A Car Crash of a Wedding Experience.

Following on from a very successful experience day at London Fashion Weekend… I recently had the chance to try my hand at a wedding shoot courtesy of Canon UK. I’ve always heard that Wedding Photography is one of the most stressful genres out there. However, I’d never appreciated that this was simply referring to getting to the shoot and back.

Several club members had also signed up so we’d agreed to join forces … I would drive to the venue with Andrew and Larry. In addition Tony was going to meet us there.

The day before the event, I got food poisoning and decided I could not risk driving to the event - this was proven when l reversed the car into the front of my house while taking my daughter to school. Larry offered to drive us all and we headed over to Andrew's, at which point we decided it would perhaps be better to abandon Larry’s car in favour of Andrew’s - after all it had GPS 😃

Arrived at the medieval Penshurst House, one of the most complete surviving examples of 14th-century domestic architecture in England. Tony had just got there 2 mins earlier having reversed his own car into the brickwork outside the Stately home where the Event was being held. I can't help thinking this whole trip is cursed!! Anything else to go wrong ?

The main hall in the House was stocked with a significant amount of Canon Gear for Touch and Play, or loan use. In my mind, this was the key highlight of the day, and there was far more kit here than on the previous Fashion Shoot Experience Day. I’d estimate 30-40 different lenses, and similar number of bodies, mainly 5DmkIV and 1DXmk2.

I took the opportunity to get a very brief introduction to the 90mm Tilt/Shift lens, and it became very quickly apparent that it's something that takes a lot of getting used to. Many thanks to the young lady that tried to help. Trying to create that focus blurring effect that makes scenes almost 'toylike' proved very difficult. She put this down to the fact this was a 90mm version, and that a shorter focal length T/S lens would be easier to work with. I did not have time to fully understand the technical reason behind this however I definitely need to do some more research on that, as could be great for architectural shots and for maintaining/straightening verticals.

Also had a play with the 300m f2.8 - one of the L Series White lenses, which is a lot lighter than it looks. Even tried out the Canon Wide angle lens 11-24mm f4 - very tempted to upgrade my Tamron 10-24mm, though I really do not think i will ever convince my better half to put it on my Xmas list, seeing as it’s £2000 !!

Whilst there I also had a chance to stick a 1.4x tele convertor onto my 6D.. this proved to be an interesting experiment, and I learnt some interesting things - for example, I had not previously realised that the teleconvertor can only be used with specific lenses, My 24-70mm F2.8 will not attach. There is a physical incompatibility due to the glass on the inside barrel of the lens protruding into the space that the teleconvertor uses. This is probably something you would discover if you were seriously looking at this, but was a good heads up for a 'nooby' like myself. I did get to try it on my 70-200 to good effect.. so could be an interesting item to add to the Xmas Wish List :-)

A good compatibility reference guide I found online : http://www.wexphotographic.com/blog/canon-teleconverter-compatibility-chart

So the day kicked off with a presentation from Jeff Ascough, a contemporary portrait photographer, based in the UK, and a Canon Ambassador. He talked about his approach to Wedding photography with examples of his work and also the work of other photographers that inspired him. Interesting to hear that none of his inspirations were wedding photographers themselves. Concentrating on 'Reportage' style images.... 95% in B&W. Also, some interesting ideas's on the use of Glass as a reflection surface.


This was followed by a chance to try some shooting of the happy couple. In this case 2 models, a beautiful bride from Cyprus, and handsome groom from the East End of London. Unfortunately it seemed that it was easier to get to the venue from Cyprus, as the groom hadn’t arrived yet, and the bride had been left at the altar. One of the Canon reps had to stand in until the groom finally arrived.

The shoot experience was a little disappointing. We were given around 5-10 mins to shoot each of 3 poses. Unfortunately with a large gaggle of photographers jostling for a position directly in front of the couple, without much in the way of rotation. Additionally most of the space being taken up by one photographer with a large tripod blocking the view for others and constantly complaining about being rushed and ‘ there’s not enough time do this properly’. The irony was not lost on the others - wonder how the client would feel if the wedding photographer told the priest to slow down the ceremony !!

Overall, a very frustrating session, and only a few people able to catch a direct glance from the couple. Some efforts were made by Jeff to explain some posing recommendations, but it was not a situation that enabled one to explore and learn. Fortunately, I had caught the couple earlier and had a good chat with them beforehand about their work. Having muscled my way through, I was thus in a better position to catch their eyes and get some eye contact in my shots.

There followed a further talk by Jeff Ascough’s wife, who is also a wedding photographer. Though somewhat interesting and quirky, the impression was that much of her work was as Jeff’s 2nd shooter.

The most interesting session was a short critique and useful by Jeff of some PDI’s and prints that attendees had either brought with them or had taken during the day. Just prior to that he also demonstrated his techniques for post processing, particularly related to contrast adjustments for B&W images, The latter was very interesting, but again, far to quick to really absorb. It did however get me thinking about B&W imaging and the need to go back and re-read about Ansel Adams Zoning Systems.

The Manfrotto folks were present and had a range of tripods and LED lighting panels available to try. Myself and Andrew had a go trying the lights. These were pretty pricey continuous lighting (Croma and Lykos), so thought we’d have a go. Bit of a struggle to be honest, they seemed a little harder than I expected. But the situation was not ideal, and I'd love to spend more time with these lights. Here are a few shots of Andrew taken with the Manfrotto Lykos lighting system. Very pleased with these images overall.

Overall would say this was a great opportunity to try out some expensive pieces of kit .. I would estimate that if I were to buy all the things I tried, then it would cost me £4000 and that was without even including any bodies. As a technique learning experience, it was somewhat disappointing.

As Andrew spirited us away in his Jag, it was clearly not the end of the day’s trauma… we were treated to a tyre blowout on a dark avenue in the back waters of North Sussex. Fortunately, with 2 engineers on board, we eventually managed to get the car back on track and finally made it home. Relieved.

Coming soon : Canon Landscape, Astro and Light Painting Event !!

Credits :

Canon UK & Ireland : For hosting the Experience Event, and loaning of kit.

The Canon UK team.. including Raj, Sarah, Mediya

Jeff Ascough : Professional Wedding Photographer

Larry Clarke & Andrew Kemp for logistics, chauffeuring and company.

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