Fearless Photographers Conference

The Fearless photographers conference is held once a year in Europe. This is where the best wedding photographers gather from around the world. It’s very special being part of this community just as it is special and a privilege to be part of someone’s wedding day as their photographer.

Here are five reasons why I’m a Fearless photographer, five reasons why Fearless photographers come together and five reasons to have a Fearless photographer for your wedding.

Photo credits: Andy Wade, Dries Rengle, Rich Howman, Emil Bocsek, Niki Boon, Rebecca Kiger

1. It’s like family

You have lots of family and friends around you on your wedding day, and this is the same. We support and share with each other. And like that a photographer on your day will support and be with you through what is a very different day than usual.

Photos by Dries Rengle

2. It’s striving for the best wedding photography

You want the best for your wedding day – from the venue and wedding breakfast, the cake and your photography. We challenge ourselves to provide the best for couples, understand their needs and produce the most amazing wedding photography.

Photos by Andy Wade

3. It’s about community, sharing & learning

Being with your closest friends and family kind of represents your world. And as you care for that world and look after those people so do we as photographers. We embrace those around us without prejudice. It’s very much like that on your day; we embrace everyone around us, we share the day with those important people around you no mater who they are.

Photos by Emil Bocsek, Rich Howman and Dries Rengle

4. It’s about enjoying every minute

A wedding day is not just about the detail and the planning, it’s about the emotion and letting go on the day. After putting the effort in you want to ENJOY! That’s what we do. We work hard and we enjoy ourselves….and that all counts, too! (and, that’s me in the black tshirt…)

Photos by Dries Rengle

5. It’s about thinking & going beyond

We go beyond wedding photography. We share experiences through the lens as photographers from different backgrounds. From social photography to family photography we try to go beyond wedding photography itself. And with a responsibility to record and see the world, rather than just look at it, we try to give something tangible back. Fearless photographers raised $20,000 for EDF and other local charities in Aachen and I’m very proud of that.

Photos by Niki Boon and Rebecca Kiger

If you’d like to find out more about the Fearless photography mission statement and my awards then click here

Sally & Matt’s Wedding | The Forest Side

How the Lake District rain never stopped the photography documenting the perfect winter wedding. Here’s how…!

A Wedding in The Lake District

Being a wedding photographer in the Lake District means you are prepared for any weather that faces the camera. But weather is never a make or brake factor for great wedding photography. For me, capturing a wedding in a natural, documentary style means the story of a wedding day is more about people and personalities. And so to Sally and Matt. What wonderful people they are and wedding guests brimming with personality!

A Winter Wedding at The Forest Side Hotel

Tucked away in the trees on the road through the heart of The Lake District is the The Forest Side Hotel – a magical retreat surrounded by the stunning countryside of Wordsworth’s beloved Grasmere. It is a special place for Sally and Matt and so this Michelin star wedding venue has that family feel and that’s why they chose me to be their photographer. They wanted a simple, natural feel – with a quirky twist where possible – and wanted me to be part of the day rather than pose, pose, pose.

Winter Wedding Photography

With wet Lake District weather locked into the day that family feel permeated even more throughout. Everything became cosier, warmer and more festive. Matt had placed photos of them around the hotel amongst the hand made wedding decorations, so photographing the details added such wonderful textures. The ceremony room was set with mistletoe, ivy and a wonderful christmassy arch ready for the wedding vows. Sally was unpacking her Harriet Wilde’s with the bridesmaids in the grandest of rooms while Matt was getting the groomsmen in shape downstairs. John, the father of the bride, was making a few quid charging for some bow tie work!

Five Star Food and Fireworks

And so to the most wonderfully heartfelt ceremony. After some touching vows there was an explosion of emotional energy as Sally and Matt met the Christmas carols of the choir awaiting them outside of the room. The wild weather meant that the beautiful Forest Side porch was the place to head for; festively adorned for confetti and a few portraits together. They were so rich with a naturally emotive energy – that is all you need. From there to the rich seven course Michelin star wedding breakfast by renown chef Kevin Tickle and everyone was caught up in the sheer class and commotion of the occasion. A fantastic first dance and some jiving to the band and then out for fireworks in the wild skies of The Lake District made it so perfect.

