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Cathy & Pete - Islington Town Hall

Although I aim for a classic, ageless style in my work, I truly love shooting weddings that diverge from the traditional. Weddings are unique events and I’m a particular fan of those that place family, friends and down to earth values above glamour and glitz. All weddings are fantastic, but I guess I’m simply saying that that’s how I’d do it. Cathy & Pete had a wedding just like that.

We kicked off at Islington Town Hall before making our way over to The Snooty Fox in Highbury which is owned by Cathy’s brother’s girlfriend. Despite all being in central London, the route from ceremony to reception took us neatly down a gorgeous little canal walk that’s artfully hidden between urban streets. It’s the sort of place that you could walk right past and unless you were looking for it, miss it. I did a recce (as I always do) ahead of the day itself and when checking it out on Google Maps prior to heading up I simply couldn’t believe that there was anything there. A genuine wonder and huge respect to Islington Council for such a gem. As you’ll see below, we stuck around at the Town Hall, which is beautiful in its own right, to take some images in the lovely corridors while Cathy & Pete’s guests got ahead of us, before doing a ‘walk and shoot’ in the river walk.

The Snooty Fox is a fantastic, characterful pub and as good a location for an intimate wedding reception as I can think of. There’s nothing like packing a pub that looks like this with lots of merry people to make for some fun images. After some of the best bangers and mash I’ve ever had the pleasure of (thanks guys!) we popped back to the river walk with Oscar, Cathy & Pete’s little boy for a few portraits. I love doing what I’ve come to call ‘creative sessions’ where I work directly, one-to-two, if you will, with the bride and groom, and the photos we take during these windows are often amongst my favourites, but photojournalism and quiet observation are still central to my work. A wedding like Cathy & Pete’s, at least in part thanks to the choice of venue, was simply chock full of moments, conversations, interactions and vignettes that are the heart and soul of good photojournalism. Add to this the lovely ‘transitions’, the periods of movement between one location or ‘chapter’ of a wedding and another and this is the sort of day that really lends itself to my style.

As always, here are a selection of my favourites. I took the train up for this gig and therefore travelled a bit lighter than usual. As normal, this is the 5D MkIII with 17-40L, 35L, 50mm f/1.4 an 135L but the dancing is lit a lot more simply and I shot a bit more ambient evening stuff, something I used to do a lot of and enjoyed focusing on again.

P.S. Oscar wasn’t the only little one at this wedding. It featured an understudy cast of some of the most expressively fantastic little people this season!

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Natalie & Joe - Garden Wedding

Finally time to catch up on some blog posts. There’s plenty in the pipeline so it’s going to get busy around here. First up, Natalie & Joe’s church and garden marquee wedding from late August.

When I met Nat and Joe and it became clear that Joe was an ex-Exeter boy I knew that we were going to get on famously. My former university is noted in holy writ for the production of first-rate people, and so it was with Joe. As for Natalie, anyone who has chosen Exeter University alumni as their partner for life clearly doesn’t want for taste. All joking aside, terrific couple, fantastic day. Joe’s father is the Deacon at St John Fisher Church in Merton and had been specially trained up to preside over his son’s wedding. For Joe it came as a bit of a shock when, on the day, he found out that it was in fact Dad’s ‘debut’! Trepidation which, it turned out, was entirely unneccessary as Mr Kavanagh Snr did a sterling job.

Following the ceremony with the weather looking highly suspect we briefly dashed out to the common to grab some portraits before the heavens opened and then made tracks for Natalie’s parents home in Effingham and the rather impressive mega marquee that had been cunningly affixed to the house. It was great fun chatting to the Exeter people at the reception and with a flower girl who encapsulated the term ‘loveable rogue’ there was never a dull moment! Below are a selection of my favourites, and if anyone can name the tall narrow tree in the wide vertical portrait below, then let me know as it has me flummoxed.

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Christmas Presents - Creative Portrait Session Voucher

Christmas seems like a long way off (to me at least) but the shop windows, the high street and my car thermometer are beginning to convince me that winter is well and truly on the way. People often ask me if I offer gift certificates or vouchers for portrait photography, particularly around Christmas time. With that in mind, today I’m launching a straightforward ‘Creative Portrait Session’ voucher that entitles the recipient to a 90 minute photoshoot with myself. It can be used for couple sessions, kids shoots or simply by individuals who’d like some great photographs and includes all associated editing, online preview gallery, an image disc, at least 50 edited images and a framed photo of your choice all for £199.

Christmas presents always involve much brain wracking in my house and I often feel like it’d be nice to give something less generic and with more soul. To some extent this is the best of both worlds. It’s a gift that’s all about preserving memories and creating something distinctive and unique but it doesn’t involve endless well-intentioned effort, sticky back plastic, pritt stick, and an inevitably mediocre outcome*. So, if you’re looking for something a bit less generic this Christmas and want to upgrade the soulful and homemade vibe, why not get in touch and purchase a Creative Portrait Session Voucher.

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*At least I know that’s what it’s like whenever I try and make home made christmas cards for my girlfriend… Apologies and kudos to those who are skilled in these areas!

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Emily & Paul - Brighton Bandstand Wedding

I previewed a couple of images from Emily & Paul’s fantastic Brighton Bandstand wedding back in July. I’m busily catching up with blog posts of late so I thought it was time to share this one in greater fullness. I really enjoyed this wedding. I know I say that all the time, but I really really did. It came at a point in the season where things were very hectic, I was pretty tired and it massively reinvigorated me and reminded me how much fun this job can be.

Emily & Paul are lovely chilled out people and were intent on having a laid-back day. The sun shone, the drinks flowed and the people partied. It was a riot. Lewis Hamilton even made a cameo appearance. These images don’t need too much by way of explanation, so without further ado, on with the show. Here’s a selection from one of my favourite weddings of 2012. For the photographers amongst you these were shot on the 2 x Canon 5DIII with a range of lenses including the 17-40L, 35L, 50 f/1.4 and 135L.

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Jennie & Kieran - Leeds Castle

I meant to blog this one some time ago, but it was in the middle of the crazy season and blog posts fell behind. Better late than never!

When I met Jennie & Kieran last year and they told me they were getting married at Leeds Castle I was seriously excited. It’s a pretty astonishing venue and its tagline ‘the loveliest castle in the world’ is big on truth and low on hype. Jennie & Kieran are a fantastic couple, really down to earth, very organised and very much my sort of people. Despite her incredible efficiency and brilliant orchestration of events, Jennie couldn’t control the weather. Unfortunately, after the day started bright and warm - this was mid July - it wasn’t long before regular summer was replaced by British Summer™and we had ourselves some rather torrential rain. Driving home on the M20 was an exercise in wheeled-boating that I am not keen to repeat anytime soon!

The wedding itself was a different matter of course. (Wedding Day + Epic Castle) x Lovely People = Fantastic Time Had By All! Seriously enjoyed this one. Despite being indoors more than we hoped, the nature of a castle is that the rooms are large enough and the ceilings high enough for everyone to spread out and enjoy themselves. One of the real joys with a venue as sprawlingly large as Leeds Castle - it’s a good long walk around the moat - is finding the angles that work well photographically. Sometimes the locations that are most visually spectacular to the human eye are somewhat more demanding to box into the confines of a viewfinder frame. I love this sort of challenge.

Jennie & Kieran were unfailingly calm on the day, a couple clearly at peace with their decision to tie the knot and absolutely sure that they’re right for one another. That’s a special thing to photograph and something I really enjoy trying to commit to ‘film’. My thanks to them for letting me share their day, for picking such a ridiculously superb location and being unfailingly welcoming, enthusiastic and fun all day long. As always, below are a selection of my favourites from the day:

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One For Now - Ellie & Matt: A Sneak Peek


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Wedding Fairs 2012/13

Bookings for 2013 are beginning to pick up pace so I thought it might be useful to let you know which wedding fairs I will be exhibiting at over the coming months. I’ll be available at all the shows below to chat to you about your day, my approach to photography and to show you some work and sample albums. I look forward to meeting many of you.

23rd September 2012 - Farnham Maltings

28th October 2012 -
Beaumont Estate

13th January 2013 -
Brooklands Hotel

17th February 2013 -
Farnham Maltings

24th March 2013 -
Hedsor House

With the exception of the Brooklands Hotel fair, these fairs are all arranged by Prestige Wedding Fairs. The Brooklands Hotel fair is arranged by Silver Lined Wedding Shows. Do visit their websites for more information. Free admission is standard at all fairs.

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Gemma & Rob - Wotton House, Dorking

Gemma & Rob’s wedding in August was my 2nd visit to Wotton House in as many months. Gemma was one of the most conscientious brides I’ve ever encountered (very much a good thing) and clearly knew what she wanted from her photography and made a real point of doing her research. We chatted at two wedding fairs before our initial consultation and Gemma asked all the right questions. This may sound like I’m poking fun, but in all seriousness it’s great from my point of view to work with people who have clear ideas about what they want from their wedding photography.

Shooting the same venue twice in the space of a few months presents its own challenges. It’s important to come up with new ideas and not simply shoot the same stuff in the same way. Staleness is definitely the photographer’s enemy. Once again the service at Wotton was superb and everyone was incredibly well looked after. As for Gemma & Rob, a friendlier couple you’d struggle to meet. If you ask my girlfriend, she’ll tell you that I gravitate towards (and bang on about) warm, down-to-earth people. So it was with Gemma & Rob, a fantastic family who were just great fun to hang out with. Connor, the pageboy was a total dude. Occasionally very shy, but mostly full of life and a tremendous sense of mischief. He features in quite a lot of the images below and was an ever-present source of dynamic images!

I also had a highly serendipitous meeting with Glenn Aitken. In what can only be described as one of the most coincidental and jaw-dropping conversations of my life, it transpired that not only is Glenn intimately familiar with the small collection of islands we had JUST booked a holiday too (he lived there for years working as a musician and photographer) but he also finds himself back in the UK thanks to a record deal with a label that my good friend Ruth works for. “Yeah, I know Ruth” was frankly a gobsmacking revelation after a conversation that revealed a whole host of ever-more surprising commonalities. Glenn is a friend of Gemma & Rob’s and a singer/songwriter who suggests a blend of the Finn brothers and Gary Barlow. As a Crowded House fan, I consider this a seriously good thing. Glenn also does an awesome loop pedal performance. Anyone who has seen Imogen Heap or KT Tunstall will be familiar with the concept; it makes for a kick ass live show. On the night he performed a standout set, something I’ll remember in years to come. Gemma & Rob’s day was certainly a fun one.

