The Italian Job | Cain Manor wedding

At bedtime tonight my eldest asked what I thought he’d need to do to become an F1 driver. “Well now,” I thought. “At least we’ve moved on from YouTuber.” So I suggested the first thing that came to mind. “Press ups or a long plank,” I said. “Well, F1 drivers have to be fit don’t they?” He then outplanked me by a whole minute. He’s into cars is my eldest, has his own Instagram channel about them and all that jazz. So when I rolled up to the wedding of Dan and Sofia and found a near perfect condition Shelby Mustang GT500 as old as me, with Carroll Shelby’s original signature above the glove box trim as the ‘bridal transport’, I knew it was a story I could take back to our Jack. Hence we start this wedding blog post in rather unlikely fashion; a picture of a car. No emotion, bar the connection that Sofia, our bride, adores heritage muscle. And so does her Italian family. Italians ooze style and whilst I was surprised to see the Mustang horse emblem chosen above that of the Italian one that rides aboard a Ferrari, I have to admit, of all the cars I have seen at weddings, this one, this one, is the artistic automotive version of Night Watch or Guernica. But what has all this to do with a wedding at Cain Manor, I hear you ask? Passion. Italians are the living embodiment of the word. Italians embrace differently. Italians love differently. Italians dance differently. Lunga vita alla differenza.

A colour picture of a Shelby MustangA black and white picture of a bride embracing her mother before a weddingA colour picture of a bride embracing her fatherColour picture of the groom at a wedding waiting outside a church in HampshireColour photo of a bride arriving by Mustang carBlack and white photo of a bride being walked down the aisleBlack and white picture of a bride and groom being emotional during their church weddingA bride signing the register in churchA colour picture of a bride and groom leaving churchColour photo of Cain Manor made by wedding photographer Neale JamesA bride and groom at Cain Manor kissing Speeches at Cain ManorA groom makes his speech at Cain Manor in SurreyGuests at a Cain Manor weddingA bride and groom cutting a cake at Bijou wedding venueDancing at Cain ManorMonochrome picture of a bride dancing with her father at Cain Manor

Shotkit feature | the Fujifilm gear I use for weddings

Shotkit wrote earlier this week to let me know of my inclusion in their website photographer’s kit directory. If you’re a bride or groom reading this post, my inclusion in arguably the most visited gear site online may not be of immediate interest, save the fact it demonstrates there are folk out there in this vast photographic and picture making business who have shown interest in how I work and what I use. And that alone feels favourably complimentary. Photographers are often accused of having GAS; gear acquiring syndrome. My GAS seems to manifest itself in buying far too many kit bags, although I haven’t purchased one for a year now; so I could have found the cure. But there’s always a gizmo isn’t there? Something you feel could elevate you to the next level of whatever it is you do. And Shotkit kind of fuels that. I can spend many an hour ‘researching’ pages and kit layouts of those I find truly inspirational. Being a part of this site is an invitation event and though you can submit, it’s considered better to be asked to contribute; there’s an element of kudos in that. And I’m humbled too, truly I am, to sit alongside some powerful hitters from others genres such as sport, marine, fashion, music, news and photojournalism. From that latter field it’s rather sobering to peek into the bag of a pictorial story teller such as Alex Kühni who specialises in dangerous news assignments. I carry earbuds to keep camera eyepieces clean and wipe away grit and sand if I’m working on the coast. Alex carries a bullet and stab proof vest, ballistic helmet and tourniquet medic kit. I’ve not yet found a wedding challenging enough to require my investment in that level of protection. Well, there was once this wedding in Surrey… but I digress. So for photographers reading this post and I know there’s an inevitable element because we’re all a tiny bit intrigued by what our peers are getting up to, it’s worth a visit. I won’t give the full rundown of what I use and how I use it, head on over to Shotkit at this link to read more. I’m right chuffed as they say in northern quarters to be included, but equally it’s fascinating to see what other image makers take to the party when they show up each day at their ‘office.’