Awarded Again!

Very pleased to announce that I’ve been awarded by the ISPWP – The International Society For Professional Photographers. I’m extra chuffed because that means I’ve now been awarded by the top three international wedding photography organisations.

How it happened

The fab couple in the photo that won the award are Rachael & Kyle on their day at Thornton Manor Lakeside. My approach is always to not overly pose couples. The best photos are not pre-planned and this is certainly the case here.

Rachael and Kyle decided to go for a wander away from the party for 20 mins. I was already in front of them capturing them as they walked together; they’d just forgotten I was there. As I was on the path Rachael just decided to run up the bank and pull Kyle with her along the top. I saw the shot and dashed central to the tree and just waited and there it was. It was so spontaneous but to add the cherry on the cake a flock of geese flew over the hedge at that very moment – perfect!

I never think about awards during someones wedding day; it’s not about that. Every wedding I do is full of award winning shots because that’s the way I do things. It’s about the journey of the whole day rather then one moment to show after but Being recognised by these bodies and my peers does elevate you into a different league than most in my profession, so I’m very proud of that…and of Rachael & Kyle 🙂

Click this link to Rachael & Kyle to see all of their award winning day!

..or check out the other awards I have won on the awards page..

I’m A Fearless Award Winner!

Fearless Award Winning Photo by Andy Wade

I’ve had the most amazing news that I am a Fearless award winner. I’m gob smaked, chuffed, stunned, blown away, proud and loads of those kinda feelings. Most of all it just highlights what a great time I’ve had image making with ALL of my couples in 2018 and so far in 2019!

Fearless is a community of the best 3000 wedding photographers in the world. The above photo of Anna & Will’s was placed in the top 100 of 10,000 submissions! Judged by an international panel of outstanding image makers it is truly a coveted accolade.

And this week I am in Aachen, Germany. 100 of the world’s best are here to look at how we can produce the finest wedding photography – for you. We pour over all the things that make up your wedding photo legacy and how we deliver that seamlessly whilst being part of your day and there for you.

Being Fearless: Here’s what we are about;

You’re not an ordinary couple. We’re not ordinary wedding photographers.  
You love powerful, original photos. We love taking them.  
You want to remember the beauty, the fun, the realness of your big day. Same!  
You’re passionate, world-wise and looking for the best. We’re a global network of professional photographers striving to go above and beyond every single day.

Is this your style?

Real Moments Wedding Photography is all about capturing authentic emotion, natural connections, and unscripted moments of the wedding day. It shows love in all its real-life vulnerability and brings meaningful interactions to light. This style of wedding photography is perfect for couples who entrust their photographer with the freedom to document honest feelings and genuine interactions of their family and friends on the wedding day

My photography was awarded for it’s ‘realness’. There are other factors and elements to my photography but if the authenticity of these words chimes with you I’d love to hear from you…

Fearless Award Winning Photo

Take a look at my Moments of 2018 for a further insight into my approach with my wedding photography.

Which Wedding Venue?

I was inspired to write this post after meeting a host of couples and a lovely bride-to-be and her mum at my latest wedding fair at Eaves Hall. Now there’s a beautiful venue in itself which I’ll come onto shortly. But first I had the dilemma of thinking about the pro and cons of Peckforton Castle or West Tower? In short they both have brilliant aspects to them so it depends on what details or features appeal to your plans. Below is a list of 5 considerations you might think of when choosing and then 10 venues that I’ve photographed at to give you a wedding photographer’s perspective. Check out the full wedding links to see the venues in full.

