The day kicked-off across the road at Cliveden (an astonishing building in its own right) with Shari’s bridal prep and the pageboy and flower girls having a thoroughly good time. Despite being a wedding rife with emotion, it also felt extremely relaxed, which is a testament to Shari and Neil and a testament to their day. Following Cliveden, it was off to Hedsor for the main event. The wedding ceremony itself concluded with a bit of a surprise. A la ‘Love Actually’ a previously smuggled in gospel choir, the fantastic Gospel Singers Incognito, sprung from the mezzanine and launched into a spot of Bob Marley. It was ridiculously cool.
The day ended with an amazing fireworks display and lots of dancing. All in all, pretty much what a wedding should be! My thanks to Shari & Neil for having me and for being such superb clients and thanks also to Rob Sambles for coming along to assist. Below are a selection of my favourites. It was hard to trim this wedding down to size as I loved so many of them. Enjoy!
The Giving Gallery supports EduKenya, a non-profit organisation that works to improve conditions for those living in the abject poverty of the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya through education and local support. The gallery has some tremendous work, donated by some immensely talented photographers and I urge you to visit the website and like their page on Facebook and also to have a look at the excellent work of EduKenya as well.
Tony Hoffer is not only a truly gifted photographer, but also a guy of real quality and his work developing the gallery (in association with Rawfolio) is to be applauded. If you’re looking for some work for your walls, or know someone who would love a photograph for Christmas, then I recommend you have a look. Each image is reviewed before submission so the standard is fantastic and there’s some extremely novel and varied work on display. I’ve just sent in my submission, ‘The Long Walk in Winter’ which you can preview below.
This photograph was shot last year at Jojo & Tom’s wedding at Cripps Stone Barn in the Cotswolds. The Stone Barn is a fantastic venue but from a light point of view it presents its own unique challenges. In certain areas the light is simply majestic, and then at other times you’ve got to work hard to get the best from it. Where the wedding breakfast is served in the Dutch Barns the photons cascade in, bathing the guests in gorgeous window light, and likewise, the Stone Barn itself, which is used for ceremonies has a fantastic half-wall of windows. However, running down the centre of the venue there is a walkway that extends from one end of the building to the other. It’s fantastic looking but as it’s essentially a tunnel, it tends to create very backlit situations. An opportunity and a challenge.
This image was shot following the speeches in a little bit of downtime before I took the Bride & Groom away for portraits. Despite being mid-June (the summer solstice no less) the weather was doing that distinctly British thing and, for the most part… raining! Jojo & Tom had just heard a truly raucous, hilarious and moving set of speeches and as their guests finished coffee/dessert etc they stepped away for a quiet moment. People often ask me whether this image was posed or staged. In fact, it was 100% organic. I’d been preparing lighting for the first dance and as I walked back into the Dutch Barn I saw them stood near the door. Anyone who remembers from when I blogged their wedding will recall that Jojo & Tom are a sickeningly handsome pair and this, plus the fact that they have the rare quality of being truly comfortable in their own skins goes a fair distance to addressing questions of a staged photograph!
Prior to photographs like this there is often a strange feeling. It’s hard to describe but it’s almost like a sense of foreshadowing. A truly unique, unprompted moment might just be about to happen in front of me! This is the exact reason that clients hire me and it’s always a rush when it starts to play out. It doesn’t always eventuate, but when it does, such as here, it’s deeply satisfying. It sounds odd, but of all the photography I’ve ever done, these moments are most closely comparable to wildlife photography. You’re literally ‘stalking’ the moment. That might sound a touch creepy (trust me, there’s no hiding in bushes involved!) but it’s a similar sensation. As the picture begins to come together, I want to position myself ‘just so’ - ready with the perfect framing, accurate focus and appropriate exposure in anticipation of the decisive moment. However I want to do all this surreptitiously, without drawing attention to myself or interrupting the moment in any way. As soon as the subject becomes aware that they are indeed, the subject, the opportunity is lost.
These many small decisions were made and balanced, quietly, in the few seconds between spotting the possibility and clicking the shutter, about 20m or so from the couple. All the while trying to seem interested in something other than the Bride & Groom. Tom was leaning on the open door, chatting to his new wife, and while that in itself made a great frame, it really crystallised when Jojo closed the space between them and they kissed. That instance is reflected in this image.
There’s so much I love about this photograph. Compositionally it just works. The geometry of the arm around the neck and the arm leaning on the door, the vertical lines mirrored in both the flagstones and the door frames, the isolation of the subjects in the window. From an exposure point of view this shot depended on their proximity to the light. If they’d been set further back then they would have been far more backlit and a silhouette would have been more applicable. That would make for a nice shot, and I got something similar at Steph & Neil’s wedding earlier this year, but the romance in this image is in the closed eyes, the half visible face and the relaxed poses. All subtleties that would have been lost in a backlit image.
For the techies and photo geeks this image was shot on the 5DIII with the EF 135L at f/2.8, 1/320th and ISO 3200. There’s an interesting addendum to those details. The 135L is my favourite lens of all time - the reasons why I’ll explain in another post. This image, possibly my favourite shot of 2012, was shot on the 135L no less than 10mins before it slipped onto the very same flagstones. I’ve had lenses take a tumble before, sometimes you get lucky and other times not so much. This time I wasn’t so fortunate. While the lens was intact, having only fallen 2-3 feet, the autofocus motor was shot and it needed a visit to Canon for repairs. I’m glad to say that it’s now back to full health! I ended up shooting the portrait session that followed without the 135L. I’m not one for superstition, but over the course of a year I shoot tens of thousands of frames with the 135. I see a sort of serendipity in the fact that this lovely frame was created just moments before the same lens knocked itself out! There’s some sort of poetry hiding in there.
There’s nothing quite like a wedding for getting to know people fast, especially when it’s your job to document the day. After photographing two Edmonston wedding I feel like I know these guys particularly well. Cheynne and Donna chose a small ceremony with only their closest friends and family in attendance and then, come the evening, threw the doors open for a big party. Kelly & Danny did something similar on their wedding day and both resulted in beautifully intimate, personal occasions. The depth of sheer love and feeling between Cheynne & Donne was abundantly clear and there were moments during the wedding where the air simply crackled with intensity and emotion. To be entrusted with photographing a wedding like this, so loaded with gravitas, remains a genuine thrill. It was electric.
The weather was meant to be glorious, but it didn’t behave itself and as the ceremony itself approached there was a certain amount of back and forth as we tried to figure out whether indoor or outdoor was going to be the order of the day. Eventually showers forced us inside, but photographically I had no complaints as the window light mixing with the mood of the barn made for simply outstanding light. I’ve said it before, but speeches tends to be the part of the day that I find most moving. This bunch of families really know how to give good speeches. I’ve heard Cheynne’s father Cleve speak twice now at weddings and on both occasions he’s judged the mood to perfection. Cheynne is a wonderfully down to earth guy, frank and straightforward, but when he stood up to give his speech there was poetry in the words and fine oration in the delivery. It was pretty special.
My thanks to Cheynne & Donna for their warmth and hospitality, photographing a day like this is a true privilege. As usual, below is a curated selection of my personal favourites from the day. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment!
Finally, a shout out to Sinead Carey of PaperGrace. Sinead was Kelly’s bridesmaid back in 2012 and in the course of a single year she’s built a company from scratch specialising in fantastically stylish wedding stationery. Not to mention she’s a lovely person and catching up with her was a real treat. If you need a Wedding Stationer, check out PaperGrace!
This one, for me, sums up what wedding photojournalism is all about. That is to say, documenting the events of the day in a way which goes beyond a simple record of who, where, when and why. This moment could have been shot very differently; with the little flower girls running, shot tight and straight on, with the bush to the left of the frame as the background. It would have made a perfectly lovely shot, but the same moment, photographed this way, becomes an infinitely richer and more arresting image.
This photograph was taken from inside Jess’ parents’ house. I’d just popped in to check on the progress of the bridesmaids and grab a couple of quick shots of the confetti being prepared. As I returned I stopped to photograph one of the bridesmaids who was doing her makeup by the light of the window. Jess was outside, seated for her own hair and makeup, under the lintel of the summer house. Initially I began to compose a photograph using the diamond shaped leading in the window to frame Jess and, as I did so, the two bridesmaids wandered into the shot. Occasionally as a photographer you find yourself in a situation where you can almost feel a really interesting shot coalescing around you. This was one of those. To begin with, the kids just stood with their backs to me, watching Jess’ makeup progress. That in itself would have made a lovely image but the bridesmaids were stood in such a way that I couldn’t frame them and Jess cleanly in different diamonds.
After a few moments of quiet contemplation they turned and dashed out of the right of the frame and in that brief moment I was lucky enough to get the shot you see above. I love the juxtaposition of seated, thoughtful, nervously excited bride alongside happy, rushing, carefree flowergirls. It’s about stillness and motion. The sense of movement came off nicely, thanks to their stride pattern, the sway in the hair and the leading girl being in midair at the point of capture. Finally, the leading in the window gives this image an extra something and helps to reinforce a sense of story-telling. It reminds me of framed vignettes, or the individual cells of a comic strip and instills it with an air of narrative that’d be devoid in a straight up portrait of the kids running. It’s one of my favourites from Jess and Chris’ wedding and even the season itself.
When I’m shooting locations far from home, I tend to make sure I’m in the area the night before at the latest, to minimise the chance that bad traffic or roadworks can play a nefarious part in my role on the day. Emily & Tom were married at the lovely St Michael & All Angels Church in Rampisham, Dorset before heading over to Forde Abbey on the border of Somerset for their reception. Emily kindly insisted that I stay with the Groom’s party and found us a truly brilliant B&B - the wonderfully named Higher Kingcombe Lodge. I don’t generally stay with the wedding party in situations like this as the last thing I want to do is step on toes or have people worrying about hosting me, but the guys were fantastic and it was great to get to know everyone a bit better. I was even invited along to the spectacular post-rehearsal lunch at Tom’s parents house. I was astonishingly well looked after, my thanks go to Emily & Tom, their families and the Groomsmen for making me so welcome.
