Hatfield House Wedding : Jo & Ben : Part One

Jo & Ben have a love of history and of film. Shared in parts and overlapping in others Jo is a history buff, enjoyed playing in the grounds of Hatfield House as a child and was christened in the church just on the other side of the boundary walls; the church indeed that she and Ben were to marry in. Ben works in film effects. He was particularly excited by the fact that Hatfield House had been featured in a number of films including Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth, a film I used a specific example from, when many years back he sat in on my lecture series on cinematography. It certainly helped join the dots in their search for a wedding photographer. Jo was excited by the fact that in reality, it was Elizabeth I’s home as she grew up.

English period costume drama meets Bollywood passion aside, there was also the Spaghetti Westerns. Wedding enquiry from a fellow Sergio Leone fan was the subject line of the initial email enquiring as to my availability. Once upon a time in the West I screened the opening sequence from Sergio Leone’s… I’ll not repeat myself unduly… and explored a rather fascinating phenomena in that two adjoining passages of film of equal on screen duration could lead an audience to feel that one passage lasted significantly longer than the other. Or, you might say, one seemed to fly by far quicker than the other. All down to a fusion of cinematographic devices. We’d discuss the nature of objective and subjective experiences of time and then go home for tea. Or lunch if that was one of the years when my classes were scheduled in the morning.

If ever the time did pass so subjectively, so quickly, it would do so on a wedding day and all pretty much down to the reasons explored in that lecture. It’s a key part of the reason that a visual record of the day can prove so important, though there’s no call for me to emphasise that in any way, shape or form (other than to share what was seen). I was somewhat excited by the prospect of photographing a wedding in the style of a Spaghetti Western. Thankfully I didn’t. Far more grime, bloodshed and stubble than most couples would wish for on such an occasion. There was true grit displayed on the dance floor come the evening however, though that was a different director, a different cast and a different style of western altogether.

Enough of the pre-amble; this isn’t Star Wars. Action…

I levelled my camera as soon as I crossed the threshold into Jo’s family home. It’s great when I get to immerse myself immediately into the thick of morning preparations on a wedding day. It provides an instant charge of energy for everything that’s to come and there was plenty of energy to tap into here, though a happy energy, calm and composed in many respects, contained yet abundant. It’s such a pleasure to just be in the middle of it all. Or at the edges even.

Time for Ben to get cuffed. The dudeoir theme continues, albeit more subtly…

Ben’s best man Gavin had an inbuilt radar for shonky dressing. This is the first of numerous documented incidents of his executing one of many aspects of the best man’s role with great aplomb…

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

Hang on, that’s a cowboy film allusion.

Not metaphorically appropriate here.

Gavin, somehow, had managed to get hold of Ben’s school report. Nothing mischievous afoot of course…

…Reports on the Royal Wedding were more the order of study back at the… place I was, at.

Gavin was a veritable button-holing terrier. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about Ben; it happens to all men sometimes, especially on their wedding day…

There was no stopping him. A naked lapel was a crime to be… covered up…

I’d have fallen over had I happened to be taking a photograph of Jo sipping champagne at the same time, or indeed a pint for that matter, but it doesn’t always work out that way…

I wonder at times if my subjects in turn wonder what on earth I’m doing, wedged into the corner of one of their rooms, not moving for many minutes on end. I could claim it’s about foresight, a deep rooted intuition. Something’s bound to happen eventually where there’s a wedding dress hanging though…

The dress will be looking good then!..

Watering hole number two, a stone’s throw down the hill from the church…

Gavin’s radar goes into over-drive…

Super Glue; a metaphor that’s bound to stick…

The font that Jo was christened in…

One of those moments where you hope that the tube of Super Glue hadn’t been leaking…

When shooting solo, so to speak, on those rare occasions when I’m relegated to the back of the church I always get a sinking feeling, I do so love to see people’s faces clearly when they do that oh so significant thing they’re doing. With two photographers in place though it’s all good and the back of the church sometimes affords the boldest view of certain significant story-telling moments…

Had I happened to miss that look between Jo & Ben, there were countless other such looks between them throughout the ceremony. Their joy was infectious, even from a hundred feet away…

It’s a subtle moment but stood where I was, off in the wings, I was touched by a little yet powerful gesture. Jo’s right hand tucked around Ben’s elbow, it slips forward and waits, his right hand gets the message…

The Super Glue does its trick (thankfully not bonding while Ben was still holding the order of service)…

The register was signed in a stunning side chapel at St. Etheldreda’s. I must say I rather like it when church officiants are also licensed to conduct the legal signing as well as the religious aspect of a wedding ceremony. I’ve yet to encounter one that harbours the belief that it’s illegal or against some civic rule to take photographs as the signing occurs (it certainly isn’t on either count). I have also met a number of registrars that are relaxed about the whole thing too but whatever the case I believe it’s fitting to record as a story-telling point and with a backdrop like this one, it would be wrong not to…

Jo & Ben left the church, as you do, having got married. They started to head back out towards the road, as you do, if you’re wanting to quickly move on to the venue which is but a hop, skip and a jump up the hill, for the rest of the day’s celebrations. I tailed them, as you do, when you’re a photographer.

After a while I noticed that nobody else had followed them, as you don’t, I’d always supposed. We were all a little puzzled until one of the groomsmen showed up and told us that everyone assumed Jo & Ben were off with the photographer. For photographs.

I’m not that type of photographer. Though I was taking photographs of course.

Confusion resolved…

Oh so you decided to come join us then…

Let’s see that congratulatory incursion from another angle, err, Phill. I think…

Ben’s famous balancing confetti on the nose wedding party trick…

The hop before the skip and jump…

Lensvy!..

Ben was thoroughly enjoying the process of working through the posed group photographs…

Yes it’s deliberate; no the others aren’t…

Time to focus our attention on the next phase of the day >>>

Contact Hertfordshire Wedding Photographer Phillip Allen : phill@misterphill.com : 07870 696248

Andy Brooks - I’ve been anticipating these since you posted this couples engagements shoot and as always you have produced the most marvellous set of images. In addition, it was nice to see some old haunts (the Eight Bells was my local some 11 or so years ago).

I’m going to make a nice cup of tea and sit down and read part II whilst I drink it… the kettle cant boil fast enough.

Phillip Allen - Thanks very much Andy :~) Milk, no sugar in mine please.

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