I’m pleased to be involved once again with the Diva Magazine wedding special so to tie in with my advert, I’m offering special deals to DIVA magazine readers looking for a UK destination wedding photographer who cares about their work and, being part of the LGBT community and active in LGBT human rights work, will bring a positive approach to a same-sex wedding.
Choosing a wedding photographer is an important consideration and finding a good fit with a person you feel comfortable with is key. Any decent wedding photographer will have a good portfolio to offer, but the best images come from a good rapport between subject and photographer. And I pride myself on being able to put subjects at ease.
I have a documentary style of wedding photography, catching people in natural ways when they look at their most relaxed and natural. When people want to have group shots I’m happy to accommodate that – but often those moments happen naturally so it’s less fussy than traditional formal group photography. A key part of a wedding package are the bridal and couple portraits and here I like to work with the couple to create beautiful images that you will treasure. I have a particular specialism with lighting techniques to make the most of your venue.
22nd March 2015:
Flying visit to London yesterday for the ‘Beyond The Rainbow’ conference so took an hour to go see what all the fuss was about over at Selfridges, where last week they launched the Agenda project – a new concept to finally de-gender, or genderqueer fashion.
Launched on March 16th, this bold new initiative by the retailer, really is seeking to push the boundaries of fashion in the 21st century, blurring distinctions between genders when it comes to clothing.
Genderqueer Fashion – a bold new world is coming
Agender is an exciting concept project. But never have I felt so intimidated by a shop. In fairness the staff were lovely, many of the clothes were lovely … but ….
The collection is very avant garde and very fashiony – these are designer pieces so mostly around a grand. The clothes in the edit collection are mostly in paper bags which adds to the mystique they are creating. I did spot a lush jacket by Faye Twogood (£500) and a couple of pieces by Yohji Yamamoto (£800 a piece) … nope, didn’t come home with them. But, if I needed something formal they had distinct possibility.
The collection is hosted in two sections on floors 1 & 2 – floor 1 is younger, more street – sweatshirts and t-shirts with snazzy graphics, crop jackets, stuff like that. On floor 2 a more mature collection, older, wiser, more formal. Some of the designers featured in the edit are also on the main floors with their own sections.
The display is a little confusing at first – the clothes are hidden in paper covers. The assistant explained: “Presenting the clothes in paper bags with only a glimpse initially visible is part of the philosophy of being drawn to colour, fabric and feature before making an assumption about gender.”
For me it was slightly off-putting – it was part of what I found intimidating but from a ‘concept/arty/designery’ perspective I see what they were intending. The assistants are helpful though so if rummaging through the bags puts you off the staff can lead you to the useful places on the racks.
Selfridges Agenda project is an exciting concept because a main stream fashion outlet really is blurring the gender lines and has got new design talent which will hopefully filter down to the high street collections. And what was particularly lovely was several of the shop assistants working on that section are androgynous/genderqueer themselves.
So, yes this is designer fashion. Yes it feels scary expensive. Yes it is beyond most of our means. However – for those of us facing a formal event later in the year and stressing about how to look smart and not compromise gender/idendity, or for those who are fortunate enough to be able to buy one or two key pieces as a treat I’d say its worth a visit if you’re in London (or indeed Manchester as I’m told the collection is there too). For the rest of us, take heart in the idea that a blurring of gender lines in fashion has been a long time coming but a new zeitgeist is now finally emerging.
As Generation X increasingly embraces a more fluid approach to sexuality and gender, it feels like the visibility and acceptability of non-binary and genderqueer identities will increasingly become much more mainstream:
Congratulations: you’ve got engaged and now the fun begins!
Planning a wedding: useful links and resources
In this article I’ll offer some useful links and information to help you on the journey of planning your wedding. First up I’ll post some links for the impatient among you, then I’ll write some stuff below mostly about the photography bit which is what I do.
Planning your wedding should be a really fun and creative journey. Although it can get stressful at times, the important thing to remember is that the day is for you and your partner. And the day should be one you both enjoy. Here are some helpful tips, including things to look for when choosing a photographer.