Colour picture of the Fujifilm kit I use to photograph weddings

A Cain Manor wedding celebration | a photographer’s wedding

Cain Manor in Surrey, the Bijou group wedding venue for Martyn and Rebecca’s early winter wedding, when the sun still shone and we were still practically sporting shirts with a shorter sleeve. So many highlights from this wedding including working with the (watch for the Americanism now) super talented Lorraine Milligan, a make up artist and hair stylist with an eye for detail. I’ve been working alongside Lorraine for over a decade, first meeting her at another Bijou venue, Notley Abbey. I was trying to compose a sentence that positioned me as a middle England type of guy who never found cause to wear makeup, but actually I have. Plenty of times. During my time working in television in front of cam, though my appearances were confined to continuity and special documentary projects, I was made up by a myriad of artists. I remember the first time it happened. I remember the last time it happened. Their ability to understand lighting whilst planning and applying for a natural look is a special skill indeed. Getting it right is important photographically too, particularly at weddings. I’ve been witness during my time in this role to make up being applied far too aggressively, which seems an extreme adjective. Dark eyes, strong rouge, almost stage slap stick like application. And whilst that may look acceptable under hot lights and strong strobe lighting, it doesn’t wash for the casual eye and natural light photography, which wedding capture is mainly about. Before this becomes a make up artist appreciation ride, do click the link for Lorraine if you’re planning a wedding, regardless of whether you’re hiring me or not! 🙂 So, Martyn, Rebecca. It should not have taken me this long to introduce you properly to this warm beguiling couple. Martyn is a photographer, and a good one to boot. For me, being hired by a photographer is a blessing and curse all in the same bubble wrapped package. You feel, as a peer, a sense of intimidation, no matter how good you may think you are or can aspire to be. Now I’m not saying you raise your game accordingly because you should always be on a level that promotes your best endeavours, but there’s nothing quite so humbling as working for and with someone who knows their artistic and technical triangle. And then there’s Rebecca. I always arrive at an address expecting to somehow fade into the background, artistically over physically. Rebecca wouldn’t allow for that. Her welcome, her warmth set me up for a day photographing that inspired the pictures you’re about to view. This is Martyn and Rebecca’s Cain Manor wedding.

A picture of makeup being applied at a wedding in Surrey Picture of a bride wearing her wedding dress for the first timeColour photograph of an English church scene at a weddingColour picture of wedding guests outside a church in Surrey, EnglandA groom waits patiently for his wife in churchColour photo of a bride arriving at churchA picture made with a Fujifilm XT3 of guests in front of a church before a wedding serviceA black and white contrasty image of a bride and groom exchanging vows in an English churchA colour picture made by Neale James wedding photographer, of a bride and groom exchanging ringsA first kiss pictureTypical church scenes at an English countryside weddingThe recessional picture from a wedding in SurreyColour photograph of the confetti run at a weddingColour picture of a bride and groom after they have just arrived at the Bijou wedding venue, Cain ManorA bride talks to wedding guests during dinner at Cain ManorColour portraits of a bride and groom at Cain ManorIn a black and white photo, a bride making a speech at her weddingCain Manor as day becomes night, exterior shotsA first dance picture between Martyn and Rebecca at Cain Manor in SurreyDancing at a wedding party

A wedding at The Ritz London

The Ritz, London. One of the most famous hotel landmarks in the city. There aren’t many venues, and particularly ones catering for weddings, that can boast a Royal warrant for banqueting services. Well, The Ritz can. The Ritz it seems, can and has done many things. It’s an hotel that qualifies as a must visit place for callers to the capital and there are few famous eateries where the look of disappointment can be judged more markedly, than the discouraged expression on a casual visitor’s face, turned away at reception because they didn’t know a forward reservation is most certainly required for simply taking afternoon tea. And it’s probably worth noting that; ‘Proper attire for tea is a must.’ The Ritz famously refused to serve Mick Jagger tea because he wasn’t wearing a jacket and tie. Churchill, Eisenhower and de Galle met exclusively in the Marie Antoinette suite to discuss operations during WWII. I learned this fact whilst sat in that same suite at the wedding you’re about to view. I was eating a five star banqueting Bolognese practically sat in the place Winston is pictured holding court with world history’s most distinguished. It’s even possible I was sitting in the same chair. Certainly plausible. And now, with but a week to go to Christmas Day in 2018, I was photographing a different historical story. This one may not necessarily receive a Wiki entry, but it made news in the show jumping arena as international show jumper Ricki Hill, married business and life partner Charlotte. Winter weddings produce a very different type of photographic experience. This particular day was raining, raining a lot. To use a northern colloquialism; raining stair rods. We did venture outside by the hotel’s Arlington Street entrance. I say we; I stood in the rain, whilst my new friends Charlotte and Ricki smiled sympathetically in my direction. Thank heavens for water sealed cameras! This being The Ritz though, the hotel itself is enough to qualify as a landscape in which to photograph. Here are a few chosen pictures from the day. A December Ritz Hotel wedding.