Considerations for your wedding venue

  1. Venue Size – Might sound simple but you need to fit your guests in! The average wedding party size is about 75 guests in the day and then going up to 120 in the evening. Make sure you count for the full list but most venues accommodate this number and a few more. If you’re having over 200 guests then you need to get on the case asap because there are much fewer venues with that capacity and therefore you have less options. If you’re in that space try Kilhey Court, and Haigh Hall in Wigan or Thornton Manor Lakeside, Cheshire.
  2. Room Configuration – Check out the size and placing of the rooms. Where’s your party room? Your ceremony room? Your wedding breakfast room? Some venues use one room for all three! That means as each part of the day passes the rooms get turned around and reset for the next part. In that case you and your guests will have to go elsewhere while that’s being done. The other consideration is whether you want a room for older guests or young children while you party on with the tunes going off the decibel scale!! On that note, think about your guests being together in the one place. Fewer rooms means everyone is all together and not getting lost somewhere else! Somewhere like Eaves Hall has different rooms but are all close together.
  3. Exclusivity – Fancy meeting another bride in the same building!? A handful of venues do run more than one wedding on a day but a good deal are still open to the public and have other guests. You’ll be caught up in the whirlwind of the day so being in your own part of the venue will feel exclusive in any case but exclusivity means it’s just you and your party. The only drawback is that you may have to pay extra for exclusivity. Some venues are exclusively wedding venues so what you see is what get – and pay for! For exclusive wedding venues try Ashfield House or West Tower.
  4. Location – Where are you guests who live farthest away coming from? Maybe one thing to think about when choosing your venue. How does everyone get there? And where are people staying? Most venues have rooms and if you have exclusivity they are all yours. Most family and friends will plump for a local B&B or Premier Inn if close by, so worth a scan of the surrounding area when checking venues. As they’ll be spending most of the day/night with you it’s probably just to sleep over and they may well need a cab at the end of the night so factor this in too. Going abroad!? This is a whole new ball game! Please get in touch as I have worked abroad.
  5. Food – In the true traditions of weddings the celebrations are around feasting, so food and the wedding breakfast are so important. Plus I love my food and I have had the pleasure of dining with a lot of my couples on their big day – so have had the same food as they have. My top tip for any restaurant or dining venue? Always go by the veg dishes! The average chef can cook a steak but the better ones know how not to serve mushy, over boiled veg. If you get a taster menu offered to you by your venue, maybe take a vegetarian with you!? They’ll be a good indicator to the quality of the menu! I’ve worked at Mitton Hall, Clitheroe quite a few times and can highly recommend their veg – and the rest of their menu!
  6. Photography! – Well, I had to have this as a consideration! In all truth whatever your location you’ll get the best photography from me. Yes, location provides photo opportunities, but it is people and personalities that will document your day naturally and be at the heart of your photography. That said the location can offer varying opportunities – if you want a set photo in part of the venue, then we’ll do it. Think of somewhere like Eaves Hall, Clitheroe with seven acres of beautiful grounds, compared to somewhere like Victoria Warehouse, Manchester with its funky brickwork. If your venue has grounds with lots of nooks and crannies and pathways and trees I can shoot behind then that’s all good. If you imagine going for a (romantic!) wander in the grounds for a wee while – simple and nice and relaxed – then the backdrops that will be in the photos are all around you. Maybe you’ll want the house or venue in the background with the grounds. Also think that’ll you’ll be in your dress and dapper suit. You’ll be more aware of your wedding dress on the day. Will you be ok if there’s a bit of a dusty old track en route? It may have rained the night before and be a bit muddy. So maybe take some other shoes and think of how you’ll get there if you’ll want to keep your dress relatively clean. Also, think about how far you want to go and how long you want to be away from your guests. I think 20-30 mins is ample for some gorgeous and funky portraits but you may need to add on a few mins to get there. So beautiful grounds next to your venue is great. If there’s a few drops of rain on the day is there somewhere inside for some photos? I like to visit your venue with you beforehand as well, so if I do not know it well already, I will by the day and we’ll go through all the options to make sure your photography will be perfect.

10 wedding venues to consider

I’ve worked in many, many wedding venues. These are not meant to be ‘the best’ but ones that I think are worth considering for a variety of reasons that I’ve mentioned above.