Planning a wedding: getting started
So – first things first: start assembling your mood boards. Details make a difference when it comes to weddings, so go through magazines, websites, catalogues and collect ideas and images that inspire you. It can help to have a scrap book for the stuff you tear out of magazines, but for webstuff you really need to get in to pinterest. It’s easy to use – once you have set up an account you start creating boards to ‘pin’ your images on. When you find images on the internet you can copy the image to your pinterest board, add notes about what appealed and it will automatically create a link back to the source so you can find the vendor when you need.
Planning a wedding: choosing the venue
The choice of venue will have as much impact on your wedding photos as the choice of dress. When you are looking at venues, look at their website for wedding photography and then google “[venue-name] weddings”. Obviously, stunning country houses make for some great photos but some of the more modest boutique hotels offer really beautiful backdrops to your wedding and can be very cost effective. If you are having a wedding in a 1980’s brick built hotel in the town centre it may make really beautiful group and couple shots difficult. A good venue will offer a combination of affordability, nice surroundings and good service.
Planning a wedding: choosing the photographer
With the market flooded in cheap DSLR cameras, everyone thinks they are a wedding photographer – but there is more to wedding photography than simply ‘taking snaps’. Learning how to take good quality photographs takes time and practice and there is a skill in knowing how to work with a couple and the wedding party to get people at their best. There are subtle but important considerations when it comes to posing that will flatter you and your partner – simply asking you to lift your arm slightly or turn slightly can have a massive effect on how you look, and the job of the photographer is to catch you at your best.
When most people take a photograph they snap the camera and download the image. When a professional wedding photographer takes an image we will spend several minutes with each image making small adjustments to create the best toning and composition possible: the images a professional photographer produces should not look like the ones you take – they should look like the ones you can’t take – that’s what you are paying the money for.
Wedding Photography: Photoshop is your friend
Modern digital cameras capture images to such high resolution that every imperfection becomes apparent. Its important that your images show you at your best, and as people see you. when we look at a person, we don’t scan the skin for imperfections or focus on the dark circles under the eyes – we just take in the person as an overview. The amount of correction I will apply depends on the model and the use of the image. In the image below, which was part of a fashion shoot, the processing is a little more than I generally use on a wedding but you’ll see how light skin corrections help bring the natural beauty of the model to the fore.
Cardiff Pride (formerly known as Cardiff Mardi Gras) is the signature event of the year for the Pride Cymru team. It’s a celebratory parade through Cardiff city centre and festival event in Coopers Field, celebrating LGBT+ identities here in Wales.
Although the Pride Cymru team work throughout the year, campaigning for LGBT equality and putting on various LGBT events, the August Pride event is the focal point for many. With a range of artists and performers, the Coopers Field event is designed to have broad appeal, but with an emphasis on creating a positive and safe space for people who identify as LGBT+. Pride Cymru’s party in the park is a chance to celebrate being out and proud (and enjoy a day of entertainment).
Cardiff Pride Parade
Now establishing itself as key part of the Cardiff Pride celebrations, the Pride Parade this year involved over three thousand people. By 10:30am, the parade had started to assemble. Gathering at the top of town on Churchill Way (by the Capitol Shopping Centre): Samba bands; dancers; performers; LGBT community groups; supporters of the LGBT community and various others from across the LGBT spectrum processed through the city centre, making this quite a spectacle. The parade route leads off from Churchill Way, down Queen Street and then across towards the Hayes before heading down St Mary St. to the Castle Street entrance to the park and then on to Coopers Field.
Cardiff Pride: Video of the 2014 highlights
I was delighted to secure the contract to be the official event photographer for Pride Cymru (Cardiff Pride) 2014. It’s a long but enjoyable day for me and my assistant, but helped this year by good weather and great crowd. 2014 was probably the most successful pride event to date so here, I’ve assembled a collection of images and short video clips to give you a feel for the event – especially helpful if you’ve never been before.
Cardiff Pride: A varied program of events
As well as the main stage acts, a variety of smaller stages and events are placed throughout the field. There’s also a children’s play area; silent disco; stalls; and fairground rides. Various community support groups offer advice and guidance available for a range of issues relevant to LGBT+ lives.
