Creative Solutions for Timeless Wedding Portraits

Newlyweds Geraldine and Bill had a wedding that photographer Eric Ronald says struck a perfect balance between the old and the new, between timeless wedding portraits and contemporary photo concepts. The icing on the (wedding) cake, was the venue choice—Addington Palace, an 18th-century mansion in London—juxtaposed with the couple’s “new school” elements of outfit, styling and decor choices.

[Read: Portrait Cast in Soft Light Became Stronger in Silhouette]

timeless portraits on grounds of wedding venue, Addington Palace.
All Photos © Eric Ronald

“This is something I wanted to take inspiration from with their photography,” says the Melbourne-based photographer. “On one hand, I wanted to create beautiful, romantic and timeless wedding portraits, and on the other, I wanted to play and experiment with some of the more contemporary and conceptual stuff that I enjoy creating so much. It’s not often that I have such an incredible venue so stunningly presented, so I really was like a kid in a candy store.”

Contemporary photo of bride's back

Creative Solutions for Timeless Wedding Portraits

Most photographers can attest to the fact that wedding days are a constant barrage of the unpredictable. “My job as a wedding photographer is to navigate that and to create and capture beauty amongst the chaos,” Ronald explains. “In a way, the whole gig is about creative problem-solving, whether it be in the scheduling and planning leading up to the wedding, to when you have a camera in your hands on the wedding day, and finally when you’re locked away in a darkroom doing the edit. There are always problems to solve.”

[See More Wedding Day Moments: Timeless Reflection]

The trick is to first identify the problem because if you can’t see or anticipate it, then you’ve got no chance of solving it, Ronald explains. “For example, identifying the problem with scheduling a summer ceremony in the midday sun, seeing the horrible mix of color temperatures in the hotel room where the bride is getting ready, or in the edit, seeing what’s holding back an ‘okay’ shot from being an ‘awesome’ one. That’s where your love and dedication to the craft comes in to save the day.”

Timeline Challenges vs. Time to Play

timeless portrait of bride with studio lighting inside Addington Palace.

According to Ronald, Geraldine and Bill’s schedule was tight. “When the planner first sent through their proposed timeline, I could see there wasn’t going to be nearly enough time for the portrait session,” he recalls. “To address that required some lateral thinking, and some sweet talking with the planner.”

In the end, he was able to squeeze out a bit more time, but still not as much as he would have liked. “The only other time I had was during the reception, but the problem with that was it would be nighttime and I didn’t want to settle with the usual backlit shot of the couple outside—although, in the end, I did that too!”

Playful photo concept of bride and groom on floor.

Ronald’s solution was to do a studio lighting setup that could be prepped during dinner and then he could just steal the couple away for a few of minutes. “Because there was no time to fumble around with lights, gels, settings, posing, etc., I needed to pre-plan and visualize exactly what I wanted to do and then have everything set and ready to go so the couple could just walk in, pop a few shots and then walk back out again to enjoy their evening. I loved the results and it was unlike anything I had created before, which has since sent me down a new and exciting path in my photography.”

Studio lighting setups for contemporary portraits of bride and groom.

SOUNDTRACK IT FOR STYLE, MOOD AND EMOTION

Having a background and training in cinematography has significantly influenced Ronald’s style and approach to wedding photography. “Sometimes it’s a bit of a curse, if I’m to be honest, but I just naturally see things in a sequence of images, not just individual frames. My hope is when someone scrolls one of my blog posts, watches a slideshow and flicks through an album, they see a carefully considered and constructed narrative with a holistic approach. I geek out on that stuff. To enhance this experience further on my blog posts, I create soundtracks for all of my wedding blog posts—it helps add style, mood and emotion. It makes it more cinematic.”

[Read: Making the Music Match the Wedding Moment’s in Your Couple’s Film]

He edits the final sequence all together in Final Cut Pro using a range of sound effects and music. “There are whole lot of amazing sites to find this stuff, but I personally love Music Bed as it’s targeted specifically at filmmakers. You can easily find the perfect track because they have carefully sorted their music not just into genres but also into ‘vibes’ like ‘inspirational’, ‘delicate’ or ‘enchanted’, for example.”

bride and groom wrap up day with fireworks for a timeless wedding portrait.

PHOTO GEAR OF THE DAY

Cameras: (2x) Canon 5D Mark IV
Lenses: Canon 24mm f/1.4L, 50mm f/1.2L, 85mm f/1.2L II, 100mm macro f/2.8L
Lighting: Profoto A1, Profoto B10
Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

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Email Rangefinder editor-in-chief Jacqueline Tobin with submissions.

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