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CHARLOTTE AND SHAUN'S FUN,  ROMANTIC GREENWICH WEDDING

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CHARLOTTE AND SHAUN'S FUN, ROMANTIC GREENWICH WEDDING

Now Charlotte is the kind of girl who you might describe as a bit of a Diva.  Though only, I hasten to add in a good way!  We first met on her engagement shoot and hit it off from the first.  I had just shot a marryoke for a lovely couple which Charlotte thought was fabulous - Charlotte being an absolute Karaoke Queen - and so it was we got chatting ten to the dozen, forgot that was what we had initially got nattering about and I didn't really give that fact a second thought until the day of the wedding.  Which was when things got a little unpredictable.  Again, in a GOOD way.  Read on to find out how one young couple's wedding was full of enough surprises to make even a seasoned wedding photographer stay past the cut-off time! 

First up, a little slice of Greenwich history.  Many of you will know Greenwich and will have walked past St Alfege's church, no doubt on your way to get pie and mash rather than to say you prayers, but I'll try not to judge.    An amazing choice of church for a wedding, St Alfege is full of history and character, having  stood witness to Viking pillagers, the baptism of Henry VII and the German bombs during the Blitz that destroyed half its roof.  Its current grade 1 listed building status is thanks to the impeccable design of Nicholas Hawksmoor, but there has been a church on this site since The Archbishop of Canterbury's martyrdom in 1012, over a thousand years ago.    And no, I don't remember it well, whoever said that at the back of the classroom. 

Today, just round the corner from this historic church, stands a place of even greater history... the salon that would do Charlotte's hair on the day of her wedding. 

Now I've told you a little already about Charlotte, adorable, star-of-the-show Charlotte.  Shall we first meet Shaun, the groom.  No? Can't see him?  Ah well, Shaun is the kind of guy, who.... let's just say he's modest.  And time, geography and budget were against us having a second shooter. So as he was getting ready over in Canary Wharf whipping on his tie so quickly we might have blinked and not shot it, you'll have to enjoy instead Charlotte's prep for a little while before you get a glimpse of Shaun.  In his place, a shot of the Greenwich Clipper, the awesome hairdressers where Charlotte got herself pampered and prepped the morning of her big day. 

Below, inside the clipper, to Charlotte's left,  Mother of the Bride  Beverley tries not to look too nervous as her little girl gets ready for the big day.   To her right, in the background, the two guys are, I think, debating the complexities of existential philosophy in a post-modern era of Foucaultian uncertainties.  But it might have been shampoo, I forget.

Though on reflection - see what I did there - Charlotte herself doesn't appear to be too troubled by nerves.

The young man joining the proceedings, by the way, is brother Alex.  You're going to get a little surprise from this young guy later.  Just thought I'd prepare you. 

Again, Charlotte was reflecting on the big day ahead... oh you know, I'm sorry.  There are a couple more mirror shots later in this series, I'll try and leave the Dad jokes in my camera bag from now on, okay?

Having finished up at the Clipper, we walked round to Devonport House next to the Naval College, where yet more history was being made.  Yes, the most gorgeous women ever to have worn purple on maritime soil had assembled to put on their bridesmaid dresses and makeup

bites hand to stop himself making any more reflection jokes...

While along the corridor, Charlotte and Beverley were applying the finishing touches  .

I had thought the shot below was such a smart idea, it not occurring to me in the morning's rush that, like.. duh, brides don't wear hats!   In fact, of course, the Jacques Vert was for Mum, with Charlotte's dress being Galina Signature.

Insert reflection joke here....?   No, I'm not gonna do it.  You know who the dress is by, you know where the hair was done, you know how gorgeous Charlotte looks in the soft light from the windows looking out onto the garden, it's time for the Rolls Royce, isnt it...

A classic Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, and look how proud and doting Dad is as he holds the door open for his beautiful little girl.   Oh God, I'm getting mawkish, I'm getting a tear in my eye, time to zip off and meet Shaun.  We've waited long enough now...

