How I did it | The Arrival

May 2, 2020
Bride going in to The Sculpture Gallery, Woburn Abbey

I adore this photo of Louisa, on the move and about to step into The Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey ready to say I do. It’s one of my all-time favourite ‘arrival’ photos.

I like to shoot the Bride’s arrival just as it happens …

But it’s one of the hardest things to capture. There’s immense time pressure and lots of unintentional photobombing as everyone surges forward to help the Bride. But there are some great moments for capturing. It just means being one step ahead and getting into the right position before they happen.

I’d visualised and thought this photo through while waiting for Louisa to arrive. But it still wasn’t an easy image to get.

It was just seconds between Louisa getting out of the car and dashing inside to meet the Registrar. Which meant I had to work crazy quick.

Space was an issue too. Louisa was dropped directly at the doorstep (no lovely long church path today!). So there was very little room to get back and frame the photo widely enough to fit the entire scene in. Imagine me squashed in the doorway (standing sideways with my elbows tucked in so as not to take up too much space) along with Louisa’s Mum, bridesmaids and various well-wishers over our shoulders!

But I was keen to show the setting of where Louisa was.

I didn’t want to fall back on a safe close-up that could have been taken anywhere. That meant getting inside the action rather than observing from the back or off to one side.

I’m always mindful when working in such close proximity. It’s a careful balance between being confident and making sure I get the shot, but not getting in anyone’s way or blocking someone’s view and spoiling their enjoyment of such a special moment. Shooting the morning preparations really helps with this as it gives people a chance to get to know me, making it much easier to negotiate the space I need to work. So we all found and settled into our viewing points quickly and easily.

Then Louisa smiled and the shot came together as I imagined.

The post-production

This is the original photo, straight out of my camera…

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SVP Likes: The exposure is spot on. And the location and lovely moment give it the makings of a favourite photo.

SVP Dislikes: The colour is off, which you can see most clearly in the skin tones which look too red. The composition needs tidying too – the horizon isn’t straight, the symmetry is off-balance and the cobbles at the bottom of the picture are distracting.

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SVP TLC: The red tinge has been removed and the whole picture warmed up a bit, making everyone look radiant. The picture has also been straightened and cropped, making sure the building looks level, removing the distracting elements on the outside edges of the image and getting the symmetry spot-on.

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