Good morning! It is ‘something borrowed’ day here on the blog and I just had to share with you the Style Me Pretty spring 2015 lookbook. Lots of beautiful wispy dresses from Vera Wang this year. So wearable and fabulous. I can’t wait to see what my brides will be wearing in 2015.
I fell in love with wedding dresses at an early age, when a family friend glided down the aisle with a vast train in a Medieval church. Suddenly I realised the drama of a wedding. As a wedding photographer I have worked with many dress designers in London and beyond – carrying dresses even as far as Cambodia – and I’ve come to have a high respect for their talent. Wedding dresses have a magic to them – something almost otherworldly. Jacqueline Byrne‘s work is another that awe-inspires me for the sumptuous detail of it.
For me photographing women is about celebrating their beauty and their uniqueness. I love fashion but I hate it when the industry seems to mainly exist to put some women on a pedestal and make others feel inferior. I believe that nature is so beautiful, so as long as we are natural we almost cannot fail to be beautiful.
Choosing a wedding dress is, I think, all about choosing the right one for your wedding. It would be a bit odd to have a huge flouncy dress and get married in the garden, but there’s no point (in my mind) getting married in a Disney castle in an understated dress. And of course you’ve got to choose one that suits your figure. Those strapless numbers are hard to pull off, though of course a good photographer will be able to make it look good in the pictures.
How has your experience of buying a wedding dress been? Is there a boutique that gave you a magical dress? I’d really love it if you commented below, let’s celebrate those wedding dress shops that really make the brides that come through their door feel good.
Wet weather is always a worry for your wedding. No bride wants it to tip it down on their wedding day, and it’s a good idea to have a wet weather scenario planned. So how do you plan for the weather in England?
The first thing to say is, don’t worry about it! Easier said than done, but your wedding is going to be wonderful whatever the weather.
Be well informed. How often have you cancelled an arrangement because the weather forecast said it would pour, then the sun comes out? Basing your life on a weather report is a risky policy here in England. If the BBC say it will pour, the chances are there will be light intermittent showers. When I’m planning shoots I look at yr.no, which gives a fairly accurate idea of what the weather will be. Looking far into the distance on the morning in question is the best way to forecast the weather. If it is raining but there is mist on the ground in the far distance then I can be pretty sure that the rain will probably lift later in the day. If it is raining and there is no mist, I can expect it to rain all day. Also, the weather usually goes in phases. So if it poured yesterday and it looks the same today it will probably pour today.
above: a preview from yesterday’s rainy engagement shoot, where a great deal of fun was had and we got very wet!
Sometimes it is worth waiting for the weather, but mostly here in the UK you have to work with what you’ve got. A certain zen-like, the universe is on my side, please God, wait for the weather attitude has to be applied. And a bit of carefully used flash! If it’s going to pour I’ll need my umbrella and my rug (to protect the subject’s clothes if need be). A shower cap for the camera and one for the flash! An assistant to hold umbrellas, And can we do some atmospheric rain shots? Could I use flash to give a sparkly effect of sunshine in rain? Will the clients be up for ‘doing rain’ – getting a bit wet in a gloriously romantic, Notting Hill style moment? Or are there windows, doors and archways that I could shoot through so that clients look as if they are outside but are actually sheltered?
Some of the best photographs are taken in unusual light. I try to see the weather as part of the creative mix. I have only ever once cancelled a shoot because of the rain and generally I find that with a bit of creative alertness one can shoot between showers and get some amazing shots. If the worst does happen and we have to cancel your photoshoot, we arrange for it to be rescheduled.
One magical thing is that I find that the sun often comes out just as the couple say, ‘I do’ on their wedding day. It is quite uncanny! And when the sun does come out after the rain, it is all the more brilliant for the rain that has gone before. The important thing is to embrace whatever weather you get and not allow it to mar your wedding. And remember that the nice soft light you get on overcast days is very kind and flattering!
Tips for couples on preparing for a photoshoot where rain is forecast:
Above: make up artist Siwan Hill
dress designer: Jacqueline Byrne
Balancing the needs of bridal preparations, ceremony, speeches and wedding breakfast into a timeline is not always easy. But without it you won’t get the most out of your day. A good timeline will help you get the most out of your day and allow your photographer to really flourish. Here are some tips.
If a couple are interested, I will always recommend having a First Look. It’s a really fun new tradition from the States which allows the couple to meet privately before the ceremony in their wedding clothes. It takes the pressure off the ceremony and shortens the time that you spend on photos during the day so that you can spend more time partying with your guests. Awesomity.
A good time to do family group portraits is during the bridal preparation in the morning. You are all looking fresh and it means you can have more time with your friends later on. I would normally hope to photograph the venue and details first, then the groom, then the bride. This means I can then be in good time for the ceremony and focus on capturing events as they unfold.
