A Stoke Newington Town Hall wedding

Camila and Ming-dat enquired with me through a friend for their Stoke Newington Town Hall wedding ceremony and wedding reception at Eight Moorgate private member's club in London. They opted to not have the prep photographed so I started the day with Ming-dat, his groomsmen and then their friends and family at The Rose & Crown pub which is opposite Stoke Newington Town Hall and very popular for people having weddings there! After a short spell at the pub, everyone headed over to the ceremony to join Camila and her bridesmaids who were wearing a satin and star wedding dress, and turquoise and fur shawls respectively. They had a concise ceremony with readings in both English and Spanish for Camila's family.

 

After the ceremony I headed to Clissold Park with the groomsmen and bridesmaids for some groom shots, which is next door to Stoke Newington Town Hall. I've shot a few Clissold House weddings myself as a recommended supplier there!

After the Stoke Newington Town Hall wedding ceremony, the couple hired half The Rose & Crown pub to have a quick canapes and drinks time!

Once it got to the evening, everyone headed to Eight Moorgate, a private member's club in Central East London where they had further drinks in a cool lounge decorated with vintage bikes, Damien Hirst installations and edgy photography and artwork signs.

After dinner they had speeches from Camila's father, both Camila and Ming-dat and then his two best men. His best men absolutely knocked the speeches out of the park with a hilarious throw back to Ming-dat's secret modelling days, presenting Camila with a cardboard cut out and his work colleagues with Ming calendars!!

The party took place in a different room at Eight Moorgate, where Camila requested that I shot their wedding dancefloor in the style of a old Hollywood Studio 54 party!

   

A Brunswick House wedding and a Fitzrovia Chapel ceremony!

Anna and Mark are a couple who booked me whilst I was away running the Chicago marathon for their winter Brunswick House wedding with their ceremony at Fitzrovia Chapel, both of which are incredible hidden London wedding venue gems! Fitzrovia Chapel is situated right in the middle of a modern restaurant quarter with a small black unassuming door and modern brick exterior... but when you go inside it's a stunning golden and royal blue chapel! Brunswick House is set in a private house that sits right on a busy roundabout in Vauxhall, when you go inside it's filled with beautiful antiques where everything is for sale! So where Anna and Mark had their first dance had a collection of brass door handles drilled into rows in the wall! The food at Brunswick House is frankly, sublime! If you're a foodie looking for an elegant London winter wedding venue that requires minimal interior decor, Brunswick House is ideal!

I started the day with Anna getting ready at their elegant flat, where she had her gin pre-party decor still set up! Both Anna and Mark are super chilled out and her bridesmaids chose their own navy blue outfits! Anna wore a stunning floral beaded Jenny Packham dress and gold glitter Jimmy Choo shoes.

Fitzrovia Chapel is deconsecrated so it now holds civil ceremonies in a gorgeous low-light setting. Anna and Mark are a modern couple who chose to meet at the Chapel and see each other before the ceremony.

After their ceremony Anna and Mark had drinks and canapes in the Chapel along with a live pianist, and exited Fitzrovia Chapel with sparklers, before they jumped on a red double decker London bus to their Brunswick House wedding reception.

A Brunswick House wedding is a perfect venue for London winter weddings as every part of it's internal space is extremely photogenic! Anna and Mark decorated the table with golden sprayed pineapples and golden apples as placeholders

After the sumptuous dinner the guests moved down into the vault cellar where the wedding cake and coffees were set up amongst a maze of neon signs. They also had a photo booth set up and sofas in the corridors, where guests could relax or choose to party to their band.

     

Best wedding photography of 2017

Best wedding photography

I don't know why or when this started, but it's kind of an industry trend to do an annual round up of the best wedding photography throughout the year, I guess it's a nice easy way to curate our portfolio for new people getting married in 2018, and also to kind of take stock for ourselves and see what we'd like to develop creatively.

Awards

In terms of creative and career development, I've had a golden year. Five of my images received awards from the Wedding Photojournalist Association, and I won Rangefinder magazine's 30 Rising Stars of wedding photography, which is quite a sought after honour in our industry. It's a way of saying, these are the 30 best wedding photographers around the world, these are the ones to watch (who have been working for less than 5 years full time). It was very unexpected as I had a few lovely friends in the running, who are amazing photographers with work I really respect- current winners get to help nominate for future years so fingers crossed for my pals for next year! I also met with the Fujifilm representative at the very end of 2017, and will be a featured photographer on their blog at the start of 2018.

