A few weeks ago, back in February half term, I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a Wedding Photography Workshop up in Leeds, which was being run by Steve Gerrard.
The girls and I had a family photoshoot with Steve last summer and I really liked his easygoing manner, so much so that we’ve booked in with him again this year. It was his wedding photography that first made me follow him on social media – he does a lot of destination weddings (check out my two favourites – this one in Iceland and this one in Lake Como in Italy) and he has a distinctive funky style that sets him apart from all the other wedding photographers I’ve come across.
I’ve dabbled in wedding photography a couple of times before – a local wedding photographer friend of mine (also called Steve!) has twice asked me to stand in as a second-shooter at the last minute when his regular assistant couldn’t make it. I’m fully aware that I was a final resort but I’m incredibly grateful that he gave me the opportunity to shadow him, watching and learning as I went, and that he trusted me enough to let me loose amongst the guests with his camera.
I loved the whole experience and I learned a whole heap of stuff from him. Plus, well, who doesn’t love a good wedding? I knew that it would be something I’d love to add to my portfolio as my experience with photography grew, but capturing someone’s big day comes with a fair bit of added pressure. With family photography, if you miss a moment it doesn’t matter too much as you know there will be more moments to come. But with wedding photography, if you miss that key moment there’s no way of getting it back again.
As a result, when I found out that Steve Gerrard was running a Wedding Photography Workshop I jumped at the chance and booked on immediately. I’m not normally that spontaneous, preferring to think things over before I invest, so I think that shows just how much I rate him – I knew that I would learn a lot from spending the day with him.
The Wedding Photography Workshop was held at Light Space Leeds, a collective working space where independent creatives can rent a desk instead of working in solitude at home, giving it a real community feel amidst the instagrammable exposed brick walls, hanging plants and overstuffed sofas.
There were seven of us in total and most were already working as professional wedding photographers and were simply looking to up their game. I have to admit I would usually feel out of place in that scenario, worrying that I’m not good enough compared to everyone else. But I immediately felt comfortable and settled as we sat down for a morning of classroom learning.
Steve is an absolute wealth of information and he shared tips, ideas, experiences and stories with us over the course of a couple of hours. My notebook pages were soon covered in my untidy scribbles as I hurriedly wrote down all the things I wanted to remember. At midday, Charlotte and Mike, our models for the day, arrived.
Charlotte is a wedding photographer herself (take a peek at her portfolio – such beautiful images!) and her husband Mike often second shoots with her. She looked beautiful in her wedding dress and after getting acquainted we headed out into the streets to start shooting. It was absolutely freezing and I really felt for Charlotte who was shivering in her dress whilst the rest of us were bundled up in thick coats, hats and gloves to protect us from the almost sub-zero temperatures. She was an absolute trooper though and happily posed for us, making it look completely natural and comfortable. I’m so grateful to her and Mike for stepping in at the last minute after the original models Steve had arranged were unable to take part at the last minute.
The area of Leeds we were shooting in was predominantly industrial and I have to admit I initially had my doubts as to us being able to get any decent shots – it’s just not the kind of backdrop you think of when you visualise wedding photos. Somehow though, Steve made it work. Who would have thought you could get cool images with a backdrop of peeling paint (which it turns out is fantastic for adding texture to your photos); garage doors (a pop of colour really works); a run down old basketball court (interesting lines and more colour) and grafittied walls? I have to be honest – my heart still definitely lies with more natural and green locations, but it turns out that urban backdrops can be fun to work in too.
After a couple of hours shooting we headed into the warmth of a nearby restaurant for a late lunch – the sweet potato and chilli soup was exactly what I needed to defrost myself from the inside out – and then returned to the classroom for some more learning plus a critique of some images we had pre-provided at the start of the day.
I was a bit worried at first that I hadn’t got many shots – I tend to take a while to ‘warm up’ with my shooting and it felt like I hadn’t really found my rhythm with it properly that day, though I’m not sure why. I decided to wait for 48 hours before looking though my work and thankfully ended up being pleasantly surprised when I looked through my memory card and realised I’d captured more than I thought. Obviously I still need a lot of practice but I’m quite pleased with the little selection I’ve shared here.
It was totally worth the five hours I collectively spent on trains & in taxis and the very reasonable price I paid for the Wedding Potography Workshop. If wedding photography is something you’re interested in adding to your skillset; if you already offer it and want to improve your shots; or even if you do a completely different kind of photography, if you get the opportunity to attend one of Steve’s workshops I’d absolutely encourage you to do it – you’ll come away with practical experience, plenty of tips and more confidence in your work.