Same Sex Wedding at Kings College, Cambridge University

This amazing wedding at Kings College Cambridge University involved two firsts for me.  Firstly it was my first shoot at this wonderful venue, and secondly it was my first wedding for two men. John and Brendan couldn't have been more fun on the day, and the day was a celebration of a long 14 year romance.

The day began at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Cambridge city centre where the boys enjoyed a beautiful outdoors ceremony as people punted past along the river a few yards away. After the ceremony guests enjoyed some drinks and nibbles before walking through the city centre to Kings College, where yet more drinks and nibbles awaited!

The venue provided some wonderful backdrops for us to work and create the boys some wonderful memories. Later in the evening, former B*witched lead singer, Keavy Lynch provided live music with her new band in the evening and of course Brendan joined in on the vocals for her hit single 'C'est la Vie'

I've kept in touch with both Grooms and we are now good friends, and I am proud to have been involved in their wonderful day.

Wedding Photographer Shoots Wedding Photographer at South Farm, Royston

Firstly it needs to be pointed out what a fab wedding venue South Farm (near Royston) really is. Amazing grounds. Lovely prep area for bridal party. Fab new dancefloor for the after party. Loads of quirky stuff like pigs, chickens and vintage caravans. The list goes on! 

I first met Michael and Leanne whilst second shooting for another wedding photographer at Leanne's Mum's wedding in Bedford year and a half ago. Michael was a groomsmen and has his SLR camera with him which got us talking. We stayed in touch and I invited him to shoot with me at one of my weddings a few months later, and he ended up being my main second shooter for 2015 and 2016! Although they booked me a long time ago to shoot their wedding, I felt the pressure a little, as they obviously know good photography from average better than most. I needn't have worried though as with the help of Kelly Clarke Photography, we pretty much nailed it. Some other key vendors on the day were the always excellent Lee Smith - Magician who wowed the guests with his amazing card tricks, and Niki Lawrence who did an amazing job with make up for the girls. I'll let Michael introduce how he and Leanne met below:

“Leanne and I first met at work, and its safe to say we liked each other for quite a while! After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got together! I then moved in with Leanne, which was on the understanding that my dog moved in too! This resulted in Leanne adopting an 8 stone German Shepherd, which she was somewhat apprehensive about! (Side note: They are now best friends!). I knew I wanted to marry Leanne, and begun to form a plan to take her to Ireland. I took Leanne to the beautiful Lough Eske Castle in County Donegal for afternoon tea. When we arrived I took her to a secluded spot my the lake, with beautiful scenery and the sun shining down! I then did it! I asked her to marry me…..sort of! What actually happened was I got down on one knee, produced the ring, said her name about three times….and then started crying. Leanne then also started crying. We cried for a bit (happy crying obviously!), and I put the ring on her finger! It was one of the most nerve-wracking and happiest moments of my life. However, due to crying, at no point did I actually ask her to marry me, and at no point did she actually say that she would! Ignoring this minor detail, 2 years later we then got married at the most beautiful venue, with amazing weather, surrounded by our family and friends! Leanne looked absolutely beautiful, and the moment when I first saw her was the happiest I have ever been! It was an amazing day, and one that I will never ever forget……and yes….I cried then too!"

So, how did the day go for us all? Well pretty damned well as it happens. With it being May the cherry trees were in full blossom so we took full advantage with the night shot (shown above). Leanne and Michael have a shared passion for trance music, with Michael a very capable DJ in his own right, so the party went hard well into the night. Kelly and I stayed even later than usual to do it all justice!

The Pirton Boy Comes Home! - Tim & Paul's Pirton Wedding Party

Pirton born and raised Tim recently celebrated his marriage to partner Paul at their home in San Diego, California, but they were both keen to celebrate with their English friends and family before jetting off to honeymoon in Italy. Pirton is a small village near Hitchin in Hertfordshire and doesn't often host weddings, however a marquee was set up in the grounds of the village Sports and Social club, and the weather was fantastic. Californian even. Here's what happened:

Spring is in the air at Bassmead Manor Barns

Bassmead Manor Barns is one of my favourite local wedding venues. It's a recently renovated set of barns set in idyllic Cambridgeshire countryside ran by a great team of people. Laura & Ben obviously agreed as they chose it for their spring wedding in late April!

