New Website!

Thanks to everyone who has been following my blog for the last few years - I really appreciate all of the support.  I wanted to announce that I have a brand new website and blog (currently featuring one of my weddings from my recent trip to New Zealand) up and running which I would love for you to check out.  It's been a long time coming and a real labour of love.  When you are so close to the work you have created it can be hard to stand back and objectively create something that represents you, your brand and your personality but it's often the first thing that people get to see as an introduction to me to I hope it is memorable and reflective of the passion I have for my work.  It's been amazing looking back over some of the beautiful weddings I have been to, the wonderful people I have met and the incredible destinations I have visited. It's part of an exciting new beginning and I look forward to great things happening this year!  I hope you enjoy it.

x

www.helenabrahamphotography.com

New Zealand London Destination Wedding Photographer

Helen Abraham Destination Wedding Photographer

 

An Intimate London Ceremony

A couple of summers ago I was both guest and photographer at the wonderful wedding of Nick and Pip in Somerset and had the pleasure of sitting on a table with both a friend Lisha and also newly engaged couple Charlie and Tetyana.  Now, Lisha is one of my biggest supporters, for which I am eternally grateful!  I've covered a number of weddings recently on the back of her glowing reference and she didn't hesitate in recommending me to Charlie and Tetyana there and then.  Following the wedding I picked out this sweet moment between them from the wedding: 2012-06-11_001

Disappointingly I was already booked for their full wedding in the Ukraine this month but I was able to join them for the more intimate ceremony at the absolutely stunning Temple Church in central London (which is featured in The Da Vinci Code); one of the most historic and beautiful churches in London.

The warden closed off the church to the visitors and there was an incredible sense of calm and quiet anticipation in this vast space as Charlie waited at the end of the intimidatingly long aisle.  There was pure joy in their faces and it was very emotional to have been a part of such a wonderful occasion.  And Charlie and Tetyana were the perfect couple to photograph after the ceremony; so happy, easy and relaxed with one another.

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Sophie & Tim's Wedding at Dillington House

Sophie has quite a talent for under promising and over delivering.  At our first meeting (see engagement shoot here) she talked me through the details of the wedding venue and whilst it sounded lovely she described it as a conference/education centre and so I was overwhelmed when I arrived.  It helped that it was a glorious day, but Dillington House has fabulous grounds and has the grandeur you would expect of the former Somerset home of George III's Prime Minister, Lord North. They had also told me about the fancy dress element so I was intrigued as to how that would play out but this has to have been one of the most highly detailed and well planned out weddings I've attended.  Sophie and Tim's attention to the finest detail was impressive.  Each table, spread across 4 different rooms within the house, had it's own theme including The Great Gatsby, Royalty, Birds and the Bees and Fairy Tales and every guest had come prepared to dress up after the ceremony according to their table.

After the humanist ceremony in the barn all guests went off to change and reassembled at the back of the house for lawn games with the bride and groom making a grand entrance as a Bumblebee and White Peackcock - looking absolutely fabulous.  I was so impressed at the effort everyone made to fully embrace the dress code and it made for a wonderful spectacle.

(Engagement photos from Columbia Road Flower Market here).

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Sophie & Tim's Engagement Shoot at Columbia Road Flower Market

I try to vary my locations for engagement shoots as much as possible.  Every couple is different and I want to ensure that each engagement shoot represents them as much as possible.  Columbia Road was particularly busy on this day but we snuck off down some side streets initially until Tim and Sophie were more relaxed in front of the camera then we braved the crowds and went shopping for some flowers, stopping for a few oysters on the way.  They were great in front of the camera - very relaxed and natural and fun to be with.  Wedding pictures now here. 2013-08-06_0009 2013-08-06_0010 2013-08-06_0011 2013-08-06_0012 2013-08-06_0013 2013-08-06_0014 2013-08-06_0015 2013-08-06_0016 2013-08-06_0017 2013-08-06_0018 2013-08-06_0019 2013-08-06_0020 2013-08-06_0021

Sunset at St Ouen's, Jersey

I was so happy to be able to sneak a few days to go and hang out with my family in Jersey last week.  It's my family home and I don't go back nearly enough.  The house is always full of people and there is constant noise and energy.  My parents had me up at 7am every morning for a long walk around the cliffs.  Here are a couple of pictures from one evening at St Ouen's.  I'm not so big on landscape photography as I prefer to just enjoy the grandeur of a sunset with my naked eye but I got quite excited at how the light changed every second during this sunset and towards the end the light picked up beautifully on the sand. 2013-08-06_0001