Rampisham church has to be one of my favourite’s this year. It’s a simply stunning setting nestled in one of the truly rural parts of the country. Perfect. The boys had opted for top hats and tails - a traditional look that you don’t see often enough these days - and Tom looked the archetypal English gent. In fact, this was in general, an archetypally English wedding. I’ve photographed a couple of very English weddings this year and although that’s not been the overriding intention, there’s something rather excellent about watching tradition pass off so stylishly and comfortably in a modern world.
Rev Linda Wilcock was fantastic at Rampisham Church and my thanks go to her for trusting me to do my job in a relaxed and discrete manner. Following the ceremony we headed to Forde Abbey to get the party started. The weather the previous day had been inclement to say the least - driving around Dorsets’ lanes in heavy rain and thick fog felt a bit like the start of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (less the singing) - but on the wedding day itself we were rather lucky. Drinks and photographs outside, some lovely light at times and an interesting sky!
Forde Abbey is a extremely handsomely situated. Unlike certain places, they don’t host hundreds of weddings a year and yet there are great big indoor spaces for receptions and amazing gardens that’ll rival just about anywhere. It also has a marked feeling of seclusion that’s rather rare; it didn’t feel as if the outside world was pressing in on the intimacy. From a photographer’s point of view, the beautiful cloister has a special place in my heart. The colour of the stone is something else and the combination of light, colour and foliage made for a unique portrait location. In the evening the guests had a couple of hours of casino time after the wedding breakfast, prior to Emily & Tom treating us to some silky moves on the dance floor! Later they departed through a tunnel of family and friends before being waved off into the night.
This has turned into a bit of a long post I’m afraid, but there’s simply a lot of people to thank. Particular mention must go to Charlotte Byrne for co-ordinating the day and to chef Nick Holt of Dorset Fine Dining. Tom’s father runs Capreolus Fine Foods and sourced much of the food so the grub was, unsurprisingly, superb.
Last but not least, Emily & Tom. You guys were MEGA. Below are a selection of my favourites from the day.
Carl & Tills were married at the magnificent Brighton College in mid-August. They got ready a few miles away at the Kings Hotel on the seafront where Tills had a lovely big suite before heading over to the College. Their day was unique in that it featured two ceremonies. The Chapel at Brighton College is stunning, but it’s not licensed for marriages and as such Carl & Tills opted for a civil ceremony in the Hordern Room before moving into the Chapel for a blessing. I’ve seen this structure a few times before, but it’s always enjoyable to photograph something that’s slightly out of the ordinary. As readers of this blog will know, I love the periods that happen between the main ‘chapters’ of a wedding and the format of the Carl & Tills’ day leant itself to this.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great, with masses of coastal fog and drizzle that occasionally became rain, however in true British style that didn’t dampen spirits! Brighton College has some superb indoor areas and between the Great Hall and the Sixth Form Common Room there was plenty of space for people to enjoy themselves despite the weather. After speeches the three of us jumped in a cab and headed to the seafront for some portraits. While the west end was quite still, strangely the bandstand side of the pier was blowing a gale! I really enjoyed this wedding day, Carl & Tills are wonderfully warm people and they’ve got some fantastic mates. My thanks to them both for having me on their day and for being wicked to work with. An extra thanks to Claire Thackway from Brighton College for being a great help throughout the day. As ever, here’s a selection of my favourites.
We started off at Jess’ parents home before heading into Guildford for hair at Koko’s in Tunsgate. From there it was back to Jess’ parents home in Wonersh for makeup and the final stages of bridal preparation. I think you’ll agree Jess looked quite superb in her dress. Like a wise chap, Chris had decided that the Red Lion in Shamley Green was the ideal place to get proceedings underway and I met him and his groomsmen there before we all made our way to church. Chris and Jess are both serious endurance athletes/adventurers (despite the fact that they’ll pooh-pooh any such suggestion) and prior to a pint and sandwiches at the pub, Chris had begun the day with a ‘light’ 5 mile(ish) jog. Now, I’m not a runner and I recognise that 5 miles isn’t exactly a marathon, but this was the man’s wedding day! I was disturbed and impressed in equal measure.
Following the wedding itself, we moved into the Walled Garden which sits beside St John’s. Jess and Chris’ and both their families had gone to great lengths to transform what was previously an empty field into a simply outstanding reception venue. An open sided marquee bedecked with indoor trees, separate cake and refreshment tents and a children’s tent for the smorgasbord of ridiculously cute kids. Both the band and speeches were also particularly memorable. Chris, his best men and Jess’ father Ian are all fiercely intelligent and their ability to bend words to their will was quite something to behold. Befittingly, many tears were shed! The band for the evening, Saloon Star had been built up as quite the event and they didn’t disappoint. Top-draw multi-instrumentalist performers, great musicianship and crowd-pleasing knowhow of rare quality! Jess & Chris also happen to know some wicked dancers!
Jess & Chris were a delight to work with, and despite being adamant ahead of the day that they were ‘useless in front of the camera’ I’m sure you’ll agree that they look like they thoroughly enjoyed themselves! My thanks to everyone involved, and a special word to Jess’ mum Wendy for her extremely thoughtful thank-you phone call. As always, here’s a selection of my favourites - there’s a fair few, but I think it’s a wedding that deserves it!
Fairs are a great opportunity to meet me, see some of my albums and get a feel for my coverage without any pressure to commitment. I’ll be about all day, from 11am to 3.30pm and would love to meet you if you’re planning your wedding. 2014 is filling up faster than any previous years so if you’re considering booking me, come along and say hello!
I first met Nat when we all sat down together over dinner to discuss wedding photography. As a soon to be qualified doctor, Nat is clearly the brains of the outfit. That said, she also has a ridiculous appetite for adventure, Charlie and her met on a Raleigh International expedition to Borneo and then together they spent time in New Zealand climbing mountains and surfing waves. Basically, they’re a perfect pair.
I covered the full day for this one, from Nat’s getting ready at the lovely Collier’s Farm in Fernhurst, through the ceremony at St John’s Church in Churt and then back to Charlie’s parent’s house in Hindhead for a particularly memorable reception. I always like to make note of fantastic people I’ve run into in the course of my work and particular thanks must go to two people I met during this wedding. First off Tania Stephenson-Oliver of TSO Bridal Beauty who was wonderfully professional and lovely to work with. Tania’s one of those make-up artists who is not only great at the core elements of her job but also great at all the ancillary stuff like being a calming and reassuring presence throughout the morning. Basically she looked after Nat like a true pro.
Next up, my thanks to Rev. Tony Whitaker at St John’s. Tony was brilliantly inclusive from beginning to end, allowing Charlie & Nat to have their ceremony their way, all the while retaining the solemnity and reverence that’s appropriate for church weddings. From a photographer’s point of view Tony was fantastic, he trusted me to work in my own discrete manner and was helpful throughout.
Nat & Charlie really went to town with their wedding reception. The setting was perfect and everything looked so well considered and appropriate. When I saw Charlie a few days prior to the wedding he was calmly building the bar and assured me (despite the seeming evidence to the contrary) that everything would come together in good time. He was right of course. From welly wanging to bunting to fire pits and the evening noodle bar the whole wedding was a testament to Charlie & Nat’s can-do attitude. Basically it was awesome! It really could have been a multi-day event because there was almost too much good stuff to fit into a single day!
I’m going to shut up in a moment and let the pictures do the talking. Here’s a selection of my favourites including a few informal groups I shot on my new Polaroid 195 Land Camera. My thanks to Charlie & Nat for having me, it was a genuine pleasure to shoot for you and share your day. Cheers guys!
I cover a lot of small intimate weddings, but this wedding was particularly intimate, with only around 20 guests. Additionally the day didn’t feature an evening/dancing section which meant that instead we focused a little more heavily on creative portraiture than is typical in my photography. Oakley Court is a stunning setting right on the Thames and it lent itself fantastically to portraits. My thanks to Novana & Kenny for being fantastic to work with, I’m sure you’ll agree that Novana’s dress is something special, and also a big thank you to the staff at Oakley Court for being superb. It may not look it, but this was the hottest day of the year (at the time) and it was exceedingly humid all day. Still what an improvement on last year’s summer! As ever, below you’ll find a sequence of my favourites.
As a couple these guys are fantastic. I get on really well with all my clients, but there are some people that I feel almost miffed to not know on a personal level! Helen & Dom are just the warmest, most friendly people you could hope to meet and it’s been really great getting to know them. The love between them is palpable and their wedding was a fitting testament to a manifestly strong relationship.
Helen & Dom’s wedding took place in June. They were married at Rowledge Church and then headed back to Northbrook Park in Farnham for their reception. Northbrook has quickly jumped to the top of my personal list of favourite venues. It’s literally got everything, including some amazingly pretty gardens, loads of indoor areas in case of rain, the best wedding breakfast space - bar none - that I’ve ever come across (the light is wonderful!) and even on site cottages that are perfect for before or after the wedding. As is usually the case with my photography, the coverage started in the morning with Helen’s bridal prep and ran all the way through until the close of play. This was a good thing as it meant I got to witness not only a really moving weeding, but also some ridiculously accomplished and assured ‘Gangam Style’ from Dom’s dad!
My particular thanks obviously to Helen and Dom but also to Angela. Thank you for putting your collective faith in me and letting me follow my eye and shoot as I saw fit. I’m really glad to hear you loved the pictures!
As ever, here’s a mix of some of my favourites from the day. These are all shot on the 5D Mark III on a variety of lenses including the 17-40L, 35L, 50 f/1.4 and the 135L.
After a couple of really gorgeous days, the weather was looking highly promising for Nicki & Jonny’s wedding at South Lodge Hotel near Horsham, but come the day itself the morning brought with it bucketfuls of exceedingly heavy rain! While Nicki & Jonny got ready, we all watched the weather with fingers crossed and breath baited as Cassie, South Lodge’s wedding planner and Mark the toastmaster, calmly prepared for both the possibility of an indoor or outdoor ceremony. With little more than half an hour to go, the skies cleared and the sunshine appeared. Outside it was!
Blessed with some really fine weather for the rest of the day, Nicki and Jonny’s wedding was great fun - relaxed, full of love and genuinely uplifting. They’re also a properly hot pair so photographing them seemed pretty straightforward! I’ve enjoyed shooting at South Lodge on both occasions I’ve worked there. Much like at its sister hotel Lainston House, the quality of service and the professionalism of its staff really shines through. Not to mention that the grounds are beautiful and off-roading in the golf buggy is always good fun!
