Denton Hall wedding shoot

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Denton Hall is a 2500 acre estate in the beautiful Wharfedale countryside near Ilkley, North Yorkshire. I was chuffed to be invited to capture some images to represent both the epic-ness of this place as a potential wedding venue, as well as the work of a number of local wedding suppliers who were gathering for a day of nuptial creativity.

The first of these clever peeps was hair and make-up stylist Chrys, whose transformation skills are legendary, and who carefully and lovingly embellished the already-exquisite face and hair of model bride, Christy.

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Wedding details come in many forms. In this case, many of the artistic accompaniments were created and curated by Natalie, a local wedding stylist who showed her flourish with this set of delicate stationery and table settings, as well as a fabulously charming ladder altar. See more of Natalie’s work on Instagram at HandMaid.

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A short photographer’s ‘reccy’ stroll around the immediate surroundings of the Denton Hall estate presented a number of appealing spots for photographic opportunities; none more eyesome (see what I did there?!) than the frontage itself. I’m a sucker for symmetry, so I was practically cock-a-hoop when I saw the proportions of those great stone columns on offer.

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“What are those CAKES?” I hear you cry. Pretty huh? All crafted by the uber-talented Gayle from Where The Ribbon Ends. Check out her mad, mouth-watering creations and fabulous handiwork, you won’t regret it.

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Our groom was suited and booted by the trendiest menswear store in the Dales, Jenson Samuel of Skipton. Modern, mix and match check suits with beautiful details and complementing waistcoats/accessories, spoiling groom George for choice.

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The elegant autumnal florals were all created and designed by Leeds-based wedding planner Gillian from Planned with Gill.

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Amongst some of Denton’s lush features is a pretty, winding staircase - a florist’s dream for embellishing. It’s customary during Denton Hall weddings to host the cake cutting ceremony underneath the staircase, and guests have been known to gather up, over and around, in order to observe and throw confetti. Epic.

The epitome of elegance, this beautiful crossover lace-and-bead gown is from Rachel Allan Bridal’s Lo’Adoro range. Fitted to the hips, it then spills down into a soft tulle full length skirt with a lush train.

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One of Denton’s most elegant features is the enormous stone carved fireplace, in front of which the team set out the table with all its settings. Burgundy, green and orange were the perfect tones to usher in an early autumn, complementing Natalie’s hand-crafted menus and name cards to a tee.

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The delicate rose gold jewellery pieces worn by Christy were all created and provided by So Belle Jewellery of Skipton. Stunning.

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If you haven’t found your photographer yet, 2019 and 2020 wedding dates are still available. Contact Helen at eyesomephoto@gmail.com or on 07957627217. Tell me a little about your big day and we can go from there.

Boutique bouquets - wedding florals

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The brides that come to me for wedding photography tend to be chilled. Their wedding-day-in-planning is destined to be relaxed and intimate. It will be a day without pomp, but chock-full of celebration and love. 

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No expense will be spared on the important items - an exquisite bridal gown, fabulous food and a half decent photographer, but neither will money be thrown out of the window like the proverbial baby with the bathwater. When it comes to the florals, my girls, being both classy and romantic, opt for understated and generally petite bouquets which enhance but do not overpower their look.

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In many cases I've noticed that my brides have chosen a single colour for their flowers, often just cream or white, and have added herbs and foliage to strengthen the design. Often it is the waft of these herby additions which out-plays the perfume of the flowers themselves. The bouquet above belonged to Frankie, whose bohemian Italian themed nuptials with Richard were inspired by the couples' engagement in Sicily. 

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Elegance and romance appear to be the consistent watch-word, however. I have rarely had a bride who has thrown investment at great swathes of rose pergolas, or festooned the altar with six foot standing floral displays. They have selectively added their splashes of scent and colour in a discreet and well thought out manner, in order to optimise their impact whilst saving the bigger bucks for the real show stopping items.

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A pink posy accompanied its owner, Tala, her hubby and their three children at their relaxed and gloriously summery, tiny family wedding. The occasion was less about big statements of ostentation, and more about the affirmation of their togetherness. The roses came along for the joy ride.

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The gents are never forgotten. These gloriously cute daffodil buttonholes which featured in the recent Easter wedding of Charlotte & Simon summed up the time of year perfectly. Little sprigs of rosemary and string ties added a rustic touch.

