Farrah & Robert, Wedding photography at Kew Gardens

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...

A festive wedding shoot at Somerset House...

With the cold weather now kicking-in, it seems apt to feature something which looks freezing. And this shoot from last winter always sticks in my mind as being a cracker (ahem).

We all have favourite shoots. Sometimes it's because of a grand venue, or a brilliant couple. Maybe there was terrific detail. Then, every now and then there's a commission which has everything.  Even Christmas. And what's better than Christmas at the glorious Somerset House.

The shoot was also notable as a day when snow blanketed town, turning the capital into a winter wonderland. Renee and Mark are from Chicago, but based here on short work contracts. They had commissioned the fantastic Penny Cullen of Tigerlily Weddings to style and orchestrate their wedding, and as usual it looked fabulous and flowed brilliantly. Below are just a few from the final set, because this lovely, young couple are very private, but still allowed me to show a few.

It was a simple late afternoon service followed by an intimate dinner for close family and friends, all overlooking the ice rink now so popular over the festive period. I enjoy all the weddings I shoot, but have a particular soft spot for Renee and Mark and their family. They are lovely people with a sense of style. What more can a photographer ask...

From the archive... #9

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... 

From the archive... #7

I have always really like this moment. Unless you force children to pose, something at which they aren't any good at, you know shots displaying kids are completely honest. 

Here we have some rather late bridesmaids! The bride and her father were already on the landing waiting nervously to enter the ceremony, but the girls had been faffing about in the gardens and lost track of time. All quiet amusing. 

What I love is the body language of each - something only a still photograph can show. The little girl leading the way is clearly in a hurry. To emphasise this point you can see she's almost dragging her younger sister behind her. Lastly, we have the eldest of the three who is more concerned with her dress on the stairs.  Three totally different concerns.

The moment was there... and then gone again, made even stronger as nobody is looking into the lens. It preserves the genuine rush and mild panic, yet it still slightly playful.

Thirty seconds later it was all OK...

From the archive... #3

It always intrigues me why people like certain pictures within a set. This little sequence is one on which clients always linger in my portfolio. Here's a little background...

The commission was a Christmas wedding last year with the drinks reception in a private residence. I had worked the room a little in search of off-beat and candid portraits, but kept noticing the little flower girl nipping away into one of the downstairs rooms.

didn't really pay much attention to this until I heard the piano certainly not making a great sound. After putting two and two together it was suddenly obvious that the little rascal was making her own entertainment...

Adopting my very best stealth approach, I let her just play around nd tried to shoot frames as she hit the keys, so as not to disturb the scene. It wasn't until she'd finished that my presence had been sensed, and she immediately scurried from the room. It's the last image and the look on her face which absolutely makes the set.

(Canon 5DMK2 body, 85mm lens, 1600asa, 60th @F2)