Sometimes everything just goes incredibly well at a wedding and it's visually very spectacular. This was a wedding I had really been looking forward to. Their ceremony took place at their family home on the front lawn, the ceremony was open air with the stunning backdrop of the house. A whole gaggle of children (I lost count) and dogs accompanied Phili down the aisle. After the ceremony guest walked over to a reception in front of the main house. A highlight being the wing walker performance (Phili had for a short time held the record for the youngest wing walker in the world - amongst her many other achievements!). The final stop was the teepee marquees in the woods filled with flora and fauna. I don't think the day could have been any more perfect - at home, filled with family, friends, children and dogs and a glorious summers day. I was literally in my element.
More and more frequently couples are veering away from the larger traditional wedding venues to have their wedding receptions in local pubs. This is especially true for many of the London weddings I shoot where the ceremony happens at a local registry office or town hall and then the guests can either bus or even walk to a nearby pub. Often it's a local favourite of the couple which gives it a personal and intimate connection. Pubs tend to be relaxed, informal and flexible and offer a cool and contemporary decor. They are happy for you to decorate and to run the day as you want it without sticking too rigidly to timings and rules. Food is often big sharing platters and traditional and substantial pub grub that is always popular. It can also be the cheaper option - some city pubs close at weekends so don't ask for a cover charge whilst other pubs are happy to close to regulars if you can cover a minimum spend.
Some of my favourite London pubs...
This one is pretty local to me and also to my brides Alice and Sinead, in the heart of Stoke Newington. They took their guests here after their Islington Town Hall Wedding for an informal party and speeches. For the full wedding see the blog. Filled with quirky artworks and with a cute little outdoor patio.
Fantastic locally sourced food, a big open and light dining room with another room upstairs for the disco. They also have a outdoor patio. As with all of the pubs I'm mentioning, the staff are welcoming, friendly and laid back. Blog coming soon.
Another one close to me in Dalston is The Roost. This converted victorian pub is now a venue and shoot space only venue. Filled with an eclectic mix of wall finishes, furniture, props & art work, it can be as creative and malleable as you wish. The old bar, commercial kitchen and mature garden space are at the heart of the building leaving the rest as both a colourful & blank palette. It also has a basement club to surprise your guests with as an evenings finale. To see the full wedding of Charlie and Lucy see the blog here.
4. (South) West - The Fox and Grapes, Wimbledon
A bit smaller and darker so less ideal for photography but great location on Wimbledon Common with great spots for taking pictures. Cosy and traditional food.
A perfect pub to follow an Islington Town Hall wedding as it's only a 10 minute walk. They have a small room upstairs which seats around 30 people. It's light, intimate, the food is impeccable and I really love shooting in this space. For the full blog for this wedding click here.
From the adorable local church to the countryside reception, Rosa and Andy's wedding was a delight to capture. A beautiful August day in Ingham punctuated with individuality....after all not many brides and grooms cycle all the way to their seats at wedding breakfast! Other favourite moments for me include the first marital head to head taking shape in the form of tug-of-war (with an extra special pair of shoes for the task) and an idyllic first dance outside in the fresh air. Wonderful!Read More
The actual important things to consider when choosing a photographer.Read More
It's always fun to shoot at a new wedding venue and I'd been looking forward to photographing a wedding at South Farm in December when Natalie and Paul booked me last minute for this summer. With a picturesque outdoor setting for the ceremony, an Asian tuk tuk on standby as the getaway vehicle and gorgeous grounds this was a pretty dreamy wedding to photograph - not to mention how beautiful Natalie looked.Read More
I had two almost simultaneous enquiries for this same date in July and had to make a decision but Kate made a very convincing argument as to how much fun and how beautiful a wedding at the Pergola Hill and Garden would be. Having photographed a styled shoot there before I knew what a fantastic setting it was and so it was decided.Read More
Visiting Santorini has definitely been on my bucket list for photographing a wedding so I was hugely excited when Roxy and James, who I had met an another wedding in Tuscany got in touch to tell me about their plans. I tend to just fly in and out of places and on to the next thing at this time of year but I decided to extend my stay to be able to see a little more of the island as I doubted I would be back unless for another wedding.
End of September is getting towards the close of the season out there which means less people (although it still felt pretty crowded) and more changeable weather. I prefer it a bit cooler so it suited me to be exploring away from the scorching summer heat but it did mean that the wedding day was a little cloudy and so the backdrops were not really the picture postcard azure seas but a rather more gentle hazy light.
I’m going to blog about the wedding more soon but I just thought I would share some of my tips from my vast knowledge having spent three days out here!
