Sopley Mill Wedding Photography : Nicola & Simon

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One might say that I’ve been photographing Nicola & Simon since 2010, albeit with an interval of some years between encounters. Back in that year I was commissioned by Nicola’s sister, Julia, to photograph a multi-generational birthday party starring three members of Nicola’s family and an effusive supporting cast, sixteen people in total plus one family dog so by a whisker slightly smaller in population than even the smallest wedding I’ve photographed thus far. It wasn’t a wedding then, of course, but I went about my work in exactly the same manner since I photograph weddings as though they are family gatherings, just more often than not particularly big ones. What had struck me most about that occasion (other than the fact that it was laden with exuberance and provided me with constant opportunity to make photographs of people at the height of happiness, because it was full of people at the height of happiness; it’s a simple equation :~)… what had struck me most about the occasion was the potency with which the positive strength of family manifested itself amongst this group and in addition to that, how they all might equally have just been the very best of friends.

So come the time for me to photograph Nicola & Simon’s wedding, whereas normally I would only know the couple at the centre of events before actually arriving for the event itself, I was very much looking forward to experiencing the interplay of this family once more and indeed it made for an enriching celebration to participate in all over again by virtue of that family dynamic. Unsurprisingly, the broader array of guests in attendance added to the tone of the day in a similar vein, a host of animated and happy folk that were a pleasure to spend time amongst. Come December of this year I’ll be photographing the wedding of Nicola’s sister, Julia, too so I’ll look forward to more of the same then.

I particularly enjoyed getting to know Nicola & Simon all the more through their wedding day, an erudite and warm hearted couple that took great care of all that joined them in celebrating their marriage. Their natural efforts in this respect were repaid in full by those that joined them on this day; a couple clearly respected, loved and valued by their friends and families. They married at Christchurch Priory in Dorset, a place that Nicola enjoyed childhood connections with, and celebrated at Sopley Mill just across the county border into Hampshire. This is the story of Nicola & Simon’s wedding day… View full post »

Somerset Wedding Photography : Ashley & Jack

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Once upon a time, aged three and a half years old, my daughter came shuffling into the living room dragging my camera tripod behind her. She placed it in the middle of the floor then declared, emphatically and without pause for breath, “When I grow up Daddy I want to learn how to use a camera and a computer and go to weddings and take photographs and get paid with sweets and cakes and sticks of rock like you do!” I was bowled over and amused no end by what she had said, and the inherent notion as to how I derived my income. On occasion, clients that had sweet counters at their weddings had told me to take a bag home for my daughter, ones that had cupcakes in place of traditional wedding cakes offered some for me to take home for her likewise – a memory springs vividly to mind of one of the very last photographs I took at Emily & Eammon’s wedding; Emily proffering a cupcake in each hand, one for me, one for my daughter whom she’d met just the day before. It was at Gabby & Gareth’s wedding that sticks of rock had been used as place names at the wedding breakfast, each bearing the name of a guest on its label. Two days prior to her declaration, my daughter had been eyeing with clear intent my Mister Phill stick of rock; she’d asked precise questions about how it had come into my possession (and what I intended to do with it). It amazed me to think how the concept of choosing a career path had formulated in her mind over that two day period; the theatre she had brought to bear in announcing her decision an additional delight.

Within a year she had graduated from nursery and moved on to school, a new world of experience, new ways of thinking. One day, I asked her if she still wanted to photograph weddings. Her response came, “No Daddy, only boys can be good at photography.”

Time pauses a moment.

Picture my face.

Had she sprung upon this notion herself (not just in relation to photography but the broader notion that gender should make for a barrier to a path in life)? Did it come from the boys on the playground? Was it broader group-think at work? I whipped open the laptop, loaded a Web browser and started showing her the work of female photographers, female wedding photographers whose ethos and imagery I have admired enormously since embarking on a journey in the field myself; outside of the world of wedding photography female photographers that have earned historical stature in working the medium, that have inspired me, my practice, through all that they created. This had been the first shot in a battle – I’m aware of the age old and ongoing war this battle was born of, but this battle had broken out as close to home as it could possibly get – but thankfully one that settled down quickly, for the time being, on the home front as she absorbed what I had shown her, accepted fully that it wasn’t just a discipline for boys and (I hope) subsequently paid heed to my assertions that there’s nothing that a girl might not rightfully choose to do in life that a boy might choose to do freely. She recently turned ten years old and I can’t recall a single repeat of that response that had stopped me in my tracks all those years back but I remain armed and vigilant and I have a duty to prepare her for the shots she’ll no doubt have fired across her bow by the ill of logic of others in years to come.

