Weddings

STEVE AND PETER'S MAYFAIR WEDDING

From St Paul's to Tower Bridge, to Mayfair to Chancery Lane and Soho, this is the story of  two lovely Aussie guys, one same-sex wedding, and more taxi-rides than most people fit into a year! 

I was delighted when Steve and Peter asked me to shoot their London wedding, not just because the locations were so cool, but also because I've known them for over a decade, having worked together in various TV broadcasting and production companies.  So I knew they were great guys, and that we would have a great day out in London. 

Instead of the traditional morning 'bride and groom prep' stuff, the guys preferred instead to meet up, already suited, to grab some informal and romantic shots of them chilling in some of London's most iconic spots, partly so they could send pics to the 'folks back home', both being Australian, and partly because, hey, London is a cool city, right?

Kicking off with a few fun shots around the Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge, with the classic view of St Paul's behind us, we moved on down towards London Bridge.

Soon it was time for the short Uber-ride down to Mayfair, to the public library in South Audley Street.

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Where things got a little held up when Pete's Mum, who was supposed to be giving him away and walking him up the aisle, got held up, ironically by a taxi strike. 

In the end, Steve had to lead Pete up the aisle, though thankfully Pete's Mum and Dad did make it in time for most of the ceremony.

As you can see, it was a small and intimate wedding, and again, Steve and Pete were keen to dispense with formal group shots, opting for just one simple, and touchingly close family gathering on the staircase.

.... and just one quick posed shot outside the library itself.   Many couples who marry at Mayfair Public Library like to get some romantic shots in the park next to it.  But again Pete and Steve wanted to buck convention and do something a little more interesting.  And here was their plan;  while family and friends would decamp to London's trendy Bounce club in Chancery Lane to play table tennis...

... Pete and Steve wanted some more romantic shots around Tower Bridge.

The boys were hoping for a romantic London sunset at Tower Bridge, and as luck would have it, mother nature chose that particular evening to dish up the most incredible glowing red sky as the sun dropped behind The Shard.

One of those rare cases where you don't need to ask the couple to gaze off into the sunset with a look of joy and wonderment on their faces...

With only a few minutes left before we had to jump in a taxi to catch up with the rest of the bridal party at Bounce, the boys granted me a couple of minutes to do a quick cool long exposure shot on Tower Bridge.  I had wanted to capture a passing red London Bus, to make the shot truly iconic, but with time against us, of course, there were no buses to be seen...

We got the shot, though, and then it was back in another taxi, and back to Chancery Lane, to re-join the table tennis fun in EC4.

And then it was back in a taxi yet again for the intimate wedding reception at London's Kettner's restaurant off Old Compton Street in Soho

Though once again, some people were late... :)

KATRINA AND BEN'S WHITEHALL WEDDING

Katrina and Ben chose the wonderful One Whitehall Place as their venue for both the ceremony and the reception of their London Summer Wedding. 

“We’d love you to shoot our wedding video and our photography”

Being both a photographer and videographer, this is always my favourite booking.   Though sadly I can’t clone myself, and of course Ben and Katrina hadn’t expected me to be in two places at once either, meaning I brought in one of my team of videographers to work alongside me.  

One of the specialities of Delirious Films is that we can offer an all-in package.   Working with videographers and photographers across the country, I tailor every wedding to suit each couple, which means sometimes I shoot stills, and sometimes video. 

On this occasion – as I had always wanted to capture the ambience and atmosphere of this beautiful Victorian building with it’s chandeliers and pillars, its history and architecture, I took the helm as photographer and director and hired in my best videographer to shoot the movie.

On arrival, the chaps decamped to the Churchill’s Bar, drinking in not just the g&t’s but also the wonderful atmosphere of a glorious history. 

Churchill was not the only political titan to debate and relax, within the National Liberal Club’s walls: Asquith, Lloyd George and many others shared a glass and a frank exchange of views here.  Churchill’s Bar captures this spirit. It’s a place of tranquility and character: of strong words, softly spoken. Ideal for a drinks reception, for small-scale gatherings or a postprandial chat. In the spirit of this great intellectual heritage, as you can see, the boys were deep into a serious debate.  Probably about the merits of beer over gin. 

Meanwhile Katrina was getting ready in the Ladies’ Room on the top floor, a wonderful, discrete and stylish space that brought out Katrina’s already highly-developed spirit of glamour.

