Victoria and Toby’s wedding was a stunning affair – set in one of the most beautiful backdrops that I have yet had the pleasure of photographing.
I hadn’t even been aware of Coverwood Lakes‘ existence prior to Victoria and Toby approaching me to capture their big day.
I’m sure that many of you reading this are probably just as likely to not be familiar with it either?
Basically, it’s private farm based in Peaslake, and it boasts a couple of beautiful lakes within it’s grounds.
The main lake, ironically is the smaller of the two, is surrounded by an amazing collection of trees and stunning gardens which frame it’s boundaries beautifully.
It also boasts a fabulous covered stone walkway, which provides another rich visual focal point within the grounds – this instantly struck me upon my initial visit as an amazing element that would provide some striking portraits.
The owners of the venue obviously realised that the location of the lake and the amazing surrounds would provide a perfect backdrop for a wedding/event reception, and so rather cleverly invested in their own stylish marquee which they erect when required to provide the facilities to house a party without compromising or detracting from the surrounds.
I was extremely impressed, and it was a delight to have had the opportunity to capture Victoria and Toby’s wedding there.
We were fortunate on the day with the weather – as to be fair that is the only potential concern of such a venue. Whilst it did rain at certain points in the earlier part of the day, luckily it held firm in the latter stages of the afternoon and through into the evening so that one and all could truly enjoy the venue to it’s full capacity.
You can view a video slideshow of Victoria and Toby’s wedding here below, I’m sure you’ll agree with my comments, and I hope that it might help further expose this hidden gem for many other couples to enjoy
Wedding albums just like cameras have evolved vastly from the old days.
The digital age heralded the end of film, and that change has not only revolutionised the wedding photogtapher’s job, but also the images that are now captured and the way that they are then used afterwards.
The Traditional Wedding Album
Originally the photographer’s responsibility was to capture formal portraits of the bride and groom after their wedding ceremony, as well as the important family and bridal party group shots.
After that, they would have then headed back to the lab to develop the prints, put together a traditional matted album for their clients (you know the ones with tracing paper divides!), and would then return to the wedding reception that same evening to hand it over to the newlyweds.
They would also of course try and sell additional prints to the rest of the congregation in a bid to increase their earnings.
Oh how things have changed… Weddings are now captured from the bride getting ready in the morning all the way up to the first dance, if not beyond!
Today’s Contemporary Wedding Albums
The old fashioned ‘formal’ only style of shooting has been surpassed, with wedding photographers now having to provide a wide array of skills such as photojournalism (natural documentation), fashion photography (lifestyle images), and commercial photography (details of the dress/shoes/flowers) on top of the original portraiture.
Such evolution in the approach of the photography means that weddings are now ‘documented’ as a visual story, rather than just a handful of formally posed portraits.
Naturally, as the end product has changed (ie the photos; their style and their quantity) the role of the wedding album has had to move with the times as well.
Today’s albums now boast more pages, and are far less formal, and come in all different shapes, sizes and finishes.
Their strongest point, is that their layouts are far more flexible and that they use their images to literally illustrate the day as a visual story – hence why the modern album is often dubbed ‘the storybook’.
The choices are literally endless, and seem to grow by the day… there’s always some new product or style being released by the album suppliers. Whilst this can be a nightmare for the photographer having to re-invest in new samples each time new products launch, it’s good news for the brides and grooms out there as they literally have so many different products to choose from that they are bound to find one that fits to their tastes and requirements.
The only one thing that I do question, is that with albums constantly changing and evolving, it almost becomes like fashion. Whilst this super cool looking album product might be looking mighty swanky now in 2014, will it be just as cool in twenty years time? I suspect not!
To be fair I guess you could argue that will be the case for most if not all albums, that everything does date in some shape or form over long periods of time. Although if you adopted the old adage of keeping your album simple, clean, elegant in design and features your album will definitely have a better chance of not dating unlike specific materials and effects which will.
The Future of the Wedding Album?
So what does the future hold long term for albums? Who knows… Whilst digital photography is now widespread, and technologies always further evolving in how we can display our media, we are no longer just tied to the form of print.
Could print die out, will it be fully replaced by some fancy new media beyond screens and projections?
Whilst that may well be possible in the far future, I still think that just like today, the age of the internet has proven that whilst we can read/view media on devices at our finger tips whenever we wish, quite often people still prefer to read/view things via a hard copy.
