Jon & Beth’s Wedding at Shustoke Farm Barns

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I’ve known Beth for a few years; she modelled on a few editorial shoots for me. She’s stunning of course (stating the obvious!) but is just the sweetest person too, beautiful inside and out. We always had a great time shooting together so I was super excited when she asked if I was free to photograph her wedding.

Beth’s beau Jon is her perfect fit; her penguin for life. It was very special to capture all the love and fun that they share. Their wedding was a lively occasion, full of love and laughter, so there was an abundance of great moments and expressions to photograph.

Jon & Beth had a civil ceremony and reception at Shustoke Farm Barns in Coleshill, Warwickshire. It was a blast from the past for me because my first job after graduating from Uni was based in Coleshill. I didn’t know about Shustoke then though and it was a fabulous surprise. It’s been well-adapted for weddings, is full of character and the team are BRILLIANT!

Well, any venue that organises the confetti line, ushers the guests into place for the ‘everyone’ photo AND makes me a cup of tea gets my vote! They really couldn’t have been more helpful. So I can only imagine what a great experience it would be for couples getting married there.


Hoorah for happy tears!

Jon gave Beth a card and present to open on their wedding morning while she was getting ready.

I think she was only one line in on the card when the tears started and the make-up artist dashed in with a tissue to save her make-up!

I like to shoot moments like this with a wide angle lens because it allows you to tell more than one story per picture.

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A close-up picture of Beth’s expression would have been nice but it wouldn’t tell you nearly as much about what’s going on.

You need the make-up artist and the tissue to explain what’s happening and I just adore the reaction of Beth’s bridesmaids on the right! It’s a busy scene and works all the better for the clean, simple background.


Sometimes the simplest pictures are the most complicated

I knew someone would need to stand on a chair to reach Beth’s dress. I saw the moment happening and visualised the photo an hour or so before I took it.

I’m fond of a ‘frame within a frame’ and I love that the action is framed by the window in this photo. It draws your eye directly to where it’s meant to go. All the neutral colours help with that too. Yay for nice hotel rooms!

I often forget the challenge of shooting directly into windows until someone shooting over my shoulder with an iPhone looks at me completely bemused! I’ve done it enough times not to really think about it now and I’m very thankful for having learnt how to do it! It’s saved me many times!

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Timing was important as well. Press the shutter too soon and the action wouldn’t have been contained within the window as I wanted. But press it too late and the moment would have gone. Argh! It can be nerve-wracking sometimes!

And then the icing on the cake was Beth stepping in. A bridesmaid reaching for the dress would have made a nice shot but for me, it’s loaded with extra feeling being the bride; taking her dress to put it on and get married.

Oh, and #LegGoals!


The moments of calm make you appreciate the mad

One thing that’s really important to me is making sure a set of wedding photos looks ‘happy’.

But all good stories need contrasts.

I love the serene, thoughtful moments amongst the busy fun ones.

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A few minutes earlier, this had been a lively scene with Ushers bustling about, guests finding their seats, friends and family greeting each other, Best Men providing the banter…

But at this moment, everyone knows Beth has arrived and will make her entrance at any time. The room has gone quiet and Jon is waiting alone at the front, looking pensively out of the window. It doesn’t last long but it’s a palpable atmosphere where, for just a short time, a sense of anticipation kicks in over the excitement.


A test of nerve

I’d been watching how the light fell on the guests’ faces as they came into the ceremony room to see what the conditions would be like when Beth walked down the aisle.

(Yeah, I know, banging on about light again!)

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There wasn’t much light at the beginning and that would only make for ‘okay’ shots but I spotted the window on the left of the picture. That’s the stuff my dreams are made of!

I held my nerve and camera ready until Beth reached the window and the light fell on her face. Beth did the rest by smiling beautifully all the way down the aisle, her eyes fixed on Jon!


TFW the Registrar announces that you’re husband and wife!

It’s a delight to witness this moment build. The couple goes from serious concentration faces to the knowing look that says “come on, out with it”, to ever-increasing smiles, to sheer joy and then massive relief. Every. Time.

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Beth & Jon’s faces, hands and their guests’ faces say it all.


Rules are made to be broken (respectfully!)

It’s very rare to be able to take photos while the registers are being signed. And today was no different; I’d been told to wait until afterwards and then set something up.

While I was dutifully waiting my turn, I spotted some glass covering the air vents in the brick. The diamond design of the vents had caught my eye earlier and I decided to use the time to admire it!

At one particular angle, there was a reflection in the glass. And with my back turned I was able to get some discreet shots of what was happening behind me!

*smiles smugly*

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I had the luxury of a little time to watch and wait while each person signed. Just as I was thinking that the image was a bit flat and needed more movement, Jon and Beth’s two witnesses stepped in with big smiles to congratulate them and to top it off the Registrar leaned forward to sign. I had my shot.


The unplanned shots are usually the best ones

A minute or two before I took this shot, I’d been hanging out of the window to take a group photograph of all Jon & Beth’s guests. As I thanked everyone and stood back, I noticed the interesting shape of the window and how it framed the view outside.

I waited until the guests were more dispersed and then took this. I always like to take an establishing shot of the drinks reception and I love that this one shows off the venue too. Threes make for a strong design so I’ve included all three window panes and I love the symmetry with an olive tree in each one. I also love that Beth is so prominent; she completes the picture.

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It’s wise to leave some slack in your timeline for shots like this to be seen and created. Had there been a long list of group photos, I’d have had to dash straight off to do those and might have missed this.


Weddings are meant to fun

…so anything that makes me laugh is fair game!

Smiles are always nice to get but to me, capturing someone’s personality is more meaningful.

Beth and Jon are fun loving souls and put face mats on the dinner tables for their guests to enjoy. I watched and waited (in the good light, obvs!) until the guests started trying them on.

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This expression for the win! I love the sad eyes and furrowed brows Beth’s bridesmaid put on to match the pouty bottom lip on the face mat!

Moments like this are fleeting so not only do I need to be quick but I need to be sure I can rely on my gear to keep up too. I’m very thankful to Nikon for their help in the making of this shot!


Never would I ever

… take photos of people eating during the meal. They’re not going to be flattering. People need space. Serving staff need space. It’s just not okay.


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Sometimes there’s something happening that will be photogenic and absolutely should be photographed. Like, the carving of the Sunday roast. You just need to remember to tell me it’s happening so I can be there.


You choose a venue because you love it, right?

That’s why a big part of my photography style is to take pictures with context, so you can tell where the wedding took place.

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All the pairs in this scene caught my eye: two best men, Jon and Beth either side and the two fabulous arched doors. So I framed the photo symmetrically to make a feature of the balance, held the focus ready and waited for the right moment to take the shot. I didn’t have to wait long for the LOLs!


Are you getting married at Shustoke Farm?

Well, first of all, you can see more photos from their wedding below. And if you like them, we’d love to hear from you and chat about your wedding. If you haven’t already guessed, I loved working at Shustoke and would be thrilled to shoot there again!