My thanks both to Nicki & Jonny for being simply excellent people and to South Lodge for being such a cracking venue. Now, enough chat, time for some pictures!
The reception took place at Cain Manor, a location I’m coming to know really well after shooting there a a few times in the past. The weather was fantastic, the speeches poignant and hilarious in well-considered measure and the dancing was a thing of wonder. Phil Bryant, I’m looking at you - funky chicken is served! My very best congratulations to Helen & Mark, thanks so much for having me and for being exceptionally good fun.
As always, here’s a selection of my favourites, all shot on the 5D3 with a mixture of (mostly) primes.
In all seriousness, they were just lovely people to be around and I had a blast shooting the day. Fentafriddle is positioned on a wonderful rolling hillside overlooking Trebarwith Strand and the view is simply amazing. Given it’s sea-facing position the wind can be quite strong, but every time I’ve shot a wedding there the weather has been glorious. Ryen & Marcus’ day was wonderfully still throughout and the sun shone for the vast majority. The day was hugely relaxed with the photographic emphasis on photojournalism, but during the creative session we also (quickly) shot a roll of film. I say quickly because, as is so often the case with weddings, things were running a touch long and we were butting up against sunset and a fast-approaching absence of light! I’ve been considering introducing some medium format film to my creative portrait sessions for some time, so many thanks to Ryen & Marcus’ for being open to the idea. It was fun to use the 500c/m in the heat of a wedding!
Anyway, time for some pictures. As always, here’s a selection of my favourites:
Afterwards, to celebrate (I’m not sure what we were celebrating), we had an ice-cream from a Mr Whippy van with a hilarious Italian National Anthem chime. Mmmm!
I bring a similar approach to children’s portraiture as I do to weddings, preferring to let kids be, largely doing their own thing rather than endlessly posing and contriving situations that they wouldn’t sit still for anyway. I also like to shoot in environments children know and are comfortable with. For little ones that often means home. We are all at our best when we relax. Anyway, here’s a few favourites from the session which was in honour of Kio’s first birthday:
The focus of my coverage has always been documentary photography, but I always say to brides that, if they’re up for it, it is worth spending half an hour during the wedding day to take some relaxed portraits. I call this window of time the ‘creative session’ and basically it’s an opportunity for me to take a little more control than I do for the rest of the day, and make the most of what a venue has to offer. Often it involves going outside in the cold. It can be hard to brave the cold in a gorgeous strapless dress, but Jenny was an absolute trooper and was totally onboard with the “30 minutes now is worth it in the long-run” school of thought!
I never make my couples devote time to things they don’t want to, but a short period of time spent on portraiture, come rain or shine, is (IMHO) time well spent! I’ve never once had a bride look through her photographs and say ‘wow, these are nice but it sure was cold!’, the cold/rain/snow tends to be forgotten pretty quickly once the pictures are in hand.
Hartsfield Manor has a wonderful staircased entrance hallway and so stepping into the cold was only necessary on a couple of occasions, for the rest of the day everyone was busily enjoying good wine, fine food and the company of their nearest and dearest. I had a fantastic time, I particularly enjoy photographing relatively intimate weddings like this, and my thanks go to Jenny & Andy for choosing me and then being such great people to work with.
Above all, it’s a good chance to meet me face to face and ask me any questions you may have. The wedding fairs run from 11am to 3.30pm and I’ll be there all day. I hope to see you at one, the other, or both!
Lainston House was a bit of an unknown quantity for me prior to this wedding. I’d heard of it and knew it was one of the Exclusive Hotels group but that was about it. Frankly, it’s possibly the gem in the crown. It’s beautifully proportioned, ridonculously picturesque and with the superbly high level of service that comes with all the Exclusive Hotels.
Diana & Colin knew what they wanted, but they were also extremely relaxed. They pretty much left me to do my thing, always something I enjoy. The day begun with Diana getting ready on one side of the hotel with Colin and the boys on the other. Impressively one of the bridesmaids had given birth to her first child just a few days prior yet was on-hand to do a fantastic job attending Diana. Impressive commitment! The wedding ceremony itself took place in the rather unique Dawley Barn with its wrought iron beams and gorgeous brickwork and then afterwards everyone spilled out into the almost summery warmth for a long, chilled outdoor reception. So often wedding receptions are cut short - to the day’s detriment in my opinion - with the result being a sense of rushed tension rather than an enjoyment of the relaxed euphoria that goes hand in hand with having just tied the knot. Diana & Colin got this part of the day wholly right, with bags of time, and games on hand to make sure relaxation didn’t become boredom. It was perfect.
The evening consisted of some of the best speeches I’ve ever witnessed, fabulous dancing from the bride and groom, hilarious (and I do mean extremely amusing) dancing from one of the ushers and the best bacon rolls known to man. There’s quite a number of pictures in this post, I simply found it particularly hard to cut down. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them. Feel free to leave a comment, it’s good to talk! Have a great weekend!
I like to think I’ve got pretty good at being comfortable in an otherwise ‘girls-only environment’ on the morning of a wedding, and the whole process is usually pretty relaxed while being plenty of fun. It’s mostly about finding the right line between courtesy and light banter, but above all it’s about putting people at their ease. I’ll often crack a joke about my deep knowledge of makeup which I’ve gathered purely via the action of osmosis…. what?! It’s true! However, when you really know the bride, it’s always easier to know where that line stands. On the morning of Ellie’s wedding we chuckled a lot! Her bridesmaids were fantastic and it was great to finally meet her sister, Abi, who I’ve felt like I’ve known, third-hand, for years.
One of the great things about venues like Cain Manor is the proximity of everything. It’s secluded and spacious without key areas feeling remote from one another. Ellie & Matt were the model of punctuality, but as if to add to the nerves of the day, the M25 decided to be foul and throw a traffic jam in the path of one half of the Best Man duo. The half, sod’s law determined, that who was entrusted with the Orders of Ceremony. For Ellie & Matt this resulted in a squeaky bum ‘hold-short’ as the big moment approached. While I felt their pain, it made for a great photographic opportunity. The consulting of watches, the nervous glances and the heightened anticipation makes for great documentary material! Thankfully everyone made it in time and after a short delay things got underway. I’m happy to report that all nerves have subsequently settled!
Despite being late September, the weather was largely fantastic and the skies beautiful. My abiding memory of Matt & Ellie’s day will be a throughly fantastic time had by all. No pretence, just the right level of ceremony, but above all a desire to have a truly memorable time with friends and family. I left their wedding feeling seriously energised about my job. This is, undoubtedly, what it’s all about.
Anyway, time for some pictures. As usual, these were all shot on the 5DIII, with the exception of the overhead of the Bride & Groom walking down the aisle (this was a remote 20D). A collection of lenses were used including the 35L, 50 f/1.4 and 135L. If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave them in the comments at the bottom of the post, it’s good to talk!
Amelia & Leon were married in late September at the wonderfully picturesque Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. I had to do my reading here to discover the exact nature of an organisation, that previously, I’d only briefly heard of. Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four surviving ‘Inns of Court’ - essentially professional associations of barristers. Amelia’s father is one of the society’s Benchers, and as such is extended certain privileges, amongst which, access to the beautiful Benchers Lawn which sits in the shadow of the Inn’s Great Hall.
I know Amelia from school days but we’d lost contact over the years, so it was fantastic to receive an email from her in December 2011 enquiring about wedding photography. Leon is a native kiwi but has been over here for sometime and is quite simply a fantastic bloke. A lovely couple with a clear vision for their photography.
The Chapel at Lincoln’s Inn is one of the most interesting I’ve ever worked in. Huge and beautiful and unusual for featuring no central aisle but rather two off-centre ones. Amelia walked in on her father’s arm up the left aisle (as you face the altar) and walked out down the right aisle with her new husband. I enjoy such idiosyncrasies! Unfortunately the chapel was very firm on limiting photography during the ceremony itself so I had to content myself with shooting Amelia’s entrance, the signing and the exit. Nonetheless, a fantastic location for a wedding! The light streaming in through the huge window at the rear of the chapel as Amelia entered was something of uncommon beauty.
Amelia & Leon emerged into glorious autumnal sunshine and after a drinks reception on the Benchers Lawn, we stepped into the Old Hall for a finger buffet tea. Speeches seemed all the more impressive given the venue and as a setting for dancing and a party the Hall was pretty special!
As you’ll certainly notice, Amelia & Leon are seriously hot stuff and photographing them was a privilege. The Undercroft beneath the Chapel is one of the richest locations I’ve ever worked in, I literally could have spent three hours happily shooting the multiplicity of angles it offered. Sadly, we didn’t have that long (!) but the opportunity to photograph there, with such a knockout couple, was a lot of fun.
My thanks to Leon & Amelia for a superb day and for being such superb clients. As I mentioned previously, Amelia walking up the aisle gets my current portfolio underway, so if you enjoy these, take a wander over to the main website and have a browse.
2013 is beginning to fill up, so if you’re on the hunt for a Surrey and Hampshire wedding photographer, or know of someone who is, then take a look at the full portfolio here and if you like what you see, drop me a line.
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!
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.
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.
*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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
Heads of Security
*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.
- 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!
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!
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.
- You give me 15mins of your time.
- We spend that time shooting 12 square-format (6x6) frames of your good self. It is fun.
- I will endeavour to give you some cracking images of yourself.
- You have helped me familiarise myself with my new camera and it’s particular ‘working method’.
Sound like a plan?? If you think it does, then get in touch. This Sunday (18th Dec) - between 11am and 1pm - you are most welcome to join me at chez Hart for a short photographic gallivant followed by a mince pie and a tipple. It shan’t cost you a dime, and only a little of your time. Hey that rhymes.
If you’d like to come along, do give me a call or drop me an email and let me know your preferred time. I’m happy to carry only later if the demand is there, but I plan to be working in 15 min blocks. The first one will be 11.00-11.15 and then 11.15-11.30 etc etc. The sessions will all be shot in the studio (aka the garage) not pretty, not particularly well heated but very workable nonetheless. I considered renting my local studio, but sadly they are not open on weekends. The camera is best suited to individual portraits (particularly in the studio), but I can probably squeeze two people into the frame if needs must. I’d would however suggest individual portraits. The in-focus area with this format is quite narrow and therefore my initial experience is that it is well suited to single subject images.