Colour photo of the Ritz London in December
A picture of preparations as a bride gets ready for her wedding at The Ritz London
Photograph of a bride applying makeup
Colour photo of a bride being walked to her wedding by her brother at The Ritz in London
Black and white image of a bride being walked down the aisle at The Ritz in London
Colour picture of a wedding ceremony in winter at The Ritz
A colour portrait set made at The Ritz wedding venue in London featuring Ricki Hill and Charlotte
Picture of guests enjoying drinks during a reception at The Ritz
Black and white
A colour photo of Ricki and bride Charlotte on the stairs at The Ritz in London
Colour picture of a wedding cake being cut at The Ritz
Picture of dancing at The Ritz, a wedding dance

A De Vere Beaumont Estate Wedding, with a Halloween flavour

The Beaumont Estate in Windsor is a sprawling venue in terms of sheer grounds and expanse of buildings, but devour some history and you’ll discover there’s more to this place than the forty acres and four hundred plus hotel rooms in wings running west and east of England’s own White House, initially mentioned by every Google search turned up. From the top; the swimming pool was the first heated dip in England. The Magna Carta was signed in these grounds, true story. It was a school and Coco Chanel’s nephew was a pupil, slightly tenuous that one. The first motor car driven in England ended its journey in the grounds of this house. Queen Victoria was a regular visitor. And in terms of wedding factoids, this is the first venue I’ve witnessed small casket coffins with incumbent Lego figures feature as wedding favours. But then this is a wedding with a firm nod to Halloween, so brain themed candy and skull motif wine carafes seems apt enough. Let me share some pictures then from Tom and Jasmine’s wedding day at the Beaumont Estate.

Colour photo of the Beaumont Estate near WindsorColour photo of bridal preparations at the Beaumont EstateA black and white photo of the bride preparing for her day at The Beaumont Estate near WindsorA black and white picture of a bride looking back as she heads toward her ceremonyColour pictures of a wedding ceremony at The Beaumont Estate in BerkshireA colour picture of wedding guests enjoying their time at a venue in BerkshireWedding portrait of a couple in this colour picture at the De Vere BeaumontA colour photo of the wedding breakfast laid outColour picture of alternative wedding favours at a Halloween weddingA colour photo made of wedding guests making their way into the chapel at The Beaumont Estate for their wedding banquetA colour photo of wedding guests at the Beaumont Estate near Windsor in BerkshireA colour pic of the bride and groom, Tom and Jasmine cutting their wedding cakeColour photo of dancing at a wedding in Berkshire

A Portsmouth wedding, with Paella!

Not that I’m obsessing about food, but when Lydia mentioned this Spanish national dish was to be her wedding breakfast, I was sold. What’s that thing about the way to an Englishman’s heart being his stomach? Lydia and Ian were real childhood sweethearts. They first met aged but a few years at kindergarten, before a chance online reintroduction many years later primed Cupid’s Arrow for what was to follow. For brides and grooms planning their big days and reading through wedding blogs to grasp some nuggets of advice upon what to serve up to hungry guests, let me promise you that paella is a star choice, if not slightly unusual when you consider the more regularly selected beef or chicken options. And what then for pud? How about a bake-off competition? Lydia’s star baker background prepared the way for a cake clash between ten friends, the result being well fed guests and a wedding banquet boasting a real difference. Here are some photographs shared from Lydia and Ian’s big day, the ceremony at Fareham’s Sacred Heart Church, the reception at the Jervis Gallery in nearby Gosport.

