Top 20 UK Wedding Photographer
This blog is a bit different to others that I've written.
It's not looking back at one single wedding, looking at one of the fantastic weddings I've photographed around Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and beyond
It's not offering hints & tips about planning your wedding, trying to share some of the 'wisdom' (!) I like to think I might have accumulated over the years of photographing weddings
It's not a look back at one calendar year of weddings, although I so have blogs about that and there are some links below
So what is it Nick I hear you cry?!
Well, it's a collection of images that have all had the good fortune to win awards from the WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association)
There are all sorts of competitions out there for photographers to enter, many aimed specifically at the wedding photography business and there's time, effort and cost involved in entering
So why the WPJA and why enter at all?
Well, the answer to the first question is easy, the WPJA is just MY kind of photography, all about recognising 'masters of moments', practitioners of real documentary wedding photography with nothing set up or faked in Photoshop
As to why I enter, hmmm, that's a tricky one. I guess it's to challenge myself, so that I'm always striving for improvement in my work. Plus of course, it's kind of nice when an image or two wins an award!! 😁
Now, the first thing that I want to say, is that I never go to a wedding thinking 'oh I must make sure I shoot some award winning wedding photographs today'. Far from it, my aim is always to photograph for my clients, to do my level best to create a collection of images for them which will take them right back, back to all those moments during the day which are so easily forgotten
But, once the day is over, the editing is done and the images delivered I do like to look back and pick some out to enter the next round of competition, then sit bit nervously and wait a couple of weeks to see how I've done
OTHER BLOGS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN
I'm delighted to say that I've not been doing too badly and I'm currently ranked 17th in the UK in WPJA listings, which fills me with immense pride and tells me that I must be doing something right?! 😊
So I wanted to write a blog to celebrate the images that have won, and tell you a little bit about them.
There are a couple of images that I've skipped past, so I need to go back to the one right at the top, taken at an autumn wedding in 2018 with the ceremony at Hagley Hall followed by a reception at the Bride's parents house, organised by the fab Laura at Studio 81 Events. If you want help planning your wedding, give her a call!!
Caroline was getting ready at her parents house, family all around, waiting patiently for her to finish getting ready. Her Mum had helped her put the dress on and the next person to see her was her Dad, downstairs. Next door, in the kitchen was her sister and brother and his girlfriend, and this is the moment she opened the door and went through.
Why did I enter it and why do I think it won an award? Well, I like the two at the front, happy smiling faces and I really like her brother, craning his neck and standing on tip toe to look over his girlfriends head to see his sister
The second image in the blog, is one from a wedding at Somerford Hall, in Staffordshire, and I've written a blog about it should you care to read
It shows a particularly fine attempt to complete the 'After Eight Challenge'. Now well you might ask what is that??! Simple, start with an After Eight on your forehead and try to get it into your mouth...... without touching it - not as easy as you might think!!
Seeing various wedding guests contorting their facial muscles into increasingly bizarre expressions was a photographers gift and this chap was excellent. Sadly, he didn't complete the challenge but hopefully the award makes up for it!!
Next, we have the most recent winner, from bridal prep at a delightful wedding with the reception at a cycling and athletics club!!
The most laid back couple, it's fair to say the Bridal prep was nicely relaxed, Mum & Dad and two close friends there to keep the Bride company.
When it came to putting the dress on, well certain wardrobe adjustments I guess are easier with a helping hand....or two!! There was an almost triumphal twirling of her bra by one of her bridesmaids as it came flying out, the moment captured here!!
A bit of change here in as much as no faces, no reactions or amusing moments. Instead, we have the flower girl at this Claverley Church wedding descending a spiral staircase at the Bride's parents home.
I think one of the secrets of success for a documentary wedding photographer is the ability to anticipate and see potential shots before they can actually be taken.
This is a case in point as earlier in the morning, whilst going up and down the staircase a few times myself, I'd realised the landing above gave me an aerial view and that the staircase had a beautiful shape to it
So as the flower girl started making her way downstairs I leant, rather precariously, over the banister to position myself over head, in order to get this shot. I guess timing was key, to capture in the middle of the staircase to give the image balance. I also think there is a sense of movement and story, telling you that she's on her way somewhere
Looking back through this collection of images I realised how many of them have some humour about them, which reflects one of the things that my photographers eye is always alert for. As well as the expected emotion of a wedding I look out for the lighter moment, the things that bring a smile to the face and make you laugh
It's from the first wedding I photographed at Avoncroft Museum (I've done a few more since), not long after the ceremony. Outside, as the family members gathered for a few formal photos, the groom kissed his wife, getting her bright red lipstick all over his lips, the puckered up, ready to kiss his new mother-in-law!
What are the expected moments during a wedding?
There are a few, first kiss, cutting the cake, first dance etc.
Another one is where one of the couple makes their entrance down the aisle as their partner waits at the front.
Here we have the Bride and her Dad, arriving alongside the Groom at the Church at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, both making sideways glances at him, almost synchronised to perfection!