Originally the boom of the internet initially heralded a potential death warrant to newspapers and magazines, they all feared for their longetivity in the print format, and were predicting that ‘online’ media would replace printed articles/publications.
They were wrong, what they had underestimated was how people engaged with that media and that they enjoyed the physical experience of holding, touching and feeling that item whilst they consumed the content. This is something that is not the same when you’re reading from an electronical device.
I hope that remains the same for photography in the long term, not just for albums, but for all forms of it’s print – that is it’s heritage and I hope that never changes.
Steph and Jack’s wedding at Woldingham Golf Club was a particular booking that I had been quite excited about taking on; a very photogenic couple and a lovely new venue to explore!
Further add to that the groom to arrive in style in a red Ferrari, and a rather cool weathered groundsman’s lock-up in their Church’s graveyard… I was always going to be relishing this wedding from a creative point of view.
Woldingham Golf Club Wedding
Bride & groom portraits on the grand staircase at Woldingham Golf Club
Woldingham had been another local venue that had eluded me until this particular wedding, and again it was one that I was keen to photograph at.
I’d been there once before in an ‘off-duty’ capacity as a guest in the past, so had seen first hand the lovely natural landscape that it boasted, as well as the grand external stair case to the clubhouse.
I have to admit that the staircase had grabbed my attention immediately, it was big, grand and I knew straight away that it would offer a dynamic backdrop for some striking bride and groom portraits.
I’m sure the staircase has been used to death in the past by other photographers for group shots and the like, but I just knew that it offered something far more than just an option for some formal group shots, and I think that we nailed some pretty cool portraits that I’d like to think possibly haven’t been shot there before.
No doubt someone may well come back to me informing me that I’m wrong, I certainly don’t say it in an arrogant way to suggest that my images are better than anyone else’s, I merely imply that I’m aware that I have quite a ‘qwerky’ style that is a little bit different. Thankfully there are couples out there who like it, and of whom hire me purely for that exact reason
A red Ferrari
Funky wedding cars – a red Ferrari
Being a typical guy, it’s always interesting when the groom arrives in a trendy sports car.
They don’t tend to come more trendier than a red Ferrari! Now, that is arriving in style, and always grabs everyone’s attention without fail.
Such cars are great for me, as they double up as a useful prop for the groom portraits; it looks great, it’s stylish/iconic, it’s masculine and it’s just damn right cool.
I know that Jack certainly enjoyed the Ferrari, and I definitely enjoyed photographing him with it. Great fun.
St Mary’s Church in Caterham
Unlike the golf club, I had photographed at St Mary’s Church before, so knew it well.
If I’m being brutally honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the wedding ceremony itself… nothing to do with Steph and Jack, nor any concerns with the interior of the church itself or low lighting conditions (that said it isn’t the brightest in there!). No, the thing that was worrying me was being refused permission to photograph the ceremony – just as I had been four years back for a previous wedding there.
I held some hope when my bride and groom informed me that it was a lady vicar carrying out the ceremony, and i had recalled that the previous time had been with a man, so a different personnel might have meant a change in parish rules?
Those hopes were soon dashed when I approached the lady vicar prior to the start of the ceremony and she then informed me that I would only be allowed to take photos from the back of the church and nowhere else (aside of signing of the register).
Now, this is a subject that always both disappoints and frustrates me.
Fortunately it doesn’t happen all that often, and most churches are incredibly reasonable and grant us photographers and videographers permission to stand somewhere at the front of the church through the ceremony to capture all those tender moments during the vowels and throughout the whole service.
I accept that maybe in the defence of a church that refuses, that they might have had a bad experience(s) in the past with photographers, and I bet that there is a good chance that a photographer may have neglected the trust that was shown to them to photograph discreetly and within certain areas. In which case I can understand why a stance may have been adopted.
The problem is that by restricting the photographer, they aren’t punishing the photographer, they are in fact only punishing the bride and groom as it is their photos and not ours that we are capturing. This is the same people who are paying the church a healthy sum for the occasion.
It ironically in fact makes the photographer’s job easier in stark contrast, as they can’t capture as many images as they normally would, so are technically working less, and will have less images to edit as a result afterwards!
Whilst that is the case, I certainly would always prefer to be be allowed to do my job and ensuring that I capture all the shots that I normally would at the front of the church, resulting in giving my couples those natural documentation images that they want and will cherish.
So, sadly, I had to do as I was told and remain at the back of the church for the duration of the service, although I did manage to persuade the vicar to allow me to at least stand at the front of the altar briefly at the very beginning to capture Steph walking down the aisle.
