Curradine Barns Wedding Photography
Laura and Scott
Laura and Scott got married at one of my favourite wedding venues - Curradine Barns in Worcestershire. Curradine Barns is a rustic, romantic wedding venue set deep within the Worcestershire countryside in the village of Shrawley. The venue features it's own private bridal dressing room as well as a renovated farmhouse where grooms can get dressed (which can also house wedding guest for an over-night stay too) as well as stunning honeymoon suite. The red-brick barns originally date back to the 19th Century are were used initially as a grain store. Continuous improvements over the years have seen this venue transform into a contemporary and atmospheric place, which makes for stunning weddings all year round. The venue is licensed to hold civil ceremonies but can also be hired solely as a reception venue should you prefer a church wedding.
The first time I met Laura and Scott was New Year's Eve 2014 when Scott had phoned me to ask if I could candidly photograph the proposal he'd been planning for some time. Their beautiful August wedding was a far cry from the freezing Malvern Hills where the proposal took place, but I am so happy to have been a part of their story for so long.
Laura and her bridesmaids all got ready in the on-site bridal dressing suite, with Scott, his best man and ushers all getting ready in the farmhouse a little later in the day.
The bare brick walls of the Bridal Dressing Room at Curradine Barns creates a lovely warm backdrop for bridal prep photos and details shots alike. Furthermore, the entirety of the natural light comes from a single window, giving a fantastic directional quality, the likes of which you'd try and replicate in a studio.
Scott had arranged to send Laura a card on the morning of their wedding and I made sure I was ideally located to capture her reactions. As you can see in the second image below, Scott had so much to say that he actually had to attach a second piece of paper to the card! I made sure I was in the best possible position to photograph Laura's reaction to reading the card, whatever that might look like. These times of the morning are usually highly emotional and it's often difficult to know whether you're going to get laughter, tears, or both!
Breakfast was brought to the bride's dressing room but the bridal party were either too busy or too nervous to eat anything, as if often the case. I will always try and get at least the bride to eat something - modern wedding days are very long, and I know how it feels to be on your feet for 15 hours! It's hard work, and more so if you're nervous and are going through the wedding ceremony on an empty stomach.
As I've previously mentioned, the light in the Bridal Dressing Room only comes in through a single window. This usually sounds like a bad thing, but the directional light means you can capture some really stunning bridal party portraits.
That same single light source can also be used to dramatic effect when it comes to back-lit images, and one of my favourite times to really utilise the strong backlighting is when the hairdresser is spraying hairspray, especially if you have a dark background to shoot against.
Laura and Scott had an English Country themed wedding with delicate flowers used to dress both the tables and the wedding cake. At the time I arrived in the morning which was just after 9am, the final details weren't quite in place, but I was on hand to capture some great wedding photos of Scott making some finishing touches which included dressing the tables and the wider venue, with the help of his best man.
The wedding cake was a traditional three-tiered cake with full white icing and was decorated with flowers that complimented the bride's wedding bouquet.
It was really nice to see Scott and his ushers paying so much close attention to detail when it came to decorating the wedding. Wedding venues like Curradine Barns often do 200 weddings a year (and sometimes more than that.) With so many weddings happening in the same place, there's a risk that your wedding might look very similar to all other weddings that take place at your venue. In order to overcome this, it's a great idea to put a really personalised touch on your day. Scott is a designer and had actually designed and made a great deal of the decorations that were found in and around the venue.
Parts of the wedding venue were to be dressed with old family photos that had been printed and mounted with a long piece of twine. This is a fantastic bit of wedding inspiration, and I personally think that having old family photos, (especially wedding photos) is a fantastic talking point amongst guests as well as serving to pay tribute to absent friends and family.
Whilst I was downstairs with the groom and the boys, I noticed the wedding flowers were about to be delivered so popped back upstairs in order to see Laura's reaction to them. After their weddings, many brides tell me that the first time that it actually felt like they were getting married that day was when the flowers arrived - 'Somehow it makes it all seem real.'
Over the next hour I darted around all over the place, trying to insure I had all bases covered. I pre-arranged a time to meet with the groomsmen in the farmhouse in order that I could take some photos of them getting ready, but they took longer than expected dressing the venue. This meant I could pop back upstairs every now and again and just keep an eye on how the bridal party were progressing.
I very often say that one of the reasons I like being present so early on the morning of a wedding is to show the transition between your normal self and your wedding day-self. At Scott and Laura's wedding, no single image shows that transition as much as the one below! A bridesmaid had left her day-to-day shoes alongside the ones she would be wearing for the rest of the day. The contrast is quite clear.
As Scott was getting ready on-site I was easily able to photograph him getting ready as well as the bride. I had discussed this with them at length before their wedding, and together we worked out where I'd have to be and at what time in order best cover both events. The farmhouse is a very short 30 second walk across the courtyard from the bride's dressing room so it was no hassle shooting at both locations on my own.
When the bride was completely ready, she sent for her father who was going to walk her down the aisle and give her away too. This is always one of my favourite images to try and get, as you never know exactly how things are going to go. Some fathers laugh and joke, whilst others get really emotional and whatever their reaction, out-of-character or not, I love being there to watch it unfold. Laura's father looked very proud and happy when he saw his daughter in there wedding dress for the first time. I find that the emotional nature of these images make for great black and white wedding photos.