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So when you're planning your big day, remember that size isn't everything. Spend it, but spend it well. The carefully curated selection of blooms you hold in your hands on the day you meet your man at the altar will most likely remain special in your heart for many years to come. Make sure you have them photographed.

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Quintessential couple portraits - getting past the awkward

Saudade - nostalgia; the love that remains; a desire to be near someone or something distant....

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I have photographed quite a few couples now, often in wedding attire and high on life and love. What fascinates me most, however, is the first ten minutes of the shoot. Without exception, both parties are feeling self-conscious, looking awkward and generally asking 'what do you want me to do with my hands?'

To be fair, that's a great question. There's nothing worse than a dangly arm or spatula fingers, yet a couple who are thrust in front of the lens for the first time often suddenly lose the ability to snuggle, or even walk. Exit gorgeously relaxed couple, enter Pinnochio and friend.  

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I find that couples who are attracted to my photographs are looking for (and I quote) 'natural shots'. They want their images to reflect the beauty of their romance but they don't want to be 'posed' or have to gaze into each others' eyes in front of 200 wedding guests and the passing postman.

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Let me tell you a story - it relates to my own wedding day and, rather embarrassingly, the making of the very mistake I am now advising against. It was a very informal wedding and even more embarrassingly, it was not my first. (I should emphasise that the shame relates NOT to the fact that I've been married more than once, but to the multiple opportunities I have had to get wedding photos wrong). Our reception party and back garden were littered with close family and friends, where folk mingled and kids played. I asked our photographer for 'natural stuff'. Candid shots of the fun, the chatter, the love, and the sunshine, please. Ask and ye shall receive. All very sound until I received the digital files and realised that my husband and I had spent the entire day separately - wandering, networking and satisfying our guests, resulting in not a single photograph of the two of us together. D'oh.

I can also tell you that (sshh, it's a secret), if you come to me for couple, engagement or wedding photos then you WILL be posed. You WILL be directed and I WILL ask you to gaze occasionally. Creating romantic, organic images of love takes work and orchestration. If I were to pass the buck and leave you to it, we would probably end up with a hot mess of awkward stances and grooms holding brides in half-Nelson headlocks. 

 
I rest my case.... (click on the photo for a full dose of these fabulous deliberately awkward engagement pics)

I rest my case.... (click on the photo for a full dose of these fabulous deliberately awkward engagement pics)

 

So, think again as you browse those Pinterest boards filled with elegant, atmospheric, love-filled couplegraphs. It is highly unlikely that they were achieved by a photographer who was lucky enough to be recruited by a couple so confident and skilled in front of the camera that they were able to drug, take a day off and let them loose with a command of "just smoulder for me". 

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Once the lens cap comes off and the moment arrives, my advice is simple - take a few deep breaths, look your baby deeply in the eyes, remember how you love him/her, pull them close and follow your photographer's lead. If you got this far because you are a fan of their work, the chances are you are already in very safe hands. Embrace your SAUDADE!

Engagement and couple shoots can be booked independently, or as part of a wedding package. We can shoot pretty much anywhere, but I highly recommend reconnecting with a place that has special meaning for you; it will make all the difference. 

Please get in touch by phone, via email at eyesomephoto@gmail.com or via my social media pages.

Helen x

Inner City Pretty

If you're into alternative and atmospheric wedding imagery, then this one is for you.

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Last week was my birthday. Some people might treat themselves to a new frock on such an occasion, or a pair of shoes. I took a slightly alternative route and spent my birthday money on a full day's photo shoot with Photography Farm. This is my personal idea of fun. Me time. Utter selfishness. A day with myself, my camera and a delightful bunch of strangers in the inner city of Sheffield.

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Our venue was a the Abbeydale Picture House, 100 year old semi-derelict cinema. Magnificent in its shabby condition, the peeling walls were nothing if not an asset for the photographer's eye. We were spoiled by the addition of two professional (and totally sublime) bridal models from J'Adore Models and the experienced and thoughtful styling of Erica at Mr & Mrs Unique.

