Second shooting for Chloe Mary Photo
My first experience capturing a London Wedding
For the Creative industries placement unit on my college course I decided to reach out to my fave photographer and ask if she would be willing to have me second shoot for any Weddings for her. I have followed Chloe Mary Photo on Instagram for a long time and took my daughter for a night away in Bristol so that we could have our own shoot with her! She was so lovely to work with, very similar in the way she works to me and so I knew the experience of working with her would be invaluable.
Chloe got back to me and said yes absolutely. She checked in with clients and came back to me with Saturday 18th December in London! The ceremony was at a church in Bishops Park and then the reception was at Century Club, Soho - a members only establishment. To say I was nervous and excited (my kids call it nervouscited) is an understatement. Although I have been photographing Weddings for 9 years, one in Malta, I have never shot one in London. Most of mine are barn type Weddings on the Midlands. I am a village girl at heart and so this was quite a big deal for me!
Information sent to me from Chloe before the Wedding-
" Jessica and Bradley - 18th Dec 2021
Bridal prep - 12pm
(I’ll be at Flat 1, The old school 38 Armoury Way SW18 1HZ not far from you if there’s any issues)
Groom prep - 12.30pm
The Crabtree - Rainville Road, London W6 9HA (you’ll be getting in a taxi with the boys for the church)
Ceremony - 2pm
All Saints Church, Fulham Pryors Bank, Bishops Park, London SW6 3LA (well both take a side each and then just float around the back to each side as well. But happy for you to stay where you feel comfortable)
Groups - 3.15-3.45
(Near church. When I’m doing these I’d ask if you can just get a few candids whilst observing me if you’d like to)
Couples session one - between groups and bus leaving
Bus leaving to reception - 4.30/5.00
Couples session two - when we arrive at second location
Dinner sit down - 6.00/6.30pm
(We are being fed but unsure on timings as it may be before they eat or completely after so bring snacks to keep you going)
Time of Speeches (looks like might be between courses or something)
6.30pm - Father of the bride
6.40pm - Bride and Groom
7.30pm - Best man
7.45pm - 12 Days of Christmas song
8.00/9.00pm - Cutting of cake/ first dance (subject to change - she hasn’t confirmed yet)
Finish around 10pm (I may let you leave earlier depending on how things go/ if you’d like to)
You will be primarily working as a wedding photojournalist, capturing moments and details to help set the scene/ tell the story. I sell my style to my couples as very relaxed and unobtrusive, as such I don’t pose people for photos unless they ask for them. If guests ask for a quick photo of them, just capture it to keep them happy. I am mostly looking for clear, uncluttered frames of the day and guests/ couples during the day. Headshots are fine but try to capture more of the story, I don’t like to isolate a subject too much. I personally seek a lot of story, emotion and just general fun during the day so if you could do the same that would be fab. Anything creative that helps to tell the story is also appreciated. A good mixture of landscape and portrait would be FAB! I always try to get a landscape and portrait of most situations if I can but if in doubt, landscape it out! :)
If you could shoot on your cards and you give them to me on the day/ I post back to you once transfer is done. You can use the images once they’ve been delivered to the couple (I’ll contact you) but I do ask you tag me and state it was taken whilst working for/ seconding for me.
Don’t be afraid to overshoot. Only ideally use flash when I am/ or during the evening. With this wedding being winter I’ll probably start flash around the couples session but I sometimes use light panels instead and have two. If I don't need to use flash, I won't. It's just not quite 'my style'. I don’t shoot above 2.8 but if you’re on zooms I appreciate that’s minimum aperture. Try not to shoot over f3.2 unless on the dance floor. Also try to avoid too high ISO (no more than 6000) where possible and don’t drop shutter below 160. It should be a super relaxed day and please don’t be scared if these seems like a lot of notes - I’m actually super relaxed and probably don’t need to tell you half of this but have regular seconds I use so I’m just over exaggerating things. Xx
I’d say use this as your opportunity to try higher ISO. Maybe just go up to like 4000. Especially for weddings it will open your photos opportunity up sooooooo much more xx
If I can use natural light or slightly more them to use it more I will. I’d say I’m much more about light and emotion than technicality
And my style is very much about keeping things real. I don’t fabricate things or do things to ‘make it look nicer’. I’ll just capture that moment and show the wedding for what it is and honestly my kind of clients love that because it takes them back to that exact moment instead of a memory of having to move shit or ‘fake’ a moment for a photo xx "
The day of the Wedding
After sleepless nights with nightmares of not charging my batteries, forgetting memory cards, cameras not working (I get this before most Weddings anyway!) I was off on the train, on my way to London. I got the the groom prep location around half an hour early and approached two different grooms before Chloe rang me. She said there had been an accident on Putney Bridge and the Groomsmen couldn't get across to the pub and that they were now going to a different pub. She asked me to jump in a taxi but there weren't any available soon enough and no buses because the bridge was closed to traffic. So, only one thing for it. I ended up running 30 mins across London with my cameras dangling from me and my backpack on my back! Eventually I made it. A sweaty mess, but I made it.
I worked as I usually do but with the guidance of Chloe at the forefront of my mind. I worked unobtrusively and also really tried hard to tell more of the story and not isolate subjects so much. It was here that I got my first look at the insane floristry at this Wedding. When I saw the button holes I just couldn't wait to see the rest!
The church was only a short walk from the pub so off we went. When we arrived there was an amazing bagpiper outside playing. It was not long after this that I saw Chloe and checked in with settings and where she wanted me. I asked her about using silent mode during the ceremony and she advised against it because of the banding that arises in low light such as this church.
