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This Is How: ‘Making An Entrance’ by Pete Henderson

Excited to have the brilliant Pete Henderson on the site today, talking to us about how he got this great wedding breakfast entrance capture (a part of the day that can be very difficult indeed to capture so creatively). A super-interesting post, with Pete sharing great insights into balancing the capture of atmosphere/available light, with wanting to make his bride and groom stand out by using flash, great tips on his exact flash setup, pre-focusing, patience, post production, as well as a great little tip about having a ‘backup plan’ for moments like this. A brilliant read!

Quite often I have an idea for a shot that just doesn’t quite happen as planned. You can put all the time and planning in, get yourself ready, wait wait wait wait wait for the moment….but then life happens and all the pieces don’t fall together as you’d hoped.

This, however, was one of those rare times where everything happened exactly as I’d hoped it would.

The location for this is Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. Anyone whose been there will tell you, it’s a dark venue. A very dark venue. With the metal shutters shut over the tiny windows at the side, it would be near pitch black if the lights were off. Despite being so dark, the lighting used on the day gave the place so much atmosphere, and I was really keen to use that and capture the mood of it in the photographs.

The problem was, the light was so muddy that there was no way that Marc and Leanne were going to stand out in any way as they entered the room. You can see on the test shot below, without a flash hitting the subject it would be a completely different shot:

pete henderson test shot

With that in mind, I set my exposure for the ambient in the room, not to be perfectly exposed, but to capture the atmosphere of the room and with enough light to show the context of the guest clapping. I then used two off camera flashes, one on either side, with grids attached to try and keep the light as focused as possible on the entrance of the room.

I pre-focused for this shot, which is something I don’t very often do. With it being so dark, and not knowing how fast they would be walking, I just didn’t trust the cameras to lock onto them in time to get the shot. So I used someone who had been stood by the door before they entered to get my focus right in advance.

After that it was just a matter of waiting. I knew from how the day had gone so far that there would be a good entrance into the room. This couple loved a party and there was always going to be some kind of ‘hands in the air’ type action as they walked in.

Back at home the post production for this one was pretty simple. A little bit of dodging and burning, and I removed the fire escape sign that you can see in the test shot.

As a bit of an aside, I shoot with two cameras for shots like this (where everything needs to come together perfectly within a couple of seconds), I always have the other camera set up ready as a back up. It was dialled in ready with a flash on top and some very boring safe settings. So if, for whatever reason, this shot didn’t come off, I could still run round and get something of them coming in to their reception.

Settings and equipment for those interested:

Equipment:

Nikon D750
Nikon 85mm 1.8
Godox flashes

Settings:

ISO 3200
Shutter 1/200
f2.8

You can see more of Pete’s work on his website, or over on his TiR profile.

Our This is Reportage members share lots more documentary wedding photography tips at this link.

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Aga Tomaszek

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