A documentary wedding in Islington
I had just published a post about last-minute wedding photography and by some kind of cosmic superpower, my phone started pinging with messages from wonderful couples who’ve left booking a photographer for last. And why shouldn’t they? We’re all busy people, building a career and balancing a million objectives while navigating the London life. So it makes a lot of sense that fitting wedding planning into their already busy lives is going to be challenging and that booking their wedding photographer might be pushed to the very last minute.
I remember exchanging some emails with T&H who were getting married in Islington Town Hall. We were leaning toward booking a 3/4 day for them, around 6 or 7 hours to cover everything they need on their wedding day. We arranged to after work at Candid Cafe, right next to Angel tube. If you don’t know Candid, it’s an artists complex hidden on Torrens Street, right behind Angel Station. They have a couple of gallery spaces, artists studios (I used to rent a studio there for many years) and a cafe on the second floor. The cafe is very arty and actually has some really good food. Anyway, I’m veering a bit off-topic here. We met, I really liked their vibe, it was about 6 days before their wedding with more than 100 guests and we agreed to let them think about and confirm. I like being booked last minute because I don’t always plan my life 1-2 years in advance. For those who don’t know, I’ve been a photographer for more than 16 years now (since 2003). Most of this time I was full time. In recent years I’ve started running my own digital marketing agency which gives me a good mixture of creative, tech and helping other businesses send their message across. I take on a handful of weddings every year as I love meeting new people and documenting all the beautiful and quirky moments on a wedding day. So last minute works well for me as I’m not looking to fill up my diary.
A few days have passed and it’s showtime. For their wedding day, I meet T&H at their home for some pre-wedding portraits. H’s family came to London especially for the wedding and it was a good opportunity to take some photos of them all together. Most couples are not together in the hours before their wedding and only see each other at the ceremony. Others don’t separate and spend the day preparing and travelling together to the venue. T&H chose to be together and I could tell they’re a mega team who will move mountains if they want to.
Living in Arsenal’s old stadium proved to be very handy as a location for some natural wedding portraits. With the portraits done we all taxied our way to Islington Town Hall where guests were gathering. It was really nice to have already spent a bit of time with them in our meeting and taking the wedding portraits. It broke any ice that might be there when I start taking the photos. This really helps in capturing the wedding in the most natural way.
Wedding Ceremony in Islington Town Hall
Photographing in Islington’s Council Chamber is always treat. It’s spacious and well-lit offering a lot of creative freedom in terms of angles to capture both the couple and their guests. I don’t keep track of the number of times I’ve photographed weddings in Town Hall. It’s probably over 20 or 30 but each time feels fresh. It does help to know the building and which locations and angles work well for shots.
We were blessed with good weather on T&H’s wedding day. The sun was shining as they walked out of Islington Town Hall to the bangs of confetti canons and the cheers of their family and friends. The direct sunlight was a bit harsh for some of the group shots we took on Town Hall’s staircase. There wasn’t much I could do as it’s the nicest spot to take these photos. Luckily, I knew my cameras will handle the strong dynamic range between bright sunlight and shadow and produce a good result. I always try to get the best shots in camera, but if it means I can not miss out on some great moments I will push the processing capabilities of my camera’s raw files. In this case, it meant we could shoot in the best location despite the strong difference between the light and shadows in the image. If you’re not into photography, you don’t have to worry about this kind of thing. If you’re a wedding photographer and have to shoot in constantly changing conditions, then having the best and latest gear gives you a lot more freedom to concentrate on capturing some elusive yet beautiful moments. Anyway, enough with the geek talk. We were taking the big wedding group shot of everyone on the Town hall’s stairs. This is usually a good opportunity to easily and quickly capture the different combinations of close family, grooms and bride’s side, friends sibling and more. Though I mainly get booked for my informal style of wedding photography, it’s still important for most couples to have some more classic shots of people looking at the camera. Looking back at my own wedding photos it’s certainly a nice thing to have. A lot of people you know and love will come together for the day and it’s an opportunity to capture them together even if they’ve never met before and won’t meet again. So apart from a few weddings, I have always captured a few of the more standard wedding portraits of groups. It does sometimes mean that I have to use my loud voice and coral 100-150 guests together but it’s worth it for the shot.
H&T chose New Unity Hall for their wedding reception. I didn’t know the place and passed there before the wedding to check it out and drop some of the equipment for later. New Unity hall is a non-religious church. I didn’t know such a thing existed but it does. I read some of the info on their website and it sounds interesting. Living in a big city, I think a lot of us miss a sense of community. Religious groups often get this from their weekly gathering so it’s nice to have an option to get these benefits without having to follow a religion. The hall was dressed up really nicely by the florist (Jemima in the woods) and caterers and had essentially been transformed into a beautiful banqueting hall for the wedding. Unity Hall is only a short walk down Upper Street so the wedding party walk it, and I have about 10 minutes with T&H for some wedding portraits.
We took some shots that H wanted in front of Islington Fire Station and then some intimate wedding portraits in a magical little street in Islington. We were originally planning to walk down to Camden Passage but we decided to go back and join their friends at the reception. We already had a good selection of portraits and didn’t want to lose out on the actual wedding. So with everything being so local, we were back with friends, having a drink and mingling.
Wedding Reception at Unity Hall, Islington
The speeches were scattered before and during the wedding dinner. First one was a joint speech by H&T. I have to say, I don’t think there are enough joint speeches from newlyweds. In fact, I see very few weddings were the bride gives a speech at all. I know it’s the tradition to have the groom and dads give their speech, but it’s 2019 and it’s really nice to get both sides taking part. It was good to see and hear H&T address their guests. They’re a good team and for my perspective as a wedding photographer, it’s an excellent photo opportunity. If you’re considering a joint wedding speech I strongly encourage you to do it!
Photographing Wedding Dances
H&T weren’t sure if they needed photos during the dances. They didn’t think wedding dances come out well in photos but luckily I convinced them that I can capture some great moments my special, top-secret lighting (not). It’s always a lot of fun to photograph dances. I use 3 lights so that the shots don’t come out flat as many flash shots do. My philosophy is that if it was a part of your wedding day that you enjoyed, you should have a good record of it. The dances are usually the part where everyone’s relaxed, they’ve given their speeches, have eaten and drank a bit (ok a lot) and so it’s now time to party. If you don’t have some record of that part of the evening then you’re missing out. The warm wooden colours lent themselves well for the wedding dance shots and both my and H&T were very happy with the way they came out.
I had a blast photographing H&T on their wedding day. It’s why I love doing this job. I wish them a lifetime of happiness, health, success, joy and love. Thanks for choosing me.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to reach out to me, my details are here bellow. I’m always happy to chat.
All the best