Shropshire Wedding Photography : Hannah & Aled

Let’s talk about the weather, because that’s what we do. In fact I’d rather talk about Hannah & Aled and their wedding which I will indeed do but talking about their wedding wouldn’t be complete without talking about the weather. Hannah & Aled wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony. They really wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony. They had a Plan A, a ceremony beneath a rocky fountain waterfall in a wooded garden. Naturally they had a Plan B, too, should the weather not allow for Plan A to take place. Plan B would see the ceremony take place… outdoors, in a flag-stone paved courtyard imbued with classical architectural character. Outdoors. Still. There was also a Plan C with a large entrance hallway at their venue, Walcot Hall, already filled with chairs and an aisle down the middle but really Plan C was Plan Z, with no other plans to fill the gap between it and A and B. Really, it wasn’t even a Plan Z to Hannah & Aled’s minds. It was Plan W. We’re not using that plan. We’re getting married outdoors.

As far as I’m aware, Hannah & Aled live in an abode that would be easily recognised as a construct that serves the purpose of human habitation. I haven’t seen it myself but I had an address to send their final image set to that read like that attached to such a habitation. Their spirits though are such that I don’t think can be bound by walls and ceilings, in the slightest (and whilst there were four walls surrounding their evening celebrations on the day of their wedding, I’m sure it was a good thing that the ceiling was a particularly high one because any lower and the roof would have been in danger of being lifted clean off!). So married outdoors it had to be.

And back to the weather. It wasn’t simply the case that the weather might impinge upon their wedding day as an external force, that it might affect certain aspects of it as the weather is prone to do sometimes for the better as much as for the worse. The weather visited Hannah & Aled’s wedding day. It stepped in to the day’s events. It became a key actor in the manner in which the day played out. It spoke it’s own presence and conversed with the wedding. Across a number of days beforehand the wooded garden became waterlogged (Shropshire is a verdant county for good reason!). Plan A was hung out to dry. Rain threatened on the morning of the wedding and it wasn’t at all glib in what it threatened. But then it wasn’t a threat; it was an announcement of intention to be there, to be part of it all. A good supply of umbrellas, flag stones into which feet would not sink and a little bit of an over-hang for couple and celebrant to stand under would allow Plan B to take effect and it all came together to reflect Hannah & Aled’s natures beautifully. We’ll be back to the weather anon but for now, this is the story of Hannah & Aled’s wedding day… View full post »

Iceland Wedding Photography : Nichola & Marcus : By Amelia

My daughter, Amelia, turned eleven this January. During the February school half-term break we embarked on a grand adventure together, spending a week in Iceland. The decision to make Iceland the location for this adventure had been triggered by our seeing Nichola & Marcus’s photographs and videos from a trip they had taken to the country last February, in particular those featuring Marcus’s proposal to Nichola on the shore of the glacier lagoon at Jökulsárlón. Our trip would also coincide with Nichola & Marcus returning to Iceland to marry, with a ceremony at Búðir Church in the Búðahraun lava fields in Staðarsveit and a visit a few days later to Jökulsárlón, to the very spot that they had first become engaged. Nichola & Marcus asked me to photograph these two occasions and as she would be my assistant, Amelia suggested that I buy her a camera for her eleventh birthday. So I did; a nice little compact camera with enough in the way of features for her to grow in to. As yet I’ve provided her with no direct instruction in photography, made no attempt to influence choice of subject matter, composition or timing; I was keen to see how she would work her way into using the medium and all that I have shown her is how to charge the battery in her new camera. Everything else she has thus far worked out for herself.

Every photograph in this blog post was taken by her. Originally I’d had it in mind to include a few of her images alongside my own when it came time for me to blog this wedding. When I saw what she had produced though, I knew immediately that I wanted to give her work a blog post of its own. I am amazed by what she has created. I’m thrilled to have this new insight into the way that she sees the world. I was impressed by her professionalism, calmness and perseverance throughout and am immeasurably proud of her for this and for all that she is.

I sense that it might well be me assisting her at some point in the not too distant future!

Thanks to Nichola & Marcus for having us both along for their Iceland wedding and for the world of wonder that it introduced us to. I’ll be back in time with my own take on the adventure but for now, this is the story of Nichola & Marcus’s Iceland wedding, through the eyes of Amelia. View full post »

Larmer Tree Gardens Wedding Photography : Julia & Simon

In opening his speech on his and Julia’s wedding day, Simon pointed out that whilst it was considered traditional for the groom to make his thanks for having been welcomed into the bride’s family, he didn’t need to employ such words at this juncture as he had been included immediately and fully in that family since his and Julia’s relationship had begun quite some years earlier. His saying this struck a resonant chord in me; it spoke clearly of a family that act in an inclusive manner, open, warm-hearted and welcoming and I myself have enjoyed and appreciated that shared spirit in my encounters with them now dotted across several years.

I had first met them in early-2010; a family gathering of seventeen – sixteen humans and one characterful dog – joined to celebrate three birthdays; an eightieth, a fiftieth and a seventeenth. Julia was then working as an events coordinator at a lovely rural Dorset venue – Holton Lee – where the year before I had photographed one of my earliest weddings and having seen my photographs from that wedding she asked if I might be interested in photographing a family gathering that they had planned. Accustomed already to immersing myself amidst throngs of people up to a hundred strong or more, I wondered if my presence as a stranger, as a photographer might prove a little unsettling to a relatively smaller and tight knit group but all seemed wholly accepting of my presence from the off, were thoroughly welcoming and they proved to be the most enjoyably enthusiastic subjects that I might wish for as I went about my craft. It was a great pleasure indeed to experience the dynamic of this group.

