One thing to remember with a wedding around Christmas is that there really isn’t a lot of natural light to play with. Come 4pm and it becomes quite a battle to eek anything out of the fast-setting sun that might light a photograph, even more so if there’s a cloudy sky blocking that sun in the first place. And even if there is light, there’s a fair chance it’ll be cold, wet, windy or, on those unlucky days, all three. As I drove from Ballinora to Fota Island Resort for the second part of Clare and Danny’s big day, it wasn’t immediately clear how the weather was going to behave or misbehave – it was one of those afternoons best described as “changeable”. As it happened, there was a short dry window in which we could have perhaps walked past the lake by the golf club house for a quick bridal party “walk and talk” type shot, but it was a window we missed. Instead we took refuge in the club house itself – quieter than the main hotel which was fast filling with 200+ guests, and drier and warmer than outside.

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My first wedding of 2014 was a cracker – even if it was freezing cold outside, and quite a bit wetter than anyone really wanted.  It goes to show that, as I’ve said before, the weather makes no difference at all to how enjoyable a wedding day is or, even, to the photographs that can be taken. Sure you might need to do photos indoors rather than outdoors, but weddings are first and foremost about the people and what happens on the day – the location is secondary – and wedding photography should reflect that. So I never mind too much about the weather – even if I could slowly feel frost bite kicking in as we gathered outside the golf club at Fota Island Resort on this particular Friday in a futile (as it turned out) attempt to beat the rain and defy the cold with a short stroll around the grounds. But that was all much later – the day started in the suburbs of Cork city, not too far from where I grew up. It was a house dominated by women as the bride (Clare) and her gaggle of bridesmaids (that’s the official collective term, by the way!) Aisling, Ann, and the two Deirdres, were pampered by hair and makeup artists.  The photo above shows the results of that pampering!

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2013 was a quiet year on the blog, partly because it was a busy year and partly because it was the year in which I started a photography Facebook page (a year and a week ago, to be exact). What do you mean you haven’t “liked” me on Facebook? A year on, having neglected the blog and pushed most of my new content onto Facebook I think it’s time to balance things out for this year, and make some amends for the lack of content last year.

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The photo above is probably my favourite posed wedding photo of the year, and close to being my favourite lit photo that I’ve taken.  I captured it last Saturday at Maryborough Hotel and Spa in Cork, towards the end of Martina and Eric’s lovely wedding. I had previsualized it long before I took it, and, unlikely and all as it seems, it turned out pretty much as I had hoped.  In my previsualization, having not yet met the bride or groom, I didn’t know how they would look in the photo, nor indeed if they would be willing to oblige me with one last posed shot before their first dance.  In fact I first previsualized this shot a few weeks after taking a similar photo in the same setting over two years ago. That photo was one I was happy with, and more importantly one the bride and groom that day were happy with, but I felt I could light it better.  On Saturday I got my chance with a willing couple, a dry evening and just the right amount of lights switched on in Maryborough House, and two years on I think it was worth the wait.  How I did it, briefly, is below.

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The blog has been a little neglected (ok very neglected) for a few months now, but it’s not due to a lack of photographs being taken – very much the opposite in fact. Partly to blame is the Facebook page which I started at the start of the year, and which gets a bit more of my time than the blog does these days; partly to blame is simply that the last few months have been very busy – that’s a good complaint! Anyway, I think it’s time to re-focus efforts here again and I’m starting with the two photos above which tell the story of one of the more memorable moments from a lovely wedding I photographed at Hodson Bay Hotel last Saturday – a moment that Ciara and Anthony, the lovely bride and groom, may well recall 50 years from now.

