One from every wedding I have photographed : A decade of weddings : 2010

#7 – Gabby & Gareth

From the starting point of accidentally becoming a wedding photographer, I photographed six weddings in 2009. In 2010, I photographed twenty-four.

Gabby & Gareth’s was my first wedding of that year and proved to make for an excellent start to my second season. Their wedding was set in the Dorset coastal hamlet of Osmington Mills with a foray into Weymouth in the middle, marrying in the village church followed by a meal in the relative metropolis then back to the local pub – The Smugglers’ Inn – for celebrations into the night.

Most of the guests were put up in a local caravan park and I stayed the night before the wedding in a caravan with Gareth and his best man, Danny, whom coincidentally had been a guest at my fourth wedding, that of Alison & Neville.

Multi-faceted individuals, both Gabby and Gareth are highly enthusiastic and effusive souls characterised by a wealth of empathy and warmth towards others and I garnered a great deal of emotional profit from my involvement in their big day.

There are many images from their wedding that epitomise, to me, the spirit of the day, the one featured here being just one of those.

And one of the two, from immediately after their marriage ceremony…

I’ve just remembered a little story attached to this wedding.

For the post-marriage-ceremony meal in Weymouth, by way of place names, Gabby & Gareth had used sticks of rock with the names of each guest printed on labels.

My daughter would have been around three and a half years old at this juncture and when I was back at home, she spied my stick of rock and asked, “Whose is that, daddy?” with a certain look in her eyes. “It appears to be mine,” I responded. “Where did you get it from?” she asked. “Well, I photographed a wedding and they had sticks of rock with the guests names on to show them where to sit for dinner,” I explained. “Hmmm,” she concluded, her face evidencing a series of calculations going on in her mind.

A little while later she came into the living room dragging an old metal framed tripod of mine behind her. She placed it firmly in the middle of the living room floor then declared, without pause, “When I grow up daddy I want to learn how to use a camera and how to use a computer like you do so I can go to weddings and get paid with cakes and sweets and sticks of rock!” (I’d previously brought her back a cup cake and a bag of sweets from Emma & Ian’s wedding, my final of 2009).

I allowed her half of my stick of rock :~)

#8 – Katherine & Ian

One Flew Over the Receiving Line.

Across ten years I have photographed 29 weddings that featured former students of mine, usually just one party to the marriage but occasionally – as was the case with Kath & Ian – the both of them. From 2010 onwards I would typically find myself photographing one such wedding each year, occasionally two, then in 2016 it was three and from 2017 onwards rather a big wave of former student weddings. A generation coming of age, perhaps, in that respect; perhaps more so in that case, of an age. I’ve been very lucky across this ten years to find myself really enjoying every single wedding that I’ve photographed but there is always something additionally special to me in photographing those of former students.

Kath & Ian’s was my first former-student wedding out of this tally of 29. My thanks to Scott, another former student, for pointing them towards my Web site! They’re an adventurous couple. They took a month and a bit off work to go on honeymoon to South East Asia and set off with just their flight tickets purchased; nothing else booked at all.

This photograph was taken during a pre-dinner receiving line. As we can only see the back of Kath’s head, I’ll follow up with another showing her and Ian together. The image also features Rebecca & Gavin, also NCCA graduates. Aside from my nephew’s wedding a handful of years back then my niece’s, a couple of years later, Becky & Gav’s wedding was the last one that I attended as a guest, back in the days before I started photographing weddings. Including this one, I have caught up with them at a couple more since. I love photographing weddings. It is great though to go to one as a guest! :~)

Kath & Ian together. This was the first time that I got to photograph an outdoor ceremony, too…

#9 – Nicola & Tom

Having made my first foray into the world of wedding photography very much by accident, securing further commissions via word of mouth then starting to pick up bookings through having a Web site, Nicola & Tom’s wedding marked an important additional avenue opening up to me through networking with other photographers.

Emma & Ian (my sixth wedding; the final one of 2009) had introduced me to a network of wedding photographers, some fifty or so strong in a group spread across the nation. I got to meet quite a number of the group members in person and joined some of them in shooting weddings, and made good allies and friends along the way.

