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Christmas is a prime time for wedding photographers and this winter wedding at Matfen Hall nearNorthumberland gave us a set of challenges typical to wedding photography at this time of year.

Low sun, freezing outside temperatures and dark interiors can pose challenges that see off many would be photographers but with a bit of planning and flexibility in approach you can get some of the best results.

This wedding at Matfen gave us a full basket of issues to overcome. Summer weddings will throw up  similar challenges week to week but conditions change so fast in the winter. The day before we had driven back from the Leeds area in quite deep snow we had feared the worst for the next day but we awoke to a beautiful bright day that allowed us to be creative.

The low sun can mean extreme light coming throw windows horizontally so positioning can be vital in order to control use of the natural light. It can also mean surprisingly high indoor temperatures as with the heating left on, pre wedding rush in around and direct sunlight on your back in can be hot work. Matfen has huge, old windows that let the light come flooding in. The suite used for the bridal prep has windows on two sides and Katie, the bride, needed a bit of air which is where i managed to capture the image below. I wouldn’t normally shoot a portrait in this phase of the day and photographing the pre wedding happenings rarely allows the time to do so but with Katie ready i took the chance to take a few exposures. The image isn’t posed though and is genuinely how she sat contemplating what was about to happen next.

At Matfen in the great hall there is a spectacular bridal entrance with a large sweeping staircase that brings the bridal party into position in front of the huge fire place that on this occasion was roaring away. Brian, at the front of the ceremony was cooking. Especially as with it being a black tie wedding we were both in black tie too.

After the ceremony we shot the portraits of the couple. The number one issue on this occasion was the cold, not only because our fingers went blue but also because of the sheet ice causing us to skate around in our dress shoes. On these occasions we really try and rattle through the photographs before the freezing cold gets the better of everyone. It’s cold for brides and nobody looks at their best if they get a cold red nose and runny eyes.

This wedding gave us the opportunity to shoot some film which is rare. Brian shot off a roll of  portra film on his medium format pentax67. The results will form a separate blog post in the near future. This is not something we normally do but it all adds to the legacy feel of the occasion.

We opted to shoot the groups in front of the fire place inside Matfen Hall. This was a good call and allowed us a more relaxed environment to gather groups and also for the couple, Sam and Katie to ad lib and grab additional images without everyone freezing outside.

The rest of the wedding flowed a pretty natural course but at the request of the groom we still had a few images to create. I have written a post on shooting these additional images for which we used our new scorpion lights. These incredible little, led lights were given a good try out. We would love to know what you all think of the results.

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