Here he is!!  Looking a bit apprehensive.  Or is that just expectant? He's a pretty cool customer is young Shaun, so you wouldn't expect him to be too nervous really. 

Even with this gorgeous, lily-clutching lady walking down the aisle in white. 

And before you say it, no Shaun and Charlotte are not in a family of giants;  petite this lovely lady vicar may be but she is large in personality, generosity and charm.

I love how black and white can enhance areas of light and shadow, creating contrasty tones and artistic textures.  I call this shot "view of the stalker'.

And here the stalker gets a bit of tasteful foreground blur for the blessing. 

While here below, we say a big thank you to the god of wide angle lenses for helping with the most awkward angle ever invented for the signing of the register.

Huge white lilies for a bouquet, and smiles that could light up the darkest of churches. 

Oh, and did we mention Rolls Royce Silver Cloud?

Is any London wedding complete without a classic red Routemaster bus?  Such a lovely, thoughtful thing to do, to put on a routemaster for the guests.

And macaroons.  There were macaroons for everyone.  One of Charlotte's favourite things.  Along with Karaoke, purple and polkadots.  Much more about which, later.   

We arrived at Charlton House and, oh.  Look at that sky.  This is meant to be a summer wedding.  What's going on? 

Perhaps if we do the ancient weather ritual of "pretend you're Kate Winslett in Titanic" maybe the clouds will break and the sun will show.

Hmm... no, still looking overcast and gothic.  Let's just silently pray and do some more portrait stuff...

Snogging!  That'll do it.  That'll bring the sun out! We'll do some kissing shots with the Roller - guaranteed to push the clouds away.

Now, can we try and take the group portraits seriously.  Please?  Can we?

No?  Okay, let's have a bit of a laugh and maybe flash some ankle.  Did I mention purple?  Charlotte's favourite colour.  Purple. How you were going to see a lot more of it? 

Built in 1607, Charlton House is a wonderful example of Jacobean architecture, with a wonderful library gallery upstairs and plenty of walnut wood-pannelling downstairs.

Oh oh, the stalker's still prowling around up there with the books, raise a glass and let the poor lonely camera dude  come down and join us.

Notice the purple and polka dots?  I did tell you.

And so the speeches began and I decided to make use of the purple fairy lights to create what we call bokeh, lovely blurred circles of light that can add a cinematic texture to pictures.

And then the tears started coming, as they do sometimes in speeches.  

Oh how they cried....

....and cried...

... and smiled...

... and laughed....

...and, yes, cried some more.

When it came time to toss the bouquet, that marvellous tradition where the catcher will be the next to get married, tradition was once more respected when the catcher - lying prone here on the ground - was... a boy!

Oh, clouding over.  Shall we do some more kissing see if we can get the sun back out?

I took Charlotte and Shaun for a walk in the Peace Gardens for their informal portrait session.  A serene and tranquil environment of simple and subtle colours and textures, the garden was opened in 2006 to mark Amnesty's Stop Violence Against Women campaign, and is the perfect oasis for a newlywed couple to stop, take a breather and collect themselves.

And then it was back to the reception for  cake, baked by Shaun's sister Hanna and then the fun and games began...

...and surprises.  Most couples opt for a simple slow waltz for their first dance.  Something low-key and sedate.  Not these two.  Without a word of warning to anyone, including me, they launched into an extended, choreographed routine that started with The Contours' Do You Love Me  and The Human League's Don't You Want Me Baby

....through to Disney's Sleeping Beauty  Once Upon A Dream and The Pokémon Theme tune..

...to Breaking Free from, yes, from  High School Musical and The Magnetic Fields'Nothing Matters When We're Dancing. 

Oh and Coolio's I'll See You When.  

The next surprise was when Charlotte stepped up to the microphone to kick off the Karaoke.  Now, I had some idea that Karaoke was happening, but what I hadn’t reckoned with was the sheer glorious power and talent in the voice of the Diva with the mostest.

As Charlotte delivered her incredible, note-perfect version of the classic love song I will Always Love you, she truly out-Whitneyed Whitney Houston

Followed by Shaun's brothers' version of He Ain't Heavy.  By which time there wasn't a dry eye in the house. 