A great deal of collaborative working goes on in the modern wedding photography world; clusters – large and small – of photographers that gravitate towards each other based on quality and nature of work and – more importantly to me – personal character. Over the years I have photographed a good number of weddings where the clients were referred to me by photographers that were already booked for the dates in question. As these photographers have all been people that I’ve really, really liked as human beings, the clients in these cases have likewise turned out to be ones that I’ve loved working with (I’ve always found that if you present your work honestly, you do tend to attract clients that are a good fit to your own personality).

Nicola & Tom were my first such ‘referred couple’ as they had first approached Pete & Laura, a wedding photographer couple based in Lancashire, who were already booked for their wedding date. I’ve second shot (ie: assisted) on a number of weddings with Pete & Laura (perhaps I should say third shot as the two photograph weddings together already) and in each case, their clients have been lovely people. I found exactly the same in working with Nicola & Tom. I drove up to London, where they live and work, to do a pre-wedding shoot with them and they insisted on making me breakfast when I arrived! :~)

This is Nicola, getting ready on the morning of her and Tom’s wedding, her dad waiting to see her in her dress…

And both Nicola and Tom together for their first dance. Much luvdup!..

#10 – Sarah & Nigel

I’d made it to my tenth wedding so there was definitely a pattern in place.

Sarah & Nigel both worked at the same university as I did, the former in Registry and the latter in IT Services. We’d never met in person previously – it being such a large organisation – but when we did first meet to discuss the possibility of my photographing their wedding we did all recognise each others names. Well, they both certainly recognised each others names, seeing as they were on course to get married, and they would have recognised my name at least by virtue of the fact that they were considering commissioning me to be their photographer. The recognition though stemmed from years of organisational emails passing before our eyes wherein at various junctures, the names of each of us might crop up. Both worked in units within the broader organisation that contributed enormously to my ability to do my job, indeed to the maintenance of my sanity – working as an academic and within the National Centre for Computer Animation at that – and as had very much become the firm pattern in my adventures in wedding photography to date, both were really lovely people to work with.

Post-dinner on what had been a particularly sunny and hot day, we popped down to Bournemouth beach to take some portrait photographs of Sarah & Nigel. There was some lovely light on the way…

And as Nigel is a little obscured from view in that photograph, here’s one of he and Sarah together wherein… well, we still can’t see him fully but it’s an image that has always tickled me :~)…

#11 – Susan & Emil

When I first decided to form a business around wedding photography my mind did of course turn towards means to get the message out there about what I had to offer. Putting together a Web site was, naturally, an immediate conclusion. I had also fared well from the outset with word of mouth marketing. I felt that I should also have some printed matter to distribute and commissioned a set of materials displaying images from my earliest weddings accompanied by a bit of text about what I offered, how to contact me, etc. I found myself not really knowing what to do with this printed material though, where to distribute it, where did prospective clients go that they would find such material? (To this day I still have most of the material boxed up in a corner somewhere).

My daughter attended a nursery on the university campus that I worked on at the time and unbeknownst to me, she had picked up and slipped into her backpack a few samples of my printed marketing material, taking them to nursery presumably to show her friends the pictures.

Thus I came to photograph Susan & Emil’s wedding.

Susan was one of the staff members at the nursery and she got on particularly well with my daughter. She saw my daughter showing some of my printed material around and asked me if I might be available to photograph her forthcoming wedding :~)

#12 – Helen & Daniel

Whilst I had already photographed a few weddings that saw me staying away from home, Helen & Daniel’s was my first London wedding and something about that seemed to make me that bit more nervous about logistics. The others that I’d travelled further afield for were in relatively rural locations; simple drives from B&B to church to venue down a country lane or whatnot, with all of my equipment carried effortlessly in the boot of my car. The prospect of getting about for a wedding in London terrified me in comparison.

My nervousness spilled over into checking that I had everything packed in the boot of my car more than once, as I was set to depart from Bournemouth the evening before the wedding. I stood, staring into the boot, checking everything was there three times over. I then climbed in to the driver’s seat and started the engine. I then turned off the engine, climbed back out of the car, opened the boot and checked everything once more. A mile down the road, I pulled over and checked everything again. Likewise again at Fleet Services.

Before retiring for sleep that night I ran through the following morning’s schedule in my mind; what time I would get up and take a shower to waken me more fully, how long I would allow for an unhurried breakfast, how long it would take me to don my suit which was hanging on the back of my… bedroom door… back… in… Bo…urne…..mou…….th!

