Some Street Photographs From Christmas

I thought I'd share a few pictures I made when walking around the Christmas parade in my home town of Buckingham. A bit late to be sharing Christmas stuff I know but I enjoyed the light and cold winter vibe in these pictures - it seems a shame to leave them languishing on my hard drive.

Always difficult practising street photography around where I live. It's a pretty small place and you're not afforded the same anonymity that you get in say, London. At weddings there is always the safety net you get from everyone expecting pictures to be taken constantly. A bit harder to explain when you're in a (usually) near empty town centre. It's easy to forget that most people don't get street photography or why you do it. 

Life - it's worth photographing. 

The Most Important Thing - Acceptance.

It's weird. I've never been a particularly confident person. I don't dominate the room when I walk in. I'm never at the centre of a laughing crowd. I'm normally the quiet one, content to watch and listen. 

It's weird because this never gets in the way of me fitting in at a wedding. In fact, it's given me all the tools I need.

Documentary photography is a strange pursuit. You need to be a good photographer, it's true. You need the technical ability to make photographs consistently in changing conditions. You need to be visually literate. Being able to see a picture on the fly and capture it at a moments notice is absolutely vital. As is seeing a composition before it happens and waiting for a scene to come together before your eyes.

I could go on, but more important than all these things is you have to have the ability to be an inside man. You need to be accepted by those around you as one of their own so that you can gain access to their real selves.

I've found that when it comes down to it people don't expect or need me to be the larger than life, super cool photographer. 

I've found that all I need to do is be chill, be open, be interested and be present. I've been told several times at weddings that people thought I was just a family member with a camera. For what I do there really can be no higher compliment.

So yes I've always been the quiet one, who watches and listens. The non-threatening, benign presence who rarely leaves a lasting impression. But if you wan't someone who really sees what's going on around them to photograph your wedding. Who can be right there in the middle of things, comfortably accepted without being obvious.

Well, I guess I've been practising for that my entire life. 

 

DSCF5905.jpg

Mel + Chris - The Wedding

My couples have a tendency to do things a little bit differently. Mel and Chris were true to form when they brought in a mariachi band for their reception and first dance. Don't knock it, people! You can go for Ed Sheeran or you can go fully bad-ass. Chris and Mel went fully bad-ass.

This was my first winter wedding and by extension my first Christmas wedding. Everyone was so welcoming and made me feel like another member of the family for the day. I really couldn't ask for more.

I'd love for you guys to have a look through this condensed collection of wedding pictures - I hope I can make you feel like you were there with us.

For the photographers out there, I've made a real effort to use available light in the dark pub here. I just felt like using flash wasn't doing the atmosphere justice and honestly it was a really enjoyable challenge making use of limited light sources. It's midwinter so it got dark EARLY.

If you like these then please remember to leave a like or a comment. Even better sharing on social media will help me no-end.

Thanks for reading and thanks for looking.

 

Thoughts On Composition

Wedding guests enjoying the view in lake Como Italy. This was taken after the ceremony as we took the ferry across the lake to the reception - an incredibly beautiful villa.

About 70% of the photographs I deliver are in colour but my favourites are normally the black and white ones. Not sure why that is. Anyway, this is an exception to that rule.

I took four or five exposures in a sequence of this little scene of which this is definitely the most successful. The two guests on the left don't really change in any of them but the girl in the orange has a different arm position in each. I picked this one because I love the way the line of her dress flows in a diagonal into the triangle shape she's making with her arm and the added interest you get from the gesture shes making with her fingers.

As usual for me it's all about geometry backed up with a moment (however small) that really makes it work.

If we pull back a bit the other two guests draw your eye to the main subject in a sort of staggered cone that all three of them create with their positions in the frame, the tip of which is the subjects elbow. It helps that she stands out in her orange dress and blonde hair against the more nuetral colours of the the other two.

Then it's finished off with the fantastic view of the villas clutching the mountainside in the background and that lovely splash of green in the lake and trees.

Can't fail really.

DSCF4526.jpg

Thoughts On Composition

Amy putting on her shoes the morning of the wedding.

There's a few reasons why this works for me and it's mostly to do with shapes.

Full shapes in frame always help a photograph and this has a whole bunch of them. Even better if they repeat - which this picture also has.

If you look there's a whole bunch of squares. The photo frames, the box, the back of the chair, the drawers, the lampshade. Even the small pictures on the desk - they all help to make a more pleasing picture. The light hanging from the ceiling isn't a square of course but I've taken a step back to include it because it's almost always better to get the shape in there rather than cut it in half.

