Barley Hall Wedding, York – Daniel and Kirsty
Barley hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse, located just off Stonegate in the centre of York. The oldest part of the hall dates from about 1360 and was built by monks as the York townhouse of Nostell Priory, which is located near Wakefield, West Yorkshire. It was extended in the 15th Century and became the home of a leading York citizen, William Snawsell, a goldsmith, alderman and Lord Mayor of York. In the 20th century it was bought and restored by the York Archeological Trust and turned into a museum. As a wedding venue it offers couples a chance to get married in a rich, ornate, medieval atmosphere, with ceremonies held within the Great Hall, with it’s high-beamed roof, hand painted ornamental hangings and decorative tiled floor.
Daniel and Kirsty had opted for a winter wedding at this historical York venue. Daniel was already there greeting guests when I arrived midday on a bright Sunday in late February, and I started by taking scene setting shots of the Hall’s exterior, as well as interior detail shots with an eye to creating elements of the wedding album’s design. Friends and family gathered upstairs amidst the intimate, candlelit atmosphere of the Palour, with its rich, red wall hangings. In this low light environment, I alternated between wide shots on one camera where I used flash, and with the second camera I used an 85mm f1.8 lens, which was a fast enough lens to allow me to shoot more close up without flash, and thus preserving the atmosphere.
When I got word that Kirsty was arriving, I hurried downstairs and got the key shots of her walking towards the Hall along the narrow alleyway of Coffee Yard, smiling and clearly full of anticipation. She was soon greeted by her proud looking and energetic father and they made their way inside to meet with the registrar. Meanwhile, Daniel and the guests had made their way downstairs into the Great Hall with its wooden tables, exposed beams and green and red wall hangings. I followed suite, getting a wide range of pre-ceremony shots. At 1pm the ceremony started with a very short processional that was some way from the leisurely approach I photograph in church weddings for instance, so I had to fire off rapid clusters of shots to be sure this key photo was not missed. I took up my customary place to the left of the registrar throughout the ceremony and from a photography standpoint, all the key moments passed without a hitch. I thought the kiss was particularly lovely, with Kirsty holding Daniel’s face in her hands and I would turn that shot into an effective, slightly softened black and white. After the signing of the register and the recessional, the guests gathered in the courtyard of the hall and offered their congratulations for the newlyweds. I staged some formal portraits and groups shots here, with the exposed beams of the hall alternating with white walls providing a graphic, contrasty backdrop. The top of the external staircase also provided me a good vantage point for the “all in” group shot.
Following on from this I decided to take Kirsty and Daniel over to the Minster, to use it as a backdrop for more formal portraiture, an idea they liked and we found ourselves accompanied a small group of guests, who would make up some additional group shots. Tracking the couple along Stonegate made for some good candid shots with all the attention they attracted en route from passers by. I then used predominantly the West side of the Minster as a backdrop, particularly the West Door, both in close proximity to the couple and as a more distant background element, occasionally using fill flash to give the couple more definition.
After this we returned to the venue, where the now empty Great Hall had been arranged in readiness for the wedding breakfast and which I used for more formal portraiture of the couple as well as shots of a posed cake cutting. Without any, what would have been, premature cutting of the cake. The guests started to fill the Hall soon after for what would be, in this setting, a wedding breakfast resembling a medieval banquet. I took the necessary scene setting and detail shots, after which I thanked the bride and groom and wished them both well, before taking my leave
20th July 2018