'Epic' is a word that gets thrown about a lot when it comes to weddings. When it comes to Amy & Steve's wedding though, I can't think of a word that's any more fitting.
Amy & Steve's Deer Park Hall wedding was actually my second wedding at the venue in the space of a week. When I shoot the same location I always try to do something a little different for each client - I want their wedding photos to look like their wedding photos; I don't want them to simply look like everyone else's who got married at the same venue.
I had looked at the sunset time for the day of the wedding and knew I had to subtract 20 minutes for Deer Park Hall; as the sun sets behind the Malvern Hills, you get incredible light, but less time to ultimately capture it. With the time of 7:30pm planted in my mind, the newlyweds and their guests were happily tucking into their wedding breakfast, the whole time with me keeping an eye on what was happening outside. Just before the catering staff were about to bring out their desserts, it started to look like we'd be on for the sunset I was hoping for. I told the chef to hold-off on serving the bride and groom their puddings - my plan was to take them up onto Bredon Hill for 20 minutes, bring them back after a few photos then they could have their desserts and get on with their day.
We had taken only a few steps onto the hill when 3 or 4 red deer literally came bounding up to us. The bride and groom were a little hesitant at first but I felt that as we were well out of the rutting season we should be relatively safe. As we walked towards the sunset, nearing the location at which I wanted to take the photos I had in mind, the deer followed.
As we stopped, they started making their way closer and closer, drawn to us, presumably, out of nothing more than curiosity.
I set up my off-camera lights in order to get the most dramatic possible shot, and waited for the sun to sink a few degrees lower in the sky. The whole time, the deer were creeping ever closer!
These are two behind-the-scenes photos taken by the best man, whom I gave my backup camera to hold - I was more than happy for him to help document this amazing situation. Without these two photos I don't think many would believe how close these deer actually came to us.
I took several images as the sun began to paint the sky red and purple, and was lucky enough that one deer remained in the perfect position for me to include her in the photo (on the far left.)
A pair of deer, one male an done female kept inching their way towards us as I was taking photos. For the image below, I turned the flashes off and exposed for the couple - this meant the sunset was now far too bright to be captured on film, but you get a proper view of those beautiful animals that joined us.
After perhaps 15 minutes or so, the deer started to make their way down, off the hill, leaving just the bride, groom and myself to make the most of the sunset that we had remaining. I turned the flashes back on and once again exposed for the sunset for the amazing image you see below.
It was incredibly windy on Bredon Hill, and we had to take every care to ensure that Amy's veil wasn't torn out of her hair and lost forever. I took the image below as I was setting up for a photo, with Steve lending a helping hand. I just love the light as it's falling on the veil, especially as it's against a dark background. It looks like liquid fire.
The final image below again was taken only using natural light, with the wind blowing Amy's veil away from the newlyweds.
I have photographed perhaps 20 or more weddings at Deer Park Hall over the last few years, and whilst I have been blessed with the occasional stunning sunset, I've never been lucky enough as to capture a deer in a photo with the bride and groom.
The whole experience was truly unforgettable, so much so that the bride and groom never got their dessert. I assume they're still in the oven. Their wedding was 4 days ago!
Location: Deer Park Hall.Keywords: Photographer-directed image (405). 1/200; f/7.1; ISO 100; 35.0 mm.