The church was incredible. Very grand and as I had anticipated, the flowers were phenomenal. I had seen nothing like it. They were created by an insanely talented florist called My Lady Garden based in London.
The most amazing choir began to sing as the bride made her entrance. I have never heard a choir like it - I literally felt like I may have died and gone to heaven. The sound of them alone gave my goosebumps goosebumps. The most elegant bridesmaids entered followed by the stunning bride in the most unique, bold yet delicate dress (which was actually hand painted!). I'm not sure if you can tell but I was a little bit in awe of the whole thing!
The vicar was very funny, personal and engaging and the guests they had deliver their readings were ridiculously good also.
Then it was straight out for the confetti shot and onto group photos. I tracked back behind Chloe for the confetti so didn't get the best shots but still happy with them. Chloe then moved onto group shots - she had a short list of shots that she took out the front of the church. She moved through these very quickly, thats how she works with groups, but also we were losing light on this cold December afternoon! During this I was to capture candids and gather people where needed.
She finished the group shots and began the first couples session of the day. We walked with them just adjacent to the church next to the river Thames and also under a little bridge there. She just got them to walk and talk and prompted them a few times to look at each other or do a 'yay!'.
Then we all got on a red double decker wedding bus to head across London to get to the Century Club in Soho which is right opposite China Town. The lighting on the bus was particularly tricky and wasn't the kind of environment to use a flash. It was quite magical going through London at Christmas time.
When we arrived, Chloe asked me to take her case up the stairs to the reception while she took the couple over to China Town for their second short couples session. I am disappointed I didn't ask to come with her in hindsight but hey ho, there you go.
Walking into the the reception venue bowled me over yet again. It was so magical in there! At this point I still didn't have my flash on, going on Chloe's advice, I pushed my ISO up to 4000 - higher than I would usually! I made sure I was shooting wide open with an aperture of 1.8, and used 1/200 shutter speed. Occasionally dropping to 1/160 if I thought my hand was steady enough! Some mingling, candids before the guests were seated to eat.
Before Brad and Jess were introduced into the room for their meal and speeches, Chloe grabbed the opportunity to take a few shots of the couple beneath the iconic Century sign. She asked Brad to twirl Jess and it was at this moment I had an idea. Another unit we were doing at college was Stop motion animation and I had wanted to created a mini looped video or something at a Wedding as part of my submission. So, without the time to set up a tripod, I stood as still as I could and took a series of photos at high speed. I had to align in photoshop but it worked!
They were then seated in the most beautiful room where they ate and gave speeches between courses. Jess the bride, made her own speech which was just lovely. There was a lot of emotion in the room and I tried to capture that. It was now that Chloe added her flash and so I followed her lead. She advised me to still push my ISO slightly and just use the flash on as low power as possible.
What a day
This was the most amazing experience for me. I learnt so much from Chloe. From in camera settings, to groups of female photographers on Facebook. She talked me through her workflow and advised things to speed up my own. It was really insightful to get to work alongside someone I admire and see how she does it. It turns out she works very similarly to me and that really boosted my confidence. We go about our lives putting people on pedestals but actually, they are just normal people like you and I. Obviously incredibly talented! But it was nice to step back and realise that I am doing a pretty good job. It was also really great to experience a Wedding without as much pressure that comes with being the first photographer.
I now push my ISO higher when needed and it really has opened up opportunities for me. After reviewing my images from this Wedding, the one thing I think I should have had higher than advised was the shutter speed. I usually keep it at 1/250 at the lowest where possible. The 1/200 that Chloe advised I think is just a bit slow for my unsteady hand! Some of my shots had too much motion blur to use.
Feedback from Chloe Mary Photo
" Angela worked for me as a second shooter/ photographer on the 18th of December 2021. Angela was a fantastic second shooter who undertook Groom prep, ceremony coverage, candid coverage and also reception coverage for me. She was easy to work alongside and took instruction very well, managing to successfully emulate my style of photography that some other photographers in the past who have worked for me have struggled to do. This was due to Angela listening to my instruction on how I shoot and making sure to use the settings I use which was really fantastic and saved me a lot of work when it came to editing the files. Angela was a keen learner on the job and was always asking questions about where she was needed and if there was anything she could do to make my role easier. She seemed genuinely interested in how I work and keen to see what she could do to best assist me in her role.
Angela’s time keeping was perfect and she arrived promptly to the first location as requested. Despite there being a last minute change in the groom prep’s location (meaning there was approx. 15 minutes extra to travel across London on a busy Saturday) she still managed to make it on time and arrived to capture Groom prep sufficiently before the men had to leave for the church.
Upon working through the files Angela gave me after the assignment, I actually found there to be much more of a selection than I’m usually presented with as Angela operated as more of a ‘second set of eyes’ than just capturing a lot of the shots I was already managing to get myself. Angela maneuvered around the drinks reception perfectly, managing to capture plenty of candid photos of guests and seemed to be watching where I was shooting so she could be where I wasn’t but I could always see where she was if I needed her. She took direction really well and I knew if I was needed elsewhere, she’d more than easily have the job covered by herself and wouldn’t need supervision.
I’d have no hesitation in hiring Angela again and in fact at the time of writing this, I have already hired her for two more assignments to assist me with this year. She was a joy to work alongside and I wouldn’t have any issues calling upon her to help me in future work.
Chloe Mary Photo "
What an experience!
I am so grateful to Chloe for this opportunity and the feedback she has given me. This experience has really boosted my confidence and also to trust what I think and do. The fact that she has booked me for two more Weddings this year to second shoot with her has made me so happy! She has also referred a couple to me that she was already booked for. I have just got off a zoom call with them and they have booked me. So another Wedding in London for me in September! I can't wait!