Rob is in the process of buying a dSLR so in a year or two he’ll probably be putting me out of a job. Until then, here are some of my favourites from the wedding!

For the photo geeks, these were shot on two 5DIII’s with the 17-40L, 35L, 50mm f/1.4 and 135L.


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Wings & Wheels 2012

For the last couple of year’s I’ve been involved with the Wings & Wheels Air and Motoring Show. Wings & Wheels takes place annually at Dunsfold Park near Cranleigh, Surrey and is a truly fantastic event that I love dearly. It’s one of those all too rare, genuinely brilliant, family days out that makes me love England in summer. I was introduced to Wings & Wheels thanks to Paul Deach who runs the Surrey Heath Resident’s Network and have subsequently been involved as the show’s official snapper.

I hugely enjoy shooting weddings, but after a long summer of ceremonies and celebration, it’s a nice change of scene to rock up to Dunsfold in late August and shoot something quite different. I’ve always had a fascination with aviation and the relaxed atmosphere of the two days makes the whole experience a lot of fun. It’s interesting shooting the show from an ‘event’ point of view - including spectators in the scene etc - and that’s my main role as the official photographer but, as a bit of a closet aviation geek, it’s also fun to spend some time shooting for the sheer pleasure. I also usually attend the press launch day a couple of weeks before the show, and this year the organisers planned to try and create the longest line of toy cars anywhere in the world and, in doing so, set a Guinness World Record.

I shot hundreds of frames this year, but below are a selection of my favourites, from both the press launch and record attempt and from the show itself. I hope you enjoy them. If you’re interested in purchasing prints, or seeing a full slideshow then do check out the links below:

Print Purchases

Full Slideshow


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Jojo & Tom - Stone Barn, Cotswolds

How ridiculously hot are Jojo & Tom? Yahuh? This was like Greek Goddess meets Ralph Lauren model and I got to shoot the wedding. Fun fun times. I normally don’t blog as many images as this, but I found it hard to pick. Add to the mix a wicked venue, rain that stopped at all the opportune moments, a massive wedding party including a best man who looked a lot like a famous singer (you’ll spot him) and bevy of stunning bridesmaids and it was hard to go wrong.

Jojo & Tom were married at the Stone Barn nr Aldsworth in the Cotswolds and the whole affair dripped style from beginning to end. From - as the boys would say - ‘strong’ suits to Mustangs for wheels, this wedding was a sight to behold. Jojo had warned me repeatedly that Tom wasn’t a fan of being in front of the camera, but on the day they were both super relaxed, and great to work with. To be honest, with genes like their’s I think I had a decent leg up!

Jojo got ready at the boutique Barnsley House hotel while Tom and the gents were at the Wheatsheaf Inn just down the road in Northleach. Both were seriously lovely. If you’re having a Cotswolds wedding and are looking for great locations to get ready, I’d recommend either.

My thanks also go to Jessie Thomson who helped plan and co-ordinate the day. She was a real winner and a great help to the smooth running of proceedings. She even nipped off to bring the engagement ring back for photos. What a star.

Anyway, as ever, a selection of my favourites. A few more than usual, but hopefully you’ll agree it’s worth it. These were all shot on the 5D3 with a selection of 135L, 35L, 50 f/1.4 and 17-40L. My beloved 135L took a tumble during the evening and so I had to send it off to Canon for some TLC. Thankfully it’s back and rocking my world as normal.

Cheers to Jojo & Tom for letting me shoot their wedding and for being so astonishingly sexy.

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Emily & Paul - Brighton Preview

I shot Emily & Paul’s wedding in Brighton this past weekend. For the first time in ages we got truly fantastic weather and given the seaside location this seemed both apt and fortuitous! I thought I’d share a quick sneak preview, seeing as my blog posts are somewhat behind at the moment (!) to whet everyone’s whistle!

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Freddie & Sarah - Wotton House

Sarah & Freddie were married at Wotton House in mid June under (miraculously) sunny skies! I went to school with Freddie and so not only was it a great day to shoot but it was fun to catch up with some people I haven’t seen much of in years.

Wotton House is a pretty sizeable venue and has some particularly spectacular gardens with a fantastic vantage point above them which offers some interesting options for shooting from height. I’m photographing another wedding at Wotton later in the year so I’m getting pretty familiar with it. It’s sometimes the way that you don’t shoot at a venue for years on end and then in the space of a few short months you shoot there regularly! Such is the way with Wotton. When you shoot weddings week in week out, one of the things that sets a location apart is the quality of their staff. Wotton was exceptional. Frank, who largely ran the day, was a total legend. Boundless energy, attention to detail and a great guy also. Big recommendation!

Sarah & Freddie had a butterfly theme so when a butterfly landed on Sarah we knew we were having a good time! He was a bit tired and on his last legs and not really willing to budge, but nonetheless I’m sure there’s good luck in there somewhere! Anyway, here are some of my favourites from the day, as ever shot on the 5DIII and a selection of lenses.

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Laura & Rich - Hampton Court House

Laura & Rich were married at St Nicholas Church in Shepperton over the Jubilee long weekend. Their reception was held at Hampton Court House, a venue I’ve shot at a number of times over the years and it was great to photograph there again. I also had the pleasure of working with Toastmaster Jay Tough (what a name!) for the first time since 2009. Jay is a genuinely first rate toastmaster and a terrific bloke also.

It’s always interesting shooting at a venue that you know well. The aim is to try and use the familiarity to your advantage while not simply shooting angles you’ve used before. At the same time, there are sometimes bizarrely similar moments in similar places. One such moment occurred this time around as a group of little ones congregated beneath the same tree, without direction, at a similar time of day, in very similar light, turned and looked right at me. It’s not an exact replica of an earlier photograph, but it’s oddly familiar. Take a look:

2012 - Laura & Rich’s Wedding

2011 - Emma & Justin’s Wedding

Sometimes that’s the way of things and it highlights to me the importance, as a wedding photojournalist, of knowing the venues and the plan. Some locations are simply great photographs waiting to happen. The setting is there, the light, the composition, just awaiting a moment. I often talk about how great photojournalism is more than merely turning up with a camera and looking at what’s in front of you. Undoubtedly that is its essence, but I’m a big believer in the power of anticipation. Anticipation works on a number of levels, from minute to minute, second to second and over more lengthy periods of time. In one scenario it may simply be a case of pre-positioning yourself on the other side of the door a bride’s about to walk through, but on a longer timescale it’s possible to visit a wedding venue two weeks before the day itself and conduct a recce that pays dividends in the heat of the moment. Where will the sun be when? Which door is used for what? etc etc. Anticipation can be an investment as well as an instantaneous payoff.

Laura and Rich were a pleasure to work with and in particular they had some really cute kids at their wedding who made for fantastic subjects. My thanks to them all for having me.

As ever, here’s a selection from the day. If you have any thoughts, pop them in the comments below.


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Really Foxy Client

Ran into a real foxy client today.

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Alex & Narishta - Royal Military Academy Wedding

Alex & Narishta’s wedding was one of the most distinctive I’ve ever photographed. There was so much about this day that set it apart from a ‘stereotypical’ wedding. First up it was at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The Royal Memorial Chapel, which played host to Alex & Narishta’s nuptials would be better described as a Cathedral. A huge building thick with heritage, gravitas and grandeur. The opportunity to shoot a wedding at the RMA was a real thrill. Years ago I used to work there as a civvy contractor for the Army Medical Directorate (AMD) in the Former Army Staff College (FASC). As Alex will tell you, the military loves their acronyms! The camp is vast and when I worked there I only saw a small corner of the place so it was great to explore some of the more famous spots camera in hand.

Last year I watched a really interesting three part BBC documentary about officer cadets training at Sandhurst and during one point in the wedding day, while moving from the Chapel to the steps of Old College for formals, I suddenly recognised a location that had featured in a clip during the documentary. It was fascinating and bizarre in equal measure.

Alex is a member of the TA and has served in Afghanistan amongst other tours and is a thoroughly likeable and incredibly interesting guy. Narishta is a doctor and her family is from Sri Lanka. A more colourful and identity-laden day you’d be hard pressed to imagine. I really enjoyed shooting Alex & Narishta’s wedding and Alex’s ability to stay cool in full blues, under blazing sunshine, while preparing to get married and while giving speeches to 260 guests was seriously impressive. Narishta was also very laid back but her beautiful sari was probably better suited to the weather conditions!

I’d particularly like to big up Mistah J who DJed the evening. He’s just getting started but he was seriously slick and I’d never have known that he was new to the game unless he’d told me. Really friendly guy also. I also met some lovely people in the shape of Videographer Chris Towndrow and his second (and also) stills photographer Caroline Ellison.

Here’s a selection of my favourite images, all shot on the 5DIII.

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Kelly & Danny - Monkey Island

The South-East is simply chock full of outstanding wedding venues. The weekend before last I shot at a new one for me, Monkey Island in Bray-on-Thames. Not only is it beautiful but it reminded me of the awesome adventures of Guybrush Threepwood and his nemesis the ghost pirate Le Chuck. For those to whom that means nothing, do your geeky research!

Kelly & Danny are fantastic people and I’d been really excited to shoot their wedding since our first meeting last year. They wanted a small, intimate ceremony followed up by a fantastic party and, from a photography standpoint, relaxed was the name of the game. Photography that observes the day rather than controls it. Definitely my sort of clients!

When I visited Monkey Island a couple of weeks prior to recce the location, our main concern was whether the Thames would continue to rise and sweep the whole place away. The April and May rains had been relentless and hopes for an outside ceremony were wilting. Oh how contrary the English weather can be! On the day itself the sun finally put his hat on and baked us all. From morning till night hardly a cloud was seen and blue skies prevailed. Kelly looked truly stunning, Danny exceptionally dapper and they were both ably attended by a tremendous wedding party. Seriously, what superbly lovely people. The speeches were particularly memorable. Any long-term readers will know how I feel about great speeches, but honestly, the intimacy of the occasion and the sincerity of the words made them especially powerful. In particular I’ll remember the usher, George - all of about 12 or 13 - making a speech with the poise and self-assurance of a professional orator. Ladies and gents, it was something very special!

