Wedding at Chilston Park Hotel

Claire and Mat’s New Year’s Eve Wedding at Chilston Park Hotel.

The Venue

Chilston Park Hotel is a stunning venue for a wedding, it has an classic upmarket, vintage feel to it. The hallways are adorned with large opulent oil paintings portraying the venues historic and rich lineage. The staircase is incredibly lavish and provides that wow factor to any wedding.

Chilston Park Hotel was once a country house which dates back to the 17th century and whilst it has been updated and boasts all of the mod cons that you would expect to see in any modern wedding venue, it does retain it’s olde worlde character that I can imagine is a draw for most couples wishing to add a sense of opulence and charm to their day.

For all is grandeur Chilston Park Hotel is a very warm, inviting and comfortable venue, they have really worked with the space well and the staff were extremely accommodating and went out of their way to help ensure that I was able to get the right shot, from moving furniture to getting the lighting right, they understood the importance of the photography and how little adjustments can really help.

For the photographers

In order to manage the lighting challenges on this wedding there were a myriad of options I could have chosen from strobes, on and off camera flash or even very fast lenses and to hell with the ISO. Chilston Park Hotel has a number of very large windows and a big skylight above the central stair case. Whenever possible I made use of the available light. Infact in the getting ready room it wasn’t until I was able to turn off the main lights and just shoot with the window light that I was really happy with the shots.

In these situations I use spot metering and will meter for the face, trying to get my subject as close to the window as possible. Alternatively again using spot metering I will position myself with my back to the window and let that valuable window light flood on to my subject.

Unfortunately the window light can only help you so much and when the ceremony had finished the sun had set. Therefore I used the available light from the fairy lights that Chilston Park Hotel had used as decoration throughout parts of it’s interiors. Otherwise I used continuous light.

I have just started using Rotolight’s Neo 2, these are new continuous lights and I found them to be extremely useful. I don’t mind using flash and I know that TTL has become very good, however, I still find the results can be inconsistent and most cameras struggle to achieve rapid auto focus in the dark. With the continuous light however, I was able to effectively nail focus and the exposure quickly, easily and consistently.

Using 2 Rotolights on stands for example on the main stair case at Chilston Park Hotel, which was dark after sunset I was still able to do couples and group shots. These lights worked well in dark conditions. I was also able to use them outside very well one as a key light and the other as a kicker.

Don’t throw away your flash guns/stobes just yet though these lights are not going to over power the sun and will not give you amazing results on a bright day. They are a tool to be used in the right settings.

The Couple

Claire and Mat were amazing, they laughed all day and nothing was too much trouble. They are both from South East London, which was originally my neck of the woods, so we hit it off instantly. They were warm, cheerful and a joy to work with. I love that Claire’s response to any request was “of course babes”. Claire and Mat were married on New Year’s Eve, very romantic but can be cold and difficult for photography. They did not let this phase them and attacked the couples photos as I’m sure, from the little I know them they do with everything in life: with gusto!

I loved everything about this wedding, the couple were amazing and their guests were a truly excited for them and welcomed me with open arms. They made the whole process easy and enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong this was a very difficult wedding to photograph, the ceremony finished after sunset and I needed to use extra lighting in the house due to it’s ambient lighting.

Claire and Mat had provided an amazing magician for their guests while we were off doing the wedding photos. They didn’t want to have fireworks in the evening so we settled for sparklers and a fire eater!

I wish Claire and Mat every happiness in their new lives together, I know that they already have the best chemistry together and judging by the quality of their friends, family and their zest for life I’m sure they will be very happy in the years to come.


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