A bride prepares for her wedding at home in Gosport, PortsmouthA father relaxing with eye mask before his daughter's weddingA bride and groom light a unity candle in Sacred Heart Church GosportA bride and groom in this colour photograph recessing after their weddingA colour photograph featuring a couple walking on the beach in Gosport, PortsmouthA silhouetted colour picture of a couple on their wedding day on Gosport beachColour picture of paella being served as the wedding breakfastA bake off wedding cake competition photographColour picture of wedding guests at the Jervis GalleryBlack and white picture of wedding speeches at the Jervis GalleryColour pictures of dancing at Jervis Gallery celebrating a wedding

If Carling made Preachers – A PodBlog

So what to make of a preacher who is described as a hip hop artist from Bath? I’ve been meaning to ‘pen’ a few words since I photographed him deliver the sermon at Mike and Sian’s wedding at St.Peter’s Church in the quaintly titled Englishcombe, a sheep’s bah echo from what I regard as the most beautiful spa city in Europe. Google Joshua Luke Smith, and you’ll come up with a plethora of information about this wandering missionary who has birth roots in England, though grew up spreading the word in Northern Pakistan and Canada. Spend but two minutes in his presence and you too will be completely perplexed by his accent. Spend two minutes on his Instagram account, and you too will wish you could be as cool as this dude, well, I did at any rate. But this preacher, I’m not even sure if that’s the right and proper description of his day to day dealings, is also a singer, a record label exec, and activist for positive social change, a slam poet and a communicator like, well, like, nothing I have ever heard in Church, period. And I’ve been to a few of these establishments in my 800 weddings of photography. Now I’m acutely aware there are preachers and clergy of all denominations who may well have something to say about my rather grand statement, so let me be clear. I’m not creating a league table of who spreads the word best, simply reporting back on something I witnessed as I looked around to record the awe and wonder of those poised slightly forward on their pews this afternoon as they drank in Joshua’s words. And don’t take this as a platform from which I intend to preach or spread the word either, for I, like many, have their own questions-a-plenty when it comes to faith and my own relationship with what some perceive as a behemothic organisation. But there’s something really very special about spirituality of whatever persuasion and understanding, when you listen to words delivered with such compassion.  So what I thought I’d do today by way of a PodBlog (the sounds of a Podcast, the pictures in a blog post) is share a little of the audio I recorded that day. Listen along as you look at the photographs and I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments. Oh, and a quick postscript; hearing him ‘noodle’ with Ben the musician who had only really expected to be playing some accompanying Celine-esqe chords during the register signing, made the whole thing really come to life for me. As they say, just press play. 🙂

Joshua Luke Smith in a colour picture preachingColour picture of a preacher in Englishcombe Church delivering sermon to a weddingColour pictures of a sermon near Bath being delivered by Joshua Luke SmithA colour photo of Joshua Luke Smith preaching in Church


The Coincidences of Life | Isn’t wedding photography wonderful

Let me share the words from an email I received only this morning; “A story of coincidences to share with you. As you may recall from our wedding (May 2012, Four Seasons) we are big Michael Buble fans.: [I do remember this yes, it’s equally my guilty pleasure. Not sure if you’re supposed to admit that, so we’ll just keep that between us.] “In July we went to see him perform live in Hyde Park, and in amongst 80,000 people we met another couple when sheltering from the rain.” [An outdoor concert in England being interrupted by rain? Surely not!] “Chatting away we found we had a lot in common, both couples having been together many years before getting married relatively recently (they in 2014), the best man was the groom’s son in both cases, and various other funny coincidences. We got on so well we ended up sitting together all evening enjoying Mr Buble, and sharing a few drinks back at our hotel. We vowed to keep in touch, and invited them to dinner at ours at some point – and last night was that night. After dinner, Diane looked through our wedding album, then showed us on her phone the wonderful photo montage to music they have of their wedding.” [Ah, you see, that sounds like the kind of thing I do for couples; the Photofilm.] “Turns out one of her images had won an award for the photographer, and Steve looked to see if that photo was still on the photographer’s website – which by now you probably have worked out, was, on your website! So here are four people who have now become great friends through a chance meeting, and who share many things in common – including shared taste in their chosen wedding photographer!”