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I photographed a really really lovely wedding last Saturday – I’ve known the groom Denis for years, and so knew a lot of guests at the wedding too. That’s always good. The setting was The Rectory, a boutique country house in beautiful Glandore, West Cork, with a gorgeous view of the bay and a garden which wraps around the front of the house to take full advantage of it. It was my first time there, but I hope not my last. The weather played a few games on us, but generally was quite cooperative – the games were it bluffing us with winds and clouds that made me worry that we wouldn’t get much garden time at all, but in the end most of the day for guests and bridal party alike was spent outside. Because I knew the couple and lots of the guests, I stayed through until the evening, and while the band were setting up (and after the sun had set) I noticed a beautiful pink sky to the east (in front of the venue) as the sun set to the west. I asked Denis and Lisa if they would like one last photo in the gardens and they were happy to give me a couple of minutes of their time so I quickly grabbed a flash, trigger and softbox and out we went. I just needed something to hold the softbox – or rather, someone.

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It’s a while since I’ve posted to the blog – it’s been a busy few months, and having started a Facebook page in January I’ve found that an easier platform to which to post fresh content, though as the wedding season gets busier so too will the blog. Anyway, if it’s been a while since you visited, you may spot a small but significant change at the top of the page: namely the IPPA logo and the words “Member of the Irish Professional Photographers Association”. Joining the IPPA has been a long-held aim of mine, and it involves more than just signing a form and sending in a cheque. Members have to meet criteria regarding things like insurance and tax compliance – two things that I’ve believed important since I started earning money from photography – but it’s not just all red tape and bureaucracy either. A key condition of entry is that you submit a panel of 20 images to be judged by senior and distinguished members of the association, and only if they deem your work to be of a sufficient standard are you accepted.  And with acceptance comes the first level of distinction that the IPPA awards – the licentiateship. And so, as of a couple of weeks ago, I am now Rónan Palliser, LIPPA. I didn’t join for the letters, though, nor for the glory. My motivation was more photography-related, which, I think, is appropriate given it is a photography association. A little on that, plus a closer look at the 20 images making up the panel, below.

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UPDATE: The course is now fully booked.

I’m pleased to be able to announce the next date for my one-day workshop on flash photography. I’ll be running in at the RUA RED South Dublin Arts Centre in Tallaght, Dublin on Saturday 27th April, 2013. RUA RED is a great location for lots of reasons, not least because of how accessible it is by public transport with a good bus service and the Luas (red line) stopping literally outside the door. There is free all-day parking available nearby too, and the venue has a cafe which means that I can include lunch for all participants on the day in the cost.

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Lisa and Daniel’s wedding reception was being held in the Claregalway Hotel in that town just north of Galway city which is well known for, amongst other things of course, being a bit of a traffic black spot. The hotel has no grounds other than a fairly extensive car park, and so there was half a plan to stop off en route from the church in Belclare at Claregalway Abbey, an old ruin which sits alongside the hotel and is popular with couples having wedding receptions at the hotel as a location for photographs. It being half a plan, myself and Lisa discussed it on the morning when I reached her house and it turned out that she didn’t have much of an inclination to stop there, and neither did I.  Her motivation was really just to get the hotel asap, which is understandable. Mine was, having visited the abbey that morning and observed that there was a lot of graveyard to be walked through before getting anywhere photogenic, that it wasn’t ideally suited to the task. Furthermore, with light that wasn’t what you’d call stunning and a sky that was drab, what photos it did offer up might well have proven to be a bit, well, bland. So we ditched the idea before anyone was even dressed that morning and planned instead to head straight for the hotel and do all the bridal party photography indoors.  Logistically that made things easy. In terms of light, I would be entirely in control. But in terms of locations, I was at the mercy of what the hotel had to offer. Thankfully, the hotel came up trumps, and we were quickly and easily able to dispense with the formals, getting some unusual perspectives along the way, and Lisa and Daniel got to mingle with their guests. Win win! Here’s just a sample of what the hotel had to offer photographically speaking.

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Caoimhe, above, aged 18 months, will be walking up the aisle for her Mummy and Daddy’s wedding in May and when I called out to chat to them about their wedding at the weekend I brought along my camera, a softbox and a 4 foot roll of black paper to capture a few photos of her. It’s not necessarily easy to photograph children at this age, so I thought I’d post a little bit about the process of lighting and taking images such as these.

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