See you in Coopers Field for the 2015 Pride Event – Saturday August 15th!
The catwalk is one of the real highlights of this wedding show and once again we saw a great selection of Bridal Wear, Menswear, and Mother of the bride outfits. For me the Catwalk show is the thing that distinguishes the Wedding Show Wales above the majority of wedding fayres held throughout the year. I’d shot the event last year and it was good to see familiar faces on the runway. There is an album of the set below, but first, here’s a presentation video I produced of the show:
Bridal Wear vendors featured in the catwalk show were:
With Valentine’s day one of the most popular times to propose marriage, I thought I’d get my friend Orit Adiri-Niemogha of H&D Diamonds to offer some top tips on how to buy an engagement ring. Orit is a professional diamond grader who has worked for many years in the diamond trade: she now heads H&D diamonds who offer custom made and bespoke diamond jewellery.
Buying an engagement ring: how to choose the right one
Jewellery is a very personal thing. And the safest way of ensuring you are buying an engagement ring your partner will like is to take them with you!
However, if you are set on the idea of handing over a ring in a box when you propose you could be well advised to use a ‘Promise Ring’ as this shows you are considering your partner’s choice when it comes to selecting the actual engagement ring (which, lets face it we intend them to have for the rest of their lives).
If you are set on going for the big one first time, hopefully your partner has taken you window shopping and been pointing out the sort of engagement rings they like. Or it may be they have a Pinterest board of cool stuff you can raid for inspiration. Either way, it’s worth making sure you get one they love. And this takes us on to the next bit.
Buying an engagement ring: choosing the metal
Most people who wear jewellery will either suit silver or gold – skin tone makes the difference here, so if your partner doesn’t have gold jewellery you might want to consider platinum or white gold for the band. On some skin, gold doesn’t look right. And this leads us to the stone: over to you Orit:
How To Choose A Diamond Engagement Ring
If you are considering buying an engagement ring then learning a bit about diamonds can help you make a sound purchase. Diamonds have for a long time been associated with engagement rings and for good reason. Diamond is the hardest gemstone known, and asides from looking beautiful, it will always be there to symbolise the strength of your relationship and the love you share with one another.
Buying an engagement ring: So how can you choose a diamond ring?
As Alex has written above, when buying an engagement ring, you should think not only at what you like but also what you think your partner would like. Have a look at other jewellery they have and see if there is any hint to help you choose. You can also browse together at celebrities rings in a magazine and make comments together on which one you like or dislike. An important consideration is to decide on the cut (or shape) of the diamond that will be the centre-piece of the ring.
As the image above shows, there are a variety of shapes of diamond available (if you click on the image you can visit my website to find out more about each type). Having identified the cut of the diamond there are some more things to think about. Once you have a general idea of the look of the ring get into the smaller details and think about the style of ring you want. Will it be a solitaire or would you rather have a multi stone ring? Would you consider a cluster ring? Take time to browse shops together to understand what you both like.
Buying Diamonds: the four C’s
There are four things to look for in a diamond: Colour; Clarity; Carat and Cut. A diamond is forever so doing a little research on what to look for can help you make a wise choice. The most obvious quality to note in a diamond is for it to be bright in colour and have a ‘life’ or the sparkle we all associate when we think of a diamond. If you choose for a solitaire and not sure on how you should judge the diamond you buy you can pay a little extra for a ‘certified diamond’.
Certified diamonds are diamonds that have been graded in a laboratory and been given a certificate stating all the information about that diamond. You can compare it to a passport or identity card of that specific diamond. The reason people choose to buy a certified diamond is as a reassurance that they know what they get.
If you or your partner prefer to have colour in the ring you can have a mixture of diamonds and semi precious stone on a ring. This will substantially reduce the total cost of the ring.
Buying an Engagement Ring: Bespoke and custom options
But what if you already have a really good idea about the ring you want but so far haven’t seen it anywhere? It could be a combination of several rings all combined with one, as often happens. In that case, you might want to consider a bespoke ring. Buying a bespoke ring means you can have something very personal and unique to you as a couple. If you are not sure and feel you can benefit from a free consultation with a diamond expert please contact us on 0845 600 5557.
