Upon meeting Paula & Jim, their wedding quickly became one of my most anticipated weddings of the year. The reason I say this is, in our meeting, Paula revealed to me her secret past. Well, she kept it a secret from me. Paula was a wedding photographer, and a well respected one at that. Paula told me, she had scoured the Internet to find the right photographer for her wedding and I only lived in the next village over from her. The two of them had planned to have their wedding at Shuckburgh Hall, which is in between Daventry and Southam in Warwickshire. Shuckburgh Hall is one of the few country estates in England that is still privately owned and not open to the public. So when I got the chance to have a look around to get an idea of the layout, I was really quite excited. I have to say, at first, I was a little nervous, as I had never met a Baronet, or any aristocracy for that matter. However, these nerves soon melted away once I found Sir James to be a really lovely chap, with no side to him at all. He seemed to be someone you might meet in the pub and have a good belly laugh with.
He showed us through the various rooms of his home, where we viewed where the wedding reception would be etc. I have to say, I was fascinated! I have said it before, but this is really one of the favourite aspects of my job. Where I am able to visit these wonderful homes and have a real mooch around. For me, Shuckburgh Hall was something a little bit special. Other stately homes I have visited are often owned by the National Trust or have been turned into a hotel or spa. Where as here, I was stepping into the home of the 14th Baronet of Shuckburgh. I was able to view all of the wonderful beauty of his home and also treasures and oddities of a by gone era. It was absolutely wonderful!
On the big day of the wedding, 27th December 2013, I started in Priors Marston where I was greeted by five young ladies all wearing cute and very cosy looking onesies. Certainly a first for me! It was a hive of activity as they prepared, but the atmosphere was relaxed and fun…perhaps with a dash of silly here and there. With Paula knowing all about how my job works, she knew she did not have to worry about what I was doing and was able to just get on with getting ready safe in the knowledge I was recording it all. When Paula was a wedding photographer, her favoured style was reportage wedding photography. She was not keen on the tradition of the posed family photos and so we didn’t do any. Everything was natural and without interference from me. My favourite! I was free to spin my story of the day, unimpeded.
The actual wedding itself took place in a little church on the grounds of the estate. Being very close to the shortest day of the year and the fact the wedding was at 3:30pm, you can probably imagine I was going to be shooting in very dimly lit conditions. For me, I thrive in conditions such as these. I class myself as an available light photographer and seek out and capture the atmosphere of a wedding, while preserving the atmosphere created by the lighting provided by the bride, groom and venue. In this case, the wedding took place with each guest holding a candle….I love shooting by candlelight!! It was absolutely stunning! It gives such rich, sumptuous warmth to the photographs, which you simply cannot get if you use flash photography. Of all the scenarios and lighting arrangements I work with, I most enjoy working in these conditions. Although very challenging, the photos gained from this way of shooting are so very rewarding. Not only for their beauty, but the atmosphere and drama you only get from a dimly lit room.
I just want to thank you Paula & Jim for putting faith in me to photograph your wedding. I wish you all the best for your future together with young Bowen.
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