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.

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

Is Autumn the perfect time of year for family portraits?

When the light is perfect and so are the family, then heck, yes.

We chose a day in early October for this family portrait session and headed off to the glorious gardens of RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate. Resolutely ignoring the cakes in the window of Betty's tearoom, I made my way through the crowds (note to self: check that I have not booked a photo shoot in the middle of a BEER festival next time) to find mum & dad, Helen & Paul, wrapped up for a leisurely stroll with their two cheeky boys in tow.

The joy of finding a leaf and catching the wee man's expression just before he actually eats it! Little O is only just starting to walk unassisted, but with the help of a handy tree he managed to stabilise himself for this portrait. The light was just beautiful on this early autumn Sunday, and the gorgeous gardens of Harlow Carr in Harrogate was our chosen location

The first thing you notice about this family is their special affection for each other. There is something about their interactions which is so deeply gentle and loving, which I'm struggling to put my finger on as I write this, but which is not present in every family, and which is quite moving to witness.

Plane spotting amongst the silvery trees. The boys were enjoying a game of 'where is the thing that's making all of the noise?' and searched the sky for the aeroplanes, which were clearly out in force in the blue autumn skies. I love how they are so totally wrapped up in this activity that they ignore the camera and concentrate on their game, which helped me capture a few happy, candid family portraits

The silvery trees in which we found ourselves here still had a lovely light canopy of feathery leaves, which were so delicate in the late morning sunshine. The boys got totally wrapped up in a game of 'where's the aeroplane?' which relaxed them in to a perfect state of ignoring my camera and allowed me to capture some happy, candid family shots.

Okay, so we had to stuff a banana in baby O's hand to get a sitting still moment here, but big bro A helpfully assumed a nonchalant pose against a nearby tree.

Hoping for a shot of littlest bro, O, we stuffed a banana in his hand and managed to get a sitting still moment. Big brother A decided to get in on the act by helpfully assuming a nonchalant 'leaning' pose against a nearby tree, and so this became a 'two brothers' family portrait instead! Why not? The more, the merrier, say I!

Big boy A assumes the pixie on a fence pose for me, amongst the moss and the greenery of the woodland at Harlow Carr in Harrogate. I love this portrait. He looks so funny with his cheeky grin

Pixie? Gnome? Whatever it is that hides amongst the moss and greenery in the darkest corner of the Harlow Carr gardens, we found one. This one was particularly cute, with a mischievous grin and a half-wink. Definitely up to no good, but enjoying the attention more and more as the shoot went on.

Another aeroplane causes mummy and her youngest charge to look aloft at the same time. I love the one-ness of this image, mother and son together in a simple moment

As another aeroplane passed overhead, mum and littlest son, O both leaned back and looked skyward for a moment. I love how their tiny moment of accidentally coordinated movement was somehow harmonised, mum and son in perfect unity.

An impromptu game of football in the autumn leaves for dad and eldest son, A. Their faces were joyful and full of affection whilst they played, and therefore easy to photograph here

Do you see what I mean? Such a loving family, wrestling over the football in amongst the fallen leaves, gave us some rough and tumble moments, and expressions of pure joy on the faces of dad and his big boy. Bear hugs and chasing, followed by willful kicking of the ball down a (very) steep hill for dad to retrieve, followed by a bit of cheating and a lot of laughing. Lovely.

This is how loving this family were. I took control of the boys for a moment whilst mum and dad cosied up on the bench for a snuggle. Man, they look so happy in this shot!

I'd love to tell you that I planned for the word LOVING to be centre shot when I made this photo, but it was merely serendipitous. A very happy accident. I asked Helen & Paul for a shot, so as I took this image I was balancing baby O against my knees (he has only JUST learned to stand up & walk on his own) and coaxing big bro A in to holding his brother from behind. Movement was impossible,  for fear of unbalancing the wee man, who was gamely gripping my knees for dear life. Accidents were, thankfully averted, and the two boys were returned to the fold, unharmed. Phew!

It ought to be illegal to be this cute, to be honest. But since it's not, let's just savour the moment and keep it forever for mum and dad to enjoy when he's not so cuddly any more. That's the beauty of a family photo shoot!

That face. Frankly, being this cute ought to be illegal, but since it's not, let's capture it for mum and dad, forever. 

Gorgeous light and the phenomenal surroundings of Harrogate's RHS gardens at Harlow Carr. The perfect combination for this family to create moments to remember on film forever. Turned out A was just as good a backwards walker as a forewards walker, and I made him prove it to me to slow him down for this shot!!

It turned out that A was an excellent backwards walker, as well as being an expert in the traditional forwards method. I know this as I asked him to prove it to me for these shots, in an effort to slow down his pace a little!

This was no hardship - a beautiful day, an adorable foursome, and a leisurely stroll doing what I love. Epic.

For more family portrait stuff, go here, or visit my Pinterest page.