King Estate weddings

Over the last few years I’ve been lucky to shoot half a dozen weddings at King Estate. Why lucky, you may ask? Because King Estate is such an amazing place to get married!  The staff goes out of their way to cover every detail and the venue itself is nothing less than spectacular. And of course, there’s always great wine 🙂 Here are a few shots of the venue, taken at various weddings.

Most of the weddings I’ve shot at King Estate have taken place in the Pavilion area, which is actually my preferred location since it offers better views and has more open areas in which to dance and celebrate! The bridal room is an air-conditioned, airy oasis of mayhem and champagne…if only grooms knew what went on in there!

As is the case with every bride I work with, they all hope for a bright sunny day for their wedding. Some photographers prefer cloudy days or, if it’s going to be sunny, a late afternoon/early evening wedding (so the light isn’t so harsh). I say sunny days are great too! All you need is a few off-camera lights and those pesky shadows are gone…but you still get bright blue skies, green grass and, at King Estate, wonderful reflections from the pond (you didn’t know about the pond, did you? It’s cool).

This past year, in 2010, I had some really fun couples to work with at King Estate. One of the couples, Abe & Libby, are avid bicyclists and decided they wanted to utilize their bikes in the photos and in the ceremony itself. What a great idea! The roads around King Estate are filled with cyclists all summer long, and Cycle Oregon has taken that route in past years. I was prepared for some serious, aluminum-framed bicycles and had to laugh when I saw what Abe & Libby had brought instead.

I mentioned earlier about how sunny days are fun and easy to photograph. The guys sometimes get a little hot in their outfits but I always make sure to have some fun with them to take their minds off the heat:

The sun was creating some very dark shadows on everyone so I simply positioned another flash unit off to the right, triggered with a Pocket Wizard and not diffused through an umbrella (diffusion is better for indoors, when you don’t want those freakshow shadows looming behind your subjects!). This allowed me to meter for the ambient light (the sun) in the scene and let my off-camera flash (OCF) fill in the rest. My OCF was set to manual, at full power. I was using a Quantum Turbo 3 battery pack to make sure I could keep firing away as we did a few takes of this particular shot. The image below is another example of how OCF can make an image pop.

When I first started shooting weddings on my own, back in 2004, I secretly prayed for cloudy days. I didn’t know much about OCF back then, and really liked how forgiving a bright cloudy day could be. That was then, this is now. However, there are still some instances where cloudy days make the scene much more dramatic, as is the case in the image below. This was at Julie & Nate’s wedding and, just after this image was taken, the skies opened up and everyone had to dash inside.

I still used some fill flash, from the speedlight on my 5D, but it was slight (just enough to make sure the wedding party was slightly illuminated). Most King Estate weddings, in the summer at least, are clear and sunny from beginning to end. And, as I always tell each couple in my initial interview, I love to grab them for a 20 minute session right around sunset for some of those ‘magic hour’ photos. This one, of Drew and Sara below, was just such an image.

I have more King Estate weddings lined up for 2011 and am looking forward to shooting there for years to come. They’ve asked me to be one of their featured photographers on their site, so you may see some of these same images over there!

I shot another wedding at beautiful King Estate this past Saturday and had a great time doing it! Bryce and Shannon are a very cute couple and I could tell they were very much in love and ready to be married. Hanging out with Shannon and all her bridesmaids in the King Estate bridal suite, one of them suddenly blurted out “Oh my God! He’s going to put a ring on your finger! You’re going to be married; he’s going to be your husband!” Some brides might have completely freaked out at that point but not Shannon. She just smiled and said “I know.”
Like a lot of couples are wont to do these days, Bryce and Shannon opted to see each other before their ceremony so they’d be able to spend the next few hours with me, shooting away. However, they didn’t want to just casually arrive at King Estate together. At my suggestion, they decided they wanted to do a ‘First Look’ session, still allowing them to experience all that tingly anticipation that comes with seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day, in their wedding clothes, while also allowing them more time to see all their guests after the ceremony. When Bryce turned around and saw Shannon in her dress for the first time, he was blown away. She was beautiful! After letting them soak in the sight of each other for a few minutes I asked them to duck under Shannon’s veil, giving them a feeling of intimate privacy, and they had a really good time with that:)

Most of the weddings I’ve shot at King Estate have been at the Pavilion area. One of the nice things about King Estate weddings, however, is that every couple who gets married there has full access to all parts of the venue. Bryce and Shannon definitely took advantage of that. We traipsed all over the place, starting in front of the great wooden doors. I thought I’d start them off in a shady area so as not to wear them out too fast in the hot sun. Even though it was a busy Saturday, with wine tours coming and going, we had the upper garden area all to ourselves. What a view! It was the perfect time of year to walk the garden paths: everything was in bloom and there was a nice breeze to keep Shannon’s veil in motion. I’m fairly adept at getting people to loosen up in front of the camera and soon had Bryce and Shannon perfectly at ease. It also helped that I was using a long lens and some OCF (off-camera flash) so they wouldn’t feel like they were being hounded by paparazzi. Long lenses are also great for compressing distances and King Estate has some wonderful vistas to take advantage of in that manner. There’s also a wonderfully cool barrel room and Bryce wasted no time in moving the forklift out of the way for me, so I could get the perspective I wanted. Nice to have a groom who knows how to operate a forklift:)

The ceremony took place in the outer lawn of the Pavilion, under a deep blue sky. Summer had finally arrived in western Oregon!

Bryce and Shannon wanted to keep the family and wedding party shots to a minimum so they could spend more time with each other. I had no problem with that but suggested we wait until a little later in the evening to visit the pond area, and the tall grass that surrounds it. To loosen them up a little I had them play the Kissing Game, in which Bryce and Shannon took turns trying to kiss each one another’s ear while the other tried their best to resist. They got a slightly carried away and ended up in the grass…

The pond was full of frogs and soft light as we approached it, just right for a summer’s eve.

Once we got back to the Pavilion it was time for cake and dancing.