Wedding Preparations

A Bridesmaid Shows Off Her Dress at Shangri La Hotel, The Shard

Why This Photo Matters

I’ve always loved photographs where several things are happening at the same time. This adds a sense of motion to an image that is difficult to convey otherwise.

Here’s a photo of wedding preparations happening at the Shangri-La hotel in The Shard in London. The bride is having make-up applied near the window; meanwhile the younger bridesmaids (although you can only see one of them) are showing their dresses to the other women in the room. Without either one of these things happening, we would see an ordinary static photo, but with both, we get a sense of action and the looming deadline of the ceremony.

To complete the set, the hairdresser, who has just finished her work, is reviewing photos of the girls’ hair on her phone in the background.

This kind of technique is just one of the tools that I use in my documentary shooting style. It definitely relies on a slice of luck, but I’m always working hard to be in the right place at the right time for this kind of shot.

Camera Details

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s

The Knife

The bride and groom wait to cut the cake at Consall Hall Gardens

Why This Photo Matters

I could easily have chosen to take one of those “traditional” cheesy cutting-of-the-cake photos at this point of the wedding. But it’s far more interesting to show the guests lining up to take their own photos, to bring them into the story. And I was also able to capture the waiter bringing the knife out from the kitchen at Consall Hall Gardens ready for the cake cutting moments later.

I’d much rather put these kinds of ceremonial set-pieces in context – in this case to make use of a wide-angle lens and show how the guests are reacting to events as they unfold. It’s part of my role as a documentary wedding photographer to show the wider story. It seems absurd to me for the photographer to become the centre of attention at the cutting of the cake. Instead, it is a moment for the couple to experience and for their guests to witness and I always intend to use a photojournalistic approach to make it more memorable.

If you’d like to know more about my documentary style of photographing weddings, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the form on this page.

Camera Details

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 6400
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s

Dolls’ Shoe

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3 Years 6 Months

The previous Christmas we had sourced a magnificent Dolls’ House (plus mini-people) for our lad, cleverly thinking that we could encourage his imaginative play (as if we needed to do that).

Inevitably, the house hasn’t had a lot of attention so far but when I did leave a pair of these rather trendy shoes lying around on the carpet it wasn’t long before a use was found for them.

Camel

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2 Years 0 Months

Before he was aged around two-and-a-half, my son was unable to really communicate what his intention was in his creations. Most of the time I could only guess.

I think that this one is pretty clear, however. The toy camel is from his nativity set and it is sitting on top of a camel in his nativity story book.

Musical Drawers

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2 Years 0 Months

The kitchen cupboard handles became home to a wide variety of toys as my son experimented with his “art”, particularly around this period of his life. This time it was a set of toddler-style musical instruments that were given the balancing treatment.

A Sequence – Girl With A Balloon

  • Bride with makeup artist and girl with balloon at Moat House Sto
  • Girl Playing with Balloon Before Consall Hall Gardens Wedding
  • Balloon Girl Bridesmaid and Bride before Consall Hall Gardens We
  • Bride with makeup artist and girl with balloon at Moat House Sto
  • Girl Playing with Balloon Before Consall Hall Gardens Wedding
  • Balloon Girl Bridesmaid and Bride before Consall Hall Gardens We



There is currently such an emphasis on individual photographs, particularly online, that it’s easy to forget how a series of photographs can tell a story. Images seem to float disembodied across the internet, divorced from their original context… which can be lovely when it comes to pretty landscapes, but at the same time losing their impact when it comes to storytelling.

The images above were taken immediately before one of the weddings I photographed recently at Consall Hall Gardens. I was there (in The Moat House Hotel, Stoke-On-Trent, in fact) to take photographs of the bride getting ready – and the storyline is ostensibly the interaction between the makeup artist and the bride. But the girl with the balloon stole my focus for a short while.

There’s a fundamental difference in storytelling wedding photography – as with all forms of documentary and reportage photography – between a single image and a sequence of images. Most often, we are shown an individual image that represents a single point in time, and it’s left to the reader to interpret the moment. In wedding photography, our familiarity with the themes and the typical story makes it easier for us to immediately understand the image. A sequence leaves even less room for doubt. The viewer is watching events over a period of time, and it’s the photographer’s job to tell that story by stitching together a sequence of images which has more value than the sum of its individual parts.

