The House of Blues Cleveland is one of the city’s most iconic music venues, known for its funky decor and electrifying atmosphere. But on this summer night, the House of Blues played host to a different kind of event – a wedding.
As a photographer, I was excited to capture the festivities, but I knew I was in for a challenge. The House of Blues has dark and moody lighting, which is perfect for concerts but can be difficult to work with when it comes to photography. Luckily, I was up for the challenge.
The bride and groom had chosen the House of Blues for its unique atmosphere, and they had embraced the venue’s vibe by incorporating bold colors and funky details into their decor. The bridal party wore dusky dark pink almost red dresses and black suits, while the groomsmen donned pink ties to match. The groom rocked a deep red jacket with black satin lapels. The bouquets were a blend of colors, with pale pink blooms mixed in with greenery and splashes of deep crimson.
When I arrived at the House of Blues, I was ready to scout the best spots for photos–but HOB had other ideas. They assigned a guide to escort my second shooter and me throughout the day. Initially, I was worried–it’s difficult to be creative and spontaneous–which is crucial on a wedding day where things move fast– when you have a nanny watching your every move. But I quickly realized the guide was necessary and welcome to navigate the labyrinthine hallways and back entrances–all painted black, of course–of the space.
The House of Blues has a lot of interesting nooks and crannies, different settings, including a wall covered in vintage vinyl records, a small patio on the top floor, and a backstage wall with signatures of famous musicians scrawled from floor to ceiling. And of course, there’s the Foundation Room–a dark, cozy space with spot lighting and velvet on the walls. Overall, the venue was dark, with deep shadows and multi-colored spot lights casting a colorful glow over everything.
To shoot in this environment, I brought a second photographer and some off camera flashes that were small, powerful and portable. I also had to adjust my camera settings, using a higher ISO to capture more light and a slower shutter speed to let in more ambient light.
One of my favorite things about photographing a wedding at the House of Blues is how the staff treats you. Many wedding venues are something else to begin with (country club, hotel, etc.), and they approach weddings from their perspective. The House of Blues understands the performative aspect of a wedding, and the role the photographers play in the day. Any time I wanted to try something for a shot, the staff was ready and willing to make it happen. They were happy to move furniture, dim lights, turn up lights, ask the band for a 30 second break so I could get a shot of the bride and groom on the stage, and anything else we wanted to try. They treated my second shooter and me like fellow artists, which made it so much easier to be creative and capture all the shots I wanted in a challenging space.
Despite the technical challenges, the wedding was a blast to shoot. The band was non-stop, keeping everyone on the dance floor. The energy in the room was electric, with guests dancing and laughing throughout the night. In the end, this House of Blues Cleveland wedding was a fun and exciting event that challenged me as a photographer. But with the right equipment, a friendly supportive staff, and my favorite cameras, I was able to capture all the joy and energy of the night. Scroll down to see some favorites from Ciara and David’s House of Blues Cleveland wedding.
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