As if this wasn't surprise enough, Charlotte's brother Alex gave an impromptu ballet performance.

I am tempted to say that Alex swooped through the air like a gazelle,  reminding me of the classic description of Fred Astaire “cutting an elegant swathe across the room like an exquisite paperknife”.  But that would be pretentious of me, so I won't. 

Enough to say that it was amazing to watch this talented young man, now a star lawyer in the making, flying through the air. 

As the evening party continued, this young lady's face, I think said it all. 

And there was just time for us to grab one last romantic shot, I think my favourite of this wonderful, loving, hilarious, generous special day.   Congratulations Charlotte and Shaun and all my sincerest wishes for your wonderful new life together!

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LEE AND CHARLEY'S AMAZING MOVIE-THEMED COSPLAY WEDDING, HOCKLEY

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LEE AND CHARLEY'S AMAZING MOVIE-THEMED COSPLAY WEDDING, HOCKLEY

Or how I survived flu, helicopters, a disgruntled Batman, English rain and the Predator to shoot one of the most epic weddings of 2016.

"There's going to be movie character special guests, and we've hired a marquee,  the wedding will take place under a draped parachute, and we're both flying in in helicopters." 

Well - to say I was excited about this wedding is an understatement to say the least.   When a costume and set designer marries a helicopter pilot, you know you're in for one amazing day.   Sure, we had rain and mud, and sure there was the occasional hitch, what with this incredible duo having created and organised the whole thing themselves.  But Charley and Lee pulled it off, running the whole thing in a marquee and field in Hockley in Essex, and they did it with incredible spirit and style.  Read on to see just what a crazy adventure the day was.

The day started with a couple of fairy bridesmaids, doing their hair, as fairy bridesmaids do.

Despite Charley's house being only a literal stone's throw from Southend Airport in Essex, her bridesmaid's Atlanta and Mimi had no idea of the aerial surprise awaiting them. 

As a costume designer and art director, Charley;s yard was littered with the beginnings and endings of semi-human projects.  But I, her supposedly clued-up photographer, still didn't really have a handle on the proceedings that were to take place. 

For Charley, prep was not something she really wanted shot, but was very keen for us to capture the moment when her Dad saw her in her amazing Gainsborough dress and purple hair.  Comprising a design of ruched pink with silver bows, and designed by Ian Stuart, Charley's fabulous dress was a real crowdstopper

And so, in blustering wind and rain, we made our way to the secret location, where the first surprise awaited Dad and the bridesmaids

October may not bring the best weather for helicopters, but this Autumn Wedding had been a year in the planning and our intrepid couple were not about to let a little thing like rain stop  play.

I just love the look on Mimi's face here!  I'm pretty sure we all pull that face when we're in for an unexpected helicopter ride.  In her hand you can see she's holding a go pro.  As there wasn't room for me in the helicopter, with Dad getting the ultimate treat of riding shotgun next to the pilot, I loaned Mimi my Go pro and Atlanta my little Fuji x100T.

Dad's looking pretty thrilled too, right?  If a little apprehensive. 

And if you have never felt the rush of taking off in a helicopter, take if from me, the next best thing is the rush of being right underneath it as the rotor blades chop the air and send wild gusts of wind barrelling over you. 

So glad I had spare cameras to lend the girls so that we could still get footage for both the album and the film we were also shooting.  We'll all have to imagine for now the thrill of flying over Southend Pier, but watch this space and the film should be posted up in a few weeks' time.

Meanwhile, my crew and I were rushing across essex to try and beat the helicopters, knowing they wouldn't be up in the air all that long.  Sometimes being a wedding photographer is like being a paparazzi, all car chases and last-minute, snatched shots.   When we arrived at the venue, the surprise guest movie characters had also just got there. 

War Machine - from the Hollywood movie Iron man - looking suitably unimpressed by the English Weather.  You can almost imagine him thinking "It's not like this in Los Angeles".  Nonetheless, despite the rain, it was a warm day, which gave rise to the best quote of the day, when I was setting up the styled portraits and asked "Where's War Machine?" only to get the answer; "He's feeling a bit hot and tired so he's gone for a lie-down".   Not what you expect from War Machine now is it? Lol.

