Monday, 27 July 2009

A day in the life of a wedding photographer...

Every so often, the stars and planets come into line to form a wonderful combination that you just couldn't have bettered. Louise and I are privileged to have some amazing friends and two in particular feature quite a lot in this blog post - David and Rachel.

There's nothing better than doing what you love - unless you count doing what you love surrounded by friends. David and Rachel's wedding was exactly like that for us. Often our friends are hesitant to ask us to shoot at their weddings, because they're afraid we won't be able to enjoy the day as guests. On the contrary - we have a great time at weddings, and even more so when we're shooting people we know well.

So far in this blog I've only really included a few select favourites from each wedding - however, for this one I've decided to do something slightly different. We take so many photos at a typical wedding, and only a selection of these go through the post-processing/photoshopping that gives a lot of our images a trademark style. But that's not to say we don't like all the other photographs - there are often some corkers there as well!

So for Rachel and David's wedding, I've condensed every single one of the 5,669 photos into a 10-minute stream, so you can get a feel for the sheer number of photos we take, and how we see everything that goes on during the day! I hope you feel the same as we feel when we're there, in the midst of fun, families, and some great characters!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Oxfordshire's well-kept beautiful secret...

Every so often I have the exciting experience of discovering an amazing new wedding venue in Oxfordshire that I'd never heard of before. Ben and Beccy's wedding was one of those privileged occasions - even more, I'd driven, cycled or walked past this place for the last 5 years and never even knew it existed.

Headington Hill Hall is now part of Oxford Brookes but has a long and illustrious history (as do most old buildings in Oxford), only the briefest fraction of which stayed in my brain. But it was lovely nonetheless.

The wedding was even more special given Ben's expertise in photography - specialising in nature and landscape photography, I felt very privileged that he chose Simplicity to cover his wedding. He was wonderfully gracious about everything too, leaving us to work in our relaxed, candid style and as a result, we had a completely un-stressful day in blissful sunshine, surrounded by lush greenery, fantastic artitechture and beautifully photogenic people. Take a look.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Struggling to find a perfect venue? How about this one...

Oxfordshire is well known for some incredible wedding venues, and Bradley and Sally chose (in my humble opinion) one of the best. Eynsham Hall near Witney is a fantastic manor house with, apparently, 3,000 acres of land. The house and its gorgeous gardens were enough for us, though - we had a great time snapping away at the couple and their wonderful guests and came away with some really relaxed and natural shots, which contrasted well with the grand architecture. Luckily, we get to shoot more at Eynsham Hall next year, with a couple more weddings booked in the diary... I'm looking forward to it already!

Bradley and Sally

Some well-dressed guests

Plenty of opportunities for photos...

Smiles all round! The sun is out!

Outside in the afternoon sun...


Boules at sunset. How civilised.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The pipes, the pipes are calling...

It's not every weekend you get to go through the centre of Reading with a parade of wedding guests, led by a man in a colourful skirt playing the bagpipes, taking photo after photo of smiling people. But this particular weekend was one of those occasions.

Married in Reading Minster by the groom's father, Tim and Elise walked out of the fabulous church with massive smiles which seemed never to go away for the rest of the day. Especially when being gawked at by the hundreds of Saturday shoppers who were somewhat stopped in their tracks by a line of guests, dressed in their finery and led by the happy couple and a tartan-adorned piper. I used up a good portion of a memory card during that.

A few of my favourites...

Getting ready...

The Shoes

The Ring

The Church

Reading High St. didn't know what had hit it...

We didn't really need to tell these guys what to do...

A touch of vogue...

The churchyard provides a fantastic backdrop

The Reception

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Never work with whom?

It's always an honour to be asked to photograph someone's wedding - it's the most important day of their lives, and they're asking to remember it through your eyes (or at least your lens!). People sometimes ask me whether I feel a lot of pressure because of this - fortunately, my approach to weddings is all about taking the emphasis of the photographer! No-one wants to stand in a line for four hours whilst the photographer bosses them all about. And, conversely, the best shots are the ones which allow the couple to later look back at the day through the eyes of their guests, family and friends, as well as bringing back their own happy memories of the day.

One of the best ways to view a wedding is through the eyes of a child - everything's new, exciting, everyone's a new friend, and the outfits are the best thing ever. Until the opportunity to slide down grassy banks comes along. So, here is a journey through a wedding; as seen by the children that make it so fun!

Boys like cars. Girls, less so, but if it's pretty, they'll be very happy to stand near it.
"One day, I'll have one like this..."

"This is more my scene - time to become the most important person/princess of the day.
What's that? I'm not the most important person here?"

Pretty much anything that shows up fingerprints, will.

Pretty in pink!