Fantastic and original best man prank
One of the positives that I did take from being sentenced to the back of the church was that I was able to capture a brilliant visual prank on the groom that had been enstowed upon him by his best man.
Frank had managed, unknowingly to the groom, to use tippex to write ‘HE’ on Jack’s left shoe sole and ‘LP’ on the right one. Basically this meant that when the groom knelt down at the altar alongside his bride for a blessing, his two feet were placed together with the soles united next to each other and facing back towards me which spelled out the word ‘HELP’!
Of course the congregation just like myself noticed this, and there was much laughter and giggles as a result, much to the bemusement of the bride and groom.
It was very funny, and a prank that I’ve not seen before. It went without saying, of course I obliged to take a photo of it!
You can view all the mentioned photos and references in the slideshow video at the top of the page.
See what you make of the Woldingham stair case… please let me know your thoughts
Is it me, or are top hats coming back into fashion for weddings?
You’re probably wondering why am I asking such a random question at the beginning of a blog post?
Well, fear not, I’m not mad!
Over the 7 years of shooting weddings I had not photographed one where they featured, then come 2014 and bizarrely I photographed three weddings within close proximity of each other that did!
Our groom, Dale, in this particular wedding made the conscious decision that he and his groomsmen would indeed go very traditional and don the hat and tails – and I thoroughly enjoyed his decision as it meant that I had an extra few props for photos.
Anyway, getting back to the real point of this blog post – the wedding itself…
Antonina and Dale’s wedding was always going to be a large affair – Antonina has Italian roots and a large family to boot, so when she told me that there was going to be 200+ guests I wasn’t particularly surprised.
It’s always interesting to be involved with a wedding where there is a mixture of two different nationalities and cultures, and this wedding was no different – if anything I was more intrigued as Italians are renown for being a passionate bunch.
I was even more intrigued as to what the atmosphere would be like at their wedding, as ironically enough it just so happened that England were playing Italy that evening in their World Cup game!
Rest assured, despite the mix of English and Italian guests the football never threatened to take away the focus of the wedding, nor any problems amongst the guests themselves – if anything it added some playful banter to the day. This being underlined during the speeches when the father of the bride handed Dale the groom a present after welcoming him into the family – yes you guessed it, it was an Italian football shirt!
St Teresa’s Church – the ceremony
Antonina coming from a Catholic background and living in Sutton, was going to marry at her local Parish – St Teresa’s Catholic Church in Morden.
If you know of the church, you’ll know that whilst it is quite nice inside, there isn’t a great deal of scope for many photos outside. That said, we still managed to get some nice shots of Dale and the groomsmen before the ceremony within the grounds utilising the limited options around us.
Ravens Ait Island – the reception
After the ceremony itself we conducted the traditional group shots outside the main church entrance, and then made our way to their reception venue Ravens Ait Island in Kingston Upon Thames.
This was another new venue for me, and one that certainly was very unique and different to anything else.
Basically, it’s a venue that is situated on it’s own island in the middle of the Thames. It’s based between Kingston and Hampton Court. The only way that you can actually access it, is via a boat!
The logistics mean that all guests were ferried over in batches of 15-20 people at a time (its only a two minute journey from one side to the other) by a boat supplied by the venue.
Whilst this went on, Antonina and Dale were provided a small boat of their own and were taken for a ride down the Thames whilst enjoying a couple of glasses of champagne and some canapés – a very nice touch!
The venue itself is quite versatile, it can provide weddings a choice between an internal function or a marquee – Antonina and Dale opted for the latter.
I have to say I was extremely impressed with the marquee, when I went in there to take some photos of it all set up, it looked absolutely stunning! They had a yellow colour theme, and their decor throughout was impeccable with amazing floral designs, table arrangements (featuring lots of real lemons I add!) and lanterns suspended from the ceiling.
The photo opportunities for the bride and groom portraits on the island might not seem obvious on first impressions, but when you start to look closer there are quite a few qwerky options – some of which really suit my style and reflect the way that I like to introduce interesting elements into my composition of portraits.
If you watch the slideshow below, you’ll be able to see some of the shots that feature such qwerky backdrops and elements.
It was a fun wedding – probably the largest one that I’ve photographed in terms of the number of guests.
The only downer was the result of the football – although I’m sure that the Ribaudo family certainly enjoyed it, unlike the English contingency!