Safely landed, with classic chivalry, Charley's debonair helicopter pilot helps her down.

and the girls, wings adjusted now they are on dry land, get our glamourous bride ready for her walk to the aisle across the fields. 

And how beautiful does Charley look as her Dad walks her down the aisle, beneath a canopy of real parachute silk.

To be married by Gandalf, no less.   Well this was a fantasy movie-themed wedding, so honestly, who else?

Led by Gandalf, Charley and Lee made their way across the mud to the marquee to sign the register...

While Pyramid Head from Silent Hill and Indiana Jones, ominously, quietly watch over proceedings.  What could possibly go wrong?  Gulp. 

Then it was back to the parachute awning for the final vows.

To rapturous applause and smiles all round.  Which is what weddings should be about.

.... unless you're Batman.  Batman didn't look too happy.  Predator looked happy enough, but Batman looks like he's been waiting too long for his glass of Prosecco. 

Happily, Catwoman seemed to be having a pretty Grrrr....eat day!

and fresh from his recuperative lie-down, War Machine came to join the  proceedings.  I mean, you can't have family group photos without War Machine, right?

So our 'Everybody' group shot included those extra special surprise guests.

One of the big challenges to this wedding, was trying to combine the movie and fantasy style elements with the more traditional.  As you can see below, and with some other staged photos, I have deliberately gone for a very stylised look, desaturated and high contrast, to capture a bit of  the Marvel Comic poster look. 

And then, boom, a dramatic turnaround in style, with warm flattering colours, and soft high-exposure skin tones for the straightforward group shots.

It helped a little that the sun came out, though of course, as you'll know, we photographers become like vampires in the bright midday sun and tend to run for cover to get that lovely glowing skin tone in our group portraits. 

Loving all the purple.  You can see how Charley being such a talented art director paid off on the day.

And then things got a little strange, with Predator deciding to strangle the groom.  Lucky we had our very own rock and roll bride to come to the rescue.

For a moment it looked like he was going to chicken out and run away, stealing the helicopter

But we still needed it for some nice couple shots, so Kick-ass bride Charley saw him off.

and once more, the contrast from the day came through, from this lovely, romantic sunny walk from the helicopter... to a Comic Con, Marvel portrait set up with Charley and Lee's special guests.

Here's a still frame from the film which we were shooting at the same time - my videographer very kindly displaying my bald patch to the world, and also how I skimp on assistants and press-gang groomsmen into holding flash guns for me

Having been together four years, Charley and Lee clearly are relaxed together and were on totally the same page when it came to their photographs, easily posing with their Comic Con pals Batman, Catwoman and War Machine.  Me, I still can't decide whether I prefer the colour or the black and white.  What do you think?

And then it was onto the reception, watched over by a host of characters, not least, Charley's fantastic Alien.

and Spiderman...

and Star Wars Storm Troopers...

 ... and the Terminator and....

....and...and... oh my God!!  Is that Arnie Schwartzenegger?!   No, okay, it isn't, but a hell of a good replica Terminator, no?

And then, just as the meal was getting underway, and it looked like we could all take a little breather, along comes that rare miracle of nature, a DOUBLE RAINBOW!

Well if you care even a jot about the pictures you take, then you can't possibly let that go.  So even though I was dying on my feet from flu and in need of a rest and some paracetamol and wedding barbecue food, I grabbed my awesome couple, who were totally game, and we made it outside in the light returning rain, to get this shot.  It may be an imperfect shot, but that isnt the point is it.  A lot of photographers would have passed on this moment in order to grab a bite and take a well-earned rest.  But some of us, the hardcore ones, we go the extra mile.  And I'm so so glad we did. 

Post wedding breakfast and onto the speeches.  And pretty soon there was that classic moment when the father of the bride delivers his speech, and the bride reaches for the nearest handy machine pistol and puts it to her head... because we all keep a few guns on the table at a wedding, right?   

