It’s wedding fair and booking season at the moment and the most common conversation I have with couples is around ‘a natural’ style. When asked ‘how would you like your wedding photography to be?” this is the most common response; and that sounds spot on to me. A natural style, though, doesn’t mean to say it all has to be pure documentary. It’s often about a mix of spontaneous story telling shots, beautiful yet simple portraits and some family photos with the folks. It’s the approach that allows the day, or the story, to flow naturally. That’s the key to a natural look and feel. Natural photography allows the day to breathe and is about the couple’s wishes and wants and everyone on the day and is not about the photography itself.
Rather than a formulaic, some would say cheesy approach (“photographer decides you must have photos of this, like this and in this way because it’s supposed to be trendy”) it is more about a response to people. People are at the heart of my photography and I’m in the company of people that, apart from the bride and groom, I have usually met for the first time. It’s that chemistry that will give the natural, spontaneous photo that will be unlike any other whether planned or totally unplanned. It’s the people that dictate the photo and not the other way around.
Here’s a few photos that I love for these reasons and why.
Natural is to plan the unplanned. Then people do the rest. Good old Stuart, father of lovely LeAnn, the bride. LeAnn wanted some shots alone with Luke and dad, Stuart, was very chipper and was hanging around. He was having a great time but rather than get the ushers to cart him off you just had to roll with it and this is one of my favourites. He said of it after, “I can’t remember whether I was laughing or crying”. It’s both for me when I look at this, Stu. Completely unplanned.
Gorgeous yet simple portraits. This simple set of photos of Sophie & Lawrence took a few minutes. They just had a few moments to themselves and pretty much forgot I was there. At a nice distance – intimate and private yet a full portrait style – I just let them do their thing and be themselves. The shot of Sally felt so natural to in the way it happened. I was a little way away while she had a moment to herself. She just looked down unprompted. Beautiful.
Special and personal moments. If there’s an idea for a photo or special shot wanted then so be it. Ian’s father had passed before the wedding so he and Kristina wanted to recreate his parents’ old wedding photo with his father’s motorbike. A big biking family, the bike was brought unbeknown to Ian’s mum. So he wanted me to capture the unveiling of the bike, Marie’s reaction to the photo and then recreate the shot. So down to the lake we went. That story then unfolded in it’s own way and we did the shot. Very emotional and beautiful. Back inside before the ceremony Ian’s dad’s jacket hugs the back of his chair and then forward to the emotion of the speeches. Whatever makes the day special and personal to people, photography is always second to that.
..And then there’s photos of the folks. The ‘formal’ group shots with dads, mums, mates and bridesmaids. Most people like to have some of these photos; mums like them very much….! But rather than shoehorn a templated list of all the combinations possible to be done in as little time as possible, the photography should allow them to happen naturally through the day and be relaxed, simple and unfussy. Groups come together naturally, so just let that happen with little prompting. More often that not, when people come together for a photo then it’s the unprompted reactions, that if allowed to flow in a fun and informal way, will be the shot people love. In fact this takes less time, is more relaxed and it feels a whole lot easier. I asked Mike what he wanted and he said, “it’s just about me having a crack with the lads” – and so it was.
So in reality the day is more of a mix of wants, wishes and possibilities; a blend of planned and unplanned elements and with a natural approach to photography that is spontaneous even if it needs a little bit of thought and attention beforehand. So as much as a natural style is about the look of the photos, it is as much about a way of photographing and letting the day unfold itself. And then you always have room for the unexpected…
I’m so chuffed to announce that I’m now a Fearless Photographer. Fearlessphotographers.com is a directory of the best 3000 wedding photographers in the world! I’ve longed to be part of this community of well respected artists. A massive THANK YOU to the wonderful couples and families that I’ve photographed up until now, without you it would not have been possible. To future couples, I’m even more fired up than ever and hopefully together we can win Fearless awards! If you would like to have a Fearless photographer at your wedding you can download the brochure here or simply get in touch! Below are some of the images that go a little way to show our philosophy; simple, natural and truly about the energy and emotion of people on their finest day and in their finest hour.
Take a look at all the info you need for your wedding photography with my brochure. Sometimes through all the styles and stimuli it’s tricky to see the very basic process and how it all works. So this provides all that necessary know-how! Just click here and download the brochure. Any specific info you need just get in touch.