Amy herself is making a nice shape with her body and leg (something that you should look to do when posing - although i don't pose people).

Of course all of this is meaningless if you don't have a nice moment, which I hope I do have here. It's just you can push it so much further by applying principles of composition to make a beautiful photograph.

sevenoaks-wedding-photography+(74+of+552)-2.jpg

5 Reasons Why We Should Work Together

Choosing a wedding photographer is difficult. We all say roughly the same things in all of our marketing blurb so it must be hard to cut through all of that noise to see who is right for you. I obviously can't make that decision for you (that would be AWESOME) but what I CAN do is describe the sort of clients that suit me best. Maybe if some of these tally up with your thinking (or not) it'll make that process a little bit easier. 

  • 1 - Being authentic is important to you. Shot lists and copying other peoples styles isn't for you. The latest flavour of the month might get you a few more Facebook likes but In 20 years time when things have moved on, real moments and classic composition will still be meaningful and relevant.

  • 2 - Weddings are about family, not about showing off. Obviously it's important you look beautiful on your wedding day and spend it at a lovely venue. I'm totally down with that. But all that is just the setting for the story - not the point.

  • 3 - You didn't organise a wedding just to spend it being bossed around by a photographer. Your wedding WILL fly by at light speed. Spend the time living it your way - not mine.

  • 4 - You have an eye for good, original photography. Good photography is in the eye of the beholder, I get that. But there IS a difference between cookie cutter wedding photography and meaningful art. I'm always trying to provide the latter. 

  • 5You're down to earth and don't take yourself too seriously. I want you to relax and have fun at your wedding. I'll do everything I can to let the day breathe and play out on it's own with no preconceptions. 

DSCF0707.jpg

Kelly + Andy - The Wedding

So what do you do when you want to get married in Italy but it's not really practical to ship everyone you know out of the UK? Just do it twice - once in each country.

Hog roasts, garden games, a lovely little church and a marquee in a field for this one. The garden games suffered a bit when the storm clouds started gathering but at least they held off for the ceremony.

Here's some of my favourites - click the pictures to get scrolling. 

If you like this then help me out by chucking on a like and sharing it on social media. Thanks, people!

Amy + Ross - The Wedding

Amy and Ross were the first couple to ever book me to shoot their wedding so I absolutely had to make sure they were on the blog. Thank you for your faith when I needed it most.

At the time I only had a small portfolio that I'd scrapped together from assisting other photographers and one wedding that I'd shot solo for free. Even then, what I was trying to do with documentary wedding photography must have come through for them in the work because Amy and Ross's wedding really couldn't have been much more up my street. As I've written somewhere before - It's important that the people who I work with 'get it'.

I'll shoot any kind of wedding, big or small, but I do have a soft spot for the more casual bride and groom. A very unconventional wedding ceremony in a field, ice sculptures with vodka flumes and an AMAZING 80's cover band (http://www.wildboys80sband.co.uk/) were some of the highlights here. And the trumpet! hahaha! That bloody announcement trumpet. Love it.

Thanks for having me there guys, I had a great time. I'm pretty sure everyone did by the state of that dance floor.

Click the right of the picture to get it scrollin'.

Thanks for taking the time to look at this. If you liked what you see please leave a comment, throw me a like or share me on social media. It really is a huge help, you're great!

The Quirky, The Funny and The Everyday.

I'm fully committed to showing people that genuine moments are everything. Really I am. I believe in it with all my heart. A split second that shows a glimpse of personality will, for me, always beat the sterile, the manufactured. I've had my wobbles. I'm running a business and this isn't the easy road. The status quo is hard to shake.    

It's true that setting up the 'perfect', 'epic' moment will get you more likes on social media. I won't deny that. If likes are what you're after then there are probably better photographers to go to. But screw likes. I've spent time chasing them before and it's an empty, empty hole.

What really matters is how the pictures make you feel. At least that's what matters to me. I want people to look at the pictures I make and say to each other 'that's so us' and smile.

A wedding is in it's nature a happy time. Just being observant and photographing what happens is always going to yield loads of happy smiling faces. Any photographer (I hope) is going to get that stuff.

I want to look even deeper than that. I wan't to make you laugh, make you wonder what that person was thinking. Or even just see that familiar expression on a familiar face.

This is photography for people that want to embrace what it is to be real. I know you're out there.