Thus I found myself at 9.20am on the morning of Helen & Daniel’s wedding with my face pressed up against the window of one of the entrances to John Lewis on Oxford Street. At 9.30am the door was opened and as I marched past the employee whom had opened it I enquired, ‘Suit department?’, a rictus grin on my face as I attempted to mollify the unintended terseness in my voice with some sign of my genuine intention to be polite. I was directed to said department and arrived in the middle of it at some speed to meet Mostafa, whom to this day I bow to. I explained to him my predicament, he looked me up and down – measuring me by eye – and then selected a suit jacket and trousers for me that fitted perfectly, straight off the bat, unpacked a shirt and steamed the creases out of it and then quickly helped me to pick a tie. I had remembered to pack my suit shoes! :~) Exactly 30 minutes later, thanking Mostafa in a far more relaxed state than I had arrived in, I walked out of the store dressed in my new suit, flagged a black cab and arrived for Helen’s bridal preparations ten minutes before she herself turned up.

On her arrival, I related to Helen my morning’s adventure. “Oh!” she said, “I hadn’t expected you to be suited and booted!” She was a very relaxed character, lovely to work with and I had a brilliant time of the whole day.

We landed up, during the evening, in the Weston Roof Pavilion of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank of the Thames, for a party into the night.

And one of the two :~)…

#13 – Kate & Mark

I approached the first dozen weddings that I photographed – that is to say, quite literally, I drove to and arrived at as opposed to adopting a stance on doing things a certain way – imbued with varying degrees of… terror. I was consistently minded of the enormity of the responsibility inherent in photographing a wedding, of not messing it all up, of not being able to come back the following weekend to rectify any shortfalls, and such thoughts did fill me with trepidation. To say the least.

Each time however – on arrival and commencing coverage – as soon as I brought my camera up to my eye for the first time the terror translated into alertness, attunement, performance. Adrenaline fuelled my focus as I lost myself, each time, in what I was doing. Each time, I came away with what was needed in the images.

Half way from home to my first port of call – a journey of some 30 minutes in total – on Kate & Mark’s wedding day, it struck me that I was completely calm. Over the ensuing 15 minutes I consciously waited for the fear to build up but it just didn’t come. 5 minutes out, I was overtaken by a feeling of utter dread; not adrenaline inducing fear though, just flat, indefinable dread. I was certain that I needed at least a bit of terror in me in order to perform properly and there just wasn’t any there. I just felt that… this was it.

I arrived at the pub where Mark and his groomsmen were to have a pre-ceremony lunch. I wielded my camera for the first time that day and found myself instantly connecting with their combined happiness and excitement, feeling the same things myself.

And this is how it has been for me ever since. I don’t get nervous about much if anything at all on a wedding day. I do though invariably find the emotional states of people I’m surrounded by rubbing off on me and I feed off that, any nervousness in others that I do absorb always overtaken by the broader feelings of excited happiness and this is my fuel. That and a small supply of cereal bars plus, hopefully, a plate of proper food at some point :~)

Kate & Mark are both PE teachers and their wedding day was abundantly energetic from beginning to end. I was blissfully worn out by the experience.

#14 – Ruth & Nick

Ruth & Nick are part of a friendship group decades in the growing of and to which I was introduced some years back. I’d met and got to know them both ‘down the pub’ and elsewhere. Indeed, if memory serves me correctly, Nick first ‘phoned me from the pub to ask if I might be able to photograph his and Ruth’s wedding. I imagine a wedding related conversation having taken place there wherein he was told that I had just started photographing weddings and that maybe he should ask me about his. I’d photographed my first two at that juncture and hadn’t fully rolled out my Web site, so I appreciated the gesture of faith in what I had to offer and relished the opportunity to do what I do for friends.

Their wedding took place in Devon, the county that Ruth grew up in and one that I love visiting. I remember in particular the marquee within and around which celebrations took place, sat on a hillside facing out across a Devon valley; a beautiful vista bathed in beautiful light enjoyed to the full by all of the guests. On the same site was a small B&B with just Nick and myself as guests on the night before the wedding. He gave up the larger of the two rooms to me saying that it made sense as he would only be staying there the one night whereas I would be there for two, but I appreciated the gesture as something that extended beyond mere logistical sense.