Take a peek at these. You’ve heard and read the sentiment that 2016 was a year to forget. But one element your wedding day has is that it will come with a fully protective, and splendidly looking, global problem resistant jacket. Aside from the trials and tribulations of the world, that day – your day – will be preserved in it’s own glory. That is what I found looking back on my 2016. And when I look into those days there were many moments that were almost hidden within the celebration and the throng; that could easily be missed in the celebratory swapping of photos after the big day. So I wanted to share a few of my moments of 2016 – in no particular order! – which I think make beautiful, natural wedding photography. Not necessarily what people would think of as being the most important photos; but ones that have just as much significance and meaning.
1. Anne & Terence. The ceremony was in Whitby and just the two of them and two witnesses (and a photographer…). So a little different than the norm but when they arrived at the party, friends and family awaited either side of the village hall drive with open arms. Such a wonderful moment as Anne embraces Terence’s mum.
2. Katy & Peter. Both Katy and Peter work for Oxford University and is where they met. They’ve seen The Chapel at Trinity College have it’s year long restoration and had their wish to be married there granted. So how very special to be there to record the moment Katy walks down the aisle in this truly beautiful place.
3. Lisa & Marc. I have children. I love them so very dearly. But sometimes they just do their thing at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Little Jack wasn’t used to seeing his mum in a wedding dress (good thing!) but asking her – well, not so much of the ‘asking’ – to “take it off!” in the middle of her vows wasn’t a goer.
4. Jade & Troy. Some weddings have a huge host of ‘mates’; just loads of them! Jade and Troy’s wedding had gangs and gangs of them. The mates are the ones that, in theory, just keep the laughs, the gags and the party stirred up through the day while you’re the one left with the same but also with the those more emotive moments. Cue Jade’s mate who just couldn’t take the beauty of the day anymore. Lovely touch and then the mates took care of the rest.
5. Eunice & Alistair. Eunice was from Thailand and Alistair had rigged up the live link from 5845 miles away so all families could take part. She couldn’t resist a few waves during the vows. Fab.
6. Laura & Adam. Always plan. Be ready. But when when your plan gets switched be ready for the spontaneous. I had to switch from a view looking down the stairs to looking up the stairs at the last moment. Was ready; and wow!
7. Alex & Michael. The most boring wedding ever…Well that’s what they said. I didn’t quite believe them. In fact the opposite was true, of course. Who said group shots couldn’t be fun and have a little edge..
8. Anne & Terence. Sometimes you just do not need people or faces in a photo to explain the different emotions and feelings that pervade the day and peoples’ lives.
9. Hannah & Adam. Dogs in suits? Yes, that’s right. Why not? Perfectly usual thing. As the Adam and the lads went off to the ceremony we spotted the dogs in all of their seriousness and splendour and then lightened it up a little. Good stuff, fab moment.
10. Zowie & Martin. It’s almost always the way that the shots that you’ll love most are the ones that aren’t planned or ‘set up’. I was waiting to capture a photo that Zowie wanted showing her dress to her dad who was waiting at the foot of the stairs in. Just before that the final adjustments of the dress by mum and the bridesmaids collided with time and the beautiful light from the window to create this moment.
11. Katie & Adam. I often meet people who love a natural approach and style to photography like me. By that very definition no two images would be the same, so therefore difficult to show what exactly that means. But this moment perhaps epitomises something near to that. For me it has the anticipation, emotion, beauty, no choreography and yet feels like an exacting moment in time.
12. Lyndsay & Alex. Always good when you get told that there’s going to be an unusual twist to the wedding. Foggy the owl was going to deliver the rings for these guys and even though there was a bit of practice before the wedding we had one chance on the day. Well done, Foggy.
13. Lyndsay & Alex. It was a perfect day, not because Foggy played ball or that at the time Lyndsay and Alex went for a walk late on for photos there was a beautiful September sunlight but because the natural chemistry between them shone through. When they first met they told me how they weren’t so keen about the camera – a natural feeling to have. But allowed a little distance there was no awkward posing required…
14. Sarah & Jeff. Everyone loves to capture the wedding as a guest in their own way. Selfies, little vids – I’ve even had Guests bring their own drone! All the merrier I say; it never really gets in the way and everyone wants to be part of it and share! It’s just sometimes you want to suggest that it’s better looking at what’s going on…for real.