I think you can read so much in to her Dad's expression, delighted that they're tieing the knot, but perhaps those eyes saying to his soon to be son-in-law, 'just you watch yourself sonny-jim'??!!
This was another wedding where the couple had employed a wedding co-ordinator to help them from start to finish. Finding venues, suppliers and then keeping everything on track. They chose Linzi from 'That Black & White Cat' who was absolutely brilliant and is highly recommended
More comedy moments in this next image, from a wedding at St John's House in Lichfield
What can I say about it, other than it's sit-down-dancing-grandma!!
Having watched her 2 granddaughters twirling around the room, she wanted to show them that Granny has some moves too...just without having to stand up!!
For this one we go back to the first wedding in the blog, but now we moved on to Hagley Hall
They had the three *cutest* flower girls, waiting in the long gallery outside the ceremony room, ready to make their entrance. One of them was keen to have a little sneak peek and couldn't resist heading off ahead to peer around the door at the waiting guests
I like the way the two girls in the foreground, deliberately out of focus, lead your eye on to her, in the centre of the frame
Next we have an image that captures a wedding tradition that you don't seem to see that often any more, tossing the bouquet
The wedding was one where I was there as a 'second shooter', helping the primary photographer (my good friend Claire!) to capture the day from different angles
With Claire taking the key position in front of the bride, to get the reactions of the waiting crowd as the flowers were thrown, I wanted to add something different
From where I was standing the sun was right behind them, the perfect position to get a silhouette, but not always the easiest thing to do when timing is of the essence!! But having fired off a few test shots to get my settings right I was happy it was going to work and I think it did.
Even if you'd not just read the paragraph above I think there is enough information in the frame to instantly tell you what's going on, often the key to an effective reportage wedding photograph
Something different being thrown here, an entire cone of confetti, right in the Grooms' face, with the cone thrown too for good measure!!
It's another expected part of the day, but when you're walking backwards, between two lines of people constantly throwing small petals in to the frame, ensuring that you get sharp images can be quite a challenge.
Getting a moment like this is a bonus, genuinely a moment that was gone in an instant
I'm tempted to just leave this image here without explaining what was happening, but I'm not that cruel!
The three women hiding behind the gravestone at the Church in Claverley were actually the florists, who after the ceremony had to move the flowers on to the reception
As the wedding guests started to leave the Church, they were trying to be discrete, waiting for their opportunity to go back inside and collect their blooms
I think that when you're taking a photo-journalistic approach to wedding photography you need to have either a sixth sense or eyes in the back of your head. So whilst my main focus was on the exiting guests from the church, I spied these three and just knew that it made a shot
Up next is another image from the 'After Eight' wedding, but at the Church in Coven.
I don't think I need to say too much about this one, a tiny little flower girl, most certainly not of reading image, clutching the order of service and to all intents and purposes have a good old gander at it!!!
Ever wished you could get married in a cinema?? Well I have news for you my friend, you can!!!
This image is ALL about the expression on the Bridesmaid's face (the sister of the Bride) as she sees the Groom as she makes her way down the aisle.
It's another one of those 'expected moments', but you never know how, or when, people are going to react. Blink, hesitate, or look somewhere else at the crucial second and you've missed it
Mmmm, donuts. That's normally the cry that goes up isn't it when people spy these tasty treats?
Well, as a parent myself, I've been there, done it and bought the t-shirt when it comes to trying to control the sweet intake of little ones
So I take my hat off to this guy, clutching one of his kids as he physically tries to restrain the other one, hands outstretched, tempted beyond belief by the that wall of sugar!!
I think what makes it is that although side on, you can still see enough of the faces of the Dad and the older son to see that it's a bit of a game between them, and I'm pretty sure that 5 minutes they were sitting down chomping a donut each!
Back to Avoncroft Museum, but for a different wedding and a perhaps slightly surreal image
It was a gloriously hot summer afternoon, guests enjoying the sun, and the drinks
Clearly finding the heat (and perhaps the booze!) a bit too much, these two chaps where having a little siesta
But what might look like a random shot still has thought to it. I considered taking it from the other side, but it just worked better this way, the tossed jacket in the top corner and drinks in the bottom of the the frame
Now the final image from my collection of winners and it's back to Hagley Hall.
There is a grand stone staircase leading up to the entrance with a balcony, looking down to the driveway below
After all the guests were seated I was outside awaiting the arrival of the Bride and her Dad
The stone pillars seemed to add the perfect additional element that I wanted for this shot, hiding most of the rest of the car, to draw the eye to the open door, the Bride inside, looking up and smiling at her Dad, about to help her out of the car
Another moment that if missed, it's gone, forever
So, that completes my look back at my winners over the last two years
I hope you've enjoyed seeing them as much as I've enjoyed writing about them
I'm now ticking off the boxes on the calendar until the comepetion for 2020 kicks off and I can start going through the whole nervous process again
Wish me luck!!!!
If you'd like to have a chat about your wedding photography then please get in touch!!