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Chippenham Park Wedding Photography : Kat & Tom : Part One

The images that I extrapolate from a wedding day are driven by curiosity and shaped by what I see and the way in which I see the world, both metaphorically and literally. Tangible aspects of the way I think and feel show through; tangible to me at least. Many intangibles too. I suppose on one very important level I like to show it how it was, to make you feel as though you yourself had been there as a guest, serving as your ocular proxy, immersing you in the day. The service that I provide in making images and delivering them to my clients is certainly built upon and permeated by a professional ethic but in order to be able to fully see things in a certain way, I like to find myself amidst a wedding day with the mindset that I am there because I want to be there, to experience it all for me in tandem with experiencing it all for my clients. Even though a professional transaction has certainly been entered into and will always be delivered upon on my behalf, that isn’t what drives me when I’m there. This perhaps seemingly self-centred interpretation of my role is, though, very consciously tied in with delivering the best that I can for my clients.

Working for Kat & Tom, working with them, experiencing their day in its entirety catapulted me directly to the heart of that place I most like to be as I go about that which I do and delivering a service to them was an outright joy. I was drawn in fully, transparently, into the midst of everything that was taking place and it all made for fascinating, uplifting fun. Kat, in particular, is a great organiser. Her prior professional background in events management certainly gelled perfectly with everything she had planned and put into place for her and Tom’s big day. I’m absolutely certain from the results that I saw, everything that I heard, all that I touched upon and tasted, the scent of it all, that she was really very good at that job indeed. The day was a layer cake of dreams made reality and reality made dreams.

I was treated like a guest, made to feel more than welcome, had some great conversations along the way and this is just part of what I experienced…

Somehow I was reminded of that time… never mind :~)…

I arrived at Kat’s family home to find Kat’s dad, Jerry, mowing the savannah. I’ve always, myself, found grass cutting a great way to prepare oneself for momentous events…

Impala*, from the savannah…

* I think.**

** I could be wrong.

Just about enough space for me to squeeze myself around in the kitchen :~)…

One of many signs that Kat is not only meticulous in her planning but also a very thoughtful and generous soul, she’d had made a set of framed thank you’s for her bridesmaids and for her mum, Fran (mention should also be made of Tom’s mum, Jo and his brother, Dan for their contribution of some fantastic design work in the notes, the invitations and other elements of the day’s signage)…

And introducing one of the lead stars of the day. Well yes, Kat screen right and indeed Tom to appear later, but importantly here, Betty, the most adorable and good natured Victorian Bulldog I’ve yet met (she’s the only one I’ve met, come to think of it, but that doesn’t detract in the slightest from the fact that she is adorable and good natured)…

There’s so much more that I would have loved to have shown from Kat’s initial preparations; there’s so much more I would have loved to have shared from across the whole day but with the image count already approaching browser busting levels I’ll move on up the motorway, along which, as it happens, I passed a VW campervan at one point, transporting a set of very happy looking gentlemen who appeared to be bedecked for a wedding. It wasn’t the safe thing to do to scrutinise the occupants as I passed but I did have an inkling that Tom might be onboard. When the same campervan turned up at the Bedford Lodge Hotel in Newmarket (not where the wedding would take place but the point at which most of the guests would congregate before boarding a bus for Chippenham Park) I reaffirmed in myself that my inklings are ones to be trusted…

Tom’s groomsmen contend with the alien puzzlement of dealing with pocket handkerchiefs in the best way they know…

As though they’re looking intrepidly towards the future. Or wondering if they’re at the right hotel…

Brings to mind that wedding I once had a vivid dream about…

More bringing of memories to mind: dance-floors I have photographed from time to time…

I can say that I was honestly impressed by Tom’s sartorial demeanour on his wedding day (his groomsmen too, for that matter). He’d clearly taken great pride in getting everything right. Getting those pocket-squares just right had proved to be the final hurdle though and I particularly like the studious observation and that moment of appreciative realisation that show in the following two images as Kat’s brother’s partner sets them all straight…