Hasselblad, for those not familiar, is one of the most revered names in the camera industry. Hasselblad’s went to the moon with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and are also more than capable of producing out of this world images while firmly planted on terra firma. Which is good. If Leica’s are the Aston Martin’s of the camera world, Hasselblad probably represents Rolls Royce. They’re best known for their medium format SLR cameras. Medium format basically refers to a much bigger bit of film than we’re generally used to. The film cameras we all had back in the 90’s were mostly ‘35mm’. This referred to the long edge of the film, which was roughly 35mm in length. The full area of the frame was specifically 36mm by 24mm. The square images the Hasselblad takes are 56mm by 56mm - much larger. This results in a more detailed image and being square, a different compositional ethic.
I’ve only shot one test roll on the camera so far (12 frames) but here are a couple that I quite liked.
I hope to hear from some of you in the next few days. It’d be AWESOME to have you round. You’re more than welcome to stick around till the end of the sessions if you want and we’ll have a sit-down and a chat. If you’d rather do a flyby, that’s totally fine. Drop in, have some pics, grab some christmas flavoured pastry and have a chit chat! See you Sunday.
While I am not Dina’s wedding photographer - she’s chosen a great guy called Gary Lashmar - she asked whether she could feature me on Style Your Wedding. I was happy to oblige and the feature went live the other day. It includes an interview in which I discuss how I became a photographer, my style, the highlights of my job and some words of advice to those on the hunt for their own wedding photographer. There is also a selection of shots from my wedding portfolio and a couple of non-wedding related images. If you’re interested in reading a little more about me and my photography, head on over to the article at Style Your Wedding.
Many thanks to Dina for inviting me to be featured on Style Your Wedding, it’s turning into a great blog - well worth a visit. I’d like to wish her the best for her own wedding, I look forward to seeing the pictures!
Justin is American and a Michelin-starred chef. Despite the haut-cusine, Emma has my sympathy. If organising a wedding isn’t stressful enough, an American fiancé entails the need for the mind-bogglingly complex and highly stringent “Marriage Entry Clearance” - the requirements are simply astounding. Given these dual stresses, Justin must have been terrified of the ire of his future wife when he decided to fall of his motorbike a few months prior to the wedding! All joking aside, it was great to see Justin whole and healthy come the wedding day. It must have been an extremely anxious time for all involved so well done to Justin for doing his bit and making a good recovery!
This was the second time I’d shot at Hampton Court House and it really is a wonderful venue. Let me list some of the reasons I love it so much:
- It has a huge garden that includes two amazing ‘grottos’ and more wild bunnies than Watership Down. The place is overrun (in a good way) and they’re all incredibly bold.
- The interior is superb. The main hall complete with minstrel gallery, a huge red dining room and a conservatory/orangery that is probably my favourite place to shoot dancing anywhere.
- It sits alongside Bushy Park which, as you will see, has it’s own particular benefits!
The day was a huge success and the weather kind once again. Every wedding day is different from the last and although photojournalism is my bread and butter, in the evening, I like to sneak off with bride and groom for 20 or 30 mins and shoot some portraits. I always have my own personal favourite elements from the day and photographing Emma & Justin in Bushy Park’s evening light with an honour guard of red deer made for a particular highlight!
Emma & Justin’s wonderful flowers were done by Steph Turpin of Fairy Nuff Flowers. Steph is one of my twitter amigos and, if you are social media inclined, she is well worth a follow. Her username is @fairynuffflower.
As always these are a selection of my favourites, thanks to Justin & Emma, the UK Border Agency and the red deer!
Henley-on-Thames is a superb location. With the river running through the town, and thanks to one of Rob & Steph’s friends, we were lucky enough to have access to a particularly exciting spot. Temple Island sits a couple of miles downstream from Henley and is so named for the charming folly to which it is home. Thanks to their connections we had the great opportunity to shoot on the island and in the temple! To top off such an entertaining shoot we travelled to and from the island in quite simply the most beautiful boat I have ever laid eyes on. “L’Amazon” is one of the Regatta boats and is used to carry the umpires during races. She is absolutely stunning!
Rob & Steph were great fun to photograph and made my job infinitely easier by being a) really good looking and b) arranging a photographer’s dream location! Thanks to them for everything and for running with my crazy ideas - I’m looking forward to their wedding immensely! Below I’ve chosen a selection of my favourites from the afternoon. I hope you enjoy them:
The wedding morning was a taxi-fest of epic proportions. With Rachel in one flat, Stewart in another, parking always dubious and a hairdressers and pub to also visit prior to the commencement of ‘events formal’, I felt a bit like David Cameron on a busy day. It was actually immensely good fun and made for an interesting dynamic because I didn’t spend long in any one place.
Rachel & Stew were incredibly good fun and great to work with. A race to the cake (and then back again) ought to be compulsory at every wedding! Amongst heartfelt speeches, Stewart’s was particularly poignant and after some very powerful words and not a dry eye in the house the tears were stowed and some exceedingly funky dance moves showcased. Thanks so much for letting me shoot your wedding (and for picking such an excellent venue), it was a blast!
My thanks also to Lucy at the Picture Gallery and the Rod the custodian for being incredible warm and helpful.
As always, below are a selection of my personal favourites.
Lucy’s aunt owns a lovely house in the gorgeous village of Stoke Charity, near WInchester. The village church of St Mary & St Michael is just a stone’s throw away. A more convenient and quintessentially English setting for a wedding you’d be hard pressed to find. St Mary & St Michael is not the biggest church by any stretch of the imagination and, when packed with guests, the pews were jam-packed as were most of the aisles with additional chairs. I tend not to move a huge amount during church anyway, but I simply didn’t have the option in this case!
I photographed the day from the watching of home movies in the morning through until the close of celebrations in the evening, as the dancing wound up. After speeches, Lucy & Kel’s guests lit chinese lanterns. These are a reasonably familiar sight at weddings these days, but they also had a huge bonfire, an event that I’ve not seen at a wedding before and a great incentive to stay outdoors as the evening turned chillier! The 14yo pyromaniac in me enjoyed it immensely!
Many thanks to Lucy & Kel and all their family, friends and guests for being such fun. Now then, how about some pictures?!*
*Of late, my wedding write-ups have been getting longer and longer. I’m going to reverse that trend as I’d like the images to do most of the talking!
The day started at Gorcott Hall where Emma, her bridesmaids and much of the family (from both sides) were staying. Gorcott is an interesting venue. It’s a family home which once a month is vacated for the purposes of weddings. With a large kitchen and an excellent staff busily preparing breakfasts, the calibre of which cannot be truly appreciated on the nervous morning of a wedding, the sense of home away from home was disarming and delightful in equal measure. Once Emma was made up, hair-doed and into her gorgeous dress it was time for me to dash off to church. With Gorcott Hall to the south of Birmingham and the church to the North, I was somewhat concerned with the possibility of temperemental traffic causing a nuisance. Thankfully the roads played ball throughout the day.
Emma & Richard’s priest, Father Michael, wins the Tony Hart award for best character of 2011. Father Michael is of Vietnamese origin and his marriage service a sight to behold. He is a gifted public speaker and though he struggled with the pronunciation of Richard’s middle name I have rarely see a congregation so attentive and engaged. He’s also a genuinely lovely chap and it was a pleasure to photograph a wedding in his church.
Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches present uniquely different challenges. R.C. Churches tend to be larger, more recent and more structurally-open inside. Anglican Churches sometimes have more picturesque settings, but the R.C. Churches tend to be infinitely lighter and tend to allow for much better lines of sight. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy photographing weddings in Anglican Churches because I really do, but it’s a welcome change to have access to the more sympathetic angles that are so common in R.C. buildings. On arriving at the church, my first port of call was rigging a remote camera to get an elevated angle of the aisle from a location that I wouldn’t be able to access personally (and quietly) during the service itself. I place a lot of emphasis on discretion in church - the day is about the couple and not the photographer - and so being able to move noiselessly and reducing movement to a minimum is important.
Following Church it was back to Gorcott Hall for the wedding reception. As I mentioned before, Gorcott Hall is an easy place to miss. On my first recce earlier in the year it took me two sat-nav’s, a Google Map and about 20mins to find the place. It’s elusiveness lies in the placement of it’s entrance - directly off the latter stages of a slip road onto a fast dual-carriageway. While everyone else is busy speeding up, you’re trying to swing in Gorcott. Tucked away it may be, but the time you invested in finding the place is rewarded upon arrival. It’s a gorgeous house that feels roomy and large, but not excessively so. It has grandeur and homeliness in fine balance.
Emma & Richard’s reception had some great touches. Garden games in the form of croquet, giant jenga and giant connect four, a hog roast buffet for the evening and a very distinctive band who sported a singer with a truly amazing voice. I particularly enjoyed shooting the dancing at Emma & Richard’s wedding. The arrangement of band, dancefloor and the geometry of the room seemed to work well from a photographic point of view.
Anyway, enough chat, it’s time for some pictures. As usual a selection of my favourites from the day. Emma & Richard were particularly keen on having a larger percentage of colour images than I normally deliver. I believe I achieved this in the full edit, but the selection below seems to be about half and half. This, I think, says a lot about what I am personally drawn to! Many thanks to Emma & Richard for choosing me as their wedding photographer, I hope you enjoy the selection.
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.
Nicola & Tom were married in the peaceful and secluded Dogmersfield Church nr Hook in Hampshire with a reception just round the corner at Hook House Hotel. It never ceases to amaze me just how many wedding venues there are in this neck of the woods. I’m familiar with many of the local venues, but Hook House was a new one for me. It’s a real gem, a classic Georgian building with extremely well manicured gardens.
The day had a couple of unusual and notable moments. Firstly, shortly after I’d arrived at the church, as the first guests were arriving, the RAF Red Arrows could be seen flying in the distance. Hook’s not far from RAF Odiham so my guess was that they were practicing their display in the vicinity of the airfield. A short while later, just as Nikki’s Bridesmaids were arriving we were treated to unusual occurrence number two. The church is situated next to a field which surrounds the driveway of the adjacent Dower House. The field had been recently mowed and there was a fair bit of dry cut grass sitting loose. Nikki and Tom were blessed with great weather, and the combination of warm, still air combined to form a brief, but rather impressive dust devil. It was genuinely one of the weirdest sights I’ve ever seen - like something out of The Wizard of Oz. At first my eyes couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing, but with Bridesmaids arriving in the opposite direction I didn’t have long to gawp. Nonetheless, amazing!
