You can bank on Christmas and New Year being the time when almost every wedding photographer in the country publishes their ‘best of’ post. 100 or so of their best images. I did the same last year and in fact this post only came about because I started the process again this year but after selecting 100 of my ‘best’ images I just wasn’t feeling it.
I often feel a sense of disjointedness when looking at my own images in isolation. I guess it’s because they’re taken entirely out of context and my brain likes narrative. I definetly love a whole load of my images as stand alone images but the images that I feel most connected to aren’t always my best / hero shots.
I wanted to tell you something about the way I feel about the images I have made this year and why, so this year I am sharing just 20 images from 2016.
Some of them are pictures I shot on my phone, some are personal images and some are images I made for clients. Each one has an explanation which tells you why that particular image means something to me.
Pete and I saw in 2016 in an airport hotel and started the first day of the year on a transatlantic flight to the US, where we spent three months road tripping across the country. Our travels took us to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Tobago, California, New York and Philadelphia. I could have picked any number of images from our trip (and I have included more below) but this incapsulates the reality of a lot of it. Seeing unfamiliar landscapes whizz by through car windows and watching the sunset in a mirror. Long term travel is amazing but it can also be exhausting, disconcerting and uncomfortable. When nothing feels familiar, you never feel settled. Being without a fixed abode for six months was a brilliant adventure but stopping in one place for a while for the rest of 2017 has been a welcome relief.
Sarah and Daniel’s wedding in Ireland was undoubtedly one of my favourites of the year because of the simplicity of it. It was just them, their closest friends and family in a house they rented. They officiated over their wedding ceremony themselves outside right next to the sea and the day was all about love, family, friendship and having a lovely celebration. It’s a real honour to be a part of intimate celebrations like this. Pete and I were welcomed warmly and treated as guests. This picture encapsulates everything that made the day special. Joy, friends, family and the colours of the Irish landscape.
I took this picture on my phone, the night before SNAP 2016 started. It was the end of a really stressful week of preparations and I was sitting by the fire, in the Fforest farm house gathering my thoughts. The calm before the storm. SNAP is a huge part of my year and my life. The Snap community are wonderful and I am always so excited to see everyone again at Snap, the Snap reunion and other get togethers through out the year. Snap is one of the most stressful things I do all year but I keep coming back for more because the community it attracts are some of the kindest, most positive and supportive people I know.
I could have picked any number of images from Alex and Gudrun’s wedding or their engagement shoot. I loved working with them. They live in Walthamstow so I met them for the first time in a pub close to home while I was still living there and then they came all of the way to Bath after I moved here for a rainy Bath pre-wedding shoot. As a photographer I find it really rewarding to build a relationship with my couples before the wedding day. I love this frame for aesthetic reasons too. I was playing around with flash on a synch chord and I really love the hard, flashy light and strong shadows. It feels very snap-shot-y and raw and I’d like to make more images like this in the future.
Texas blew my mind. I just couldn’t really wrap my head around how BIG and VAST and EMPTY it felt. I was also surprised how quickly the landscape changed from one thing to another; from mountains to endless plains, and from cattle ranches to oil fields. One of the absolute highlights of my visit to Texas though was the Star Party we went to at the MacDonald Observatory. We bundled ourselves up in as many layers as we could find (because it was January and freezing at night) and drove for 40 minutes up into the mountains, to one of the least light polluted locations in the US. We made our way to a kind of outdoor planetarium where you could see the whole of the night sky and an instructor with a laser pen talked us through the stars and constellations we could see. You felt wrapped in a huge dome of sky and stars. I have never seen so many stars. Not only that, though, it was just dark enough to make out the Andromeda Galaxy. I think seeing another galaxy with my naked eye will probably be a highlight of my whole life. It was amazing.
Gillian and Nadim’s wedding was beautiful and moving. Their story and everything they’d over come to get to the point where they exchanged their vows really touched me. They’ve had quite a journey. It’s always wonderful to witness a couple’s love for each other but when a celebration is so full of gratitude it’s a real privilege to be there to document it. It also serves to remind me about my own views on marriage. It’s not always going to be easy and there will no doubt be challenges to overcome but by exchanging vows you are making a promise to work through those challenges together.
I am terrible at taking pictures of the people who are most important to me. This is one of the few pictures I’ve taken of members of my family this year – my niece Lily with her mum and my sister-in-law Tegan, taken on my iphone on a family holiday. Whilst I do feel sad about the fact that I don’t take enough pictures for myself, it’s also a relief to put my camera down sometimes and to live moments rather than document them.
2016 has been full of travel adventures. Pete and I have photographed weddings and engagements in Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, Mallorca, Tobago and all over the UK. One of my favourite adventures though was meeting Laura and Todd, who were travelling around Europe from Australia, to shoot their engagement pictures. They were really lovely to hang out with and one of my favourite moments of the day was rushing across the city to make it up to this spot to capture the sunset. Wedding photography is all about capturing other people’s memories but you do get to create a few of your own along the way. Watching the sun vanish over the Barcelona sky line is one of my favourite moments this year. What you can’t see in the background is groups of Spanish teenagers drinking and listening to the Killers through their iphone speakers!
