“… I hadn't been to Paphos for several years and the town remains the ideal place to enjoy some great seafood under endless blue skies - and a stunning location for a wedding…”Read More
London boasts many grand locations. And while many have significant individual strengths like location, decor and history, I think The St Pancras Renaissance is one of very few in the UK capital to have it all.
I greatly value my position as an official supplier to the hotel; working there is always a delight. It’s also yielded some of my favourite wedding commissions over the last couple of years since the hotel opened after a lavish upgrade.
So, a great venue was in the bag. Now, enter Paula & Sam - and these guys are cool. Whenever we’d meet they would burst through the door, scooter helmets in hand, happily windswept and keen for a chat. From our first meeting on a freezing winter’s night, I knew these two would make great subjects.
Their day was an eclectic mix of personalities, fun, emotion and that oh-so-rare thing - laid-back formality. With everything wonderfully overseen by the events team at The Renaissance, the day zipped along at a pace with not one dull moment.
I’ll let Paula explain - how from their perspective - they felt it all went…
“As soon as Sam and I met Mark we knew he was the right person to photograph our wedding day. Relaxed, warm and an exceptional listener, he instantly understood our brief and never tried to change our vision, rather offer support and work with our ideas.
We started the journey together and our subsequent meetings (always with a coffee and an exciting story to tell) were filled with enthusiasm and a comfort it was going to be okay on the day. His photography is incredible – a beautiful mix of formal, black & white and our favourite – capturing special poignant moments throughout the day...”
In fact, for me this wedding had only one downside: suit envy. Now, I’m pretty sure Sam put his trust in Burberry on his wedding day. And I am therefore planning an intense spot of January sales shopping.
As usual here are only a handful of my personal memories as seen through the lens. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
Only three weeks ago I shot this simple frame at Hampton Court, on a windswept day full of dawn-to-dusk rain showers.
Zoe pulled up in the car (looking amazing), glanced at the deluge, then simply got on with her day. A brilliant approach; the only thing on her mind was getting married.
Seemed an apt first post for 2014. Happy New Year everybody!
You never know who’s watching. This is especially true of being a photographer at a wedding.
At a recent shoot where the bride was a close friend, Viktoriya was discreetly in the process of planning her own big day.
She was still to secure a photographer, and that day I appeared on her radar. She liked what she saw and so, after a quickly arranged chat at the Bluebird cafe in the Kings Road, we were in business.
This shoot was a crisp, stylish and as London-centric as it gets. A small, intimate ceremony at Chelsea Registry Office was followed by the drinks reception on a chartered boat. A couple of hours motoring down the Thames and we reached our our ultimate destination: The Bingham, Richmond. It’s a stunning boutique hotel perfectly in keeping with the feel of Viktoriya and Ryan’s day, and the ideal spot for a gorgeous wedding breakfast.
I love the opulence and that glorious sense of celebration you get with a Russian-London wedding. To my eyes, there’s an element of old-fashioned movie star about Viktoriya’s look. This is complimented by Ryan’s immaculate black tie - together, they make a classic, effortlessly photogenic pair.
Save for a small number of swift family shots just before the meal, I was left to play quietly in the background and pick off portraits and moments. This is an ideal brief for me, and I think this carte blanche approach shows in the many of the quiet shots of friends and family which are evident in their wider set.
There’s a good chance I’ll be back shooting at The Bingham very soon (fingers crossed), so it just shows how good work leads to good work, the mantra of my freelance career.
Below are just a few examples from a splendid day in town. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
1) I don’t agree with all Edward Snowden has said and done, but I agree with this: privacy is a sacred thing. We’re gradually losing it and we’ll be very sorry when Hurricane Social Media passes.
2) You'd think the best espresso would be in Italy. Nah, it’s a dead-heat between Paphos airport and a little kiosk on Seaford sea front.
3) I want to live like a chap called Benjamin Zidarich. And if you've never heard of him, that wouldn't bother him in the slightest.
4) You won't hear a writer rave about creating better stories because of a new laptop. So why do photographers think a new camera will improve their work? It won't. The secret: obtain more talent.
5) People who obviously think they're exciting and important, are boring. But those who work away quietly in the background and achieve are impressive…
6) I love the Seagate Hotel in Appledore, Devon
7) Trieste is much nicer than Rome.
8) I'm comfortable knowing JJ will do us Star Wars fans proud.
9) We now live in a world where even Ryanair admits Ryanair's service is poor. Better late than never.