Finally, shortly after our arrival at Hook House Hotel, as if timed to the minute, the Red Arrows flew directly over the assembled wedding party and their guests. I went to school with one of the pilots, Red 5 Flt. Lt. Zane Sennett and I can vouch for the fact that a flypast like this, when arranged, costs a pretty penny. It was a superb sight, and lent a real buzz to what was already an amazing day.
My thanks to Nicola & Tom for being such a lovely couple to work with. Nikki had expressed some concern to me prior to the day that she was quite seriously camera shy. I assured her that she wouldn’t spend the whole day feeling like she was being photographed, and I hope that shows in the images. To my eye she was a natural in front of the camera and like most Brides spent the whole day smiling broadly! As ever, here are a selection of my favourites.
Many moons ago I used to work with an unsigned band called The Savage Jazz. In doing so, I made friends with a fine chap called Quin Murray. He was one of the bands’ most ardent fans and could always be relied on to show his face at gigs and inevitably seemed to bring plenty of support. Quin and I have remained in regular but infrequent touch and over the years Quin’s developed a particular interest in photography. These days he is a fine photographer in his own right. He has an immensely interesting family heritage including numerous noted ancestors such as John Murray, the famous publisher of amongst others, Byron, Darwin and Austin.
Quin contacted me earlier in the year and asked whether I could possibly come and shoot his 21st Birthday celebrations at 50 Albemarle Street, the London offices of the John Murray publishing house. I was thrilled to say yes and it proved to be an infinitely interesting event to shoot. The offices are literally dripping in history and though the rooms made for some close quarters shooting when filled with 100 odd guests, the evening was great fun. These are some of my particular favourites.
Gabriella has one of the most interesting faces of any bride I've ever photographed. She's beautiful and hugely expressive - a face which, alone, I could have photographed all day. Add to that two stunning bridesmaids in the form of Camilla and Nina and from a photographers point of view I was completely spoilt! Tone isn't too shabby either. He bears a striking resemblence to a famous rugby player. I spent ages trying to figure out who he remind me of, only to have this cleared up during the Best Man's speech. Clearly I wasn't the only one to spot the similarity - let me know if you can name his doppelgänger!
The ceremony was at 6 in the evening so there's quite a few shots from the gorgeous, leisurely, bridal preparations. These are a selection of my favourites, I hope you enjoy them.
Zoë & Ben's wedding was all about the fun. Zoë's parents have a gorgeous house in Elstead and having met Zoë & Ben there twice for our consultations I was pretty excited about the day as I saw all the preparations coming together. Zoë spent the morning at her parents house before heading off to St James' Elstead for a stylishly late arrival. We'd been worried all week about the weather but as she arrived at church looking truly stunning the clouds parted and the sun shone!
Wedding days mostly follow the same pattern but it's the small differences and details that really make each one personal and unique. From saying "I do" when you mean "I will" to a set of superb readings and a cameo of tremendous organ freestyling by the Best Man, Zoë & Ben's service flowed between the intimate, joyful and downright funny in all the right ways. I was sporting a massive grin throughout!
Following the service we headed back to the house in a convoy of cars back lead by Zoë & Ben in Ben's mum's recently refurbished, and achingly cool, open top Morris. I had a shot in mind of the Morris whizzing past me on the bridge out of Elstead. I got it, but I didn't bank on how far away the bridge was on foot. I figured it'd be quicker to walk it than load the car, drive down there, jump out and shoot the picture, so like a fool I decided to walk it. With only a couple of minutes headstart and realising it was more like a 10min walk than a 3min walk I decided it was time to break into a fast jog/run for fear of missing the shot. Clearly those days of my youth spent in the cadets saved me. Running while laden with two large cameras, lenses and a belt pack is remarkably similar to a tactical march with rifle and bergen! I apologise Elstead. The sweaty photographer of some weeks ago was I.
The run was worth it. Zoë & Ben came flying past, hooting and waving, the top down and rain nowhere to be seen!
The reception was held in a wonderfully decorated marquee at Zoë's parents. Zoë's mum Gillia did all the floristry - which looked superb - and the combined team effort that went into themeing and decorating the garden was fantastic. Zoë's dad and brother were putting the finishing touches on things when I arrived in the morning, but not a moment of panic or time pressure was evident and we arrived back to a seriously funky reception.
The evening was a complete blast. One of the best receptions I've ever shot. Amazing energy, fun, good times and love shared by all. As for the speeches, everyone killed it. In particular Best Man Dan produced a blinder with a speech so good I think he should start writing for the Queen at Christmas.
I know I've written a mini-essay here, apologies for that. It's really down to the fact that I simply loved this wedding. It's always nice to work with a couple who have a real vision for their pictures. It really helps when you know that you're on the same wavelength as your clients. Thank you to Zoë & Ben for letting me be a part of their day, for being truly welcoming and utterly game when it came to pictures. I immensely enjoyed myself and I hope you did too.
Below is an extended selection of my favourites. Enjoy!
St Matthias' is a lovely church to shoot in. Wide, open sight lines, plenty of light and a clergyman (Father David Lambert) who is very accommodating of photographers makes for a cushty shooting environment! The reception was at the Old Finsbury Town Hall on Rosebery Avenue. During the week, the OFTH is better known as the Urdang Academy, or simply 'The Urdang', a performing arts school. On my recce visit a few weeks prior to the wedding it was really interesting to see the academy in 'work mode'. The pupils were incredibly polite and friendly and clearly they do some stunning stuff there. As a wedding venue it's really unique. Grade II* Listed, the building is an unusual mix of architectural styles and flourishes. The brick structure is in the Free Flemish Renaissance style while in the porch and countless areas inside Art Nouveau touches abound. The Great Hall is one of the largest reception rooms I've ever shot in. When you're popping out a 300mm lens to shoot candids of the top table between courses, you know it's a big space!
Many thanks to Hannah and Oliver for being such great subjects and all of the wedding party and guests for being so welcoming. Here are a selection of my favourites from the day. For the 'togs out there, these images here were shot with a mix of 17-40L, 50 f/1.4, 35L and 135L lenses on 2x 5DII.
The day started with me covering Gemma's bridal preparations at her parent's home just down the road from the wedding venue, Hagley Hall. It was a really relaxed start to the day with loads of time to get ready, drink champagne, eat breakfast (note that the champagne came first!) and generally be in nothing even approaching a hurry. As you'll see from the images below it was a mirror-laden morning. I tend to prefer to let things follow their natural course with minimal intervention on my part and with mirrors left right and centre, many of my favourites seem to be reflection shots!
Hagley Hall is a large private house in the Palladian style and with the rather beautiful Hagley Church only a stone's throw away it's a really superb wedding venue. The state rooms are large and bright and the renovated downstairs area makes for a first class location for a proper party. The weather, though otherwise fine, was punctuated by some seriously strong winds. Despite wearing a veil, Gemma did an excellent job of controlling the situation!
Weddings can be nerve wracking times even for the most laid back of guys, but on arrival at the church I found Dan - always a man with a ready smile - on fine form. Gemma turned up in style, in her Father's Maybach. I nearly spat my breakfast when her Dad showed me round the car. I'll admit that I initially thought he was joking when he mentioned that this would be her mode of conveyance!
I've met some seriously lovely people so far this year, and at Dan & Gemma's the prize was a three-way tie between Gemma's two lovely bridesmaids Emma and Rosie and Dan's brother and best man Joe. Despite spending 3 years of Uni together I'd not met Joe prior to the wedding rehearsal. Joe should start running classes in 'Best-Manship' - he was that good. He was attentive to the needs of everyone on the day, delivered a fine speech and has the gift of being able to talk to just about anyone while putting them all that their ease in an instant. Cheers guys for being such a terrific wedding party.
I've shot wedding for people I know before, but rarely in front of so many friends that I know personally. It was an interesting proposition and one that, though by no means unpleasant, made me feel distinctly 'watched'. There's something very different about standing up in front of crowd you don't know and another where you've shared so much with so many faces. It was an intriguing experience!
Right, enough waffle from me. As ever, below are a selection of some of my favourites. Dan & Gem - thanks very much for letting me cover your day, I hope you're thrilled with the pictures!
Marianne and Mark were married at Odiham All Saints on 20th May. The extreme wind of recent weeks was relenting on the day and the weather played nice. Following the ceremony we headed 3 mins down the road to Marianne's Matron of Honour's stunning house. As an avid rider, Claire has lots of land and the marquee and open space was the perfect setting for a warm spring wedding. Mark and Marianne are a brilliantly energetic couple (as the evening pictures show!) and shooting their day was a huge amount of fun. I'm particularly happy with the evening portrait set we shot. We were really pushed for light and ended up shooting just after sunset. Photographers go on and on about the 'golden hour' before sunset, but shooting after sunset (the 'blue hour' as a photographer friend of mine named it) was a real revelation. The light was soft and gentle and though a challenge for my equipment I'm really happy with the results! Twilight ftw!
As usual these are a selection of my favourites, starting with the morning coverage through until the end of a truly raucous party. Fully Funktional, the band on the night, were one of the best groups I've come across in my time, friendly, talented and with bags of musicianship. I highly recommend them. Anyway, without further ado, some pictures:
This wedding was full of great moments and extremely emotional. A real heartburster - the love between these two was totally palpable! Jenny looked stunning in an extremely elegant dress with a long sash and was attended to admirably by Bridesmaid's Caroline and Chrissie. James and his Ushers looked equally dapper in really classy morning suits. I approve lads!
Jenny's father David was a particularly excellent host on the day (I seem to be having superb luck with Bride's Father's of late!) and worked tirelessly trying to offer me drinks and excuses to avoid my duties! Despite heavy rain forecast for the following day we got really lucky and had fine weather throughout. Thank you to James and Jenny for being such a terrific couple, a pleasure to photograph and for allowing me to share in their day.
As ever, these are a selection of my favourites. For the 'togs amongst you these were shot on two 5DII's with a mix of 35L, 135L and 17-40L lenses. I also used a 50D as a remote camera.
P.S. Thanks to Corinne for making the downright moreish Macarons!
