Greatest Hits 2016

December 27, 2016

Critics would pull the photos in this post apart. As a wedding photographer, I’d be the first to do so. I’ve never taken a photo that I don’t think could be improved. I always want to be creating better work for my clients and that will never stop but over the last few years I’ve realised that perfection isn’t everything. As a wife, a daughter, a friend, a mum to two fur-babies; it’s unconditional love and the quirks of real life that I find most meaningful in photos and most rewarding to photograph.

Quality is important, of course, but a successful photo is one with evocative content – a deep breath before you walk down the aisle, burying your face in your hands as you cringe at an embarassing joke in the speeches, your parents’ tears as they read the words in the thank you card you’ve given them. More and more I’m learning to let go of the rose-tinted glasses and embrace the rawness and humour of weddings. That’s where the magic is and that’s what will make your photos priceless possessions.

When you’re planning your day you think about booking a wedding photographer but what you’re actually buying is how those photos are going to make you feel after your wedding. Not just straight away, but in 10, 20, 50 years time and when the people in the photos are no longer around. It’s photographs of the deeply personal side of getting married that will bring back your memories and remind you of the people you love in the years to come. It’s a special bit of sparkle that only you can bring but a privilege for me to witness and capture. I’ll use my experience, empathy and intuition to photograph that magic just as it happens, with love and with respect.

So, onto my favourite photos from this year and a bit about why I love them. Thanks so much to all the couples featured here. Firstly, for letting me share their photos with you and secondly, for trusting me with something so important.

 

First up, is this picture of Katie coming down the stairs dressed and ready to go. I came downstairs ahead of Katie while she packed a few last bits and prepared myself to get a shot as she came down the stairs. I originally had something different in mind but while I was waiting somebody went upstairs and their reflection caught my eye in the glass of a frame on the wall. It was tricky finding an angle with enough reflection to make it work but I just had time to find the best position before Katie came bouncing into the photo with an excited scream! It was one of those photos where being open-minded and working fast came together with a brilliant reaction.

 

And this is the reaction of Katie’s bridesmaids as she burst around the corner of the stairs!

 

At first glance, this might look like a pretty simple and straight shot. But the framing is very deliberate to include the entire veil (which was constantly being moved) as well as particular details in the background that are meaningful to the couple. And of course, timing it with a beautiful smile. Whilst backed into a doorway in order to be discreet!

 

I just love this moment where Natasha is showing her wedding dress to her two sons for the first time. This is another shot that I composed wide to include the make-up on the bed and a framed photo of Natasha and her fiance on the wall to set the scene. I like the metaphor of Natasha going into the light but shooting into such a big window and balancing that with a white dress was tricky! I took a few shots but this split second where Natasha fleetingly adjusted her dress was the winner.

 

Emotions often run high when you’re getting ready so when the gifts come out there are often tears. 2016 seems to have been the year for it but these are two of my favourites:

Firstly, Rich’s tearful reaction when he sees the watch that Nadine has brought him. I love how Rich goes from cool, calm and collected as he unwraps the present to being visibly overcome when he sees the watch. The lighting isn’t good, but so what!

 

I like that there’s so much happening in this photo. I took a few discreet shots as Liz’s parents read the letters that Liz had put in their thank you cards. I could see that Liz’s Mum was holding back the tears but by the time she got to the end she had to give in! Liz had been watching her bridesmaids open their presents but as soon as she realised her Mum was crying she dashed over and gave her a big squeeze. They were both laughing their heads off at the happy tears while Liz’s Dad plays it cool in the background! It’s too bright on Liz’s dressing gown from the window to the right, the champagne bottle is a bit distracting as is the stripey cushion, but I don’t care; it’s a priceless moment.

 

Left: The dressing table where Nadine was having her make-up done was facing right up against the window so the light was lovely but there was no way of getting a photo from the front or the sides and I needed to stay out of the way of the make-up artist, so my only option was to use Nadine’s reflection in the mirror.  I included the make-up artist to help tell the story but kept her out of focus which concentrates your eye on Nadine. Reflections in mirrors are inherently soft so it needed a bit of extra help in post-production too.

Right: Getting into your dress is one of those big moments that you often see photos of but I particularly like this shot of Sam because it’s the less obvious part of putting your dress on. I love the literal concept of Sam stepping into her dress ready to get married.

 

This is another photo of Sam getting ready at Kilworth House. I love it because of the amazing window light, the dress hanging in the background, the quirky dolls house TV cabinet which you can just make out in the shadow on the right and because Sam is so super chilled.

