Cripps Barn Wedding Photography
Kristi & Richard
Kristi and Richard decided to have their wedding at Cripps Barn in Gloucestershire, midway between where Kristi was born and where the couple now live in Worcestershire. Cripps Barn is a majestic timber structure barn set in the romantic Cotswolds with a woodland glade and even it's own meadow, specifically grown for wedding photos! It's one of those venues that, from a photographer's point of view, you really couldn't ask more of.
My morning started at the New Inn, Coln, where Kristi and the bridal party were getting ready. The New Inn is owned by Cripps Barn meaning it's often used for the accommodation of brides and grooms as well as wedding guests. Kristi and her bridesmaids were using a room at the rear of the hotel, but used the cottage next door in order to have their makeup applied.
During the morning there had been the odd spot of rain, and at times it looked like the inclement weather would persist and literally put a dampener on the wedding. Kristi's worry can clearly be seen. The good news is that the inclement weather held off and the wedding day remained dry!
The cottage at the New Inn is an awesome space, with bare-brick walls and the perfect light for the make-up artist to work her magic. The directional light provided by the large window gave the look any photographer would try to create in a studio! I'm glad the makeup artist convinced the bridal party to use this room for their makeup as the light was a lot better than the room in which they were staying.
For the majority of the photos of the bride and bridesmaids getting ready I used my 85mm portrait lens, which really blows the background out of focus, bringing the focus (if you excuse the pun) back to the subject of the photo.
When photographing people having their makeup applied, especially the bride, you run the risk of a long series of images all appear to be very similar to each other. For this reason, I like to try and get a little arty if I can do, shooting in such a way that small details are highlighted. I especially like shooting over the shoulder of the person who is applying the makeup, as not only does it add much-needed context to the image, but it creates a natural frame for your subject too.
On walking between the cottage and the room where the majority of the bridal party was getting ready, I found the groomsmen heading to get dressed and grabbed this quick snap. They all seemed very relaxed and happy which is always nice to see in wedding photos! It always amazes me how little time the groom and ushers spend getting ready on the morning of a wedding. On average I spend 5 hours with a bride and 4 bridesmaids, yet it takes the same number of ushers only 30 minutes to get ready - and that includes 10 minutes of working out who cuff-links work!
As per usual, the last 20 minutes before I had to leave for the venue absolutely flew by. In this time the bride had gotten into her wedding dress, and the majority of the bridesmaids had finished their pre-wedding rituals. I made sure to take a few photos with the bride and her father, as per tradition, before the wedding. I always aim to leave for the church or wedding venue around 20 minutes earlier than the bridal party. In the 20 minutes that I should have at the wedding venue, assuming we've driven at the same speed, I get to work photographing the groom and best man, having a quick scout of the location and chatting with the vicar or registrars. I always work closely with the wedding celebrant and have found at the nicer I am, the more I tend to get away with!
When I arrived at the Cripps Barn wedding venue, the groom and his ushers were still standing calmly outside. Richard had met with the registrars for his interview before my arrival, meaning I was free to photograph him without needing to keep too close-an-eye on the clock. I took Richard and the best man a short walk of 50 metres or so into a small clearing in the wooded part of the venue's grounds. Here, I knew that I could contrast the boys blue wedding suits with the deep blackish-green of the shaded trees behind. I took a portrait of the groom first, followed by the best man and finally the wedding bands. To finish off this section of photos, I grabbed a few frames of the two walking casually back towards the venue.
This image (below) is one of my favourites from the earlier part of the wedding - taken as the wedding car drove past, with the bride and her father looking at each other. I love the motion blue in the trees at the bottom of the image and how well they frame Kristi.
This is another favourite image of mine, showing the bridesmaids eagerly awaiting the arrival of the bride.
Despite being an old structure, Cripps Barn lets a lot of light in, and in all the right places. The rich, natural light perfectly picks out the people at the front of the space. The gorgeous yellow Cotswold stone provided a pleasing warm tone for the backdrop to the groom and his ushers. I shot these images with a standard 50mm lens and a wide aperture to make the viewer really feel like part of the action.