Photographing smaller weddings (in terms of guests) is always an interesting challenge as it makes it that much harder to hide in the crowd. With less people moving around the opportunities for carefully crafting composition are sometimes richer, but the emphasis has to be on patience and observation. Without controlling people directly, often you have to wait for the elements to fall into place. This is one of my favourite aspects of wedding photography and it made for a thoroughly enjoyable day’s coverage. As always, here are a selection of my favourites, shot on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

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Photobooth - Gurntastic!

I’ve been offering a Photobooth as part of my wedding packages for a couple of years now and it invariably proves incredibly popular. Guests love it and end up having a really fun time. The idea is simple. A camera on a tripod, a studio flash setup and a box of props to ensure maximum hilarity. To take the picture, guests press a footswitch on the floor so there need be no interference or unwanted ‘direction’ from me!

Most people go for an eclectic mixture of wigs, toy revolvers and shades, while others prepare to plump for something less outlandish and more traditional. Every once in a while though, someone drops some genuine comedy gold. For me, the image below falls firmly into that category. The last image of the night from Richard & Laura’s wedding at Hampton Court House on Monday, this phenomenal gurn is simply top drawer!

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Website Downtime/Technical Issue

UPDATE - ALL FIXED NOW
(Not sure what changed but we’re back to normal operation!)


Hi all,

Just a quick note to apologise for some unscheduled technical issues that my website is currently experiencing. The database that drives the web galleries on my main website is playing up today for an as-of-yet-unknown reason. I’m looking into it and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible. For the time being, please feel free to have a browse through my blog.

sorry!

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Nancy & Rich - Dunsfold Aerodrome

I know Nancy from my involvement in the Dunsfold Wings and Wheels Air & Motoring show and when she asked me to shoot her wedding I was thrilled. She and Rich are wonderfully fun-loving and laid back people and from the off it was clear that their wedding day was a departure from ‘the usual’.

Time is a commodity often lacking in wedding days, the limited hours are crammed with 101 things and although everyone has a superb time, the sense of haste and hurry is palpable. Not so with Nancy & Rich’s wedding. I began the day by visiting a quintessential greasy spoon, just round the corner from me in Deepcut, to photograph Rich’s final breakfast as a free single man. A more genuine and welcoming guy you’d be hard pressed to meet, Rich is known as ‘Pig’ by his friends and, although it’s down to his surname rather than his appetite, that didn’t seem to be wanting despite the momentous nature of the day! After watching Rich tuck away breakfast in short order, I headed over to Nancy’s house to shoot the preparations. With makeup done and hair fixed it was off to Guildford Register Office to do the deed. The ceremony was full of love, laughter and a few genuinely hilarious moments and, once the formalities were completed, we all made our way to Dunsfold for the reception.

What a reception! With a Caterham/Lotus kit-car day in progress those who were feeling brave were offered rides in the passenger seats as grinning petrolheads did their best to perturb coifed hairdo’s. Afterwards, there was plenty of time for guests to catch-up, relax and enjoy the newly-appeared sunshine. As I said above, most weddings feel quite tight from a time point of view, in contrast Nancy & Rich’s wedding felt like the perfect embodiment of a relaxing sunny Saturday. (With the addition of some rather nippy cars).

Shooting portraits on an airfield was an interesting experience. Dunsfold is actually quite a big, open, desolate space in some ways so we had to seek out the best spots quite carefully. Nancy & Rich are really into dog agility and so we thought it proper to include their three gorgeous dogs in the photographs! Complete with matching neckerchiefs and full of energy they were fantastic fun. I’ve never seen a dog bounce quite as high as Lucca. Dog meets cartoon rabbit would be a fitting description!

So, as you’ve probably gathered this was one of my most memorable weddings for a long time. It’s not every day that I get to meet my long lost brother - a chap called Phil who, despite my denials, actually looks a LOT like me (see here) - shoot pictures on the Top Gear Test Track and work with a couple who really got to the heart of what a wedding should be about. Family, friends and having a fantastically memorable time. Nancy & Rich were a pleasure to work with from beginning to end and couldn’t have been more welcoming. I love shooting weddings like this! Thanks to them both.

As ever, please find a selection of my favourites below. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Nancy & Rich - A Quick Preview

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FoCal by Reikan

Here’s one for the photographers. Recently I’ve started making use of a piece of software called FoCal. It’s an effective solution for automating the lens alignment process. It’s bloody clever and really speeds up the process. I’ve put together some thoughts in the form of a video. It’s a big longer than I intended, so apologies if I waffle on, but hopefully it’s of some interest.




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Emma & David - Upwaltham Barns

The A283 and the A285 that run down through Petworth and on to Chichester are some of my favourite driving roads in the entire world. The landscape is simply breathtaking, with rolling hills, sweeping views and the sense of being in a valley that’s somehow shielded from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the South East. In short, it’s a stunning bit of England. When I met Emma & David last year and they told me they were getting married at Upwaltham Barns near Petworth I was pretty excited. I wasn’t familiar with the venue, but the setting is so beautiful that I knew I was in for a treat.

Emma & David’s day included a fair bit of rain but, thanks to ingenious eBaying on Emma’s part, there was a considerable quantity of umbrellas to go around. Their wedding ceremony took place at St Mary Magdalene Church in Rusper, another location that is astonishingly idyllic - talk about a beautiful church! Afterwards, we jumped in the cars and made our way over to Upwaltham, stopping at the Duncton viewpoint for a couple of photographs on the way.

David’s speech was one of the most moving I’ve heard in a long while and fantastically delivered too. It had Emma welling up despite herself and it felt pretty special to be in the same room, capturing it as it all played out. Following speeches, the three of us stepped away for some creative portraits. With the weather finally breaking we had a great time in the walled garden and although Emma & David had warned me that they weren’t comfortable in front of the camera they certainly looked it! They’re a fantastic couple and I really enjoyed working with them. Also, Emma has the most flawless skin of just about any bride I’ve ever photographed! A ‘tog’s dream!

Anyway, as ever, a selection of my favourites. Thanks to Emma & David for choosing me as their photographer and let’s all collectively keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t keep raining till Christmas!

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LATE AVAILABILITY - 15th September 2012

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Due to a postponed wedding I am now available for Saturday 15th September 2012. If you’re getting married on that date, have yet to engage a photographer and like my work, I look forward to hearing from you. Get in touch.

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Image of the Week - Wanna Play?

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The core of my wedding work is built around observation. Like most photographers I’m a total gear nut who constantly hankers after the latest and greatest cameras, but despite this my most valued piece of equipment is a keen set of eyes. Seeing a scene clearly - as a distinction from simply ‘looking’ at a scene - and constantly being on alert to the situation around you is more important than any camera, lens or accessory. Weddings are incredibly event-rich occasions. From the big obvious moments to the smallest gestures, glances and interactions, there are literally thousands of opportunities an hour. The key is in identifying the interesting ones and building an image around them.

I’ve always been a fan of the ‘sideshows’ at weddings. That is to say the small, often unnoticed events that tell their own stories. They’re simultaneously self-contained but also add detail and colour to the story of the wedding day as a whole.

The image below is from back in 2009 and was shot at a wedding party in London. The bride and groom had been married overseas and were having an evening reception to celebrate with those who couldn’t make it out to the ceremony in the Caribbean. The room was jam packed and although there weren’t many kids in attendance there were a few, and understandably they looked universally bored. Except these two. As the hubbub continued 6ft above, down below knee height this Games Master and her would-be suitor were engrossed in a spot of Nintendo.

I love moments like this. The complete ignorance of the party above and their absorption in the game is wonderful. I love the light cast from the screen onto the girl’s face, the incongruous mixture of casual and formal and the total lack of camera awareness. I got lucky frankly. In another world on another day a photographer crouching to ground level to capture the world from their point of view may well have proved distracting, making the picture less about the moment and more about their reaction to me. Thankfully the game was a good one and the concentration absolute!

This was shot with the Canon 5DII and the EF 50 f/1.4. Exposure was 1/30th, f/2.2, ISO 4000.

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Justyna & Tom - Frimley Hall Hotel

Justyna & Tom booked me relatively late in the day, only a couple of months before their wedding date. Thankfully their church and venue couldn’t be closer to home so recce and venue visits couldn’t have been easier. Justyna is from Poland and Tom’s a Camberley lad and they were married at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church in Frimley the weekend before last. Our Lady Queen of Heaven is about 4 mins in the car from me, but their reception venue, Frimley Hall Hotel is even closer - 2 mins at a push. Despite being so close, I’d never shot their before.

Justyna began her day with hair and makeup appointments in Camberley before heading back to Frimley Hall to get ready. The weather on the day was not kind, but then again when of late has it been?! Apparently the weather in Poland was a balmy 27℃ and gloriously sunny but we treated to more rain, dreary skies and the sort of weather we are world famous for complaining about!

There were lots of Polish family and friends in attendance and it was great to sit on one of the mainly Polish tables for a short while during the wedding breakfast and hear epic tales of 7-day Polish weddings! One of the funniest things about the day was repeatedly being asked; “Do English people dance at weddings?”. Despite reassurances that we could boogie with the best of them, skepticism remained high right up until the moment the music started. The English contingent did us proud and while, it has to be said, the Polish had significantly more ability, we put our ultra-conservative stereotypes to bed!

Justyna is an absolutely beautiful girl and very relaxed in front of the camera and both her and Tom were fantastic in making the most of photo opportunities as the rain poured and drizzled and the light toyed with us! Tom’s brother David did a superb job as Best Man and was huge help to me throughout the day - my thanks to him.

Here’s a selection of my favourites from the day. This was my first wedding to be shot entirely on the new Canon 5D MK III’s. They were fantastic and while I am itching to get my hands on the delayed battery grips, the camera fitted into my workflow very well. Enjoy.