So what does this all have to do with Ashley & Jack’s wedding? :~)

Ashley delivered the opening speech on her and Jack’s wedding day and stated that doing so, delivering a speech, was her way of making a contribution to bringing down the patriarchy. Her opening words made for a well received quip with serious intent, born of a feminist perspective, but no intention of some form of blood-letting (I’ve frequently encountered a distorted picture of what feminism is, a form of misunderstanding often fuelled at one end by sections of a patriarchal media with a vested interest in keeping people thinking back to front about, well, pretty much everything and finding significant ready tinder amongst post-pubescent boys suffering from an incomplete sense of self). Her speech was brilliant – she celebrated her new husband, celebrated the most important men in her life, the most important women in her life – and was followed by a suite of speeches, all brilliant in turn, that happened to be delivered by men but the tone set was that this was no traditional case of men talking whilst women listened.

Women delivered speeches at just over half (by a margin of one) of the weddings that I photographed during 2015 and I’d rather I lived in a world where I didn’t find significance in the fact but it is significant and it relates in however small or large a way to how I want things to be for my child as she grows up. As I observed, listened to and photographed Ashley delivering her speech, specific memory of that day my daughter dragged my tripod into the living room somehow sprang forth clearly from the hinterlands of my memory, and that is what my story has to do with Ashley & Jack’s wedding. I found myself listening to a woman that takes on life in a way that I hope my daughter will in turn learn to do so for herself.

I’d celebrate such an outcome and now I’ll celebrate Ashley & Jack’s wedding day… View full post »

Lake District Wedding Photography : Stuart & Bekki

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There is the notion that photographing the wedding of another wedding photographer might make for a somewhat fraught, nerve-wracking experience. I do find the notion a perfectly valid one but for myself have never found it, in practice, to be the case. When I say ‘never’, I should add that I’ve only found myself in such a position twice, the first time back in 2009 with the wedding of Emma & Ian and in this instance with the wedding of Stuart & Bekki (interestingly enough all five of us have found ourselves sat around the same pub table, on occasion, despite living in far flung places). I must say that on balance, I do particularly well in terms of finding myself in a place where there’s a strong correlation between what my clients are looking for and what I would tend to do instinctively; in these instances the correlation seemed one of a mirror image. I sing a certain type of song with a certain accent but if I’m asked to sing La Marseillaise with a North-Eastern Dutch accent then it’s liable to be, I don’t know, a little tricky? That made perfect sense as an analogy, of course. (I won’t actually sing at your wedding, by the way. Count yourself lucky!)

Alors… Stuart is an excellent wedding photographer who rubs shoulders with a good number of top practitioners in the field so I was particularly humbled and, well, chuffed – for want of a more elegant expression – when he asked if I would photograph his and Bekki’s wedding. Maybe all the others were booked already :~) If there was any resultant trepidation on my behalf, it centred around wondering what those others might think of any results that they saw, more so again what Stuart’s dad, Les, might think. Les is the only wedding photographer I’ve met that is approaching retirement age. Decades of experience under his belt, he’s seen more and knows more about the practice than I could yet scratch the surface of and he produces imagery as fresh as any adept relative newcomer to the field on top of significant foundations that many might never match. Down to earth and unflinchingly friendly, meeting Les was a particular additional pleasure in what made for a truly fantastic experience beginning to end, and my offer still stands to carry his kit and a water bottle for him if he ever finds himself shooting in my neck of the woods.

