surrounded by some of the people most precious to her: the bridesmaids, children, close friends and parents. This can be a very emotional time and I love being on hand to document these often incredibly raw moments that you just can’t stage – smiles, laughter, tears, nerves, excitement…it’s all there. Seeing as my photographic style is very much geared up to capture emotion; this is a part of a wedding day that I absolutely love.

How did you take it?

I class myself as a story teller so anticipation is absolutely paramount to how I work. Alongside the usual structure of a wedding I’m always looking for other moments that aren’t necessarily in the wedding day itinerary. During this particular wedding the bride announced that she was going to Skype her friend in Australia who wasn’t able to make the wedding due to her work commitments, I knew straight away that this would be a great moment to capture so I knelt down to be at eye level with the bride and waited for the moment she got through to her friend. Creatively, I use a great deal of shallow depth of field in my work so I made sure an AF point was over the bride’s eyes and as soon as contact was made I fired the shutter, I’d set my camera to burst mode as I knew I’d have to fire off about 5 frames per second in order to capture the moment I was looking for. I had a speedlight mounted on the hot-shoe of my camera to fire off a little fill-flash to balance the bright natural light coming from the window beside the bride.

What kind of post-processing was involved?

Very little really. My editing workflow is pretty straightforward but rather time consuming as I don’t batch edit, the many variations in light throughout a full wedding day mean I prefer to tackle every image individually at the post-production stage. I shoot in RAW so I made the usual contrast and white balance adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw before converting to black and white in Adobe Photoshop. After that I applied a small amount of sharpening and that’s all.

I’m almost fully booked for 2015 but I do have a handful of dates remaining for 2016 so if you’re getting married, or you know someone who is, please get in touch with me here to discuss your wedding photography.
Thanks for your continued support.
Steve x