This is the last blog post on this blog. Now that I'm shooting just using film cameras I felt like I needed a fresh start. So from now on everything that appears on the blog will have been taken using film. New journal, old cameras. I like that. You can check it out here.
The Canon 5D Mark III - to buy or not to buy? It's been a crazy couple of weeks in the photography community with everyone getting very excited about the latest camera from Canon and its low light capabilities and new auto focus abilities. For me, it's been an interesting time having absolutely no desire to purchase the Mark III and watching the debate from a distance.
It's a debate I feel that I've stepped away from now that I'm photographing weddings entirely on film and absolutely loving the look of film and the experience of shooting with it. There are some amazing high ISO films out there which produce wonderfully grainy images with a really beautiful quality. And as for auto focus I'm getting used to manually focusing all my lenses. It's still a learning curve for me but the Contax 645 only really works with manual focus as the auto focus is so, so slow.
And talking of taking it slow - this is the ultimate slow photography. It's an amazing video that I found via a film photography group on facebook. This guy can only make 6 wet plate images for the price of one Canon 5D Mark III body. That's insane at $500 per image. But seriously awesome work. He's using the collodian wet plate process which requires a portable darkroom for use outside and results in incredibly detailed images. This technique was introduced in the 1850s and it's so great to see this old tradition being kept alive. Watch it and be amazed.
On my frequently asked questions page I explain my philosophy with wedding albums. So I thought I'd share a photograph of what they look like. They come in a number of gorgeous colours but by the far the most popular is the classic black.
They are printed on true archival quality photographic paper and the print quality is stunning. They are all then hand bound in gorgeous soft 100% genuine leather. Classic but simple.
I believe passionately in telling your whole wedding story and these albums are a wonderful way to do just that.
This has got to be one of my favourite weddings from last year. Sam and Mel got married in Newcastle and then had their reception at Dissington Hall in Northumberland. Despite the almost continuous downpour all day everyone still had an amazing time. Here are just a selection up until Sam's arrival at the church.
When I meet up with couples before their wedding day, I always love hearing about their honeymoon plans. Sometimes it is the groom that has planned the whole thing and not told the bride anything. Other times it is a joint effort in planning where to go.
But if they are able to tell me what they have planned for their honeymoon and it's not top secret it usually gives me a great insight into what to expect on their wedding day, how relaxed it will be and what the overall feeling of the day will be like. The type of holiday they've chosen usually tells me a lot about what they are into and how they love spending their free time. These little bits of information can be invaluable when documenting their wedding as I can look out for little mini-stories that really reflect who they are and what is important to them.
So I thought I'd share a picture from our honeymoon.
We went to quite a few totally different places - not sure what that says about us! Whistler for a week of mountain biking, Vancouver for a weekend of sightseeing, Alaska for 2 weeks of wilderness camping and Hawaii for a week of extreme luxury.
And my favourite part? Most definitely Alaska. It is the most beautiful country I've ever experienced and vast on a scale that is difficult to put into words.
I also got my new husband to try various things that he'd never done before...including going ice climbing. Here we are about to ice climb down a moulin. Moulins are usually found in flat areas of glaciers so the idea of climbing is a bit back to front. You basically abseil down into one and then ice climb your way back up. It means that the scary factor involved is just a bit higher than normal as the moulin could be hundreds and hundreds of meters deep. Somewhere where you definitely don't want to ever see the bottom of!!
But we survived and it was the most amazing fun. (I'm second in from the right)
I take a different approach to wedding albums to most other photographers. I really strongly believe in telling the WHOLE story of your day, not just the highlights. So all my wedding collections contain your complete album, not just a select number of pages. With your complete album included in your wedding collection from the beginning it also means that there are no surprise extra costs post-wedding.
Couples receive a draft of their album design online and they are able to leave comments about any pages if they would like anything changed. Most couples don't change anything at all.
Designing an album this way also means that you avoid a long and drawn out album planning consultation and most importantly it means that you get your album so much sooner. Even with shooting film and the extra time involved with the lab processing the film, most wedding couples will receive their album within 10 weeks of their wedding date. You can find out more about the process of album design on my FAQ page.
As I'm shooting your wedding I'm always looking for mini-stories that will look beautiful across a double-page spread. Once I've got one mini-story captured I look for something else. That way your wedding album isn't just a collection of an images but it actually visually tells the story of your day, with pace and interest.
Here is just one spread out of a gorgeous album. The wedding was at the Bingham Hotel in Richmond Upon Thames.
