January 27, 2012

Photo Influences {Lancashire Wedding Photographer}

Last night I watched a hugely enjoyable drama on BBC4 - "We'll Take Manhattan". It's the story of the young David Bailey (and if people know the name of just one photographer it's quite likely to be Bailey) and his favourite model/muse Jean shrimpton. Now I have no idea how accurate to their real story this drama was, but it did remind me how much I love his work, in particular his portraiture.

In the early 90's I taught the History of Photography to aspiring photographers in Cardiff, and I make no excuse for being absolutely fascinated by this beautiful medium, it's developments (technical, artistic and social).Bailey was a huge inspiration to me as a young photographer and is someone whose influence I can still see in my work today. The work of great photographers like Bailey has a way of seeping into the subconscious and I happily embrace these nods back to my heroes.

So I thought today, inspired by that drama, I would share an example of how a Bailey shot inspired one of my own favourite wedding portraits.
A few years back I was asked to shoot Sara and Richard's wedding at The lovely Ashton Memorial in Lancaster's Williamson Park. It was to be a somewhat retro styled wedding (right up my street!), very black and white, very 1960's in style. Sara and Richard were great, and totally open to my suggesting we try incorporating some 60's influenced shots. When I discovered there would be two best men, both in dark suits, white shirts and thin black ties, my mind flashed back to Bailey's iconic portrait of Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the 60's East End gangland villains, and I suggested we might try to do something similar. I love it when clients trust you enough to do stuff like this!
I'm whilst I'm reminded of Sara and Richard, this is also a great excuse for me to re-post one of my absolute favourite wedding photo moments. A crazy, chaotic image in which everyone seems to be doing their own thing, and yet, for me, it still all comes together and works brilliantly!

January 14, 2012

A thorny dilemma for newly engaged couples

There's been a fair bit of talk on the wedding blogosphere recently along the lines of who you should ask to do your wedding photos - hire a pro or ask a friend? It's really not surprising that this should be happening right now given that we are in the midst of a biting economic downturn. We are all finding it tough, and we are all looking to save some money - I know I am.

January is generally a time when we wedding photographers get a burst of enquiries for our services - "are you available on...?", "can you send me your price list?", "do you travel as far as...?" and so on. And this hasn't changed this year (much, I would venture to say the phone and inbox have been a little quieter this year, but only a little). But I have been getting a new response quite often on my follow ups - "Oh, we've decided to use a friend - he has a good camera". And you know what? That's fine, I did the same for my wedding (although he had never shot a wedding before, he was someone I studied photography with, he knew his way around a camera very well, and I loved his work, I wanted very informal pictures and I knew he was good at that). Thankfully he did a great job, especially considering he was doubling up as my best man too! But I'll be honest, when I get that response, my heart sinks a little, and not because it means I'm losing work, but because I really hope they still get the pictures they want and will look back on with smiles for years to come. Your pictures will remain with you long after the cake and decorations. It's a big decision.

I read a great post this morning over on the very wonderful Rock 'n' Roll Bride website that pretty much gets the issue bob on! If you are planning on getting married, and are thinking about asking a friend, I recommend you give it a read. It's not trying to persuade you against using a pro (and I wouldn't either), but it does ask you to consider some pretty important things that will help you get the pictures you want.
  • A good camera does not a good photographer make - this can barely be stressed enough, so much of my work is about understanding light, it's about about looking, and seeing, and being in the right place, it's about being good with people, and making them feel comfortable. It's not about having the best gear.
  • Has your friend ever shot a wedding before? An obvious question maybe, but a good one. Shooting weddings is hard work and it's not the same as taking a few snaps of your kids birthday party. It requires some pretty specific skills.
  • Does your friend have backup? He/she may have a top notch DSLR but even the best gear can break down at the worst possible moment.
  • Have you met up with your friend and talked through the day? what will happen when? where it will happen? what are the important things/people you don't want missing? what you are hoping your pictures will be like? have you shown them the kind of pictures you like and discussed how he/she will approach getting ones like them?
  • Have you visited the venues together, at a similar time of day to the wedding time, have they taken test shots in appropriate lighting conditions?
  • Will they be shooting RAW or jpeg?
  • Will your friend be editing your photos or giving you them straight out of camera? Have a look at this page to see the difference.
There are many more questions I could suggest, but I'll stop because it sounds a little bit like I'm saying 'don't do it - hire me instead' and I'm really not. It's your day and no-one can tell you what to do, or how to spend your money, least of all me.

January 07, 2012

January Sale {North West Wedding Photography}

OK here's something nice for all you couples who received a surprise marriage proposal this Christmas, or perhaps resolved at New Year to make this the year to tie the knot with your beloved?

For anyone booking their wedding before the end of January 2012, I'm offering the dvd of your hi-res (fully edited) images FOR FREE, yes FREE. I normally offer this for £150, so that's fabulous photographs to cherish for a lifetime AND a saving on your wedding budget of £150! Result!

Jonathan Bean Photography - Wedding Portfolio from Jonathan Bean on Vimeo.

To take advantage of this incredible offer, just email me me and announce "I am getting married in 2012 and I would like to claim my free dvd!". Actually you don't have to do that bit (though it would be fun) just check my availability for your date and get in touch.

The smallprint: To qualify for the free dvd, you must confirm your booking with me and put down the required 25% booking fee before the end of January 2012.

January 04, 2012

Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, wins Costa Poetry Prize

Congratulations to Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, who it has just been announced has won the Costa Poetry Prize for her latest collection "The Bees".
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of driving Carol Ann around Lancaster and Morecambe whilst on her visit to Lancaster Litfest. On the way we stopped for fish and chips in Morecambe's West End and had a wonderful conversation about music, television, cinema and in particular about the nature of successful double acts. At which point of course, I couldn't resist getting a shot of Carol Ann by Eric's statue.
(pictured with Carol Ann Duffy is her musical collaborator John Sampson)

January 01, 2012

So long 2011, and thanks for all the fish {Lancashire Wedding Photographer}

So another year has been packed up and filed away, and a new year arrived with a seductive, beckoning wink.

2011 was quite a year, in many ways, and for me one in which I shot 21 fabulous weddings.

It would be impossible to pick out a favourite, so instead a personal favourite from each and every one of them.

Clare + Sam at Mottram Hall

Claire + Simon at Farington Lodge

Rachel + Paul at the Grange Hotel

Emma + Joe at The Midland Hotel

Rebecca + Alex at The Village Hotel, Bury

Phil + Matt at The Lowry

Jane + James at Garstang Country Hotel

Matt + Sue at The Ashton Memorial

Louise + Mark at Lancaster House Hotel

Claire + Adam at The Pickerings Hotel

Sarah + James at Lancaster Town Hall

Sarah + Mark at Garstang Country Hotel

Cara + Jordan at Stanley House

Steph + Zac at Garstang Country Hotel

Hannah + Niall at The Inn at Whitewell

Claire + Wayne at Broadaoks Hotel, Troutbeck

Zoe + Craig at The Great Hall at Mains

Rachel + Barry at The Villa, Wrea Green

Colleen + Steven at Garstang Country Hotel

Geoff + Sam at Barton Grange

Kim + Matthew at Whoop Hall, Kirkby Lonsdale