I’ll be showing more sequences on the blog in the weeks to come.

London Wedding At Southwark Cathedral, Dalston Roost and Shangri La Hotel (The Shard)

  • The Shard and Southwark Cathedral, London
  • Hair Stylist Sprays The Bride’s Hair with Hairspray at Shangri L
  • Wedding Guest Looks Through Binoculars at the Shangri La Hotel,
  • Bride, Hair Stylist, Bridesmaids and Guests at Shangri La Hotel,
  • Bridesmaid Shows Off Her Dress at Shangri La Hotel, The Shard, L
  • Bridesmaids hold dresses at Shangri La Hotel, The Shard, London
  • Wedding Guest Looks Through Binoculars at the Shangri La Hotel,
  • Makeup Artist Applies Makeup to the Bride at Shangri La Hotel, T
  • Wedding Dress Hangs At Shangri La Hotel, The Shard, London
  • Guest Takes Photo of The Bride with a Smartphone at Shangri La H
  • Groom with Best Man before Wedding at Southwark Cathedral
  • Groom waits anxiously for Bride to Arrive at Southwark Cathedral
  • Page Boy Greets Guest at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride Arrives at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride Walks Down The Aisle with Page Boys at Southwark Cathedral
  • Groom Sees Bride For The First Time at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride And Groom Hold Hands at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride And Groom Kiss During Wedding Ceremony at Southwark Cathed
  • Bride Hugs Her Family at Southwark Cathedral
  • Guests Throw Confetti at Southwark Cathedral
  • Guests Remove Confetti From Bride’s Hair at Southwark Cathedral
  • Guest And Page Boy High Five after Wedding at Southwark Cathedra
  • Bridesmaids Twirl Dresses after Wedding at Southwark Cathedral
  • Wedding Guests Board Red Double Decker Bus after Wedding at Sout
  • Guests Look Out Of Window Of Bus On The Way To Reception at Dals
  • Wedding Bus Transports Guests to Reception at Dalston Roost
  • Guests aboard Bus to Reception at Dalston Roost
  • Guests Disembark Double Decker Bus outside Dalston Roost, London
  • Guest with Hat at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Bath Full of Beer at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests Laugh at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests stands in front of Roses at Wedding Reception at Dalston
  • Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Young Girl at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Laughter at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Maid of Honour Stands in Front of Portrait at Reception at Dalst
  • Groom Stands In Front of Mirror at Wedding Reception at Dalston
  • Guests Toast Before Meal at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost,
  • Food Being Eaten at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Bride, Groom and Bridesmaids at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roo
  • Bridesmaids play with Decorations at Wedding Reception at Dalsto
  • Bride Toasts her Maid of Honour at Wedding Reception at Dalston
  • Groom  Makes Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Londo
  • Guests During Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Lond
  • Bride Makes Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guest Makes Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Cakes Adorn a table at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Londo
  • Guest Photographs Cakes at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, L
  • Wedding Guest with Cocktails and Cake at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests Look at Photographs at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost
  • Sliders at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Bride and Groom Dance at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Lon
  • Street Kitchen at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • The Shard and Southwark Cathedral, London
  • Hair Stylist Sprays The Bride’s Hair with Hairspray at Shangri L
  • Wedding Guest Looks Through Binoculars at the Shangri La Hotel,
  • Bride, Hair Stylist, Bridesmaids and Guests at Shangri La Hotel,
  • Bridesmaid Shows Off Her Dress at Shangri La Hotel, The Shard, L
  • Bridesmaids hold dresses at Shangri La Hotel, The Shard, London
  • Wedding Guest Looks Through Binoculars at the Shangri La Hotel,
  • Makeup Artist Applies Makeup to the Bride at Shangri La Hotel, T
  • Wedding Dress Hangs At Shangri La Hotel, The Shard, London
  • Guest Takes Photo of The Bride with a Smartphone at Shangri La H
  • Groom with Best Man before Wedding at Southwark Cathedral
  • Groom waits anxiously for Bride to Arrive at Southwark Cathedral
  • Page Boy Greets Guest at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride Arrives at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride Walks Down The Aisle with Page Boys at Southwark Cathedral
  • Groom Sees Bride For The First Time at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride And Groom Hold Hands at Southwark Cathedral
  • Bride And Groom Kiss During Wedding Ceremony at Southwark Cathed
  • Bride Hugs Her Family at Southwark Cathedral
  • Guests Throw Confetti at Southwark Cathedral
  • Guests Remove Confetti From Bride’s Hair at Southwark Cathedral
  • Guest And Page Boy High Five after Wedding at Southwark Cathedra
  • Bridesmaids Twirl Dresses after Wedding at Southwark Cathedral
  • Wedding Guests Board Red Double Decker Bus after Wedding at Sout
  • Guests Look Out Of Window Of Bus On The Way To Reception at Dals
  • Wedding Bus Transports Guests to Reception at Dalston Roost
  • Guests aboard Bus to Reception at Dalston Roost
  • Guests Disembark Double Decker Bus outside Dalston Roost, London
  • Guest with Hat at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Bath Full of Beer at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests Laugh at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests stands in front of Roses at Wedding Reception at Dalston
  • Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Young Girl at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Laughter at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Maid of Honour Stands in Front of Portrait at Reception at Dalst
  • Groom Stands In Front of Mirror at Wedding Reception at Dalston
  • Guests Toast Before Meal at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost,
  • Food Being Eaten at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Bride, Groom and Bridesmaids at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roo
  • Bridesmaids play with Decorations at Wedding Reception at Dalsto
  • Bride Toasts her Maid of Honour at Wedding Reception at Dalston
  • Groom  Makes Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Londo
  • Guests During Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Lond
  • Bride Makes Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guest Makes Speech at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Cakes Adorn a table at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Londo
  • Guest Photographs Cakes at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, L
  • Wedding Guest with Cocktails and Cake at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests Look at Photographs at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost
  • Sliders at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London
  • Bride and Groom Dance at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, Lon
  • Street Kitchen at Wedding Reception at Dalston Roost, London