Eaves Hall, Clitheroe

Eaves Hall is classy, extremely well run and has seven acres of gardens as well as a set of elegant rooms all in one beautiful Georgian mansion. It offers so many opportunities in the gardens and fantastic when guests spill out onto to the grounds. The Lodge provides a special space to get ready and the rooms in Eaves are magnificent for prep. Check out Lauren & Phil or Sarah & Martin’s winter wedding I shot there.

Guest Count: Day +/- 75, Evening +/- 120

West Tower, Ormskirk

Wonderfully quirky. West Tower are a dedicated wedding venue. The main room and bridal suite are fantastic and the gardens are close and intimate with an east facing horizon for a glorious sunset. Check out Laura & Greg’s or Claire & Mark’s wedding I shot there (look out for the ‘walk’ to West Tower from The Birches Brow hotel where guests and the bridal party can stay…)

Guest Count: Day +/- 75, Evening +/- 160

wedding photography at west tower

Falcon Manor, Settle

Part of the James Places group there is something special about this venue. In the glorious setting of The Yorkshire Dales it is a beautiful manor house and gardens with perfect room configuration, great staff, brilliant food and tasteful decor. The bridal suite is a great size, too, with a grand chandeliered staircase. Also, it has massive fluffy lampshades in the main room. Enough said. Check out Katy & Daryl’s wedding there.

Guest Count: Day +/- 75, Evening +/- 120

Rivington Hall Barn

Rivington Hall Barn lies at the bottom of the hill to Rivington Pike. It’s surrounded by beautiful countryside. Rivington will house an over average amount of guests. There’s a great ambience to the barn space for the ceremony and wedding breakfast and some fantastic photo opportunities outside. Well run and great food, too. Check out Sarah & Sam’s wedding or Natasha & Shaun’s wedding there.

Guest Count: Day +/- 85, Evening +/- 175

Mitton Hall, Whalley

Run by the same management as Eaves and Falcon, Mitton Hall is a fantastic venue. It has a good size for the larger wedding party and the whole feel is classic and tastefully done. Great food, good room sizes and extremely well run. The outside gardens are fantastic for some intimate photos as well as the inside with it’s authentic manor house feel. Check out a host of my Mitton Hall weddings here.

Guest Count: Day +/- 85, Evening +/- 150

The Out Barn, Clough Bottom

A modern, purpose built wedding venue. Renovated from an old barn this venue is in the middle of the countryside with views of Pendle hill on the horizon and will be exclusive on your day. So many opportunities to explore for photos. There’s a purpose built lodge just behind the main building for bridal prep and guests can stay nearby in Waddington. Check out Ashleigh & Sam’s wedding here.

Guest Count: Day +/- 85, Evening +/- 175

Peckforton Castle, Tarporley

Well, it’s a castle! And it has all the feel of what you’d expect inside. The main rooms are big and plentiful and, on the whole, well connected. The main hall and rooms are beautifully grand and the whole experience exudes class, authenticity and romance. This venue fits the larger party as well – with a 250+ capacity in the evening. If you want to search around the grounds there are unlimited photo opportunities. Amazing. Check out Nadia & Andy’s wedding here.

Guest Count: Day +/- 165, Evening +/- 250

Thornton Manor Lake Side, Cheshire

Great venue for a big party! Right by a (you guessed it) lake..it offers a big marquee which hosts the ceremony and the night do. Couple that with some secluded walks and a boat to take you round the lake then you have a brilliant wedding venue. There’s even the use of the Lodges (a dedicated Groomsmen’s Lodge!) at the Manor house for both groom and bridal prep. The night is partied out under a starry backdrop with a big first dance reveal. Check out Rachael & Kyles wedding here.

Guest Count: Day +/- 100 Evening +/- 250

Haigh Hall, Wigan

I love this place! It is quirky, off beat and a hidden gem. It is an ongoing project and gets better each time I’m there. A grand house set alone with a brilliant vista, a long sweeping drive and woodland nearby the whole exclusive mansion feel is there but maybe the best aspect are the rooms and decor. Each room is big, different and colourful. Add a brave eclectic quirky twist to the decor and you have a unique venue. Can also house the larger wedding party up to 200. Check out Becky & Dan’s wedding here.

