Vintage Inspired Black and White ... by Camera & Kit

One of the things I love about the wedding industry is that it's an industry that is constantly evolving with new ideas and fascinating trends, wedding photography is no different, especially wedding photography.    I have been around the wedding biz long enough that I have seen the explosion in popularity of the photobooth, shooting through vintage photo frames, the rise of the wedding photo book and the naughtiness of the boudoir bride photography in the noughties and everything in between and well, lucky for me wedding cupcakes and cheese wheel cakes, although got to be honest, not sure I can embrace the royal bowl food movement.

The vintage-inspired is one trend that I am glad has stood the test of wedding trend time (who'd have guessed that vintage would always be fashionable) You can take the vintage trend in whatever direction you want as an artist and that's the beauty of the subjective nature of being a photographic artist.  You can do whatever creative edit your mind can conjure up.  My only advice would be just is that you need to discuss your creative vision with your clients to make sure that you are on the same page, which is why I love doing a creative consult and come up with an artistic brief for each couple.  I also give them a set of photos that don't have the artist enhancement, a set with just colour correction. 

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I love black and white photographs, I love the contrast, lots of blacks, lots of greys and every shade in-between. I love the imperfections of wet plate photography too, in makes sense to combine my two photographic loves  —the scratches, hazy patches, and blurriness, I adore that we can now do wet plate digital photography. The beauty in wet plate images, in this case, wet plate inspired digital photography is that each image is filled with many imperfections, unlike normally edited digital images, which are often either executed perfectly or fixed in post-production.

For Photographers: Feminism + Wedding Photography by Camera & Kit

I have been wanting to write this post for some time but I have been hesitant to do so.  I am not sure why to be honest. It's hard in my head at times to merge the concept of being a feminist and a wedding photographer.  Sometimes, I feel like I am selling out as a generation X woman. Being both a feminist and a wedding photographer seems to be an impossibility at times.  I have struggled with this many times over the years and the questions I constantly ask myself are:

Is it really possible to be a feminist wedding photographer? and am I selling out my ethical and moral beliefs in the pursuit of creative expression and a pay cheque?

There are not many rules books floating around about wedding photography that tell you what does it exactly mean to be a feminist wedding photographer.  Actually, there are hardly any books that discuss the theoretical aspects and wider societal implications of wedding photography. Most wedding guide books and blogs will tell you about lens choice and aperture settings, how to pose a couple but no one really looks at well, why as wedding photographers do we shoot the way we do.  Why are so many poses expected in wedding photography and people are happy to say, it's a wedding, it's what photographers do.

So, my answer to the question is it really possible to be a feminist wedding photographer in an industry so riddled with heteronormative scripts, binary views on gender and patriarchal expectations is,  (and this is me being polite) HELL YES IT IS! YES YES!

Damn straight, this is me trying not to swear.

This is not a post slating the institute of marriage, I am not here to over throw the patriarchy and abolish weddings in the name of feminist rage. No.  I am here to play the patriarchy by re shaping the visual landscape of modern day weddings and marriages.  I fundamentally believe marriage has its place in modern society and there is no denying a wedding, a marriage is an institute of the patriarchy, I as a photographer find myself with a bit of a challenge, can I challenge the dominant visual tropes so embedded in wedding photography and still have a successful career as a wedding photographer.  I like to think so (he hee) 

Historically weddings have always been about men, sorry but not sorry to say that and a wedding is full of patriarchy pitfalls to avoid and saying that is not to suggest that I am misandrist who loves the tears of menimists and men's rights activists nor am I wedding kill joy so trust me when I say read this article as it explains all https://jezebel.com/5019303/the-modern-wedding-ceremony-full-of-patriarchal-pitfalls.

Patriarchy and its influence on the style of wedding photographs can explain why some wedding photographers are challenged by the notion of same sex marriages.  All typical wedding photographs are based on the visual hegemonic predefined role of man and woman, the husband takes the lead in the photos. The bride rests her head on his chest, stares pensively into the mirror pondering her new life as a wife. I heard a tale the other day about a photographer who made the groom to be stand on a box as to appear taller than his new wife because she was taller than he in heels.  See my point.  Who plays the dominant role, the protector, the provider, the head of the new household if both genders in the photograph are the same or non-binary in the eyes of traditional marital views.