I’ve chosen an opening image in this instance that doesn’t in and of itself speak of a wedding (bar perhaps a tiara being worn) and could have been taken on just about any day, but it does speak to me of something that I’ve always seen in Ruth’s nature. On a day when a bride might rightfully enough expect to be pampered beginning to end, she’s down in the kitchen rustling up some sandwiches for her bridesmaids and herself. A simple enough act, perhaps, but it speaks volumes to me.

And one of both Ruth and Nick together, at one with each other and with the animals :~)

#15 – Lucy & Gareth

Lucy & Gareth’s was my second ‘nursery wedding,’ so to speak – #11 being number 1, if that makes sense – by virtue of connection to the nursery that my daughter was attending at the time (Gareth’s mum worked there and saw some of my marketing materials that the little one had snuck in, in her backpack :~).

I’ve encountered numerous wedding car drivers across the past decade; many that you’d feel safe in having drive your nan around, quite a few that look as though they’d be really good at making fast getaways! Great characters, one and all; I think there are parts to be had in films for this fellow! :~)

#16 – Kirsty & Ben

Over the past two years, all of my wedding bookings have come through word of mouth, from people that were involved directly in previous weddings or from those that I have known for years outside of the world of weddings. It’s a particularly nice place to find myself in. I’m very lucky indeed to be able to say that I enjoy all of my ‘jobs’ regardless of where they come from but there’s an additional element in play when some form of existing connection is already in place.

Kirsty & Ben’s was the first wedding that I photographed wherein there was a direct connection to a previous wedding, that of Alison & Neville (#4). Kirsty was a guest at that wedding, part of Alison’s close friendship group. Indeed I went on to photograph a number of weddings of members of that group across several years and I always relish the opportunity to get to hang out with them all again. They’re a happy, energetic, caring bunch of souls that always take really good care of me.

Kirsty is Scottish and Ben hails from New Zealand. Their wedding day, set in Oxfordshire, made for an expansive international union and reunion. It was chock-a-block with fun interlaced with heightened emotion, as evidenced in my chosen image – from Kirsty & Ben’s marriage ceremony – one that always hits me clean between the eyes.

#17 – Lisa & Harlan

Lisa & Harlan found me by Googling for ‘dorset wedding photographers‘ (I used to have a field in a contact form on my Web site asking how the enquirer had found me) which was good news for me. Good news, of course, both that they found me and that they chose to book me but in the first instance I was thinking here about the ‘found me’ component of the equation. My Web site was evidently ranking well enough for me to be found via a Google search.

For a number of years, I would show up on page one of Google (often towards the very top of the page, too) for wedding photography related search terms apropos to my locale (Bournemouth, and Dorset). Then, another number of years back, around about when Google rolled out their Penguin algorithm, I plummeted to the bottom of page six and stayed there, for years, unseen because who makes it to page six; who indeed gets beyond page one in most cases? (I just Googled the history of Google Penguin, funnily enough; it seems that it was version 3 that got me.) I wasn’t overly concerned by this as I was filling my calendar each year through word of mouth, follow-on weddings and through having a good number of my weddings published on wedding inspiration blogs. More recently, I’ve started paying more attention to search engine ranking and have been able to pull myself back up to somewhere around the middle of page two on Google. Getting back onto page one remains a goal.

Anyway, Lisa & Harlan… as ever, lovely people to work with. My chosen image doesn’t really represent the broader tone of their wedding (which again, as ever, was brimful with positive energy) but I feel that is does paint a telling picture of kids at weddings; a genuine representation of how these particular kids were interacting with the flow of the wedding day at this particular juncture (shortly before the first dance was set to take place). It’s not a configuration that one could ever predict seeing – you never know what you’re going to get when you choose not to stage anything – and I find it really interesting.

And one featuring Lisa & Harlan :~)…

#18 – Meleza & James

It’s rarely indeed that I’ll find myself photographing a wedding at a specific location more than once. I’m often asked if I’ve been to a place before, I often answer that I haven’t (as… I haven’t), that as mentioned, I almost never find myself in the same place twice; that once I’ve been to a place, they’ll not have me back again. It’s a high risk strategy when it comes to deploying quips (I never do this when responding to enquiry emails, I hasten to add; only when speaking face to face so I’m able to immediately gauge any reaction). I like going to new places. I also like to think that this venue or that venue belongs solely to the couple marrying there and to nobody else at all. In those few cases where I do find myself at the same place again, I like for it to have been a couple of years or more since I’ve last been there so I can separate entirely, in my mind, the previous visit from the latest; so that I can fully make the place belong to the couple, in my mind.

