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Jessica & Chris - St John The Baptist, Wonersh

Jess & Chris live in South Africa and Chris is of Swedish descent, but their wedding, on a wonderfully sunny day in early August, had a unmistakable and quintessentially English feel about it. Wonersh’s lovely St John The Baptist and the adjoining walled garden was the setting for their nuptial celebrations and as you’ll see, quite a fantastic setting it was too.

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!


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Charlie & Nat - St John's Churt, nr Farnham

I met Charlie while at University in Exeter and we quickly came to realise that we’d pretty much spent life up until that point narrowly avoiding one another. We’d gone to school’s that played sport against one another, had a number of mutual friends and generally been much closer than the average six degrees of separation, yet we’d never met. Charlie’s also a photographer and has shot a variety of great work including The Ride Across Britain, some fantastic equine photography and being an adventurous sort, all manner of expeditions and escapades.

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!


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Helen & Dominic - Northbrook Park, Farnham

I met Helen & Dom at the Farnham Maltings wedding fair back in September. Helen’s mum Angela is a photographer in her own right and therefore their choice of me as their wedding photographer represented a vote of confidence but also the additional pressure of being watched at work by a peer! Thankfully I received a lovely email a couple of weeks back saying that they were “absolutely THRILLED” with the outcome. The email even included an attached photograph of Dom checking out the photos on an iPad while on honeymoon in Kenya. The wonders of technology!

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.

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Comments

Nicki & Jonny - South Lodge Hotel

It’s the busy season so the blog has been suffering. I’m going to make a concerted effort over the coming days to catch up! First off, Nicki & Jonny’s fantastic day from back in early June.

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!


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Comments

Helen & Mark - Cain Manor, nr Farnham

Having photographed the weddings of a few couples from amongst this particular ‘crowd’ I really feel like I’ve come to know them well, and made some good friends amongst them. I met Helen and Mark at Nancy & Rich’s wedding last year and in simple terms, they’re just lovely people with great families and fantastic friends. The day began at Helen’s parent’s house for Bridal preparations, followed by a stop at the pub with the Groom and Groomsmen before heading off to Church just round the corner in Farnham. A word of thanks to Reverend Karen Richardson at St Thomas on the Bourne for being so friendly and welcoming. Photographers sometimes meet hostility in places of worship, and, regardless of the rules laid down, what I always remember is the tone. My aim is always to be as discrete as possible while still doing my job and Karen was great in this regard. Relaxed, kind and fair.

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.

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Comments

Nicki & Jonny - Sneak Peek

On Friday I shot Nicki & Jonny’s wedding at Southlodge. We had a fantastic day and there’s plenty more to come, but after a quick flick through, here are a few to get us started!


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Comments

Jenny & Andy - Hartsfield Manor, Betchworth

Here’s one from late last year - Jenny and Andy’s intimate wedding at Hartsfield Manor in Surrey. This was my first wedding after getting back from a wonderful holiday (the first in ages!) but thankfully there was no chance of post-holiday blues as Jenny and Andy were just immensely good fun and reminded me how much I love my job.

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.

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Natalie & Joe - Garden Wedding

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

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

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

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Freddie & Sarah - Wotton House

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

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

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

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Laura & Rich - Hampton Court House

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

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

2012 - Laura & Rich’s Wedding

2011 - Emma & Justin’s Wedding

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

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

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


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Alex & Narishta - Royal Military Academy Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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