2019-02-05

Working with Light: with wedding photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith

The date is set, the venue is ready and the subjects look beautiful - but how you light your image is everything. 

Here at Park Cameras we’ve been finding out how you can realise your vision by talking to wedding photographer and Sony Ambassador  Kate Hopewell-Smith who shares a variety of different tips you can put into practice.



Take Inspiration
Given her background in Fine Art, it makes sense that this is where Kate takes a lot of her inspiration. “My favourite medium was always oil painting and my work was quite figurative, so I would always veer towards paintings of people. It sounds awful, but I always thought it was interesting that photography was just faster, it’s instant. You get the results you want to see quickly making it very gratifying to work on.”


Learn to use light and exposure
The key for Kate is the light. “I think you have to be shown light. I don’t think it’s something that is learnt from a book. I remember the first time I was shown how to see the light; that moment changed everything, because when you understand light you can then understand exposure and take control of your camera. That control makes you become more confident and you start to shoot light in a certain way - that is when you start to develop a style of your own.”


Find the best light
Kate’s use of light is a constant throughout her images of people. Whether it’s an individual portrait image, family shot, boudoir image or a wedding, all of her images have a particular style of her own; you can see how she uses light to both highlight the subject and to reveal details of a scene or location.

Kate works with her husband when taking wedding imagery and explains that their role is to tell a story, but their philosophy is very different to documentary photographers. “We believe we make pictures as much as we take them,” she says, “I will move and direct the subjects and try to place them in the most beautiful light I can find - we create these moments rather than just shooting what is happening.’


Be prepared
Although Kate loves to work with ambient lighting, in order to get the best image quality she explains that you “need to keep the camera sensitivity as low as possible” and therefore she does occasionally use additional light. “We use flash and continuous lighting,” she says, “and we have plenty of lighting adapters and modifiers. I am very much a believer in being prepared so I take a lot of kit, but always hope that we won’t need to use it.  There is enough stress on a shoot, particularly a wedding, without having to worry about your kit.”


Realise your vision
Kate only recently made the switch from a DSLR to the Sony α9 and it has already started to change the way that she works. In particular, the ability to see what her image will look like before she even fires the shutter has made working with light even easier. In fact, there is now no way she would go back to using a DSLR camera. “I honestly think it would just be so odd now to go back and not be able to see my exposure, it’s something that seems so obvious. I think it would be really painful.”


All the images shot within this article were taken using the Sony α9. Visit Park Cameras in Burgess Hill or Central London to try the camera out for yourself, or if you’re not local, visit www.parkcameras.com.




Kate is a Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador and you can see more of her work at www.sony.co.uk/alphauniverse

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If you found this article helpful, you might want to view our other related articles:

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