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Lisa & Tom - Brooklands Hotel

Lisa & Tom were married at Pirbright Parish Church (St Michael & All Angels) followed by a reception at the new Brooklands Hotel next to Mercedes Benz World. They confided early on that they were real foodies, and as such, had chosen Brooklands, at least in part, for their fine food - their wedding breakfast was a 7-course extravaganza! On the day itself we were blessed with really gorgeous weather, lovely light and a tremendous day that will live long in the memory.

Lisa’s father, Franco, is Italian and rarely have I encountered such immense hospitality. His attentiveness to everyone present was superb, myself included. At one point I assured him that all was well, I was being well fed and watered and generally being looked after brilliantly by the staff at Brooklands and I encouraged him to enjoy his daughter’s wedding. I said something along the lines of “That’s very kind Franco, but please, don’t worry about me, I shoot weddings every weekend and I’m just fine” to which his response was “Ahhh, but you don’t shoot Longobardi weddings every weekend!”. He had a point and it pretty well sums up the welcoming nature of the whole gang - an awesome couple, an awesome family.

Brooklands is an interesting venue and one that’s quite different from the majority of locations I photograph. It’s got a sleek urban feel about it and the opportunity to shoot something a bit different was both a challenge and a treat. The majority of wedding venues are countryside locations, or if not, sport their own gardens. Brooklands is much more stone and steel with little in the way of soft vegetation and I really enjoyed working with such a different aesthetic.

As usual here’s a selection of my favourites from the day, I hope you enjoy them.

For the photographers amongst you, these were mostly shot on the 5DII with a couple shot on the 5DIII (the last three images). I received the 5DIII on the Friday morning and as I hadn’t had a chance to get familiar with it I really only employed it late in the evening when I’d already got plenty in the bag. Lens wise, these include image from the 17-40L, 35L, 50 f/1.4 and 135L.

P.S. I shot this wedding whilst quite unwell. I’d like to thank Juliet McKee, Guy Collier, Chris Geary, Chris Beaumont and above all Kieran Doherty for rallying round and offering to help in any way they could if I’d been too sick to shoot. Thanks also to Charlotte, my awesome girlfriend for offering to carry bags. Finally thanks to Lisa & Tom for understanding the predicament and being so cool. In the end, things were fine, but all credit to them for their taking the situation in their stride.

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Image of the Week - The Blessing


Apologies for the delay in posting an image of the week, I’ve been busy getting the wedding season started and enjoying a week away.

This week’s image is from Gabriella & Tone’s wedding back in June 2011. Gabriella’s folks live near Henley-on-Thames and have a wonderfully beautiful garden in which the marriage blessing took place. Two of the main tenets of my approach are to show the day from the perspective of those who were there and to create a body of work that gives the viewer the sense of being part of the wedding, whether they were present on the day or not. This image does both. By getting in amongst the congregation I was able to frame the photograph between two heads, giving a sense of seeing the moment as a guest might have viewed it.

The actual perspective is somewhat different. This was shot on the 135L, my all-time favourite lens, and due to the focal length, the guests in the foreground and the couple in the background have been seemingly brought closer together. This helps with the image by removing the perception of distance that existed between the congregation and the ceremony and accentuating the framing qualities of the two heads.

The weather during the ceremony was touch and go - rain was a real threat - but the cloudy skies and late afternoon timing contributed to some gorgeously soft light. The final aspect was waiting for the connections to appear in the image. It’s sometimes challenging to combine multiple significant expressions into one picture, as people react to different things and different moments; but during the reading Tone’s reflective expression and the eye contact between Gabs and the reader came together. It’s a real favourite of mine.

For the togs out there I shot this on the 5DII with the 135L @ f.4.0, 1/800th, ISO 800. Till next week!

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Adam & Karen - Foxhills

Karen & Adam’s wedding was the first of the year for me. It was also the last wedding I’ll shoot entirely on the Canon 5DII. An interesting juxtaposition or start and end. With the first 5D Mk III integrated into my working kit and the second enroute, the 5DII’s are making way. Feeling sentimental for those troopers!

Karen & Adam are a wonderfully chilled out couple. Right up until the moment of marriage it was pretty clear that Karen in particular was entirely unfazed and completely confident in their commitment to one another. It’s rare to see such nervelessness in a bride! Adam admitted to a few nerves of his own, but even so he was also remarkably calm. I usually feed off the collective adrenaline, but the pervasive sense of certainty was an interesting and not unwelcome change! Their day was overcast, windy and more than a little cold, but thankfully the rain held off throughout.

I haven’t shot at Foxhills before but it was a fun experience with a tremendous staff. Events Co-ordinator Chris Collard and Ross the Toastmaster did a superb job. Karen & Adam’s church was lovely and intimate though I was limited in what I was allowed to shoot during the service, partly due to space and partly due to constraints placed upon me by the church. The Reverend conducting the ceremony was a hoot, truly memorable and original and he also happened to look just like Bill Gates. See if you can spot the likeness!

As usual, here’s a selection of my favourites and my thanks to Adam & Karen for being such warm and relaxed clients. Best wishes for the future Mr & Mrs H!

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Rob & Steph - Clandon Park

With the 2012 wedding season due to kick off for me this Friday, I was spending some time the other day making sure 2011’s weddings were all fully archived and tidied away. In doing so I realised that I’d never actually got round to blogging Rob & Steph’s wedding at Clandon Park nr Guildford. I shot Rob & Steph’s engagement session a few months prior to their wedding so came to know them particularly well. I don’t usually do engagement sessions, but they were especially keen to have some photographs done ahead of the day itself and I found the experience really great fun. It’s sometimes hard not to see the very best in people when you spend such an incredibly happy day with them, and I know I bang on about great clients, but Rob & Steph really are immensely lovely people, the sort of people I hope to stay in touch with and hear from in years to come.

Steph begun the day at her Dad’s house - another equally lovely guy - a short drive from both Church and reception venue. After a really great morning, in which I discovered that I’d been to school with some of Steph’s bridesmaid’s friends (small world!), I headed off to Wotton to meet Rob and his groomsmen. St John the Evangelist is a gorgeous church and in the cold bright December light it looked stunning. I tend not to feel the cold a great deal when I’m shooting a wedding and so if in doubt I tend to forgo a jumper. After seeing guests and Rob’s family inside, I stepped outside to wait for Steph’s arrival. It was pretty chilly, but expecting her imminently I figured it’d only be a brief wait. As it happened, half way to church they realised that they’d forgotten Steph’s bouquet and so had to head back to retrieve it! I am convinced this was all a ruse on Steph’s part to keep Rob honest, but she assures me it was a genuine mistake!

I shot the service from the back of the church as I’d been requested to be very discrete. It’s sometimes challenging shooting from the back, but thankfully there were some lovely sight lines that worked well with where Rob & Steph were seated. Following the service it was on to Clandon Park. Clandon is a huge building with an incredible aspect and a magnificent Marble Hall. The wedding breakfast gave way to some first rate speeches and the special guest appearance of Rob’s Super Ted bear - exceptional stuff! The Vaulted Undercroft, where the evening reception took place, is a really fun room to shoot in. It’s curving white vaulting makes lighting it a blast and yet it’s relatively low ceiling keeps things feeling really energetic and intimate. All in, it was a fantastic way to end the 2011 season. Here are some of my favourites from the day, a selection I found particularly hard to whittle down!

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Hasselblad - Fuji Reala

I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to particularly like Fuji Reala. Not exactly sure where I got this idea, perhaps because it has less following and name recognition compared to Velvia and Kodak colour films. I was totally wrong as it’s bloomin’ lovely.

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Image of the Week - Eye Line

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Today’s Image of the Week is from James & Jenny’s wedding at Loseley Park back in May 2011. Loseley is an absolutely stunning venue and the Great Hall is a particularly impressive room, steeped in heritage. It’s amazing to look at with the human eye, but it’s a challenging room to shoot in because it’s tremendously busy. It’s covered in paintings, ornaments, suits of armour and the walls themselves are a real mixture, featuring hard wood, stone and a variety of paint styles. In a room with these characteristics, finding a clean background isn’t possible, and so composition becomes especially important. Finding a strong composition helps focus the viewer’s eye and allows the subject to overpower distractions such as a cluttered background.

James was one of the most heartfelt Groom’s I’ve photographed and was pretty choked up as Jenny walked down the aisle. He held it together like a trooper, but the emotion was plain to see. I always try and be efficient with my movement during a wedding ceremony, limiting it to that which is absolutely necessary. As such, in some wedding venues, I stay put for most of the ceremony; selecting my spot based on a combination of factors including light, angle of view and scope for variety. As Jenny made her entrance, I’d decided that a shot I particularly wanted was her arrival at the end of the aisle and the connection that would pass between Bride and Groom as James first clapped eyes on his lovely wife to be. The anticipation was palpable, emotion running high and I wanted to show the electricity in that moment.

I shoot with my right eye to the viewfinder and this allows me to open my left eye and see the scene outside the frame. I don’t always shoot this way, preferring to switch between ‘off eye’ open and closed, but in this instance I opened my left eye just prior to Jenny reaching the end of the aisle. I’d been centrally composed on James, but seeing the entire front row craning round for a look, I locked my focus on James’ face and recomposed to include the full complement of ushers and onlookers in the front row. The 5DII is a tremendous camera, but it’s off-centre focus points are not one of it’s strengths. While I might rely on them in bright sunshine, I tend to avoid using them for critical indoor images like this as I find them hugely unreliable. Because of this, I prefer to focus recompose when possible, particularly when I’m in AI Servo mode - as I am for the majority of a wedding day.

When it came to post processing, the main thing was to crop the image down to a pano to further accentuate the linear effect of the turned heads. The black and white treatment is one of my standard b&w presets, tweaked as usual to best suit the image. The b&w helps to further simplify the scene, bringing the faces to greater prominence and stripping away the distraction of an extremely colour diverse frame.

For the photographers amongst you, the image was shot on the 5DII with the 35L @ f/2.8 1/1000th ISO3200. I could have got down to ISO1600 perfectly happily, but the aisle had been shot moments prior and was substantially darker than this scene which was relatively well lit by a high window to the rear right of camera.

It’s one of my favourite images from the day, I hope you enjoyed the story behind it.

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The Next Canon 5D - 5DIII/5DX?

