Martha Drake – Birth Photography at the Royal Derby Hospital

I was honoured to be commissioned for a third birth photography assignment in January. I photographed Helen & Ash’s wedding in Derby in 2014, and I was over the moon when they asked me to capture the next huge moment in their life together. They had kept themselves in the dark regarding the sex of the baby, but (convinced it was going to be a boy) the bump was christened Drake.

48 hours of labour meant that I spent a bit of time with mum and dad at their home in the early stages, and then after a restless night (for them, not me) I rejoined them at the labour ward the next morning. Things continued to progress quite slowly, and Helen ended up in theatre for some help delivering. This was a new experience for me, and I had to hand over a camera to Ash to finish the job as I couldn’t join them. Luckily he knows his way around a Nikon DSLR and he managed to fill the gap in my coverage successfully!

With a little help from the forceps Martha Drake arrived safe and sound, and I was shortly able to rejoin the now larger family in recovery for a few shots before I left them to master parenthood.

Proposal Photography at Abbey Road Crossing – Mandy and Kaliko

In September I had a secret mission, a mission to photograph a marriage proposal. Mandy contacted me from her home in Hawaii, and asked if I would meet her and her girlfriend Kaliko (a huge Beatles fan) at the famous Abbey Road Crossing in West London. They were visiting friends on holiday, and the three of them tricked Kaliko into a Sunday morning excursion with an agenda. Mandy had a plan to drop to one knee and pop the question right in the middle of the crossing! I was to capture it all without Kaliko getting wind, and it was one of the most nerve-wracking jobs I have ever carried out.

Luckily a passing tourist stepped in to take the posed snap that would get the ball rolling, and I managed to finish the job without getting flattened by a passing car. Best of luck to Mandy and Kaliko with the rest of their engagement, and may they have a great wedding day.

Salisbury Wedding Photography – Evelien and Nick

Some of my favourite weddings take place in parents’ back gardens. Some of my favourite weddings having a mashup of cultures. Evelien and Nick’s wedding had both these things, featuring a marquee reception behind Nick’s parents’ house and a bridal party from the Netherlands.

Evelien got ready with family and bridesmaid at a nearby holiday property, complete with a breakfast of wedding cake. She then travelled to St Mary’s Church in Odstock driven by her dad in his pride and joy, a classic open-top Porsche. Nick was waiting at the church with his identical twin brother in the role of best man (no, you’re not seeing double) and a small army of flower girls, and we were treated to a performance by a couple of musical friends.

After a short walk down the road to the reception, and a brief pause to greet the newly-married couple, the guests were rewarded with fizz and Dutch canapés before taking their seats for the wedding breakfast. Speeches from the usual suspects (plus a quick intermission courtesy of the bride’s brother) and then dancing. So much dancing.

SS Great Britain Wedding Photography – Carina and Nathan

I’ve done a few weddings on boats before, but nothing on the scale of Brunel’s famous ss Great Britain. Sitting in a dry dock in the centre of Bristol, this ship was revolutionary when designed, built and launched in 1843 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Made of iron and with a very powerful steam engine and screw propellor, it changed maritime history.

Before arriving at the ship Carina and Nathan got ready together at home in the Brislington area of the city. They then jumped in a classic Rolls Royce stopping off at Brunel’s other major landmark in Bristol, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, for a quick wander and a glass of fizz. On arrival at the ss Great Britain the wedding guests were lined up on the stern to greet them before taking their places below decks for the ceremony. Musical accompaniment for proceedings came from a sitar player, and there was a reading from Carina’s bridesmaid.

It was a gloriously sunny day, so after the ceremony everybody headed to the deck for the usual drinks and nibbles and a brief guided tour of the ship. Then it was back below decks for the wedding breakfast. There were Brunel-style sideburns and top hats everywhere, and an amazing volcano cake (Carina is an expert in geology!). After the meal there was a second tour for guests under the hull of the ship, then back inside for dancing.