Chris & Judith's Wedding in Bordeaux

It is definitely one of the perks of my job to be able to travel for work.  It gives me such joy to know that I can pack up my camera bag and work anywhere in the world.  This year I have done a handful of destination weddings for UK based clients and am looking forward to doing more next year. Chris and Judith chose to marry in France, away from their family homes in Belfast and Glasgow.  They found the beautiful Chateau de la Ligne just outside Bordeaux and brought over 60 close friends and family (Chris is one of 9!).  From the outset they made me feel so welcome and comfortable and I honestly felt like one of the party - and I think this benefits the photography as by the time of the wedding I knew exactly who everyone was and they were all far more relaxed in front of the camera.  It was lovely to be able to capture both the boys and girls and all the family getting ready across the chateau before they went down to the village church for the ceremony which was conducted by their local priest who also came over from Belfast.  After the ceremony canapés and champagne were served on the lawn before a meal served in the cool orangerie.  They surprised their guests with fireworks over the vineyards as the sunset, and then they were surprised by a video link with Chris' brother who was unable to attend the wedding because he was on tour with his choir in Canada.  At this point I slipped off to bed but the laughter continued long into the night.

See the engagement photos here.

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An exciting new adventure in Kenya

I am very lucky to have a number of people in my life who act as mentors and guides.  When you work alone as a business sometimes you need a little push and encouragement, someone to tell you are doing the right thing - or the wrong thing.  Someone to bounce ideas off and offer inspiration and guidance. One of these people is Samir.  We met when he came to Electric House to give a small talk to a number of small business owners in the creative sector on Creative Business Mentoring.  They ranged from PR to dress makers.  It was a small and intimate gathering and gave us all the opportunity to ask a few questions.  At the end of the session he kindly offered further help should we want to follow up.

Samir has a fascinating career history, with a masters in mathematics, was CEO of an airline company at 29, worked for the Ministry of Defence, guest lectures at Oxford and King's LSE, founded several successful companies including Debut Contemporary, worked with Bosnian refugees and other charities such as Repossession.

Never one to miss an opportunity to engage with someone inspiring of course I followed up and at our first meeting one of the most provocative things he said was that I needed a manifesto for life (he pointed me in the direction of Vivienne Westwood).  I needed a purpose and to give something back.  I went away with this very much on my mind.  Maybe a week later Keith, the brother of one of my very dear friends from Kenya, contacted me to say that he had set up an volunteer organisation called Gap Creative to provide art, drama, music and photography programmes for a number of orphanages near his home town of Nakuru in Kenya (coincidentally the same small town that my father was brought up in!) and asked if I would be prepared to get involved in setting up the photography arm of this.

'No' is not generally a much used word in my vocabulary, particularly when it comes to travel, adventure or photography - and particularly those three in combination.  So, my flight to Nairobi is booked for a week Monday.  I am booked in for my jabs.  I have had pledges of over £300 from kind friends and family to purchase some cameras, printer and inks and will be setting off to spend a week with Keith in Nakuru meeting with the orphanages, talking to the kids, devising a workable programme for the volunteers who start coming out in January and making a short documentary about the work that will be happening out there.

I'm meeting Samir next week and can't wait to tell him all about it.  But as he sagely said; when we open our eyes and mind to opportunity it comes knocking.

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Chris & Judith's Engagement Shoot in Bordeaux

Every wedding is unique and beautiful but occasionally a wedding is truly spectacular for other reasons. Judith is a friend of Hannah whose wedding and engagement I photographed in Glasgow a couple of years ago. Having seen my work she contacted me when she got engaged. I was charmed by her immediately and as she told me more about her plans for her wedding in a beautiful chateau outside of Bordeaux. I jumped at the chance. As Judith and Chris live in Belfast we didn't have a chance to meet in advance of the wedding but they kindly invited me to stay for a couple of nights before the wedding so that we had a chance to get to know each other and do the engagement shoot. The Chateau De La Ligne was nothing short of spectacular with vast grounds surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye could see. My room was in the tower of the main building with a cool breeze and stunning views. I had the most wonderful few days and because the wedding was relatively small I had the chance to meet and get to know many of their lovely family members and was made to feel very much a part of the party throughout.

Wedding picture to follow!

