Over the last couple of years I have been focussing more and more on weddings and this year I will actually shoot my 100th wedding!
To some people, that probably sounds like a lot and yet, to others, it really isn't that many! Dedicated wedding photographers can potentially shoot up to 100 weddings a year! However, to me, hitting 100 weddings really is a big milestone and so to celebrate, I thought I would look back over all 100 weddings, reminiscing, reliving all of the happy moments and reviewing my photographic journey. I am also going to challenge myself to share just one single image from every celebration!
If my memory serves me correctly, the first wedding I ever photographed was back in 2005. And it was shot on film! The wedding ceremony took place at the Bristol registry office which is no longer even in the same location, having moved in 2006 from Quakers Friars to its current location on Corn Street. I am pretty sure that the reception took place at The Gables near Falfield. You'll have to forgive me if I'm wrong, it was a long time ago!
With all of the photographs being taken on film, I only personally have a handful of photos from that day. It was definitely a baptism of fire! I only agreed to do it because, as Rachael and Pete pointed out, I was one of the only people they knew with a decent camera who could take a decent photo! Having known Rachael since we were just 3 years old, I knew that it would be a relaxed day and that there would be very little pressure put on me. They simply wanted someone who could capture some memories for them. So thats exactly what I tried to do. I spent most of the day simply keeping an eye out for happy moments which this image definitely captures.
My 1st wedding was shot at Bristol Registry Office, as was my 101st! Thats some spooky symmetry right there!
It was 3 years later, in 2008, before I was asked to shoot another wedding. By that time, I was living in Dublin attempting to complete a PhD in Micropalaeontology (oh, how things change!).
And who had asked me to photograph their wedding? It was my sister! I remember chatting to her about her wedding plans. She made mention that she wasn't sure whether to ask me to photograph it or whether to ask me to be a bridesmaid. My recollection of the conversation was that it ended with her saying "actually, could you do both?!" Of course, I was more than happy to do so, even though it involved lots of running around and using the timer function on my camera. Thankfully, a university friend came along to help me capture the photos that I was physically unable to take (ie. candid ones of me) and she did an excellent job!
I had such a difficult time narrowing down the photos to just one shot. It was such an emotional day and lots of the images transport me right back to the moment. In the end, I chose this shot of my sister contemplatively looking in the mirror with her dress in the background. At the time, I was really pleased with this photo and both my sister and my Mum love it. However, in recent years I have shied away from sharing this image. The reason? It's a reminder of how little I knew back then! The lighting is wrong, the composition is off and I kick myself that I "should have done better"! Of course, at the time, it was my best effort and I now look back at this image and think, "not bad.... for a beginner!".
Jenny and Matt's wedding took place at Cripps Barn. I have only ever been back to photograph one other wedding there but it remains one of my favourite venues and continues to evolve and expand.
I had hardly caught my breath following wedding #2 than I was asked to shoot wedding #3! This time, for my cousin. It involved a silly o'clock dash back from Dublin on the morning of the wedding and being picked up in Bristol by the Groom! It was another registry office wedding (this time in Cirencester, which apparently no longer exists - for ceremonies at least) followed by a very relaxed reception at The Crown of Crucis, a beautiful hotel in the Cotswolds.
Cordi and Jamie had decided that we would go on a little walk about at the reception venue to take some photos. It seemed too good to be true when we stumbled across the Cricket Pavilion which was painted in colours which matched their colour scheme! A quick hop up onto the steps with a couple of pointers of where to stand and we had this amazing shot! It helped that Jamie had studied photography himself at college so he knew how to be relaxed in front of the camera!
Cordi choose to wear a burgundy wedding dress. It may be a rare occurrence for a Bride to wear something other than white (or variation thereof) but after shooting just three weddings, only 33% of my Brides had worn what could be considered a "traditional" gown.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009 and I found myself photographing one of my sister's friends weddings. Gemma had lots of ideas for the formal photos that she wanted to capture and so, after a visit to their venue - the Holiday Inn, Filton - we had managed to scout out the locations we would use.
Despite taking lots of formal photos of the Bridal Party in front of the fountain and using the little picturesque bridge as much as we could, I decided to include this photo as my pick from this wedding. I remember, at the time, that it was a bit of an experiment for me. Having the Bride and Groom as a very small part of the image in compositional terms, was something that I hadn't really done much of at the time. I really loved the result and, even now, it is the type of image that I strive to capture in order to show the surroundings as well as close-ups of the happy couple.
If you have ever visited the Holiday Inn at Filton, you will know that it is surrounded by car parks and dual carriageways. You wouldn't know it but just behind those trees is a busy, noisy road! It just serves to prove that getting a great photograph is as much about the angles and the background as it is the subject and the composition.
Becca and John got married in 2011 meaning that there had been a nearly 2-year break since the last wedding I had photographed. I don't remember being particularly nervous but I undoubtedly must have been! Having travelled over to Essex, I was reliant on the kindness of Becca's friends and relatives to get me to the right place at the right time - oh, and also the vintage bus that they had put on to get everyone from the church to the reception! Becca was amazing in her planning (she is one of the most organised people I know) and had everything sorted out to perfection! Having known Becca for a few years, I knew it was going to be a fun-filled day and I had to be careful not to get too caught up in the festivities. I was just as much a guest as I was a "supplier" and, having met quite a few of her friends over the years, it made my job a lot easier.
A beautiful church ceremony followed by a reception at the amazing Newland Hall in Chelmsford, I was actually spoilt for choice for photos from this wedding. There were no end of smiles and the bright marquee at the reception allowed for lots of lovely natural light images. However, I have always had a soft spot for the amazing red bricks and rustic wooden doors that we found at the back of the hall.
I met Becca through our mutual love for music and John works in radio. I was therefore ecstatic to see that their tables were named after famous DJs and were decorated with vinyl records! As I have worked with Jo Whiley in the past they, of course, sat me on table "Whiley"! It is also worth noting that their wedding invitation had initially arrived in the form of a MP3 track recorded by Tony Blackburn! It has definitely been one of the most well thought-out themes I have come across! Here's a sneaky bonus photo of the secret photo we took for their thank-you cards!
I hope you're enjoying my updates so far. Don't forget to pop back for the next instalment where I will be talking about confetti, canal-boats and 2014's colour of the year!
Just one final note. I didn't have space for this photo above but I felt that I really needed to include this confetti image from my sisters wedding. It's a "colour-pop" image which is an editing phase which, I am sure, most photographers go through at some point! This photograph took me soooooo long to edit. Colour pop images are like marmite - you either love them or hate them. This image I actually love! I feel as though the colouring is subtle enough to make it interesting but the image also speaks for itself. I'm happy to say that I have grown out of my "colour pop" phase and I no longer produce these types of image as I feel that it can so easily go very badly wrong. That being said, you can still find this image printed large and on display in my office!