Meleza & James’ wedding was though the first of a number that I’ve photographed over the span of a decade that featured a ceremony at St. Nicholas Church in Studland (on the Isle of Purbeck) and celebrations taking place at nearby Studland Bay House. I’ve photographed five weddings, to date, wherein the ceremony was conducted at St. Nicholas Church and with four of those five, celebrations took place at Studland Bay House. I’ve photographed the weddings of two of three sisters at the church, and the third has just booked me for hers (with the same church for the ceremony)! Happily, for me, these weddings have been sufficiently interspersed across the years for me to be able to compartmentalise and ascribe location to each couple, individually.

In relation to the church, specifically, Meleza & James’ wedding was an important one, not at all that any one wedding is more important to me than another (none could be any more important to me than they already are) and not because it was the first – in a symbolic sense – to have its ceremony there, but because in being the first, it opened a certain door.

Over the years, I’ve photographed marriage ceremonies both civil and religious (spanning a variety of denominations), also humanist and DIY, and at the majority I’ve been allowed to go about what I do entirely unfettered by any rules. I do always, always pay due and full respect to proceedings, regardless of the freedom afforded me. I have though, more often than with any other type of ceremony, found myself being constrained in CofE ceremonies. The majority, I hasten to add, have seen me given free-reign to do my job and I’ve encountered numerous CofE vicars that have been downright helpful in the process, stating that it’s the couple’s day and that we are both there to do a job for them. A number of vicars though, particularly – for some reason – in rural areas, do take a very dim view on photography during ceremonies. I have heard enough jaw-dropping stories, across the years, to realise that it’s more often than not a case of once bitten, twice shy (often-times more likely, thrice bitten, forever shy) and when a celebrant has encountered one or more photographers that have impacted upon a ceremony, he or she might be inclined to be highly cautious in future. A couple that I once met – guests at a wedding – told me how the photographer that they had hired had called their ceremony to a halt, told them that he’d not managed to get a shot of the rings going on and asked them to repeat the procedure. I’ve heard a good number of not-dissimilar tales!

Meleza & James informed me that their vicar had stated a rule to them that their photographer would only be allowed to take photographs from the back of the church. It’s the most commonly applied rule in those cases where strict rules are applied, though I have photographed one wedding where the vicar barred photography during the ceremony outright, under threat of stopping proceedings and expelling me from the church if I was seen wielding my camera. The couple were highly disappointed to learn of this rule. I sat right at the back, looking straight up the aisle, cradled my camera in my lap (set to ‘silent’ mode) and took a number of shots without looking through the viewfinder. A few of them worked :~)

I digress…

Meleza & James expressed their heartfelt desire that I – their photographer – be allowed to do what I do, unfettered by constraint on what positions I might take. The outcome was that I was able to take a position at the front of the church – tucked away behind a buttress – that allowed me to make images like the one featured here. I asked the vicar after the ceremony if he was happy with what I’d been doing and he responded by telling me that he hadn’t even known I was there :~) I’ve since worked alongside the same and other vicars at the church and it has always gone really well for all concerned.

#19 – Helen & Ian

Securing a booking to photograph a wedding is very much a trust based process. Sufficient quality, of course, has to be evident in one’s work (and a style that matches a potential client’s tastes); that though should usually speak for itself in the work on display. The deal can usually only be sealed though through the establishment of trust on a human level. I don’t imagine that many people want an overt misanthrope or a bull in a china shop at their wedding (though they may sometimes have to put up with the odd relative with such characteristics being there :~).

For many years now, I’ve ‘negotiated’ and concluded all of my bookings online, in the main through a few emails back and fore and really very occasionally with a Skype or FaceTime meeting thrown in to the mix. My Web site seems to have enough information in place to provide potential clients with a good handle on who I am and what I’m about besides which, across the most recent years, almost everyone that has booked me has already seen me in action at a previous wedding or has known me personally outside of the world of weddings (in particular, around a quarter of my bookings over the past two years have come from former students of mine), thus interpersonal trust has already been firmly established.

