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This is a feature christening / baptism gallery illustrating just half a dozen ceremonies from the very many he has shot. If you are planning an event in the area do take a look at the Photo Galleries. This gallery illustrates just one of many for you to browse e.g. christenings at the Brompton Oratory Knightsbridge London.
St Sophia's Cathedral is a popular and very busy venue for weddings as well as christenings, and often as one event comes to an end guests arrive for the next. Professional photographers and videographers should bear this in mind as the time available for setting up and breaking down equipment can be extremely limited. The venue is closed and locked when not in use.
Peter has worked at the Cathedral lots of times and has often shot photos and video simultaneously during the ceremonies - it is much more straightforward than you might guess, and Peter can describe the details for you.
The staff and clergy at St Sophia's are helpful and mindful of the needs of photographers and videographers, and there are no onerous restrictions on shooting ceremonies other than not to cause any distractions - of course! The priest is extremely accommodating with the one exception that he does not accept a wireless radio microphone for video use. Therefore it is recommended that the child's father and one male godparent each wear one of these small discreet "lavalier" microphones on their lapel or tie. Why? In order that the audio quality is much better. Why two? Because if one wearer is holding the child then at some point it is likely to cause nasty interference picked up by the microphone. Do allow a videographer about five minutes to set up this kit.
The Cathedral, sometimes known as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) has very low ambient light in the interior. Furthermore on sunny days very bright light falls from the roof onto the reflective tiled floor directly where ceremonies are located. Therefore Peter recommends that professional photographers and videographers with the appropriate specialist equipment are utilised. Friends and hobbyists are very unlikely to achieve acceptable results.
Also videographers be aware that although the staff are very relaxed, some are not what professionals call "camera-aware." So sometimes you will need to move quickly to avoid blocked viewpoints.
Parking in the immediate area can be quite a challenge - no surprises there as it is after all in a prime west London location only a short walk from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. But there is some on-street parking in some of the adjacent side roads not reserved exclusively for residents. Some is for short duration only and some is chargeable at certain times, with payments via smartphone.
Baptism ceremonies are fairly similar but not identical. Godparents and guests unfamiliar with Greek Orthodox ceremonies may like to browse the photos on this page to familiarise themselves. For example the locations of the parents and godparents in relation to the priest varies and at one point this group will be positioned facing directly towards the seated guests - so watch out if you're wishing to shoot photos. Also there may be one or more changes of baby clothes, a choir from the balcony, and readings by a member of staff from the front near the altar.
Once the ceremony is over its a good opportunity to shoot some group photos and portraits. Sometimes this can be done inside the Cathedral but not if another ceremony is due to take place or if its the last of the day and the staff wish to lock up. Fortunately there is a photogenic shaded terrace with mature trees adjacent to the outside of the Cathedral and this is a good photo location.
Some parents like to have some photo / video coverage of a party or restaurant meal afterwards. Occasionally some parents also like to have some coverage in the "getting ready" phase at their nearby home.
The first photo below shows the exterior of St Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Bayswater London as seen from Moscow Road:
And the interior in all its splendour!
The ceiling is absolutely beautiful as is the rest of the interior:
Photographers and videographers be aware that the start of the baptism is not announced - unlike weddings - so do keep a close eye on the arrival of the priest into the central area!
If time allows its nice to shoot some group photos inside the Cathedral:
The private terrace right outside St Sophia's Cathedral in Bayswater London is a great location for some group photos and portraits:
All content on this site is the copyright of Peter Riding of Ashton Lamont. Do not steal. I have a very particular set of skills I have acquired over a long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. Do not steal now, and that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you do steal, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. (With appreciation to Bryan in "Taken").