Three Amazing Venues for Carolyn and Angus’s Wedding

“We’re not big on posed photos and the reception is at a funky old pub that’s been converted to a photo studio/film set.”

Any documentary photographer would jump at the chance of shooting a wedding on hearing those words.

So from my first very email exchange with Carolyn and Angus, I knew I wanted to travel to London to shoot this wedding, and that was before I knew that the wedding ceremony was at Southwark Cathedral and that Carolyn would be getting ready in the newly-opened Shangri-La Hotel in the Shard.

And so a few weeks ago I photographed one of the most colourful weddings that I think I’ll ever shoot. While Southwark Cathedral is “just our parish church” (according to the happy couple) it must be said that the views of the City of London from the Shangri-La Hotel on the 42nd floor of The Shard are breathtaking (they even give you binoculars in case you’ve got time to look). Indeed, this may be one of the first weddings to be photographed from The Shard.

There surely can’t be a greater contrast between the majesty of Southwark Cathedral for the wedding ceremony and the eclectic decoration and warehouse style of the wedding reception at Dalston Roost. Once the couple were happily married and the location of the wedding transport was eventually identified, the guests and I navigated the 45 minutes of Central London traffic to the reception venue on a big red Routemaster double decker bus (one of the brilliant old-style ones where there are no doors at the back).

One thing that is immediately obvious once you set foot in The Roost is that the professionalism of its staff and the attention to detail when it comes to the look and feel of the place is unsurpassed. I hope that this set of images does justice to the colourful and happy atmosphere enjoyed by all at The Roost on this July day.

I’d like to thank Carolyn and Angus for their wonderful welcome and for allowing me to tell their story with my trademark documentary photography approach.

Landscape Photographer Of The Year Exhibition

You may recall that I was recently awarded commendations for two images at the Landscape Photographer Of The Year 2011 competition. You can see the two images on display at the exhibition at The National Theatre on London’s South Bank until 28th January. It’s an amazing collection of photographs, the best photographs from tens of thousands of entries each year; it’s well worth a visit if you like this sort of photography as there are images from some of the most talented landscape photographers in the UK. Of my two images, the mushroom image “Under The Shelter” has received the most publicity, and here’s me grinning in front of it at the private view last week.