On their return Danielle & Rick planned a wedding celebration party at the Hadlow Manor Hotel near Tonbridge for everyone who couldn't make it out to Sri Lanka. I was lucky enough to shoot the party yesterday evening, and had a blast doing so. Wedding celebrations/parties are always slightly different to shoot than a standard wedding. It's hard to put my finger on exactly how they differ, but there's subtle difference beyond the obvious lack of a marriage ceremony. More laughter, less tension/anticipation and a slight change in general mood. It's interesting.
Danielle & Rick were awesome and I couldn't have been luckier, they were both lovely and their families likewise. A warmer, more welcoming set of people you'd be hard pushed to meet. The whole thing was extreme fun times! Anyway, time for some images, below you'll find a selection of some personal favourites from the evening.
Photographers P.S. One of these is shot with the X100. Can you tell which without checking the EXIF?
For what it's worth, my experience is that the X100 RAW's are much nicer than the JPEG output. This may simply be because I spend more time with RAW's or it may be because I haven't set the camera up to get the best out of the JPEG's, but there's no denying it, to my eye, the RAW output provides more balanced colours and a more natural, real looking image. With RAW and LR support in place, I am really enjoying this camera. More to come, but for now, take a look at these. Oh, and, for the record, the sky in the first image was pretty much like this. Post production minimal!
It's worth mentioning that, I've shot at a number of golf clubs in my time, and I've not always been impressed with the staff and general approach to weddings. The staff at Woldingham however were awesome. My thanks to Angie in the weeks beforehand and Jan on the day. Extremely helpful people who are a real asset to the course. Thanks guys.
These images are another disparate series taken over the last week or so. As a go-everywhere camera I'm finding that it tends to be used in short bursts and therefore I am not producing the volume of images I might do if shooting with my 5DII. This might seem obvious, but it's not something that really crossed my mind until I actually started using the camera. On the one hand it results in interesting imports - a variety of photos from a variety of locations - but on the other hand it means it's taking longer to get a feel for the nuances of the camera in terms of knowing how it's likely to respond to a variety of lighting situations.
Anyway, here's the latest series, a selection from Bournemouth, the New Forest, Virginia Water, a sunny drive towards Chichester and catching up with friends over a game of perudo.
The below are mostly a disparate selection of snapshots, images snapped on walks and so forth, but there are a few that I'm quite liking. I thought I'd share them with you.
Folio Albums launched last year and they immediately piqued my interest. Online they appeared to tick all the boxes. Folio were displaying at a tradeshow at the Windsor Racecourse so I promptly went along and had a look. It's only a short drive for me and frankly I was only going to check out the Folio's, but once I'd beelined to their stand, pored over their product and convinced myself that this was the holy grail album I had been searching for, I wandered amongst the other exhibitors. Doing so only further confirmed the calibre of the Folio Albums. There were lots of other decent manufacturers hawking lovely products, but nothing that matched the simple elegance of the Folio Albums.
The reason I love Folio is partly because I think they fit really well with the style of my work. They're albums have an understated, nothing-to-prove tone to them. It's all about the content and gimmicks simply do not feature. The quality and the single-mindedness of the product speaks for itself. I really value simplicity. Photography is often about simple composition and choosing to exclude, rather than include, elements. Folio Albums echo this principle. They've also recently started offering a linen covered mini-album (see the grey album below) which is equally superb.
Folio is run by Stewart Randall, a guy who seriously impressed me when we first met. His customer service has been truly superb and generally I have a lot of faith in everything he and his business are doing. He seems like the sort of guy who wants to do a truly quality job from start to finish. If there's a gimmick it's that that, simply, is Folio Albums 'USP'.
Anyway, enough waxing lyrical.
I recently received both a sample album and another client album. I've been meaning to shoot a selection of sample images and I've finally got round to it. These do a reasonable job of showing you the details in a Folio Album, but they don't show the paper texture, which for me is one of the highlights. You need to hold them and handle them to really appreciate it! I do offer other Album options, but Folio are my mainstay going forward. They're what I continuously recommend and what I personally think do the best job of showcasing my work. Take a look at the images below:
I've become increasingly frustrated with iStockphoto and today I'm giving up on them and accepting that those photographers who warned me off iStock are 100% right. In simple terms iStockphoto is an utter waste of time and effort with virtually no reward. Those facts aside, their submission process is both a total joke and completely arbitrary. Generally they're awful and I feel motivated to state it publicly.
On registering with iStockphoto you are asked to read some literature about what constitutes valid submissions. It covers everything from the technical facets of images they're looking for, the sort of pictures they need and don't need, the legal issues with submissions and a number of other areas. I read this thoroughly and passed the required test.
Given their strict submission process I decided from the get-go to only submit the best images and build a collection over time rather than hurrying the process. As a professional photographer I pore over images on a daily basis and my standards are pretty high. Despite this, iStockphoto have continuously rejected images that clearly fit well within the confines of their submission guidelines.
The straw that broke the camels back was the image below which I have had rejected at least 3 times. Each time I have fixed the issue they raised as cause for concern only for the image to be rejected again. The left hand image below is how the original shot looked. Initially I removed the obvious logo's such as the Nike Swoosh and the H4H Medallion on the sleeve. iStockphoto's initial complaint was fairly legitimate, stating that the image still include a logo on the boot and the ball. As a resubmit was allowed I did this and also removed any other relevant typography just to be on the safe side. This resulted in the image on the right hand side. They then contested that the remaining design on the ball made the ball identifiable, an issue which, at best, I was extremely skeptical of.
Then, in the last month, iStockphoto launched an editorial section which allowed for the submission of images for editorial use only. This allows for logos and faces to be present without the need for model releases or further complications. Noting this, I remembered this image and thought that it'd be both an ideal photo and the perfect testbed for the arbitrary and contradictory rules they seem to be applying with greater and greater frequency. I searched high and low for a good FAQ on the 'do's and dont's' of the editorial collection with little luck besides a short article detailing the need for "Who, What, Why, When, Where, How" info and an explicit statement that logos and recognisable faces were acceptable within the collection. Armed with the knowledge of this admittedly short document I again submitted the original image to the archive. A few weeks passed as their painfully slow review process did it's thing. I returned today to find the below:
The first issue raised regards the caption information. Having read both the caption information I submitted and the reason for rejection I am thoroughly perplexed. I can only assume that the person reviewing the submission failed to read the caption. The caption was given accurately and in full faith. It answers the questions of "Who, What, Why, When, Where, How" and does in a reasonably succinct manner.
The second point they raise I find both strange and hilarious, though if that is a requirement they wish to impose, then that's their business. They suggest that as a 'known' person his image may be protected. This is simply not the case here in the UK. The player in question is not even identifiable beyond the scope of the caption, is far from being a world famous name in his chosen sport and yet they never raised this concern when the image was submitted as part of their regular collection. Furthermore, as an editorial collection surely the useful images would be those that are of noteworthy and relevant individuals and events? Finally if it was illegal to use images of known people in this manner, every newspaper and magazine in the land would be royally screwed. All this said however, if this is a requirement they choose to impose, then strange as it seems I'd have considered it prior to submitting. Yet despite searching their site extensively prior to adding this file I didn't read anything that suggested this was a reason for rejection.
For me though, where iStockphoto's credibility falls apart entirely is on the discussion of the photographic merits of the image. Don't get me wrong, it's unlikely this shot would win any competitions and this is not meant to be an exercise in self-congratulation, but it's well made, sharp, correctly exposed and it's WB and colours are spot on. Despite this, they question the quality of the light in the image and then proceed to list a frankly ridiculous list of 'technical aspects that can all limit the usefulness of a file', none of which are even remotely applicable to the above image. Let's take them in turn:
- Flat/Dull Colours - Quite the opposite. Colours are punchy and well saturated.
- Direct on camera flash and/or flash fall-off (bright subject dark background) - As no flash was used, this is inapplicable.
- Harsh lighting with blown-out highlights or distracting shadows - Shot in direct sun, but both highlight & shadow controlled.
- Distracting lens flare - None present.
- Incorrect WB - WB is as close to spot on as you could ask for. The shirt is the pale pink it appears to be.
From a technical standpoint then, this image is sound. Not only that, but they failed to mention any of these perceived issues during any of the previous rejections they've imposed. This is entirely indicative of the kind of arbitrary submission rules they've been applying to images.
Now, if you've got this far you may be thinking these are simply the rantings of a someone who has drunk sour milk. Yes, this is undoubtedly a rant. As to whether my argument is founded purely on being cheesed off with their failure to accept my images, I'll let you be the judge of that.
It comes down to this. iStockphoto submissions take quite a while to do. For all the images I've uploaded I've meticulously chosen, edited, captioned and keyworded. Despite this, even for files that I think are very sound, both technically and in terms of content, I have been regularly rejected with no rhyme or reason and a suitcase full of ever changing reasons. I simply do not have the time to submit images when so much of it ends up being wasted in the process. I am a professional photographer and simply can't validate investing effort (even for otherwise on-monetized images) on a stock site that has such a cavalier and pigheaded attitude. I was warned off iStockphoto by a number of friends. I hold up my hands and admit that I should have listened to their advice. From now on I will be submitting no further images to iStock and will be withdrawing my account balance forthwith. I have written this piece, largely to publicise the downright crappy approach iStockphoto takes towards its contributors. I'm not impressed and I'd give the same advice that was given to me. Steer well clear.
In related news, I have recently started contributing to Pixstel a fairly new agency that opened it's doors with a focus on Aviation and Maritime collections. Pixstel operates with a great ethos that promotes it's contributors professionalism as chief guardian of the collections quality and content. New contributors are chosen based on the strength of their work and the input of current contributors, not on the results of a 'cram and jam' online quiz. The distinction couldn't be more stark. If you're interested in my work, do take a look at my submissions over on the Pixstel website. My additions so far tend towards aviation and rugby, but Pixstel is currently working to broaden it's scope and as such are working on a number of more generalised collections. I'm hoping to add an increasingly wide variety of images in the coming months. It's a really impressive cooperative-like structure that ought to be proud of it's responsible attitude both to it's customers and it's contributors. It's certainly my photographic website find of the year.
For the time being the takeaway is this. iStockphoto sucks balls. Come check out Pixstel.