 

Tea. That’s why I love this one. I took this shot from behind the door. If I’d walked into the room it would have changed the moment. It’s important to be sensitive on a wedding day; especially during the morning while everyone is getting ready.

 

A team of two wedding photographers means you can have photos of both of you getting ready. I giggled at this one when I downloaded it after the wedding. I just love that Rich was having tea with the Registrar before getting married!

 

The role reversal of Jude’s parents getting ready makes me smile in this one!

 

Windows are my favourite source of light; especially when combined with rich wood panelling and photographed from a 45° angle. It created a really strong look for Fahad as he waited for his guests to arrive at Holdenby House.

 

A slightly quirky shot of a very dapper Groomsman doing up his tie as he arrived at Charlie’s Ushers’ lunch. I love that he’s framed by an Usher and the Best Man raising a pint on either side and by two more Ushers in the foregrond. The outdoors was a big part of Charlie and Flora’s wedding so I included the top of the hedge as well to frame the bottom of the image. The direct sunlight is a bit strong but because the boys are wearing sunglasses I think it works.

 

I love the happiness in this photo with a smile so big that the lady’s eyes are screwed up, yet it’s still beautiful. And then you look further and notice two guys greeting each other to the left. It’s hard to photograph reactions like this as they’re so fleeting.

 

The arrivals for the ceremony is one of my favourite parts of a wedding to photograph. I was hiding behind the Ushers when they both waved back at one of the guests arriving. Part of me finds the car distracting in the background but I do love that it’s obviously a wedding car and helps set the scene.

 

Always remember to take the labels off the bottom of your shoes! Love this funny moment between Tom and his Best Man.

 

Multi-tasking! I love photos that tell more than one story.

 

This is a favourite for lots of reasons: the lovely window light, the beautiful room, the stunning dress, the gorgeous bride, happy guests looking on and THAT smile.

 

Chris cried when he saw Holly. I love it when people wear their hearts on their sleeves and allow their feelings to shine. Emotion is my favourite thing of all to photograph.

 

Flora was so happy to see Charlie. She was just beaming when she reached the top of the aisle (she beamed all day, actually). Relaxing and enjoying yourself is the best thing you can do for your photos.

 

This one is from David and Emily’s wedding at Fawsley Hall. This is one of my favourite places for a civil ceremony in Northamptonshire and I was keen to show off the setting. The bookcase is rather empty so I went for a semi-silhouette of David & Emily to keep that in shadow and let the window light sculpt the detail in the ceiling.

 

Hands can show as much emotion as faces. Rachael’s Mum read a beautiful verse during the ceremony. I think we all felt the same in that moment.

 

See what I mean about hands? Sometimes you don’t even need to see the faces. Darren and Natasha’s joined hands and a handkerchief clutched in Natasha’s spare hand is all that’s needed here.

 

This little one was fast asleep for the entire ceremony. The obvious photo would have been a close-up of him and his Mum but I like how the adult guests standing with their order of service makes it obvious what’s happening around him.

 

Sometimes it’s the moments in-between the moments that make the best photos. James and Jude had been married for only seconds and were waiting to sign the register; the first chance that they had to speak to each other after the ceremony. It was a short but special moment with just the two of them before the Vicar and their witnesses joined them.

 

A moment later and Jude was signing the register. Photography is often banned at this point but this time I was able to continue working. The Vicar discreetly stepped back each time so I could get good photos anddddd there was amazing window light!

 

I took a couple of shots of Charlie and Flora as they walked out of church but, even though Charlie isn’t looking, this moment when Flora spotted someone was my favourite. So much joy! Another ‘in-between’ moment.

 

It’s just as important to photograph your guests as it is you. They’re a big part of your day and pictures of them can really help to tell the story, show the relationships and bring back memories of the atmosphere.


 

A strong and serendipitous gust of wind took Flora’s veil as she and Charlie walked down the church path! Their reaction was priceless. I love the ladies holding onto their hats and Flora’s Jimmy Choos peeking out! The lesson here is not to sweat the small stuff and enjoy your day!

 

I love this tender moment between Patrick and Lisa as they take hands to get into the wedding car and head off for their reception. Keeping the photography relaxed means we can be watching and waiting for moments like this.

 

The moment when one of the guests made a close-to-the-mark joke that was a little bit too loud!

 

Tom and Katie got married a stone’s throw from their reception venue so everyone walked there after church. This is a favourite because it tells you so much about their day, from the weather and the location to the atmosphere and the people that were there.