So, I see two ways that I can be a feminist and wedding photographer that results in stunning images for my modern day couples and satisfies my need to be authentic to my belief system.

Firstly, I finally understand that the way I see marriage and coupledom heavily influences the way I photograph brides and grooms.  For me, I see marriage as an adventure that two best friends take, lovers who have a laugh and share intimacy together, a secret club just for two. Co conspirators and partners in crimes, lovers, usually with a cat thrown into the mix, no one is the leader or home maker, - both are partners, equal in every sense of the word, mentally, physically, sexually - both bringing equal but different elements to the relationship and then comes the dilemma, how is this then reflected in my photographs.

Secondly,  I did away with photo lists - the dominance of the man and the role of woman as a submissive wife is engrained in the wedding list, just look at traditional wedding photos. This is also not to say I do not do family shots, I do I just don't do any image that suggests the bride is now the property of her new husband and that there is a power difference at play in the relationship.   Next time you are bored at work, just take a look at parody Instagram accounts of men mocking the traditional female poses, a big burly bloke staring seductively as he sits in a bubble bath does not work, seems hilarious because we have been visually conditioned to see men and women is certain poses that reinforce societal gender roles and they simply do not work when you reverse the gender in the shots.

We all, as photographers photograph weddings differently, there is no harm in asking the question why do we photograph the way we do and calling bollocks on it to suit yourself and your clients.

 

Film and Darkroom Photography Lessons by Camera & Kit

I have some great news and I am super excited about this. 

I make no secret of the fact that I am a purist when it comes to photography, that in this digital age we have lost sight of the wonderment of print photography, we no longer print our photographs and that saddens me.  The art of darkroom photography is being lost to Instagram filters and Facebook.

 

I learnt photography on a film camera, a Minolta X700. Every time I took a photograph I would write down the shutter speed, aperture, film speed plus the focal length so I knew how I took the photograph.  For me,  this was the best way to learn the basic principles of photography.  Why? Because not being able to see the image as you make it forces you to understand what you were doing.  In fact, I did not really start shooting digital photography until 2007, so, only ten years ago.   The first weddings I shot were on film, and that's where the skill with film photography comes into play, you really have to trust in your abilities to get things right. 

So, having said all that, I think it's about time I passed my skillset and knowledge onto other people.  I have given a lot of thought to this, and as of January 2018, I will be offering classes in traditional photography and darkroom techniques.  I will be running half day and full day lessons on how to shoot with different types of film cameras, how to process your own black and white 35mm and medium format film and of course, how to develop your own prints in a darkroom.

Details on lessons and prices will be posted soon.

Wedding Advice: Help for those not hiring a professional photographer by Camera & Kit

So, you don't want to hire a professional wedding photographer?!

I'll put my hands over my ears, close my eyes and pretend you did not say that. Haha! Noooo!  In all seriousness, I get it. I do. I completely understand why a professional photographer or two may not be for you.  While I will always advocate for the hiring of a wedding photographer, there are a few things that you can do to help your wedding day run smoothly sans a pro wedding photographer.

You may be asking why as a photographer that I am blogging about what to do if you don't want to hire a photographer. My blog is not a sales pitch of pick me and actually, this post comes from a place of wanting to share the love of all things wedding photographic and to be honest, off the back of a conversation I had with aguest who lamented about her daughter's choice not to have a wedding photographer.  It was not a happy talk.

The are two ways of going about not having a wedding photographer. Firstly by giving guests cameras and collecting the photos at the end of the day (or even asking guests to upload their digital images onto a website or create a hashtag on Instagram ). Secondly, having a friend or relative act in the capacity of being a wedding photographer.

Pointing and shooting *bang bang*

Disposable cameras may be an option for you; I am talking the old fashioned 35 mm disposable film cameras. The original point and shoot.  It will be a novelty for guests (anymore born after 1990 that is) to take a photograph without being able to see the photo just taken, and it's always entertaining to watch people take selfies that they can not delete and retake.  You can buy these cameras for about £5 but be mindful of the film processing costs and get the cameras back at the end of the wedding.

