Through the lens... the media stampede

I lost count of how many txts I received that day. No, not invitations to dinner and drinks; it was because my face had popped-up on the lunchtime news - busily shooting in the background of the shot below. Fame at last. Sort of.

Early in 2013 I'd been shooting material with Sir Chris Hoy, Britain's Olympic track cycling hero and all-round terrific bloke. The commission, at The London Bike Show at Excel, was for Jaguar, with whom I was working closely. Jaguar does lots of really creative PR with Sir Chris on both their product range and via his involvement with The Jaguar Academy of Sport

The day was rocking along nicely: the shots of the new Olympic kit were done, the press conference and Q&A went well and my set-ups with the snazzy new Jaguar Sportbrake were in the can. Then the TV teams went into overdrive. As they always do.

Sir Chris was ambushed on the way out and pushed for a quote on the unfolding Lance Armstrong doping scandal (Armstrong’s interview with Oprah had aired in US the night before). Of course, he didn't want to get involved, but the questions kept coming. Eventually he stated his position and left. Caught up in the TV camera scrum I was cornered behind Sir Chris. So I had only one option: to record the scene because you never know when these shots might be useful in the future. 

Having got their sound bite, the media pack fled to the nearest wifi and things calmed down. But around about then my phone lit up with txts with friends complaining I'd ruined their lunch... 

Behind the scenes: Mirror Mirror Couture studio shoot...

Blame Star Wars. I was 7-years-old when I saw the movie. Try as I might, I couldn't get my own head around the fact that this fantastic sci-fi world came out of one guy's mind. And I don't mean George Lucas. I mean his conceptual artist, Ralph McQuarrie.

From then on I only ever wanted to do something creative for a living. Photography ran in the family and so it was decided. The problem is that professional photography - in whatever area you work - is wildly different to what you might expect. Nearly every job becomes an (enjoyable) battle against time and logistics. As anyone who works in the creative industries will tell you: there’s a lot of frustration along the way.

So when you get a day in a studio when there's latitude to get things just right, via the help of a great team of people, you grab it and try your very best to end the day with absolute creative satisfaction. This was the case when I shot the new Couture range for Mirror Mirror Bridal at the stunning Renaissance Hotel, St Pancras.

The brief was to produce a simple, clean, stylish set of images which were all about the dresses, but it's surprising just how much work and tweaks are involved to create an end result which looks like, well, as if there was not much work and not that many tweaks required.

The designers, make-up artists, hairdressers, my assistant and an organiser overseeing the running of the schedule, all listed below, made my life incredibly easy on the day and I think the results really hit the mark. Less is most definitely more. The dresses are sublime but their aesthetic appeal was absolutely heightened by terrific models Tabitha Hall, Tijana Tambric and Emily Steer - all of whom were a joy to shoot.

Designers: Maria Yiannikaris & Jane Freshwater at Mirror Mirror Bridal. Wardrobe: Natasha Yiannikaris at Mirror Mirror Bridal. Hair: Anna Acerbi & Michele Antiga at Hair Supreme. Make-up: Andrea Flynn, Pamela Skantzos at Pamela & Andrea + Andrea Elsby Jones at Mirror Mirror Bridal. Stylist: Penny Cullen at Love Scarlett. Studio assistant: Alexandra Nicolaides. Hotel coordination: Clare Legg at The Renaissance, St Pancras.

Click any image to enlarge, or enjoy the 'behind the scenes' video produced by the terrific Kissing Gate Films

Through the lens... Farm Street Church, London

Two weeks ago saw my latest commission at the epic Farm Street Church in London's Mayfair. It's always been one of my favourite places to work since my first job there some years ago.

The inspiring internal space got me thinking about that magical 30-45 mins just before a the wedding ceremony starts, as the atmosphere builds, family and friends arrive and anticipation fills the air.

The church is tucked away in Mount Street, just off Berkeley Square and there is something quite Narnia about it. A relatively modest doorway opens up into a cavernous space - a room that has witnessed over 150 years of activity. It's like the wardrobe into another world. In a matter of steps you exit fashionable town and emerge deep into history.

I have always enjoyed this chunk of a wedding day, the point when I am able to search out quiet scenes and detail. These photographs provide context within the wider selection and, once edited into the reportage material of the main players, they really set the scene and complete my pictorial overview of the day. 

Of course a wedding is primarily about the couple. But they have chosen their location(s) with care and they often have family significance. So it's vital to tie in these 'detail' images with the people shots and priceless moments which make their day unique.

Click on any photograph to enlarge....

The spectacular aisle leading to the high altar... (85mm lens, 90th/F2, 1250asa)

One of many dramatic depictions tucked away in the side chapel... (50mm lens, 250th/F2, 1600asa)

The Priest addresses the congregation ahead of the bride's arrival... (85mm lens, 60th/F4, 2500asa)

Last few guests sneak in before the service... (28mm lens, 125th/F2.8, 800asa)

Ushers seemingly not ushering... (200mm lens, 30th/F2.8, 1600asa)

Everywhere you turn the church offers scenes straight from a film set... (28mm lens, 30th/F2.8, 2000asa)

Anticipation builds as friends and family arrive... 

Through the lens... Christmas 2013

Credit for this idea sort of goes to my friend, Stacey Jackson, the irrepressible Canadian singer...

Over dinner one evening she berated me for not doing enough social media and self-promo... "you don't need a reason, man - just get them out there!". Doesn't do to disagree with the Stae.

So, here is the start of a series I'm going to call 'through the lens'. Basically a little corner of the site where I will regularly show shots which haven't been seen in blogs, and are possibly too left field or quiet for the portfolio. It's also a chance to lift the lid on some technical info for each featured image, something people ask me about a lot.

The first batch comes from commissions shot over the Christmas period, at weddings staged at The St Pancras Renaissance, Hampton Court and Kew Gardens.

Click on any photograph to enlarge....

A quiet moment during a drinks reception at Kew Gardens... (85mm lens, 125th/F2, 1600asa)

Morning preps with the flower girls, always a time for great shots... (28mm lens, 60th/F1.2, 2000asa)

The arrival of guests. I'm in the warm, they're in the cold - brrrr... (50mm lens, 250th/F2.8, 800asa)

Where would we all be without our smartphones! (28mm lens, 30th/F1.2, 2500asa)

A nervous giggle before the bridesmaids head for the ceremony... (50mm lens, 60th/F2, 2000asa)

Left: lovely moment with the bride reacting to a speech... (85mm lens, 90th/F1.8, 2500asa)

Right: a committed Liverpool fan... (200mm lens, 180th/F2.8, 1600asa)