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Tis the season for camera releases. The Nikon D800/E’s have been announced, the Olympus OM-D has been unveiled and the Fuji X-Pro1 is just around the corner. As for Canon, the rumour mill is in overdrive. The 5DII is a three year old camera and despite still being a great body, it’s beginning to look a little long in the tooth as technology marches on. Things got kicked up a gear in late January when photographer Stephen Oachs posted some images, and accompanying story, of an unreleased Canon camera body in the wild. Based on the lack of an integrated grip this camera was clearly not a 1-Series so the next possibility was either a 7D or 5DII successor. Regardless of whatever camera it was that Stephen saw, it seems likely, given the weight of rumour, that a Canon 5D successor is around the corner in one guise or another.

Today, Canon Rumors posted a CR3 rumour with the below specs:

  • 22 Megapixel
  • 61pt Auto Focus
  • 100% Viewfinder
  • 3.2” LCD
  • Dual CF/SD Card Slots
  • $3500 Approx
  • Announcement on 27th or 28th February

A CR3 rumour is their highest level of certainty and although I’ll not personally call it a certainty until Canon officially launches a new camera, I thought I’d take a moment to weigh in on what I hope for from a 5DII successor and how I interpret the specs that are being reported. Consider this less a rumour piece, and more a discussion of what I want in a great wedding camera.

First off, let me say this. The Canon 5DII is a much maligned camera in some quarters, mainly when compared to other models, but I’ll go so far as to say this: It is the single best camera I have ever used. This may not be something that I can state definitively, but from my point of view it works tremendously well. It produces gorgeous images, I know how to get the best from it and in terms of ergonomics I find it works really well. I also have very few serious nits about working with the camera in a professional situation. That said, I look across the fence from time to time and I see Nikon users who have better AF, considerably better ISO performance and I know that while the 5DII rocks, the technology available today makes a better camera than the 5DII perfectly possible. To that end, here’s my analysis of the rumoured specs.

- 22 Megapixel is just fine for me. More would be nice but not MUCH more and certainly not at the expense of high ISO performance. The newly released D800 produces 36mp images at or above the 50MB mark. At a wedding where I might shoot upwards of 1500 frames, that has a huge impact on storage capacity. One card that Canon holds that Nikon doesn’t is their proprietary sRAW and mRAW formats. These allow for full sensor images but the camera saves a lower res image than the full resolution available. If Canon brought 36mp to the table, I’d be happy, providing the option is there to shoot at 22mp or so using an sRaw format. At the end of the day, 22mp is a sweet spot for me. It allows for full page Folio Album spreads at high res, provides plenty of cropability when needed but isn’t excessively large in terms of file size.

- The new AF is something people are going wild for. When I first started longing for a Nikon beating camera body from Canon, my main desire was more ISO performance. That has now changed somewhat and AF is at least of equal priority in my mind. The 5DII AF gets a really bad rep which is at times undeserved. The centre point works well and is perfectly up to the task of most work. Where the system falls down is the lack of decent off-centre focus points. This makes life really tricking when shooting things like a bride walking down an aisle because it ends up being central composition or nothing. The outer points on the 5DII simply do not offer the accuracy I require.

A lot of stock seems to be placed in the number of AF points available. Personally I am less bothered by the number than I am by their accuracy, and tenacity at holding on, and the spread of points available. Digital SLR’s all suffer from over-centralised focus points. I’d be overjoyed to be offered 9 high performance AF points. One centrally and then 8 forming a box around that centre point placed halfway between the sensor centre and the frame edge. Give me that. Make them work. I’d be in heaven.

Another area that gets a lot of press is which current Canon camera the 5DIII/X will steal it’s AF unit from. Frankly, I don’t care. Just make it modern, non-crippled and tenacious. And give me those outer points!

- ISO isn’t mentioned in the above specs and it has me slightly concerned. Improved AF I hanker after, but greater ISO performance I positively crave. I use my 5DII all the way up to ISO6400 and I use it up there all the time. The UK is a dark country at times and we’ve got a lot of old buildings with small windows. While the 5DII does a good job up to 6400 beyond that the 5DII falls apart. 12,800 is a mess and I try to avoid using it if I possibly can. Now, before we go any further, go check out these images over at Rob Galbraith’s site of the Nikon D3s at ISO12,800. Image 1. Image 2. IMHO these are seriously impressive displays of the lead Nikon has developed in this area. By comparison, at the same ISO level, my 5DII is banded and ugly. To be fair, it’s a much older camera, but nonetheless the difference is stark.

When the 5DII was released it was Canon’s best camera as far as ISO performance goes. Canon sells a lot of cameras to the wedding photography market and given that, I call for it to be the top performing camera in this area again. I fear that Canon will hold back on the 5DIII’s ISO performance to differentiate it from the 1DX but I consider this a real shame. High ISO performance is a crucial factor in a good wedding body and I’ll be gutted if I see a camera launched that’s intentionally crippled.

- Dual CF/SD slots are partly great, partly crap. Dual slots? Huzzah! Multiple formats? Boo. I don’t get why camera manufacturers insist on this approach. Multiple formats simply complicates things. It requires keeping track of two full vs empty card ‘pipelines’, forces me to go and buy a bunch more cards and also introduces a much smaller, much more fiddly card into my workflow. Annoying.

- Price. This seems a little high. Canon will make a killing either way, but bringing the price down beneath 3k US would be pretty special.

So, there’s my thoughts on the camera we’re likely to see. Now it’s time to play wishing-well and speculate on some things that I’d like to see but that probably won’t happen:

  • An option to allow for permanently illuminated AF points. While shooting a pitch black dance floor in AF Servo mode, sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly what your AF point is resting on. Frankly, when it’s that dark it’s improbable that the AF is going to lock on anyway, but it’d be great to be able to turn the red illumination on full-time to make it easier to spot the live AF point.
  • Proper Auto-ISO. An Auto ISO system that allowed for the setting of maximum/minimum shutter speed and aperture would be hugely welcome.
  • An integrated AF illuminator would be a blessing also. Often I want to shoot a dance floor by ambient light or using off camera strobes. The camera can handle the light conditions but the AF tracking is poor as the contrast available is limited/moving. I could pop a 580EXII on the hotshot but I’d rather have a radio trigger on there. Some sort of full-time tracking support for AF Servo as well as One Shot would seriously rock.
  • A more ergonomic grip. I shoot my 5DII’s with grips all the time, mostly because I prefer the balance and I can’t shoot straight verticals without them! As I said above, I really like the ergonomics of the 5DII - it’s one of the things that’s kept me with Canon over Nikon as it happens - but the grip/body integration could use improvement. At present, it’s a bit of a block, some sculpting here wouldn’t go amiss.
  • Integrated flash commander, preferably via some sort of radio. This is rumoured to be in a new 590EX speedlite, so hopefully we’ll see it in the 5D replacement as well.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity. This’ll never happen. Canon are far too entrenched in the business model of making shed loads of money selling overpriced WFT grips. Nonetheless it’d be nice!
  • Shorter mirror black out. Many people say that the 5DII can’t be used for sport photography. They’re wrong. I’ve used it very successfully, but the mirror blackout does make it tricky at times.
  • Faster fps. See above!
  • Locking Mode selector switch. This was added as a retrofitted upgrade for the 5DII, I hope it’ll be standard issue on the new model. Nothing worse than bringing the camera up to the eye only to find it’s entered green square mode.
  • Get rid of the stupid two-stage ‘on’ switch. I always want to use the thumbwheel. ALWAYS. Stop offering me the option to turn it off by mistake. This is probably my number one reason for poorly exposed shots.
  • Please don’t depart too heavily from the 5DII in terms of interface and usage. I don’t have to think when I pick up my 5DII, please don’t change that!

That’s all I can think of for now. Cameras are constantly evolving, but hopefully the next iteration of the 5D line will make me want to upgrade rather than jump ship/consider a 1DX/commit sepuku. Delete as appropriate.

Keep your fingers crossed, I’m ready to spend and I’m hoping the 5DIII isn’t too far away. I’ve been waiting long enough!

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Image of the Week - Light & Composition

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The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic with consultations and wedding fairs, hence the delay in posting an IotW. I’ll try and post a second IotW later this week to get us back on track.

It’s sometimes hard, and often counterproductive, to condense the tenets of good photography. Nonetheless, over the past five years I’ve been trying to do just that. Perhaps a better way to describe it is an effort to roughly rank the varied, and sometimes competing, elements that are present in great images. What’s more important, timing or posing, DOF or composition? On one level, these are complete unanswerables, often moot and hugely dependent on mood, intent and subject. Nevertheless, I find the ability to offer some loose ‘sovereignty’ to one area of photography over another can be helpful in knowing where to begin. It helps bring order to the thought process. It’s a bit like getting into a suit. It doesn’t really matter whether shirt or trousers go on first, but if you do up the trousers before you put on the shirt, you’re going to have to undo the trousers to tuck in the shirt. Yet somethings remain pretty fixed. For example, Pants after trousers doesn’t work unless your name is Clark Kent.

It’s taken a long time to hone in on any sort of maxim that holds together, but in the last two years I think I’ve got there. Photography is such an opinion driven subject that an all-encompassing edict is impossible, so unsurprisingly what I’ve settled on is narrow in its scope. Nonetheless, I think it’s useful.

Outstanding photography begins with two simple elements: great light and great composition. If you combine these two elements and forget the rest, I’d argue that you won’t go far wrong. Light is the magic element in photography but its texture, colour and consistency varies immensely. Great light brings great drama. Composition on the other hand is the photographer’s primary art and what separates us from someone who simply points a camera.

For an Image of the Week post it may seem like I’ve spent a long time talking about something other than the picture at hand but, to be honest, everything I said above is condensed in this week’s photograph. Great light and composition are the making of this picture. It was shot at Hampton Court House during Emma & Justin’s wedding last August. It was shot at about 7pm, just as the ‘golden hour’ was starting. The golden hour is a term that refers to the hour or so prior to sunset when natural light’s colour temperature warms and, when the sun is out, goes golden. It’s a fantastic time to shoot as the light is less stark than when the sun is high in the sky and the colour brings life to an image.

