Family photographyFamilies @Play

I know the title of this blog is family photography, but I’m going to start this post with a little mental maths challenge which my son, now aged 9, was able to work out the answer to this morning. So, firstly, since becoming a full time, professional photographer in 2005, I have been commissioned to photograph over 700 weddings. For the purpose of this calculation, we’ll round it down to that whole number. If the average number of daytime wedding guests, according to a 2016 survey by industry experts ‘Hitched‘, is 75, how many people have I met at weddings over the past 12 years?

Answer? 52,500! That’s right, I’ve met more than FIFTY THOUSAND people over the last 12 years through my role as a wedding photographer and, because of my documentary approach, there’s a good chance I will have photographed a large percentage of that number too. Which brings me on to the point of this blog, which is that when people ask me ‘do you do family photography’ then the answer is unequivocally yes. Why? Because whether I’m photographing a bride and groom at a wedding or a family walking through the woods for me, it’s all about people. People enjoying themselves, laughing, sharing emotions, making memories. 52,500 people just doing what they do!

Although my approach remains documentary, I do offer two types of family photography, dependent on the type of imagery you’re hoping to achieve. Either a selection of individual images, captured during a location shoot OR a ‘Families @ Play‘ commission, where I spend anything from a couple of hours through to an entire day with families, photographing their ‘everyday’. From mealtimes to story time and all those treasured interactions in between times, my role is to photograph you and your family doing what you do best; being you.

It’s been a pleasure to photograph so many families and, for some, it’s been on more than one occasion. A wedding, the first born and then again as the family unit grows in number. I’ve also been invited back to photograph the same children several years apart, as the eagle eyed among you may spot with the images of the 3 lads in the back of the Land Rover below. Come back in another 5 years time and I think they might need a bigger vehicle! A Mum and her child cuddle in the background while a father and son read together in the foreground of this family photograph

If you’re researching family photography and enjoy a documentary approach, be that during a location based photoshoot or a ‘Families @ Play’ session, please do drop me a line via the contact form on the main menu as I’d be delighted at the chance to be your photographer.

A young girl looks up from sitting on the forest floor with a bright yellow flower in the foregroundA young girl pokes her head around the corner of the door and looks into a sitting roomA mother and family look longingly as their baby son who sleeps in their armsA Dad jumps out from behind a large tree as he plays chase with his daughter in the park3 boys, photographed 5 years apart, sat in the back of a Land Rover DefenderDetails of a mother gently cradling her baby son and a father cupping his tiny feetTwo images taken during a family photoshoot of a young boy looking out of a window and then reading a book with his sisterA young boy turns round to look at the camera as he walks hand in hand with his parents through the countryside

A fabulous summer wedding at the stunning Notley Abbey in ThameMark & Kristian

Kristian and Mark celebrated their glorious summer wedding with an outdoor ceremony in The Walled Garden at the fabulous Notley Abbey, in Thame. For the historians amongst you, the ceremony is conducted within a ‘nook’ in the wall which had once been part of the Abbey before Henry VIII dissolved it following the formation of the Church of England.

Fast forward 550 years and what I witnessed was one of those perfect days, where the sun shines, champagne flows, the guests laugh and cry (happy tears!) in equal measure, and the love and friendship the couple hold so dear with each other and those around them forms the foundation of everything.

When you scroll through the images, you may have a sense that you’ve seen these chaps somewhere before, which could be explained by the fact their readings were the subject of a ‘Photographer’s Diary‘ film I posted. You see? Even their readings were perfect! I’ve subsequently re-visited this subject with a short post on Facebook about the importance of readings and speeches being a reflection of you, and your feelings, rather than simply a cut and paste from a page you found on Google so I think the legacy of their readings will live on.

When I look back at these images, I’m struck by the broad smiles, the cheeky grins, the knowing looks and the discrete winks. Those looks that together say this is real, this is happening, this is your day and I’m so, so happy to be here to share it with you!!

Outdoor ceremony taking place at Notley Abbey in Thame

If you’ve booked this exclusive venue to host your celebrations, be it a glorious summer wedding or an intimate winter occasion, and you prefer a natural, documentary approach to photography then, as one of Bijou’s preferred suppliers, it would be a pleasure to hear from you. You can drop me a mail via the contact form on the main menu or contact me via any of the details on the ‘Our Partners’ page of the Bijou website.