10) Tech - the right balance is: an iPad for daily news, a proper computer for work and then just purchase mags and books like you did before the previous two were invented.
11) Macs with solid state drives are laugh-out-loud fast. I can now crunch a gigabyte like it was a megabyte - warp-speed computing.
12) Sir Chris Hoy's handshake is vice-like. I took portraits of him in January, circulation returned in my right hand around mid-March.
13) Comfort-eating is dipping fresh carrot sticks in tartar sauce. Scrumpsh.
14) I shall never, ever live in a house without a wood burning stove. We're the only household which looks forward to a severe winter.
15) Gather together most of the people you've ever met, and quite a few you don't speak to, then hold aloft a bluey/grey/yellow print of your cat. Sound absurd? I agree. But that's basically Instagram. Not everything needs to be photographed.
16) I fell asleep twice during 'The Hobbit: Desolation of whatever'. Each time I woke up the midgets where simply in another forrest. That book does not need nine hours of screen time.
17) I have never written an autobiography. This puts me five such books behind Katie Price.
18) If you photograph your child’s every move and bung it on Facebook, in 10 years time they will absolutely hate you.
19) I’m not ashamed to admit I have rediscovered my love of Lego. Calming and satisfying. It’s wasted on children.
20) Flexibility continues to be the key to freelancing.
… Happy New Year!
One of the great things about shooting weddings is meeting people. This was never more evident than during Lauren and Tom's small, very family-orientated wedding earlier in the year.
So the saying goes, "it's all about the bride". However, in this case I think of the groom first whenever I come across their selection in the library. This is because Tom is a proud Paratrooper, a breed apart, quietly getting married hot on the heels of a recent tour of duty.
We're talking about a very, very impressive young man. One of those fellas us everyday chaps thoroughly respect, as he does a job very few could handle. I know for sure I couldn't. Therefore, I greatly looked forward to their day at the atmospheric Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester.
Everything had been made easy for me, mainly due to Lauren being possibly the planet's most considerate girl. Timings, the essential names, the 'must get' shots - all were listed and prepped with (dare I say) military precision.
Being involved in a relaxed, very laid-back day is always a lovely flip-side from some of the bigger, more imposing venues at which I often work. This certainly comes across in what I see as a 'people set' . An extremely rewarding day - what a wedding is all about.
Below are a few of my favourites from the wider selection. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
Walk into this room - wow - you're rocked back on your heels by the opulence.
I had been asked to shoot a catwalk show in the ballroom of The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Knightsbridge, organised by the market-leading magazine Brides. The client was Mirror Mirror Bridal, with whom I'm developing a terrific working relationship. The London Atelier would be showing some of their stunning couture designs.
On display were the best couture dresses from the country's leading designers - the cream of the cream. It was a terrific opportunity to really nail some atmosphere and record the wider scene.
I've picked this example from the set because it not only shows a gorgeous gown, but also the style of the room. And, I feel, you can really sense the anticipation of the audience as some truly beautiful dresses were unveiled.
A brilliant night. Perk of the job...
I recall driving home from Amy and Duncan's wedding day thinking it was such a happy occasion full of great detail and laid-back personalities.
I'm not one to blog every wedding I shoot, but this was a commission to share. So when I was given the green light to use them it was such fun to go back into the day and pick the little moments I like best.
Being a very firm believer that weddings are about people, with detail there to simply to support, it was a delight to be welcomed in by a lovely crowd of folks and then allowed to do my thing quietly in the background.
The main building at Milden Hall is a 16th century tudor farmhouse, which attracts many different events, not just weddings. Having already covered a wedding there I knew the day would unfold to become a relaxed, fun occasion for all concerned - the venue seems to attract just such a clientele.
The staff also hits that balance between attentive but unseen, which for 100+ people is vital when partying in what is quite a cosy space. Each time I work there I'm looked-after and thoroughly enjoy the shoot. Roll-on the next visit.
As usual the shots below are just a handful from the set...
"... We couldn't recommend Mark enough. We met him a couple of times before our wedding and it was always clear that he understood exactly the feel we wanted for our day and how to shoot it.
When the day itself came around he was very relaxed and low key but worked seamlessly with our best man to get all the shots we wanted. Lots of people have said how lovely the photos are (it'd be rude not to!) but also how they barely noticed Mark being there at all. His attitude was that the day was ours to enjoy and he worked around that rather than making us slaves to the lens..." Amy & Duncan, Oct 2nd, 2013
This caption should read "a slightly nervous groom".
