August 19, 2021 | Features

Behind The Image — Elaine Barker, First Place in IPPVA Classic Wedding Photographer of The Year 2021

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The IPPVA sat down with wedding photographer, Elaine Barker, to talk to her about her Silver Award-winning image from the IPPVA’s 2021 Awards, Classic Wedding category — Elaine came first in this sub-catagory for wedding photographers.

We ask her about how the shot happened, how she processed it, and how she felt after capturing this wonderful image.

award-winning image of a bride to be eating some cake inside a kitchen while talking to older relatives who are sticking thier heads through a window from outside
Elaine Barker — Silver Award, Classic Wedding

This is just the perfect wedding documentary image. We’d love to hear about your challenges and what went through your head when you saw the moment unfolding?

Catherine got ready in her family home in Kilkenny for her summer wedding. I was trying to get a bit of craic out of the boy on the stairs, once you see a tiny suit on a tiny man you know he’s important to the family.

small boy wearing a shirt and dickie bow, sitting on a wooden stair case in a house
Elaine Barker — Wedding Photographer

I swiftly gave up on him when I heard a kerfuffle in the kitchen and saw that the neighbours were all peering in the window for a gawk at Catherine. I ran in and half lined myself up to where you’ll see in shot two. The next shot, a second later, won me an award. I took two frames that second and the first was the winner. I had a little laugh to myself but that was it, we have to leave the house for the church. Sin é. 

bride eating cake in a kitchen. Other people are at the edges of the fram
Elaine Barker — First shot after recomposing, and Elaine’s pick of the bunch.

How did you feel right after taking this image? Did you know instantly it was “award-winning”?

There wasn’t a lot of time to think at all, I had to bend over the counter to try to get the neighbours looking in and have Catherine in the frame too. Luckily my handy 16-35mm allowed me to get the right focal length quickly and she just happened to put the spoon in at the exact right time. It’s just a lucky shot. I never thought it was award-winning. There was no time to even look at it, really, during wedding day morning madness. I just knew I liked it.

The image is two years old now and I only found it when doing her album. There’s so much we’ve forgotten that we’ve photographed, especially when we’re just constantly editing and delivering in peak season. It’s good practice to go back and look at everything, especially now when we’ve got the time. Who knows what treasures we all have buried.

Bride eating cake with the fork in her closed mouth
Elaine Barker — Second shot, which doesn’t have the same impact as the chosen image.

Technical Information and Post-Processing

It was taken on a Canon 5D Mark IV, with a 16-35mm lens at 23mm, f/2.8, and auto ISO 320. My one and only zoom lens, that’s great for documentary photography. The shot right before it — a second earlier — was at 28mm, so I changed focal length in a second to 23mm and got that shot. So, the whole thing was two seconds.

elderly people looking in through a window at a bride
Elaine Barker — Initial shot at 28mm, before recomposing.

In post-production, I just used Lightroom. I cropped out the mother, the table, and the videographer’s hand; and used the DVLOP preset Jeff Newsom pack, with a few tweaks to contrast and the tone curve, and Bob’s your uncle. Am I a hero? I don’t think so haha 

bride eating cake in kitchen. Unedited version of the image
Elaine Barker — the raw file.
example of image being cropped and edited in Lightroom
Elaine Barker — Cropping and colour preset applied.

From your point of view, what are the key elements that make this image successful? Is there anything that you would change in the image if you were shooting it again?

I think what makes this image successful to me is that it’s such a truthful display of an Irish wedding morning. I can’t believe it’s even in focus. I do wish the first lady was looking at Catherine though — she’s talking to her mother behind her who I cropped out!


Find out more about Elaine Barker

Hi!! I'm a Dublin based wedding photographer servicing the Leinster region documenting all the joy, love and style of your day. I'm a ridiculously sentimental person that believes in the power of capturing your family and friends on the happies...

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