These two little flower girls were absolutely adorable however all the being good had rather taken it’s toll! The Guests were finishing their meal and so when the opportunity to play outside presented itself it was far too good to resist. Hampton Court House is a bit like the book Watership Down - bunnies are EVERYWHERE. The gardens are literally awash with them and they hang about until you get very close indeed. This shot was after a couple of informal group photos with the girl’s parents and with the light so lovely and the bunnies in the background it was simply a matter of arranging the elements in a workable composition. I placed a bunny between the girls to give the sense that they were looking right at it and made sure not to disturb them. I wanted to bring an undisturbed quality to the picture.

A great image is often a simple image and frankly, the light and composition are all that this image required. It’s one of my favourites from the day because when I look at it, I literally feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and find the sense of peace and tranquility is palpable. I hope you enjoy it also.

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Hasselblad - E6 Film

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Portraits - The Hasselblad Sessions

Back in December I spent a Sunday afternoon shooting portraits of some friends on my newly-acquired Hasselblad. I promised mince pies and mulled wine in exchange for some free time and the use of their luscious faces! I promptly reneged on this promise by completing forgetting about the MASSIVE stack of mince pies in the cupboard. Thankfully no one considered this a major slight and no warm grape juice was spilled. In all seriousness it was a really valuable experience. It gave me the chance to shoot a bunch of film, in similar conditions on a variety of stock. It helped me get familiar with the 500c/m’s working process, to improve my Hassy technique, to expose lots of rolls that I could then practice developing and to essentially ask, and then answer, a lot of questions about the process of using the camera to create portraits. As the day progressed I got a LOT quicker at changing film. At first it was a slow process, but practice makes perfect(ish) and things definitely sped up as we moved along.

I developed the majority of the b&w myself, in T-Max developer (1+9), while the colour was handled by the good folks over at 2020 Photographic in Farnborough. Everything, both b&w and colour was also scanned by Mark at 2020. These are a selection of my favourite. Thanks so much to everyone who came along and lent me their visages! I might look into doing something similar next year, perhaps in a rented studio somewhere. If you like these, badger me about it nearer Christmas 2012!


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England Rugby Training - RBS Six Nations 2012

90% of my work is as a wedding photographer, but from time to time - more so in the off season - I shoot bits and pieces in other fields. I enjoy the variety and the challenge, it helps keeps me sharp and stops me getting into a rut. I shoot some stock images for an agency called Pixstel. Pixstel is largely an aviation and maritime library, but we’ve been looking to widen our scope for a while and I’ve been adding sport images, specifically rugby, over the last year or so.

This morning I was over at Surrey Sports Park. Normally I’m there to get beaten on the squash court, but today I was out in the seriously cold (-3° before windchill) morning sunshine photographing the England Rugby team during a pre-match training session ahead of their opening Six Nations fixture against Scotland. I’ve shot England training sessions for the last few years, but this squad was completely new look. New head coach, new captain, three test-cap debuts for Saturday, a load of players new to the England elite setup and a venue I’d previously not shot at. It was certainly interesting. You can’t accuse Stuart Lancaster (the new head coach) of stagnation!

Anyway, if you’re interested, head on over to Pixstel where you can find a selection of my images from the 20min session:

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Image of the Week - Wave!

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This is the second instalment in the on-going image of the week series. Zoë & Ben’s wedding was back in June 2011 and was one of my favourites from last year. After getting married in St James’ Church in Elstead, the plan was for Ben and Zoë to lead a convoy of cars the short distance back to Zoë’s parent’s gorgeous home for the wedding reception. The distance was pretty short, so a convoy seemed totally plausible, and they had just the car for the job. Ben’s Mum owns a gorgeous vintage Morris - my research suggests it’s a Model 8 Series II - and thanks to a family friend it had been lovingly restored for their wedding day. Trust me when I say, this car oozed style.

When Zoë first explained the plan for this part of the day, along with thinking how fun it’d be, I really wanted to try and capture it in an evocative, motion filled shot. A convoy is all about movement and Elstead is a lovely picturesque spot. I know it relatively well as we go for the occasional chinese there and I drive through it quite often on the way to my girlfriend’s sister-in-law. There’s a great narrow bridge where the road out of the village crosses the river and it’s surrounded by all manner of rich vegetation and leafy trees. The shot I had in mind included the speeding Morris, an excited couple, a road stretching out behind and a sense of motion.

One of the parts of a wedding day that I worry about most are the logistics. I’m constantly anxious about uncontrollable elements such as traffic jams, parking spots and breakdowns. Thankfully, in Elstead, I didn’t have to worry too much about traffic and I drive a new reliable car. Nonetheless it’s a small village and finding convenient places to leave your car can be tricky. When considering this shot my main concern was getting from the church to the end of the bridge - where I wanted to shoot the picture from - in time. The post ceremony period of a wedding is normally a pretty excited, fast flowing affair and I didn’t want to miss it to get in position for the convoy shot. That said, getting into and out of a car, while carrying two cameras and a bunch of lenses takes a small, but not insignificant period of time. To this end, I figured it’d be quicker to walk from the church to the photo spot rather than get in the car, drive the short distance, park, get out and then walk to the exact spot.

This plan would have been ideal save for one mistake. I seriously underestimated how far it was on foot! What I thought would be a 3 minute walk was more like a 10 minute jog! As I walked and realised that the bridge was further than I’d imagine, I decided that missing this shot was simply not something I was going to let happen. As such I broke into a camera laden jog. Fine over 10 or even 50m but over the 700 odd, that Google Earth informs me it was, distinctly less so. The entire time I feared the sight of a Morris racing past or the sound of a vital piece of camera equipment detaching itself and bouncing loose. Luckily the gods were good and neither occurred. I arrived with no sign of Morris in sight.

I found my spot, which I’d scouted in a previous recce (though not the route march to it!) and selected my 17-40L. I wanted a wide angle to show the road stretching away behind Ben & Zoë and intended to wait till the car was as close to me as possible before pulling the trigger. As my breathing and heart-rate normalised, I stood and waited. And waited. And waited. I begun to worry that in my focussed, head down run I’d missed my targets as they’d gone sailing by. Considering this I came to the conclusion that it was highly improbable and that they were probably behind me. After a few more minutes and following a few false alarms, the distinctive maroon nose of the Morris appeared, horns tooting, bouquets waving.

I love Canon’s 5DII dearly, it is my favourite camera and arguably the best camera body I’ve ever used. I’ve used the layout for such a long time that I find it extremely instinctive. Nonetheless, it has it’s weaknesses and frame rate is one of them. Even at a relatively slow 30mph, through a wide angle lens like the 17-40L the car starts very large and then becomes very big very quick. I didn’t want the Morris too deep in the frame but neither did I want to catch only half of it. With only 3fps or so, I couldn’t afford to machine gun the shutter and so it came down to timing the composition. Thankfully I got lucky and as promised Zoë was whisked past waving like her life depended on it. The delay, it turned out, had been due to the
difficulties assembling a multi-car convoy in the confines of a small village green. Understandable really!

I was pretty pleased with the way the image turned out, it included all the elements I’d hoped for, had been considered but not staged and the fun and excitement of the moment shines through. I shot the image on a 5DII using a 17-40L wide open at f/4 with a shutter speed of 1/320th, ISO 200. I wanted a touch of motion blur, hence the choice of shutter speed and I panned with the Morris as it sped past. The 5DII gets a bad rep as far as AF goes and I’d love to see it improved in a forthcoming replacement (please Canon) but it does a decent job and hung on during this fairly difficult scenario of closing speeds, panning, busy scene and shifting light.

I’ll be back next week with another Image of the Week, if you’d like to see more of my work, then please take a moment to view my portfolio.

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Why I Love Apple - An Email from Tim Cook

Anyone who knows me even a little bit is well aware of the fact that I’m an Apple fan through and through. I try and steer clear of the term ‘fanboi’ because that suggests an unwillingness to fairly evaluate and critique where necessary. My Dad had some of the early Macs back in the 80’s and ever since I’ve been surrounded by all sorts of Apple gear. It’s served me really really well for the most part and I’ve built a genuine affection for the goods and services of the partially nibbled pomaceous fruit company.

When Steve Jobs died last year I was genuinely gutted. Like lots of people I felt this really unusual grief for someone that I’d never personally met and wasn’t related to in any way. Nonetheless the feeling was profound. I came to the personal conclusion that in a way I did know Steve Jobs. He’d been ‘broadcast’ into my home over many years of keynotes, the products that he envisioned have sat on my assorted desks and his demeanour and personality was familiar in a way that few CEO’s ever are. I’m still planning to have a Steve Jobs party one day in celebration of his life. I need to find some more geeky friends to attend. Anyway, he’s been succeeded by Tim Cook a less well known guy, but someone who I have a lot of faith in.

Yesterday I saw the news that Apple were replacing Ron Johnson as Senior VP of Retail with former Dixons Retail CEO John Browett. As a UK consumer this appointment surprised me as Dixons have far from a healthy reputation in the UK. Having read a glut of equally concerned responses over at MacRumors, largely from UK forum members who have a familiarity with Dixons, I thought it might be worth writing an email to new Apple CEO Tim Cook to ask for reassurance! Steve Jobs used to be famous for writing brief, terse replies to personal communications and his email address was far from a secret. I’d never tried when Steve was CEO, but I figured the same approach might work with Tim. I duly fired off an email and was excited to receive a short, polite and reassuring reply some hours later. Impressed? You bet.

It’s hard to be sure as to whether the writer of the email was Tim Cook himself or simply someone writing on his behalf but the sense of communication between consumer and upper level management was striking. I felt like I’d voiced a reasonable concern and received a fair answer. I’m not convinced yet, but that’s not the point, the CEO, or at least someone in his office (I highly doubt that Tim Cook has outsourced this stuff to Siri) took the time to reply. It’s impossible to know, but I’m willing to bet it was the man himself. There’s little point the email claiming to come from Tim Cook if it presents the possibility of him being caught on the hop without direct knowledge of the communication if a chance face to face was to occur. What if I’d been a journalist with a national paper? All this things combine for me to suggest that the actual CEO took an actual few minutes from his actual day to email actual me.

That, my friends, is any impressive commitment to client communication. It all goes into why I love Apple. In a world fascinated with doing the bare minimum, where pride in your work is a decreasingly common thing Apple is a firm that stands out for its determination to go the extra mile. Be it in custom milling laptop chassis from blocks of aluminium, having world-class retail stores or simply taking two minutes to reply directly to your customers. I don’t think everything Apple have done in the past 10 years has been spot on, but I do applaud the passion and commitment behind it.

