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.
Alexandra really wanted a cool, sixties style dress for her wedding but she knew that her relatives would prefer something more traditional. The compromise? A First Look photoshoot AND a secret wedding! I was privileged to witness both. Yassir and Alexandra are an adorable couple and I have no doubt that they will have a wonderful life together. Their wedding flowers were created by Orchidya, who put together a spectacular ball of orchids for the first look and a more low key, toss-able bouquet for the wedding day itself. This was hilariously caught by the lovely Lisa, who appeared very unkeen to be the next in line. I loved getting to know Alexandra and Yassir. Russian Alexandra has a great sense of clarity and feels like a bit of a soulmate to me. And Iraqi Yassir is a true gentleman! Long life and happiness to you both.
The lovely Nina Bains did the make up for both occasions.
As ever, click on the thumbnails to view the images properly.
I’m very excited to be exhibiting at Brides in the Autumn. I wanted to let my clients know that they are doing a promotion on tickets!
The promotion code is 2FOR1 and will be valid until Friday 27th June 2014 on Standard and Gold tickets.
You can buy tickets on their website www.bridestheshow.co.uk
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.
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.
My top tip? Book a planner. A good planner will be able to guide you smoothly through this complex event that you will experience (hopefully) only once in your life. They will also deal with all the boring admin questions from suppliers so that you can get on with enjoying your time with your loved ones. And that’s priceless.
What are your tips for a good timeline at a wedding?
You might be forgiven for thinking Song Saa doesn’t exist.
Floating secretly off the undeveloped coast of Koh Rong, Cambodia, it is as if your subconscious dreamt a very lovely dream and it actually came true.
Upon arriving at Sihanoukville our driver spent a good while hunting for the boat before eventually handing us over to a sleek speedboat and its crew. You can’t easily find it marked on a map, there is only one way to get there. It may not exist.
But upon arriving on the private island hotel you are quickly transported to a world of luxury where everything is taken care of. There is free pink champinoise on tap, little amuse bouches dotted around your room wrapped in betel leaves and jars of chocolates. A soulful sound of bamboo pipes wafts through the jungle. Soft sand and warm waves. Then there’s your private infinity pool and the spa. And the glorious outdoor shower among the palm trees. Magical dinners on the sea shore. It is possibly the most perfect place for a wedding or a honeymoon you could imagine.
Did I really go there? I’m no longer sure. I hope my pictures take you there.
above from top: the view from the mainland at Sihanoukville. Koh Rong is one of the most undeveloped coastlines in the world, recently written about by Huffington post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/15/places-that-arent-famous-yet_n_5226475.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063; the speedboat to the island; Natalie who kept me company; bottom; the view from our hotel room over the infinity pool
For a long time I have revelled in Michael Turek’s beautiful images in Harper’s Bazaar, so one of the nicest things about going to Cambodia for the magazine was that I got to know Michael a bit. Not only is he one of my favourite photographers ever, but also an extremely generous person. And now I discover that he has made a travel scrapbook. And if you haven’t already gathered that I love books, well, I do. I really love them. So I thoroughly enjoyed checking out his scrapbook, and I’m sure you will too. (more…)