In early December I got an enquiry from a recently married couple, Mari & Stefan. I had not photographed their wedding, and they had got married a fair distance from Birmingham. Mari and Stefan had just received their official wedding photos back from their special day, and due to time restraints and other factors, they felt that they did not quite get the quality and coverage they had hoped for from their official photographer. So they approached me to do some post-wedding couple shots.

After a couple of emails, we decided to meet at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which were still in the final colour displays of Autumn. What we didn’t realise is that the Gardens were also preparing for Magical Lantern Festival (which I had officially photographed a couple of years previously)

What I also did not know, is that Mari and Stefan were so eager to get more wedding shots, they they arrived in their full wedding attire! This was going to be a fun afternoon!

The shoot:

Although the lanterns were not yet all in place, and this was midday, the shape of animals and Christmas-themed novelties in such a stunning location was always going to be a joy to photograph a wedding in (whether staged on not). All along the paths were flowers, penguins, elephants and birds. For those who have not visited the Lantern Festival before, these all light up after dark, illuminating the landscape

Mari, Stefan and I stopped at regular intervals. They were a perfect couple to shoot: Excellent in front of the camera, with genuine smiles and full of love for each other. They were happy to spend a few minutes making sure a shot was composed correctly, and not rushing anything.

Autumn at Botanical Gardens is spectacular! As you can see from this image, some areas are covered in a carpet of bright red leaves and the trees are not yet fully bare. The weather was also comfortable enough to stroll around at leisure in wedding attire

One thing that is unfortunately a bit of an eye sore around the Festival during the day are the stands and wires along the ground. Each lantern has to be supported and powered, and although the risk of tripping is minor, the white support stands are rather ugly during daylight hours. This is obviously not a problem during the evening show, but needed fixing for Mari and Stefan. So a lot of the photos required some Photoshopping afterwards to fill in these areas (see cover photo)

In some of the darker areas (like the gazebo shot below) I used 2 hidden flashes to bring a lot more light into the darkness of the interior. One hidden behind the couple, and another actually in shot but Photoshopped out. This is to balance with natural light. The same principal is used on the cover photo, to bring out the highlights of the shot, whilst shooting against the sun

Overall Mari and Stefan received over 100 photos from the walk around, and left very happy

The right photo below shows one of the official photos I took at Magical Lantern Festival in 2016 (used for the 2018 advertising campaign). This is created using an HDR blend of 3 exposures