Breathing new life into familiar spaces
How I capture unique photos at my regular wedding venues
Curious how I keep it fresh with unique photos for every couple when the venue is on repeat? Join me BTS to discover how I breathe new life into my photos when I’m shooting in familiar places.
“Sarah, how do you still capture unique photos when you’ve photographed at a venue umpteen times before?!”
It’s a question I get asked a lot. And it’s a good one. Because you want personal photos that tell the story of your day, not a cookie-cutter ‘same venue, different couple’ approach. But there are only so many ways you can bake a cookie – or shoot a wedding at the same venue – right?
Well, yes. But also, no.
The truth about repeatedly photographing at the same venue
First; the good bits. When you work at a wedding venue regularly, you get to know it like the back of your camera. Shortcuts, wet weather solutions, where to find the best light at any given time, the best angles to make a venue shine, what to expect from the wedding venue team… It all comes because it’s been road-tested over and over before. Which is awesome because it takes the pressure off a little (I don’t need any more of that!). With less to think about logistically, I get more time to think about and take photos.
But, yep, you’re right. A big downside of shooting somewhere frequently is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of churning out the same shots each time. It can be challenging to think of something new each time. Being creative under pressure isn’t easy – particularly when time is tight (which is pretty standard with weddings!). So it feels easier and safer to repeat tried and tested shots you’ve taken before and know will work.
But pfft to that! Easier doesn’t mean better. Every couple is unique, and every wedding is unique. So, your pictures should be too! You deserve photos that feel true to you and your day.
Plus *yawn* it’s boring doing the same thing all the time! I crave creativity and originality too.
Umming and ahhing about whether it’s better to book someone with or without experience at your venue? I hear you. You can explore the pros and cons in more detail in this post about whether it matters if your photographer has worked at your wedding venue before.
But for now, let’s assume you choose (or have chosen) me as your wedding photographer (hoorah!) and I have experience at your venue…
Ten ways I’ll capture photos that are true to your day – when I’ve worked at your venue maaaany times before
Here’s how I’ll make sure you get meaningful wedding photos when your venue is one of my regulars:
- Every day is inherently unique. One of the many things I love about weddings is that no two are the same. Your day will be different all by itself. Weddings are a combination of weather, light, season, and people which all come together to create a day that will never exist again. The light changes, the people change, the weather changes, everything changes. And as it does, it makes me see new things and reveals new shots each time. The opportunities are always different.
- I’m an eternal learner. Every time I shoot a wedding, I learn something new. Partly because I have a ruthless inner critic who tells me what I could have done better during the post-production process. And also because, by their nature, weddings throw up their own unique challenges (see point one!) which demand something different from me every time. I soak it all up. And this experience is then naturally incorporated the next time I have the opportunity to shoot in the same place. There’s always something that can be changed, improved, or evolved.
- I capture the moment. Whilst I love to show off a venue’s beauty, my biggest influence is what’s happening within the venue. I let my instinct (and experience!) guide me to anticipate magical moments. Because people will be people – we’re a mad, unpredictable, and mysterious lot! So observing interactions, actions, and reactions will always lead to unique, fresh photos. Which is to say, moment first; venue second.
- Each venue visit is a new adventure. While my couples and their guests enjoy their dinner, I go for a slow walk around the venue. Each time, I’ll walk a bit further than last time, go clockwise instead of anti-clockwise, take a different route… Exploring the venue in different ways reveals new angles and framing ideas for the future.
- I change my perspective. Even if I’m shooting in the exact same spot, I’ll mix things up by getting higher or lower, shooting from the side, shooting from the other side, or trying a different lens. Tbh, there’s more possibility than time on a wedding day – and a million ways to make the ‘same’ shot look completely unique.
- It’s all about what you love. And, no, I don’t just mean each other! Before I firm up my plan for the day, I’ll ask you what your fave spots are. And by meeting, chatting, and getting to know each other during the planning process, I’ll be inspired by your personal style and stories. Which is helpful because anecdotes spark ideas. Take Beth & Jon who got engaged in a bluebell wood – so we took their portraits amongst bluebells in the field next to their venue. The result? Dreamy shots that are one-of-a-kind.
- Google! There’s absolutely no shame in an online image search to see how other photographers have captured a venue. This isn’t to copy what they’ve created, but rather to spot a shot within their shot. Often, I’ll see a way to change the composition slightly – perhaps to make it vertical instead of landscape, or shoot it closer up or further away – to make it feel completely different.
- Realistic timings. This might seem left field, but the more realistic and reasonable your wedding day timeline is, the easier it is for me to capture unique, original, and creative photos for you. It truly takes time for the ideas to unfold and serendipity to strike. And by allowing plenty of time for you to relax and for me to explore different angles, I’ll be well-placed to create something unique.
- I take care of my energy. A tired photographer is a drained, uncreative photographer who might rely on pre-baked cookie-cutter ideas to make it through the day. Which is why I make sure I stay fed and hydrated and take mental breaks to decompress during the day. By looking after myself, I can give you and your photos all the love, attention, and creativity you deserve.
- There are always more ideas than time. Tbh, I’d need a body double to shoot everything a venue has to offer in one wedding day. When I leave a wedding, there’s often so much more I’d love to do. But short of cloning myself or finding some wormhole time hack, I’ll always walk away with my brain buzzing with leftover inspiration. Which means I’ll show up to your wedding loaded with ideas ready to roll!
Which is all to say: Even if I have shot at your venue before, you’ll never get the same shots. (Unless you want that!) ‘Cause even if there are only so many places we can go, there are a million ways for us to put our own fresh spin on it and create photos as unique as you are.
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