I don't photograph many styled wedding shoots - I'm just too busy with the real life weddings - but when I was asked to photograph a styled wedding at Blackstock Country Estate, also known as Blackstock Barns, I jumped at the chance! As an experienced wedding photographer, I can turn up at any venue, from church to barn to country manor, and be confident of capturing images of my couples that they'll love. It doesn't matter if I've photographed weddings there before; in fact, some of my best ever images have been captured when I'm on creative overdrive from the excitement of a venue that's new to me. Being a wedding photographer is about seeing light and working with people; finding the most photogenic backdrops at a venue is the easy part. However, being a wedding photographer is also about trust, and many couples feel reassured by having a photographer who's photographed at least one wedding at their venue of choice. Whilst I understand that, it's sometimes hard to get the opportunity of that first venue wedding, and I know I've lost out on Blackstock weddings before for the sole reason of not already having photographed there.
So when the opportunity arose to expand my portfolio of Sussex barn weddings (regular readers of my blog will know I'm big on barns!) I was more than happy to oblige! Just as with any wedding, we set a date with the venue and then went about sourcing a dress, suit, flowers, and decor. Unlike a real wedding, we also had to find the couple themselves! I say we, actually it was the very talented Kimberley of Kimberley Louise Make-up who did all the sourcing and co-ordination. I just turned up with bags of equipment and bags of enthusiasm!
Blackstock is located in Hellingly, East Sussex, and set in stunning countryside. As Sussex barns go, it's up there with the best of them, with beautiful beamed interiors and picturesque backdrops - both inside and out. I knew that before I arrived. What I didn't know, was how tasty the food would be! Chef Marco had prepared a banquet for me to photograph and sample. Actually, I'm not sure two full plates of mains and desserts counts as sampling, but it was delicious, and after several hours of shooting, just as with a real wedding, we'd certainly built up an appetite.
On the day, we were blessed with gorgeous weather - a little too bright for great portraits, but we sourced some great shady locations at the front of the barns, and saved the open fields with the beautiful bird cage and arched seat for the evening when the light had softened a little. As many of my readers will know, I like my couple images to look natural, even if they may be gently directed. Usually, a bit of direction helps create a more flattering photograph, but overly staged images can lack emotion and feel a bit stuck in the 20th century. So the gate leading from the barn onto the fields was perfect for the style of image I'd usually create at barn weddings. And our models Helen and Stefan were patient and willing participants. I found it a little strange directing them at first as I'm used to asking couples to interact as they usually would - some are romantic and like to kiss, others fool around and gently chide each other - but Helen and Stefan were not a 'real life' actual couple, and both have other partners, so I would start to say something completely inappropriate, then stop myself just in time! There was quite a lot of giggling! I have to say though, as the shoot progressed, they both went into full-blown acting mode and were extremely believable as a couple, making it easy and fun for us to capture - thanks guys!
And thank you to Ivana and the team at Your Sussex Wedding magazine too for featuring our shoot in their current (Oct/Nov 2016) issue - myself and all the suppliers involved in the shoot were proud to see our work in print and being distributed to thousands of local brides:
As I write, I'm hoping to meet lots of lovely couples at Blackstock's Wedding venue Showcase day this Sunday 23 October 2016 if you'd like to come along. I'll be excited to book my first real Blackstock Barns wedding so please stop by my stand!
Venue: Blackstock Barns
Photographer: Jenny Rutterford Photography
Bridal Make Up: Kimberley Louise Make Up
Bridal Hair: Lulus-Hair by Lucie
Florist: Nell's Flowers
Dress: Opulence and Grace
Floral Arch: Fig Tree Flowers
Event Styling: Not Your Average I Do
Models: Helen Green and Stefan Hughes