Vintage car outside Notley Abbey with white fluffy clouds in the skyGroomsmen helping each other get ready for their marriage at Notley Abbey Two grooms in blue jackets and grey trousers walk down the aisle at their summer wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey An outdoor civil ceremony at Notley Abbey The bridal party stand together on a bridge in the gardens of Notley Abbey Two grooms stand together on a bridge at Notley Abbey after their outdoor ceremony Guests enjoying garden games during a summer wedding in the grounds of Notley Abbey The Monk's Refectory at Notley Abbey dressed stylishly for a wedding reception A groom laughs heartily during the wedding speeches at Notley Abbey Guests hit the dancefloor as a live band plays during a wedding reception at Notley Abbey

 

Riverside wedding at the romantic venue Gants Mill in SomersetChris and Claire

On a rare weekend off, I enjoy little more than spending time with my young family, strolling along the footpath of the picturesque Kennet & Avon canal in Berkshire which, as a complete coincidence, is where Chris and Claire enjoy their life on a houseboat during the week. This fondness of water will no doubt have played a big part when falling in love with Gants Mill in Somerset to host their romantic riverside wedding.

The venue itself is owned by a wonderful couple, Greg and Elaine, whose own nuptials were held there, and their enthusiasm for the mill is a real joy to behold. You may well spot a black and white image in the below gallery of Greg, speaking with wedding guests and giving them a behind the scenes tour of how the mill works; a lovely addition to the usual wedding reception garden games! They’ve worked hard to retain many of the original features of the mill, which adds depth and interest to the imagery I was able to capture; the windows were just fantastic, and the natural light that gently fell through them during bridal preps was a real joy to work with. In addition, the country gardens are really stunning, and you could feel how relaxed guests were in these surroundings, conversation and laughter flowing as naturally as the waterfall from the mill.

This riverside wedding felt like a true reflection of Chris and Claire’s personality with their zest for life, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

A bride and groom laugh as they're showered with confetti at Gants Mill in Somerset

If you’re planning a riverside wedding, whether at Gants Mill or elsewhere, and enjoy a documentary approach to photography, please do drop me a line via the contact form with a few details about the plans you have for your day, and I can check availability. If you’ve chosen Gants Mill, I certainly hope I’ll be available, as I’d love to go back!

A bride her maids get ready at the beautiful riverside venue of Gants Mill in SomersetRomantic riverside wedding venue Gants Mill in Somerset nestles in to the hillside with water cascading from the waterwheel Bridesmaids walk thorough the stunning country gardens at Gants Mill while guests relax by the marquee in the backgroundA collection of images showing the arrival of the bride and the outdoor wedding ceremony at Gants Mill in SomersetA bride and groom sit together on an old stone wall in the idyllic grounds of Gants Mill in SomersetFamily and friends enjoying themselves during an outdoor wedding reception at Gants Mill in SomersetThe owner of Gants Mill in Somerset gives wedding guests a guided tour of the working millFamily and friends having a fantastic time during a wedding reception in the gorgeous country cottage gardens of Gants Mill Guests enthusiastically partying with the wedding band at Gants Mill in SomersetBlack and white images of friends and family partying during a summer's wedding at Gants Mill

A winter wedding at Wasing ParkLincoln and Martha

Sunday, 1st January 2017; what better way to hail the start of a new year than by celebrating with your nearest and dearest, which is exactly what those invited to share Lincoln and Martha’s winter wedding at Wasing Park were able to do.

Although Martha is English, she and Lincoln now reside ‘down under’ after the couple met there during a gap year. I think I may be right in saying however that for Martha, as for so many of us Brits, she’s accustomed to the romantic idylls of warm mulled wine and mince pies around an open fire in winter, and so the idea of a sunny Christmas and New Year just doesn’t sit quite right! With that in mind, the couple chose the beautiful venue of Wasing Park in Berkshire to host their winter wedding celebrations.

You may note a couple of images of ‘brollies’, which was indicative of the type of weather afforded the couple and their guests for the majority of the day. Not quite the picturesque crisp, white of a Christmas card scene, however with plenty of space inside Wasing Park’s stunning Castle Barn to enjoy their wedding reception, spirits were in no way dampened by the rain. I’ve chosen a few of my favourite images from the day below, and hope they reflect a sense of celebration and excitement as friends and family toast the start of the new year, and the beginning of a new chapter in this wonderful couples’ life together.