Come back in a few posts time for more wedding boat action, on water this time!

Emirates Stadium Wedding Photography – Aisling and Matt

I shoot a lot in Islington, but this was my first wedding at the Emirates Stadium. I know what you’re thinking. “That poor bride” or “that must be one of those ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ weddings”. Well, the choice of venue was completely in the hands of Aisling who (along with her sister) is a massive Arsenal fan. Matt doesn’t even support Arsenal! Aisling even had special ‘football’ shoes for the occasion.

Preparations for the day took place at mum’s house just up the road from the Emirates Stadium, before the action-proper started in the Woolwich Suite. For those in doubt as to the bride’s allegiance, she had red and white balloons at the house, red roses for all the flowers, red ties for the men and Gunnersaurus on meet-and-greet duty.

After the ceremony the couple were directed to a private box where, along with a few canapés and a glass of fizz each, there was a surprise waiting for them. The actual FA Cup just sat there on a plinth. After the obligatory ‘portrait with FA Cup’ Aisling and Matt got to wander the stadium for a bit before returning to the fold for more drinks and nibbles. Then it was time to eat before speeches and straight into the dancing. And I managed to get through the whole day without letting on to anybody that I’m a Newcastle supporter.

Painted Hall Wedding Photography – Julia and Sean

This was the first of two lots of wedding photography at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich in the same year, starting off at the Painted Hall. Firstly, I found myself in a department store in Bromley where Julia had her make-up done, before heading to her nearby home to finish the preparations. Julia (pronounced and spelt Yulia in her native Russia) had both her own family and friends, and Sean’s family present to help her. The ceremony took place at another venue I was making the first of two visits to in 2015, nearby Eltham College. Sean’s two sons attend the college and so they chose a familiar setting. After some (surprisingly common) taxi trouble Julia finally arrived and proceedings got underway.

Afterwards, we all boarded a pair of Routemaster buses for the short journey across south east London to the ORNC. Drinks and canapés were served in the colonnade next to the Painted Hall, before a receiving line welcomed the guests into the impressive surroundings of the Hall itself for the meal and speeches. There was a brief interval between courses to enjoy the sunshine on the lawns, as the band set off the fire alarms with their smoke machine! Julia’s Russian father managed a very passable speech in English despite it not being his mother tongue, with possibly the best speech backdrop I’ve ever had.

The day came to a close with dancing down in the basement, and the band more than made up for the lack of artificial haze with some pretty awe-inspiring outfits. Light-up codpieces not pictured. It’s not that kind of blog.

Barnsley House Wedding Photography – Kim and Amy

Back to the weddings, and back to the gorgeous Barnsley House in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. Kim and Amy’s wedding was an international affair with a chunk of guests from Kim’s native Tennessee and another chunk from Amy’s native Guernsey. Each of the brides had their own compound within the grounds for them and their armies of bridesmaids to prepare, and each got their own grand entrance into the tree-covered (and unfortunately tent-covered thanks to fears about the weather) ceremony area.

There was a performance from Amy’s singing sisters before the ceremony came to a close and the party got started properly. After the usual drinks and nibbles everyone headed up to the teepee (provided by the lovely people at Papakata) for the meal and speeches. Due to allergies and preferences the ‘Cake of Cheese’ was joined by the lesser-known ‘Milk and Cookies’. The day ended back in the house with a very full dance floor, stick on moustaches and cocktails.

London Home Birth Story – Franciszek

Hello? Is this thing working? After a very busy 2015 filled with weddings, more weddings, some IT and email issues and a few more weddings, I’ve not had much of an opportunity to update my blog. So rather than do the sensible thing and make a start on the backlog of wedding posts, I thought I’d begin by posting a few images from a birth story I photographed recently.

Having waited patiently for a few weeks I finally got the call to say Asia’s waters had broken at 2am on a Wednesday in November. I made the 2 (and a bit) hour journey down to West London immediately arriving at 4.30am, and Franciszek was born just after 6am! So a completely different experience to my last birth shoot. Home rather than hospital, pool rather than bed, a much darker room and a way, way quicker birth.

