I've photographed the wedding so many times at the Old Town Hall that I can't even count it. I really like this place for photographing wedding ceremonies, because the direction and color of the light are flattering in the ceremony hall. On the other hand, I realize that photographing a wedding there can be quite difficult even for a more advanced photographer, because a lot of exposure-complex situations must be solved there: shooting in backlight, side lighting, shooting with flash, etc. Some difficult situations can be avoided, but it means losing opportunities of interesting wedding photos.
Place name Old Town Hall (in czech: Staroměstská radnice) Address Old Town Square 1, 110 00 Prague 1 – Old Town Official website Official information about marriage Parking in front of Old Town Hall (only for wedding guests) Capacity 18 persons for sitting, 100 persons for staying Wedding Photographer Wedding Photographer Petr Dolezal
Wedding Photography at the Old Town Hall
The way where wedding guests go to the ceremonial hall is different than the way out. In other words: if you don’t take pictures of some rooms before beginning of a ceremony, you won’t take a picture of them after the ceremony neither, because then you won’t get back. I write about it because the waiting room above the stairs is probably the best way to take pictures of smaller groups of wedding guests indoors. There is plenty of light and space.
The tapestry on the wall is especially popular in that “waiting” room. If you take pictures of more people in front of it, watch out for the strong side light from the window on the left. As we photographers know, the intensity of light quickly decreases with the square of the distance. Therefore, it can easily happen that the person closest to the window is overexposed and the person to your right, furthest from the window, will be dark, underexposed.
Another “nice” thing is the mirror and the flower between the two windows. There you have to take pictures in the backlight towards the windows and prepare for the need of a strong exposure correction to the plus, or ideally use the flash (reflected from the wall).
When you get to the room where the groom, bride, best man and bridesmaid hand over their ID cards and sign the documents, notice that the top of table mirrors them. Glass table top in ceremony hall similarly as well.
Wedding Ceremony in the Old Town Hall
The cream color of the walls gives people’s skin a pleasant flattering tone.
Do not photograph the arrival of the wedding guests directly under the stairs, everyone is looking at the ground there, because they are careful not to fall down the stairs. If you take a picture of them few seconds later, it will be against the windows in the back of the room, pay attention to the correct exposure (backlight again). I know from experience that for coming people at the very back, I have to relatively extremely correct the automatic exposure by 2.5 EV. While people come closer to me, I have to reduce the exposure correction. In the end, the couple stands relatively close to the window, but at the back are the wedding guests in a much lower light intensity. I know that a lot of photographers fail in this situation again, because they use the exposure according to the average light in the whole area of the image. The result is too bright bride and groom, the bride’s white dress disappears in one large white spot without visible details of the wedding dress. You will find many such photos with bad exposure on the internet. If the main object of the photo is the bride and groom, they should be exposed correctly, even if it means underexposing the background with the wedding guests. After all, you can photograph wedding guests separately in another photo, where they will be exposed correctly.
After all the wedding guests enter the hall, I have usually a short while to take a picture of bride and groom before the ceremony begins. It is a very kind gesture (which I rarely meet as a wedding photographer), so it is fine to use that opportunity.
After the wedding ceremony, there is usually a short time to take pictures of the wedding guests in the wedding room. You can pose people with their back to the window, but again, be very careful about the backlight, I recommend using the flash. Or place wedding guests with their back towards the metal pipes of the organ, with their faces towards the main light source, which is technically easier.
(Wedding in the Old Town Hall)
Every wedding I try to take some new photos, but this thing with window I take every time.
Why to change something that works well.
After the ceremony people go down the stairs. You can meet tourists on the staircase. If you want to take pictures there, it’s a good idea to have an assistant on hand who will stop tourists for a while. But why take pictures only from below, when you can also take pictures from the top of the stairs? The newlyweds are then beautifully framed and you will again receive an artistically interesting photograph. True, the bride and groom can only be seen on it as tiny figures, but they also get a lot of close-up portraits from me. I just don’t publish close-up portraits here, because that’s not what this article is about. I just want to say: don’t forget to take close-up portraits.
In front of the last door, a dark vestibule with a painted Gothic ceiling and walls awaits you. The author of the paintings is Mikoláš Aleš (themes of Libuša’s prophecy and Tribute to the Slavdom to the city of Prague). The light enters the lobby only through narrow windows from above, you can use this light for interesting dramatic lighting in the photos.
This type of space may seem quite ordinary to some people, but it is good to realize that famous personalities of history walked there: in the Old Town Hall we are in places where famous history is indelibly written. Let us approach this fact with awareness and humility.
By the way, the bride’s light dress stands out here against the dark door in the background, and the door portal also framed the dominant element of the image, which of course is the bride.
Here, for a change, I used flash to add the necessary light intensity for the newlywed couple and for the painting.
Your good eyes must have noticed that I blackened faces on the wall, well, you know, it’s only for a fun :-))
After the exit of the bride and groom from the building, expect that hundreds of tourists will applaud you in front of the Old Town Hall, especially if the whole hour is approaching – because of the popular Astronomical Clock. I recommend taking pictures of the people groups right in front of the town hall (if you missed it in the ceremonial hall), because the Old Town Square is usually overcrowded (when covid-19 is not spread). The area in front of the Astronomical Clock and the Old Town Tower are also usually overcrowded, so if the devil tells you to take pictures at the top of the tower, don’t listen to him, rather send him to the hell :-)
But it is quite complicated due to the number of tourists.
Therefore, I do not recommend it personally.
Wedding in Old Town Hall Reviews
Have you ever been to a wedding at Prague’s Old Town Hall? Let me know how you liked it there and if you have any ideas for wedding photos in the area, write a comment