Back to Stuart & Bekki. Professional connection and respect aside, it was a great pleasure to work for Stuart, a caring and constantly thoughtful character, and for Bekki – the fact of her being a school teacher instantly casts her amongst one set of career heroes of mine – her seemingly unflappable enthusiasm and positivity made her a joy to photograph and just, simply, to be in the company of. Their wedding spanned two days. On the first they brought around thirty of their nearest and dearest with them up to Ambleside in the Lake District, an area that they have a long standing love for. On the second they returned south to Staffordshire for an evening party with yet more friends again. This is the story of their wedding… weekend… View full post »

Dorset Wedding Photography : Lizzie & Tom

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Lizzie & Tom’s wedding made for the perfect conclusion to a year of photographing such occasions up and down the country and a highly pleasing completion of a pattern that seems increasingly to permeate my practice. Tom was an usher – he delivered a reading during the ceremony too – at my first wedding of 2015 (that of his friend, another Tom as he married Nicki) and his and Lizzie’s wedding day was to be my last of 2015, on the weekend just before Christmas. It was a cracker of a day. Yes, I just did… that :~)

In fact, Tom was a groomsman at Huw & Kim’s wedding in 2010, alongside Tom of my first wedding of 2015 and another Tom again; Ben (whose wedding I then photographed in 2011 as he married Lit), Gabriel, Matt, Amir and Joel (who was the best man at that one and at Lizzie & Tom’s, and come to think of it, at Ben & Lit’s in the interim) and one additional fellow whose name I can’t put my finger on and wasn’t part of the pattern I’m piecing together though of course that makes him none-the-less important in the context of Huw & Kim’s wedding. The following year, Tom, Tom, Tom, Huw, Gabriel, Matt, Amir and Joel served as groomsmen at Ben & Lit’s wedding, alongside Ben’s brother. Come the start of 2015 we were down a Tom but it was Tom, Joel, Amir, Matt, Gabriel, Ben and Huw ushering at Tom & Nicki’s wedding then come the end of the year and this wedding, we had Tom, Matt, Ben, Huw, Amir, and Joel (doubling up as best man again) serving as groomsmen at Tom & Lizzie’s wedding.

I’m out of breath.

Maybe I should draw a large diagram criss-crossed by lines.

(As I’ve been cross-referencing the photo-sets from each wedding, it’s been fun seeing how their hairstyles have changed over the years, or indeed – in some cases – haven’t :~)

All of the Toms along with Matt, Ben, Huw, Amir, and Joel had been course-mates on the same degree back in… whenever, a while back, a course on which I taught and a couple of them were project supervisees of mine, too. It’s just struck me that I’ve known them all for more years across an epoch of weddings than the years that I knew them as students. Throughout both eras they’ve always been an admirable group of people, it’s been a pleasure to see them all do so well in their careers on top of the pleasure it was to see them flourish as students (as it happens, I’ve just been reading Tom’s – Tom of this wedding, that is – final year undergraduate study, ‘A Spectrally Based Method for the Emulation of the Technicolor Process on Digital Images’, a copy of which I found online) and it’s been both a great honour and fantastically good fun to be involved in a number of their weddings.

Tom had studied not a million miles away from Lizzie’s family home – 9.9 miles via the shortest road route, to be precise – but they met, entirely coincidental of that locale and period in time, some years later in London. I have to say that it’s been an utter pleasure being around Lizzie and spending time getting to know her prior to her and Tom’s wedding, especially seeing her express herself so resonantly throughout the wedding day itself. A person imbued with great positive energy that just rubs off on you. This is the story of Lizzie & Tom’s wedding… View full post »

Dorset Wedding Photography : Stephanie & James

To say that Stephanie & James’s wedding day was a windswept one would be, well, not an understatement, simply an accurate observation. I might quip that this aspect of the weather matched their breezy personalities but I’m not even certain what breezy would particularly mean if applied in such a context. I do know that I enjoyed enormously spending time with two of the most genuinely lovely people one might care to meet, a couple that took it all in their stride and enjoyed their wedding day to the maximum, taking great care of those they brought along with them to share in it all.

Whilst not being from the locale (a sizeable contingent of Yorkshire folk made their way down to the south coast on James’s behalf; Stephanie hails from climes twixt here and there), having a particular fondness for the area Stephanie & James settled upon the surroundings of Poole Harbour as the setting for their wedding with a ceremony in the old quarter of Poole and celebrations into the evening at Shell Bay Restaurant just across the Sandbanks ferry.

This is the story of Stephanie & James’s wedding day. Please read the images as though they were words, if you will… View full post »