The girls got ready that morning in the bridal suite, while the groomsmen prepared at Ben & Laura's house. Flowers were provided by Flowers By Suzanne and Hair & Make Up by Leah at - Belle's Beauty.

After a beautiful ceremony in the Rickety Barn, the guests enjoyed drinks out in the garden, while we managed to take family group shots and portraits of the B&G. One of the quirkier aspects of the day were the video cameras provided by Shoot It Yourself which the bridesmaids and groomsmen used throughout the day. This was a fab idea and enabled the bridal party to capture the day as it was and send the footage off for editing.

With the rape field at Bassmead out in full bloom, it was the perfect spot for some portraits so we took full advantage. Later on the party really got firing on all cylinders and I even managed to sneak the newlyweds outside for one of my standard issue off-camera flash night shots!

Here are some highlights below. For the link to the FULL GALLERY - CLICK HERE

Great Fosters Valentines Day Wedding

Great Fosters is a fantastic grand and opulent old mansion house near Egham in Berkshire, and makes for a stunning wedding venue all year round, so naturally I was thrilled when Ruby & Mike asked me to capture their wedding on Valentines Day this year. 

Mike and Ruby met in 2013 at a BMW Car Club meet and from there, love blossomed.

The day began at the beautiful Eton Dorney Church before the wedding party headed over to the wonderful Great Fosters in Egham to celebrate the occasion with a wonderful reception in the Tythe Barn.

Basketball Wedding at Sir Alfred Hitchcock Hotel London

An amazing wedding day with Scottish, Filipino and basketball influences

The groom wore tartan; the bride wore trainers. This was no ordinary wedding. From the start, Christine and Tarryn knew they wanted an amazing wedding day but due to personal circumstances they had just three weeks to plan – just like in our favourite wedding TV programme Don’t Tell the Bride. Christine tells her amazing wedding day tale below.

"I’m an art teacher and Tarryn was my art muse. He planned a surprise trip to Italy for my birthday and popped the question at Gianicolo, one of the highest points in Rome. He found a beautiful secluded spot (a field of daisies) at the top of a hill and got down on one knee. It was all very romantic. We were engaged for just over eight months before getting married, but chose our date on Christmas Eve and got married just three weeks later, which made it pretty special."

Originally from Hull, with a Scottish mother, Tarryn is one of the UK’s most well known streetballers and regularly gets booked to perform tricks at events. He’s also played professionally when younger, has featured in TV ads and music videos and still plays recreationally and coaches some of London’s top youngsters in the game. He’s in many a You Tube video, and also had a key role in a British basketball movie – Freestyle. A large number of basketball players attended both the wedding and evening reception.

"My dress was the first thing I ticked off my wedding list. My sister and I went to just one dress shop where I tried on about eight different styles of dresses. I couldn’t decide between two of them so decided to sleep on it. My Mum convinced me to visit other dress shops before committing to one of the two dresses but after looking around I had already decided what dress I had fallen in love with without having to try on any other dress. I went back to the shop, tried it on again and was 100% positive it was ‘The Dress’. I remember saying “I want a dress that will make Tarryn cry when he sees me walking down the aisle and this is it!” I was right! It was an Anna Solerno dress from WED2B. I matched my earrings and hairclip to the rhinestone detail that featured on the dress."

"Our wedding day was a bright and sunny January day, which instantly set the mood. Getting ready was quite calm and relaxing until about half an hour before we were due to leave. It helped having a lot of hands on deck to make sure everything was good to go. We kept the bridal party as family members: my sister was Matron of Honour, while her one-year-old daughter was bridesmaid and my niece and Tarryn’s niece were flower girls, and my cousin’s son was our ring bearer." 