- Hire a car!!! Or a buggy. The island is tiny and it’s so much fun to scoot around and the views from the roads are spectacular (I did get beeped at by locals several times for rubber necking at the views and swerving around the roads). A car means spontaneity and a sense of adventure. There are regular buses around the island though so it’s not absolutely essential
- Book an average hotel. One realisation I had on this trip was although I was disappointed not to have the budget for one of the grand sea view hotel along Oia or Imeriogli it did mean that I was way more active than I usually am. I love a comfy sun lounger, ace book and incredible view (with a glass of something cold close to hand) but on this trip my modest but comfortable and clean hotel in Fira (Renas Suites) meant that I was keen to get out and explore
- Find a great spot for sunset. I’d scouted out the area around the wedding venue (Le Ciel) for great spots to take Roxy and James for their couples shots. Further north along the coastal track in front of the hotels (and a great hike if you are staying around there) is a couple of beautiful and typical churches. Unfortunately the night I took R & J up there was literally 6 other brides, a gaggle of photographers, a drone… and smoke grenades *face palm* . I was a little embarrassed to take them there but they gamely pushed on through. Unfortunately the sunset was not so spectacular that night but the following night it was peaceful up there with beautiful views over the other islands in the bay
- Caldera views and Cape Akrotiri lighthouse - with a 3am wake up for my flight I arrived tired in Santorini early afternoon. I intended to have a nap but once I got behind the wheel I just kept driving. I loved the sense of freedom that being on a small island gave me to explore - and the fact that you can literally see from end to end and across it’s breadth at most points. I headed south to the more scrubby and sparsely populated end of the island. The views over the bay looked towards the Southern tips with the towns dotted along the peaks of the cliffs. At the end i found a light house and many couples (this was to be a common theme every where I went). As I headed back towards Fira I stopped off at Good Heart Tavern, one of the many tavernas strung along that road for some late lunch overlooking the sea.
- Ammoudi Bay - I drove the car to the furthest tip I could find and that led me down on to Ammoudi which sits at the bottom of a steep cliff atop which perches Oia which is literally breathtaking. When I first arrived on the island I was puzzled by the white tipped cliffs - snow?! - but then I realised that it was the stretches of white houses along the key coastal points. There are lots of great seafood restaurants on that bay and I then walked, along with some horses, the 200 odd steps up the cliff and into Oia where I sat and had my Greek salad perched high up over the bay. Oia was uncomfortably full of tourists but it was a must see to get a sense of the architecture of the towns which cling vertiginously to the edges of the cliff, gleaming white and interspersed with with it’s signature blue of church roofs and pools. Not for the faint hearted. I did have a twinge of envy seeing tourists lolling in their private pools with a pretty epic view - although not so private.
- Perivolas Beach - the beaches in Santorini are mainly pebbly or volcanic sand so don’t expect stretches of golden shores. Quieter than Kamari beach was Perivolas Beach further south around the coast. You can sit for free on the loungers or eat lunch in many of the great restaurants. I had a delicious crab salad (for 2) at Sea shore?
- My final stop before the airport was breakfast (chip and feta omelette - better than it sounds!) at the south end of Kamari beach. It’s a bustling little town and the beaches tend to fill up quickly on the free sun loungers.
After three days I felt really connected to the island and it’s features familiar to me. I loved the simplicity of it, the spectacular views at every turn. And there is nothing like travelling alone to really stretch your curiosity legs. I’m glad I’ve had a chance and hope I get to a chance to return.
So you've chosen your date and found a fabulous venue, the next task is to consider the timeline of your day. As most new brides and grooms have never organised a gathering for 100+ people this can be the most daunting part of the planning. Having been been to hundreds of weddings so can help you with designing a timeline which will make the most of the day from a photography perspective.Read More
Following on from the morning Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Holland Park Synagogue the guests reconvened for more elaborate festivities at the fabulous Sumosan Twiga. Organised by Foxes Events and with the event spanning the three floors of the restaurant, guests moved from cocktails and canapés on one floor, to the most delicious spread of sushi on the next and finally into the basement club until the early hours.Read More
Photographing in grand old architectural gems such as the Holland Park Synagogue, one of the oldest in London, is always a treat. This was one of my first outings with my new XT2 Fuji cameras and the light was beautiful to work with. I'd never witnessed a Bar Mitzvah before so it was a fascinating insight into another culture.Read More
Sarah and Simon chose to become Mrs and Mr at Cornwell Manor, a hidden gem of a venue which was formerly a hunting lodge set in the heart of the Cotswolds. A late afternoon ceremony allowed for the rains to pass and the afternoon was spent outside in the sunshine. A proper English country garden wedding.Read More
With Alfred Cointreau, the 30-year-old scion of the Cointreau empire in town, Soho House Group decided to have an in-house bar competition in the Library Bar at Shoreditch House for it's leading mixologists. The challenge was to introduce Cointreau, the 160 year old family run brand into a new an exciting drink to be judged by Alfred himself.Read More
Everyone loves a beautiful confetti shot - If you follow my instagram account you'll know I am a HUGE fan of confetti shots. The colour, the smiles, having everyone in your wedding involved in the moment as they welcome you as husband and wife for the first time. It's a truly magical moment. However with several venues and churches now vetoing traditional confetti here are my top 10 alternative confetti ideas...Read More
Julia arrived on foot for her stunning simple Marlebone wedding to Jamie. They took their vows at Asia House, before hopping aboard the wedding bus to Primrose Hill for a walk in the park and some dancing in the street. All followed by a deliciously Greek reception in the family-run Lemonia.Read More
When things don’t go to plan and you leave space for the unexpected some wonderful things can appear. I had two weeks roughly mapped out ahead of me to share with a friend when those plans fell through. I was left feeling alone and flailing. As someone who fills my time almost compulsively with work, friends and activities I felt bereft at the idea of this vacuum. And so I decided to to continue on alone and with the help of friends embarked on a small journey to challenge myself.
