January can be a slower month for those of us that work in the wedding industry. Less people get married in winter and so for many industry professionals this is the time when they can stretch their legs and do some experimenting. This is exactly what my friend Lisa Devlin wanted to do when she started to plan this gothic wedding shoot.
“I feel that as a photographer it is important to step back from your busy working photography life and just shoot for fun every now and then”, she wrote. “It did take me the best part of a year to make time for this but in the meantime, I had started a Pinterest board called ‘Shits and Giggles’ of images that I found inspiration but not necessarily wedding related.”
“I have collaborated with Laura Kate O’Rourke before in her role as a stylist but she is also a musician and I find her look fascinating. So we agreed to just pull together a few outfits, head to a location and see what we came up with.”
One of the questions I get asked over and over again is what would Gareth and I do differently if we were getting married today. Of course my answer is always “so much!”. Both of us have changed considerably over the last five and a half years and our styles and tastes couldn’t be more different to how they were back in 2008.
As many of you will have read last week, Lisa asked if we would model at the two year anniversary of her Photography Farm. During every workshop she organises a styled shoot for her students to practice what they’ve learnt, but more than just that, she always pushes herself and her team to come up with something creative that reflects the real-life couple who are modelling.
When we started chatting about the kind of shoot Gareth and I might have, we began by discussing the whole “how would you do your wedding differently?” question. And then Lisa had a brainwave. Photography workshops are supposed to be all about teaching aspiring wedding photographers how to book, shoot and process weddings, but they only ever give the students the chance to practice these things in an unnatural situation – i.e. a styled shoot. Sure, the couple might be real and the styling authentic, but getting the shot when you have two hours to work with the couple is a totally different beast to needing to nail it first time and getting creative within your ten minute allocated time-slot for couple portraits.
Sheesh, I have recently seen sooooo many rants on the internet from photographers giving up because they find it too tough to cut it as a wedding photographer or they are sick of competing with the newbies who “under cut their prices/ don’t know what they’re doing/ use vintage processing/ are ruining the industry”. So here is my two pennies worth… first up a little history.
I started working as a photographer in the early 1990s first in music and then from 2000, the majority of my work has been in weddings. I am still as thrilled to earn my living in this way as I ever was, still as excited about each and every job, from the simple engagement shoot I did in the sunshine on Brighton Beach last night, to the look book that I shot for a collaboration between Rock n Roll Bride and Crown & Glory. I will NEVER tire of taking photographs or being in such a privileged position that people trust me to record their memories on one of the most important days of their lives. I will always be on a quest to take THE perfect photograph that sums up a wedding day.
It’s not often I get to feature such grand weddings, but that doesn’t mean my heart didn’t skip a beat when I laid eyes on Christina and Richard’s epic Eastnor Castle celebration. Three wedding dresses, a custom Choccywoccydoodah cake, elaborate vintage styling and an impressive fireworks display really made this a wedding to remember!
“Vintage weddings are so popular these days but both myself and Richard have a love for 1940s music and lindy-hop dancing so decided this was the perfect theme for us”, Christina began. “We had a 1940s vintage theme with a touch of 1930s in the wedding attire for bride and groom, and vintage Hollywood style over dinner. We kept the details of the day secret from most guests, so the element of surprise as lots of different things happened throughout the day kept guests excited and entertained. The fireworks reflecting over the lake was the winning highlight for the guests as well as an extra hog roast as second dinner.”
There are obvious fashions in weddings just like with clothing, interiors, food and just about everything we consume. However if you want to maintain any kind of longevity in the industry is it wrong to appear to be too much of a particular trend?
I actually get asked about this quite a lot as I guess it could be perceived that I am part of the fashion for vintage toning on wedding images. Ironically, this toning is something that I started doing when I switched from shooting weddings on film to digital a couple of years ago. I have always tweaked the colour on my images, whether it was toning black & white prints or cross processing print film in the chemicals for slide film and vice versa. I like to find out how things work and then mess with them. In the 90s I worked for the experimental Blah Blah Blah magazine and the art director, Chris Ashworth, used to always prefer the images that would normally get binned. He liked to to push the boundaries of everything. At the time, I was simultaneously working for a number of teenage pop magazines so it was utterly liberating to be able to do something creative and definitely my favourite magazine to work for.
So I guess it was inevitable that when I finally embraced digital technology for shooting weddings, I would start to seek ways of messing with the colours again. I have always been passionate about old photographs and all they represent in our social history, so if Photoshop was going to give me the ability to experiment, then I was going to! I looked for ways to recreate those faded tones that old colour images have. At the same time the kinds of wedding dresses and decor items that were gaining popularity we’re also very vintage, and so suddenly it was a ‘thing’.
Jo & Rob were married at The Gallivant Hotel, an eclectic, shabby chic coastal hideaway. Once a former retro motel on the edge of Camber, the hotel is located right opposite the sand dunes and beach of Camber Sands – what a perfect and idyllic spot to get married! In fact it was even more perfect for this romantic pair because Rob proposed to Jo whilst flying kites on this very beach! “With its beautiful British beach side charm we knew straight away it was the perfect place for us to get married”, began Jo.
“We were inspired by the things we love – the beach, the outdoors and bold and bright colours”, she continued, “but most importantly we wanted to make sure that the day totally represented us – from the venue, to the food, music and outfits. We even chose ‘Fosters Gold’ for everyone to drink on the beach to match our name (our surname is Gold!)”