“… Cliveden House is epic. It's an overused word, in my opinion, but for this venue it is the only logical reaction as you venture down what must be a quarter of a mile of absolutely straight driveway, right to the door…”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...
Let's face it, we all need to see a little sun at this time of year. So here is a really enjoyable shoot from last Autumn to cheer things up a little...
Anybody who has travelled to Cyprus during the summer months knows about the baking heat. It's relentless. So a little joke on my part was to open Maria and Paul’s set with a picture of a cloud - probably the only one I saw - as a reminder of London.
This was an absolutely cracking trip. I loved the whole set-up, feel and relaxed vibe around the family and venue.
The Anassa Hotel is THE place to stay on the island. Gorgeous views over the Med and staff for whom nothing is too much trouble.
All a far cry from a coffee shop in Barnet and the first time I met Maria and Paul. It's fair to say my first impression was to be Mr Clumsy - I knocked a cup of coffee over the guy next to us. This public assault not withstanding, we got on like a house on fire and a plan was quickly hatched.
Maria is a great lady: fun, stacks of energy and utterly on the ball. We're talking Olympic standard provision of detail. Whatever I needed to know, I found it had already been sent. This is both (good) scary and comforting. Scary because it makes me paranoid I'm overlooking something - but comforting in case I overlook something!
I travelled with a terrific videographer - Ben Marlow of Kissing Gate Films - and after the usual game of hide and seek with the hire car, off we toddled to Polis, where we'd be staying for the next three days.
I love Cyprus - it's got a very welcoming feel, but it's frustrating for the locals that their financial situation seems to have been blown out of all proportion by the media. 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. My advice? Take the financial crisis stuff with a pinch of salt and support their local business.
This wedding was a real family affair. And to underline the feeling of the day, my shoot began with a short attendance at Maria's family breakfast, something of a tradition during big get-togethers. Not only did this offer some very personal, timeless shots, it also welcomed me into the fold; the key people got used to me being around. It was smart thinking by Maria and Paul and I greatly appreciated that trust.
Below you can see the way the day unfolded with just a few highlights from each element of what became a fantastic and people-centric occasion.
The traditional 'dressing of the bride', the always fascinating Greek Orthodox ceremony, and then the dusk reception - all wonderful and rich subject matter for a photographer.
And the highlight of the day? It had to be the money dance – if you ask me, all weddings should have one…
"... I cannot recommend Mark highly enough. We first met Mark in London where he talked us through his style of photography and how he would capture the day. Most importantly he helped to put my husband at ease, who is photo shy. Mark really resonated with both of us and went out of his way to meet us in locations convenient to us.
From before we even booked him, Mark ensured that he had an understanding of the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony and was inquisitive about how the day would run. Mark never tried to impose a fixed plan on to us, he was very flexible before the wedding and on the day, and took on board all our requests. He was very happy to fly to Cyprus for our wedding and also photograph our pre wedding dinner and pre wedding breakfast instead of an engagement photo. It was that kind of flexibility that makes Mark unique..." Maria & Paul, 10th Oct, 2013
When you shoot a wedding at a single location, it can sometimes present as many issues as it solves. Often, where venue staff turn around a room for multiple uses it can impact on timings, restrict guest movement and frankly can look a bit messy.
But there is none of this at the 250-year-old Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, tucked away in John Adam Street, just off the Strand. How can you not adore an organisation founded in a coffee shop?
Early December saw my first shoot at the RSA and it has immediately become one of my favourites because it’s the exact opposite of the the issue outlined above - this venue offers significant variation. I love it.
My clients, Sarah & Scott, wanted a simple, stylish, people day. Their wedding ceremony took place in the vaults, three floors below street level, an atmospheric environment enhanced by candlelight. It was interesting, historic, romantic and thoroughly appropriate for December.
Once married, it was up into the Great Room for drinks and ultimately the guests settled into the gorgeous, contemporary Benjamin Franklin Room for the wedding breakfast. This was one of those commissions that whizzed by, an absolute pleasure to shoot.
I was so grateful to be welcomed in and generously treated by the family. Their calm, genuine ambience contributed to a very personal set of photographs, exactly what we all hoped to obtain.
As usual, here are just a few to give a flavour of the day. 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...
Certain shots simply fall into place right in front of you. You only have to press the button...
This shot was several years ago at a private residence; a gorgeous house near Liverpool. The shoot sticks in my mind because the original booking was to have been in Marbella - but we ended up on Merseyside - a long story.
Here you can see the Toastmaster, let's say 'urging' the little flower girl back to the reception after she had wandered away, no doubt looking for mischief. The shot really benefits from the walkway - a makeshift white tunnel which linked a chill-out lounge to the dining room.
The crisp simplicity of the surroundings and body language of the people in-frame tell you what's happening. I really like the playful feel to the shot and the way the vivid uplighting pulls the eye into the centre of the photograph.
More proof that the best photography is simple and without fuss...
I’m a huge advocate of simple, clean photography. I don’t like fuss or endless set-ups. I love to try and search out little moments and do my best to capture something other people walk right past.
There is a lot going on here, but I have stepped-back from the chat and used the long Autumn evening shadows to illustrate a time of day and not really focused on any one guest in particular. The wonderfully relaxing outside space at Hedsor House provides the stage, and the lens of choice is a 28mm F1.8.
It always makes me smile to see it because it was a great wedding and a very pleasing little image which is gentle, non-specific and thoughtful...
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...