Notley Abbey wedding Photofilm | James and Victoria

Ah, Notley Abbey, a seat, resting and rejoicing place for men of prayer, Kings, Queens and equally darlings of show business, for many a century. If you think you recognise this particular set of photographs, it’ll be because this wedding featured as a Postcard blog post just under a year ago. But I’ve expanded out the film now to include some movie footage, albeit brief, and further captures from the day not featured in that Postcard.

I’ve called the piece ‘Love and Music,’ as both bride and groom are brilliantly accomplished musicians. The story recounted in the groom’s speech goes that the day James performed a particular Elton John arrangement for Victoria during their early dating months, it was that moment Victoria found the depth of her feelings. The rest is historically shown within the footage of this film. Perhaps this sounds a little stunningly filmic but there was and is a genuine reality to the words and sentiments expressed within this Photofilm by the couple. And take these not as the words of fanciful composition to decorate an atypical wedding blog platitude, but a very palpable account of a day that makes me appreciate the nature of documenting weddings in a photojournalist style. This, is, real.

If you’d like to view more images from Notley Abbey wedding celebrations, please click here, and if you’re planning your wedding at Notley and feel a documentary approach to photography would be the perfect way to remember your day, please do drop me a line via the contact form on the main menu.

Notley Abbey wedding photofilm | Anthony & Tessa

Now I know it’s not the Brit thing to express favourites, but Notley Abbey is for me unadulterated photographic delight. It’s quarter mile tree lined avenue, a leading line to the estate, is impressive whether decorated by it’s spring and summer foliaged plumage, or stripped of that during the long late autumn and winter retreats. The house and barn style refectory provides ample opportunity for guests to shelter from inclement conditions and enjoy evening entertainment, whilst gifting me the space and lighting I require for available light reportage wedding photography.

This Wedding Photofilm covers a truly international event with guests travelling from all parts of Australia, Hong Kong, Europe, the Americas… and the list goes on. My apologies to our friends down under in that retrospectively the cricket jibes exchanged during the audio of this film, could seem slightly cruel, knowing what eventually happens in the 2013 ashes. I’m taking a moment to explain a technical facet of this Photofilm; the fade to, or cut to black slides.

I do get asked from time to time whether the cuts are missing an image, perhaps the result of image placers during the edit. A cut to black where momentarily you ‘lose picture’ though the audio is maintained is a way of transitioning to a new scene, emotion or time. It’s akin in some respects to the white space left in wedding albums to the left or right of an image, that draws the eye or attention to a next item. Thanks as always to those that follow these Photofilm productions with interest and I hope that helps explain some of the production values practised during the editing process.

If you’re planning a Notley Abbey wedding and would like to record your day as a Photofilm, I’d be delighted to hear from you via the form on the contact page.

Notley Abbey same day edit | James and Victoria

I don’t have a problem per sae with supermarket brand spirits, but you simply can’t compare bland label brandy with something like, say Martell. For sure I’m no connoisseur, but I know the taste of the real thing. As much I know the feeling of a wedding where there is so much more being exchanged than words repeated from a registrar’s ceremonial running order.

There are times, particularly during speeches, where it would be true to say I hold the camera’s viewing piece to my eye just a little longer than is entirely necessary following the culmination of an address. “Oh me? No, I’m not weeping, no, not me, it’s merely, ummm, dust, yes dust.” Perhaps it’s the drawn intimacy through viewing these private and precious moments through a small eye piece, I’m not entirely sure, but I would certainly say that more often than not, something envelops me during times like the speeches that serves as a pretty potent reminder of why I choose to photograph weddings as a specialist genre.

Today’s wedding at Notley Abbey, was no exception. There was an air of sentimentality when I arrived to photograph bridal preparations. The mood was contemplative yet flirted with excitability. My advice to brides and grooms is to let the day run, trust the professionals around you, and don’t let rain stop play. Embrace the opportunity to let go. You’ve done months, perhaps years of planning, now is the time to breathe in the day whilst those around you complete spreadsheet tasks. This is a wedding, your wedding!

Wedding photographs from Notley Abbey

Congratulations James and Victoria upon your wedding and my thanks for inviting me to be a part of your day.

Father greets bride at wedding

Today was a ‘same day edit’ occasion. Fot me that’s not every image, that would be impossible; it’s a selection of photographs that may then be shown on a screen during the evening reception. Logistically it takes me the time of the wedding breakfast to sort, edit and ready the pictures for display.

First floor at Notley Abbey

If I were to create a mood board of shots I hoped would feature in a wedding, this kind of scene would feature pretty much at the top of that wish list. The rain fell outside, and the resultant light equally fell to provide me with an opportunity to gently capture this scene.

Civil ceremony Notley Abbey

Notley Abbey at 2.50pm this afternoon.