What I loved so much about this wedding was that it was totally bonkers and yet at the same time, was completely organised and made total sense.... also, thankful the guns were not loaded...

and to top it all, it was someone's birthday!  

For most couples, when it comes to cutting the cake, they reach for the lovely silver cake knife left out for them. 

Occasionally, some couples it seems, prefer something a little less delicate.  Like - oh I dunno - like say a HUGE TERMINATOR-STYLE MACHINE GUN!?!

... or a Star Wars Light Sabre perhaps?  Hard to know which would work best, given you have an Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars cake and a Jaws movie cake...

At weddings of course, a lot of people bring their kids, and Alien was no exception.  He managed to mingle quite well really, making a whole bunch of new friends without, for once killing anyone.

And so to the first dance, and, naturally, it was out with the light sabres, like you do. 

Although it didn't take long for love and romance to win the day over battling it out to save the Universe

As the party progressed, Superman kept a watchful eye over the guests...

Though it didn't stop one lady from stealing the limelight as she danced with an inflatable stormtrooper.... like you do....

But with all the craziness, and all the hard work, and all the amazing art direction, still the abiding memory for everyone from Lee and Charley's wedding will be the simple, warm feeling of togetherness, the abundance of love, and most of all, the sheer romanticism of the day. 

Congratulations Lee and Charley and wishing you both a fantastic (literally) future together x

PS, if that has left you hungry to see more, here's the film we shot that day too - complete with bridesmaid go pro footage, some awesome first dance music and, in case we hadnt mentioned it too much before, some Helicopter action!

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STEVE AND PETER'S MAYFAIR WEDDING

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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.

mayfair wedding same sex marriage london photography 1

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... :)

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ROSIE AND JEROME'S ISLINGTON WEDDING

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ROSIE AND JEROME'S ISLINGTON WEDDING

A short tale of a French family, an English family, a couple with a new baby on a short hop over from Malaysia, some of the wackiest group shots I've ever taken...  and a wedding cake made entirely from cheese!

 

 

When Jez and Rosie first asked me to shoot their wedding, I was thrilled not only because they were the lovelies, funniest, most laid-back young couple, but also because it was a chance to shoot at the Zetter Hotel, at Islington Town Hall, AND at the fun and funky Artisan of Clerkenwell

 

The boys got the day off to a great start with that classic combo;  champagne and hankie-folding.  

 

Zetter's is a fantastic boutique hotel in the heart of trendy Clerkenwell.  Having taken a few healthy drafts of bubbly, the boys were more than happy to gad about the corridors to make the most of such an unusual and eclectic location.

 

Rosie, meanwhile, was busy getting ready at the Holiday Inn, having opted for space and comfort over funky furniture.  After all, she had the baby, and the rest of the family to think about. 

 

... including a certain young lady who would later on be quite the spirit of the party, but for now, was a little less than enthusiastic about having her hair done !

 

There's something so moving about a father giving away his daughter, the pride in his eyes, his joy at her happiness, and at the same time, the sweet sadness of letting go of the most precious person to you.

From those heart-stopping last few moments of anticipation....

...to that perfect moment of recognition and love, where you know you committed to the right person!

Islington Town Hall has one of the finest marble staircases of any London town hall, offset as it is by the wonderful green panelling. 

And what really makes a London wedding, is a classic London Routemaster Bus

With just a little bit of retro fun

And then it came to the group shots, and a whole different kind of unexpected fun started to happen.  After mucking around on the bus - a big kid's thrill for everyone - not least the photographer who got the chance to break some of the H&S rules -  we were left with limited time, in a courtyard that wasn't all that interesting or well lit.  Then I had an idea and had a chat with the Maitre D at Zetter's and was pleasantly surprised to discover they were more than happy  about letting us use their lovely Georgian town house to shoot group portraits.  Provided we were quick.  With a lightning five minute lighting set up, which took me back to some of my most dramatic commercial shoots, I was left with a whole new task.  Shoot the group shots quick AND can we do something different, something less boring, something a bit wacky and off the wall?   Well asking a photographer these things is like candy to a baby... You want wacky, you got it!