Five years later, I had a throughly enjoyable time in photographing the wedding of Julia’s sister when Nicola married another Simon and it was fantastic to be able to do my thing amongst these same people once again. Some months either side of that wedding I also had the pleasure of working alongside Julia at a couple of weddings, she in her capacity as a wedding planner demonstrating complete command of the role wrapped in a demeanour imbued with grace.

Then came 2016, the final month of the year and it was Julia and Simon’s turn to tie the knot, another family gathering of great note and an excited me along for the story-telling ride. In some sense I’d been photographing Julia & Simon for seven years at this juncture, albeit not continuously but invariably a fun thing to do what with Julia’s aforementioned grace and her particularly kind spirit and Simon’s irrepressible humour and bonhomie. They married at Christchurch Priory in Dorset and celebrated into the night at the Larmer Tree in Wiltshire. This is the story of Julia & Simon’s wedding day… View full post »

TWTYTW

2016 was the year that the wedding banana became a thing and may it emerge as a tradition that stands the test of time. My research into the fruit – for the purposes of producing this blog post though subsequently I felt that it was a journey best engaged with on an individual basis so I’ll leave the pleasure of discovering all the facts in hands with such interests – has convinced me that I need to eat more of them. That aside, it’s great to see such innovation at work and my thanks for my exposure to this particular innovation goes to whichever of Laura & Tim’s friends presented them with such a fine gift on their wedding day.

I’m not sure that it is something that would sit well, in the long term, in a frame but a framed photograph of the artefact should do the trick just nicely.

I travelled 6774 miles by road and a further 2020 miles by air throughout the year finding myself in East Sussex, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Suffolk, Leicestershire, Cornwall again, the Venetian gulf, Dorset, Cheshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire a second time, Buckinghamshire, another part of Dorset, yet another part of Dorset, County Down, Bedfordshire, London, Hampshire, Somerset again then Wiltshire. I enjoyed the variety of landscape. I’m looking forward to driverless cars achieving ubiquity.

2016 was also a year that seemed to go bananas, though not in any sense that might be related to the wedding banana. Indeed as the year progressed I often found myself thankful for the great solace that I found in those events that I was privileged to be included in as a story-teller, that in addition to the thorough enjoyment that I always find in such occasions, in my work. I got to know anew and I got to know afresh and further people that nourished my mind and my soul much as bananas might nourish my bones. Not those metaphorical bananas of course but our real bananas as pictured. I look forward to finding similar sustenance in 2017’s weddings and for now will take sustenance from revisiting those that I photographed during this year past. View full post »

Northern Ireland Wedding Photography : Emily & Matt

portico-of-ards-northern-ireland-wedding-photography-mister-phill-emily-and-matt-001

Preposterous. The word kept vaulting around my mind throughout Emily & Matt’s wedding day, though entirely stripped of any unfavourable connotations, clad instead in entirely positive tones. Positively preposterous. Preposterously positive. The enormity of… everything. Emily’s dad cooking for what I estimate to be around 200 people. Her mum spending weeks scouring the north-eastern quarter of Northern Ireland for flowers, wild and cultivated. A host of family and friends worked double-time and more to bring everything together come the week of and the day of the wedding itself. A palpable and enormous sense of community in it all. Aside from the marquee, I was the only thing they didn’t make themselves. I was totally made up by the experience though, which is an awful pun but that’s just what I was; totally made up by the experience.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised though if they got back to me to tell me that one or more of their party had actually made the marquee from scratch.

I’d first encountered Emily – but then ever so briefly – at a wedding in Dorset four years earlier, that of Kataya & Richard. Amidst the flurry and whirl of engaging in observational photography, on request I’d taken a posed photograph that featured her before reverting to the hunt for unposed moments of human interaction. When it came time to edit the images from that wedding I came across that photograph and was struck powerfully by the sense of a particular spirit emanating from this individual. It’s only on a handful of occasions in my practice as a wedding photographer – and then so with at least a digit or two to spare – that I’ve allowed myself to behave in so presumptuous a manner but I chose to include the photograph in a blog post and tagged on a note to the effect that my services as a photographer were offered, should they be required in future. I practically scandalised myself in doing so but the resolute notion that there was something of worth that might come out of the intimation won the moment.

Three and a half years passed. Not that I was awaiting a response :~) Three and a half years passed then out of the blue I received an email from Emily which proved that I’d done the right thing. Or maybe she would have contacted me anyway, solely based on the results of the photographs I’d produced for Kataya & Richard. Well, at least my presumptuousness hadn’t scuppered the prospect of my being commissioned to photograph a certain wedding. Emily told me of a brilliant man that she was now engaged to, we discussed potential dates and my availability and everything worked out just perfectly, then of a weekend of cross-country travelling I was able to meet up with her and Matt and found that Emily was everything that I’d sensed from that one photograph and that Matt was exactly as she had described. The time that I spent with them throughout their wedding day built upon this estimation. If the world is a tapestry within which people are threads travelling hither and yon, their paths crossing to create patterns, a picture, then these individuals, these threads, are the type that contribute to the making of a picture I’d most like to see of that world. It was an enormous pleasure to me to make pictures for them and for the truly, really very excellent collection of characters that shared in their experience.

Emily & Matt’s wedding was set on the Ards Peninsula in County Down, Northern Ireland. They married at The Portico of Ards in Portaferry, an amazing building fashioned in the Greek Revival style. Two of Emily’s grandparents had themselves married there. Celebrations ensued on the coast of the Irish Sea in and around a giant marquee on a harbour-side, next to an old lighthouse keepers’ cottage where Emily had spent numerous childhood holidays and where she and Matt had become engaged.

This is the story of their wedding day… View full post »