Once I had photographed the father of the bride's reaction to seeing his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time, the bride and groom were both interviewed separately by the registrars before the wedding. I took some time to photograph the wedding guests who were anxiously awaiting the start of the proceedings. Luckily Curradine Barns has a huge amount of outdoor space as well as indoor seating areas meaning the guests were well looked after, and were able to get out of the hot midday sun should they wish.
When the groom had finished being interviewed by the registrars I shadowed him and the best man for the next 10 minutes or so. One of my favourite images of the morning came as the best man checked that he still had the wedding rings on him!
Laura had bought Scott a new watch as a wedding present and he made sure it was set to the right time before the wedding started.
The ceremony room at Curradine Barns is one of the original red brick structures, and as such the tones in these wedding photos is lovely and warm, with a stunning richness to them. The fairy lights on the mezzanine in the background get rendered into these lovely round blobs of light and the candelabra bathes the wedding guests in gentle, romantic light.
When I met with Laura in the weeks before the wedding she made it known to me that she was keen for her brother to see her before the wedding ceremony started and that she'd like me to be present if possible to capture his reaction.
Before the ceremony started, Scott looked nervous, but as soon as string-quartet started playing and he knew he was about to see his soon to-be wife, his look changed to that of pure excitement.
Immediately after the ceremony ended I spent some time capturing the bride and groom greeting their guests; this was the first time on the day that either of them had really had any opportunity to speak with their guests and it's always a time I enjoy photographing as there's often so much going on in such a short space of time. After 15 minutes or so we moved onto the front lawn in order to take some photos of the wedding guests throwing confetti.
Before we headed over to the front lawn for the confetti photo, I organised all of the wedding guests together so I could take the 'big group photo' whilst everyone was in one place (and before the bride and groom were covered in confetti.)
Once the guests were in position in the courtyard, I ran back upstairs to the mezzanine that joins the bridal dressing room. A small window opens outwards and allows the perfect view back down into the courtyard. Taking these images from an elevated position is always the easiest option where possible as you can have as many rows-back as you require and you don't lose the ability to see anyone.
Most of my clients are really keen to have a confetti-throwing photo, but some of the reactions I get from it are just fantastic. Laura and Scott seemed to have provided three-times as much confetti as was needed. It made for some cracking photos, and I do love their reaction to having it thrown on them in the image below.
When it came time to take the formal group photos, I took the guests in small groups into the 'secret garden.' This secret garden is a walled garden lined with trees and shrubs, and isn't overlooked by any part of the venue. I find it to be the ideal place to take these group photos as not only are you presented with the perfect backdrop, you also get a little quiet time away from the main party of guests.
I can't remember what was said here, or who said it - but these photos of the bride and bridesmaids laughing with/at each other are priceless!
Once the formal photos with the friends and families of the bride and groom had been taken, it was time to capture those all important images of the bride and groom on their own. At the same time, the wedding guests were being called into dinner. As much as I can, I try not to take the bride and groom away from their wedding guests, so the time they're being seated for the wedding breakfast is perfect for the couple's photos, as everyone has their attention drawn away from the fact that for 20 minutes, the newlyweds are elsewhere.
Two of the wedding guests were having a walk around the wedding venue during the drinks reception and happened upon us. The two ladies asked to see the bride's wedding band and I was on hand to capture this lovely moment.
Just over the road from Curradine Barns is a wheat field which is a fantastic place to capture some really special images of the bride and groom. I prefer taking these sorts of images later in the day, towards sunset if I can help it, but I wasn't completely satisfied that it wouldn't rain that evening. I discussed it with Laura and Scott and we decided to take the photos whilst we had the chance, with the view to re-shooting them in a couple of hours if the weather remained in our favour. When it's threatening rain, you often get moody clouds and dramatic sunsets which you'll see at the end of this article.
I don't usually crop images to a ratio that makes them hard to print, but I think the picture below just works so well as an extreme wide shot! Unfortunately the sky at this time of day wasn't that interesting, and the panoramic crop means that you can concentrate more on the important things in the image.
During the speeches I moved to the very front of the room and used a wide-angle lens to try and get a photo of the whole bridal/wedding party as they enjoyed the best man's speech. It wasn't until a week after the wedding, when I had downloaded the photos and was half way through editing them that it suddenly occurred to me how much this photo looks like Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' painting.
After the more formal part of the wedding breakfast were over, many of the guests retired outside where lawn games had been laid on, as well as other sporting options including badminton and frisbee. One of the best moment I captured however was this young girl trying to capture the bubbled that had been blown by her father. I think the image works particularly well as the bubbles were photographed in front of a black background, allowing them to really stand out.
The main barn is used for the evening reception (the same barn as is used for the wedding ceremony) with the DJ setting up at one end, the cavernous barn still has plenty of space for all of your wedding guests to stand and watch you take your first dance. I usually ask the DJ to turn any spot-lighting off as it can be really troublesome when it comes to photographing dancing, but as it was a more subtle effect with these lights I decided to keep them on instead.
Having taken the photos of the bride and groom taking their first dance as husband and wife, I took a quick walk outside to see if the conditions were right for the sunset photos I had envisioned earlier - and right they were. I popped back inside and told the bride and groom that it was an unmissable opportunity. I grabbed a couple of light-stands for my flashes and we hurriedly walked back to the wheat field across the road from the Venue. I used one light to create a so-called 'rim light' around the couple and another to make sure they were't silhouetted against the bright setting sun. I think you'll agree that the resulting images are amazing wedding photos!