In the early days though, I would immediately offer to meet with a prospective client in person before they made a decision on whether to book or not. I would travel to far-flung places such as… Boscombe, Westbourne… even as far as Poole in order to seal the deal. I did conduct a couple of consultations in London, too, though these were combined with visits to and stays with friends. The tipping point, a little further into my time in practice, came when I spent £50 and 6 hours in total of solid travel time to jump on a train to London (and then back again) to conduct a consultation that lasted an hour, only to never again hear from the prospective client (I swear it was my choice of coat). My client base was becoming far more nationwide in make-up than local so after that, I stopped offering up-front to travel to meet with enquirers and made every effort to further ensure that I was conveying a strong sense of who I am through material on my Web site.

Back to the early days though, my in-person consultation with Helen & Ian was the furthest I’d ever driven from home for such purposes, further even than Christchurch (a heady six miles away from my home!) I drove up to an area near to where the M27 joins with the M3 to meet them at their home – just after they’d arrived back from work – on a Friday evening. The meeting with them was significantly more convivial than my interaction with Friday evening rush-hour traffic had been; thankfully so! Ian saw me to my car after our meeting had concluded – no conclusion though as to whether a booking would ensue, or not; a friendly have a think and we’ll keep in touch – and before I set off, he told me that they had already met with a few other photographers but that I was the first one that they’d met whom he would be happy to have at his and Helen’s wedding as a guest.

I took that as a good sign and indeed that’s what it proved to be. I loved photographing their wedding and loved going back to their home a few years later to do a family shoot with them and their first-born.

And as you couldn’t see Ian properly in that first one, here’s one of both he and Helen, peeking through a door to observe all of their guests just before making their grand entrance for the wedding meal…

#20 – Nigel & Sue

The majority of my clients are – how do I put this? – not the biggest fans of the process of being photographed. I’ve only encountered a handful of couples – at most – over the past decade that have been the types to actively enjoy being in front of the camera in general; for all of the others, the relationship with cameras has ranged from one of mild antipathy to outright terror. Whenever a client has expressed to me – in advance of a wedding – his or her discomfort with being photographed, I’ve simply replied, “You’ve not been photographed by me, yet!” I seem – somehow – to have a way.

I describe it as a process of attrition, though that’s for internal consumption only, not for broadcast. :~)

Joining the throngs of my clients that carry themselves off in (my :~) photographs as though it’s their profession, Nigel quipped that this was his Calvin Klein moment…

#21 – Evelyn & Marc

In photographing scenes I almost invariably default to shooting landscape, so to speak. It’s the way that I see the world around me, most of the time, and particularly when seeking to be as responsive as possible to things occurring around me I find it best to just look at things the way that I… look at things.

I do though sometimes see value in tilting my head fully to one side and sometimes indeed have time to do so.

Here’s Evelyn, on her way from the very top floor to the very… ground floor where she’ll meet and marry Marc. She’s at the centre of a wedding-day Mandelbrot set :~)…

And the one more because we didn’t get to see Marc in that last one…

#22 – Sarah & Tim

Tim built a marquee out of trees and hessian for his and Sarah’s wedding day celebrations. It was mightily impressive. They were mightily impressive. You can’t see them in this photograph though – mighty as they both are – because they’re hidden behind one or more of the mighty trees holding up their marquee, so I’ll follow with another that shows the two together.

From a young age I’d been familiar with the tradition of a groom carrying his bride across the threshold of their marital home, or at least with the notion of such a practice actually existing having only ever seen it occur in films. This was the first time that I saw it happen in front of my own eyes. It was the last time, too, as I’d both never before nor have I since photographed a wedding where celebrations took place at the couple’s own home. The mighty Sarah & Tim…

#23 – Ben & Sarah
Ben was a student of mine from the last century, before time travel was invented (or was it?) He became a good friend to me back then and went on to play an instrumental role in certain important aspects of my life that continue to enrich my existence to this day. We’ve spent time together in Singapore and Sydney, London and various districts of Bournemouth. Being able to get to know Sarah was a highly enriching experience, too. Her wisdom, humour and generosity of spirit were all of the very highest order. It made for a profound and enormously enjoyable experience photographing their wedding. I found myself, during their marriage ceremony, having to consciously remind myself to actually take photographs as I was stood there, overwhelmed by the experience myself. Here they are, having just updated their relationship statuses online :~)

#24 – Hamish & Ruth

I knew that fun was afoot when I received the opening enquiry email from Hamish & Ruth, with the subject line reading: “Scottish biker marries climbing Malteser.” Within that first email they stated, “We’re having a traditional but laid-back wedding with some very silly twists.” Traditional? In that two people got married then had a celebratory party, I suppose so. Laid-back? It certainly was – with regards to ‘convention’ – but had more than enough energy about it, too. Very silly twists? Well, I usually read ‘silly’ in a pejorative tone but fun twists aplenty there were (as though I wasn’t excited enough by the initial email and ongoing communications, a further email wherein I was asked if I would mind being strapped onto the back of a motorbike to photograph a bikers’ cavalcade from church to reception venue notched up my adrenaline levels that one degree more!)