The less formal side of formals.  Heheh.  Okay, great.  Now give me Charlie's Angels...

Excellent, excellent, now can we have a family punch-up?  Can you all try and murder each other?

Not often you get the chance to say that at a Wedding, right?  But it resulted in one of my favourite ever group shots, and, one of Jez and Rosie's favourite shots from the day too!

Then it was into The Artisan for the reception, where certain small people were starting to look a little tired.

While other small people were full of beans!

I'll admit, this was my first ever time witnessing the best man's speech as powerpoint demonstration.  But as it was part of an interactive quiz involving everyone there, and testing their knowledge on some of their funnier memories of Jez and Rosie, it was far different from any powerpoint demo I'd ever seen before. 

Jerome is half-French, which goes a long way to explaining his love of cheese, a love that somehow found it's way into the couple's layer cake.  Yes, you read that right.  A wedding cake made entirely of French cheeses!

 

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

x

Adam

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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

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Don and Kayan's Glamourous Westminster Pre-Wedding Shoot

Most brides wouldn't dream of letting their groom see them in their wedding dress before the big day, but in Asia, pre-wedding photography is hugely popular. 

Pre-wedding shoots see brides and grooms pose together in their wedding finery before walking down the aisle, to get perfect pictures, tailored to the couple's exact taste, which there may not be time for on the wedding day itself. 

Now couples in search of something extra special for their shoot are flocking to the UK to pose alongside famous landmarks or in renowned luxury hotels such as The Ritz.

Don and Kayan, like many Chinese couples, have fond memories of working and studying here in London, and while their call came last minute, and while time was short, we had some fun whizzing around a few favourite places, including a romantic and dramatic start in Green Park, and a quirky long-exposure shoot at Paddington Station.   Along the way, we took in the ubiquitous and inevitable red phone booth, black taxi and, of course Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Big Ben and Westminster Bridge.

 

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CATRIONA & TOBY'S KENT ENGAGEMENT SCOTNEY CASTLE

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CATRIONA & TOBY'S KENT ENGAGEMENT SCOTNEY CASTLE

Or... How You Should Never Say Never Work with Children and Animals.

It's been quite a year for National Trust engagement shoots, which for me, being a Londoner, is quite a treat to get out and about in the countryside.  Catriona and Toby are both avid walkers and even more avid dog-lovers, and this was my first shoot incorporating dogs AND romance.  Despite the "never work with children and animals" maxim, I thought, what fun, what could possibly go wrong.  Of course things might have gone wrong, but in fact on the day, their two spaniels were so lovely and well-behaved I only wish I'd tried some more experimental shots.  As it is, a sweet afternoon of walking and relaxing was had by all at Scotney Castle. 

As a bit of a warm up - although to be honest an engagement shoot is in itself a warm-up - Mum took the dogs for a little walk while I took Catriona and Toby down to the Folly to get used to the camera.  Not everyone likes to indulge in endless selfies and not everyone is comfortable with the idea of a photographer.  But they know they'll need to be when their wedding day comes.  So of course an engagement shoot is a great way to not only get to know each other and what works best, but also to learn to relax a bit in front of the lens. 

And so, enter the pups, and what a cute pair they were.

I know spaniels are pretty easy going, but these two, they were just so cute and laid back.

Despite the glorious sunshine that marked the start of this lovely Kentish autumn day, by the time we had actually arrived at Scotney Castle, the clouds were massing overhead.  Sometimes when this happens, it's hard to resist going a little gothic.

The house which was built to replace the Old Castle in the first half of the 19th Century is known as Scotney New Castle, and is a wonderful example of Tudor Revivalist style.  So not really gothic at all, except perhaps when the dark lowering clouds mass overhead and the photographer's imagination runs a little too far away with itself...

For those wondering if the poor dogs had been left to go feral, I probably should add here the best piece of advice I can offer anyone considering an engagement shoot with their dogs;  bring a friend or a family member along who is happy to take the dogs for a break so the two of you can also relax and pose a little for the camera.  Taking advantage of a small break, we took a quick tour of the gardens. 