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Once I had overcome my fear of the dark (not, you understand, because I believe in ghosts, but because I know that to make photographs one requires light), and explored a bit, it became evident that the old picture palace (venue organised by Inner City Weddings and which is, incidentally, available for hire for weddings) was littered with pockets of natural light, eeking in to the building through tiny cracks and pores, and little port-hole windows. Perfection.

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The shafts of light which pierced the darkness provided just enough drama to prove that you can make a beautiful bridal portrait just about anywhere. In the case of the image below this happened to be on an ill-lit, crumbling stairwell with wonky steps and splintered windows. The ancient walls retained just enough paint to add urban interest, complementing the softness of the incredible bridal gowns provided by the fabulous E&W Couture and Bowen Dryden

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The faces of the two beauties in frocks were both naturally magnificent, but were enhanced by the skills of professional Make Up Artist, Jenn Edwards. Further details and embellishments were contributed by Campbells Flowers of Sheffield, Halo & Co (jewellery), and Faber Novella (shoes).

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It was our privilege to be led by four aspirational pros for this romp in self-indulgence. It was as fascinating to watch and talk with them as it was to snap away in this masterpiece of a venue, so thanks indeed for the patience and tolerance of the following:-

Lisa Devlin, Jo from Enchanted Brides, Lee Allen and Lisa Jane.

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If you are interested in my wedding photography, please get in touch via email or my social media, or by using the contact form

Winter nuptial challenges

A winter wedding comes with many challenges.

Challenge #1 - it's bloody cold

Meet Claire and Russ, blissfully happy (and rightly so), but on this occasion most of the laughter was goosebump-related. Between shots, Claire hurriedly and repeatedly grappled with the zip of her Parka and tried not to look blue. A veritable trooper, I must say, who never once complained when I told her to 'lose the coat' again and again.

Are those goose pimples or are you just pleased to see me?

Are those goose pimples or are you just pleased to see me?

Ha! Brainwave! Let's warm up my couple, thought I, and asked if they were up for an impromptu visit to the posh wedding gown shop next door. I had in mind a quirky shot of them standing in the shop window, mannequin-like, dressed as, well a bride and groom, obviously. The rather officious lady in the shop, however, failed to see the funny side, and politely declined. Parka reassembled (admittedly with more than a touch of 'up yours' on my part), and back to the great outdoors we went, tails between our legs.

Claire braving the cold

Claire braving the cold

Challenge #2 - it gets dark early

The scheduled time for the wedding ceremony on this occasion was 3pm. Having consulted the sun gods in advance, I was armed with the knowledge that sunset was scheduled for around 4pm. Now, it doesn't take a maths genius to calculate that by the time Russ & Claire had actually signed their marital contract, it would be too dark for the photos which they were paying me to deliver. Awkward in the extreme.

Hurriedly shooting between Parka moments

Hurriedly shooting between Parka moments

It is thanks both to the excellent natures of my sporting and awesome bride and groom, and to the relaxed mood of their nuptials that we were able to negotiate meeting up an hour before the ceremony, in order to get some portraits 'in the can'. This was only possible because they were unconcerned about seeing each other before their wedding, and really underpins why my favourite weddings are just like this one, where both parties are super-chilled and entirely without pomp or formality. 

Fading light for a confetti shower

Fading light for a confetti shower

Challenge #3 - shooting at a register office

Register Offices are perfectly fine places to get married, but generally offer up a stinker of a challenge for photographers. 

In this particular case, the windows are curtained and let in little natural light, the walls are beige (they suck up the light and are highly unflattering for skin tone) and there are ill-placed 1970s light fittings bracketed around the walls. The latter provide a cherry-on-the-cake type of challenge, which requires the person holding the camera to attempt to capture the deep emotion of the moment without the bride appearing as though she has well-lit metal antlers growing out of her head.

Letting someone else do the hard work

Letting someone else do the hard work

There are other obvious limitations to an urban Register Office, of course. Whilst the car park is a godsend for a photographer with a heavy bag of equipment, it is generally not my location of choice for newlywed portraits. 

Scouting for interesting nook and cranny opportunities ahead of time has become essential. They must be within a few yards, as brides wear high heels. They must be free from mud and dog kak, as brides wear pretty, long dresses. It must be aesthetically pleasing. Trees are good. Gravel is bad. Bright sunshine is bad. Shade is good.