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Debbie & Gavin's Engagement Shoot in Bristol

I hadn't see Debbie since I was about 14 as far as we could both remember.  Our parents are close friends from their military days but we had lost touch a while back.  I was so delighted to reconnect when Debbie wanted to speak to me about her wedding in Somerset.  We spoke in the loosest sense of the word back at Easter, although I was in the throes of losing my voice, and confirmed the details and finally had the chance to meet up when I went down to Bristol last weekend. I had the most wonderful day, a few hours with Debbie, Gavin and their gorgeous, smiley little boy Jack wandering around Clifton, followed by a lunch with a girlfriend at The River Cottage Canteen, a wander along the harbour at the Bristol Harbour Festival and finally a few drinks with an old friend.  The perfect spontaneous, fun filled, sunny day to fill my heart with love and friendship.

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Julia and Pete's Engagement Shoot in Camden

Gorgeous Julia and Pete asked to do their engagement shoot in Camden where Julia used to live and where they used to 'court'. We met at 7pm but it was still muggy and hot and everyone was on the streets and in a great mood, not least Julia and Pete who are the most smiley, lovely couple. Julia is a pilates instructor which is why she looks so A-mazing! I love engagement shoots; I get to wander round new parts of town and get to know a couple in a much more relaxed environment. We started off at Camden Town tube and pottered along the canal up to Primrose Hill and near to where I live.

Their wedding in September is at Kensington Roof Gardens. I haven't been there for years but I'm sure it will be a fantastic venue not least because there are pink flamingos up there!!!

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Neil and Antanas' Civil Ceremony at Town Hall Hotel, London

There is never a greater pleasure than photographing a friend's wedding - it gives such an intimate access into the day that as a guest you don't have.  I was so flattered that Neil and Antanas chose me to be their photographer at their very intimate ceremony and meal at the gorgeous Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green.  I've both stayed and worked there before so I knew what a fantastic location it would be; a mixture of Edwardian grandeur, art deco and contemporary. Having flown in early that morning from a wedding in Scotland I joined the boys getting ready in their suite.  I am usually with the girls for the preparation shots before a wedding so it was a delightful change and full of laughter and absolutely no dramas.

The ceremony took place in the simple panelled Majors Room followed by champagne in the ante chamber and then cocktails in the bar.  They had use of the rather dramatic council chamber for the meal - probably the most unusual reception venue I've seen.

It was a gorgeous day and I took them outside for a few shots around the building.  They were perfect models and so full of joy and happiness to be together which I think comes through in the pictures.

Sadly I couldn't join them as they headed off to Ibiza the following day as I had to head back up to Scotland but by all accounts they  had the most incredible after party.2013-07-16_0001 2013-07-16_0003 2013-07-16_0004 2013-07-16_0005 2013-07-16_0006 2013-07-16_0007 2013-07-16_0008 2013-07-16_0009 2013-07-16_0010 2013-07-16_0011 2013-07-16_0012 2013-07-16_0013 2013-07-16_0014 2013-07-16_0015 2013-07-16_0016 2013-07-16_0017 2013-07-16_0018 2013-07-16_0019 2013-07-16_0020 2013-07-16_0021 2013-07-16_0022 2013-07-16_0023 2013-07-16_0024 2013-07-16_0025 2013-07-16_0026 2013-07-16_0027 2013-07-16_0028 2013-07-16_0029 2013-07-16_0030 2013-07-16_0031 2013-07-16_0032 2013-07-16_0033 2013-07-16_0034 2013-07-16_0035 2013-07-16_0036 2013-07-16_0037 2013-07-16_0038 2013-07-16_0039 2013-07-16_0040 2013-07-16_0041

37 years of marriage and counting...

It was my dear parent's 37th anniversary a couple of days ago.  The traditional gift for this number of years of marriage is alabaster, a white gemstone. I was at their house and so asked to see their wedding album again and mum and I were marvelling at the changes in the industry.  Back in those days a photographer whom you had never met before would turn up for the ceremony.  Capture the signing of the register, the walk down the aisle and then a handful of family and couple line ups.  They would be there for no more than an hour or two.  Here are a few images of my beautiful parents looking rather amazingly young!

The church was in a little village in Somerset and was a typical Royal Naval wedding with  Dad's colleagues forming a sword arch to honour them as they came out of the church and 3 Wessex helicopters did a fly-by back at the reception at Yeovilton Air Station.  They headed off for a road trip around Europe for their honeymoon.

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When I think about the wonderful relationship I am able to develop with my couples I think that this very much reflects in the intimacy of the images I am able to capture.  By the time of the wedding I have had one or maybe two pre-wedding meetings to discuss the couples details and requirements, a pre-wedding shoot so that the couple are comfortable in front of the camera and then I will be with my bride from the preparations on the day right through to the first dance.

