Monday, January 15, 2018

Father Of The Bride

A wedding celebration is always a joyous occasion for all involved. When my daughter Emma set the date for her wedding, Julie and I suddenly became aware how much planning is required to ensure everything would be just as we always wished for the day. Naturally, having been involved in the wedding industry for pretty much all of my life, I was able to offer my advice, when required.

Uniquely from my perspective, I knew of the pitfalls that could be encountered, therefore, Emma sought my help whenever she needed it, at the same time, not wanting to give too much away to myself, father of the bride.

Athelhampton House

The 15th century house was chosen for the ceremony and reception, a venue I was more than happy to endorse. I have worked in this beautiful private house on numerous occasions as a wedding photographer. On each and every occasion, I was always impressed by the attitude of the management team, led by Owen Davies, General Manager and his assistant manager Laura Pitman. I was fully aware of how welcoming and accommodating they are, striving to deliver quality and outstanding professionalism to make our day, just as we wanted it to be. Owen with his guidance and knowledge of fine wines and champagne was second to none.

Laura with her ability to organise and structure the day, took away any worries from our family.  Her patience and expertise must have been tested to the limit, countless emails, phone calls, extensive notes were exchanged between us, needless to say, everything exceeded our expectations resulting in a perfect wedding celebration for Emma and Owen.

The wedding breakfast was magnificent, carefully prepared in their own kitchens by highly skilled chefs, utlising the finest produce. One additional thing we loved, was the ability for our guests to select their food on the day and it was appreciated greatly by all.

As the wedding was going to be a Christmas time ceremony, we knew it would be very welcoming and warm with the log fire glowing next to the floor to ceiling Christmas tree. Additionally, we knew that if the weather had been unkind, we had the Great Hall as a magnificent backdrop for photographs.

As it happened, we were in luck, a cold overcast day providing beautiful soft light for flattering photographs. The grounds offer enormous potential for capturing the essential bridal portraits, everywhere you turn there appears an opportunity to make special portraits of the couple, equally inside you are also spoilt for choice. Many guests appreciated walking around the house, viewing all the different rooms that have been maintained to such a high standard, mainly all undertaken by Patrick, the owner of this magnificent home.


Yes, the dress is very important, possibly the one thing everyone wants to see on the wedding day, after all it is possibly one of the most important elements, guests in anticipation as the bride makes her grand entrance, however, what is the use in spending a small fortune on a dress, then not having it displayed and recorded at it's most exquisite?

You need someone with the ability to give memories of just how beautiful your day is from start to finish, presented in a hand made graphically designed complementary album which will preserve for future generations to come. After all, once the wedding is over, all you have are the memories and the photographs.

Here is one thing I knew just had to be right, after all, having been a photographer pretty much all of my life and a passion of mine since I was a teenager. I have photographed in excess of 1000 weddings, I have seen photographers come and go. Digital has been a double edged sword, with a huge influx of part-time photographers that have not honed their skills or taken sufficient training, resulting in many brides being disappointed with the result. 

In the hands of an experienced and refined photographer, digital allows a certain freedom, providing the photographer is in possession of a complete understanding of light and its effects, composition and posing skills to ensure the best results to ensure everyone looks their best. There also needs to be more vital ingredients, charm and of course striking a fine balance between getting the photographs in a timely manner, which allows the couple to celebrate with their friends.

There are very few photographers that I would consider to produce work that will stand the test of time, therefore, it was of paramount importance for me to deliver someone capable of delivering all these qualities.

I wanted a photographer who has the skills I have achieved, a Fellowship with the British Institute of Professional Photography. This accolade recognises the very best of the best, this represents an award that very few ever reach, widely acknowledged as an expert practitioner in that genre, approximately eleven currently hold that status. Why so few have reached that level, simply because it is so difficult, it is meant to be. In 115 years, the British Institute of Professional Photography have only a handful that truly represent the very finest quality that will guarantee you a collection of images that will reflect your day perfectly, a clear understanding of all elements that go into capturing the special moments. Interestingly enough, there are no wedding Fellows in the South of England apart from myself and David Wheeler FBIPP, who also has the rare distinction of being the youngest photographer to be awarded a Fellowship in the BIPP. This indeed is a rarity as generally photographers take many years, if ever, to reach that position. 

As a photographic judge/ chairman, trainer and mentor of all the professional photographic bodies in the UK and a worldwide lecturer, I have an acute awareness of the photographers that apply themselves to wedding photography in a manner which represents the finest distinguished quality of light, clear understanding of composition, coupled with elegance within their work.