The ceremony took place in the The Reading and Writing Room, a magnificent room that can accommodate 120 people, with its floor to ceiling windows that allow natural daylight to flood the room. The windows provide enviable views of modern day London, looking out across the Thames to the London Eye and the South Bank.

 

As Katrina's mother is Russian, part of the ceremony was  the “Bread and Salt” tradition for  when the groom’s mother greets the bride and groom. In the old days, the groom’s mother presented the couple with “Bread and Salt” at the groom’s family house when the bride moved in to live. Nowadays, as a rule, most couples of course live separately from their parents and after an official marriage ceremony or a wedding, the “Bread and Salt” ritual takes place right in the banquet hall where the wedding celebration takes place.

The bride and groom break off pieces of bread, dip them in salt and feed each other. These actions symbolize that they’ll never be without the necessities of life and they will always take care of each other.

When it came to the formal family portraits, luck was on my side.  The best end of the library had been cleared, prior to dinner, and there was just space enough to fit and light close family members.  With a handy five minutes on my side, I quickly set up a backlight flash to help balance the sunlight, and a studio soft box to give this group shot the Downton Abbey feel.  

Then it was out for a quick couple of portraits and romantic shots for the film on Hungerford Bridge, overlooking the Thames, Big Ben, and the London Eye.

This last shot is one of my favourites, and is actually a still from our film that accompanied the photoshoot.  Feel free to take a look at the film here:  

and do please feel free to leave a comment, if you enjoyed these pictures, thanks for reading. 

Adam

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. 

MEERA AND HUSSEIN'S SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT - OR HOW I ALMOST DIED SHOOTING A PROPOSAL

So let's make one thing clear, this was the most fun I've had on a friday lunchtime ever, ever ever!

So my very good friend Holly Poulter at Join the Revelry dropped me a line.  Was I free to shoot a secret surprise proposal in Hyde Park?  Without hesitation, except to double check my diary, I said yes, and here's where the craziness started. 

City banker Hussein had approached Bernadette at Dream Occasions,  together with Holly, to come up with some ideas and help organise a romantic treasure hunt proposal event across London.  The big thing, he said, was to make it a surprise.  

After an excited brainstorm, and finding out all of Meera's favourite things, it was on to the planning.

On the morning of the proposal, Hussein's brother collected Meera from her Mayfair apartment under the pretence of going to a meeting.  Instead, he gave her the first treasure hunt clue scroll - along with a single rose from Phillippa Craddock flowers, and an Artisan Du Chocolate box.

The next surprise stop was at Meera and Hussein's old apartment in Knightsbridge, just behind Harrods, where Bernadette was waiting with the next clue, and another flower. 

So far, so romantic.  And what could be more fun than being dragged away from your work in the sunshine to be taken on a whirlwind treasure hunt mystery?    

But what, I hear you asking, does this have to do with the photographer having a near-death experience?

Because, chasing them across London like a crazy fool, on a motorbike, camera bag swinging from his side, swerving and battling the insane city traffic of Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch, was our intrepid photographer, shooting the whole event like a paparazzi, with telephoto lens and ninja stealth skilz.   At least my younger friends might put it that way.  "You're too old for this lunacy", is how my wife put it.  But what fun, what thrills, dodging the insane cab and bus drivers of the capital on a glorious Autumn afternoon, to capture the special moments of two young people in love.

Ooops!  Looks like Meera spotted me, right?  By then, of course, we were at location three and it was pretty clear what would happen next.  Hussein's brother drove her on to Hyde Park, with me just a little ahead of them on my bike, and Holly and Bernadette of course, already way ahead of them, waiting with flowers and message cards. 

As Meera got out of the car at the park, in the glorious October sunshine, Hussein was there to greet her with a bouquet of enormous pink roses and hydrangeas - her favourite colour.   They walked towards the fountain in the dramatic Italian Gardens, where Bernadette and Holly had cleared the space from tourists to create a beautiful backdrop for the proposal. 

Hussein got down on one knee and pulled out the ring to ask the all important question.

.... and though by now it must have been clear what we were all up to, still you could see that somehow it still really WAS a wonderful romantic surprise for Meera!

And of course, it needn't be said, but Meera did say Yes!  Congratulations to you both Meera and Hussein, and congratulations on your forthcoming wedding day!