A helpful log, randomly but conveniently placed next to the car park

A helpful log, randomly but conveniently placed next to the car park

When the bridal shop failed, we hot-footed it to a small courtyard which served a handful of apartments. No-one seemed to mind that we didn't belong there, and we had enough peace and quiet to relax into a few shots.

Handsome Russ in a quiet moment before the ceremony

Handsome Russ in a quiet moment before the ceremony

Harrogate also managed to offer up the Stray. Whoever once said "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink" was bang on here. Acres of grass (= mud = no go), thousands of trees (= no leaves = mud = no go), parked cars (= ugly = no go). Thank goodness for the odd path.

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Challenge #4 - cozy indoor spaces 

When the sun is gone, it's cold with a capital C, and the Reception has yet to begin, there is an inevitable retreat indoors. 

Claire & Russ held their delightfully informal and cozy reception at the gorgeous General Tarleton at Ferrensby. In addition to champagne, open fires, candles and fairy lights welcomed their guests into the low-beamed room filled with sofas and snacks. 

Time to reach for the flash. 

Rearranging the accessories to capture the mood

Rearranging the accessories to capture the mood

Whilst natural light produces a romantic and dreamy air to wedding photos, indoor flash can be the polar opposite. I was keen to ensure that Claire and Russ's story remained true to events, and that the mood wasn't ruined by an over-zealous light bulb.

Someone needs to remind her to never upstage the bride

Someone needs to remind her to never upstage the bride

An upstairs room was laid out with a long table, set for dinner for about 30 people. It was pitch dark, apart from the twinkle of a few fairy lights and some tea lights, which the kids were (if I were paranoid, I might say sadistically) enjoying blowing out as they ran rings around the table. All's fair in love and wedding photography.

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The atmosphere was loving, congenial and perfect for a winter party.

Mum and dad

Mum and dad

So, whilst shooting a winter wedding throws up a veritable minefield of obstacles for whoever's in charge of the camera, all is not lost. Challenges aside, this was a totally beautiful day from start to end. I was thrilled to be asked, and lucky to be part of it. 

My fondest and best wishes go out to Claire, Russ and family, for the future.

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A Golden Celebration

A 50th anniversary is sealed with a well earned kiss. What a fantastic way to commemorate such a milestone, with a family photo shoot.

Ann & David have just passed a glorious milestone. 50 years of marriage is not to be sniffed at. 1966 may have been a swinging time, but it was also an era when men and women committed to each other at an early age and chose not to waver. 

Sneaking the whole crew in to a family portrait, we chose the glorious backdrop of Harrogate's RHS Harlow Carr gardens to show off the family

Their joint anniversary gift from their son and daughter was (lucky for me!) a family photo shoot, which we stealthily combined with a pleasant stroll in the country. The whole family, granddaughters included, came along for the ride, in an attempt to create some memories for the next 50 years of the family line to cherish.

Autumn leaves provided an impromptu game of hide and seek for the grandchildren. I have no idea how I found them!

It happens to be the middle of autumn, when the trees are bang in their prime, and my reluctant models took advantage of the leafy excess, going temporarily AWOL in a mischievous attempt to evade my lens. I.m so glad that the whole family was involved in this shoot. The presence of the girls made their grandparents (not naturally comfortable in front of the camera) relax in to our walk, and the results show.

The 5oth anniversary couple take a stroll, watched over by their children and granddaughters.

A golden anniversary is not a common event. Maybe there is a combination of reasons for this. Do couples lack the tenacity to see out the rough times these days, divorce being a common and easily obtained outcome? In the 50s and 60s the only way to escape your parents' home was to get married, and since cohabitation was not an option, perhaps this created a 'forever' mindset? Escaping your parents to marry invariably meant that you were probably only maybe 21 or 22 back then, which differs to the average age of 28 at which couples are marrying right now (I know, I looked it up!) Marrying at 21 certainly gives you a better shot at reaching a 50th anniversary than marrying later in life?

Enjoying the moment, Ella takes to the woods for a series of supermodel poses

Shooting these young lovelies, it's impossible to avoid thinking about what lies ahead for the youngest generation with their not-yet formed relationships. How will life and marriage have changed in the next 50 years? Will it still be the institution we know and cherish? I do hope so. They deserve it.