My couple will receive at least 500 images in colour and black and white both in an online gallery that can be shared with friends and family but also on a disc to keep and print images as they wish.

Portraits are about capturing subtle emotions between the couple, moments of love and laughter, and of course plenty of portraits of all the friends and family so that when the images are looked through the story is told from the start of the day to the end of the day with all the little moments that the bride and groom may have missed.  The expressions of their family as the bride walks down the aisle... the laughter of guests at a table, the delight of a confetti throw.  Every couple gasp at how quickly the day has flown by when I say goodbye at the end of the evening.  A set of images that allows them to relive the day over and over is priceless.

But back to my parents... I love them so much and thank them from the bottom of my heart for always encouraging me to follow my dreams and for never doubting my abilities and potential when I decided to become a photographer; for giving me the tools of independence and strong work ethic to be able to follow through on this wonderful journey.

 

 

 

Saville Row at Lords

On behalf of sponsors Chivas (and Campbell Bell Communications) I attended the first fashion event to ever be held at Lords Cricket Ground last month.  Nineteen Savile Row tailing houses showcased their style across one hundred outfits showcased in a live fashion show across the  Lord's Long Room and Pavillion. Models, friends and actors including Dougray Scott and journalist AA Gill were modelling the outfits.

My client Chivas were holding court in the Writing Room where they were serving  Chivas 12, 18 and 25 on the rocks plus cocktails on the roof terrace.

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International Friendships and Travel Opportunities

This was an email I received about 6 weeks ago:

Dear Helen

I want to start by saying I'm a huge fan of your work all the way from New Zealand. Your way with light is just incredible and I love your tones!
My name is Nisha, I'm an aspiring Wedding Photographer from New Zealand, I'm a 25 year old kiwi-Indian with a passion for detail, design,corgi's and photography.
I know this is a complete long shot but I'm getting in touch with you because I'm making the big move to the UK in mid June until January and I would like to offer my second-shooting services to you. I'm extremely easy going, take direction well, am creative and SUPER friendly!
In return of course you would gladly be welcome to come to New Zealand at any stage and photograph with me here or in Australia, or I could refer you for a season when I have double bookings.
Over here I've photographed all over New Zealand, in churches, halls, barns, caves, forests, mountains in all conditions. I've photographed around 35 Weddings now in the past two years and I'm always eager for the next adventure.
Let me know if you'd be interested in perhaps skyping sometime and discussing anything I've mentioned. You must get this all the time so I'll understand if I don't hear back.
Oh before I forget!! To show I'm not just a complete loonie, here's a couple of links to my work that should solidify my claims!
always a fan

Nisha Ravji

I do quite frequently receive emails from other photographers like this and so I clicked on the link with mild interest but far from being aspiring, Nisha's work struck me as being highly accomplished, natural, sensitive and creative. All the things I aspire for my own work, and I could see and immediate synergy between our styles. I wrote back immediately to build the connection and suggest next steps.
As a wedding photographer I generally work alone. Using an assistant or student generally results in few images that I can use alongside my own in an album but to use an equally experienced second photographer is usually prohibitively expensive so I jumped at this opportunity.
After a Skype call to the other side if the world we came up with the brilliant plan that Nisha would come and shoot with me this summer and in January and February of next year I would go and shoot with her. Not only has she offered me many opportunities to second shoot with her but within weeks she had actually booked me a wedding of my own (in a kiwi tree orchard - how utterly fabulous is that?!).
I am blown away by the generosity of someone who was a stranger only a month ago. She has opened up an opportunity for me to visit New Zealand and make new friends whilst developing my portfolio and experience. I count myself so blessed to have found myself an industry that has such a strong sense of community. One that offers its members support, encouragement and opportunities like this.
I am looking to build on my existing network in Auckland so please do get in touch if you have any recommendations.
Here is some of Nisha's beautiful work - I can't wait to meet her in June and work with her:
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David & Fi get Hitched in the Highlands at Inshriach House