The location is Somerset House and our man in question is Nabeel, who just went with the flow, like so many of us guys on their wedding day.
I particularly like the loose composition of the shot. While the picture is all about the facial expression, it's not too tight as to deny the viewer of the proximity of the best man, and the fact they're clearly seconds away form the bride's arrival.
A simple moment caught forever. One of many on a lovely summer's day in town...
It took a nanosecond to email back after Maria Yiannikaris at Mirror Mirror Bridal asked if I was available to come and shoot some catwalk couture material. Alongside some the biggest names in bridal fashion, Mirror Mirror was showing its latest collection and needed to document the evening for press and PR use.
The event was a lavish affair in conjunction with Brides magazine. Combine a runway full of models and freedom to shoot whatever against the spectacular backdrop of the ballroom at The Mandarin Oriental in London's Knightsbridge - it was a pretty good gig for a weeknight!
It also shows that wedding photography isn't all about actually being at weddings. There are so many areas within the industry to explore photographically. From specialist supplier shoots through to portraiture of company bosses, it's a varied world offering rich detail and flamboyant personalities.
I have always loved working in an environment with strong lighting. There are endless opportunities to use the light in front and behind your subject to create something with great contrast and visual punch. Add to this the buzz of excitement in the room as the girls strutted their stuff and you have a dramatic canvass on which to paint with the camera.
Here are just a few from the event. Click any thumbnail to enlarge or navigate with the arrows...
Wow. That was my first impression at the recce and then double wow come the wedding. Even more remarkable when you consider this is only the side chapel of Westminster Cathedral, not the main body of the church.
The lush nature of the lamp lighting gives this shot so much depth - with the ornate decoration and late ceremony time compounding the sense of atmosphere for Paul & Maria's gorgeous winter service.
You would struggle to think this is just down the road from the everyday bustle of Victoria train station; it feels like you're firmly ensconsed in Rome.
It was also a bit of a spine-tingler for me because the Cathedral is an oft used location for feature films. This very same view can be seen during the opening minutes of Elizabeth, The Golden Age (trailer link), doubling for Lisbon Cathedral in the mid 1600's, filmed just a few weeks before my shoot.
Amazing location, amazing view, lovely wedding...
This a great story... I'd been in Berlin for a few days and while checking-in for the flight home my iPhone pings. It's an email from a girl called Kristen who wants me to shoot her wedding, but she doesn't have a date or a venue. Different.
After a few chats and meetings together with Kristen's fiancé, Jatin, it all came together as a wonderful day at The Renaissance Hotel St Pancras.
Terrific attention to detail, as always, from Georgina Bentley-Leek and her crew at the hotel ensured a flowing day full of great characters and fun. I'm so pleased to be an official supplier at the hotel, next shoot is Christmas week. Roll on December.
As usual, here is a snippet from the selection. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
Claridge's needs no introduction. It is one of most famous hotels on the planet and an iconic brand. A new generation was made aware of this via the excellent BBC2 documentary last year which provided a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes and highlighted the hotel's amazing attention to detail.
Working at the hotel always fills you with motivational nerves. At this wedding, my main concern was to capture as much detail of Janaina & Rory's day as possible. There was so much going on and photographs seemed to pop up again and again, all of them feeling absolutely vital at the time. Below is just a snippet from the final set.
Once back from Mayfair's spectacular Farm Street church in Mayfair, a swift drinks reception paved the way for the wedding breakfast in the ballroom. I found myself trying to pack as much into the shoot as possible, very keen to provide an accurate memory of the obvious work that had gone into the preps. Below is just a sample from the final set.
And I nearly forgot to mention the 'supplier meal' of Dover sole. It arrived, beautifully presented, from Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred kitchens. I felt very lucky that day. Perfection.
Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
This is probably best filed under 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em'. They say photography is all about capturing the moment - and this was about capturing somebody else's.
Smartphones. I couldn't live without mine, and they just get people shooting more pics, which makes them brilliant in my book. To the many photographers who moan about wedding guests whipping them out at every opportunity, I say: get over it.
I really think this shots sums up the fun side of a wedding reception. When a few friends get together and smile for somebody else, it's a shot. But this example came at the end of the day and my work was almost done after a terrific shoot at The Renaissance Hotel, St Pancras. With this in mind it was just nice to get into the huddle and create something a little different..