The World is a small place indeed Mike, Eleanor, Steve, Diane, though there is a small part of me which believes we have just been transported on to the set of The Truman Show. Actually, this is perhaps more aptly fervent proof that the ‘Six degrees of separation’ theory where all living people on this planet are six or fewer steps away from each other is alive, well and beating in tune with a mid 40s Italian Canadian crooner, whose ancestry is Croatian, which per chance, happens to be where I am visiting next Summer. See the circles are starting again! Happy memories from your weddings, as these pictures hopefully share.

A colour photograph of a couple getting married outdoors at FourseasonsColour photograph of a bride and groom getting married in an outdoor wedding ceremony

Round Chapel Wedding Photographs | Music and light!

There are those times as a wedding blogger, that you don’t necessarily want to make the two hundred and fifty word target Google, or is it Yoast suggest is the optimal figure to aim for, when writing copy for search engines to get excited about. I am that thrilled about this wedding at the Round Chapel in London’s east end, that I simply want to upload a stack of pictures to show what a great day and evening we all had. And I purposely say ‘we,’ it’s not just in the Royal sense. So, here are some highlights from Paul and Surendra’s big day – and it was, just that.

A colour photo of the Round Chapel in London being prepared for a wedding Colour photograph of Round Chapel in London as guests take their seats for a weddingColour picture of a groom and groom at a wedding in LondonA husband embraces his husband at a wedding in London's Round Chapel Large reveal picture of the Round Chapel laid for a wedding in London Colour picture of Surendra making his speech to Paul at their weddingColour photo of wedding speeches of a civil wedding ceremony in LondonPowerful natural light picture of a drag artist performing at a wedding

Ridge Farm Wedding Photographs | A rock ‘n’ roll wedding!

What do Muse, Queen and Pearl Jam all have in common with the wedding photographs I’m about to share below? Answer; they’ve all shared the same space at Ridge Farm in Surrey. In the sixteenth century when the first stones were laid at this farm, I doubt those who tilled the soil would ever think, or even be able to imagine the kind of music produced by Manchester’s iconic stars of rock, Oasis, filling the four walls of a barn designed for keeping grain dry. Be Here Now, one of my favourite albums was recorded on this farm at the famous residential studio retreat in a room a stone’s throw from a cottage where brides prepare for their weddings now. The studio (two pics down on left) is used no longer, its windows shaded by the foliage that’s gradually enveloping the building sadly, though I did stand on tip toes to see if the hallowed mix desk was still there, until someone remarked it had been sold over a decade ago to Radio Denmark! The bridal preparations take place on the first floor of this neighbouring cottage. Legend has it Ozzy Osbourne’s girlfriend, Sharon also got prepared in this room, although it was a good few years before their wedding. She infamously threw a Rolex watch belonging to Oz in the pond from the balcony and it’s apparently still in there. I looked hard into the shallow waters. It’s not there. The studio closed and the farm grew other business wings as a party venue and latterly, a wedding venue too. Ridge Farm is unique indeed. I doubt there are many other wedding venues where you can play tennis on a court where Freddie Mercury fought five setters, or sit at a breakfast table that entertained Morrisey of The Smiths. I can understand why bands came here. You can breathe in creativity when you’re not fighting in the smoke or struggling to get into work in time thwarted by city traffic and executive attitude. Bands were encouraged to live here as they created their albums and I can just imagine Noel and Liam in more harmonious times, sat writing lyrics and melodies where outdoor wedding ceremonies now take place, serenaded by the sound of wild woodland.

Colour photo of Ridge Farm wedding venue in SurreyColour picture of a bride preparing for her wedding at Ridge Farm in SurreyColour picture of bride coming down the stairs at Ridge Farm wedding venue near GatwickWedding guests getting ready for a wedding in the woodlandA father turning up with his daughter for a woodland wedding in this pictureA singer at Ridge Farm in Surrey playing to wedding guests in this colour pictureColour photo of footballsA colour picture of wedding guests watch England play footballA colour photo of wedding guests at Ridge Farm in the evening partying

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