 

A loving moment between Darren, Alex and their son Noah. Family photos don’t have to be stiff and posed. And this is another example of not needing to see faces. The arms and hands tell you everything.

 

Anyone for cricket?!

 

The winning lottery ticket?

 

Throw your head back laughter. The best kind.

 

I love how different generations enjoy weddings.

 

Any wedding with a dog is a good one in my eyes. I love the eye contact between Alfie and Sam as they greet each other.

 

I’m often surrounded by a wall of guests with cameras when the cake is cut! But there’s often a lot more fun to be had after the actual cutting!

 

The speeches are another favourite thing of mine to photograph. They’re just so full of great expressions, reactions, relationships. This shot of Flora wiping a tear during Charlie’s speech is a particular favourite because she’s laughing as well as wiping a tear. You can’t see either of their eyes but it’s still full of feeling.

 

I love this beautiful exchange of emotion between Katie and her Dad after he finished his speech, and it’s a good example of how out of focus areas help you concentrate on the speaker or the reaction rather than all the backs of heads which often can’t be avoided.

 

This is another favourite from Katie’s wedding. Katie had just given her bridesmaids some thank you gifts as part of Tom’s speech and they had a spontaneous hug. It’s a great moment and I love the guests looking on in delight as much as the group hug. It’s a messy photo but the chaos works here, I think.

 

The expressions say it all! Humour is fun to capture and I love the reaction in this shot. Maybe not the most flattering expressions but it says so much about what the speech was like.

 

Photographs of speeches work really well in black and white. Often there can be a lot of distraction with microphones, glasses, wine bottles, lots of mixed colours of outfits and backs of heads that you can’t avoid. But black and white unifies and simplies them so that you concentrate more on the content.

 

An unusual colour photo for the speeches but I used it here to show off the grand setting of the Ballroom at Holdenby House. I love how the paintings appear to be looking on as guests themselves.

 

Mariachi. Best. Thing. Ever. It was just such a joy to be there whilst this was going on.

 

Charlie and Flora met at Edinburgh University and did their first dance to ‘500 miles’ by The Proclaimers. It was so full of fun and energy. They were cringing at being on show and called everyone to join them just seconds in but their guests were having none of it, shouting ‘we want more!’. It’s a favourite because it was so much fun to see.

 

I love that Liz is obviously having heaps of fun during the first dance and I love the way Pat is looking at her.  I can’t help but smile back. It was a fleeting moment that needed fast reactions.

 

The dance-floor was getting fuller and fuller so I started to work around the outside. I love that this couple are so oblivious to what’s happening around them. It can be really hard to photograph people dancing. It’s hard to focus in the dark and it’s hard to focus on fast moving subjects. Put the two together … but it’s incredibly rewarding and well worth perserverance.

 

So that’s it for this year. So many lovely couples and so many lovely weddings. I’m looking forward to lots more in 2017. We’ve got a few dates left so if you’re looking for a wedding photographer and like our work then we’d love to hear from you!

 

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COMMENTS

  1. Annette on December 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Wow Sarah, you were lucky to photograph some fabulous weddings this year, none more so than Sam and Rich, you captured it perfectly xx

    • Sarah Vivienne on December 29, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      aww thanks Annette! That’s really sweet. I had the best time photographing Sam and Rich’s wedding; it was beautiful in every way. Thank you for making me feel so welcome; it was a pleasure to share the day with you all xx

  2. Mum on December 28, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    What a lovely round off to a hard and busy year, showing traditionally unseen shots of “the day”. Excellent work as always, so exceedingly proud of you and for you.

    • Sarah Vivienne on December 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Thank you, Mum! I’m pleased you enjoyed them; I know you’d tell me if you didn’t! You never know, I might get around to sharing some more soon! xx

  3. Angela Grasby on September 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Sarah, there are no words that can describe how immensely proud I am of seeing this latest blog with a collection of a years work. Despite you telling me yesterday, a new site was on its way, I have been bowled over with it. Good job I am tapping away on a keyboard, because if I were using paper, it would be wet. Keep up the excellent work you have produced over the last ten years. All awards and publications in many magazines are fully justified, and show how much dedication you put into your work. So proud of you.
    Fondest love, Mum.xxx

    • Sarah Vivienne on September 13, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      If I had paper it would be wet too! Thank you so very much. What lovely words. Thank YOU for always being so supportive and interested in my work xxx

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