This past weekend we shot our first wedding in the atrium of the Westin in Southfield. It’s a very unique venue as it’s an indoor garden with lots of foliage, walking paths and running water that form little streams and ponds. One wall of the atrium is a gigantic wall of windows which provides lots of natural light but yet it’s tinted so it’s not blinding when the sun comes through.
We’ve done some work for the Skyline Club which is on the top floor of the same building so we’ve been through the atrium quite a few times but we have never actually shot there before this weekend.
It was a very interesting experience and definitely had a few pros and cons worth talking about for anyone considering getting married there.
From a photography perspective, one of my favorite parts about the location is there are many different levels which all provide a unique vantage points to photograph the wedding ceremony and reception. There are some large rocks to stand on, stairs, a glass elevator, the second floor walkway, etc. etc. We were able to capture the event from many angles.
When it’s time for photos with the bride and groom, there are lots of great areas in and around the atrium. In the atrium, we found lots of fun walls and great colors which provided nice backdrops for some unique wedding photography.
Right nearby is the Southfield library along with some other city buildings that have a nice courtyard and landscaping including some great walls, benches, tables, steps, flowers, etc. etc. We like to take the bride and groom offsite where we can get more relaxed and fun wedding photos without all the guests around.
We really enjoyed photographing a wedding at the Westin Southfield Atrium because of the uniqueness of the location. It’s completely different than any other place we’ve ever worked before.
However, there are a few cons as well. From a photography perspective, it’s really nice to have the big windows and lots of light…BUT…the windows are tinted with a slight greenish cast so the light that comes through is very green which can make the skin tones very unpleasing. Most of the artificial lighting that lights the atrium is fluorescent which also gives a bit of a greenish cast that is different from the green tinted windows. Things like that can typically be corrected in post-processing, but I had a very difficult time removing the color cast completely without causing other color problems.
I loved the open feeling and the amount of space there was, but that also had it’s drawbacks. Since there was a REALLY high ceiling there was no surface to bounce our flashes off of which is how we like to shoot. Bounced light is always softer and more pleasing than direct flash. That leaves a couple options. Either you are forced to shoot with direct flash, or you have to use some type of off camera flash setup. We did a combination of both. The space is so large that you would probably need 15-20 different flashes to have the whole area covered which would be a total nightmare so we used a strategically placed light along with using a combination of direct flash and the occasional bounced flash when there was a surface to bounce from.
The other issue with the openness and space is that the bathrooms were up on the second floors which weren’t super convenient for guests to get to.
There are some walking paths that weave in and around the garden areas but there aren’t really any direct paths that get from one place to another. If you’re going to have your wedding here, we would suggest having two DJ’s, one to work the equipment and another to roam around the room. Any DJ that comes by himself will be doing a lot of running!
The only other thing that was a little strange at the wedding we did there is that while we were out doing photos with the bride and groom, the food was served before we came back. We got the bride and groom back about 5 minutes before their scheduled time to be back. I guess someone had a different itinerary and everyone went off that one. I still felt it was odd that the staff didn’t make an effort to get a hold of the bride and groom before serving the food.
To learn more about our wedding photography services, please see our wedding website at www.ArisingWeddings.com