A day to forever be remembered, Tom Blachford and Kate Ballis are the couple turned team behind the camera during a newlyweds most memorable day. From pre-wedding nerves to the “I do’s”, they strive to capture candid moments throughout the day, telling the story as it unfolds. “We always want to capture moments, not create them.”
Branding themselves under the name ‘Raspberry Robot',Tom and Kate work together to encapsulate all the energy and excitement around them on these couples’ big days, no easy task with so much buzz in the air.
“We like to think of our clients not as the couple but as their future grandchildren. We want them to look at the photos in 50+ years and think WOW. Weddings are one of the only times in people’s lives that all the crazy people they love are in the same place together, hilarious and special moments stem from those interactions.”
One of the most crucial moments is capturing the bride and groom, with every couple it is a different game of what works and what doesn’t, but it all comes down to the capturing newlyweds in their element, enjoying one another’s company. “We also want to be their eyes in all the places they can’t be for the day. They are so busy tending to everyone that they are missing so many beautiful moments, we try to capture those too.”
A couple embrace just before their ceremony - Nikon D750, f4.5 1/320 second, ISO 140, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II at 200mm
The couple plays with their bulldog in a portrait session - Nikon D750, f4, 1/200 second, ISO 280, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II at 100mm
Two grandparents embrace as the couple say their vows - Nikon Df, f4, 1/400Second, ISO 400, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR at 70mm
The Raspberry Robot team also makes a point of keeping any ‘directing’ to anything less than 30 minutes per day. Kate and Tom have a series of games to help facilitate the couple or bridal parties in these situations, allowing any reactions to remain genuine.
“We never just send them over and say pose there, move your arm a little etc. We shoot for the frames between frames, the moment where they laugh at themselves and let go of their inhibitions. ”
As a couple themselves, Kate and Tom have perfected their work dynamic, they scout locations together and shoot as a team, with one person usually orchestrating in some way whilst the other is off to the side capturing candid frames. “For us the two person team has been crucial to our style and philosophy.”
They both shoot using two bodies each, Kate uses two D810 whilst Tom has two D750. For the wedding prep portion of the day they stick to prime lenses, and as the action heats up they switch to the zoom lenses. They aim to stay away from wide angles shots, so you won’t find anything wider than a 24mm in their kit.
An orange flash gel is a must for all their evening flash work; this is to balance out any tungsten light. Such a tiny piece of gear makes a big difference for them.
“When it comes to lenses, I think the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II is our favourite. In a day and age where everyone has a phone camera in their pocket there is just no way that the 24mm lens built into smart phones can replicate the compression and background separation you get at 200mm. The NIKKOR lens still gives that “WOW” factor that people love.”
The bride and groom stand side by side during a couples portrait session - Nikon D810, f3.2, 1/800 second, ISO 800, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II at 70mm
A father welcomes his new daughter in law to the family with a hug - Nikon D810, f3.5, 1/500 second, ISO 800, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR at 27mm
The couple dance through the eating hall at Geelong Grammar boarding school - Nikon D810, f3.2, 1/160 second, ISO 800, AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G at 35mm
A newly married couple are announced to their guests - Nikon D750, f4, 1/100 second, ISO 500, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR at 24mm
In a single day their skills and quick problem-solving abilities are put to the test. They switch between being a family, fashion, event, still life, product and portrait photographer in a matter of minutes. “Our priorities are always in this order and are non-negotiable. Light first, backgrounds second, subjects third. We find great light first, look for clean, interesting, beautiful or non-distracting backgrounds and then set our subjects up to play some games. We would never shoot a couple in front of an amazing view if it meant there would be shadows on their face or cars in the background.”
Being able to bear witness to so many of these joyful unions, one day has stuck with them throughout their time as wedding photographers. “It was a couple of years ago in the middle of summer. There had been a long heatwave and bushfires had been burning for many days in the area. Everyone was hoping for a cool change and for some relief. As the couple were saying their vows it started to rain, but instead of everyone running for cover, a wash of relief came over the crowd. Everyone was so happy to see the rain and felt thankful for it.”
The beginnings of Tom Blachford and Kate Ballis’s wedding photography careers were pretty organic. they found themselves at the age where their friends were starting to get married and many weren’t satisfied with their options. For many of their friends it was most important for them to work with people they liked and trusted, so their company, Raspberry Robot, was simply born out of helping friends and friends of friends. As it spreads to wider circles the duo behind Raspberry Robot always tries to get to know the to-be-wed couples and have them get to know them so they would have a basis of enjoyment and trust during their times together.