Bride and groom celebrate the start of a new year and a new chapter in their lives together as they marry at Wasing Park

If you’re thinking about a winter wedding at Wasing Park and enjoy a documentary approach to photography, I’d love to hear from you via the contact form on the main menu. As a footnote to this blog, it’s worth noting as you perhaps plan your wedding celebrations that, even in the height of summer, no date in the calendar year comes with a guarantee of blue skies and so, although it may seem like a logical suggestion, it’s always worth considering the ‘what if it rains’ question when beginning to look at venues. Having photographed over 150 weddings at Wasing Park, including a number of winter weddings and the occasional day of persistent rain, I can vouch that this is very much a venue for all seasons, and all weathers!

A bride hangs her dress up as she prepares for her winter wedding at Wasing ParkGroomsmen's hands work together to do up the button's on a dress shirtA groom looks at his reflection as he does up his tie before his wedding ceremonyA selection of black and white images of a bride and her maids before her winter wedding at Wasing ParkA groom waits patiently in the ceremony room for the arrival of his bride at Wasing Park in BerkshireThe bride arrives at the garden room in Wasing Park, where her father walks her down the ailseBridesmaids look on as friends marry at Wasing Park in BerkshireA clever reflection of guests looking on at a bride and groom saying their wedding vows at Wasing ParkBride and groom walk back down the aisle at the end of their wedding ceremony at Wasing ParkGuests enjoying themselves during the wedding reception in the Castle Barn at Wasing ParkA tricky umbrella manoeuvre is required at Wasing Park as bride and groom head out for their portraits Festive place settings at this winter wedding at Wasing ParkA bride puts her head in her hands and smiles during the speeches at her wedding breakfast at Wasing ParkFamily and friends having lots of fun at the dancefloor during a winter wedding at Wasing ParkThe bride and groom take to the dancefloor for their first dance at Wasing ParkThe disco provides green rim lighting for a couple enjoying their first dance at Wasing Park

Jewish Wedding at Woburn Abbey Sculpture GalleryChaim and Mireille

A Jewish wedding without doubt gifts a documentary photographer the opportunity to record custom and close observance to a faith that, to those not familiar with its practices, has fascinating solemnity within it’s ritual whilst being an event famed for exuberant dancing and lavish dining. I look through the pages of this site, including this latest post about Chaim & Mireille’s Jewish Wedding at Woburn Abbey Sculpture Gallery, and there’s often an air of incredulity when I think of the somewhat unexpected journey I’ve made as a professional wedding photographer. Among the celebrations you might expect to view, there are surprises; Turkish weddings, Russian orthodox ceremonies, Iranian occasions, Indian, American, humanist and pagan nuptials. It’s that variety, that diversity that feeds my enthusiasm for photography.

I heard a wedding photographer moot recently that he felt our place in the World is something akin to being an archeologist; one of the soul, one of emotion. It’s our job to dig deep and reveal a story for generations to come, where of course possible. So, lavished with that rather extravagant, hopefully not overbearing pomposity, a brief history lesson to introduce this Jewish wedding at Woburn Abbey within the Sculpture Gallery.

An abbey’s industrious Cistercians were the first to lay a stone within Woburn’s park grounds 870 years ago, so history is without doubt one of this estate’s past times. Four hundred years later gifted to the first Earl of Bedford by a King infamous for his rather uncharitable nature toward religion and indeed wives, there’s a wry wonder that the estate credited for the very English ritual of taking afternoon tea, is now one of the most beautiful places from which to chart a course of marital adventure. This is the story of Chaim and Mireille’s wedding by form of a Wedding Photofilm; a fusion of stills and sounds from their day, though a choice selection of photographs follow too.