We all know how important the mother of the bride is. And we all know how long they probably spent finding the perfect hat. In my mind that's a mini-story that definitely deserves a double-page spread all to itself.
This morning the postman brought me something very exciting.
Opening this month's edition of Photo Professional magazine was extra special as there is an article about me in it!! Yay!! I'm talking about making the switch from digital to film and why I now choose to shoot film 100% in all my work.
If anyone is interested in reading the article - it is April's edition of Photo Professional.
The Bingham, Richmond Upon Thames is one of my all time favourite wedding venues in London. It is a totally gorgeous and very intimate venue. With a lovely private garden and set on the banks of the River Thames it is a truly stunning wedding venue.
Here is a sneak preview of a wedding I shot there in December. This was taken right at the end of the night when the Bingham was lit up gorgeously.
If you follow me on facebook or twitter you will probably know that a few weeks ago I got up INSANELY early to go to Richmond Park to photograph some snow scenes.
I thought I'd share the results with you. These are straight scans from the lab shot on Kodak Portra 400. I love the blue tinge to the light. It really is true early morning beautiful light.
When I heard that snow was predicted overnight I just knew that I had to get up early. In fact, I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I felt like I was a little kid again waiting for Christmas.
It was slightly surreal walking to Richmond Park with only street lights to show me the way. And even more surreal getting there to be met with scenes like these.
I couldn't believe my luck when I found some deer shortly after I got into the park and I was even more stunned that I got to watch a magic display of them in action. In fact I was so spellbound that I only got the one shot of them rutting.
A truly wonderful way to start the day.
If you are looking for a different and extra special Valentine's Day gift then look no further. I may have just something you can seriously impress your loved one with.
How about a photography gift voucher? The ultimate present - you will be helping your loved one receive beautiful, timeless and artistic photographs of your children and family. Or how about some gorgeous photographs of you and your partner? Most gifts don't get more valuable over time - but I guarantee you your wall art most definitely will.
Gift cards can be purchased for any amount you desire.
And because I know no Valentine's Day is complete without chocolate involved (well it isn't in my opinion anyway) every gift voucher over £175 purchased between now and the 14th February will also come with one of Hotel Chocolate's 'Classic Signature Collection' boxes of chocolates. Yum, yum!!!
To order a gift voucher head over to my portrait site (www.callaghansmithportraits.com) and just drop me an email on the contact page.
I've not been that great at keeping this blog up to date. I've been been massively preoccupied with all the branding changes which have been going on to reflect that I'm now shooting film. But I intend to get back on blogging track! A late new year's resolution....
One resource that was MASSIVELY useful in deciding how I wanted my business as a film photographer to look has been Pinterest. For those of you that aren't familiar with it - it is basically a massive online pin board. If you see a great photograph on the internet you can pin it to one of your online boards. It's great for researching shoot ideas and themes, and of course for working out what kind of images appeal to you and why.
When I went back to basics and started over with what I wanted my business to say and how I wanted it to feel I spent a long time not thinking about wedding photography at all. Which seemed sort of strange but I wanted to step back and just think about the types of images that appealed to me and why. Turns out that I like really clean, simple images. Ones which had a genuine honesty about them. Ones that weren't contrived but were basically real. I was also attracted to images that were really simply processed, no 'of the moment' vintage effects. Images that were classic and timeless, with soft pastel colours or gorgeous black and whites.
So that's what I aspire to shoot more of. A lot more of.
Pinterest is an invite only resource. You have to apply to have an account, which can take a couple of weeks or you get added instantly by anyone who already uses it. So if anyone out there would like a pinterest account then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with 'pinterest' in the subject line and I'll get you all set up. But be warned....it's seriously addictive!!
This was one of my favourite weddings from this year. A gorgeous country wedding in Nottinghamshire, held at the Ruddington Country Cottage Hotel.
The Country Cottage Hotel is a lovely wedding venue and somewhere that I used to drive past on the school bus for many years. It's great to have the opportunity all these years later to see what the inside of the hotel is like.
Little did I know all those years ago, when I would be trying to finish my homework off on the bus, that I'd be working as a wedding photographer here one day.
I'm really looking forward to sharing more from this wonderful venue in another blog post. But for now, here are some favourites from the getting ready stages.
Although I'm based in Kingston Upon Thames I really enjoy travelling around the country to different venues so if you are planning a wedding somewhere outside the Surrey or London area please don't hesitate to get in contact as I'd love to hear about your plans.