Kelly + Alex - The Wedding

There's a lot of expectation that surrounds a wedding. An expectation that everything will be perfect and filled with fairy tale moments. There's pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, buy certain things. If you're not doing it like the latest blogs tell you to then you're doing it wrong.

But that's not what it's all about really is it? It's about family and human connections. Celebrating who we are in all of our glorious imperfections and finding things to love in each other regardless.

Kelly and Alex understood that fully. Kelly was adamant that she didn't want a photographer there that would get in the way of that. She trusted herself to make fantastic memories - REAL memories - by letting the day breathe and allowing everyone to have fun. 

This is what it's all about. Family, love, celebration. Everyone together just being who they are, supporting you and celebrating your commitment to each other.

Being Real Won't Ever Go Out Of Fashion

The thing is with the wedding industry is that it's subject to trends. Certain styles of wedding photography fall in and out of vogue as the years go by. One photographer will hit upon a style that people buy into and before you know it everyone is doing it. If you've been looking for a wedding photographer you may have noticed it yourself - tiny people walking through dramatic landscapes or grooms pulling brides by the hand through de-saturated green forests are two that I can think of straight away.

I'm not completely immune to this of course. There's a new wave of anti-industry alternative wedding photographers coming through at the moment who wear their non-conformist attitudes like a badge. I suppose I consider myself as one of them. I don't really get excited about the typical wedding things. I don't particularly care about wedding dresses past whether they look nice or not. I'm certainly not excited by table dressings or wedding cakes. I just care about people and photography.

And that's what we are all saying. If you look hard enough you'll see that us alternative photographers are probably not that alternative after all. We're just a different trend.

It's all just words though.

I can tell you this - whatever stirring speech about sticking it to the man or railing against the wedding industry I may or may not throw your way in the future (because im a sucker for that stuff) my pictures will always remain completely honest to how I see the world.

I genuinely don't shoot to look like the in-crowd, I shoot in the way that I think is right. My pictures will never be trendy (unless it's by chance) but they will always be based on the principles of composition that I'm continuously trying to learn from my study of photography and my understanding of what I'm trying to bring to the table - empowering people to enjoy their wedding to it's fullest and embrace their genuine unfiltered memories.

Above all - they'll always be honest to you. So they'll never go out of fashion.

And yes I'm about to compare myself to Da-Vinci :P

DSCF7381-2.jpg
LastSupper-58f635443df78ca159f2dd55.jpg

Don't Feel Pressured To Do Formal Portraits.

A went to my Nan's house the other day. 

As I sat down in her living room in the little corner chair, the dog jumping up at me and progressively turning me white with hair, I looked up to the shelf above the TV. On that shelf there's about eight photographs of various family members on their wedding day. None of them really look like themselves.

In each and every photograph they're turning to the camera, arm in arm, with that 'camera smile' that people have. You know the one. The one that tugs at the corners of your mouth unconvincingly, sort of like a real smile but it doesn't reach your eyes. The one where sometimes you know you look weird doing it so you keep your lips pressed together in a thin line that doesn't show your teeth. The sort of smile that I refuse to do because I look like The Joker from Batman. I suppose they are nice in their way.

They're pictures of people that we love and they are a record of a happy time. I get that. I also get that it's fully possible to do them well. You can obviously pick poses that don't need you to whip out the fake smile or it's possible to coax real expressions from people to make up for it. Also some people can actually DO a normal looking fakey. This is black magic and probably shouldn't be trusted.

Anyway, what I don't and never will understand is why we bother? At least at weddings. Now look, I'm not against posing people in general. I can find time and appreciation for any form of photography - but at a wedding where little moments are firing off all around you constantly, posing just seems unnecessary.

People say to me 'I love what you do but we should probably get a couple of posed ones of us together.' Well, yes, if course we can if that's what you want. But guys look, I'm here to tell you I've got you covered.

You're gonna be together at your wedding and the happiness that you show during these times is going to be ten times more vivid and real than anything we could conjure up in a field after dinner. These are the moments that deserve to be framed.

Why do we ALWAYS frame the contrived when we can almost literally put memories on the wall instead? Why do we consign our most meaningful moments to the hard drive or a brief cameo on social media? In the hands of a good photographer these vignettes of our lives can be beautiful works of art as much as any posed photo. They might be a little rougher around the edges (that's life) but they are more than wall worthy. I'm not even being contrarian.

Let me show you some pictures that can easily do the job that we've all been contriving for years.

DSCF3842.jpg
DSCF0395.jpg
DSCF7124.jpg
sevenoaks-wedding-photography (378 of 552)-2.jpg