Good morning everyone! It’s time we made a post regarding the best approach to finding the venue that suits your wedding perfectly. We are going to write this with the perspective of Fine Art Photography and Videography in mind. If you’re on our blog, we assume this is your style! Shooting fine art images and clips requires a fair bit of planning and although we pride ourselves in being able to turn just about anything into a bright, well lit and beautiful scene- there are a few tips we can give you that will help elevate your experience to run more smoothly and ultimately give you more time to enjoy yourself on your wedding day!
First, we always choose locations with lots of light. This is because we can manipulate our angles and your posing to ensure that all that beautiful light wraps around the two of you and gives us that ethereal glow we are chasing. This means when it comes time to choose a venue, we highly recommend looking for one with lots of natural light. We’ve written about White Chateau here in Kentucky before, and one of the reasons we chose to highlight that specific venue before we did any others is because the space is entirely encased in huge, beautiful windows. Natural sun dances in through these panes and illuminates the space beautifully. Not to mention from the interior you can see their gorgeous vineyards and greenhouses!
If you’ve already found a space that includes lots of natural light, next check to make sure that a good portion of that space is done in light colors. Again, White Chateau does this beautifully. High white ceilings, white walls, light colored floor and furnishings. These points of white around the room give that light a place to bounce off of and back onto you. This means that even if the sun is coming in the windows at your back, it’s hitting the ceiling and walls around you and is now illuminating you from multiple directions. This light bounce is crucial to obtaining high quality images because it means we can light a scene evenly and help us avoid any strange shadows.
We want to avoid dark wood, black or deep gray curtains, any sort of ‘warm’ colored furnishings. These will cast shadows and color tints onto the two of you and cause your final images to lack that powerful punch of a true fine art image.
We definitely do bring lighting in with us- quite a bit of it in fact- but there is simply no substitute for true, natural sunlight for making the love that two people feel pop right off of the screen. Further- the more time we spend bringing in and setting up lighting, the less time we have with you two!
Symmetry is Art
Now, if you have a brightly lit and well appointed space- let’s next look toward the symmetry of your final set up. Are you going to have a floral statement piece behind the two of you as you say your vows? Will there be equal seating on each side? Is there a clear walkway that leads to the altar or are you going to need to zig zag? To achieve the perfected images you see showcased in our portfolio, we are going to need to create some symmetry within the space. Ensuring that we have these straight lines and framing helps ensure that your images and clips will look balanced in your final film and prints!
You can use your floral installations, the set up of your guest seating and even the placement of your reception tables to create this symmetry. Not only does this set us up for success as far as editing and placement- it also means that we (and your other vendors and guests) can move about the space freely and easily. For a long time the wedding industry pushed for maximalism- lots of things all over the place all of the time. But you can actually expect a better experience by going more minimal. Find things that bring value without being overwhelming. We promise you- less is more if done correctly!
Wedding Day Details
Beyond being physically beautiful, double check that your event venue has some character to it that helps elevate the space. When you do the walk through- are you seeing any outdoor spaces with shade? We will likely want to do your portraits somewhere that we can create depth within the imagery- so that shade will be prime real estate to us. The beautiful vineyard with all of its trailing vines and sweet little lavender growing at the edges may be beautiful, but we can’t use it if it’s going to force us to have you staring directly into the sun.
We’ve found that many venues have created spaces that they want to have used for photography or videography, but we simply can’t because they don’t understand how the world of painting light actually works. We have one specific venue that is really difficult for this that we wind up shooting at often. They ask the couples to do their actual ceremony on a gazebo with a narrow walkway leading up to it. Although the gazebo is certainly beautiful, the average couple wants to get married in late afternoon- so the sun is always shining directly into the gazebo and hitting the couple and officiant in the eyes. This means their images during the actual ceremony come out with the couple in blazing high light and the gazebo behind them is totally shrouded in darkness. This set up would work wonderfully for someone who produces dark and moody images- but does not work out well for the lighter fine art style.
Further, that narrow walkway to the gazebo I mentioned? Pain every time. It means we cannot physically get up close to you and are forced to use longer focal length lenses in order to be on the same ‘plane’ as you are. The other option for close ups (think the ring exchange and kiss) is for us to shoot closer to you but from lower angles since the couple is standing on the raised gazebo. There is a very small number of people who look good when shot from below. Shooting from this angle often means that even the couple with perfect bone structure winds up looking like they have a double chin!
Alternately, you don’t want us to be forced above you either. We have had a couple shoots where the venue insisted that imaging team members were not allowed in the aisle and we had to get creative in order to get the shots requested by the couple. These venues often helpfully say “Oh there’s a balcony in the back of the church!”. While that balcony seems like it’s a great option, it means we are now capturing the top of your head from a very far away vantage point. We will still manage the best images we can- but we can only shoot the wedding we are given!
Finally, we are always excited to help a couple with venue selection. We have an extensive preferred vendors list and can absolutely take a look at your venue even if we haven’t shot there to let you know if it will be just perfect for the type of final product that you are looking for. Let us know if there is anything we can do to make this part of the process easier on you!
Becca and Mandy