I've been a Fuji X100 owner for shortly over 12 hours and to be honest, my opinion is still very much incomplete and somewhat unformed. I've been shooting sport today which doesn't really lend itself to putting the X100 through it's paces, and though I shot a few candids following the game, the team I was photographing had just suffered a semi-final cup loss so headed for the changing room almost immediately. Because of that, some of the images below are incredibly dry and unexciting. My apologies for that. I'll be shooting some more interesting subjects soon.
Before getting into the details of what I've discovered so far, a caveat. I knew going into the 'X100 Experiment' that as a very early adopter I would have to put up with a period during which Lightroom and the X100 would not want to talk to one another. What I hadn't banked on was just how spoilt I have been by Lightroom. The catchily named 'RAW FILE CONVERTER EX powered by Silkypix' - the simply appalling bundled software that is required to handle the X100's .RAF files - is not only abysmal, but to some extent stands between me and a true understanding of what the X100 can and can't do. I know how to edit a file in LR, I know how to get the best out of it. I haven't a clue in the bundled abomination mentioned above. I'm not sure anyone does. It's slow, unresponsive and Mac Paint on my Mac Plus is capable of doing more advanced work. Anyway, whinging and excuses aside, lets get on. It should be noted that the files shown were all shot in RAW (.RAF) mode, were then opened in RAW File Converter EX, given any minor adjustments that were required and then exported to 16bit TIFF and imported into Lightroom. The black and white image was created in LR from the resultant TIFF.
Ok. What's the dealio?
In the hand, the camera is a real joy. EV, aperture ring, focus ring, shutter etc, all fall neatly to hand. I'm a photographer someone ingrained in the Canon EOS system, and picking up the Fuji was an exercise not dissimilar to trying to speak a foreign language. Initially it all felt very unfamiliar and I did a lot of thinking and making noises of the sort that go 'um' and 'err'. That said, this is very much a function of my considerably familiarity with the 5DII and similar cameras. After a short amount of time spent with the X100, everything was beginning to feel much more normal and reasonably intuitive. It still feels like a first date, but that's to be expected.
Build quality seems really good and the primary controls have a great tactility to them. The camera feels pretty solid and I have real faith in the main controls (aperture ring/shutter dial/EV dial etc). The same can't be said for the secondary controls. They're not bad, but they don't inspire the same confidence as the primary controls. The menu/D-Pad controller on the back is a case in point. It's a bit plasticy and the tactile feedback is poor. Basically, you have a Menu/Ok button in the middle of the setup, then a circular directional pad around that and then a rotating control wheel a la Canon SLR's around that. To add to the complexity, surrounding all this, there is another plastic piece which holds the icons that tell the user what each directional press does. I tried pressing this a few times, but it's immovable and not a button itself. It all feels quite cluttered and I found myself mashing around a little bit with my fingers rather than pressing cleanly and accurately. The whole thing works, but it doesn't leave you smiling. A stark difference from the top plate controls which click through their increments in a manner that suggests Fuji probably hired a man named Klaus to design them.
There is a focus mode selector switch on the left hand side of the camera. This is also quite plasticy and the feedback when switching between modes isn't very definitive. That said, they all do a job and I haven't had any real problems yet.
As I've said, the camera feels pretty solid, but it doesn't have the heft I was hoping for. It doesn't feel lightweight, but it doesn't feel like a brick either. I kind of wish they'd found somewhere to put some lead in the thing to make it a little more weighty. I don't want to overemphasise this, it's not bad at all, but I was hoping for something that felt like a small ingot.
The focus ring is really great. Very nicely damped. It's electro-mechanical so you can choose your direction of focus, but it feels quite connected and extremely grounded.
As for the viewfinder, well it's both a thing of beauty and amazingly clever and such a departure from other cameras, that I'm used to, that I'm still getting my head round it. The optical viewfinder mode is very bright and presents you with all your primary shooting data. It allows you to see the frame lines and view beyond the frame. What it won't do is offer you any feedback during manual focus. This is pretty obvious, but it's worth pointing out. A well placed toggle on the front of the camera lets you change from the OVF to the EVF which by contrast appears very much like a screen. The resolution isn't bad, but you know you're looking at something 'projected' rather than something real. Here, when using MF mode, it's fairly easy to focus by eye. If you need to refine focus, a tap on the jog button on the top rear right of the camera zooms you in. I found it quite effective and intuitive.
That said, MF is slow! It's great for making fine adjustments, but changing focus from something close to something far away is a slow business and takes a lot of movement of the focus ring. Given that the ring is electro-mechanical, it'd be really nice to see a firmware update allow the user to change the speed of focus. I've not had time to pick the manual up yet, nor dig through the settings menu, so for all I know that feature might already be present.
One thing I'm not hugely taken with is the LCD screen. It's large, but I find it a bit washed out when reviewing images. This may be because I initially used it in quite bright, flat lighting, but compared to the screen on a 5DII it's simply not as good. I've just shot another image, while writing this, to review my viewpoint. Indoors, I'm quite liking the screen. Call me undecided on this point for now, time will tell.
So, what about the pictures? Well, as I said, it's hard to be truly objective at this point. I'm not going to draw any real conclusions here until I've shot some more pictures and I've bunged them through Lightroom. However, I do have some initial observations.
1/45th f/5.6 ISO 800
In strong/reasonably dramatic light the X100 shows quite a bit of potential. The picture of the fruit bowl may be dull and simple and far from a good image but it's done the job well and shows plenty of detail. This was shot at ISO 800, and from what I can make out, while the X100 isn't going to rival a full-frame SLR, the results are really really impressive in terms of high ISO. There's definitely detail lost at high ISO if you look at 100%, but viewed at normal res, the big picture is astonishing for this class of camera. The X100 destroys my 20D at ISO 3200. I know it's a similar size sensor, and a new camera vs. quite an old one, but I'm amazed nonetheless.
Colour and dynamic range in less than easy light I am currently somewhat unsure about. It's hard to tell when you're using such an atrocious piece of software to initially review files, but colours in flatter or brighter light seem to tend towards being somewhat muted and a little bit over vibrant, particularly in the blue channel. As someone who didn't really have experience shooting film prior to the digital age, I can't really comment on whether this is a Fuji look, but it's one that I want to stick into Lightroom and adjust a bit. It's by no means painful, but the results I am seeing at this stage, are ones I often want to tweak. They need a bit of a blacks punch and colour normalised a touch.
1/100th f/2.8 ISO 200
I should also note that the colour image of my Mum further down the page was shot under fairly torturous light conditions. Lots of mixed sources, including some fluorescents that are very yellowy indeed. I always struggle with the WB in my Mum's kitchen regardless of the camera, even a custom WB taken from a grey card only got me so close. I'd have gone elsewhere but it was dark and the options were limited by that stage in the day!
While shooting at the rugby today, I noticed the X100 do some faintly nasty things with highlights and highlight rolloff in the sky. The image looked a bit like a JPG that had been pushed too far in post and I have to say this is my biggest concern at this point. It may simply be an affect of a dodgy post-camera process, but it'd be reassuring to see a bright sky handled a little better. See the wider image of the team huddle further down the page for the effect I mentioned.
As for detail, there's plenty, certainly enough for what I'm looking for. Images come out of camera needing a bit of sharpening, but nothing that is unusual or out of the norm.
1/70th f/2 ISO 800
At this point, my feeling is quite mixed bag. It's got a lot to recommend it, and the design is mostly excellent. Will it take nice images? It's hard to know, but I'm hopeful that once I've learnt how to work the files, there's some real potential here. The big question surrounds colour and dynamic range. More testing is necessary in this department, at this stage it's really not fair to draw any hard conclusions - I've shot less than 50 images.
Those are my initial thoughts for the time being. I hope they were both interesting and useful, I'll be posting something more conclusive in coming weeks. I'm far more interested in real-world performance than photographs of walls, so only time will tell. As I use the X100 in the field I'm sure my opinion will crystallise. For now, I'm just glad to have the camera and to be able to tote it round easily. It's a helluva lot more convenient than a gripped 5DII and a stable of lenses.
Please feel free to ask any burning questions you may have in the comments. I will do my best to answer them if I possibly can. Please note that some of the images were shot with unusual exposure settings, simply to test ISO/shutter/aperture etc etc. Finally, I've uploaded full-res JPG's of the 9 samples shown here. If you'd like to download them, please do. They can be accessed here. They're uploading now and should all be available shortly.
1/10th f/2 ISO 3200
1/320th f/2.8 ISO 800
1/600th f/2.8 ISO 800
1/60th f/2 ISO 800
1/20th f/2.0 ISO 800
1/50th f/2.0 ISO 800
This series was shot at Virginia Water, one of my favourite spots for a shoot due to the variety and space it allows. Here's a few of my favourites from the session. Thanks Jo!
As a photographer I always like to be ready, with a camera to hand. You never know when a great image will present itself and sod's law pretty much states it's bound to be when you're farthest from your camera. I've tried many times to get into a routine of never leaving the house without my Canon 5DII. For work purposes I shoot the 5DII with the battery grip attached. It's not a small camera at the best of times, and with the grip secured, it's also quite heavy. I've tried keeping the grip off the camera, but with work commitments this inevitably creates lots of assembling and dismantling and the risk of mistakenly going to a job sans grip.
Next is the issue of lens selection. I mainly shoot primes and the 35L is an outstanding walk around lens, but it's also quite big. Much bigger than my 50 f/1.4 and similar in size to the more versatile but less capable 17-40L. Even when I get the combination right and have the 35L mated to an ungripped 5DII we're looking at a fairly big, heavy and unwieldy camera. Worst of all, I always fear the possibility of damaging key components of my professional kit. I've got a full selection of backup gear, but it's always a hassle having to send the gear that earns me a living to Canon for repair, and when I want to takeoff in a hurry, the 5DII + 35L combo is not the ideal solution. Truth be told, most of the time the 5DII + 35L stays put when I'm leaving in a hurry. There's too much fiddling, too much selecting components and too much decision making. When it does come with me I end up bringing 3 lenses 'just in case". Because I can.
