Chris & Jemma | Ngala Lodge, Kruger National Park | Johannesburg Wedding Photographer | Ben Viljoen

Chris & Jemma | Ngala Lodge, Kruger National Park

This was definitely one of our favourite weddings of the year so far, even though it took some serious work to make it in time for the wedding. We covered a 9 hour wedding in Pretoria the previous evening, so we arrived at my parent’s home at midnight (they stay closer to the airport), started to backup the day’s wedding, got in bed probably around 02:00, and then had to be up at 05:30 again to be at the airport on time to make the flight to Nelspruit. From Nelspruit it was another three/four hour drive to Ngala Safari Lodge, which is situated in part of the greater Kruger National Park area, and reasonably close to the Orpen gate. My main worry was not fatique though, but my feet. I have excruciating pain in my heels after every wedding I shoot, so much so that I find it nearly impossible to walk the next day, but it all went great. I seriously think the fact that the wedding was so unique and in such a great location, that all thoughts of pain simply melted away. The ranger even told me that a herd of elephants moved through that area almost every day at the same time that the wedding would take place. That would have been amazing, and just the idea that it might happen was enough to get me excited for the rest of the day. They have had lion kills on the lawn in front of the reception hall before. Earlier in the day while Jemma was getting ready, a troop of baboons came to drink from the swimming pool, and warthogs hung around the lawn all day. The memory of it all seems so unreal now that I sit here in my little office corner in Joburg…but it happened, I promise 🙂

warthogs on the lawn

Bride in her room at Ngala Lodge

bride fixing her make up Ngala

Groom at Ngala Lodge

groomsmen at Ngala lodge &beyond

Chris is a big guy, and I just love how this photo brings that out

guests and family at Ngala lodge wedding

pink wedding shoes south africa

Bride before safari wedding south africa

safari wedding ngala lodge &beyond

Guests at African safari wedding

bride on safari vehicle south africa ngala

safari wedding ceremony ngala

Safari wedding ceremony Ngala Lodge

This was one of those weddings where it was fairly easy to be intimidated, as everyone seemed to have more expensive equipment than the hired photographer did. Notice the picture above where Jemma walks down the “aisle”, I counted five cameras in that one scene, and we are not talking point and shoot, or even 350D with a kit lens (notice the guy in front of the tree, with his white 100-400L lens on a freaking monopod!) Photographers…we have our work cut out for us :-).

Anyway, that’s all tongue in the cheek. These guests were all a pleasure to have around and none of them ever got in the way or started to demand or suggest things as people often do at weddings when they have a camera that’s anything larger than a cigarette box in their hand. They also called me “the photojournalist”, which made me smile.

bushveld wedding lead tree

Ngala Lodge &Beyond wedding

bride in game reserve South Africa

bride and groom in game reserve South Africa

after sunset portraits

bride groom and grashopper on safari

That’s a little grasshopper on her dress eying out their champagne…so sweet

safari wedding reception guests

This wedding was not without it’s challenges. The reception was the darkest I have ever had to shoot in, and Chris warned me beforehand. It was held outside, with nothing at all but candles and lanterns to light the area. It was so dark that headlamps were brought out for the speeches. I was determined not to spoil the ambiance with a flash light (nothing to bounce the flash off of anyway), so a very high ISO it was and shooting at my very limit with regards to camera settings (often shooting handheld  at ISO 6400, f/1.4, 1/20th).  There are obviously fewer keepers with this style of shooting, and there are limitations to what you can do with the file afterwards, but personally I think the advantage of getting an honest and real feel of the evening far outweighs the disadvantages.

Ngala Lodge kitchen

I absolutely love peeking into the kitchen and seeing what goes on in there. Here we have some serious kick-ass fillet in the pan. Those lamb chops in the background were even better!

Safari wedding legal issues

outdoor wedding low light photography

outdoor wedding low light

low light reception photos

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