Teaching

I taught five sell out flash workshops, in 2017, which was a career development I hadn't necessarily planned but ran with. It all started from an FB group I'm in, where people were saying they wanted to learn flash and how much they hated it and had put it off all this time. I said "look, I'm not an expert but I'll teach you everything I know and it'll be enough to get you by". I don't tend to do anything with studio lights, or close up portraiture, but I know how to craft the light for a room or to creatively use flash to add a bit of fun to a couple shot, and most importantly I'm a strong believer in people having the necessary basic skills to shoot their best wedding photography. I feel like every wedding photographer should have the emergency knowledge and the current situation is that many are put off learning about flash for a variety of reasons. There's kind of a stereotype in the industry that women don't know techie things, but from teaching the numerous workshops I found that it's not that they don't understand it, they just aren't interested in having it explained to them in a boring way- if you make it absorbable, everyone and anyone can grasp the theory behind flash and use it to take full control of their creative look! As well as teaching my own workshops, off the back of that and perhaps from the kudos that came with Rangefinder, I was invited to speak at a variety of conferences and workshops, I taught flash at Goaldiggers, and I'm due to teach about mental health and coping strategies at Snap 2018 and branding and marketing at a the Fujifilm X Weddings conference.

Couples

Onto the most important achievement of the year- my couples! These are the couples I laughed with, cried with, ran with and drank with! I shot 34 of my own weddings this year, and second shot a little bit more. I like to second shoot in the winter months when I have an available weekend as it gives me the chance to explore new ideas without the necessary pressure to get all the key events when you're a primary shooter. After 2016 I capped my annual primary wedding number at 35, as I had shot about 45 the previous year and found it too draining. It's more important to me to maintain the quality of my work vs. quantity. I was discussing this with my friend who I like to second for, he's very relaxed and reacts to moments (a perfect second shooting job haha!) whereas I find to get my very structured style I need to almost be a little bit on high alert stalk mode throughout the day. I'm in fit shape, being a keen runner in the midst of marathon training, but I do still find that to be constantly searching for the next shot is quite mentally and physically draining. As a result, I find I'm good with shooting a back to back wedding, but I stopped taking on triples a few years ago. Getting this work-life balance right was really crucial to my growth as a photographer, so making the change to cap the number of weddings I shot, I feel I conserved a lot more headspace for both the quality of photography, time for things like teaching and growing my career, and also quality of my own wellbeing!

So that's my annual round up, now onto the fun part, my best wedding photography of 2017! It'll be interesting to compare it to the best wedding photography of my 2016 and 2015!

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An outdoor destination wedding in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain

I'm not a regular destination wedding photographer as I tend to be too booked up to find the time to fly out and back, but I absolutely love the chance to shoot in fresh environments with different light (yes it's true, the different weather abroad does equate to a different natural light experience!) and Carmel and Neil's Spanish wedding in Sitges also gave me the opportunity to shoot new local experiences! It just so happened that their wedding coincided with a local festival where the whole town took to the streets with insane amounts of fireworks and very little safety regulations, so my prep photos are a little different than usual! Their actual wedding was held in the mountains of the National Park outside of Sitges, with the ceremony in a tiny stone church in Olivella in Catalonia.

 

All their close friends and family started the day with them getting ready at the reception venue, which was a private house they hired in the National Park with a marquee set up in the garden.

Neil wore a grey vintage Lanvin suit and the boys wore matching Liberty print ties. Carmel wore a Vera Wang dress with cream blunt studded Valentino shoes. They were fortunate enough to count a high end fashion MUA amongst their friends so Carmel had runway quality bridal make up! The bridesmaids dresses were a range of complimentary grey, blush and neutral tones.

Their ceremony was held in the tiniest stone church in Olivella which they filled to the brim with loved ones. A local priest carried out the ceremony and they had several readings from family. After the religious ceremony they had a big fun singalong!

The guests had a quick glass of bubbly in the courtyard outside the church before taking their transport back to the reception venue. The wedding was planned by Karolina Rafalowska so they organised what could be described as drinks reception 1.0

Their dinner was held in a marquee outdoors, it was such a novelty having a wedding pretty much all outside in the warm!

By the time we kicked off the speeches it was pretty dark, they had the classic combo of FoB, groom, best men- who rounded it off with a karaoke sing-a-long of Neil's favourite song by The Smiths, This Charming Man, a perfect segway into the live band and ensuing party!

documentary wedding photographer

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If you're looking for a destination wedding photographer for your wedding abroad, feel free to get in touch!

Marianne Chua.

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