Guest Count: Day +/- 150 Evening +/- 275

Ashfield House, Standish

Ashfield House is a dedicated wedding venue run by the lovely Katie and co. It offers the perfect room configuration and the grounds are all neatly plotted around the building. There’s a beautiful centre piece staircase and this leads to a beautifully big bridal prep room. One of the best aspects of this as a venue is its dedication to constantly evolving the updating the decor. It’s done lovingly and with first class taste. Check out Kirby & Daniel’s wedding here.

Guest Count: Day +/- 120 Evening +/- 220

I hope you found this useful. Please do get in touch as I’ve photographed all over the Uk and destination weddings abroad. The guest counts are a guide so please check in with the venues for the latest info and happy venue hunting!

Moments of 2018

One of the best aspects of a wedding photograph – indeed any photograph – is its ability to convey meaning; or it’s own story. In my profession there is a lot of discussion and conformity to what ‘style’ of image is ‘best’. Therefore we have trends. But an individual image, or moment, can transcend style and conformity to provide meaning in its own right – a deeper relevance to the viewer or those in the photo. It feels all the more real for that reason. I want my images to be much more than ‘trendy’. So these images I have chosen aren’t about my ‘best’ or my ‘favourite’, they are just moments that occurred and that I responded to and a few thoughts about each one.

Many moments but no favourites

Rachael and Kyle. No posing required. This looks just that but going for a few portraits we were messing about near the bank and hedge at Thornton Manor and as they did their own (wonderfully mad thing), bang, I framed them symmetrically in the landscape as they just seemed to be lost in themselves. Then, the geese from the lakeside flew over. The timing adds the accent of this being quite incidental and unposed.

Just wonderfully natural chemistry. There is many a discussion on what is natural and what is posed but if you have two people together you still have natural emotions and none more so than Faye and Liam.

Falcon Manor. I love this venue, especially because it has massive fluffy light shades. I wanted to create a platform where we could create something visually colourful. Once Millie and Tom, went to check out the evening room they came onto that platform and forgot I was hanging around on a ladder amongst some light shades somewhere. I knew they were having the best day!

I’m a big outdoor person. I love The Dales, The Lake District – anywhere out walking and being in the countryside. These guys, too. Sarah and Sam have been just about everywhere in the world (#jealous1 ;-)) and I love keeping in touch with them. On their day, this was their landscape. The idea that we are always on some kind of journey with much in front of us is also embedded in this frame. They are very much together on their journey.

Freddie and Lee made their day their own; completely. It was as care free and beautiful as much as it was carefully thought about; about the traditions of marriage and the way we go about life. Much chimed with me on that day and this photo represents the collective and considered thoughts of them and those around them. The photo, and the way they all raise their glasses together, seemed to be a real acknowledgement of true togetherness.

Haha, the lovely Stef and Ben at Eaves Hall. All four seasons in one day. Snow, rain, sun and wind. Veil shenanigans and the wind kind of blew them together here. It just summed up their wonderful togetherness.

Kirsten and Adam! What do you do when you get out of church after getting married? Selfie, of course! I managed to end up framing from their point of view. I like to think that this photo says, ‘this day is about us’…

The wind. The scourge of the veil! Makes for a spontaneous shot though. As if to prove it’s spontaneity, Anna’s veil decided to arrange itself in regular style path up the church wall. I just love Will’s helpless position – such a great husband Will! 😉 And Grandad hasn’t a clue.

I like to take a portrait of the bride on her own and of the groom on his own. It’s simple, classic and straightforward. In any photo like that, as the camera rolls, people turn their attention to things; naturally. Lauren just looked at her engagement ring and in that moment it seemed to opened up a whole set of feelings which became beautifully nuanced and pensive. It’s often that in ‘posed’ shots very natural moments occur; moments that become quite natural and tell a story. Wonderful.

In the middle of the frame and simply in the middle of having such a brilliant time. Loving the entertainment in front of them, Mike and Jannine both look out in different directions but with the same expression which has a beautiful balance. It kind of says they both have the same sense of humour..