We were treated to the most amazing array of autumn colours.  The gardens at Scotney Castle were designed by Capability Brown with rhododendron and azalea competing with Wisteria and old English rose.   Autumn is beautiful, but Spring is an absolute symphony of colour.

We retrieved the little retrievers and took them for a last photo tour of the gardens.  

With the sun determined not to come back out again, and with the gates soon to close on the castle, we took a last tour of the old castle, which dates back to the fourteenth century.  And to lift things a little, I brought out some handy lights, at first as a portrait key light to lift Cat and Toby out of the November gloom.

And then more dramatically - and this is one of my favourite cheats with using a flashgun with radio trigger - I created some fake sunlight behind them.  While in reality we were halfway to darkness, see how the remote flashgun light highlights them and wraps round them, as if it were the dying rays of the sun through the bushes behind and picks out the golden autumn colours in the leaves.  Much prettier than a flat near-dark grey early evening. 

Because every lover's kiss deserves a bit of sun-dappled romance, even if it is courtesy of the hard-working photographer.  Thanks for a great day Toby and Cat, looking forward to the big day next year!

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GREG & TINA'S HAMPSHIRE WEDDING

Now here was an unusual situation.  I couldn't sleep and got out of bed,  early one Saturday morning, when, at six in the morning, my Facebook  pinged an urgent message from my good friend, fellow photographer Lisa Gigante-Field.  She was horribly sick and could I help her cover Greg and Tina's wedding?  No photographer ever wants to call sick on a wedding.  We'll turn up half dead, half-severed limbs dangling, on crutches, you name it.  The show, after all, must go on.  And we have committed.  So I knew she must be tremendously ill.  Sure, I can help, where is it?  Portsmouth, she replied.  A two hour drive.  No problem!  

But Lisa hesitated.  Could she really let the couple down?  It's a strange thing, but wedding photography is like no other business.  You so badly feel you owe the couple, you are so involved in their day, in their happiness, and in capturing that as you promised.  So Lisa hesitated.  She would try and shoot the wedding.  But just in case, could I hold out in case she pooped out?  Sure thing.  That's what we do, photographers.  We help each other out.  

Bravely Lisa tried to make it to the venue, but to no avail.  The virus had her in its grip.  And now it was too late for me to get there for the ceremony.  Another good pro photographer friend, close to hand, Anthony Burdett-Clark stepped in to cover the ceremony, but couldn't stay any longer.  And so it was I jumped in the car, to cover the rest of the day, foot down, whizzing my way down the M3 to Portsmouth.

That's right, let's raise a glass to the brave photographers... erm.. no that's not right.  Let's raise a glass to the wonderful Greg and Tina who were the sweetest of couples, with the loveliest of close friends and family around them to celebrate.

The wedding ceremony and reception took place at the lovely Meon Valley Country Club.  Mother nature had been kind and offered up a beautiful sunny day.

And though only a few photos are posted here, I delivered something like 500 images from the day's celebrations!  Well Lisa - and I - were very keen to show that no couple should miss out because their original photographer was struck down so ill.  And who wouldn't have wanted to keep snapping with such a fun-loving, lovely family?!

But if we were lucky with the sunshine, we were also lucky with the sunset.  And I was luckier still when Greg and Tina were happy to take a little walk with me and my studio soft box to grab a couple of romantic dusk couple portraits. 

And then it was back to the golf club house for the party.  And boy, what a swell party it was!

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

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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!

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Group shots - what to do, and how to have fun with them

The formal group shots.  Something every wedding photography moans about.   You have to organise all these people intent on having fun somewhere else, determined to chat, to get drunk, to socialise, to congratulate, to cop a crafty snog, or nip off for a sneaky smoke.  Goddamnit, these people are here to be photographed, not to have fun, right?  

Wrong. 

They're here to have fun.    People want to look their best and act their best, and of course they've come to wish the bride and groom a lifetime of fulfilled dreams, love and happiness.  But they've also come to have a laugh, to meet old friends and new, to let their hair down and enjoy themselves.  And part of a photographer's job should be not just to not get in the way of that fun, but to add to it. 

