“… Then just when the guests think it can't get any better, people are directed to wander around to the Great Conservatory, which for me is the real jaw-dropper…”Read More
I'm being commissioned more and more to shoot smaller weddings in venues with a very intimate feel. It might be a private dining rooms in a luxury boutique hotel or a lovely residence with a family party feel. Yet in every case, the events are very specific in their design and attention to detail is of paramount importance.
One such recent shoot was at The Connaught hotel in the heart of London's Mayfair. This stunning venue dates back to 1815 (when it was called The Coburg) and, in its various incarnations, has always been frequented by the great and good.
Katy and Jonathan had chosen to hold their small wedding ceremony close by - at The Mayfair Library - before they and their party walked through the gardens behind Farm St Church and into Mount Street.
After a relaxed drinks reception the 30 or so guests were treated to a sumptuous meal in The Carlos Room, and it's here we photographically pick up the day, because the detail was absolutely stunning...
Entirely lit by candles, Katy's vision was brought to life by suppliers operating at the very top of their game. I recall walking into the room and being struck by the soft orange hue. The light whispered pure luxury while still being inviting and comfortable - the perfect combination which allowed this tight-knit group of family and friends to enjoy themselves to the full.
So, in the hope the photography reflects the scene, here is a little corner of The Connaught in all its romantic glory.
Below, as usual, are only a few from the set. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
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Virtually everything I shoot these day is stimulating and enjoyable. But Jess and Andy certainly raised the bar by which all other destination shoots I attend are currently being judged.
Italy, a vineyard, walking distance from my hotel and a chance to play a little more with my BA iPhone app - where’s the downside?
Melanie Helen of Cranberry Blue Weddings, one of the industry’s leading organisers, introduced me to Jess and Andy during the early stages of their wedding preparation. From the very first drink we were all on the same page and it was set to be a terrific trip. I recall thinking I ultimately wanted to hand over the photography as kind of a creative box of goodies, all wrapped-up in a bow which was to be Italian countryside.
I’m a great believer that any wedding shoot needs to place the viewer right there in the location, not just show the attendees - and luckily for me, their plan allowed me to paint on a pretty broad canvass. The spectacular Villa Sparina, an hour north of Genoa, was the base for the wedding. Save for a 200m walk to the church, everything would take place at the Villa. With many venues this would mean turning around spaces for multi use, but here the garden drinks reception and candle lit wine cellar wedding breakfast provided amazing contrast, not to mention many opportunities for atmospheric photography.
I really hope the feel of the day comes across in the handful of images below. A fantastic time was had by all, and that’s in no small part due to the generosity and consideration of the couple themselves and their family support, in particular Jess's Mum's sartorial creativity. To their massive credit, Jess and Andy toiled away for quite some time, naturally with Mel's input, to ensure this wedding would provide unique memories for family and friends alike. From my viewpoint this was achieved, and then some…
Below is just a fraction of the overall set. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
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
In emails exchanged with Ayla post-wedding, she referred to the planning, preps and day itself as a "fairytale". It's the perfect word to describe this lovely couple who were keen to let go and have a brilliant party.
I think I knew Ayla and Arron's day was going to be smooth and classy affair when I arrived at the beautiful Queen Anne house, Braxted Park for our initial meeting. There, I was met by not just an excited bride-to-be, but her Mum and future Mum-in-law as well. We took a turn around the parkland and had a great, free-flowing chat about ideas, plans and timings. It was obvious this shoot would yield some genuine, happy memories.
There is a little bit of everything in this commission. A battalion of bridesmaids, 250+ guests, drummers, dancing and cash everywhere (literally). What's not to like?!
It was a pleasure to be asked to be a part of this wedding and I guess the stats tell the tale: after 3 weeks their online wedding set had received over 65,000 separate pic views - wow. I hope they all liked the set as much as I enjoyed my involvement.
Below, as usual, is just a fraction. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
I don't want to sound negative, but one of the reasons this set is so pleasing to me is that the day was so bad for weather. It rained. All day. And not just rain - the weather Gods chucked in some gale force winds as well.
This is the day when you open your bag of experience and pull out whatever can help you, because when the weather is stacked against you this much all the tricks of the trade are needed.
You find a doorway for the group shots and thank an Usher for holding the brolly over you. You catch any break when the rain subsides to nip out and shoot externals so you slip them back into the timeline during the edit. And you hope beyond hope that the bride keeps a sense of humour... and on that score Zoe was an absolute trooper.
As a bride, it must be so disheartening to look out of your hotel and see rain coming down like nails. But as you can see from Zoe's radiant smile, the obvious delight at being married cut through the gloom. Ultimately the rain didn't - and doesn't - matter.
On a warm, dry day we would have been out and about shooting in the wonderful gardens of Hampton Court. But since everything had to be inside, you knuckle-down and try to make plan B work as close to plan A would have done.
For me, it often leads to a greater sense of satisfaction when things are stacked-against you and you still bring home the bacon. After all, that’s the value of commissioning a professional photographer - not a mate/uncle who happens to have an SLR.
As usual here is a fraction of the set. Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
Everybody loves Kew Gardens. It's that place you went when you were a kid - loved the flora and fauna and the butterflies - but perhaps never truly appreciated.
Back in the Autumn, I was in the car after a meeting, checking voicemails. Chief among them was a very polite message from a woman called Farrah. She asked about my availability to shoot her wedding in January. To this day, what sticks in my mind about that message is just how considerate she was to apologise for calling on a Sunday. In this day and age, that's pretty impressive.
Fast forward a couple of meetings and there we are at a freezing, drizzly Kew Gardens the first weekend after Christmas. So many venues would have struggled to put on a show in these conditions, but led by Kew's Ruth Denton the day ran seamlessly.
The day revolved around three separate locations within the Gardens, plus an initial visit to Farrah and Robert's home to shoot the preparations.
The couple held the service in The Nash Conservatory (think understated grandeur), the Princess of Wales Conservatory for drinks (think mini Eden Project), then the The Orangery for the wedding breakfast. Each building boasting a character all its own.
The day was laid-back, different, interesting and in my eyes a very happy occasion. It had a little piece of everything and you could easily describe Farrah & Robert in exactly the same way. Working for them was a pleasure and hopefully this shows in the shots.
Click any thumbnail to enlarge...
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....
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...
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.
Click on any photograph to enlarge....