Colour picture of Woburn Sculpture ParkPreparations for Jewish wedding in this colour picturePhotograph of Jewish wedding preparationsBride arriving for her Jewish weddingReading the marriage contract at a Jewish weddingA happy bride walks into her Jewish wedding pre celebrationsGroom studies the Ketubah at a Jewish weddingJewish wedding photographSigning the Katubah at a Jewish weddingA picture of a handshake just prior to a wedding between father and groomThe groom meets his bride for the first time in this colour pictureA bride at the Bedecken ceremony at Woburn AbbeyWoburn-Sculpture-Park_0013A father leads his daughter down the aisle at Woburn Abbey Sculpture GalleryA colour photo of the bride meeting a groom during her weddingColour photo of a brideBride and groom stand under the ChuppahPhoto mid ceremony during a Jewish ceremonyCongratulations being exchangedWoburn-Sculpture-Park_0021Picture of friends celebrating a wedding at Woburn Abbey with the bride and groomPhotograph of signing the register at Woburn AbbeyWoburn-Sculpture-Park_0026Picture of dancing at a Jewish wedding after the ceremonyGuests watch the dancing from behind a screenPicture of musiciansPhotograph of dancing at a weddingThe bride and groom dancing at a Jewish wedding celebrationColour photo of a bride and groom afront Woburn AbbeyGuests lining up for a wedding banquetSpeeches during a Jewish Wedding at Woburn Abbey Sculpture GalleryWoburn-Sculpture-Park_0037The Seven Blessings being read at a wedding in Woburn AbbeyBlack and white photograph of dancing during a weddingColour photo of movement as men danceA bride embraces her fatherWoburn-Sculpture-Park_0044 Jewish Wedding at Woburn Abbey Sculpture Gallery

A nod to 2016 | A Photographer’s Diary

Now, January was supposed to be a quiet month yes? A ‘catch your breath, regroup, complete some personal projects and spend some me time,’ month. But it’s set off at a steady pace once more, fortunately so, which means this little piece took a week or so longer to complete and post than planned. But we’re not so engrossed yet in 2017, the ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development,’ (catchy) that I felt I couldn’t doff my cap back to last year, for a brief resume of my year in pictures, wedding pictures that is, accompanied by some audio moments of humour that prove we’re all after everything is considered, only human; even men of the cloth. Isn’t that the wonderful thing about being a ‘bean’ as the BFG said? So, a hearty thank you to the amazing couples who let me into your lives last year. Photographing a wedding is a humbling experience. Every time you take up your camera, you start from the beginning. No two stories are ever the same. A wedding may well follow a schedule or pattern if you like, but in essence you’re meeting and photographing people you have never encountered before and may never again. So, you need your wits about you. You’re constantly learning as you observe and photograph. That’s what continues to make this genre so engaging. Onwards and upwards then into 2017 and I hope the film brings a smile to your face.

An English outdoor wedding | Oscar and Laura’s Photofilm

Nestled in rolling Hampshire countryside, Parsonage Farm played host to Oscar and Laura’s classic English marquee wedding. Just months prior to this day, I remember discussing typical English weddings with members of a bridal party Stateside and there seemed a consensus that whilst the exchange of vows were domiciled in brisk or draughty historic Norman churches, the accompanying ‘cocktail hour’ and reception should always be held within a marquee à la ‘Four Weddings.’ Variety is of course the spice of a good shindig and I don’t like to be the one to hold a pin to a well meant fantasy, so I embraced their imagination with an accompanying witicism of how difficult it is to find a craftsman to fix one’s castle drawbridge these days. Oscar and Laura’s wedding would have both fascinated and enthralled my American friends. This seemed to me, to be a day for detail and creativity. One thousand paper birds suspended from the marquee’s roof panels is certifiably an art installation in my mind. ‘Pantry games,’ now there’s a quaint colonial expression, were played on the lawns including the chaps mustering several overs of cricket whilst guests helped themselves to free lashings of clotted cream ice-cream. It’s all getting rather English now. But this seemed to me to be a day for photographic detail too. Often during the course of my photography I’ll be making pictures of one thing, when something quite unexpected will present itself in a palpable photographic manner of opportunity. And in this case whilst vows were exchanged, I spied the front row of nearest and dearest making their own connections during the celebrants notes and advice on partnership. Those these frames appear within the Wedding Photofilm, I’ve printed them below, as I think they underline the significance of what this day is all about.

Hands being held in this colour photographPicture of family members holding hands at a weddingCouple holding hands at a wedding

Wedding at Inner Temple London | EJ and Ed’s Photofilm

In the course of my vocation, I hear many wedding speeches, as you would expect. Many. The best speeches seem those that flow from an orator’s mouth with a kind of unconscious aptitude for emotional honesty and often with the vocal dexterity of a poet or professional wordsmith. These speakers are simply eloquently cruising; their audience believing and devouring each sentence spoken. And in speech terms, the good ones, the really good ones, sound almost as if they are being invented on the fly, yet conversely have all the structure of something that’s seemingly taken months to compose.