They're great smiles; but in truth, they're made slightly nervous by the size of my camera compared to theirs.

"Time for a nap..."

"What's down here? Probably going to get muddy."

"Worms and mud I can deal with. But girls? With tennis balls?"

One of the most important things is to give children the space they need to have fun. This was shot using a telephoto lens about 30m away from the fountain - they didn't even know we were there!

Here comes the sun...

Well, the summer seems to be arriving in force - last weekend took us to rural Oxfordshire for the beautiful wedding of Laura and Tim in Berrick Salome. What can I say about this lovely couple? As you can tell from our pick of the day's shots, there were smiles all round, all day, and the sun had his hat on and was certainly keen on coming out to play with the happy newlyweds!

At times in the distant past, I've been known to complain about the harsh light of a summer's day - but more and more I love the defining nature of it, and the high-key shots it allows you to get. As a well regarded fellow-blogger and photographer said, "Show me an image with a good amount of internal contrast [lots of lights and darks] and I'll show you an image that will look good anywhere, on any paper!"

It makes things harder, yes - but what's life without a little challenge? And just because something's a little more tricky to get spot on doesn't mean it's not as good! A good example - the couple in the church, photo below; backlit from a huge window with light streaming in, south-facing windows high up casting a beam of light straight onto the bride's back, and deep shadows behind the groom. Modern cameras are usually ok at guessing the correct exposure to use, but in situations like this, it's up to the human behind the viewfinder to get it right... Hard work? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

The bride ...

... and her proud father.

The groom ...

... and his new wife!

The afternoon sun ...

... and the happy couple.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Fairies in the lens

It's been a while since I've had a normal Saturday. By which I mean one of those lie-in, get-up-and-have-a-cooked-breakfast, maybe-think-about-doing-something-productive-later kind of Saturdays. Mostly I'm off to crazy places all over the country to photograph lovely people's weddings - and during the week I'm blissfully up to my ears in Photoshop and thousands of photos of smiling happy people.

Louise, my partner in crime on these exploits, is particularly great at getting kids on her side at weddings, which results in some fantastic shots (who said never work with children and animals? they're great fun!) but can sometimes give unexpected results.

Last weekend she managed to convince three wonderfully cute kids that there were fairies in the lens of her (admittedly rather large and intriguing) camera. Sorting through the dozens of photos of very earnest, slightly puzzled-looking kids at a very short distance from the lens has been an entertaining break from the usual kind of shots we come away with!

Which reminds me - I have to get those little fingerprints off the glass...

Curiouser and curiouser...

Friday, 8 May 2009

Summer is here...

Well, May has arrived, with its strange Oxford traditions of students jumping off bridges, Morris dancers in the streets, and choirs singing from towers. If that makes no sense to you - join the club.

What makes perfect sense is the wedding of the wonderful Piper and Simon at Ardington House in south Oxfordshire. Fairytale is one way to describe the day - the bride looked utterly stunning, making her way to get married on an island in the middle of a lake (carried on a boat, no less!); the weather was perfect; the couple's guests were a delight to be around and a great laugh (the speeches - award-winning), and the lovely couple were so relaxed in front of the camera we couldn't help but take some stunning shots. Did I mention last week that this is the best job in the world?

As a fan of occasionally walking up hills, an important part of that particular past-time is to stop every so often and look back, and marvel at how far you've come. The moment I finished processing Piper and Simon's wedding was one of those metaphorical enjoy-the-view moments - comparing last weekend's wedding with the photos I gave to my good friends Ben and Clare all those weddings ago (kudos for letting me cut my teeth at their special day!) is quite a reminder that the only way to survive in the photography business is to try and make every shoot better than the last - cliched perhaps, but nonetheless true!

The bride

Arriving by boat to meet her beloved...

Pure joy!

The fabulous grounds at Ardington

Piper and Simon picked exactly the right weekend for the blossom...

Cutting the cake at sunset - with a kiwi to celebrate!

We like to party.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

...say the bells of St Paul's

It was off to London last weekend for a real treat - Liv and Tony got married in the crypt at St Paul's Cathedral. Welcome to fairytale land! As if someone was listening out for us, the weather was better than any other weekend this year, with some breathtaking blue skies and great light even through the stained glass.

I had the pleasure of working with another professional image-maker in the evening - and it would be safe to say I've never seen anything like it. Liv and Tony had a silhouette-cutter providing not-inconsiderable entertainment in the evening! I still have no idea how she did it - take a piece of card, a pair of scissors and a subject, and two minutes later, pure genius. Amazing. It certainly put me in my place - all I have to do is press a button!

The adorned bride...

In front of St Paul's Cathedral - watched by more people than I'm usually used to!

Returning for dinner

Here comes the sun!

Here's one I made... just now.