Spectacular light makes for spectacular photos. The best light for photography is of course before 11 and after 3, so aim to have your most important photography moments before or after that. Of course, the light will be good in different places at different times, so check with your photographer.
Make up artists are best given plenty of time. A well experienced one will work to a timetable but they do often run late so to be on the safe side arrange for the bride to be made up first. That way you can relax with a little nerve steadier while they rush through the last bridesmaid. It also gives your photographer time to get to the ceremony before you and capture those special moments as everyone arrives.
Finally as many people will tell you, let go. You can find yourself with such a dose of nerves that you rush through everything. Try and stick to the schedule, but accept that weddings are unpredictable. If you relax and go with the flow you will find that you have a more wonderful day than you could have imagined.
I hope you’ll forgive me for only a tenuous link to brides and weddings today, in that both the Shard and St Paul‘s are pretty fabulous wedding venues (why not both?). Recently I visited the Shard with my son and had a little play with my camera. As you might expect, it’s a pretty fabulous view from up there. One of the best views in London, and amazing clean air too! You can shortly view more of these shots on Alamy, under my profile. This is best viewed large so do click on it.
It reminds me of the Renaissance belief in a heavenly city, a more real, perfect version of what happens here below. I like to imagine St Paul’s transmitting to this heavenly city from down below! Two paradigms existing together and yet invisibly. “For we know in part, and we prophecy in part, and we see through a glass darkly…”
St Paul’s would be a fun place to get married – just like Princess Diana. In terms of wedding photography St Paul’s presents a few issues as cruelly you are not allowed to take photographs inside almost at all. Personally I think it’s time vicars learnt that God speaks through photography too! The Shard would be a fabulous place to have your wedding reception.
To book me as your wedding photographer get in touch on email@example.com
Many of my clients prefer me to keep their wedding pictures private, which is completely understandable though I would love to share this beautiful engagement shoot with you in its entirety! I think however that they would not mind me sharing this shot, which makes me smile. K is Scottish and J is thoroughly English. The beautiful K grew up in the Highlands, and her adorable J (you’ll just have to take my word for the fact that he looks like a cross between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth!) in Hong Kong and Buckinghamshire. We created their engagement shoot in places that they love; around the RAC in Pall Mall, Westminster and Polesden Lacey. At one point I snapped this. Given the referendum on Thursday I thought it was rather poignant and couldn’t resist posting it. This lovely couple are very much hoping for a ‘No’ vote. Fingers crossed the Kingdom will still be united next year when they are married.
ps many of my clients prefer me not to blog their images, so it’s always worth coming for a viewing so that you can get a clearer idea of the breadth of my work.
Ten rules to run your wedding photography business by, and ten things to look out for when choosing a wedding photographer. Let’s eradicate shoddy wedding photography!
1. Thou shalt dress appropriately and treat every wedding thou photographeth as an important, special event. Thou shalt be ‘present’ emotionally at the wedding so that you can capture it for posterity, bearing in mind that these photographs will play a part in the happiness of a new family because they bear witness to a love.
2. Thou shalt have wedding insurance, and check that it hath professional indemnity. Thou shalt get thy gear serviced at least once a year.
3. Thou shalt not have a dodgy car that breaks down all the time. Thou shalt get a reliable car and have thy car serviced regularly so that it doth not break down, and allow ample time to get to thy destination. If thy job is more than ninety minutes from home, get thee to a hotel. Weddings are exhausting if you are shooting them properly, and thou needs thy rest.
4. Thou shalt prepare properly before every wedding. Clean thy lenses, know thy timings, check thy locations, check where thou canst park and that the sat navigation system actually takes you to the right spot. Fill that car right up.
5. Thou shalt have enough batteries and memory cards, and charge and format them before every wedding. Thou shalt keep thy memory cards safe and double back them thy images up.
6. Thou shalt not murder thy images when editing them. Thou shalt recalibrate thy computer every 6 weeks so that the colours are true and thy images are not actually printing green.Thou shalt not over edit them, excessively sharpen them, allow colour casts or have excessive numbers of similars or any other crime against retouching.
7. Thou shalt have more than 1 flash. And thou shalt know what to do with it.
8. Thou shalt know thy camera and expose thy images correctly without camera shake, burning out or poor focus. Thou shalt have a suitable camera
9. Thou shalt not over do it. Limit the number of weddings thou dost to a sensible number, so that thou dost not collapse with exhaustion, thereby being unable to do a good job for each client. Then thou shalt not go about forgetting bride and groom’s names, as some photographers are wont to do.
10. Thou shalt train continually so that thou’st always improving, since there is always something to learn as a photographer.