Here Hamish & Ruth cut their wedding cake with a climbing axe (the two first met at a rock climbing event) during celebrations at the delightfully idiosyncratic Symondsbury Manor

#25 – Sam & Pete
Sam worked for the Bournemouth Echo as their digital projects coordinator and whilst planning her own wedding she set up a wedding planning blog on the newspaper’s Web site, inviting a variety of wedding suppliers to contribute guest articles. She invited Emma (the wedding photographer whose wedding I’d photographed the year before, wedding #6) and I to co-author a set of articles on wedding photography that were then published on that blog.
It felt like an additional validatory stepping stone – still early-on in my career as a wedding photographer – to be invited to engage in such a project and indeed to be asked to photograph Sam & Pete’s wedding.
This image comes from the portrait session I did with the two, on their wedding day in Lymington, a fisherman and his dog calling out their congratulations to Sam & Pete :~)

And one of the two as we set out for Lymington Harbour…

#26 – Katherine & Darren
Katherine & Darren got married in Australia, where the latter hails from. They came back to Katherine’s home county of Dorset to celebrate anew with close-ones that hadn’t been able to make it to antipodean climes for the initial round. They booked me to photograph their UK celebration, an evening party at Bistro on the Beach in Southbourne.
Whilst not a full-on wedding in the strictest sense, I have always counted this amongst my tally of weddings photographed as… well… it felt very much like a wedding to me! :~) A bride in her dress, a groom in his suit, a celebratory gathering of family and friends, speeches (well, one speech), a few family group photographs and portraits of the couple; no cake-cutting (though there was a tiered tower of cupcakes for the taking of) or first dance but I’ve photographed a good few weddings from beginning to end that have seen the couple dispense with those so traditionally weddingy things.
Importantly, to me, there was much laughter and an abundance of surrounding energy, too. Here’s Katherine, setting the tone for the evening ahead as she completes the final touches on decor before her and Darren’s guests arrive…

Katherine & Darren together; looks a bit like a first dance might look :~)…

#27 – Huw & Kim
Huw & Kim’s was my third wedding featuring a former student of mine, the second of a graduate of the degree course that I led for a period of time and also the second to work for a company called Double Negative (who produce visual effects for film and television), the first former-student wedding featuring a couple that were both masters graduates and both working at Double Negative too (though I’m adding that to my tally as 1 wedding, as that’s what it was :~)
Having found myself in not-unfamiliar territory slipping into a tombola of statistics of personal interest, I just can’t help myself now; I know there’s only one way out for me, so I’m going to have to do it. I’ve found myself curious to know how many weddings I’ve photographed across the past decade that are connected to visual effects and games companies; more particularly the numbers associated with any one company.
Please bear with me as I nerd my way through my job number spreadsheet :~)…
*Double Negative7 (+1 wherein the groom started off his career at DNeg but by the time of getting married, had moved into an entirely different field of work, +1 again who is now at DNeg but at the point of marrying, was at another company already counted elsewhere)
*Blue Zoo5
*Moving Picture Company4 (of which 1 did not feature a NCCA graduate but the bride was a producer at MPC and was referred to me by a number of former students working there)
*Self-employed freelance – 3
*Framestore – 2
*Sony Computer Entertainment Europe1 (+3 wherein one of the couple had started their careers at SCEE but had, by the time of their weddings, moved to other companies already counted elsewhere in this list)
*Weta Digital1 (+1 wherein the couple were at Industrial Light & Magic at the point at which I photographed their wedding and at Weta by the time I delivered the images)
*At Rockstar Games at the point of booking, Ubisoft Reflections when the wedding took place and at Sumo Digital by the time I delivered the images – 1
Anyway that was entirely fascinating to me. Now back to Huw & Kim! Huw & Kim are not fodder for my statistical foibles! Well, aside from the fact that Huw added one to the tally for the company currently sat at the top of my table, but I’m back to Huw as an unique individual, Kim very much so too. I was Huw’s Major Project supervisor during his final year as an undergraduate student and always enjoyed our tutorial sessions. Everyone that knows him knows full well just how lovely a human being he is and everyone that knows Kim, knows likewise of her. I loved photographing their wedding and it’s been fantastic to catch up with them both at quite a number more across the ensuing years as I photographed one wedding after another of a friendship group that has a really rather special dynamic about it.
Here, Kim’s bridesmaids respond beautifully to the pronouncement that she and Huw are now married…

