From the archive... #19

Kids at a wedding: honest, unpredictable and always great value for a photographer.

This little fella was getting itchy pants awaiting the bride and simply wouldn't keep still. I hesitate to use the word 'stalk', but I did track him around the church in a weird game of 43 year old cat and 4 year old mouse. The old cat won...

This image is also a perfect example of where monochrome really brings more to a shot than colour. A bright background and low-light foreground emphasise contrast, and in this situation colour would soften the effect and lessen the moment.

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)

20 things I take away from 2013...


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! 

Portrait shoot / Love Scarlett...

Ahead of a recent, stunning wedding at the gorgeous Cliveden House, I really enjoyed a quick portrait session with the bride and groom, Sasha and Artiom - a lovely, young Russian couple based in London.

A few examples from the shoot, but more importantly the story behind the relationship, are now live on lovescarlett, one of the hippest wedding resources around...

New portraits...

When new acquaintances ask me what I do, I simply say I photograph people. I don't see myself as any one thing or another because I shoot so many varied commissions, but they nearly always involve people in some way.

So imagine the hardship when lovely girls such as Melanie Helen at Cranberry Blue Weddings, or Mimi and Liesl at Zouch&Lamare ask if I could help out with some new site portraits.

Usually these sessions require a minimal lighting set-up and a quiet space. In Mel's case the amazing bar at The Rosewood, and in Z&L's case The Four Seasons, Mayfair. Hardly tough gigs to attend and always great to be involved.

In each case I've known the girls for a little while and the brief was simple; capture the person, make it look relaxed, go with it... I think in each case it's job done.


From the archive... #4

This is a nice little shot that's always been one of my favourites. But while it's simple, the picture also says a lot about the day in question. That 'photo is worth a thousand words' thing.

Without knowing the couple or anything about their wedding you can instantly tell it was a relaxed affair with a rustic feel - hence the chairs. We also know they have a sense of humour and thought it would be mischievous to coordinate shoes and socks - the focal point of the shot. The brogues tell you the groom is his own man and not swayed by the need to conform totally to the occasion. And you sense the bride loves the idea of being little daring with scarlett shoes. 

The wedding was in Shoreditch Town Hall, with the emphasis on fun, and the couple are as laid-back as they come. It was a tiny, personality-rich affair - which is always brilliant to shoot.

This shot has also directly led to more than one subsequent commission. The image sticks in people's minds and has even led to one couple copying them (see second shot). It just goes to show that you can chuck all the marketing and strategy you wish at your business, but it's the smallest things to which people respond...

A photographer's diary...

Back in June I thoroughly enjoyed working with Melanie Helen of Cranberry Blue Weddings & Events. Mel has a fresh take on planning and over the last year or so we've had some great chats about collaborating on projects. (These conversations usually take place over a long lunch a One Aldwych!)

On Mel's blog is a basic overview of a wedding day from a photographer's perspective. It was fun to write and (I hope) interesting to read...