Judith – Bridal at Lissan House

Thanks to Lissan House just outside Cookstown for the opportunity to photograph in their fantastic house and estate location. I thought I’d make it bridal in theme to be in keeping with the surroundings and hopefully do the location the justice it deserves. Lissan House management are also keen to promote the house as a wedding venue, so it seemed right to do bridal.

I’d completed a job for a local hats company a few days previous using Lissan House as the location, and with it’s almost endless photographic potential I didn’t need a second invitation when I learned they had a 2 hour slot free on Wednesday afternoon. We worked from 2 until 4pm and tried to cram in as many set-ups as possible in the time.

A big thank you to our model for the afternoon, Judith who made a perfect bride despite getting less than 24 hours notice to step into the bridal dress and head out to the location. I keep saying this, but I genuinely feel very luck to have built up a great network of contacts (and subsequently friends too) in the local modelling world over recent years and appreciate their giving of time and skill, many like Judith who are happy and willing to model at little notice and extremely reliable.

Thanks also to Catherine for her bridal make-up application, and David Graham who put the great finishing touches to Judith’s hair.

My main purpose for the afternoon was to generally explore picture opportunities in Lissan House, then use natural light only, flash only and a mix of the two. I knew before I started that a lot of my imagery was going to be highly experimental, but also wanted to ensure I had images of a suitable standard to reward our model Judith with, and also to pass on to Lissan House themselves.


Here’s the product of my afternoon:


This was our starting point for the afternoon, in the largest room in the house. While this room is surrounded on 2 sides by enormous floor to roof windows and had an abundance of natural light, here I opted to ‘tame’ the natural light and fill with flash on Judith. This gave a much richer, deeply saturated look. The strong sun darted in and out so I timed this to have the sun out thus creating the great light across the floor behind Judith.


In complete contrast to the image above, here I used natural light, and with such strong sunlight coming in there was plenty to bounce back with a reflector. It even had a hint of fashionable flare 🙂 The image is much lower in contrast and has a ‘lighter’ feel to the image above.


And this is an image captured a few minutes after the natural light one above. It’s back to a deeper, richer look with fill flash being used, though unfortunately at this stage our strong back light had gone so there was no longer the great light from the window along the floor.


Still in the same room captured with wide angle to take in its size! Here the large windows were behind and to my left so no shortage of natural light.


From here we moved outside and the strong sunlight was back so we used it fully here.


I wanted to get an image of the front of Lissan House, and the light at the time allowed for a more dramatic off-camera flash look. A large tree in the corner helped frame the picture with its overhanging branches. I also had to ask Judith to hold her dress at the back to hide a car parked at the front of the house which we couldn’t get moved 🙂


Back over to one of the curved windows shown in the image above. I opted to capture this using natural light with a reflector to give it a bright summery feel. I also did a dramatic off-camera flash version of this which worked equally well and gave a completely different look. I think the light stonework gives this an Italian look 🙂



The front door, and what a front door! There was endless possibilities here and I could easily have had my entire photo shoot just at this doorway! Again I did a mix of reflected natural light and off-camera flash here. This is a natural light shot.



One of the many variations around the front door.



Starting to run short on time at this stage and I knew I really wanted to get the feature staircase involved in some photography. Here I deliberately went for a low-key series of images, keeping it dark and rich with tightly controlled flash and carefully placed narrow shafts of natural light to enhance the dress texture.



The exact same position as the above image and also the same light placement. I chanced my position and adjusted Judith’s pose to suit.


My final staircase image at the top of the stairs. As with the front door I could happily have had my entire photo session using these stairs 🙂



Lissan House also has a fantastic back set of stairs but sadly I didn’t have time to use but instead opted to finish my last available few minutes in this back corridor. The rustic nature of this area of the house is a fantastic contrast to the more formal surroundings of the rest of the house.



A very casual look to finish 🙂


I will be returning to Lissan House at a date to be shortly confirmed for a full day of photography. If you would like to be there also then please get in touch as soon as possible as I intend to have a maximum number of 6 people, and 4 have already confirmed as coming. Please note there will be a cost involved on the day (as yet to be confirmed) but this will be kept to a minimum and is to cover expense of venue hire, professional model, hair styling and make-up for the model, a light lunch etc.


The day will involve topics such as good composition, using natural light, fill flash, off-camera flash, when to use natural light and when to use flash, being creative with one flash, seeing good picture opportunities, how to best pose the subject etc. etc etc.


**UPDATE 18/9/12** – All people now confirmed for this photography day at Lissan House. Thank you.






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