And this one from a male colleague!
11. Thou shalt not covet thy bridesmaids (or groomsman).
12. To book thy photoshoot, contact Fiona on 07977 538424 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve been following my work for a while you will know that I love to photograph a wedding, and then create a book that beautifully reflects that story. I find the magic of a book, with all its tactile romance, to be the perfect way to evoke a wedding, and from an artist’s perspective it completes my creative journey.
It can be tough, as kindles are the thing at the moment and iPads. I love the way digital images light up, but I am concerned that they are not an enduring way to display important memories such as your wedding. And you can’t display an iPad in your living room, whereas a beautiful wedding album sits on a shelf gracefully keeping the wedding photography within safe and sound for all posterity. Seriously, we’ve got nineteenth century albums at home and they’re fine. I can’t even access photos on my 1996 laptop. And there’s a reason that legal documents are always kept on paper.
Luckily for me, books are now back in fashion. Peter Harringtons are thriving with a new rare book store in Mayfair, and they’ve got this beautiful blogpost about Love letters, which I duly share with you. Also if you have the Times there’s a whole article about what your shelves say about you. Rainbow shelves anyone?
So there you are. Wedding Albums are cool. Although I’d still be making them even if they weren’t…
A very strange thing happened to me while I was in Cambodia. I was exploring the grandiose, ancient temples of Angkor Wat when I met an apsara, a nymph. As I was looking at an exquisite stone statue, it came to life before my very eyes. She sat up on her pillar, blinking in the sunlight. Then she gracefully climbed through the ruined temple and ran off to the sea. I followed her as far as I could, but she disappeared under the waves. I think she was a bride searching for her lover. Perhaps there was a wedding under the waves… make up artist: Siwan Hill www.siwanhill.com Dress Designers: Jacqueline Byrne www.jacquelinebyrne.co.uk and Jesus Peiro from Miss Bush Bridalwear www.missbushbridalwear.com
To view the images please click on the first one:
What should a wedding be like? As a little girl I was entranced by my mother’s wedding magazines. She ran a shop in Knightsbridge and advertised in them, so our coffee table was always piled high with copies of Brides Magazine. Long before I knew what a camera was, I used to spend hours cutting out the pictures and making poster collages out of them, wide eyed at the goddesses in white dresses.
I always felt weddings were important. The first miracle in the New Testament is even wedding related! Jesus performs his first miracle at the Wedding at Cana, and I find it a great story. The couple had run out of wine; a massive faux pas in Ancient Israel. And no fun. So Jesus turned some water into wine. I love the fact that upon arriving on earth with a mission to save the world, the first thing Jesus does is create more wine. Not what you’d expect.
The Wedding at Cana had exactly the same dilemmas that the modern day wedding faces: How to afford a heinously expensive event. And people were it seems far more judgmental then. Running out of wine was a seriously embarrassing situation. Glad we’ve (mostly) moved on from that!
The other thing I find heartening about the story is that at no point does anyone judge the family for organising too big a wedding. The narrator appears to be supportive of their desire to go for it and extravagantly celebrate this very important occasion. There is no sense of parsimoniousness, stinginess or cutting back. The idea appears to be to go all out to celebrate. Have we lost our ability for unstinted generosity in the recession? Thrift is important, but lavish generosity has a place too.
Surprisingly, the statistics suggest that the marriage is more likely to last if you have a big wedding.*
Culturally, modern weddings are a crazy ball of different beliefs, which is part of what makes them so fun to photograph. There’s a bit of ancient goddess myth in there – Bride was the goddess of fertility who stalked the land with a lantern making the crops grow. Then she was a virginal saint who embodied ‘feminine virtues’, and knights started to call their sweethearts ‘brides’. And there’s a bit of empire in there echoed in the fact that Queen Victoria wore white on her wedding day – before that it was yellow. And of course the walking up the aisle dressed in white echoes the Church processing in glory towards God on the Last Day in the book of Revelations. These images are embedded in our sub conscious. Weddings are the bringing together of two people. Surely something to celebrate.
In the end though the most important thing is to create the wedding that YOU both want. This is the 21st century and a wedding is an equal partnership. Because of my job I’ve watched so many people get married. From my privileged position as a wedding photographer up near the altar what I see is that it brings people together. It is the best thing you can do for your relationship. Elopement or massive party, make your wedding wonderful, in homage to your love. And of course, and I mean this from the heart, whatever the size of your wedding do not forget to invest in a great wedding photographer so that you can relive all those wonderful memories later.
What do you think? Is it better to have a big wedding or a small one?
*This statistic doesn’t mean you should have a big wedding for your marriage to last, it just means have the wedding you want, don’t worry about whether it’s big or small.