"We wanted to include elements from both our cultures. Tarryn is Scottish and wore a traditional kilt outfit from Kilts4All." 

"My background is mixed Irish and Filipina, and so I walked down the aisle to an Irish version of the classic Canon in D and during our ceremony we included traditional Filipino wedding customs which symbolised prosperity, unity of both families, the couple becoming one, and everlasting love and commitment." 

"Something we weren’t expecting was our vintage wedding car, a 1950s Bentley, to sound and feel like it was going to fall apart en route to our destinations! It was quite funny; definitely an experience to remember." 

"The venue, the Sir Alfred Hitchcock Hotel, is local to us and we had been there to eat and drink previously – although we chose traditional Filipino cuisine from Kabayan Restaurant for our wedding day. The atmosphere at this hotel is intimate and has a homely feel to it, which we thought would create the perfect atmosphere for us."

"Our colour scheme was pale pink, peach and ivory with accents of gold. There were many DIY elements in our wedding which made it easier to achieve our vision: from making the church pew decorations, to setting the tables at the venue, to having personalised favours to making and hanging the organza ceiling drapes which completely transformed the venue. The lighting we chose really set the ambiance: the ceiling drapes were complemented with soft white fairy lights, the room had purple uplighters spotted around the walls, the top table had a starlight backdrop, each table had floating and tealight candles and as a focal point we had 4ft LOVE light up letters that our guests loved."

"The party was so much fun! Everyone enjoyed themselves, which made us enjoy ourselves even more. It’s a great feeling knowing that all your guests are having such a good time on your big day. The DJ was on point, playing tune after tune. There were dance-offs, the Electric Slide (“It’s like caaaandy”), a crazy conga line, as well as the Macarena (of course). We put fun photo props on each table so our guests had lots of photo fun before, during and after dinner. We also had a photo booth, which was a huge hit – the queue for that didn’t end. The package included a photo book with messages from our guests that we can look back on with fond memories."

"I have plenty of advice for other bride-to-bes!

  • Try on dresses that are not your size – I bought a dress that was two sizes smaller than my size and consequently didn’t need anything altered
  • Don’t allow anyone to change your vision…whether it be flowers, decor, dress, colour scheme etc…stick with what makes you happy
  • Make a formal photograph list for your photographer and suggest any other photo ideas that you might have in mind
  • Have someone appointed to fix your dress train Have friends/family members around who can help out and are happy to be bossed around without getting offended
  • Keep your lipstick/lip balm handy all day
  • Change into comfortable shoes for the party – I wore my Reebok Classics and Tarryn wore his Air Jordans!"

"Although it’s not tradition for the bride to give a speech, I would have liked to have said a few thank yous and said a couple of nice things about my new husband. I also wish I’d had a videographer to capture funny and sentimental moments, and the party."

"We have so many favourite moments from our special day…from the first moment we saw each other at the church to getting pelted by raw rice/confetti as we left the church, to the first dance, the conga line, the dance-offs and more…we wish the day lasted longer; it all went so fast."

"I remember Tarryn and I sitting on the top table looking at the venue and our guests and thinking: everything is just perfect! The venue looked beyond amazing, even better than we had envisaged. All our guests were having a great time and above all, we were now husband and wife. All our hard work and effort over the last three weeks had paid off and we couldn’t have been happier."

North Coast 500 Adventure

Did you know that Scotland has it's own 'Route 66'? It's a fairly recent creation called the North Coast 500 and it even has it's own website. This is the Scottish tourist board's latest attempt to get more people up to the Highlands, where few tourists often tread. The route itself starts in Inverness, fires across to Fort William and then up to Ullapool, then Durness and across the north coast to John O'Groats and Wick, before heading down the north east coast back to Inverness.