Cheers for your email Tim!

timcook

P.S. Slightly confused by the time stamps here. I definitely wrote this email yesterday mid morning rather than at 4am! Time to look at my system clock!

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Image of the Week - Castle Steps

I’ve been meaning for some time to start an ‘image of the week’ feature focusing on some of my favourite images. The idea is fairly straightforward, spotlight an interesting image and discuss it. That’s pretty much the gist of it, nothing too labourious or long-winded. Hopefully it’ll be of interest to both prospective couples and photographers alike. I’m sure the frequency will vary somewhat, sometimes becoming fortnightly or monthly and at other times being every few days. Nonetheless, I’ll call it image of the week for simplicity’s sake. To get us underway, I thought we’d start with the image below:

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This was one of my favourite images from 2011 and is from Lucy & Ollie’s wedding at Gorey Castle in Jersey. Mont Orgueil, to give the castle its formal title, is a vast coastal fortress and the walk from bottom to top is considerable. Wedding day or not, the only way up is via the steps. I’d flown out to Jersey the day before the wedding to recce the locations and I’d really liked the look of the winding steps that linked the higher Grand Battery to the lower areas of the castle. On the day itself the majority of the guests made their way up to the Grand Battery for the drinks reception fairly promptly while Lucy & Ollie remained at the bottom for a few minutes.

This not only allowed me to race to the top but also allowed the stairway to clear of people. I positioned myself towards the landward edge of the Battery, which looks down onto the steps, and while keeping one eye on the stairway photographed the guests mingling and the band entertaining. When I spotted the Bride and Groom approaching I turned round and made sure they weren’t looking. The shot I had in mind was observational rather than interactional and what I envisaged was a birds-eye view without direct eye contact. The edge of the Grand Battery overlooking the steps has a low wall. I’m quite tall, but it was certainly beneath waist height for me. I’d pre-framed the image and found that I wanted as wide an angle as possible to include as much of the sweeping, curving steps as possible. However, to get the angle just so and to include as little of the wall closest to me as possible at the bottom of the frame I found I had to lean out a fair bit! With the low wall and the issues with framing, I found myself adopting a rather unusual, somewhat hilarious, semi squatting, semi spread-eagle position as I effectively gripped (read ‘humped’) the curved wall in front of me with my legs and knees. Thankfully guests were too absorbed in having a good time to notice…

The frame was shot on the Canon 5DII with a 17-40L at 17mm. I wanted to include a reasonable amount of detail in the rising walls so I shot the image at f/5.6. Although they didn’t spot me, Lucy & Ollie had the good form to walk hand in hand, in a perfectly centred spot midway between the two walls. As I saw the Bridesmaids following on behind I chose to wait until they entered the frame. The distance between the two pairs was simply good fortune but made for a nice balance to the frame. The final timing of the shot came down to two things, firstly gait - timing the shot such that the Bride & Groom were in a nice spot in their step pattern - and the unknown quality that may or may not appear. As luck had it, just as I pressed the shutter, Lucy held her bouquet out the side as she linked arms with Ollie. It’d have been a nice shot without this, but the action adds a certain quality, both in isolating the bouquet and emphasising the couple.

I’m predominantly a fan of this shot for its composition. I love the snaking line of the steps, the separation of Bride & Groom and the bridesmaids, their central placement on the walkway and the texture of the stone. It’s always satisfying to see an image ahead of time and then for it to come together in the camera. Planning played a part, but luck was a massive factor too, both in terms of the timing and in the placement of the subjects. I could have staged it, but that’d have run counter to both my nature and detrimental to the ‘truth’ of the image.

If you’d like to see a larger version of the image it’s currently featured in the initial slideshow that visitors can find on my website homepage.

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Hasselblad - December 2011

I’m absolutely loving my Hasselblad. Thanks very much to Dan for selling it to me! I’m beginning to figure out a workflow that makes sense and I’m learning something new with each roll I shoot. Here’s a small selection of images that I like from over Christmas. The colour images are Portra 800, while the black and white is Tri-X 400. If you took part in the Hasselblad sessions, fear not, those pictures are in the pipeline!

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Dan & Nicole: Noir Collection - Fentafriddle, Cornwall

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while.

This was a very special wedding for me. Dan and Nicole are great friends of mine and two of the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet. Dan’s a superb sculptor, artist and cracking photographer while Nicole’s an illustrator of rare quality. These are artistically gifted people. Dan’s brother Fred is no slouch either - he’s an astonishingly good film maker. You may have seen his black and white Take That Reunion documentary “Look Back Don’t Stare”. He’s not half bad with stills either. Understatemento.

Given all this, I was chuffed to bits when Dan & Nicole asked me to photograph their wedding. They knew what they wanted from their pictures, and run-of-the-mill it was not. The clarity of vision was so refreshing. After discussing the style they wanted in their pictures, I was given a huge amount of freedom to shoot what I saw fit. I was aiming for a tight, observational, quirky, humour-filled, photojournalistic set.

The initial plan was to shoot the entire wedding in black and white. An October day in coastal Cornwall contained the possibility of quite awful weather and grey and more grey was what I’d envisioned. However, come the day itself, it was sunny, dry and very very warm! Cornwall in the sunshine is a riot of colour so after much thought I decided that the best approach was two distinct edits. The original concise b/w set - the Noir Collection - and a second cut, including colour - the Colour Classic Collection - with a more conventional treatment. Below are excerpts from the Noir Collection. I’ll post some favourites from the Colour Classic in due course.

Dan & Nicole’s wedding was my idea of how a wedding should be photographed. The focus was on friends, family, the day and the celebration. The photography happened, but it wasn’t the ‘event’. The wedding was allowed to be itself. Dan’s parents own the highly wonderful Fentafriddle near Tintagel and after a service at St Michael, Porthilly we all made our way back there for the reception. It’s three months on and the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up when I think about photographing this wedding. It was brill. Thanks to Dan & Nicole for letting my photograph such a particularly awesome day.

For the photographers amongst you, these images were shot on a Canon 5DII, a Canon A1 and a Fuji X100. I used a 35L and 135L on the 5DII, and a 35mm and 24mm on the A1. The film stock was a mix of Tri-X 400/100 and T-Max P3200.

Here are a selection of my favourites from the day, I hope you enjoy.


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Thoughts on Image Editing & Lightroom 4 Wish-List

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*Warning. This post probably won’t appeal to anyone who isn’t a professional photographer or serious amateur!*


As chance had it, Adobe released Lightroom 1.0 right around the time I was getting serious about photography. I remember spending a long time switching backwards and forwards between demo versions of Lightroom and Apple's Aperture trying to come to a definitive conclusion about which was the one for me moving forward. It seemed like an important decision at the time. I didn't know that photography would become my profession but it felt like I was making a choice about something that I was going to be spending a considerable amount of time with over the coming years. I wasn't wrong.

I wanted Aperture to win through. I am a passionate Apple fan, my father owned an Apple II back in the day and I grew up surrounded by Mac IIvx's, Colour Classics, Performa's and the original iMac. I remember banging on about why the Mac was a superior platform as a school kid in the mid-nineties when Apple was FAR from the tech power house it is now. Given the option of Apple or else, I’d nearly always chosen Apple.

Over the years I've bought into the Apple ecosystem and infrastructure. One of the strengths of the Mac platform is its vertical integration and I've largely committed to this cause. Apple Mac's, Apple Routers, iPad's, iPhone's, MobileMe, iTunes Music Store you name it. However, when it came down to it, I had to concede that Lightroom proved a superior tool for me than Aperture. This isn't the case for everyone, but from my point of view Lightroom integrated more cleanly with my early workflow than Aperture did. First and foremost I saw Lightroom as an editor and it performed this job better than Aperture. It was a heck of a lot faster and never asked me to overlay palettes on top of the image itself. I know there are ways to avoid this gripe with Aperture, but the fact that I had to look for them really bothered me. The image is king and I don't want to have to move tools/palettes etc out of the way to see it. Also, the loupe, though very cool from an eye-candy perspective, was inferior to a simple full screen zoom.

Aperture is apparently a superior tool than Lightroom from a file management point of view, and as I'm less familiar with Aperture 3's file management I am in no position to present a complete argument on this point. That said, I get the Lightroom file system and know it very well and, with 160k odd images in my library, I've never found it wanting. I also like the modular system that Lightroom suggests. I work in a fairly ordered way and think in a standardised flow of import/develop/export. Finally, and above all, I know how to get the best out of Lightroom from an editing point of view. I'm very experienced with it and can quickly take an unedited image through to it's finished result. Aperture by comparison, while producing good images, takes me more time. I have to think a lot more when I use it. These days, after years of use, Lightroom feels extremely intuitive while Aperture is (unsurprisingly) less like common ground.

Lightroom 2 followed the original release by roughly 18 months with a 6 month odd beta phase. Lightroom 3 had an extended pre-release run of two distinct beta versions. By the v2 beta (released in March 2010) LR 3 was largely feature complete. It seems an awfully long time ago!

Lightroom 4 Wish List

Lightroom is a pretty mature programme and one with few flaws that seriously irk me. Nevertheless, I use it nearly every day and I can think of a few additions and refinements that would improve it. I thought I'd jot down a little wish-list of some of the things I'd like to see in Lightroom 4. These are in no particular order and simply represent my own personal views:

- Adjustment Brush. Soup up the adjustment brush to bring more global adjustments to local editing. Specifically I'd love to target HSL adjustments to help solve things like localised skin discolouration. It can be done already, of a fashion, using the colour additive adjustment and saturation but it's a poor alternative to true localised HSL adjustments.

- Match Total Exposure. This hugely useful tool is hidden in the 'Settings' menu of Lightroom's Develop module. It basically attempts to match the exposure values of two images which were shot differently. It's a great starting point for similar images with different exposures that for one reason or another you desire to be relatively uniform in the final edit. I use it relatively frequently and I'd like to see it implemented in a better manner rather than hidden away like it currently is.

