Thanks for the ideas guys.
Just to the left of the shot is the main church entrance, which has a very "oldy worldy", tudor-like wooden framed entrance. I think I will try to get the main formal shots of folk stood in front of that and the main church itself, and then use the bench for the smaller group shots, perhaps - especially the one's with kiddies.
The issue regarding the headstones - I'd considered this but felt that the group size combined with shallow DOF (they are quite a way back from the tree) would probably help mask them. I think when photographing in a church yard these are always going to be a feature, to some extent, aren't they? We have to just do our best to ensure they're not prominent. Just my view.
Ask them what they want. Get specific. Be repetitive. Ask/inform them about the gravestones, specifically, for sure. Simple enough: talk to your client. Communication is key. It's the second most important part of shooting weddings, or most things for that matter. The first most important is a signed contract that makes you undefeatable in court when (if?) you are sued.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
A wedding shoot in a graveyard!?
The idea strikes me as very oblique and incoherent in a way. Most people are dying to get in there, not sure about brides-to-be...
If the tree must be featured, the couple should be place behind the bench or the bride seated on it and the groom behind, with the entire arrangement tightly cropped to exclude the irrelevant background of gravestones. I see no aesthetic benefit including the stones. A moderate telephoto lens would assist in compressing the scene and framing.
Here in Australia, King Billy Pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides) frequently reach 1500+ years in age in remote alpine rainforest areas of Tasmania, and this is considered young. Not sure if they have certificates!
I'm not a full time wedding photographer, thus the original question, but don't a good proportion of wedding shoots take place in a church or the grounds of a church? Correct me if I'm wrong but I know some couples prefer to have them taken at the reception venue if it's nicer than the church or church grounds, but that's not the case here and is by no means 'the absolute thing to do' (or is it?). Of course I'll ensure the headstones do not play a prominent role in the photos and I'll avoid it entirely where I can as described above (I have a Nikon 80-200mm that I hope to use for this if possible).
A wedding shoot in a graveyard!?
The idea strikes me as very oblique and incoherent in a way.
Yes they do, Ted, depending on historical (very, very old), aesthetic (spatial representation, complimentary/contextual strength and mood), and the representative image on Facebook for all intents and purposes is thin on all three, with the exception of the yew tree as having potential with the bench. The gravestones look quite bland and unserviceable, certainly not of the visually interesting very ancient ones that can be found in churchyards around the UK. Go down to the yew and experiment with your 80-200 with various frame-ups. Maybe climb up the yew for a "up here/looking down" shot at the happy couple!
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How far could you position your camera from the tree? I suggest mounting the camera on a tripod, use a cable to trip the shutter. The reason: maybe they will love this photograph and order a large print from you. I have several 30" x 40" prints on display in my studio and they can provide income to get extra film toys!
The reason I ask is perhaps you could get away far enough where the tree would be in the background and the folks in the wedding party would be in the foreground (have them stand away from the tree and fairly close to your camera - perspective!). If you could get far enough away then maybe you could capture the entire tree. A wide angle lens could help but I recommend checking things out as you don't want to distort the bodies of people in your photograph.
What time of day will this take place?
At any rate, I think this is a good idea, a great idea if your clients wants this as part of their wedding day photographs.
Hmm that one gives me an idea immediately. I am thinking: groom standing behind the bench; bride seated. Fairly wide lens, lowish perspective (eye level to the bride). Narrow depth of field.
If there are other people in there, then a choice relative of the bride beside her on the bench, and everyone else arranged as you please. You can permute youngest and oldest relatives etc. and knock the whole thing out methodically.
Generally I think a standing posture for the groom will help reconcile the scale of the tree with whomever is on the bench. If you do have b&g seated then I think you will need to take a lowish perspective to frame them better aainst the tree (assuming the bench isn't movable).
How much room do you have on the other side of the tree - or to one side of the tree? My thought is to put the wedding party on the other side so that you are standing between tombstones to take the picture but there's no tombstones in the picture/s. If I understand your description correctly, if you place the wedding party to one side of the tree you may be able to include the church door in the picture.
I'd get some husky relatives to remove the bench as it constrains your options too much.
How about making up a little poster faking a love heart carved in the tree and a real close shot of the pair?
In the end I didn't really use the bench and instead generally masked it using the people. I was able to get the tree in some shots, but due to the cloudy day, it was VERY dark beneath it's canopy. So I just used it as background interest. I was lucky - the rain eased off for an hours just as the ceremony ended so I was able to get the formals shot in the church grounds.
I am quite happy with the results. Full write up and critique request here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum292/...ml#post1018083
Thanks to all of you for your help with this one - I learned a lot from the discussion.