Sarah and Allan were to be married on Portobello beach close to Sarah's family home.
A beach wedding in Scotland is always a bold decision given our unpredictable weather. Sarah and Allan were pretty much committed to the decision as there weren't really any other options for the guests. I was quite anxious in the week or so before the event but as it turned out it was the sort of glorious September day we often seem to get. Probably a bit windier than everyone would have wanted but crisp and bright with dramatic skies that hinted at the possibility of rain. Portobello was in party mood as well; the annual Art Walk Porty was in full swing, supported by the many local artists attracted by the seaside location. The bower that Sarah's mother had conceived and her father had constructed blended well with some of the other art works on the beach!
The guests arrived for a drinks reception in the garden before the ceremony. The house was on the promenade so we were just a short walk away from where the ceremony would take place. Canapes had been prepared by Sarah's brother and her parents had even provided flip-flops for those that needed them.
It was a lovely group of people and it quickly became apparent that they weren't camera shy ... except perhaps the page boys.
Sarah hadn't wanted any preparation shots. I can't pretend I wasn't disappointed. To me it always feels like an important part of the story of your day but I do appreciate it isn't to everyone's taste. We did however grab a few shots in the kitchen just before the ceremony.
I think you can see a little bit of the tension Sarah was feeling. With Allan, not so much!
The tension visibly dissipated as first the bridesmaids and page boys, and then Sarah and her father made their way down to the beach to the acompaniement of guitar music played by Sarah's brother.
I do really enjoy outdoor ceremonies. Lighting can be a challenge. It is a common misunderstanding that photographers like a bright sunny day. Whilst there is some truth in this, you can have too much of a good thing. Bright sun also tends to produce dark shadows which can be tricky to deal with. There can also be a tendency for people to screw up their eyes against the direct sunlight. On the plus side you tend to have a lot more freedom to move around and get yourself into good positions.
The humanist celebrant who performed the ceremony was Fiona Flanagan. I have been lucky enough to work with Fiona before, coincidentally on another outdoor service. She helped ensure that the service was very relaxed and for me dominated by the sheer happiness of Sarah and Allan. I hope this is reflected in the photographs.
The Big Red Bus
A bus had been hired to get the wedding party from Portobello into the centre of Edinburgh. I was really looking forward to the journey. From a photography perspective it promised to get me up close with Sarah, Allan and their guests in relatively well lit situation and this should result in some nice candid images. There is a tendency for wedding photographers to be categorised as docmentary or traditional. The truth is that you adopt many different styles over the course of the day from the traditional shots of formal groups (and for me this usually involves off camera lighting) to the intimate shots of preparation. From a photography perspective each has it's own rewards and challenges but if I had to choose one style it would be documentary/candid.
We stopped briefly at Dunsapie Loch for a whole group photo. The plan had been to take some family groups here as well but the weather was closing in now which made for a pleasing sky but did mean everyone was keen to get back on the bus. There was just time to get a few of Sarah and Allan ... and a stray family member. I love the humour of the last photo; luckily so did Sarah and Allan. They did though ask if I could do an edit just of them. A little bit of Photoshop later and they were in splendid isolation. Have a closer look at it to see the before and after.
The last part of the day was spent in the vaulted cellars of Marlin's Wynd. Bits of the building date back to the 16th century and are incredibly atmospheric; they were also easily the darkest place I had ever photographed in. This sort of thing always poses a problem: you can use flash and get sharp crisp images but kill the atmosphere, or else rely on high film speeds and wide apertures that will preserve the atmosphere but create softer images with a risk of motion blur.
I decided to keep the atmosphere.
Unfortunately the speeches were in the absolute darkest part of the building and because of the height of the cellar at this point, artificial lighting just wasn't a great option. I did get some shots but perhaps not as many as I would have liked. Photography is nowhere near the most important part of your day but ... an early conversation between you, your photographer and the venue just might make all the difference.
When it came to the first dance, I was able to setup a couple of lights to provide a pool of light where Allan and Sarah would be dancing. Allan had also forewarned me that he was planning something with his groomsmen mid-way through the first dance so I needed to be sure I had enough light for this as well. For the photographerrs out there I was using a pair of Godox AD360s with a radio trigger that let me vary the power from the camera. I think they worked well.
Lights were also used to to capture a few family groups upstairs and we even took one out onto the high street at the end of the night.
Overall, I think it was a really good day. Informal, relaxed and with a friendly and funny group of people. Sarah and Allan were infectiously happy and I loved it that Porty beach was a significant part of things.