The bride entered and was perfectly lit from both sides by the large windows at the top of the Cripps Barn. I loved every minute shooting in the barn. The light was perfect, warm, soft and even, and all of the colours really popped against the exposed stone-brickwork inside. I shot this wedding exclusively with 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses on two camera bodies. The fixed-focal length lenses meant I didn't have to worry about zooming in and out the whole time - the limit of having a single focal length, contrary to popular belief, actually enables you to shoot faster and with greater consistency than if you were using a zoom lens. Not to mention the fact prime lenses give greater technical quality and their wider apertures allows you to shoot at lower ISOs.
This is another favourite image of mine, and one that I honestly just got lucky with. The wedding guests were waiting outside, ready to throw confetti over the newlyweds as they exited, and as Kristi and Richard started walking towards the door, they passed directly underneath a sky-light, picking them out from an otherwise black scene.
The wedding ceremony was quickly over, and it was time to move on to the formal group photos part of the day. For these images I used the same location that I had done earlier in order to photograph Richard and his best man, although these photos show the space off a little better. The light here couldn't have been better either; bright and overcast are the ideal photos for wedding photography, as the light is both incredibly flattering and very easy to work with.
The grounds of Cripps Barn are as varied as they are vast. There are so many opportunities for wedding photography, that if you had 6 hours to take photos you'd run out of time before you ran out of opportunity. The avenue of trees seen in the images below created a natural frame around Kristi and Richard. The photo immediately below was taken with the bride and groom in direct light, with the image below that taken with the bride and groom in the shade. They have only moved 5 metres or so, but the change in effect is dramatic.
There were so many different avenues in which to take photos that naturally framed the bride and groom, making my job very easy indeed! I really enjoyed my time at Cripps Barn and cannot wait to cover my next wedding there.
Posed pictures can be stunning, but I really prefer the reaction between the couple as it says so much more about them. I absolutely adore how Kristi and Richard laugh with each other, it really shows off their true nature.
The meadow that surrounds Cripps Barn is the ideal location for stunning wedding photos (and was grown for that very reason.) I was keen to get photos of the bride and groom in the wild flowers as it looked like it would rain at any moment. We revisited the meadow at sunset and the photos are stunning, but it was still important that I got these images in-the-bag in case the worst should happen with the weather.
There was a bit of a Disney theme present, with re-worked Disney songs played before the wedding, and little hints to well-known stories here and there - the rose in a bell-jar from Beauty and the Beast for example.
The wedding guests were seated and were awaiting the bride and groom to be announced into the room. I was positioned midway between the entrance to the barn and the wedding breakfast seating, when noticed Kristi & Richard both examining their wedding rings. It's a beautiful moment and I'm so pleased I captured it.
Cripps Barn is a cracking wedding venue, with ample natural light which isn't always the case in rustic barn wedding venues such as this. This meant that I was able to shoot the speeches without using any external artificial light source, which was less distracting for the guests and much more authentic when it comes to the photos.
With the summer evenings being long, there was still fantastic light after the wedding breakfast had concluded. The wedding guests all retired to the terrace, where the conversations and laughter continued long into the night.
When it came time for the bride and groom to take their first dance as husband and wife, all of the guests moved back indoors. In order to make the images really pop, I used two off camera flashes behind the bride and groom. This dramatic lighting is possible to achieve using only the disco lights, but you have to really get the timing perfect - It's much easier to achieve stunning first dance photos when you're in complete control of the light.
As we had planned for earlier in the day, the bride, groom and myself all headed back into the meadow at the rear of the venue at sunset in order to take some stunning couples photos. The light was absolutely perfect, and the long grasses provided plenty of foreground interest. In order to make sure that the bride and groom stood out from their background more, I placed an off-camera flash behind them which was remotely controlled from the camera. This gave a tiny but very important rim-light that you can just see down Richard's back - the slim blade of light just helps lift him that little bit and stand out against the dark bushed behind him.
Smoke from the fire-pit and tiki lamps hung low in the air, and I thought it would be very different to make use of this in some photos. I used a light behind the bride and groom to really emphasise the smoke, to dramatic effect. In the final photo, I have the bride and groom standing deep in woodland, only lit by a single source. I love the silhouette of them both, and the image really brings to a close the story of their fairytale wedding.