What I've yearned for for some years now is a smallish, lightweight camera with a great lens and a great sensor that'll produce 90% of the image quality of the 5DII, without the hassle and with immediate ready-to-go-ness. Ideally I'd like a useable focal length, and, originally I thought, an interchangeable lens. Over the years there have been a range of 'nearly there' solutions. Those cameras that mostly fit the bill but are prohibitively expensive (Leica M8 & M9), those cameras that had potential but lacked usability (Sigma DP1, DP2 etc), those cameras that didn't offer high enough IQ (Canon G10/11/12 and Ricoh GRII) and those cameras that weren't different enough from an SLR setup (Panasonic GF1 & Olympus EP1) to justify the investment.
I began to wonder if maybe I just wanted a higher end point and shoot. Eventually however, I always conceded that a P&S didn't offer the IQ that I was looking for. I can deal with a step down from the 5DII, but every point and shoot I looked at offered a drastic reduction in image quality, particularly in low light - a condition I shoot in a lot. Above and beyond that I NEED a viewfinder. I can't compose properly holding the camera at arms length and viewfinders in the land of P&S are becoming a rarer and rarer commodity.
Step forward the Fuji X100. The moment I saw this camera I was excited from an aesthetic standpoint. The more I read, the more it started to sound like this mythic camera I'd envisaged for so long. Relatively small and lightweight, big sensor, single choice of lens with a great focal length, optical viewfinder, fast optics. I'd always thought I wanted a camera with interchangeable lenses. In reality I want one good focal length. I don't want to be changing lenses the whole time, indeed I don't even want to be given the option. The option means time making decisions, the option means slowing down, the option means leaving it behind to save having to make those decisions. The X100 takes the decision making process away from me. Either I like the focal length or I lump it. Oh... and I LOVE the focal length. 35mm is God's own FL in my view. Not too narrow, not too wide - incredibly versatile.
So what else do I love about the Fuji Finepix X100? Most things actually. It's got a viewfinder! Woohoo! It's optical. Cue double joy. Most people are banging on about the X100's innovative hybrid viewfinder which pairs a true optical viewfinder with a metadata enhanced EVF you can change to at the flick of a switch. This looks very cool, but is a bonus to me. Mostly I'm just happy with an optical viewfinder; something I can look through to compose properly. On the subject of the hybrid viewfinder, it reminds me a little of the hybrid EVF I had on my first ever digital camera, a Konica Minolta Z1. You could either compose on the back of the camera, or, flip a switch and the image would be projected into an EVF that you could raise your eye too. The X100 goes a few steps beyond this, but I find the parallel nostalgic if nothing else.
The X100 is a camera thought out and designed by photographers. Aperture, shutterspeed and EC will all be controlled by wheels on the camera. No digging through menu's to access these primary functions. The camera also includes an integrated neutral density filter within the lens assembly. Too much light? Just flick the ND filter into place for a 3-stop reduction in perceived light and keep shooting wide open at f/2. Good times. This is simply a genius feature and one I've wondered about many times in the past. It's great to see the X100 implement this technology. I'm sure I'm going to make a lot of use of it. My laundry list of X100 delights also includes the short physical length of the lens, the 9 blade aperture diaphragm and of course the drop dead gorgeous looks. My one gripe so far is a focus by wire system which decouples the user from the mechanics of the focus ring. Basically, you turn the focus ring, the camera will digitise this input and then use servos to relay your turning force to the actual mechanics that focus the lens. It remains to be seen why Fuji have done this - I suspect it's to avoid having to find a way to satisfactorily dampen the focus ring without adding bulk. In practice it may work out to be a non-issue. Only time will tell and for now it's a long long way from being a deal breaker.
The X100 holds the promise of a camera that will make me take more photos. I hope it'll become my constant companion and mean that I have a quality photographic tool on me at nearly all times. Technically it's potential is enormous, but for me personally, the real excitement will be in the using. I want to shoot more and in a greater variety of situations, A 'proper' go anywhere camera capable of producing a quality image at a price that doesn't require a house remortgage. An exciting prospect!
I'm not sure there's any item I've ever wanted more than the Fuji Finepix X100, and that includes all things made by Apple. For me, that's quite an admission. I hope the shipping product lives up to expectations. If Fuji get the lens and image quality right they'll have an instant classic on their hands. Safe to say, when it's launched, I'll be the first in line.
If you're interested in reading more about the X100, take a look at Fuji's X100 site here: http://www.finepix-x100.com/en
My thanks as always to the couple, they were both brilliant people and Rob is the most organised groom I've worked with to date. He's a manager by day and his attention to detail was impressive to say the least! A particular note of credit to Rob & Alanna's magician Will McDermid. He was brilliant and his manner impeccable. Anyway, on to the pictures. As always, here are some of my favourites:
Just to give you an idea of how wet it really was - I came inside after shooting pictures at the castle and my fingers had gone all pruney. Like when you spend too long in the bath. Also, despite using rain covers, one of my Canon 5D Mark II's started misbehaving due to moisture. Folks, it was a deluge! Nonetheless I think we got some good images, particularly as we braved the rain at Guildford Castle. These are some of my personal favourites.
The day was gorgeous weather wise - one of the best this year and it was unseasonably warm for much of the day. Kayla and Pete are an absolutely lovely couple and their guests really knew how to party. A special shout out to the chap in the waistcoat who was busting the most incredible dancefloor moves all night. You sir, have my respect.
The whole day was very touching. Debbie and Graeme are such a genuine couple and I loved their down to earth nature and friendly approachability. It was good fun from beginning to end. Thanks also to their guests who were hilarious and great to chat too in equal measure. Good times.
For the camera geeks, these images were shot mostly on the 5DII with a few on the 50D using Canon 50mm f/1.4, 135L and 17-40L lenses. As always, here's a selection of my favourites:
Paul has a share in an aerobatic biplane and his friend Simon flew his own aircraft, the stunning Extra 300, for a jaw-dropping aerial display. The weather also relented enough for the lighting and departure of chinese lanterns. This was a real highlight for me as a photographer and something I've been wanting to shoot for a while.
The Photobooth I offer takes all the good things about that setup and improves upon it. Firstly, the setup is entirely automated. There is no photographer. I set everything up before the wedding/party/event and then leave it to you to enjoy and have fun with it. We're a retiring bunch us Brits, and few of us are great at posing for the camera or smiling to order. Removing the photographer from the equation helps relax us and our inhibitions tend to go out of the window. Roll on fun photos with natural, happy smiles!
The Photobooth consists of a tripod with a digital SLR camera mounted on top and either one or two studio strobe flashlights on seperate stands nearby. On the ground in front of the camera is a wired foot-release. This takes the form of a small pedal not dissimilar from a guitar pedal. A simple press on the pedal fires the camera. One press equals one shot. The camera is synced with the flashes wirelessly and these fire at the appropriate time. Prior to the event I balance and test the lighting to ensure that throughout the night the Photobooth continues taking well exposed, perfectly focused photos.
The great benefit of this system over the regular, photographer and his assistant approach is the scope to have fun. Aside from returning to the Photobooth occasionally to check that everything is running smoothly, there is no one on the otherside of the camera to put you off or tell you how to pose or act. due to this it tends to work extremely well with people genuinely letting their hair down, especially after a few drinks. The images are recorded to memory card and there is no limit on the number of pictures you can take in an evening. If a memory card fills up, I simply replace it with another one.
Following the wedding, I simply offload the pictures, do any minor colour correcting and delete any images with nobody in the frame. Aside from that I don't interfere or filter the images. You get all the pictures in all their (often very funny/very silly) glory. The images are included on DVD and prints can be ordered via my website from just £2 - a preview gallery is available the day after the Wedding. Typically at an evening Wedding reception this equates to 700 or so images. Many people include a dressing up box or offer props and I can always bring this sort of thing along if you'd like to get creative. It tends to be an exceptionally good way of getting a picture of pretty much everyone because given a few minutes, most people can't resist having a go.
So there you have it. A description of the Photobooth and how it works. I'll try and add a 'behind the scenes' picture at some point in the not too distant future showing the simplicity of the setup itself and how little space it needs to work well.
As much of the fire is currently on military ranges the fire service can't enter to fight the fire directly due to the hazards of unexploded ordanance. As such they are forced to fight the fire from beyond the fences in many places. The fire seems relatively under control at this point, but as you'll see, it's created some dramatic landscapes.
So, slightly desperately, I googled “Photographers, Guildford” expecting to have to call a huge list of people in order to find anyone that would be available, let alone someone I was happy to take our photographs.
I spied a name on the google-list that somehow appealed - Tony Hart. I called him without even looking at the pictures and, purely by chance, he was free. We chatted, we shared a few common views on how wedding shots should be taken and we agreed for him to come out and meet us. What serendipity! I then looked at the pictures and found that he was exactly what we were looking for - lots of simple, unposed shots, often in Black and White, which caught the moments of the day perfectly. They were taken candidly, and often without the subject knowing the photographer was there. I think it was fate!
And, happily ever after, the family did make it to the wedding, but I’m so glad we had Tony there, he was a consummate professional and his shots capture all the special moments of a happy day.
Shoes - from Pinet in Bond Street, London. A lucky find in the sales! Dress - Design by Jenny Packham, found in Clifton Brides in Bath. It was the first I picked out and the last I tried on. It was perfectly simple and so elegant. The silk chiffon moved so beautifully. Bridesmaids dresses - I suggested they stayed with my colour scheme of pale and bright pink and pale green but they chose their own dresses. I didn’t see them until the day. They both chose Coast, Daisy in dashing bright pink and Eleanor elegant in long pale pink.
Groom’s suit, shoes, shirt and tie - From Reiss, their cuts really suit Nikos’ build. I was there to give advice but in the end it was Nikos’ choice as to what he wanted to have. Good choice I think! He insisted on wearing stripy socks of blue, yellow, pink and white. Flowers - masterminded by my mother, I only stipulated the colours. She, along with two family friends did all the church displays which were in a soft, English country style. Bouquets, button holes and marquee flowers were done by florist Angela Weaver.
The wedding was held in St Michael and All Angels, Thursley, Surrey. My godfather Reverend Peter Muir conducted the ceremony. We then moved on to an English pub lunch in the Three Horsehoes, also in Thursley. The food was amazing, especially the spit roast beef! - Lydia Mina
As for Great Fosters, I'm a massive fan of the venue, both for it's intrinsic beauty and also for the quality of its staff. They seem to have a significant number of those rare individuals who are both consummate professionals and incredibly personable with it. My thanks to Jill and Martin for making my job easier and for being so helpful.