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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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Lucy & Ollie - Mont Orgueil Castle, Jersey

You may have seen my sneak peek from a few weeks back with a couple of images from Lucy & Ollie’s Wedding in Jersey. That post promised a fuller post, and much delayed, here it is.

Mont Orgueil, or Gorey Castle as it is know to the natives is one of the most fascinating wedding venues I’ve ever shot at. Any archeology geeks may have seen it on a recent BBC TimeTeam programme that aired earlier this year. Located on Jersey’s east coast the castle looks out towards France and has what may loosely be described as a ‘commanding’ position! It’s simply a highly impressive place to stage a wedding. With Lucy working in London and Ollie based in Jersey, the preparation and planning that went into their day was considerable. Nonetheless, cometh the hour, cometh the bride and of all the weddings I have shot this year, Lucy & Ollie’s sticks in the memory.

Jersey isn’t exactly the other side of the earth, but overseas weddings always bring with them a particular logistical challenge and it was interesting to see how this played out in Jersey. I hadn’t had any opportunity to scout the area before arriving but luckily the weather was fine and the beauty of the island made for a permanently stunning backdrop. The wedding was my first visit to the Channel Islands and I was curious as to what to expect. It took all of 24hrs to fall head over heels in love with Jersey. As someone who has only fleetingly seen the draw of big city life, the relaxed vibe and beautiful scenery ticked all the right boxes for me. It helped that the sun blazed and the wedding was extremely charming, but trust me, Jersey is worth a visit.

Lucy & Ollie’s day itself couldn’t have been better. The day prior it chucked it down all day and the wind on the castle was easily gale force. Luckily come the wedding day the skies cleared and the howling wind was replaced by a warm and gentle breeze. After a quick early morning recce thanks to my ace island guide in the form of Ollie’s father I met Lucy at Ollie’s flat for her bridal preparations. Her sister’s boyfriend Ryan is a chef but he could as easily be a florist. He spent the morning preparing the bouquets as if he’d been doing it for years.

Lucy & Ollie were married in St. Martin’s Parish Church which has a lovely long aisle and an excellent choir. One particular highlight of the day was the abundance of quality motor cars. Lucy was delivered to the church in a gorgeous red Morgan before being whisked away in an equally handsome blue one. In addition the bridesmaids arrived in considerable style by way of a huge vintage Cadillac. Following the ceremony we took the scenic route to the castle with Ollie’s brother and I leading the way in the ‘camera car’. Sitting on my knees on the passenger seat of a drop-top SLK, arms wrapped wrong the headrest for frankly quite minimal safety while shooting out the rear is certainly the most adventurous wedding photography experience of the year. Before setting off I asked Ollie what the Police were like in Jersey. “Relaxed” he assured me. “If it’s a Wedding, we’ll be fine”. Luckily we didn’t encounter any officers and therefore didn’t have to test his confidence in the local establishment…

The drinks reception was held on the castle’s Grand Battery, a huge open topped area with stunning views. Frankly, the whole thing was a photographer’s playground. My only disappointment was that I only got to shoot for one day! The wedding breakfast took place lower down the castle’s main structure with a surprise fireworks display to follow and as much riotous dancing as could be possibly wedged in.

This was one of those weddings where I truly sat back and said “Wow, I love my job”. Thanks to Ollie and Lucy for letting me shoot their wedding, it was an immense privilege, they were model clients and just a joy to work with. As ever, here are some of my own, personal favourites from one of my favourite weddings this year.


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Lucy & Ollie - Jersey, A Sneak Peek

Lucy & Ollie's wedding in Jersey has been one of the highlights of my wedding calendar this year. I've been looking forward to the trip immensely. They were married this weekend just past and while I won't have the full edit ready for a little while yet, here's a quick sneak peek of a few images I liked on the first run through. I'll be posting a fuller selection in time.



















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