I am reminded by my own impromptu rather inept speech at a meal to celebrate ten years of marriage to my wife recently, that ad-libs are not necessarily my strongest forte and if you have something special to say, take a little time to think before you stand. But I’m in good company it seems as the ‘CEO of comedy’ Bob Hope proved when he suggested much rehearsing and planning went into his famous ad-libbing. Tommy Cooper‘s bungling magical mishaps were a recital of such detailed organisation, yet appeared anything but. JFK, Martin Luther; they all proved that if you have something important and resounding to proffer, then you’d better plan, because you only have that one fleeting moment to share well. And whilst this isn’t supposed to be a piece about how to make a wedding speech with the palpable potency a revered world leader would happily lay claim to, it is proof why what is said on a wedding day is worth more than a cursory thought or ‘borrowed’ passage from the planet’s favourite search engine.

This is EJ and Ed’s Inner Temple weddings Wedding Photofilm, a short ‘movie’ featuring stills and sounds from their fabulously emotional day. And what a genuinely wonderful occasion it was too; laughter coursed through this wedding from start to finish – as I think you’ll experience. But this too is, I think, a masterclass in wedding oratory. I always heard speeches as I photographed them, but it wasn’t until I began to record and relive them through making these Wedding Photofilms, that I really began to listen to them. I’d be grateful of your comments and notes. Congratulations Ed, congratulations EJ, an event to make anyone feel ten feet tall.

If you’re looking forward to celebrating your wedding at The Inner Temple and enjoy a documentary approach to photography, please do drop me a line via the contact page as I’d love to hear more about the plans for your big day.

Anniversaries | A Photographer’s Diary

Anniversaries lead to the creation of this piece, which seems appropriate given what I photograph for a living. But actually, it’s been somewhat difficult to plan, record and piece together this more intimate Photographer’s Diary film, as every time I’ve started to make this, either my wife or one of our children have popped their head around the studio door with a cup of tea, a question, or in the case of my youngest just a few moments ago; the proud presentation of a picture he’d sketched of ‘Icky Doo Dah’ as a surprise. I needed to meet a deadline, October 14th, the date of our own wedding anniversary and a milestone one at that I feel; our tenth. Though let me start with a short tale about two precious people to me, who certainly knew a thing or two about marriage.

Small Cameras | A Photographer’s Diary | Fuji X-T1

We’re jumping off wedding topic for this post about using small mirrorless cameras, again, notably the Fuji X-T1. Now, I’m a committed Canon photographer for my wedding work in the main, a decision fused by my demand for quick accurate focusing in little to no light and full bodied colour rendition when working with particular picture file types, which is represented by the photographs viewed in my gallery. Having said that, over the last few years I have invited in a new camera system to my life; the mirrorless entity. Smaller more compact styled machines that don’t necessary shout; “CAMERA!” Without wanting to scribe a technical review (trust me, I’m not the one to explain the technicalities of mirrors, sensor sizes and file types) I simply wanted to find a system that would be as intuitive as my Canons in terms of user experience, but much lighter to brandish, ergo a camera that I would be more likely to carry everywhere with me. That camera system is the Fuji and despite not using these exclusively for professional engagements, I seem to have embraced a bag full of the brand; X100, X100S, X-Pro1, X-T1, X-Pro2 and X-T2, in that order. I have actually owned more Fuji flavoured cameras than Canon, so for a system not yet adopted as my go to ‘money maker,’ it seems I clearly have an affection for the smaller, man bag fitting, retro styled camera produced by Fujifilm. These diary pieces whilst not all reflective of my wedding or indeed portrait work, are none the less a good way to demonstrate my approach to photography and this one, is really a nod to subtle photographic methods where you can tell a story without looking like, ‘The Photographer.’

This latest film was shot whilst on a day out with my family at The West Somerset Railway – the longest heritage railway in Britain – where you can immerse yourself in a rather slower pace of life, surrounded by the nostalgia of years gone by.

If you are looking for more information on the Fuji range of cameras, I’d thoroughly recommend following the Fuji Blog, and the Official X-Photographer’s site, and if you enjoyed this film, please do subscribe to future posts by leaving your email address in the box at the bottom of this blog.

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