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This Is How: ‘Dancing in the Dark’ by Rik Pennington

The fabulous Rik Pennington is on the TiR blog today, for the thirty-sixth in our series of ‘This is How…’ posts; it’s an honour to have Rik take us behind the scenes of his recent Reportage Award (which was incredibly tough to achieve; just the top 2% of submissions were awarded by our Collection One judges). Rik shares great insights into making the very most of the light you have available to you, capturing movement, his personal compositional style, patience, and more… 

As wedding photographers we frequently have to work in challenging light and this shot is an example of going with the flow and working with what’s thrown at us. The lighting was harsh and bright and it took me a few minutes to come up with a plan. It was a cunning plan: work with what’s there and hope for the best!

The shot was taken during the dancing at Agate & Greg’s wedding at Chateau de la Bourlie in the Dordogne. This place is hands down my favourite venue on the planet, partly because I love visiting the area but also because it’s such a joy to work at.

During the first dance it quickly became clear that Agate and her dress were the stars of the show. Sorry Greg, your dancing was epic, but your wife blew you away! I was happy with what I’d got but I had a feeling that there was an opportunity to get something better and work with the high contrast light to capture the movement and shape of Agate’s amazing dress.

I don’t need to tell any fans of this site how valuable capturing moments and emotions are at a wedding and I feel it’s my duty to do that for the majority the day. But if the opportunity presents itself I try to create images with strong compositional elements that have a sense of calm and space. I don’t pull it off at every wedding, but on this occasion I had the time after the first dance to pick my spot and wait for Agate to enter the frame. The curves and shape of the shadow on the floor provided the framing for the shot and the fall off from the spotlight was perfect to light the dress and throw the background into shadow. Agate and her dress did the rest! The movement and shape of the dress complement the curves of the shadow and amazingly this was the first shot I took in the sequence and the only one that worked well. And I would love to say that I saw the flower, but that was a very lucky accident!

Check out the rest of the wedding at

You can see more of Rik’s work on his website, or on his This is Reportage profile.

If you found this interesting, then we urge you to view our other ‘This is How…’ posts by our This is Reportage members; they’re a goldmine of useful nuggets!

Aga Tomaszek

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