Love this. Laura, Andy and I had just been for a ride in the car around Bartle Hall. After a high energy, and bumpy, ride in a (posh) old wagon, Andy put his head on Laura. Weddings are brilliant, highly charged and emotional occasions and he just seemed to take an impromptu (and loving) rest amongst it all.

Sally and Michael are professional dancers and have been partners professionally and personally for most of their lives. What I loved about this photo, and them, is that with such a glitzy and glamorous profession (adorning the Blackpool ballroom and dancing with the Strictly stars) their first dance was not about high flying routines and moves, it was simple and simply about them. It was wonderfully self-effacing and it enriches this photo and moment endlessly and shows what wonderful soulmates and people they are.

Claire and Mark were having a dance on their own. Hidden behind some flowers I happily shot away as they become completely enveloped in themselves. Fun, laughter, silliness (as Claire would agree ;-)). It all seems to be embedded in the colour and energy of this photo and a complete representation of themselves and their day.

Party time. I love a good party and love the energy. A lot of that is about peoples’ expression, the colour of the lights and the movement. This shot has that lovely energy but is showed by the lines, by the form of the photo. The shape of the arms and (his) hip all curve and compliment the drapes in the ceiling. I thought that was best in black and white for this one!

Slammers! Party! Brilliant! Weddings should be just people having a great time. That’s all in here – father of the bride an’ all! I just asked the barman at Eaves Hall if I could step into place for a bit. Now I know what it looks like!

Words cut from pages in a book. They were all jumbled up and left on the table until a shaft of light came from the candle lay across the word word ‘love’. It seemed so apt like this word represented the days’ overriding feelings but amongst more – that it was just one aspect of life. Stories and styles can often be revealed through the details.

The sea and walk on the beach at sunset. Madeleine and Daniel’s wedding in Fleetwood was full of sunshine and showers; a wonderfully free and easy day but still with a crazy Ceilidh and friends all out on the windy shoreline. With such a fantastic cocktail of emotion this wider view seemed to add more complexity to the day and is more contemplative, as I think they were taking it all in at this moment.

Sheer party joy. Ace.

The wedding day is about a couple….and everyone else around them. But there are those moments such as the ceremony where is purely about them – connecting face to face. Intense. Katie and Matt shared that connection in this moment; quite deeply by the nature of their expressions. I think this works so well because they just seem right out there, isolated in their own space, and that gives this that real intensity.

Onwards and upwards! I love The Ribble Valley and as Ellie and Dan’s car zoomed off in the distance they gave me a wave. This moment makes me think how as these two go off after the wedding you get the feeling they are are going to be very much ok in the landscape of life!

Amongst a gap in (very) rainy summer’s day, on the bridge outside Sally & Michael’s local church, they had this romantic moment. If the wind can play around with things then sometimes it comes in at just the right point and direction. This moment was all about romance and things coming together. Luck, fate – whatever you want to call it – it worked so wonderfully.

I’ve been at many a wedding where the dogs have been brought along. I have two myself; they’re part of the family! So, I love this reaction from Laura’s when the dog minder brought them along to say hello!

It’s just that reaction. It tells you about that relationship between a bride and her friends. All those times and experiences seem to be released in this photo.

All about colour. Freddie and Lee filled the village hall with so much colour and personality it seemed best brought out over them through the colourful banners that ran overhead.

I love this photo of Becky and Brandon…well it’s not exactly of them. Just as their first dance comes to a close I saw one of Becky’s friends on the opposite side of the room. So taken by the emotion of the dance, she stares lovingly at them. Sometimes it is other people at the wedding who show the emotion which acknowledges the love between the bride and groom.

And so Dad walks his daughter down the aisle. A seminal moment in a wedding ceremony; one which can be highly emotional. They can happen and build quite quickly and the shot is easier said than achieved. But this shot was remarkable because right in the middle dad decided to share a few private words his daughter and, not only did it slow down time, it loaded the whole procession with and extra degree of emotion. The photo then takes on a three way dynamic, rather than two and enriches the story even more.