The smallest member of the bunch takes to the shrubbery to avoid the camera. Ha! Gotcha!

If you want more family photo shoot inspiration, try here. Look out for more autumn shots to follow too!

Please follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.

Love, reprised in these super sweet wedding images from Hipping Hall, Lake District

Andy & Becky are sweethearts. Any fool can see that.  They sealed their devotion in a wedding ceremony on the idyllic Greek island of Corfu in August of this year. Now home, with the nuptials all complete, they decided to dust off their marital outfits for one final time with a post-wedding photo shoot.

Enjoying the moment, newlyweds Andy & Becky see the funny side of sitting on a bridge with no shoes on for wedding portraits
 

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Thanks to the artistry of local hair and makeup genius Lucy Pearson, bride Becky looked as pretty and youthful as the day she met her beau, with loose blonde curls and a sweet, natural look to her makeup. To complement her understated floral arrangement, Katie at Made in Flowers had created a stunning hair adornment for gorgeous Becky, who wore it with class and elegance. I adore how Becky's bluer-than-blue eyes stand out here against the dark brown wood pile in the background. Wowsers, Andy's a lucky guy!

Bride, Becky, made (even more) beautiful by make-up artist Lucy

venue highlight

Although not quite competing with Corfu, the English weather played nice on this super joyful day and bathed our newlyweds in glorious early autumn sunshine. We took to the fields and gardens around lush Hipping Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale in the southern Lake District, where the grass was long and the sun was helpfully low in the sky, adding an unsolicited breath of romance to our bridal portraits.

A relaxed and cheerful couple took to the fields on a hazy summer day for portraits

the best moments

Pretty much the final shot of the day, when Becky reached up her face and looked at her new husband, moments before a kiss, there was pure, unchecked adulation in her eyes. Marriage is a seriously intense experience, but the joy of re-enacting it purely for photographic pleasure allows a couple the chance to REALLY savour the time in front of the lens and relish in each other's affection. Just look at that smoulder!

The way Becky looks at her new husband here is just heart-wrenchingly gorgeous. This shoot was a reprisal of the wedding vows of this delicious couple who had already been married TWICE, firstly in Corfu then at home with larger friends and family in Blighty. This occasion was an opportunity to take a more relaxed approach to getting some wedding images, a chance to really savour their time together and to compose themselves in to the portraits they wanted to create without the stress of a large audience, or the pressure of a timeline to adhere to. As a result, the truly emotive moments which they created were authentic and unsolicited, meaning naturally tranquil moments and unforced poses. The location for the shoot was lovely Hipping Hall in the Lake District, and the early autumn sun paid us tremendous respect, low in the sky, enabling sun-drenched mementoes for posterity
The late summer sun was just falling behind the trees in Hipping Hall's beautiful gardens as this shot was taken

Little details

Nervous grooms may not always show their apprehension in their faces, but if you know where to look there is inevitably some sign that they are jittery in other body language. Even though Andy had already been married to his gorgeous soulmate twice (yes, TWICE - once in Corfu, once in Blighty!) there was little doubt that he was still feeling daunted by the prospect of reliving the experience for a third time. His hands, never still, were in a constant state of agitation, undermining the calm expression on his handsome face.

A nervous groom, Andy's hands were not still for a moment whilst he waited for his girl
An apprehensive groom recalls how the real wedding day felt as he waits beside his wife's wedding gown for her to be readied

Hand in hand all the way for this adoring couple, who barely lost contact with each other's fingers the entire time we were shooting, across two different locations. Lingering for a while to chat, the bride removed her silvery shoes and dangled her bare feet over the edge of the stream next to what looked like a former mill. Details such as this show the degree of comfort that the newlyweds feel in each other's company, as well as giving off an unceremonious air. This is a couple whose life together will be unpretentious and honest, surely a winning combination with which to begin a marriage.

A peaceful moment as the newlyweds chat and hold hands on the bridge above the stream
The dress falls casually on to the cobbles and Becky clutches her bouquet nervously. The crossed feet say it all about how she is feeling at thsi moment

If you enjoy wedding posts, try some of these. You can find the wedding 'details' which went with this photo shoot by following this link, as well as lots of other lovely stuff.

This shoot was made possible by Aspire Photography Training, who run marvellous courses for professional photographers.