The most intimidating wedding gig must be shooting for another photographer, but it is also the hugest compliment so when David Anderson contacted me to say that there was no other choice for their wedding I was utterly flattered. Also super excited to find that by sheer coincidence his fiancé Fi had stumbled across my good friend Walters house Inshriach as the ideal venue for their style of wedding.
David and I met years ago in Edinburgh when we were both shooting for Anna and Jonathan Freemantle's amazing fashion event Noir! I was just a rookie photographer still in my first year at college and keen for any opportunity to photograph creative events and interesting people. And it was fantastic to catch up with Anna and Jono at the wedding.
As the day before the wedding came around it was all hands in deck to dress the marquee, untangle bunting and cut branches. I love that when I shoot a wedding at Inshriach I become involved with the wedding party so that the day itself becomes a more intimate affair.
Despite the rain David and Fi pushed forward with the plan to marry atop the hill and it was so beautiful. The elements adding to the drama and majesty of the setting as we stood looking over the Cairngorm mountains.
This was a wedding of passion, intimacy, grounding and love and I adored being a part of its magic.
Bridesmaids dresses designed and made by Fi McKay
Bridal dress made by Rowan Joy
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The Service of Others

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.Mahatma Gandhi 

There is so much more to people than the tip of the iceberg that they choose to show us and it's all too easy to judge on that basis. When you take the time to get to know someone you realise what great weight they may be carrying or what depths that have kept hidden. And what awe-inspiring beauty lies beneath.

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I spent  last weekend staffing a women's personal development retreat in Surrey run by an international organisation called Women Within at Juniper Hall in Surrey.  I only recently came to this organisation back in February when I attended the weekend for the first time as a participant.  What I experienced there was nothing short of life changing - for me and the women around me.  I found an acceptance and openness in a community that shares so much love, laughter, tears, communication and support based on ancient traditions of sisterhood.  As I left that first weekend I knew I wanted to keep this connection and so volunteered for this recent weekend to enable other women to have the same experience. I am grateful to Christian for making the introduction to me through his own experiences with a similar organisation for men, The Mankind Project. And grateful to the incredible women who have come into my life to make it so much more joyful.

The next weekend is November 1st - 3rd.

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Perrier-Jouët at Collect - The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects at Saatchi Gallery

Last week at 2pm the phone rings with one of the agencies I work for, Campbell Bell Communications. I'm in my pjs sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and pottering through a wedding edit and thinking about what I was going to cook for my friend Andy that evening. 'Can you be at the Saatchi Gallery at 4pm to photograph an event. Such is life as a freelance photographer. I grabbed my bag and headed over to cover the opening evening of The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects. On display was work by Hitomi Hosono, the inaugural Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize 2013 Winner. You can see the events I shot for both the launch of the prize at The Ritz and the selection of the winner at the St Pancras Hotel. The salon judges included artist Kate MccGwire, designer Stephen Jones and executive director of the Crafts Council Rosy Greenlees who said ‘We were faced with a challenging decision and exceptional talent within the shortlist of nominees, yet recognised Hitomi Hosono as an outstanding artist whose unique artworks truly evoke a contempoporary and beautiful interpretation of Art Nouveau’. 2013-05-24_0001 2013-05-24_0002 2013-05-24_0003 2013-05-24_0004 2013-05-24_0005 2013-05-24_0006 2013-05-24_0007 2013-05-24_0008 2013-05-24_0009 2013-05-24_0010 2013-05-24_0011 2013-05-24_0012 2013-05-24_0013 2013-05-24_0014 2013-05-24_0015 2013-05-24_0016 2013-05-24_0017 2013-05-24_0018

James & Natasha's Engagement Shoot at The Hurlingham Club, London

What a treat to be able to wander around the private Hurlingham Club on the banks on the Thames in Fulham this morning.  It spreads over 42 acres so we only covered a small part of it but it's quintessentially English with it's grass tennis courts and bowling green. I photographed James' brother's wedding last summer before James' had even popped the question to Tash and was delighted to be asked to do their wedding this summer at Natasha's family home in Somerset.

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Photographing People

When I look at why I love photography I can clearly see the subjects that I am drawn to; people.  Whether that is people captured unawares expressing joy in a crowded party, a corporate portrait to help a person find a way of clearly representing who they are in a business capacity in a way that builds trust with their clients; a young family capturing the early moments of their life together or a woman bravely embracing her natural and honest beauty in a boudoir shoot - either for herself or for her partner. For me there is nothing more satisfying than have a client look at a picture that I have taken and knowing that they have shown a little part of themselves to me for maybe just a fleeting moment and recognising themselves in that.

I have had the privilege of working with so many fascinating people.  For my final college assignment years ago I chose to photograph people I knew in the arts, in their home or working environment.  Here are some of the pictures I took.  Some are more obvious in their vocation, others more subtle.  I hope you enjoy them.

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