To find out more about diamonds click on the image below:
Gay Wedding Shows: A good way to find LGBT friendly vendors:
When choosing a supplier for your big day it’s important to feel a good rapport with them. This is especially so when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer. I’m surprised at how many people book a wedding photographer on the strength of images on a website and won’t have met the actual person until the big day. To me, that would feel like a big risk to take, not least because you might not actually like them. And, more worryingly, Offbeat bride website reports some photographers are stealing images to put on their websites, in a trend they call fraudography. Every professional photographer will have developed a ‘style’ that will distinguish their work, the images on their website should carry that clear style, and it’s worth asking to see other work they have done to be really confident that the person you commission really can deliver the quality you are expecting.
I certainly prefer to meet couples in advance of the big day, either in person or via skype. For me, it’s nice to get to know you a little, and it gives us a chance to properly discuss the arrangements. Many couples like to have a pre-wedding shoot which is a great chance to get confident with the photographer and to have some beautiful images to use for the invites and on the day.
Given that you’ll be comparing photographers while at the show, here’s a few pointers to look out for:
Did you like them?
Do you like their work?
Are they available?
Does their price-point match your budget?
Wedding Photography Cost – how much should you pay?
There’s an old addage – buy cheap, get cheap. And this is very true of wedding photography. Good quality wedding photography should typically cost £200-£300 per hour, and whilst there are people out there doing shoot-and-burn for peanuts, you simply won’t get good quality images. In my article “Wedding Photography Prices” I explain some of the factors that make up a wedding photography package price.
A good rule of thumb, is to budget 10-15% of the total cost for the wedding photography
National Gay Wedding Show: Special Offer
I don’t often do wedding fairs but I’ve made an exception for the National Gay Wedding Show and was offering show-deals on wedding photography packages. For those of you that came to see me on the day or who took one of the flyers the special offers will still hold so contact me here and I’ll be happy to quote for your wedding photography.
There is as ever a slightly abstract rationale behind this image. As a creative photographer I like to find images that move outside the conventional, help us see things with a new perspective. Here’s the story of how I came to choose this image.
Autumn is mostly about dark evenings and colourful leaves and I wanted to capture that in an image that also drew on the idea of finding pleasure in simple things. I’d gone out looking for inspiration for this month’s image on a theme of autumn, and found it all to easy to think in terms of seeking out dramatic tree-scapes or big mountain views to shoot. But soon I realised as I walked up the mountain path, that I was oblivious to the many wonders on the footpath around me. The deep red leaves of a bramble caught my eye and this was the image I settled on.
Dark evenings shorten our days, and with the shorter hours of daylight, nature takes its cue to bed down for winter. And it’s this combination of colder nights and reduced light that gifts us the stunning colours of autumn, as the green chlorophyll in the leaves subsides and we are left with the oranges and reds of residual sugars that have been feeding the plant.
In this image I wanted to symbolise those elements: dark evenings, nature; colour; and finding beauty in simple things: in this case spotting a bramble on the verge of a mountain path just above Risca. Soon it will be winter but for the next few weeks at least the chance is there to go outdoors and marvel at the wondrous colours of autumn.
Walking back to the car, I paused to shoot a view of the Risca Valley.
And then, collecting my gear together and continuing down the hill I saw a young couple with a dog on a lead walking towards me. As we passed, some four feet or so between us, and we smiled at each other in acknowledgement of the joy of a late autumn morning, suddenly out of the corner of my eye I spotted the dog launch for my arm. And so it was that I spent the rest of the afternoon in casualty waiting to have the wound sorted and a tetanus jab.
Thankfully, only a surface wound but a sobering moment for a couple who struck me as otherwise responsible dog owners.
Patchwork – Trans* lives: digital storytelling series
Thursday 31st July saw me at C4 headquarters in Horseferry Road, London for the launch of the Patchwork: My Genderation project.
