Urban Weddings - How to Create the Perfect Photo Shoot

By Felicity Newburry

As the brow-raising 18th century French writer Marquis de Sade once said, “Beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple, the ordinary.” When imagining our wedding photography, many of us picture stunning shots taken in locations such as Fiordland or Central Otago. We imagine rolling hills, crystal clear lakes, mountains, and fields of wild flowers. These are all locations that are inarguably breathtaking and would make gorgeous photos. But what if we took a leaf from Marquis de Sade’s book and turned our photographic visions to the ordinary? To the things right outside our door?


Image by Patina Photography

For as long as photographers have been snapping landscapes, others have been capturing images of city life. Alfred Stieglitz created one of the earliest instances of urban photography for its own sake in 1892. It features several dark, faceless horses pulling a carriage in front of a grand, but somewhat dour-looking building. The horses are half-swallowed in fog and snow. It’s an ethereal and whimsical photo taken of something completely ordinary. It is also a photo that speaks volumes about the time and place, more so than a landscape shot taken on the same day would have. It is for this reason that Stieglitz’s photo, ‘The Terminal’, has become a highly regarded and treasured image.

Isn’t what Stieglitz achieved the same as what we are looking for in our own wedding photography? To create images that speak volumes about us and our time and place? To forever hold a moment on photo paper that captures the image of our loved ones and is treasured for decades thereafter? In this article, we will provide some ideas and tips for those who want to turn their sights to the ordinary, in order to find the beauty in urban photography.

urban photography

Image by Tim Kelly Photography

urban photography

Image by Tim Kelly Photography

Architectural Accents

There are many things urban photography offers that landscape photography does not. One of these aspects is architecture. Some of the most eye catching wedding photographs are taken where the couple stands square with an enormous, intricate or bold architectural statement behind them. Perhaps this is a shop front, the steps to a movie theatre, or even a statue of some sort. The fantastic thing about urban photography is that it gives you the opportunity to create art out of the everyday urban locations that are special to you and your beloved.

urban photography

Image by Patina Photography

urban photography

Image by Tim Kelly Photography

Literally, Anywhere will Do

When it comes to urban photography, there is so much freedom. A common issue when trying to stage an outdoor photo-shoot within in the confines of time and possibility, is having to settle for somewhere like the botanic gardens and being forced to wait for cars or tourists to pass, or having to Photoshop out things like fences and signs. With urban photography, cars and passerby’s and fences and signs often make the photograph! Like Stieglitz showed in ‘The Terminal’, it’s the everyday people and goings on around the horse and carriage that contribute to and tell so much of the story. You may have met your beloved on a busy street, so imagine what a wonderful photo this recreated moment would make!

urban photography

Image by Mary Sylvia Photography

urban photography

Image by Tim Kelly Photography

Time of Day can Change the Feel of Your Photoshoot

Different people from different areas of life dominate the times of day in the city. For instance, at 9am on the main street, you’ll find people everywhere, rushing to work. Lunchtime is shopper’s central.  The evening is often full of people going out to dinner, dressed in their finery while the late night is for partygoers. Depending on the kind of feel you want for your image, whether busyness, classiness or sparkle, you should consider the time of your photography session carefully.

cityscape photo

Image by Patina Photography

cityscape photography

Image by Mary Sylvia Photography

Alone in the City

Imagine you and the love of your life, standing in the middle of an empty street, nothing but the stars above you and the streetlights behind you. There isn’t a soul to be seen, a sound to be heard. Now imagine your wedding shoot taken at this moment. Breathtaking, right? This is another thing urban photography can offer that landscape photography can’t – the jarring opposite of itself. Landscape photography is all about creating a huge, open and empty world around two people. It would be a rare occasion where you could take photos of a rural location chock-full of people. However, in the wee hours of the morning the city lies in sleep and silence providing you with an opportunity to capture the streets at their most vulnerable with the two of you standing right in the centre of them. There’s something other-worldly about these moments.

cityscape photography

Image by Patina Photography

urban photography

Image by Tim Kelly Photography

Looking Over the City Life

Another stream of urban photography becoming popular in wedding photography is cityscapes. These are images where the couple stand at some sort of lookout point with the line of the city behind or around them. This sort of photo can be taken at any time; however, it looks especially striking lit up at either dawn or dusk with the city streetlights and the setting or rising sun. Be inspired by the following images taken in our very own Wellington City.

Urban Photography

Image by Patina Photography

The Pertinence of Permission

If you decide to take photos in a public space, such as a park, on top of a building or in front of a shop, you will need to ask permission to do so. Because you are taking images that include other people’s assets (businesses, property etc.) it is only respectful to do so. There may be a fee to take photos on council-owned land, so be sure to budget for this. But remember, it’ll be worth the photographic outcome.

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TIM KELLY PHOTOGRAPHY

Nadine and Tim of Tim Kelly Photography make it their aim to capture the individuality and uniqueness of every wedding and every couple. They have travelled far and wide to take their breath-taking images of the hidden and natural moments between couples and loved ones on their big day.

PATINA PHOTOGRAPHY

Patina Photography is the name husband and wife, Michelle and James, go by in the wedding photography world. They approach their work as a united front, sharing the vision to create beautiful images that not only capture raw and wonderful moments, but also tell a story.

MARY SYLVIA PHOTOGRAPHY

With a genuine and deep love of romance and photography, Mary Sylvia has made an international career out of excellent wedding photography. She takes her work very seriously while maintaining a friendly and flexible relationship with the customer. Willing to go above and beyond, Mary Sylvia has created stunning wedding images that are timeless and breathtaking.

Urban photography

Image by Patina Photography



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