Notley Abbey photographer

There is no doubt in my mind that you retrieve from life’s experiences what you invest. If you’re of a sunnier disposition, generally speaking, you shall surround yourself quite naturally with friends who share that feeling.

Notley Abbey wedding venue

I’ve been experimenting of late with warm toned pictures inspired by some of the greats of street and even conflict photography. There’s a definite character to the tonality of a slightly warmer toned photograph.

A groom's speech at Notley Abbey

Today’s musical interludes during the speeches. A piece from Rachmaninoff, the piece that was played by Victoria at a concert when James purports to have first realised his true affections. And then, James brings the house down by singing Your Song, the tune where Victoria returned the compliment. James and Victoria are both accomplished musicians.

Notley Abbey wedding speeches

It’s midnight as I close, and I imagine right now guests are bidding their farewells to James and Victoria. I’m at the end of a large glass of cognac. I can retire to bed warmed by the real thing, in terms of cognac yes, but more over in terms of the day I have just witnessed.

Notley Abbey Wedding | Rain, rain go away…

It’s not often I get the chance to meet wedding clients these days, but when James & Victoria came to visit Neale for the first time to discuss their Notley Abbey wedding around this time last year, I instantly liked them both.

They’re one of those couples who have smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. They’re interested, as well as interesting, friendly, engaging, and completely in love.  Since I met them, I’ve had my fingers crossed, hoping with all my superstitious might that not putting new shoes on tables or walking under ladders or letting black cats cross my path will bring them luck. And I don’t mean serious luck, in the sense of a lifetime of happiness together (although I do of course wish them this!) but moreover the little luck.

The luck that brings a few rays of sunshine for them to enjoy their fairytale wedding of an outside ceremony at Notley Abbey tomorrow.

They’ve both had so much input into the planning of this wedding, with so many wonderful personal touches their Pinterest board must be pinned to capacity! Taking inspiration from their love of music and Whitstable Bay (although I’m still not convinced of the idea of using Oysters as ring bearers…) it really does sound like my kind of wedding.

So, given that I’ve just checked the weather forecast and it says the sunshine may well appear for just a couple of hours tomorrow, I’m asking you all to collectively cash in all your favour tokens and stockpile all your good fortune so that this most lovely couple can enjoy the most perfect day.

With my thanks in advance for your help and good wishes,

Sam (aka Mrs. James) xx

A pre-wedding photoshoot for a couple to wed at Notley Abbey

To see more of Neale’s work at Notley Abbey, please click here or type ‘Notley Abbey’ in the search area at the top of this blog.

Humour at a Notley Abbey wedding

Although times flies, and this photograph is from a couple of years ago, I remember this Notley Abbey wedding like it was yesterday.

I recall nervous humour flying about as we waited in an entrance adjacent to the ceremony room, though I have to admit I have forgotten exactly why one bridesmaid was blowing at another!

I also know that my habit of photographing over shoulders to bind me to a scene surprised the recipient of this airflow somewhat. I like her glanced surprise though, and believe it helps convey the humour of the occasion.

Bridal context is always a bonus, and of course this photograph has that too.

So this for me, is one of those; “Do you remember when” photographs?

In documentary terms, it has strong significance within the final collection, as these brief captures add momentary story lines as the day builds.

If you’re planning a Notley Abbey wedding and would like to see more images from this fabulous venue, please click here, and if you believe my photographic style suits what you have in mind for your wedding celebrations, I’d be delighted to hear from you via the Contact form on the above menu.

Bride and her maids waiting to go into the ceremony at Notley Abbey

A gentle bridal portrait from a Notley Abbey wedding

As a preferred supplier for Bijou I have had the pleasure of photographing more than a handful of weddings at their sought after venues, including many wonderful celebrations at Notley Abbey.

However it’s this gentle picture from a Notley Abbey wedding back in 2011 that remains one of my favourites, primarily for it simplicity as a bridal portrait. It’s a break from the busy nature of composition I try to achieve in documentary record shots. There’s a beautifully innocent quality to the picture. A shallow depth of field and light edging vignette helps to draw the eye into the portrait. Portraiture can be in the moment and not necessarily contrived or performed and this is, I believe, a lovely example of the former.

If you’re planning a Notley Abbey wedding and feel a documentary approach to wedding photography would compliment your celebrations, I’d be delighted to hear from you via the contact form on the main menu. Alternatively, if you’d like to view more of my photography from Notley Abbey, please click here, or click through to the galleries of images and wedding Photofilms.

Black & white portrait of a bride during her wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey

A winter wedding at Notley Abbey

Here’s one from what I regard as one of the country’s finest exclusive wedding venues, Notley Abbey, near Thame.

As we head inexorably toward the close of play 2012, I’ve been taking a wander back as part of this year’s 365 into the weather files, prompted in part by a question from a client this week; “But what happens if it snows?”