Still a powerful and emotional experience though, and it’s fantastic to give Asia and Jonathan (and Franciszek) a few moving images of such a huge moment in their lives. Enjoy.

Rectory Farm Cambridge Wedding Photography – Lizzie and Ben

I first met Ben at Hayley & Jamie’s Wedding at Careys Manor during the 2012 Olympics, and it was a pleasure to photograph his and Lizzie’s wedding on a return visit to Rectory Farm. The day started in the village of Melbourn at Lizzie’s family home, with a small army of bridesmaids, lots of tears and lots of fizz.

Lizzie was driven to the ceremony at All Saints Church in the village by her grandfather in a Morris Minor belonging to the family, which was then driven by Ben himself to Rectory Farm up the road near Cambridge. The glorious weather allowed for much drinking on the lawn and liberal use of the swing by the kids. Dinner in the marquee was followed by the speeches (cue more tears from the bridesmaids) and an opportunity to enjoy the last of the sunshine.

Trouserless selfies, bubbles and more swinging, then the cake was cut and the band struck up. A very full dance floor, until some of the guests spilled out to light a cigar, or a sparkler. However, it wasn’t long until they were straight back to the dancing.

Keythorpe Manor Wedding Photography – Louise and Steven

Last time I visited Keythorpe Manor was on a very murky day just before Christmas in 2012, so it was nice to experience it in friendlier weather. After making her preparations in the on-site accommodation, Louise arrived in the barn for the ceremony to be greeted by a very emotional Steven. I think the music set him off!

After the ceremony there was a brief pause for confetti, then everyone headed over to the huge marquee for drinks and nibbles. For the second wedding in a row we had some very tasty looking cocktails, and soon it was time for the wedding breakfast. As this came to a close the guests got the shock of their lives as four of the waiting staff burst into song. Turns out that secret wedding singers had been embedded in the ranks, and they entertained until it was time for speeches.

Steven got particularly stitched up by his best men who had some very embarrassing photographs to share. The day ended with the opening of the last portion of marquee revealing the band and dance floor. Cue shape-throwing!

Hospital Club and Asylum Wedding Photography – Lucy and Richard

My third visit to Asylum, and my third different season. After doing summer and winter weddings it was time for a spring one, complete with the most amazing blossom on the big tree out front. This was my first ceremony-only visit to Asylum, and Lucy and her entourage were based at the reception venue for their preparations, The Hospital Club in Covent Garden. A perfect pair of venues for Lucy, a doctor.

With beautification complete and fancy rags (and very fancy shoes) donned we had a much more straightforward journey to Asylum than my last one! The amazing light in Caroline Gardens Chapel didn’t disappoint, and we even had a gospel choir to liven up proceedings. After the ceremony we all headed outside to add some confetti to the layer of fallen blossom, and then a short drinks reception back inside the chapel with more singing.

Then it was time for everyone to return to The Hospital Club on a pair of Routemasters, with a short unplanned walk thanks to a police roadblock. Time for cocktails before the wedding breakfast, and post-dinner Jägerbombs for the grandparents, before the speeches. Finally, everyone headed upstairs for some late-night dancing on a very full dance floor.

Hope Street Hotel Wedding Photography – Tory and Andy

Tory and Andy’s big day saw first ever wedding in the city of Liverpool, halfway between the two cathedrals at the fantastic Hope Street Hotel. The weather wasn’t great, but that didn’t matter as everything was contained within the hotel, including both the bride and groom’s preparations. Cue lots of lift journeys and running up and down stairs for me as I spread my time between them both.

The ceremony took place in the mainly glass room on the roof of the building making for nice light and fantastic views across Liverpool. Tory was slightly delayed after becoming a bit emotional before entering the room, and was then unsurprisingly emotional again as she walked down the aisle. There were more tears as her brother succumbed during his reading, but eventually we made it through the ceremony. Then everyone headed downstairs to the basement for the reception, before returning to the roof for the wedding breakfast.