Have a hankering for the deep blue tints and blown out yellows and oranges of the Polaroid’s film? Loving that social cache of the original Polaroid and its connotation of self-conscious cool and artsy-ness?  Well my friends, then Polaroids may be for you.  So many options!  From your perspective I imagine it to be overwhelming.  From Fuji Instax cameras, to original polaroid film to ImpossibleHQ and their ever so popular film and cameras.  Instant prints, what more could you want?  

I suspect that this may be sacrilege as a photographer to say but if you are happy to do without the depth of field, a different perspective, focal lengths and points of focus then iPhone photography may be for you.  I really cannot believe that I just wrote that.  iPhone photography has massively improved over the years, so this may not be such a bad idea. You just have to make sure you have a way of collating all these images at the end of your event, whether its one person assigned to take photos or everyone is.  Digital images have a way of being forgotten about, deleted and lost.  Make sure that you somehow make your guests aware of how to share the digital images. Hashtags are brill,  dropbox works a treat as does email but you way want a website where they can upload the images for you.

Of course, all of the above come with a multitude of caveats.  If you're going to ditch the wedding photographer for a free-spirited instant camera approach then great, make sure you collect the photos and do something with the prints, but if you are going to have someone act as a photographer stand-in of sorts, then I have a few words of wisdom.  Shooting a wedding is not as simple as it sounds, trust me when I sat that.

A photographer when you are not having a photographer.

Have someone help them on the day to help identify key people to photograph and assist them with any group shots that you want. This way you'll avoid the problem of people missing from the photos after the event.  Wedding guest can be a challenge at times, help is always appreciated. Know who to ask for help.

I'm usually anti the photo shot list but give them one to help them out and understand what you want; I also suggest giving them an itinerary of the day to help them manage their time.

They need to make sure they have the right type of camera and kit to shoot a wedding, and I am not suggesting a more expensive camera helps but I am suggesting be prepared and come with the right kit, lens and equipment.   You do not need an FX camera to shoot a wedding, but it helps, you can shoot DX, but you need to understand your limitations, that of your camera and what light you are shooting in.

Take them to the venue/s and talk about what it is you want, it is not enough just to say that you want photos.  Spend time at the venue/s; I suggest having a practise shoot, so they get to know the limitations of their camera and their capabilities as a photographer. 

Think about the timing of your wedding, it's best not to have an ameture photograph your wedding if it's in winter or the evening.  Lighting, dark walls and use of flash requires a shift in photographic approach that can be overwhelming for someone not used to shooting weddings.

Work out a backup plan in case of inclement weather, have extra batteries and memory cards as a precaution.   Please do not shoot without a backup camera.  You don't have to use both at the same time, but you do need to have one just in case.

Shoot in RAW as this allows room for fixing photos after the fact that a fine JPEG will not allow, having said that, check the camera is set for the right settings. You don't have to shoot manual, aperture or shutter priority may help you out. 

Expect that things don't aways go to plan. 

My phone ... by Camera & Kit

Decided to take a swim in my bag after I leaked a bottle of water, it is currently drying out but I do not hold out much hope for the little fella, so until I get a replacement phone please email me at info@camera-and-kit.com

 

 

Wedding Venue Love: Osborne House by Camera & Kit

I do love Osborne house, it's one of my favourite venues, and since I moved to the Isle of Wight, I have been dying to photograph a wedding there. So I was super chuffed and did a little happy dance when I was asked to photograph the wedding of Nicole and Dan there. However, this post is not about them (sorry!) it is about Osborne House. 

I love Osborne House, it is my favourite place on the Island, just over the chain ferry in East Cowes mainly because of the private beach and stunning grounds (I can see it from my house)  but also becauseI think Queen Victoria was a bit of a badass.   It's got everything you want in a wedding venue; stately home, beautiful walled garden,  ceremony rooms that open onto a terrace that overlooks the landscape and the bay,  a beach with the hint of the bohemian and a quirky cottage surrounded by lavender and wildflowers. 

To me, it's the perfect venue for a wedding because it sits at that magical intersection of where English establishment and the unconventional collide with quirky individuality. Why does this matter?  Because it means this venue, Osborne House is suited to couples wanting a traditional affair, to laid back couples wanting understated simplicity and elegance to the offbeat bride wanting a little more quirk to her nuptials.