I had to pull back a little (strictly speaking, I just switched to my other camera with a different focal length lens) to show Huw in full. I’d not realised quite how tall he was when he was a student, as he was always sat down at his computer already when I turned up for our tutorial sessions :~)…

#28 – Caroline & Tom
In advance of their wedding day I popped up to Hampton Court House to meet with Caroline & Tom to discuss their wedding day plans with them and to do a bit of a pre-wedding test shoot. Caroline said that she was hoping for a bit of snow to create a fitting backdrop to their Christmasy December wedding. In retrospect, ‘a bit’ was an important expression. ‘A bit,’ and not ‘snowmagedon!’
Growing up and first learning to drive in West Wales – at that back in the days when snow was what you expected to have in the winter – I’d learnt how to cope with driving in snowy conditions; indeed when not to set out in snow, which I certainly wouldn’t have normally attempted in the conditions that arose on Caroline & Tom’s wedding day but when there’s a mission that must be fulfilled, must be fulfilled… it must. I’d driven up the night before anyway so it was only a matter of getting from one place locally to another, but those skills picked up many years earlier were fully tested nonetheless.
I did feel very sorry for the coach-load of guests travelling down from Aberystwyth, that got stuck at Cardiff, and for Caroline & Tom in missing those guests. Their wedding though was still an exceptional event, full of warmth (physically, within the house; spiritually both inside and out) and all kinds of good emotion, topped off with a humdinger of a party.
Tom was another former student of mine and is one of three founder-directors of Blue Zoo, a children’s television animation production company. I’ve photographed the weddings of two of those three directors. The other got married before I started photographing weddings, otherwise I would have loved to have gone for the hat-trick! :~)

Tom & Caroline make their getaway at the end of the evening party…

#29 – Keir & Sonia
Keir & Sonia’s wedding – my final of 2010 – was an unusual one to me in terms of how the commission to photograph it came about. I’d been following the work of quite a number of other wedding photographers as I developed my own business. One that I kept close tabs on, Joseph Yarrow, worked in a very similar fashion to that which I liked to pursue myself; very much towards the documentary end of the field of wedding photography. Joseph was to serve as best man to his brother-in-law, Keir. Keir & Sonia were dead set on Joseph also being their wedding photographer. Anyone that has photographed a wedding fully knows that you’d not really have much left over in you to perform other key duties too, thus Joseph put out a call for someone that could photograph a wedding in as similar as possible a manner to that in which he did, with an offer of a trade of services by way of his taking on photographing a wedding for whomever was able to step into the breach.
The wedding was set to take place in Lancashire on the day after Boxing Day that year and in large part as I was intrigued by such an arrangement and also in part as I was already booked for a wedding on New Year’s Day that would see me starting off in Lancashire, landing up in Yorkshire, I offered to help out. Thus it came to pass that I photographed Keir & Sonia’s wedding.
I recall a satellite photograph doing the rounds at the time, showing a British Isles practically entirely covered in snow other than a little patch of green around the part of Dorset that I live in. I’d already had a taste of what the snow that year could do – in photographing Tom & Caroline’s wedding (#28) shortly before Christmas Day – so it was with some degree of trepidation that I set off from Bournemouth to drive up to Lancashire on Boxing Day. The motorways and major roads were all, thankfully, passable though it did make for an extraordinary experience – often-times beautiful, often-times surreal – traversing so much of the country from south to north seeing nothing but thick snow (still several feet deep on the closed inside lanes of certain stretches of motorway).
Here Keir & Sonia are served dinner as they celebrate their marriage. I’m a great fan of Brussels sprouts myself. I dare say though that this is the only photograph I have ever taken at a wedding that features them! :~)

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