More emotions were on show during the speeches, and more of Andy on show than anybody needed to see on a mug that was doing the rounds! Then it was back in the lift to the basement for the cake-cutting and the dancing.

Crear Scotland Wedding Photography – Zazie and Ross

2015 got off to a fantastic start with a return to Crear Wedding Venue on the west coast of Scotland. Last time I was here — 4 years ago almost to the day — we had the kind of weather you’d expect in this part of the world in early spring. Namely rain, wind, fog and finally snow. Needless to say that once in the building nobody went outside. To find myself shooting an outdoor ceremony this time was most unexpected! Apparently we had the best view of the neighbouring isles of Jura and Islay the staff had ever seen.

Zazie & Ross are both Belgian, but Ross’ father is Scottish, hence the trip north for their wedding. Zadie got ready with her bridesmaids at Crear itself, whilst Ross and his guys got to grips with their kilts at a caravan park just down the road. Once ready, everyone gathered for the blessing ceremony with possibly the most amazing view of any wedding I’ve attended so far. We had a few readings, a few tears and a lot of laughter.

Then there were drinks and scotch eggs (other canapés were available) before everyone took their seats for the meal and the speeches. I can’t tell you any more than that as French is not my strong point, but they seemed to go down well! After a short break for coffee it was time for the first dance, with sparkler accompaniment, then my second ceilidh in a row. Now, I don’t want to be negative, and I’m sure a lot of the instruction was lost in (the lack of) translation, but it was the worst display of ceilidh dancing I’d ever seen. Again, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves so what do I know!

Asylum Peckham Wedding Photography – Laura and Pascal

My last wedding of 2014 was a long-awaited return trip to Caroline Gardens Chapel in Peckham, otherwise known as Asylum. Last time I was there it was the middle of a July heatwave and the building became a huge sauna. This time there was the gentle red glow, and not so gentle roar, of a pair of industrial heaters keeping the gathered guests from freezing solid.

First of all I had an adventure that began in London Fields where Laura and her bridesmaids were preparing themselves. Once ready we all climbed into the huge vintage limo and set off on the journey south of the river. As we sped through the Limehouse Link Tunnel there was a wisp of smoke from the bonnet. “Nothing to worry about!” the driver reassured us. As we headed out of the tunnel the wisp turned into a cloud, and then started coming through the dashboard, and finally the car juddered to a halt and fell silent. Luckily for the people of London we were out of the tunnel. Bridesmaid of the year prize goes to the girl who (very) quickly commandeered the car behind us to transport Laura and her crew. Unfortunately there was no room for yours truly, so I had a slightly stressful walk/run for a mile down the Old Kent Road.

Thankfully I made it in time for the ceremony, which was followed by a drinks reception, and then possibly the last meal I will shoot at Asylum as it becomes a ceremony-only venue later this year. After a few speeches it was time for possibly the most haphazard and out of control ceilidh I’ve ever seen. This wouldn’t happen in Scotland, or would it…

Assembly Rooms Bath Wedding Photography – Nicki and Simon

Just time to squeeze in a couple of Christmas weddings before summer gets going properly! It was my first time in Bath for Nicki and Simon’s wedding at the very grand Assembly Rooms. Preparations took place at a fantastic boutique B&B by the name of Grays. Then, after wrestling with parking in central Bath on one of the last Saturdays before Christmas, I met the rest of the wedding as they were gathering in the Octagon room for the ceremony. There was music from some theatrical friends of the couple, and then the guests gathered in the bar for drinks and nibbles.

The meal and evening party took place in the Tea Room, with the bride and groom introduced by a family member on toastmaster duty (red coat and everything). The meal was followed by the usual speeches, with some performances from an adolescent Simon courtesy of his best man’s media presentation. With the cake cut, the band struck up, and the dancing began.

Just one more 2014 wedding to come!