Tom Nicholls at the Landscape Photographer Of The Year 2011 Exhibition

The private view was a great opportunity for me to meet some of the other winning photographers from the competition. The images are all shown at an appropriately large scale so many of them are more impressive than when viewed in the book. In particular, this image by Damian Shields has far greater impact at exhibition size and I was able to congratulate him on this.

The exhibition has generated quite a bit of interest in the national press. Here is the mushroom pic on the centre spread of The Guardian as part of their selection from the exhibition last week:

The Guardian selection from the Landscape Photographer Of The Year

… and here it is in Amateur Photographer magazine:

Amateur Photographer magazine selection from the Landscape Photographer Of The Year

But the most exciting appearance, of course, was in an article in the Crewe Guardian:

Crewe Guardian article from the Landscape Photographer Of The Year

It’s also been chosen by Time Out for their selection and, less importantly, here in The Daily Mail.

Here’s more from the exhibition, including one showing a slideshow of images projected onto the side of the National Theatre:

Landscape Photographer Of The Year Outdoor Slideshow at the National Theatre


Viewing the Landscape Photographer Of The Year Exhibition

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, there’s always the book:

The Book From the 2011 Landscape Photographer Of The Year

Mushroom image in the Landscape Photographer Of The Year book

Gormley image in the Landscape Photographer Of The Year book

The mushroom image was also selected as one of the ten images for the postcard pack of the exhibition.

Postcard Pack from the Landscape Photographer Of The Year Competition

The best way to stay in touch with what I’m doing – photographically speaking – is to sign up for my Photo Of The Week email.

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011 Winning Images

Although this has become predominantly a wedding blog, today I’m celebrating a double success at the 2011 “Take a View” UK Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. Both these images were successful at the final stages, and consequently will feature at the exhibition starting on December 5th at the National Theatre in London. They will also be included in the popular book of the competition winners (available next week). The mushroom image (from Harrop Tarn in the Lake District) was voted by the judges as a runner-up in its category, and will feature in the postcard pack that is sold from the exhibition. Both these images are available as 40x30cm mounted and framed limited edition prints (contact me for details).

It’s become an ambition of mine to make the exhibition, and I’m elated as it’s the only serious national landscape photography competition, open to both professionals and amateurs.

UK Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011 - Fungi from the Lake District


UK Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011 - Gormley statue at Crosby Beach


The above image also featured in yesterday’s (23rd October) iPad edition of the Sunday Times (thanks to @ColinSBell for supplying this):


UK Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011 - Sunday Times Selection


Colin has also kindly uploaded part of the full size version of the iPad edition.

If you’d like to receive my “Photo Of The Week” email in your inbox once a week, then please do sign up here .

Sandbach Wedding Photography – Vintage Wedding in Cheshire

This was one of those weddings that I’d been very much looking forward to since we booked it in the spring. Laura and Kevin are a great couple, and despite living just a stone’s throw away from me in Sandbach in Cheshire, found me via the internet. It was clear that they embraced the documentary style from the outset, and I’ve very much enjoyed having the opportunity to photograph their wedding.

It’s obvious that Laura and Kevin put a lot of effort into designing their own take on a post-war vintage style wedding reception, and the hall at St Mary’s Church in Sandbach was decked with beautifully assembled tributes to this period in history.

Bridal preparations were at The Chimney House in Sandbach, and ceremony was in main church building at St Mary’s.


A bridesmaid reaches for the dress


Fastening the Dress


Inspecting the Dress


Pre-wedding nerves!


Pre Wedding Nerves


Bride and Son Before the Wedding


Groom and Best Man


Walking Down the Aisle


Wedding Ceremony in Sandbach


In The Vestry


Wedding Kiss


Champagne


Vintage Tea Party


Here’s a typewriter intended for messages of goodwill to the bride and groom, and which was rather monopolised by children.


Typewriter


Girl Types Message to Bride And Groom With Typewriter


Childhood Photographs of Groom


Childhood Photographs of Bride


Who Ate All The Pies


The Best Man's Speech


Groom Laughing


Boy Dances in Front of Stage


The wedding singer is Heather Marie, who gave us a great 50s-style performance.


Dancing


Heather Marie Wedding Singer


Boy Stares at Wedding Singer


Bride and Groom Dancing


Bride And Groom With Son