We decided to put our own twist on the journey and did it in reverse, also starting in Wick, which would allow us time to visit the Orkney Islands on Day 1 and take in the Highland Park Whiskey Distillery tour. This meant a brutal 13 hour schlep up to Wick on Day 0 with most of us starting in the Home Counties around London. This also gave us chance on Day 1 to visit a second distillery on the route. Dunnet Bay Distillers specialise in high end Gin and Vodka, and the owner was more than happy to throw on a free tour with some samples for us. 

In our party we had the following cars: Porsche Cayman GT4, VW Golf R Estate, BMW M5 (E39), Porsche 911 (997), Porsche Cayman S (987), Subaru Impreza WRX, & a Honda Civic Type R (Wakita Jap import).

The Golf and Civic representing hot hatchery were going to struggle with the genuine sports cars on paper, despite being very quick cars, however front engines, front wheel drive, four wheel drive and committed driving meant they punched well above their weight throughout. Especially when the roads got slippery and the Porsches had to back off slightly. As the Golf R Estate owner, I couldn't have been prouder of the way the car kept up with the pack and when driven at 10 tenths, could stay on the tail of anything except the GT4 in the dry. In the wet though it would just grip and grip and grip. The Subaru was also scary quick and didn't even break down! But the Hero Award surely went to Simon in his Civic. Packing approx 100bhp less than most other cars at 240bhp, he was the most committed driver by far, and the sight of him nibbling at the rear of the £75k GT4 constantly was amusing to all. If you backed off for a second he'd be past you. Ten tenths all the time.

Comedy moments were provided by the biggest, heaviest and oldest car in the fleet, Nick's 16 year old M5. With a monster 4.9 litre V8 engine hauling almost two tons of steel and leather around on well used suspension, it was never going to be dynamically dominant. However the straight line power of it, meant it stayed in touch with everyone despite carrying some interesting angles through bends. At least it sounded great doing so with the (almost) straight through exhaust system. Unless of course if the Rick Astley cassette was playing, which it was. Most of the time.

But enough about the cars. The scenery was stunning. Absolutely beautiful. My biggest regret was (as Snapper Elect) not having more time to pose cars and shoot the landscapes. Such was the demands on us to get to hotels before kitchens closed (try finding alternatives in the villages we stayed in!). The light and weather comes and goes so quickly in Scotland during April. You have to just grab the light when you can.

The hotels and people were amazing too. Hotel owners calling the chef back to work just for us when we arrived late (Bettyhill Hotel). Opening up lounges just for us to drink in (Summer Isles Hotel). Letting us park in their personal car park spaces (Mackays Hotel in Wick). Such is the vastness of the region and lack of people, that we often met the same people twice, including a fellow petrolhead who we passed in a frenetically driven Mitsubishi truck with a sheep trailer on the back. That evening we praised his reluctance to let us pass easily, and the next day met him about 60 miles further west in his supercharged Audi RS4 and chatted to him for half an hour.

Fuel stops became highly strategic. All cars required Super Unleaded, although most (like my Golf) would happily run without fault on 95 RON fuel. Not so the Impreza. It's tuned state and potentially marshmallow engine internals required the highest grade possible. This wasn't helped by it's tiny fuel tank and sub 150 mile range when driven hard. Ullapool had the only Super Unleaded pump west of Thurso, so we stopped their twice to brim the tanks. Applecross had a Community Filling Station run by villagers for non-profit, such was it's remoteness.

For us the trip concluded at the wonderful Clachaig Inn in Glencoe. Sandwiched between the mountains, it looked more like a ski lodge, and we walked in to a traditional Scottish acoustic band playing and many locals singing. It was a wonderful atmosphere and a perfect place to sink a few whiskeys, laugh at the previous few days experiences and mentally prepare for the long slog home the next day. Here are some images to take you there.

For the full gallery of images from the trip - CLICK HERE

Zeyn - Newborn Shoot

I may not heavily promote my Newborn Photography, but it's a nice string to have on the bow! I ventured down to North East London for this shoot with a Turkish/English family and 10 day old Zeyn. He wasn't a sleepy baby despite our best efforts, but he still provided us with some magic moments and facial expressions on the day. Best of all, was that we were able to get these images using only natural light a bed, and a few blankets!