- EXIF Editor. 95% of my images are shot on digital and the only original metadata that EVER needs to be edited is the capture time when a camera clock occasionally gets out of sync. The other 5% of images are film scans of one sort or another and it'd be great to be able to properly update this blank metadata from within Lightroom to allow the addition of camera and lens type and whatever other information you may find pertinent. At the moment I use IPTC fields for this but I'm much prefer to add this as EXIF data, perhaps with a tag to specify non-digital origin. From time to time I may want to view all images shot, say, at f/4. At present, film files have to be left out as this information isn’t present. I’d like to manual add it.

- Import/Culling Speed. I have moved my initial import and culling from Lightroom to Photo Mechanic. This is largely due to speed. Photo Mechanic imports snappily, but also allows for very quick culling as it displays embedded JPEGs in a pretty much instantaneous fashion without waiting for the RAW file to render. Lightroom is first and foremost a RAW editor, but surely an option to display just the embedded JPEG to allow for instantaneous review and culling of images would be a possibility? Perhaps a specialised culling mode?

- File Renaming. Sequential file renaming is essentially broken in any instance where virtual copies exist. In my editing workflow I tend to rely more upon snapshots than I do virtual copies. This is partly due to issues with file naming. Let me explain. When I edit a wedding, I go through the picked images one by one and apply the neccessary processing. Once this is done I 'sequence' the images into the order that I think helps best tell the story of the day. I rarely use virtual copies, but from time to time I do, most often when I need two versions of the same image, such as when I've cropped one frame into two distinct pictures. This causes all sorts of problems in the next step when I rename the images so that their filename matches the sequence I've decided upon.

As standard I use a filename followed by a three digit number such as "examplewedding-001.cr2". When implementing this renaming scheme with virtual copies present, Lightroom will proceed sequentially until it comes across a virtual copy, which it will skip renaming (as the image only exists as an instruction rather than a file in it’s own right). This is only part of the problem. The next issue is that when LR encounters a virtual copy it will skip a digit entirely. For example, a sequence such as the following (where VC indicates a virtual copy):

jackjill3789.cr2, jackjill3790.cr2, jackjill3791.cr2, jackjill3791.cr2 (VC), jackjill3792.cr2

will be renamed to this:

jj_edited-001.cr2, jj_edited-002.cr2, jj_edited-004.cr2, jj_edited-004.cr2 (VC), jj_edited-005.cr2

Effectively "jj_edited-003.cr2" has ceased to exist. It's downright stupid and a poor implementation. It makes it super easy to get confused when looking at cells in grid view when you expect the file numbering and cell number to correlate. A much better solution would be to firstly recognise VC's as special cases when undertaking renaming and offer the option of appending an additional VC title during the rename to keep things ordered sequentially. On exporting under the current system the absence of a "jj_edited-003.cr2" becomes all the more confusing. Perhaps this inspiring screenshot of RAM for an eBay auction can clarify an issue that is hard to explain in words alone. Note how the file naming, which is meant to be sequential makes very little sense.

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- Panoramic tools. I don't do a huge number of pano shots but having to go elsewhere to work on these sorts of images is annoying. Photoshop does a superb job with most panorama's but keeping the function within Lightroom makes total sense. Panorama's are a classic photographic technique and therefore should be part of LR's bread and butter and by keeping the workflow contained within Lightroom it offers a number of possibilities for cross-referential metadata that keeps track of which images are used in which panoramas.

- HDR tools. HDR is no longer a new technology. It's been around for a while and although I don't use it all that often, it does have it's place. Sadly, Photoshop pales in comparison compared to dedicated solutions such as Photomatix. Adobe has been the image processing leader for decades and should be able to come up with something that'd push this area forward in LR.

- Slideshow improvements. I own Aperture 3 and use it primarily for slideshows. Lightroom has it's own slideshow features but they are far less potent than Aperture's. First off, there is no ability to 'construct a slideshow' and tailor music and blank/text slides within a design. In theory graphics can be imported into LR to accomplish this feat, but it's a bodge rather than a process intended by the software engineers. One of the earlier LR versions allowed for iTunes integration for accompanying music. This was removed in favour of a simple file browser. A better solution would have been to enhance the iTunes integration while adding the option of browsing for specific music files.

- Web Enhancements. One of the areas that I really like in Lightroom is the web module. I've used Lightroom's web options since the beginning along with additional galleries from the likes of The Turning Gate and Lightroom Galleries. To this day I still use the LRG One PayPal gallery for my print orders. It's straightforward and does a good job. That said, these days a more modern, more powerful solution is called for. Adobe would win the hearts of many by integrating more advanced web options and adding some level of e-commerce support.

- Album integration. From the start Lightroom set itself up as a one stop shop for the serious/professional photographer. It's modular system suggests a place for everything. Initially this was far from the truth, but as time has gone by it's become less and less necessary to leave Lightroom for supporting software. However one area that this tenet breaks down completely is album design. Wedding photographers spend countless hours working in album design software created by companies with a tenth of the scale and capability that Adobe might bring to the table. Add to this the fact that we have to export to get it all done and that Aperture offers this service as standard and you have one of Lightroom's most significant weaknesses.

- Expand Publish services to integrate with Apple products. I know. I'm a self-stated Apple fanboy and of late Adobe and Apple are far from bosom buddies. Nonetheless, Apple is a MAJOR player in the personal tech market and although they've never made it easy for others to integrate with their gadgets it's been proven time and time again that it is possible. On some level it'd be great if Adobe could simplify the process of transferring images to iPad's and iPhones and streaming them to an Apple TV.

- Folder Moves. Improve how Lightroom manages folder movement within the Lightroom file browser. Let me explain a situation I often encounter. I have the following local storage hierarchy:

- Internal 256GB SSD: Used for edits in progress
- Internal 2TB HDD: Once complete an edit lives here until it's no longer in regular use
- External 4TB Drobo: Once an edit, such as a wedding is complete, it is archived here.*

*These archived edits live here for local access but are also backed up via another, separate process.

These discs all appear within Lightroom and I simply drag and drop folders (a folder per shoot) from one storage disc to the next as they move down through the hierarchy from current to archive. What bugs me is that Lightroom prevents me from selecting more than one folder at once and dragging it to a different disk. I can overcome this because Lightroom allows you to move nested folders, so I place multiple folders into one container folder and move this. Still, it seems unnecessarily arbitrary and could use a fix.

- Clone/Heal Tool Bug. I use the clone/heal tool a heck of a lot. I am a big fan of its simplicity and power and use it for all but the most complex removal/edit jobs. It usually works fine, but for as long as I can remember it's been afflicted by a bug which causes its cursor to sporadically disappear. It happens rarely, but during day long wedding editing sessions it inevitably rears its ugly head at least once and forces a relaunch of the app. With every new LR point release I pray for it to be squashed but I have yet to get lucky!

- Faces and Places. Aperture has these tools and they help add genuinely useful metadata without the arduous job of exhaustive key-wording. Faces can be a bit hit and miss (though it's improving all the time) while places seems like an obvious and easy implementation. Many cameras have built in GPS functionality these days and for those cameras without such features a setting to import GPS data from an iPhone or other device could serve well.

- Nested Preset Folders. Pretty self explanatory. At present you can only place presets within one folder. I have a few folders dedicated to my personal presets. TH Sport, TH Wedding, TH General etc. I'd like to sub-nest these within TH Presets. It's a little thing but it'd help make the workspace tidier and allow for more screen real estate to be allocated to other things.


There are probably other things I’ll think of as time goes by, but these are some of the main issues I’d like to see addressed in any future Lightroom 4 release. Would love to hear your views, so feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think LR 4 is in need of!

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Gemma @ Box Hill

Back in November you may have seen a couple of images from my session at Box Hill with Gemma. I meant to post a fuller selection but Christmas and wedding work kept me busy! I met Gemma at a wedding fair she was attending with her family. I’m always on the lookout for ‘anti-models’, people with no modelling experience but lots of je ne sais quoi. Gemma was a perfectly example. She came and had a chat to me and seemed really interested in my work but it was only after she’d moved on to other areas of the show that I had a moment to consider how well she fits my anti-model brief. Thinking I’d missed a great potential subject I spent the next hour rueing my slow-moving wits. Luckily Gemma and her family came back into the room for another circuit so I had the opportunity to ask her whether she’d consider letting me photograph her.

Many of the people I ask to model for me either politely decline (generally out of shyness, I’d have myself believe), or initially agree before changing their mind once the shock of being approached out of the blue wears off. I don’t blame them. Society conditions us to be camera shy and a one-to-one shoot with a virtual stranger tends to pique many peoples insecurities. I was therefore extremely glad when Gemma emailed a couple of days later to confirm that she was interested in arranging a shoot.

I always say to people that I ask to model for me that the aim is to have fun and to take some great pictures. I’ve approached them because they have unique faces/shapes/personalities and as long as they rock up and promise to do their best to have fun and enjoy themselves then we can’t go far wrong. If I ever approach you in the future, remember that I’m doing it because I think you’re awesome. If there was an exam to pass, you’ve already passed it. The photoshoot is just the after-party. You bring you, I’ll take care of the photographs!

Despite being really cold (Box Hill is seriously exposed) we had a great time and Gemma was superb in front of the camera. The reason I like working with non-models is because they don’t react to the camera by presenting a considered, well-practiced countenance. Instead we see people as they really are with less artifice and more soul. My whole photographic ethos rebels against excessive artifice and I get a real kick out of what I deem to be ‘honest’ photography.

Anyway, enough chat. Here’s a selection of some of my favourites from the session. My thanks to Gemma for being such an awesome subject and for being brave and saying yes!


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2011 Retrospective

2012 has finally dawned and for the UK the Olympics looms large on the not-so-distant horizon. For me, 2012 promises to be my best year yet with the autumn booking season by far my must successful to date.

I’ve been seeing 2011 retrospectives for a few weeks now, but personally I’m not one to look back until the actual thing is done. With 2012 finally through the door, I figured it is time to review the year that was. These are all drawn from weddings (and one engagement session) that I shot during 2011 and have been chosen simply because they are favourites of mine. At least one of the weddings which features here has yet to be blogged. I’ll be remedying that in the coming weeks. For now, a very Happy New Year to you all and I hope you enjoy this look back at 50 images from 2011 that particularly caught my eye.

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