On to Chippenham Park, and an aside on my thinking on wedding venues, as it comes to mind. And my mind must be out there. I’m very much about people, their emotions and their interactions. I’m less minded about things. Give me people and their minds and hearts and how they engage with those that matter to them and my cup will be over-flowing already. If they choose to marry in a cathedral or a shoebox, yes a literal shoebox, it’s of no consequence to me. I will however very carefully and in perfect honesty stress that things and places do also get my full attention on a wedding day, in that things and places reflect the minds and hearts of the people that have chosen to be amongst those… things and places. I will pay attention to them (the things and places) because they present clues to identity, they echo the spirit of people. Also of course they provide context and it would be rather remiss of me if I didn’t pay heed to providing context in the images that I make and deliver. So when I say it’s of no consequence to me, I don’t mean it’s of no consequence. It’s all of great consequence indeed, in the telling of the story. It’s just that in embracing what most elevates my soul in photographing a wedding, well that’s you. People. Where and how you choose to do it all, I’ll enjoy all of that too, as long as you’re there, being you. If you’re not there, then I’ll descend into a blind panic and wonder how I got the coordinates wrong (I am meticulous in my planning).

Having said all of that, Chippenham Park; I want to go on holiday there. For at least a week. Three would be good. It’s just perfect.

(Getting married in a shoebox though; that would be an event I’d be fascinated to photograph.)

Something told me that I was in the right place…

I was fascinated by this sculpture in particular, for some reason. The stuff that (slightly off-kilter) dreams are made of…

I empathise fully…

Having photographed a wedding in Cambridgeshire earlier in the year I’d been able to meet up with Kat & Tom in person (having conducted all of our initial discussions via email then later using Skype) to talk further about their wedding day plans. Amidst discussions I’d taken a few photographs of them. It gave me an extra – as in additional – special feeling (as well as being an extra-special feeling) to see that they’d had printed and framed a selection of those photographs that were arrayed around the ceremony room…

Time for the second phase of Kat’s preparations…

This week’s highly conscious answer to the existential crisis of wedding photography, and I couldn’t go home without a shot of me with Betty, a reminder of one of the most socially amenable subjects I’ve worked with (aside from which she has a penchant for sitting on people’s feet, it seems, so I wasn’t going anywhere in a great hurry)…

I was just in time to catch the bus…

Time for me to silence myself, with the ceremony about to commence.

That was a lovely experience.

Invisible though I am*, from time to time I encounter someone with special abilities (including the ability to see invisible people)…

(* I’m not invisible)

As a rule I avoid photographing people engaged in the ultimate phase of eating as it rarely if ever looks flattering but during those years of wedding photographer training in the foothills of some or other mythical mountain range, I was conditioned (during documentary classes, which called for a strong element of honesty) to trigger my shutter button instinctively the moment I heard someone utter, “Oh no, don’t photograph… [insert absolutely anything here].” Even if I hadn’t intended to photograph a scene, those words alone instantaneously trigger a deeply ingrained and irrepressible reaction*…

* Unless uttered by a vicar, priest or registrar, in which case a delayed reaction is set in motion. Fantastically accommodating registrars on Kat & Tom’s wedding day though :~)

I wonder if I can finish writing this blog post before I have to concede to the call of lunch…

Seems I can’t! Sorry. I’ll be back later. In the meantime, here are some more photographs…

Occasionally I’m asked by prospective clients if I also do the more formal, posed family and friends group photographs. I certainly do, is my response. I am still working ardently on directional issues, though, but I’ll get there!..

Just in case my whimsical self-effacement is taken in turn at face value, I’ll add that a perfectly lovely and directionally appropriate set of group photographs were achieved. I’m just fascinated by the in-between moments and I do like to share my fascinations.

Oh, and Kat’s effusive look of surprise here? I managed to get Betty to look to the camera with just one call of her name. Of course I did. I’d done a pre-wedding test shoot with Betty to help her gain confidence and a sense of ease with the camera (Kat & Tom had happened to be there to, so got a bit of practice themselves) and we just have this rapport, you know…

Never work with children and animals, the adage goes in visual image making fields. Myself, I never have a problem with children and animals when it comes to posing for the camera. Human adults are another matter though! :~)

That’s more like it :~)…

Readers of my blog, obviously…

Tom’s grandad delivers a preparatory lesson in time for that which is to come next…

Obviously she’s never seen me in action at a wedding before (screen right, if it helps). I’m fully trained in low angle confetti photography and insured against petal related injury (rice comes under dangerous sports though)…

This is the kind of thing that could get me in trouble. Not of my instigation though. I’m left wondering if there was some kind of hint inherent in the action? :~)…

Tales will be related about the quality of confetti deployment for years to come…

More blog readers…

I hope it wasn’t something I said…

A dog-sitter for Betty :~)…

Onwards to Part Two >>

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

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