You might have gathered from the blog that I'm moving over to film photography, which I am so, so excited about. I'm going to be bringing my medium format film camera along to all current 2012 bookings to create that something a little extra special. It's fantastic at capturing details and also bride and groom portraits. I'm going to mix it up with digital throughout the day.
For all future bookings, my pricing structure will be changing slightly so that I can shoot the whole wedding on film. It's going to be so awesome - I can't wait!
I love the fact that film has history, that you parents and your grandparents will have had their weddings photographed on film. Yes the style has changed (massively!) but the process of taking photographs and developing them in darkroom hasn't.
I love the fact that there is still a real craft associated with film photography. That it takes time for the whole process to happen.
There seems a real need amongst wedding photographers to process some photographs super quickly and get them up on facebook before any one else at the wedding posts their photographs.
I don't like being in a race. In fact, ask anyone who knows me and if they tell me something is a race I'll probably do everything possible to not participate....It's just not my thing.
I love the fact that there is no immediate gratification with film. It seems to go against everything that we experience in modern life. But that's part of it's charm. It's like the old cliché that the best things in life are worth waiting for.
It takes a bit longer to get a wedding developed and edited with film. So there will be no same day slideshows and no photographs posted to facebook 24 hours after the wedding with me. But I promise you that the wait will be well worth it.
This is one absolutely stunning venue. Set in a gorgeous Georgian estate it is an amazing place for a wedding. Not only do you get exclusive use of the entire venue but the beautiful grounds are all open to the guests too. Dissington Hall, in Northumberland, is a family run business and that really adds a wonderful ambience to the whole place.
I love country house weddings where there is a gorgeous long driveway leading up the venue. And this country house wedding venue did not disappoint at all. Unfortunately the weather was a little bit more disappointing. We had torrential rain virtually all day long. This was a shot I managed to get in-between windscreen wipers (and don't worry I wasn't driving...!). More from this wedding to come soon.
Well it's officially the start of the Christmas season and I've been itching to post these photographs for a while now. Here is gorgeous Noah modelling the outfit that he will be wearing on Christmas day. Shot on the wonderful Contax 645 medium format film camera.
He was quite fascinated by the baubles. I think we could be in trouble when we get the tree up. We will have to be on constant watch that he doesn't pull the whole thing over trying to get to the decorations. I think this Christmas will be quite different with a little one around - but different in lots and lots of lovely new ways!
It's not every day that you see a stream train on a wedding day. This is the Heritage Railway that goes through the village of Ruddington, near Nottingham, all the way to Loughborough. We were doing some photographs near Ruddington Country Park and suddenly heard the distinctive choo, choo of an approaching train.
It was too good and opportunity to miss and I think we gave all the passengers a bit of a surprise too.
As a documentary wedding photographer I just let your day unfold naturally. And that of course includes the evening celebrations too. I love colour but there is something quite special about gorgeously grainy black and white dance floor shots.
I love black and white photography as it just lets you focus on the shapes and movements without any distractions from the disco lights.
I find the best time for dance floor shots at a wedding is usually in the 15 minutes or so following the first dance. That's when parents, grandparents, little kids, everyone basically will just give it a go.
And you just never know what might happen.... someone's shirt might just start to radiate...
I am totally in love.
With film photography.
It's completely transformed how I think about photography and also how I take images.
It's a bit of a mindset change as it involves far more thought and consideration before you press the shutter. I always get scans of the negatives but I don't like to tinker with them. With film, you are capturing something pure, something real and something that I really believe shouldn't be (or shouldn't need to be) maniupulated at a computer.
Of course there is far less editing needed with film anyway as the skin tones are rendered so gorgeously and film evens out any minor blemishes beautifully.
My new medium format camera is my new best friend. It's a beast of a camera and makes my DSLRs look like light weight impostors. But the extra weight is worth it.
Also good for getting a head start on the post-Christmas training regime. Certainly works your arm muscles!
Well now you can!
My sister, Callaghan, is putting together a music video to accompany her Christmas song 'snowflakes' and is looking for people to send in Christmas messages to feature in the video. So if you are feeling full of Christmas cheer and would like to send a Christmas message to someone then you can find out how to on her website.
It doesn't cost anything and it could be a great Christmas surprise for someone. After all, it's not everyday that you get to send someone you love a message via a music video.
You have until the 11th December to get your messages to her. You can check out some of the entries so far on her facebook page.