While some weddings can be chaotic when it comes to formal group portraits, it is crucial to have an idea of what you want, so that time isn't wasted herding your friends and family with a megaphone.  (In the wedding below, the best man actually used one!)

Every wedding is different and should be as you want it.  My only recommendation would be to try to keep things to a sensible limit.  We photographers want to document a day of love and fun and we want you to have fun, rather than be worrying about the 53rd set of formal shots of your third aunt twice removed.  

With this in mind, as a help to all couples, I have put together a simple template of which groups are good to include, though, as I say, the choice is always yours. 

Bride and Groom and Brides parents

Bride and Groom and Grooms parents

Bride and Groom and both sets of parents

Bride and Groom and Bridesmaids

Bride and Groom and Bestman/ushers/suits

Bride and Groom Bridesmaids, Bestman/ushers/suits

Large group shot

Bride and Groom and any special family members.

and remember - have fun!

 

Which isn't to say formal group shots should all be wacky, ad-hoc, crazy affairs.  More often than not, the ceremony and the gathering call for refinement, formal composition and a respectful portrait of family and friends. 

 

But this shot, lit and composed and shot at the wonderful One Whitehall Place in London's Westminster embankment is a great example of the opportunity a group formal portrait offers a photographer to get creative.  When nervous planners are urging you to "just pop out in the park" or grab a few shots on the stairwell, it is often too tempting to take the quick and easy option, rather than to see that something more challenging will result in something more rewarding.  Here I lit with two small flashes behind and a studio portrait soft box in front and arranged the family in the Gladstone library to create a Downton Abbey look, perfectly in keeping with the assured and sophisticated mood of the day. 

Which isn't to say the grand, sweeping staircase of One Whitehall Place shouldn't also get a look-in when it came to the group shot.  In fact it was ideal for placing all of the guests in a sumptuous surrounding.

And there are other times when circumstances force you to have a bit of fun and jazz things up.  We all pray the day will be wonderful and sunny, but as Brits, we are also philosophical to know that those rain clouds are never far away.  So it was with Heather and Sam's Dartmouth wedding. It rained ALL DAY LONG!  And it is then, at a beach-party wedding, when a photographer, has no real alternative to shooting outdoors, that the last thing anyone needs is a stiff pose and a long face. 

Although, I have to confess, the most fun I've had to date, was shooting the group shots at London's Zetter's Town House in Clerkenwell, at the reception held for Jerome and Rosie after their Islington Town Hall Wedding.  Having arrived breathless with excitement on a classic route master bus, and eager to party on at The Artisan Clerkenwell, Jez and Rosie were more than happy nonetheless to give a little time and creativity to their group shots.  The only challenge being that the outside of The Artisan is really just a courtyard.  As Jez had stayed the night before in Zetter's, they kindly let us shoot in their townhouse club, with the proviso that we were quick.  For a Saturday night, the townhouse was blissfully quiet, and so we snuck in, at first with the idea of merely shooting some classic, stylish and contemporary group shots.  

And then this happened.

Jez and Rosie, and their family were immediately game for some fun.  They're a fun and funky bunch and responded to every whacky idea with an eager grin.  "No, we don't want stuffy posed pictures, do whatever you want", they said. "Dangerous words", I said.  "Bring it on", they replied. "Do Charlie's Angels", I said.  And this is what I got.   

"Now all have a terrible family fist fight, really try and kill each other", I urged, as, so naturally you do at a wedding.  And this is what I got. 

This image makes me smile every time I see it, front lit with a studio soft box, a little kicker backlight from a flash on the floor, and light coming in from the window, but most importantly, a wonderful, fun-loving family, all game for a laugh.  

Of course, not every formal group shot can or should be like this.  But sometimes, you wish maybe just a few more were. 

So that is probably the long and the short of it - keep it simple, keep it intimate, keep it fun. Try not to squint (we do try and shoot in shade, and if there isn't any then we battle with the sun behind you)

and please, not too many this big:

 

and smile, don't forget to smile x

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