I grew up with the privilege of plenty of travel abroad. I continued that into early adulthood and have never refused the opportunity to get on a plane - sometimes to escape, sometimes to keep moving and sometimes because I didn’t know what else to do and have felt that moving through exotic spaces colours me in a way that gives me substance.
My own country has been neglected in these constant wanderings. And yet I discovered a perfect solitude in walking a small part of the South West Coast Path this last week, along the 95 mile Jurassic Coast. I discovered a sense of independence and freedom and clearness of mind. I let go of needing things to be perfect or on time.
One rather painful discovery is that rushing leads to injury! As I was trying to complete this alone my hardwired competitive side came out - I had to do it in as fast a time as possible. And after two 16mile days over rough terrain I sustained a knee injury. I hobbled along for a further day, desperate to be able to continue, but in the end had to accept that having reached half way I would need to stop, rest and return at a later date to finish the second half.
The other lesson learned, on the back of the above, is that waiting leads to adventures and discoveries. As I hobbled down into the nearest village to figure out what to do, and waiting for the pub to open so I could tap into their wifi and make a new plan I called out to a passing man to see if there was a local campsite (loathed as I was to return to the awful caravan park I'd passed a mile back) to rest and stay the night. He happened to be the local cider farmer and had a small campsite in his apple orchard. By a river. With an all day cider bar and live music that evening. Perfect! He bundled me into his landrover and I found myself in the most idyllic spot to while away the afternoon and evening (note: the nicer campsites are set back off the trail if you have the energy to walk a mile or so inland). And my neighbour even made me supper and we compared notes about the trail - he told me of his intention to do the full 660 miles next year over 4 months to raise awareness for mental health issues.
I’ve also learnt of the kindness of my friends and the possibility of asking for the things I need. Despite having trekked in some quite extreme places including Patagonia and Nepal I'd never done anything longer than a 2 hour walk on my own. Without my dear friends Rich and Marie to get me started I probably would have ended up staying in London but their support got me going and their tough love kept me walking so that I discovered the joys of walking and being alone.
The walk itself in the end started at Exmouth and I finished at the very quintessentially English village of Abbotsbury, taking in swims in Sidmouth and the bustling Lyme Regis. Most of the route was amazingly quiet with few trekkers. Highlights included the rainforest like undercliffs of the Axmouth to Lyme Regis route and the climb up to Golden Cap at sunset before dropping down into the tiny Seatown for a delicious fish ploughman at The Anchor. Also the unexpected Bredy Farm visit in the apple orchard at Burton Bradstock. When I resume it will be from Abbotsbury and on through Weymouth and finishing the route at Poole.
I travelled with the excellent lightweight MSR Hubba Hubba tent and initially a small trangier but decided to get rid of some weight on the way since there are so many cafes and pubs along the route to eat at I didn't feel it necessary to cook for myself, although this can get pricey. Campsites were frequent and always had space but can be expensive when travelling alone as you are paying per pitch rather than per person usually (£14 - £26 a night). I also took my thermarest, a warm sleeping bag and minimal clothing. A 35l rucksack is fine - I had an Osprey Stratos 36. Next time I might take walking sticks - you look like a pensioner but I think it really protects your body when doing long distances. Carry plenty water. I was lucky the weather was a bit cloudy so not super hot but I was drinking a good 2-3 litres per day. There is a bus (The Jurassic Coaster) that travels along the full length of the coast path so it's really easy to drop your car and then get back to it.
I am often spoilt with my weddings, having had the chance to shoot in some fantastic venues, but this may be my most iconic! Luckily I have a head for heights as Vickie and Marc tied the knot in Searcy's, an elegant two storey glass dome at the top of Londons' Gherkin offering 360-degree views of the city. The benefit of a venue like this is that weather isn't an issue! When the grey clouds and rain rolled in later in the afternoon it just added to the sense of atmosphere of being up in the sky. Thank you to David of Married to My Camera for his excellent second shooting.
I joined the fabulously fun GumGum crew for some colourful and fresh London event photography as they brought Cannes to London this June on board the luxurious Erasmus yacht with DJ Sako Mano and some of France's finest champagne.Read More
This is something I get asked a lot by my clients. The answer of course will depend on numerous factors, from where you're getting ready to the size of your wedding. Here are my top reasons I would recommend a second shooter:Read More