So what's an engagement shoot all about then? Basically it's a short portrait photo session with a couple who are getting married. A pre-wedding shoot gives a couple a chance to relax in front of the camera. From the photographer's point of view it's a great opportunity for me to get to know them as well.
You might not think of winter as being a good time for a portrait session - but actually as long as it's not pouring with rain it can be as good a time as any! Winter days tend to be overcast which provides nice soft even light. This is more flattering and easier to work with than the strong shadows of a very bright sunny day. And no squinting from the bright light either!
Brompton Oratory Christening photos When you're only a few months old, you don't really take much notice of where your christening ceremony happens. For Victoria's parents and friends however the ideal place was the spectacular surroundings of London's Brompton Oratory. Victoria's older brother Carlos was baptised here too.
Now this was a fun party to photograph - for Tom's 50th birthday celebrations his wife Libby had asked everyone to come in fancy dress to match the party's James Bond theme. Some got into the spirit more than others, but there were some very creative costumes... At least two Blofelds (complete with white cat), a scuba diver from "Thunderball", a gold-clad Shirley Eaton lookalike from "Goldfinger", a very creative Octopussy, and a scarily realistic "Jaws" from "The Spy Who Loved Me". And the birthday boy came as Commander James Bond RNVR (who else?)
Windsor family portrait No, not a portrait of the Windsor family (aka the Royal family!) but a family portrait session in Windsor... :-) When Nick contacted me to see if I could come and take some family photographs to commemorate his mother Nicole's birthday, I was pleased to do so. Often these occasions go by unrecorded, or perhaps only by a few cellphone selfies, which is a shame when it's an important milestone and family members have travelled around the globe to be there.
Portrait session Guildford Castle | Dobson familyWhen one of your children moves to the other side of the world for a while it's a big deal for most families - and Lindsay Dobson decided to seize the opportunity to have some family photos done before her daughter Robyn left for Australia.
Hampshire engagement shoot | Laura & Matthew Laura & Matthew's wedding is only a couple of months away, so I thought it was time I did a pre-wedding (aka engagement) shoot for them. The idea is for me to get to know them a bit better, find out their likes and dislikes where photography is concerned, and also give them some practice at being in front of the camera.
Brocket Hall Wedding Anniversary Party | Sue & Richard Sue and Richard are passing the milestone of their 25th wedding anniversary this year, and decided to celebrate in style with a party for family and friends in the very elegant surroundings of Brocket Hall, a Regency mansion near Welwyn in Hertfordshire. They asked me to come along to create some family portraits for them and document the event...
St Peter's Guildford | Joseph's Christening As a bit of a change from photographing weddings, last Sunday I had the pleasure of photographing Joseph's christening at St. Peter's Church in Bellfields, Guildford. It was a bright (and breezy) spring day, and family and friends turned out in force to welcome Joseph to the church.
Guildford engagement shoot | Charlotte & Tom On of the things I like to arrange with my wedding couples is to do a quick pre-wedding practice photo shoot - it gives them a chance to dispel any nerves they might feel about being in front of the camera before the big day, and I get to know them better and find out their likes and dislikes, photographically speaking. It only takes 40 minutes or so, and is usually good fun!
Jane's portrait session Godalming Like many busy Mums, head teacher Jane is the photographer in her family - she loves photos and takes lots of her two kids, but as a result is never in the photos herself, which is a shame! So I was very glad when she decided to remedy that, and called me to arrange a personal photo shoot just for herself. The great thing about this kind of session is that it can be done anywhere, indoors or out, and it's usually quite uncomplicated and relaxed - at least that's what I aim for! My plan was to do the shoot at Jane's home and then if we needed some extra time to go to the park - but as it turned out we found lots of places to shoot in Jane's house and garden, so didn't need to use the extra location. The whole session took about an hour.
Family party photos Surrey When the sun is shining and you have a big garden and a great view of the Surrey Hills I don't think you need much of an excuse to have a party - but officially Charlotte and John were celebrating their anniversary - and did so in style with family and friends.
Guildford family portrait baby session Up to now I haven't done a huge number of baby photo shoots - but if they all go as smoothly as this one did then I'm happy to take them on! I photographed baby K's parents' wedding a while ago, so was very pleased when they called me to arrange a photo session with their new arrival. The weather wasn't really warm enough to do the shoot outdoors, so I set up a mini studio in their home office. I decided to use a black background (a little unconventional perhaps) so as to remove all distractions and make the colours "pop". I also felt it would make a nice change from the usual white "high key" background that lots of photographers use. Baby K was very well behaved (apart from the occasional burp) and seemed very happy and relaxed in front of the camera.
We've been trying to arrange an engagement shoot with Lydia and Ian for a few months now - but thanks to weather and other commitments weren't able to find a date that worked for everyone until last Sunday - which was lucky as the wedding is only a week away! But I was glad we managed it as I always find an engagement shoot is a great way for me to get to know a couple and for them to get some practice being photographed - it makes it easier for everyone on the wedding day if e've worked together before. I like to keep this kind of shoot as simple as I can - we just wandered into Lydia & Ian's local park, which is a wetland reserve on the site of the old railway sidings in their home town of Lewes, East Sussex.
I promised myself that next time I post about a portrait session I wouldn't mention the weather, but it's really hard not to, as it has such an effect on what we can do with the session... I'd been trying to find a time to shoot Jo and Al's engagement session for a couple of weeks - either the timing didn't work or it was pouring with rain, or so it seemed. Anyway we finally fixed a time for last Saturday - and it was literally a case of looking at the weather forecast on the day to find an hour when it wasn't going to be raining! Anyway we managed to find a gap and met in the Phillips Memorial Park in Godalming, down by the river Wey...
Last week I got together with the Brown family for a family portrait session at their home. The weather wasn't great so we did most of the shoot indoors - which is fine with me and can work better with young kids as everything is familiar. Earlier in the year dad Euan's sister Ellie had organized a photo session with me as a birthday gift for him (which is a great idea by the way if you are stuck for something to give a family member this Christmas!). However they wanted to wait until baby Hannah was a bit older before having the photo shoot, so we did the session last week rather than at the time of Euan's birthday...
Last weekend I drove down to the New Forest to photograph the celebrations for Ken and Ann's 50th wedding anniversary. They were a bit startled to see me at first I think, as the photo coverage had been organised as a surprise gift from their children Victoria and Simon... But they took it all in their stride, fortunately! We started with some posed family pictures in the garden, and then I switched into documentary mode to cover the party and the speeches that followed...
I know I always talk about the weather when I post photos, but when you shoot outdoors most of the time as I do it's an important topic! :) Last Wednesday Liz and Jonathan came over to chat about their wedding day plans (they're getting married at Hartsfield Manor in October) and we took the opportunity to do a quick "engagement" shoot just around the corner on Church Green here in Wonersh. I was hoping for a bit of sunshine, as there's been some around from time to time this past week, but no such luck - in fact we had to dodge the drizzle at the beginning of our session!
At last, some sunshine! It seems like we've had nothing but rain for weeks - but when I met S and J (they've asked me to use their initials for privacy reasons) in the grounds of Guildford Castle last Sunday morning the weather was kind and we had the sun peeking through the clouds at least some of the time!
I was looking through my archives the other day and I came across this photo session - and it got me thinking about why many people don't have professional photos of their family... I think there is a perception that having a professional portrait session is going to be a long and tedious affair, with a lot of standing about and feeling awkward while being posed endlessly by the photographer. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I hope these images show...