It's that time of the year where pretty much all Wedding Photographers will put together a 'Year in Review' type blog post. It's a great way of looking back on a busy year to see how your work has changed and how you have grown as an artist.
I have put together reviews of this nature in the past and thought about doing the same again this year but the problem is how do you prioritize one image or wedding over another? I've taken a lots of images that I am very proud of over the last twelve months and have loved working for every single couple that have hired me... so how do I keep such a post to a reasonable length without missing someone or something out?
So, I came to the conclusion that rather than choosing specific images or weddings as highlights that I would look at images or experiences that I feel have made me grow as a photographer (both wedding related or personal). So here goes......
My first 'highlight' was actually the second wedding I photographed in 2015. I was asked to photograph Pranita and Johns Hindu Wedding Ceremony at the CotswoldClub near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. In the weeks prior to the wedding I made sure that I was aware of everything that would happen during the day... there are many elements to a Hindu Ceremony and I didn't want to miss anything. The thing that struck me the most about the wedding from a photographic point of view was just how colourful the wedding was... it was stunning....
Having said that, the black and white photograph below is one of my favourites from the day. I chose to turn off my main light and shoot Pranita and her friends on the dancefloor in silhouette. I love how this image captures the wonderful shapes that the guests are throwing, together with the smiles of the onlookers!
Another highlight of 2015 for me was Caroline and Mark's wedding at Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire. The wedding itself was fantastic... Caroline wore a stunning Ian Stuart dress and the Bride and Groom were transported from the church by a carriage pulled by two of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. I don't mind admitting that I felt more than a little bit of pressure at this wedding! However, for me the biggest highlight of the day was the venue itself. Harlaxton Manor is stunning... it makes Hogwarts look like a sandcastle. It is actually used as an overseas location for the American University of Evansville and only caters for a handful of weddings every year. It is amazing and I feel very privileged to have had the chance to work there.
Another amazing venue that I visited for the first time during 2015 was The Oratory in Birmingham. It is one of the most beautiful places of worship I have ever seen or worked in (and that includes Cathedrals in the UK and overseas) and prior to the wedding, I didn't even know it existed! It is very nondescript from the outside, but once you are indoors I defy anyone not to be blown away.
I love this image from Kat and Toms wedding back in May. It's a very simple candid portrait of one of Katherine's flowergirls... nothing clever and gimmicky. I love it because it is just so natural. She was a little shy during the day so getting a shot like this felt like a real win for me. I hope she likes it as much as I do....
Which brings me nicely on to my next highlight. Anyone that knows me in a photographic context will have been bored to death by my extolling the virtues of Fuji X-Series cameras. Whilst I have been using them for a while now, 2015 was the first full year wedding season since switching from Canon DSLRS to these wonderful little cameras. I have used them in all conditions and at many different types of wedding and yes, whilst they do have their faults (what cameras don't?) I absolutely love them. I very much doubt I would have got the shot of flowergirl above with a big old DSLR... the smaller x-series cameras really do help to put people at ease. The photograph of Ali below is another example of how these cameras have really pushed me in a specific direction. I love the fact that I see what I am going to get before taking an image. I wanted to silhouette Ali in this image as she took a break during her wedding to Armon. This isn't a posed image.. its just a moment captured using an X-T1.
How cute is the next shot!! I love the story this image tells... the kids were playing with a doll, and one of the other flowergirl's is looking on from afar, possibly a little upset that she wasn't asked to join in... Maybe I shouldn't class it as a highlight, but in all fairness I do think this is a really beautiful image and was very happy when I managed to capture it.
I don't think anyone would begrudge me classing Olivia and Robs wedding as a particular highlight of my year. It was a truly beautiful event, held at Olivia's family home. Their family and friends were all wonderfully friendly and I had the most awesome time getting to know and working for Olivia and Rob. However, what really set this wedding apart was a surprise Rob arranged for Olivia and the guests during their drinks reception. Rob is a private jet pilot and he arranged for a Spitfire to fly up from Biggin Hill to do a 15 minute display over the house! Only two other people knew about it (Olivias father and myself) and the looks on the faces of everyone present were priceless. A huge surprise and a massive highlight for me (although its fair to say I wont be becoming an aviation photographer any time soon!)
Speeches are often result in very emotional moments during a wedding day and Luke and Lucies' wedding at gorgeous Brockencote Hall was no different. I grabbed this image of Lukes mom with a tear running down her cheek whilst he was delivering his speech. LOVE THIS SHOT!
FEAR!!!!! (no, that's most definitely not a highlight, but it is relevant...). A few days before I shot Torey and James' wedding I met with them at their home to go over the final arrangements. As we chatted, Torey let me know that she was getting very worried about the photographs... to the point of having nightmares about them! She was worried that they would be awful and that she wouldn't be happy with any of them (not a reflection on me or my work, just a worry she had personally). Well, it's fair to say this it not what I wanted to hear a couple of days before the wedding and it only served to make me even more nervous than I always am on the day. The wedding went well and I was happy with the images but there is always the worry that have I done enough for the clients... will they be happy... THE FEAR! Fortunately, on their return from honeymoon Torey and James emailed me to let me know they were over the moon with their images..... which was obviously music to my ears. Receiving that email was absolutely a highlight of the year!
Working as a photographer in the UK is challenging. Light is king and beautiful gorgeous California type lighting is something of a unicorn over here (there's a reason Hollywood is in California and not in Cumbria and its not because they have better hotdogs!) However, every now and again we do get a great day with beautiful light and Hayley and Dominics wedding in July was a perfect example. Just as I was leaving I noticed this wonderful scene of a a few of their guests chatting outside the marquee. It was my last shot of the day and I LOVE it!!
Whilst not wedding related, another highlight of the year has been my starting to shoot Medium Format Film. I purchased an old Bronica SQ towards the end of the year and have been getting to grips with it over the last couple of months. The detail in these images is amazing... far more than most high end DSLRs and of course you can't beat how film 'looks'.
Could I shoot medium format at a wedding.... well yes, for part of the day (and I did so at my most recent wedding over Christmas) but I certainly couldn't do so for the entire day. It's very much a slow methodical process that doesn't lend itself to catching moments and it would cost a fortune in film, but I will be shooting more film (medium format and 35mm) this year for personal projects :-)
During 2015 I photographed my first Same Sex wedding. Bex and Louise asked me to be a part of their wedding day and I had the most wonderful time (awful British weather not withstanding). I can only thank Bex and Louise from the bottom of my heart for asking and trusting me to capture their special day.... it meant a great deal so thank you both so very much :-)
My wife and I grabbed a short break to Paris this year. I can only say that it was a city I'd never really wanted to visit, but now I've been I can't wait to go back. It is beautiful in every sense and the trip was a true highlight of my year.
Last but not least, I have to thank all of my amazing clients for making all of 2015 a highlight for me. For reasons I won't go into here I am forever humbled when people ask me to photograph their weddings and will always put my heart and soul into every single wedding I photograph. I really do know how lucky I am to be doing something I love for a living and am truly grateful to be able to do so. Thank you so much to each and every one of you!
Best wishes, John!
All Images © John Colson