15. Sarah & Jeff. Weddings are not just superficial celebrations. They come full of histories. This shot is of Sarah getting ready in the morning and is shot in the reflection of a photo of her and Jeff when Jeff proposed. So the day Jeff proposed to the morning of the wedding has come full circle through this photo; capturing an important span of time in Sarah and Jeff’s history.
16. Cheryl & Joe. Histories are also important when it comes to friends and family that cannot be with you on the day. Whether not able to be there because of distance or passing, photographing the detail is really personal and important. Many a happy and sad tear is shed and when I saw this photo at the top of a display you had a sense of love, meaning and that history.
17. Lucy & Rick. Happy smiles. The photo incorporates abstract images of people around her and throughout the day she smiled and smiled and smiled. Just a joy to have been there and so must everyone else have felt the same.
18. Emma & Wayne. It’s not always the bride and groom that need to take centre stage in a photo. This is nan and grandad. They kind of assumed the same role after some photos of Emma and Wayne. It was if this was their moment all over again.
19. Zowie & Martin. Signing the register can bring about the ‘traditional’ shot, typically prompted by registrar or vicar. This shot typifies a more unassuming view. Not too close, not too far but allows Zowie and Martin the right space to have their private moment. As though looking through a window from a cold night outside there’s a wonderful warmth to the moment when they sign.
20. LeAnn & Luke. I love the natural approach. That went without saying for LeAnn and Luke’s wedding but it’s also about any shots the couple want to ‘set up’ and work on with me; so sometimes staged. LeAnn, Luke and I found this little lane on our drive around before the wedding and worked out just what we wanted. It went perfectly on the day. We even had a little wind to blow the veil.
21. Charlene & Gaz. I love these two. So easy going. This was one of those moments though when you pick up your bag and walk out behind the bride and then you see the shot. “Charlene”. All she did was turn to the camera and you have that moment she is steps out to meet go and meet Gaz. No turning back.
22. Ellis & Matty. There always a good speech somewhere. Even better when the props come out. I honestly arrived with Ellis around 10am and never stopped laughing or smiling with her and Matty until I got home. It’s a personal choice because it epitomised my view of them for the day. Sheer fun and friends forever and a day.
23. Kerry & Ian. Sometimes you look for a different perspective. I think because Kerry and Ian were so cool – with cuban cigars and metal guitars! – then it just makes me respond with trying something different. This was shot in the hub cap of a very cool wedding car.
Winter weddings, especially December, have come up a few times now at the start of the wedding fair season with lots of couples booking some gorgeous venues to house their wedding day. Cue conversations about the light ‘going’ at 4 o’clock but in actual fact that turns the focus onto the venue itself and that can bring out a beautiful ambience and atmosphere to warm the cockles of anyone’s day. I love design and architecture and a venue and it’s spaces can always offer an extra edge; be it the soft warm lighting, cosy coves or huge ceilings and shadows. People and personalities always take centre stage but the venue, as that stage, can really make those people in that story come alive. So winter weddings may not have the temperature on the outside but the temperature on the inside can easily take moments to that special place.
Need to sort your wedding?? Wedding Fair season is well underway! So last week I was at The Village in Bury and this week it’s the turn of The World Bridal Bridal Event show at The Macron Stadium in Bolton. I love all my fairs as there’s always the anticipation of meeting new people and the chance of being there for them on their day. The World Bridal Event are truly lovely folk and bring together a fab fusion of multicultural wedding products and people to give it that gorgeous gilt edge… Can’t wait to be there and maybe see you, too! Further fair dates for me are:
Macron Stadium, Bolton – 11 Sept.
Towneley Hall, Burnley – 2nd Oct.
Westhoughton Wedding Fair, Chorley – 9th Oct.
Ashfield House, Wigan – 12th, Oct.
Blackrod Wedding Fair, Bolton – 23rd Oct.
Last Drop Village, Bolton – 8th Jan.
Eaves Hall, Clitheroe – 14th Jan.
Westhoughton Wedding Fair, Chorley – 15th Jan.
Blackrod Wedding Fair, Bolton – 26th Feb.
Hopefully see you on my travels.