I have struggled this year and especially in recent months. We have moved to a new city where we don’t know anyone and it’s hard to meet people when you work at least 6 days a week all summer. I have felt pretty isolated recently and winter is always a time where I battle to maintain good mental health. This image was taken on a day when I went to the coast to walk along the beach and clear my head. The sea always makes me feel much calmer. As a result of this trip I started Moments of Calm as a place where I can share images that I make with the intention of being mindful through photography.
I have spent a lot of this year looking for stillness in my images. My work is usually lively and vibrant and the way I shoot is kind of frenetic and busy, so this year I have focussed on finding moments of stillness where I can. They’re there, even in the most hectic of settings like Sherene changing into red half way through her Hindu wedding ceremony. I would like to continue to find more stillness in my work and this is a reminder to slow down and also confirmation that I can create colourful images that still feel peaceful.
This picture is from Diane and Sull’s wedding at the Roman Baths. We moved to Bath earlier this year so it was really amazing to be booked to shoot our first ever local wedding so soon afterwards. Aside from the wedding itself which was beautiful, we were left to our own devices in the Roman Baths for 20 minutes or so, basically meaning we had the whole place to ourselves just as the sun was setting. It was pretty surreal to be standing there, on a site that’s existed since 836 BC, with no one else around. I half expected a Roman Centurion to march past. This job is endlessly surprising and takes me to the most amazing places and it’s pretty wonderful that some of them are right on my door step.
I’ve had more weekends off this year than in previous years and I probably get more excited about Saturday BBQs than anyone reasonably should. This is another phone shot from a rare summer’s day spent with friends, drinking beer in the sunshine. I need more of this next year.
This joy and colour is what I always want to encapsulate in my work and I think confetti has become a bit of a trademark for me. Lots of my couples ask me about confetti wedding pictures and the confetti exit is often one of my favourite pictures from any wedding. I love this one especially because of the colours and the joy on Saira and Jim’s faces. It was also taken at the ceremony venue I shoot at most, Islington Town Hall.
This is one of Pete’s shots from this year and isn’t it a corker? This year has been our first year of working together full time and I’m glad it’s worked out this way. I really love shooting with Pete because it takes so much pressure off me. I know that I can leave him to get on with specific parts of the day, while I focus on others and I am always slightly jealous of some of the shots he comes back with.
Luke and Pip’s wedding is one of my most memorable of the year. They planned a summer beach wedding, with a big focus on spending time outside, including a beach BBQ and plenty of time for portraits around golden hour. The weather didn’t play ball but rather than let that impact on their day, they embraced it. They got married outside anyway, they stood in the rain in their outfits, they scrambled over slippery rocks for their portraits and they didn’t let the rain spoil their wedding for a second. Pete and I were soaked to the skin by the time we left that day and one of my cameras even stopped working but, honestly, I’d take 100 torrentially rainy weddings like this, where the couple and their friends and family wholeheartedly embrace every moment, over sunny ones where people don’t let go an enjoy themselves.
I took this at Wilderness Festival, which was another favourite weekend this year. I wasn’t much of a festival partier in that I was back in my tent asleep by 11 most nights – another side effect of an exhausting wedding season – but luckily Wilderness is the perfect festival for taking it easy as there’s loads of theatre, arts, talks, workshops and amazing food to keep you amused during the day. Highlights were rowing around the lake and covering myself in glitter. I shot this while sheltering under a giant sandwich board, listening to a talk and I really love how graphic it is.
I was really drawn to a lot of my dancing shots this year, which surprised me but isn’t really surprising. The joy of people letting go of their inhibitions to hit the dance floor is always one of the most fun elements of a wedding to capture. Steph and John’s totally nailed their first dance and they had brilliant fun dancing to Jump In The Line by Harry Belafonte. Check out the rest of their epic Derry Playhouse wedding.
One of my favourite days of the year was a trip to the Kent seaside with some of the SNAP group. I swam in the chilly North Sea, ate ice cream and fish and chips, Pete ripped his shorts playing bat and ball, dingeys were purchased and there were a few gin and tonics to round the day off nicely. It was like a little summer holiday condensed into one day.
This was one of the pictures I submitted to Rangefinder Magazine’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography. Being selected as one of the winners was a massive highlight this year and I am still reeling from it. I also had the most fun making this particular picture. Leanne from Blooming Lovely Films drove across the city while we all sang along to Jagged Little Pill at the top of our voices. We stopped on the red route, breaking pretty much every road traffic regulation going, as passers by cheered us on and I jumped out of the car to take one of my favourite shots of the year.
And finally, this guy. This year has been challenging for us. We’ve moved to a new city, we’re adjusting to the reality of working together full time, we’ve been on the road more than we’ve been off it and we’ve had some personal stuff to work through too. This picture represents trying your best when things aren’t easy. Like standing in sunshine so bright that you can’t see because I really want to take a picture of you for the 100th time. All of my adventures this year have been with Pete and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.