I’ve been proud to be involved in the Patchwork project, a collaboration between Lucky Tooth Films and All About Trans* which has been tasked to produce twenty-five mini-documentaries presenting positive images of trans* lives. Fox and Lewis are the creative team behind Lucky Tooth Films and of course are more well known for their involvement in the C4 series My Transsexual Summer. They have set out to create a series of short films showcasing and illustrating a much wider spectrum of transgender lives than many people may be aware of. The Patchwork project films have been done with great sensitivity and will be available via youtube in the near future. (I’ll post a link when they are out).
Patchwork: All About Trans
Fox Fisher and Lewis Hancox from Lucky Tooth Films are well respected within the community. Their own trans* status helps them appreciate the concerns and sensitivities people within the trans* community can have, and their work has always brought humanity and compassion to the presentation of the subject. These well established credentials have helped them enjoy unprecedented access and engagement to a community rightfully cautious of film and documentary makers. And ya know what, they’re lovely guys to work with, really easy going and fun to spend time around.
The Patchwork project has involved a lot of travel for the guys of Lucky Tooth Films. They have wanted to film people in their own homes and local environments rather than drag everyone to a studio in London (which would have been a whole heap easier from a filming perspective!)
So, in May 2014 they came to Wales to be involved with the All About Trans interactions and to work with several of us from the trans* community here. Weather can be unpredictable at the best of times here in Wales and luckily, despite showers, we managed to get some great outdoors footage in Cardiff before driving up to Swansea where I was presenting a workshop on Trans* at BiFest Cymru in Swansea.
Patchwork C4 Launch London
I had the pleasure of travelling across London with Jayne & Sam – two fellow activists from here in South Wales who are also featured in the series.
The evening launch was introduced by the fabulous Paris Lees
It was a really enjoyable night, a chance to catch up with old friends and meet interesting new people. When the films are available for general release I’ll post an update with some links. Here’s a taster…
The Patchwork project has been a collaboration between Lucky Tooth Films, Channel 4 and All About Trans and is supported financially by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Channel 4.
[nb: full res versions of these red squirrel images available on request]
Red Squirrel – Formby Nature Reserve
Last October we had a few days holiday in the North West and visited Formby to visit the Red Squirrel nature reserve there. I’d only seen a red squirrel once before in my whole life so I was really hopeful to not only see one by maybe to actually photograph one. Pulling up at the entrance gate we were amazed and delighted to see one in a nearby tree. The National Trust, who run this site, have set up red squirrel feed boxes in the trees and here, just yards from the entrance gate, a recently re-stocked feeder had enticed our first red squirrel sighting of the day.
We parked up and started walking on the woodland paths. Walking slowly and quietly, and pausing momentarily to look up into the tops of the trees, it wasn’t long before a rustling in the canopy high above us revealed red squirrel activity. Being patient and walking with a fair degree of stealth we were able to enjoy several sightings that day.
We expected to see red squirrels eating pine cones and nuts but what surprised us was to see them enjoying the red capped mushrooms that were growing on the forest floor.
Our visit in October showed us red squirrels in their winter coat which is darker than the summer coat – some of them were almost black in their colouring.
We’d seen at least a dozen red squirrels on that first visit to Formby Nature Reserve. Keen to see them in their bright orange summer coats and hoping for the chance to see some youngsters, (which coincidentally are called ‘kittens’) we planned a return visit in the spring. And so it was, that towards the end of June 2014 we headed back up, this time armed with a 500mm lens. Getting there early for a 9am start gave us the opportunity to see them at the feeders.
When the footpaths are quiet these reasonably shy creatures come out to play and at points we could see eight or more at the same time. By remaining still there were points where we’d have squirrels as close as five or six feet away. Other wildlife also inhabits the area and at one point it felt like we were looking at a scene from Beatrix Potter.
This visit rewarded me with a really successful shoot, the new lens worked really well and with the weather not too hot on the Saturday the squirrels were out to play for most of the day. On Sunday morning we took the opportunity for another hour of early morning shoot as the light was particularly nice. here is a video collection of some images from the shoot:
PostScript: A thanks to the fab coffee guys Caffe Adore who have a concession tent in the car park which fuelled us well with really decent coffee