Weddings

Don and Kayan's Vintage London Engagement Shoot

It's not uncommon to come away from a shoot having made friends with a couple, and after Don and Kayan's fantastic London pre-wedding session around Westminster, we found we had quite rapport.  Imagine then my delight when they asked if I would also shoot their engagement at various locations around the city.  

Although this shot of the couple hand in hand beneath the blossoms in Regent's Park is the last shot of the session, it is also one of my favourites, simply because it cries out "Spring! Love! Romance!" and also because, with Kayan's lovely vintage polka-dot dress, it has a classic timeless quality to it.

We started off our shoot in fact in London's Portobello Road in Notting Hill.  Don and Kayan had dressed for the part and threw themselves fully into the Vintage theme.  While Don is the modest, slightly camera-shy kind of guy - and let's face it, most guys are - you can hardly tell from the pictures.  Part of a photographer's job is to put a couple at ease, and a big benefit to shooting an engagement is the chance to get a couple accustomed to being the attention of a day-long shoot.  

Of course a good vintage shoot is nothing without a great vintage dress.  Kayan sourced her wonderful dress and hat from bowlers in York, while the photographer - yes, me that is - happily let Don have a play with my beautiful retro-styled fuji x100s.  More of which, later on. 

Kayan had done a little modelling which is always a treat for a photographer – you can see from the poses she pulls that she has a natural flair in front of the camera.

And although we achieved amazing results in colour, helped by gorgeous weather, and the pretty, multi-coloured Victorian terraces and Villas of Notting Hill and North Kensington, still it was hard to resist adding the odd black and white.  After all, no vintage shoot surely is complete without a little monochrome styling.

The stalls and shops on the Portobello Road are a magnet for tourists and shoppers, so inevitably on a beautiful sunny London spring day, London W11 was pretty hectic, yet we managed to clear enough space for Don and Kayan to get into their shoot, and I think this in part was simply down to us having so much fun, and them relaxing and getting into the pure spirit of fun that an engagement shoot should be. 

Here in this mews off the Portobello Road you can see the fuji x100s at work.  A lot is talked about the tones and colours that different cameras produce, and while you can achieve almost anything in Photoshop, you can see the subtle difference in tones and textures between the two shots.  Above is taken with my Canon 5D mark iii on a 70-200 f2.8 while below is taken on the Fuji using it's fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens.   Of course a telephoto zoom and a medium wide angle lens will produce different results, but what is interesting is not only how great the results are from such a little compact camera camera, but also how - even shooting raw - the pictures have very much their own visual quality and character.

Then it was off to Regent's Park, a location that just gets more beautiful, every time spring comes round. 

because no spring engagement shoot is really complete if you don't grab some blossoms.  This year, spring came late, so those were words I couldn't utter with assurance to some of my couples, but with Don and Kayan we hit gold!  Admittedly some of that is my gold reflector, which I think adds a fabulous look to skin tones, if you are going for something styled, warm and passionate. 

And of course, when in Regent's Park, to not feature the BT Tower would just be plain wrong, right?

I like to offer my couples as much choice as possible.  So when I deliver photos I always make sure there are a variety of edits.  Above was one colour grade that I really like, desaturating the tones of the blossoms, the green, the skin tones.   It has a subtle, slightly faded look that I think is quite classy.  But for full-on picture postcard vibrant romance, it is hard to resist the full glorious colours that a London spring has to offer. 

And sowe come to the last shot of the series which, ironically was one of the first of the shoot.  It is almost everyone’s favourite shot and I think I know why.  Somehow everything came together to perfectly reference Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Audrey Hepburn, and Paris and London in the 1950s.   Somehow we effortlessly nailed Vintage!  How did we do that?   Partly because despite the relentless modernisation and development of London, the chains and oyster bars and luxury apartments, Portobello Road has been able to hold onto the charm, the architecture, and the character that made it such an iconic location in the first place.  Somehow Notting Hill is still Absolute Beginners, it’s still The Lovers, it still has the charm of say Montmartre or Lisbon Old Town.   Somehow it is still picture-postcard London without being cliché. 

Thanks also go to Don and Kayan whose enthusiasm and sense of style mirrored this classic, timeless innocence.  They say the camera never lies, and these two were charm, style and good grace personified.   They were Grace Kelly and  Cary Grant, George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn.  All I had to do was point and click.