365#344 is proof that snow doesn’t stop play, but you’ll certainly need your prime lens collection as much of what you do swaps to the interior, it becomes a low light capture fest. It helps also if you happen to drive a Land Rover, although for this blog I digress…

The estate agent introducing Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh to Notley Abbey must have known he’d secured the sale even before Sir Larry turned the medieval key in the gothic door of this historic pile. Now THIS, is what I call a driveway. If the travellers come knocking offering to tarmac it, it would only be marginally cheaper to rework the stretch between 8/9 and 10 on the M4.

In venue terms, I know you’re not supposed to have them or at least moot the subject, but this remains one of my firm favourites when it comes to photographing weddings.

If you’re planning a winter wedding then make sure you speak with your photographer about their ability to work in low light conditions without flash, and if you’re planning a winter wedding at Notley Abbey, I’d love to have the opportunity to test my Land Rover out on a snowy driveway so please do get in touch.

The driveway to Notley Abbey covered in snow

Outside ceremony at Notley Abbey

This photograph, captured during an outside ceremony at Notley Abbey, is part of the Wedding 365 series #276.

Here’s a 365 that’s aimed at wedding planning, more than the technical aspect of a photograph, though in terms of composition, showing skies can add a dramatic narrative to the scene building part of your story.

If there’s one thing I discuss more than any other topic with prospective brides and grooms as their day approaches, it’s that of the weather. If you think we’re generally predisposed as a nation to discuss matters of precipitation, then in terms of heading towards one’s nuptials you can multiply that interest by an unhealthy amount. In real terms, for most weddings, it would be true to say that much of the day is actually spent inside. Let’s just scribble out some ‘fag packet calculations.’ Half an hour mingling when you emerge from church. An hour and a half drinks reception, some of which may be within a beautiful reception room anyway. And if it’s a late balmy summer wedding, perhaps another hour or so on the terrace supping the last remnants of Chianti you managed to liberate from the table before an over zealous waiter whipped it away. A generous average of three hours.

So take a wedding that has a 2pm service with coats and carriages at say midnight. Ten hours of wedding day – and that doesn’t include the excitement of preparation time. Outside for three hours max. Three in ten, under a third. There are some that say the day can be assisted by the odd drop of rain. It brings people closer together inside. Guests mingle more tightly, the party starts a little earlier. It’s not an exact science, but I would say that that can be very true. I’m not sure that in any other country, aside some recent fairly unusual European met trends, that a bride would pack a pair of white hunters, just in case.

If you’re planning a wedding at Notley Abbey, whether an indoor or outdoor ceremony, or indeed having a church service elsewhere and returning to the Abbey for your reception, I’d be delighted to hear from you via the contact form. In addition, you can view more of my work from this delightful Bijou venue by clicking here.

Guests use umbrellas to provide shade from the sun during an outdoor wedding ceremony at Notley Abbey

Notley Abbey wedding photography | Dancing

I think of this as the Charleston moment, that wasn’t. Not sure what Len would have made of it, but I don’t remember much of a swivel. 

From memory now, this song was Jack Johnson, I think, perhaps, maybe. Whatever the song, the moment has boundless energy, raises a smile and perfectly reflects this bride’s charisma.

There are a couple of vantage points I try to assume during the dancing. If the band’s lights are directionally faced outwards (unusual but it does occur sometimes), bingo, I’m across the room, looking right back fighting the exposure compensation dial for a slice of light to either silhouette or rim light the dancers. On this occasion at Notley Abbey, my back is facing the band and disco, light was at an absolute premium and I employed some flash to record a handful of important reaction record shots. Strictly speaking would I have preferred to tap into an available light source? Yes, but sometimes it simply isn’t there, and as much as I champion available light shooting, I wasn’t about to miss what was unfolding before me for the World.

If you’ve fallen in love with Notley Abbey and are thinking about a documentary approach to wedding photography, I’d love to hear from you via the contact form on the main menu, and if you’d like more tips on the perfect Charleston, ask Len.


SHOOTING DATA: Canon 5DMk3, EF24mm, F3.5, 1/125, ISO 4000

Notley Abbey wedding Photofilm | Stuart and Rochelle

My latest Photofilm records photographs and sounds from Stuart and Rochelle’s Notley Abbey wedding day.

I’m going to let the film do the talking, although I do want to add a foot note re; the best man’s speech segment. I’m one for subtlety undoubtedly, but there are some stories that just capture the spontaneity of an expectant audience in terms of honest ‘didn’t quite expect that one’ laughter. I thought with a cheeky smile this fitted the bill. It was either that or the story about…

If you enjoyed this Photofilm and believe it would be a lovely way to capture your Notley Abbey wedding celebrations, I’d love to hear from you via the contact form on the main menu. For more examples of my Photofilms, please click through the main gallery, and for more of my imagery taken at the stunning Notley Abbey, I’d invite you to click here.