Getting to know the Prests at Chicksands Wood!

I don't openly advertise my family shoots any more, but during the quiet months I still like to do a few to keep busy, but with very inconsistent April weather, it's tough to find a break in the clouds sometimes. Luckily on the day I met up with the Prest family at Chicksands Wood near Shefford in Bedfordshire, we timed our shoot to absolute perfection. It rained when we arrived, stopped and then rained again as we left, but basked us in beautiful afternoon spring light in between!

I always insist for family shoots that we go somewhere where the kids can be free and run around as it gets us much more natural smiles. Hopefully you'll agree that the results below certainly qualify as that!

Florida Wildlife Shoot with Outdoor Photo Workshops

While my blog post below focusses on the family element to our recent 2 week trip to Florida, for me it was lovely to escape the crowds for a day and go and experience a type of photography I rarely find time to practice! I first came across Outdoor Photo Workshops 3 years ago during our first Florida family holiday in 2013 and I spent a fantastic day with legendary US wildlife photographer, Jason Hahn at two sites in the state. So it was a no-brainer for me to contact these guys again for this trip!

Unfortunately Jason wasn't well at the time of my holiday but luckily they had another exceptional wildlife photographer on their books by the name of Jim Caldwell, who met me one Friday morning at 6am at the Circle B Nature Reserve near Lakeland in central Florida. The plan was to capture some sunrise shots and milk the light while it was good, and rest during the middle of the day before grabbing some more shots as the sun dipped later in the afternoon.

Jim was kind enough to let me have a play with his ENORMOUS Canon f4 500mm prime lens, which was pin sharp and enabled me to get great shots without the need for cropping in too much. Interestingly we were the first ones there, and the other photographers that showed up later with their equally large kit missed the amazing mist across the lake at first light. 

So among the usual suspects of American Alligators, Blue Herons, Great Egrets, White Ibis, Snowy Egrets, Anhingas and Tricolour Herons, we were also lucky to see some rarer critters such as a family of nesting Great Horned Owls (the second largest owl in the Americas), Ospreys, Pileated Woodpecker, Armadillo, a flock of Roseate Spoonbills, and a Northern Cardinal. An amazing day and many thanks to Jim for his help and guidance throughout!

What Do Photographers Do In the Off-Season? Shoot Models in Brussels. That's What!

When we're not frantically running around for 12 hours documenting your wedding days, we wedding photographers like to hang around in small clusters, fuel ourselves with strong beer and hire stunning models to hone our skills in exciting cities.

A recent trip to Brussels with friends didn't see us receive the best weather. Ok, let's cut to the chase. It p***ed it down for the entire day we booked Rubia! Luckily we had rented a stunning city centre apartment via Air B'n'B which had surprisingly strong window light, so we decamped there and got the following images.

We then celebrated with several strong beers and spent most of the next day in recovery. Good times. Thank you to my good friends and highly talented photographers Neil Redfern, Toni Darcy, Phil Smith, Kelly Clarke and of course Steffi Rubia for being great company and doing your thang.

Storm Frank Wedding at Goldsborough Hall, Harrogate

It's always nice to venture further afield for weddings and discover new venues such as the beautiful Goldsborough Hall near Harrogate in Yorkshire. Steve is an old work colleague of mine who I've known well for several years so it was an absolute pleasure capturing his big day with Becky and their 2 year old daughter, Emily.

A late December wedding up north is always going to be interesting weather wise, but we felt the full force of the winds and rain from Storm Frank this day which had previously dumped a whole load of rain over the Lake District and Lancashire. Luckily for everyone the church was right next door to Goldsborough Hall, so the walk between was mercifully brief for all!

After some highly amusing speeches, with best man, Mark raising many smiles, Becky's father John entertained everyone by showing a slideshow of images of his daughter while singing Frank Sinatra's 'New York'. Following that everyone took to the dance floor and partied hard into the night!

For the full gallery of images CLICK HERE