I first met David around 5 years ago, when he kindly stepped in and assisted me on a wedding. An assistant normally acts upon the instruction of the main photographer, which has always been the case with my previous assistant.  However, I was delighted to see David act for himself, capturing moments that he had observed whilst I was otherwise engaged with the wedding.  I thought to myself how alike David was in his approach to all the elements that I strive for in my own work.  On closer inspection of David's images, I was astonished that we had such strong similarities within our recognised style.

Once I had established that David had a real passion and affinity for wedding and portrait photography we quickly became great friends, working together on many weddings and projects. A real photographer should practice, just as an athlete would, to become one of the best. It is not all about money or financial gain, therefore, I have always set myself projects and I invited David to spend some time with me on these, including documentary portraiture projects in a bohemian town in Dorset and a prison, capturing the prisoners and their everyday life. During this period David asked if he could get his licentiate, to which I replied, "I thought you already had it, if not, it is just a formality, your work is in excess of Licentiate and approaching Fellowship within the next 18 months". Upon looking at David's portfolio we established their was a clear pattern within his work which demonstrated to me beyond any doubt that David would get his Fellowship, which has proven to be the case.  Subsequently he was awarded his fellowship 12 months later, in August 2014.  

During this time, I mentioned to David that I felt he had massive potential to become the finest photographer of his generation, I could see he was going to share the same type of vision and thought process that I have, that is, wanting to give of our very best to our clients who are willing to give their time and trust to ourselves as creative artists. This premonition of mine has come true, where David has fully justified that statement, resulting in him becoming that photographer, the best of the best. 

David has gone from strength to strength, winning gold awards, the Patrick Litchfield Award for 'The most creative use of people', a finalist in the World Photographic Cup competition and I can only see this list being extended, with nobody over his shoulder to match his skill.

Having said all this about the photography side of David, there is more to it than that. A refined wedding photographer needs to be the type of person you would like as a guest, David is that person. He is kind, considerate and extremely talented individual, simply the best.

From past experience, I have always appreciated having an assistant with me throughout the wedding and I wanted David to have someone who he could rely on to work systematically on his own, but also capturing the moments the David was unable to capture. I looked no further than Mark Cornwell who I have worked with over the last 18 months, knowing that he will add extra cover and complement David's work.


Jess Cooper was our choice of florist, trying to use local business wherever that was possible. Again, having worked at weddings with Jess, I always noticed how beautiful her creations were. My daughter Emma had a consultation with her where they exchanged ideas, it was obvious from this meeting that they were both destined to work together. 

We were thrilled with her results, everyone has commented on how amazing and different they were, flowers are always something worthwhile investing in as they contribute and complement so much to the presentation and decoration of venues. As a photographer, I am always extremely happy when I see a bride invest heavily into such an important part of the wedding.


The one aspect I had no input into was the wedding dress, Emma works in London and spent many hours looking at different shops and styles, I have to say she pretty much went to all of the them. Her experiences were varied, eventually, she settled on Le Spose di Gio, Belgravia, London.

The experience Emma received her from start to finish was exquisite, needless to say, I was thrilled with the design they came up with, a soft and delicate design which suited Emma's personality and demeanour.  Seeing my daughter for the very first time was a moment that I will always cherish.  My advice to any bride is to spend as much as you can on a dress (which Emma certainly did!).  I do not regret spending a single penny of that money.


There is only one choice when it comes to perfection, that is the one and only Julie Nicholls. Julie adds a very individual approach to each and every wedding she designs, all unique with colour coordination and attention to detail, her designs are unparalleled and extremely polished.

Julie was an obvious choice to design the finer aspects of the wedding, giving considerable thought process to each and every detail, considering everything to fonts and colour uniformity.  Once again, my experience of working with Julie has always impressed upon myself how much of a significant contribution her skills have added to the details of the day.  I consider Julie to have almost been a perfect bridesmaid, guiding Emma and ourselves, each step of the way.

Lisa Notley was asked to make the wedding cake, just about every wedding I attend, there on the stand is one of Lisa's finest cakes. If that is not a recommendation enough, I don't know what is. 

Cakes are often overlooked on the wedding day, however I would urge brides to contact her as she is an extremely charming lady.  So much so that I call her the Mary Berry of the wedding cake designers.

Make up and Hair

Amazing Face was Emma's choice, especially as she has been bridesmaid on 13 occasions, she had built a rapport with Caroline and Elke who had in fact provided the styling of hair and make up on so many of those weddings.  Gone are the days when brides did their own make-up and it is such a worth while investment, taking any stresses away in the morning, to ensure the bride and her attendants are looking their very best.

Caroline and Elke kept extremely calm throughout considering there were ten bridesmaids, mother of the bride and father of the bride, which took most time.

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset