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life thru a lens: kristian leven photography

May 8th, 2018 | Julia Braime

Kristian Leven (1)

If there’s one element of our job that we adore, it’s getting lost in the beauty of couples’ wedding images with some photographers able to make us feel that we were actually present at the celebrations for ourselves as we share in the emotions. One such professional who embodies this skill is our wonderful Sponsor, Kristian Leven.

With a true passion for documenting weddings, Kristian likes to blend into the background and capture the magic as it happens, framing not only the connection between the newlyweds but also the emotions and reactions of their guests resulting in a set of truly special images.

He promises that his photos have the power to transport his couples back to that treasured moment in time and looking at his work here, it’s clear to see that he is a man of his word.

So, let’s find out what makes this fine photographer tick while viewing some more of his fabulous imagery…

With images by Kristian Leven.

Kristian Leven (16)

When did you first start photographing weddings and what was it that attracted you to the industry?

kristian says: Eight years ago now! For me it was an opportunity to do something I love, but also in a style I enjoyed. I was very fortunate to start at a time when documentary wedding photography was really taking off.

How would you describe your style of photography and the approach you take to capturing a big day?

I’m all about creating very natural and emotive imagery. I just let everyone enjoy their day, but behind my calm exterior I’m constantly looking and observing for moments, and quirks, and things that a lot of people would not ordinarily notice.

Kristian Leven (23)

What is it that you love most about your job?

Probably the email I receive after the couple have seen their wedding gallery for the first time. I put so much work and effort into this, so it’s incredibly special to then to hear how much the pictures mean to them.

In your opinion what are the most important things for a couple to consider when deciding which photographer to book for their wedding?

Sounds a little obvious, but the photography! There are so many different styles of wedding photography now – some photographer’s concentrate on the details, or the bride and groom portraits – so they need to ask themselves, what do I really want? If it’s to spend as much time with their family and friends and to have the relationship between them captured, then I’m your guy!

Kristian Leven (22)

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

Being able to see things differently to other photographers and capturing those moments in a unique way.

What is the feedback like from your couples?

I received this recently, and it blows me away every time I read it:

“I spent the day yesterday waiting eagerly for these and when they arrived I had to pause Eastenders and settle down with Corey and a glass of wine to look at them and we were still viewing them come midnight. We both felt so emotional; you managed to transport us straight back to the day with the power of your imagery. We never imagined our photos would be anything like that. They make us laugh, cry and smile, and we love EVERY single one of them. We cannot thank you enough, we wanted timeless photos to last us a lifetime and that is exactly what you provided. You listened to us and made us feel so relaxed on the day, we both agreed that we didnt even know youd taken the majority of these pictures and we love how natural they all are, and the emotion and personality each photograph conveys. We would recommend you a hundred times over and if we are ever in need of photography again, we know who to call.”

Kristian Leven (20)

Do you have a favourite part of the wedding day to capture?

To be honest I love the reception, as that’s the part I can get stuck into, and capture the really original stuff. Plus, people are relaxed then, and can let their guard down, which results in some great moments.

What area do you cover and is there somewhere in particular that you would love to shoot a wedding that youve not yet had the opportunity to do?

Originally all my weddings were in London or the South East, but since my referral network has grown, I travel all over the UK, and internationally now. I had two places I really wanted to shoot, the Big Sur and the Amalfi Coast, and in 2016 my dream came true.

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authentic emotion: amanda balmain photography

April 26th, 2018 | Julia Braime

Amanda Balmain (18)

If you have your heart set on a wedding photographer that will capture your day in a relaxed and natural manner, documenting all the emotions as they unfold then we know just the lady for you – our fabulous North-West based Sponsor, Amanda Balmain, who we are catching up with on the blog today.

As a regional finalist in last year’s Wedding Industry Awards, Amanda’s couples are keen to praise her for the utterly gorgeous and highly emotive images that she delivers from the big day. Blending into the background and putting her brides and grooms above all else, it is Amanda’s main priority to make sure that her couples have “the best day ever”.

A self-confessed hopeless romantic, Amanda’s images are filled with love, energy and joy that brings the special day back to life in an instant.

So, if you too are all heart-shaped eyes over her images be sure to read on for all the details on how this lovely lady works and also take note, as Amanda is kindly offering a free engagement shoot to Brides Up North readers who book her for their wedding. How amazing!

With images by Amanda Balmain Photography.

Amanda Balmain (14)

When did you first start photographing weddings and what was it that attracted you to the industry?

amanda says: Back in 2012 I was photographing children and babies. My only experience of wedding photography was a bride in 2000 when my wedding was shot on film in a classic style. A friend dragged me along on a wedding photography course that I thought would just be good photography experience and a bit of fun. It was so much more than that! Wedding photography has changed so much since switching to digital and the more I learnt, the more I fell in love. Digital technology has allowed wedding photographers to become so much more creative and diverse in their styles.

How would you describe your style of photography and the approach you take to capturing a big day?

My style is somewhere in between documentary and modern creative. Some would call it lifestyle. I shoot mostly candidly with minimal direction focusing on authentic emotion and connection. I love all the details that make up the story of a wedding day but its the people and their emotions that matter the most.

Amanda Balmain (13)

What is it that you love most about your job?

Simply getting to go to so many weddings and hearing people’s stories. I nearly always cry at the speeches. I’m a bit of hopeless romantic at heart, don’t tell anyone!

In your opinion what are the most important things for a couple to consider when deciding which photographer to book for their wedding?

What do they want to see when they look back at their photographs in ten years’ time? What pictures will be most important to them? What style of pictures do they really like? What do they like about them? Check that the photographer they are looking at has those sorts of images throughout their portfolio not just once. Also think about the experience of the wedding day. Do they want a photographer who is quiet in the background or the life and soul of the party?

Amanda Balmain (2)

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

I put the wedding day experience for my couples above all else. I work with them to make a plan and we discuss how much time to a-lot for photography depending on their requirements. But on the day, I always go with the flow and work around how they are feeling at the time. I do whatever I can to make sure my couples have the best day ever.

What is the feedback like from your couples?

My couples are often surprised at the shots I get without making any fuss. They love the natural looking images and moments that they may have missed on the day. They like the fact that I fit into their day, that I will chat with their guests and that I’m generally very calm and relaxed.

Amanda Balmain (8)

Do you have a favourite part of the wedding day to capture?

One of my favourite moments is straight after the ceremony when the bride and groom get those first moments alone. They look at each other and the reactions are amazing. They’ve done it, they are married and the happiness on their faces says it all.

What area do you cover and is there somewhere in particular that you would love to shoot a wedding that you’ve not yet had the opportunity to do?

All of UK and I’d love to do some destinations. Iceland is on my wish list and I’d love to shoot more in Scotland. But I also love my home county of Cheshire. There are some amazing venues here and it’s always great to be near home.

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natural, fun & creative: say hello to sarah glynn photography

April 19th, 2018 | Julia Braime

Sarah Glynn Photography (11)

Can you even believe this weather?! Pass us the sun tan lotion and a G&T already!

If you’re having a well earned bask in the sun (we almost forgot what heat felt like) then enjoy a leisurely read of this afternoon’s post as we introduce a new beaming ray of sunshine to the blog in the form of super sweet photographer Sarah Glynn.

Based in the North West, Sarah is all about going the extra mile to get romantic and emotional shots that, upon viewing, will reduce her couples to tears – happy ones, of course!

But it’s not just about the images, as we’ve said before – a photographer is with you throughout your big day so it’s important you get along with them too. And Sarah prides herself on taking a fun and friendly approach often resulting in her becoming friends with newlyweds after their big day.

Keen to share more about her style and passions, Sarah is taking over the blog to tell all while showing off some of her fabulous photography. And if you like what you see, you might want to get in touch with Ms Glynn pronto, as she’s very kindly offering Brides Up North readers a 10% discount for couples who book before the end of August 2018*.

For now, it’s over to the lovely lady herself.

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Sarah Glynn Photography.

Sarah Glynn Photography (5)

When did you first start photographing weddings and what was it that attracted you to the industry?

sarah says:Last year I began my journey into wedding photography after a year of shooting family images. I fell head in love with it and I’ve always loved working in events and previously worked as a wedding coordinator, so it was amazing to get back into this industry.

How would you describe your style of photography and the approach you take to capturing a big day?

Unobtrusive, natural and creative. I’m not scared to get stuck in and do what it takes to get the best images.

Sarah Glynn Photography (18)

What is it that you love most about your job?

Making people happy and showing them how amazing the day was and hearing how happy they are! (Happiness is important!)

In your opinion what are the most important things for a couple to consider when deciding which photographer to book for their wedding?

After the wedding the photographs are all you have (we didn’t have a wedding photographer we got a ‘friend’ to do it back in 2013…worst mistake ever). Find a photographer you like and get on with, have a look at photos and get an idea of their style. You also need to trust your photographer 100%.

Sarah Glynn Photography (12)

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

I’m crackers, I really care and I want the absolute best photos for you that blow your mind and show how amazing your day was. I’m a mum and I do tonnes of family shoots so if you have children then I will include them and make them as much a part of your wedding as you guys.

What is the feedback like from your couples?

I’m pleased to say all my couples have been really happy and they usually comment on how their guests liked me too! Hooray!

Sarah Glynn Photography (4)

Do you have a favourite part of the wedding day to capture?

The whole of the aisle is just epic and packed with emotion. The groom waiting, the nervous bride, when their eyes meet, when mums start crying…it’s just beautiful.

What area do you cover and is there somewhere in particular that you would love to shoot a wedding that you’ve not yet had the opportunity to do?

I’m in the Parbold area (you won’t have heard of it, little village near Wigan) but I will go everywhere. Yes, I am dreaming of doing a Disney Wedding (like at the Park), Italian lakes, French chateau, a unicorn themed wedding, a wedding where the bride arrives on a tractor…

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natural beauty: james tracey photography

March 28th, 2018 | Julia Braime

James Tracey Photography (19)

If you dream of a wedding album filled with beautiful, natural shots, interspersed by some utterly gorgeous couple portrait images, then we know just the photographer for you – our wonderful Sponsor James Tracey Photography.

Based in the North West but covering big days all over the UK and overseas, James has shot more than 200 weddings over the past five years, developing a signature style for candid shots that are relaxed yet emotive. Blending into the background, James prides himself on his discreet and laidback approach that makes all those around him feel at ease.

Always keen to capture the magic between the newlyweds too, James will steal away the couple just for a short while to ensure he gets some stunning portrait shots that are easily worthy of wall-hanging-space.

Eager to hear more about his fabulous service, we’ve invited James to the blog today to share some of his favourite big day images while updating us on his wonderful wedding offering – which is soon to include videography – you heard it here first!

With images by James Tracey Photography.

James Tracey Photography (1)

When did you first start photographing weddings and what was it that attracted you to the industry?

james says: I’ve always loved photography and I’d been to loads of my friends’ weddings and I’d really enjoyed shooting the day as a guest. I guess as I enjoyed it and people seemed to like the images I’d taken, I started to think about photographing weddings more and more, until finally I took the plunge and started shooting in 2012. For me, working on one of the happiest days of a couple’s life, at nice venues, taking photos seemed pretty appealing to me, so a couple of months after my own wedding I shot my first professional wedding. My first wedding was one that was featured on Don’t Tell the Bride, so there was no gentle introduction to weddings, it was full on but I learnt a lot and haven’t looked back since – I’ve now shot more than 200 weddings!

How would you describe your style of photography and the approach you take to capturing a big day?

I’d describe my style as 90% natural, documentary photography with 10% of lightly directed couple photos. My aim is to blend in, let the couple and their guests enjoy the wedding day and make sure I capture what’s going on as it happens. Of course, I want to capture some beautiful couple photos, so I do spend 20 minutes making sure we capture the couple looking amazing, but the majority of the day my job is to capture the day as it happened. I hate the idea that I interfere and set up moments, I much prefer to let the day happen and find the best moments to shoot as they happen.

James Tracey Photography (20)

What is it that you love most about your job?

I love the creativity and flexibility of shooting weddings. I get to visit amazing venues, with happy people and spend the day photographing what goes on. In reality, it isn’t really a job, it’s far too nice to be a job! I’ve also been able to travel, shooting weddings all over Europe and even as far as New York. No one ever took me to New York for work in my old jobs!

In your opinion what are the most important things for a couple to consider when deciding which photographer to book for their wedding?

For me it is the style of photography they want. Couples need to think about what type of photos they want on their day. Do they want lots of set up posed shots or do they want natural moments? Are they after moody and atmospheric images or punchy, party shots. Are group shots important? Once they work out what matters to them, then search and get recommendations. Don’t just book a photographer because they’ve worked at a venue before or because they shot your friend’s wedding, look at their work, chat to them. Most photographers are more than happy to talk about their style and how they work. It’s great to get along with the photographer but ultimately you want to get the best photos of your day in the style you love. There are amazing photographers who all shoot in different styles, so do a bit of thinking about what you want then find someone who shoots in that way. Almost every couple I ever meet tells me that they just want natural photos and that they’re not into posed or group photos, so from the off I know they want what I offer. Don’t book a photographer then demand they shoot a different style, it’ll just result in disappointment.

James Tracey Photography (18)

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

That’s a tough question. I guess it’s my style of shooting, whilst not unique (as there are plenty of brilliant documentary style photographers out there) I guess what I shoot clicks with some couples and they love the natural moments and the story that the images tell. I’m always looking for that moment, something people will look at and remember happening and remember feeling at the time.

James Tracey Photography (14)

What is the feedback like from your couples?

I’m lucky to receive some fantastic feedback from my couples. I’m told I am friendly, easy to get along with and that on the wedding day I tend to blend in. I guess they like my laid-back approach and simple, natural style of wedding photography. I’ve entered the Wedding Industry Awards for the last five years and each year the feedback from the couples comes back to me and it always mentions how they didn’t know I was there for most of the day and that they love their photos. My couples seem pretty happy, and that works for me!

Do you have a favourite part of the wedding day to capture?

Other than snaffling the sweets from the sweetie table (I’d like to say I am joking but I have a shocking sweet tooth) I love shooting any emotional moment. If a groom cries, the father-of-the-bride seeing his daughter for the first time, or when grandparents hug the couple – I love all of those moments. These are the shots that people will look back on over the years that will take them back to that moment in time and remind them how they felt.

James Tracey Photography (17)

What area do you cover and is there somewhere in particular that you would love to shoot a wedding that you’ve not yet had the opportunity to do?

I work all over the north and have travelled to Wales, Scotland, the Midlands and I’ve even been brave enough to shoot a few weddings in London! I always enjoy shooting in Manchester and Liverpool city centre and around the many stunning venues in Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. I’d love to shoot a wedding in Italy on Lake Como, or in Positano on the Amalfi Coast (where I went on honeymoon) and as clichéd as it is, Iceland has always massively appealed to me (I’m a huge Sigur Ros fan so I like to think I was into Iceland long before it became fashionable to want to shoot there!)

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foliage & finery: elizabeth gregory couture for a winter wedding at samlesbury hall – suzanne & bevan

March 26th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

A Winter Wedding at Samlesbury Hall (c) Chelsea Shoesmith Photography (34)

We may currently be praying for even the tiniest glimpse of spring, but today on the blog we have some breathtakingly beautiful wintery wedding inspiration, perfect for those of you planning a seasonal celebration.

The festivities were in full swing for today’s couple, Suzanne and Bevan, who invited Christmas into their wedding and threw a jewel-coloured, lively celebration that incorporated guest participation, with each guest asked to sing a line from The 12 Days of Christmas during the wedding breakfast.

Suzanne’s desire for foliage and no flowers to keep the decorations seasonal shows how incredible a bouquet can look without the traditional floral additions. Another show-stopper is the cake – an exquisite naked confection studded with foliage and feathers, which perfectly complements the Tudor theme of the wedding breakfast. With an artfully dressed chandelier presiding over long tables in the great hall, Suzanne’s love of this bygone period is evident in the evocative yet simple styling. If this was history coursework, we’d give her an A-star!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Chelsea Shoesmith Photography.

A Winter Wedding at Samlesbury Hall (c) Chelsea Shoesmith Photography (42)

suzanne says: Bevan and I met in Singapore on Tinder, despite both living around the corner from each other in London! One of the first places we headed to as a couple when we were back visiting the UK was Grasmere, where we walked up the Lion and the Lamb. So, when Bevan decided he wanted to propose, he took me back to Grasmere and up to the top of the Lion and the Lamb, where he suggested we take a break. He then pulled from his rucksack what appeared to be a Christmas present (Bevan proposed on 21st December 2016). I opened the gift and it was a book entitled ‘Our Adventures’. Each page was a different picture of our life together so far. When I reached the final page, there was a picture of a jewellery shop with the caption, “I want to ask you to begin another adventure with me” and the next page said, “Will you marry me?” Bevan got down on one knee with a vintage engagement ring – a 1930s blue sapphire with two diamonds either side.

A Winter Wedding at Samlesbury Hall (c) Chelsea Shoesmith Photography (23)

We got married on 22nd December 2017, at Samlesbury Hall in Lancashire. As we live overseas, we tried to pick a date when our overseas friends would also be back in the UK. We liked the idea of making the day a big Christmas party. The venue is in my home town of Preston and I love history, especially the Tudor period, so a Tudor house seemed ideal. The ceremony was in the old chapel, the drinks reception in the antechamber and the wedding breakfast in the great hall. Some of our guests stayed overnight in the shepherd’s huts, which are located in the grounds of Samlesbury Hall. Angela, who runs the venue, is amazing at making your day run smoothly and the venue is bursting with character.

The wedding was not a religious ceremony. However, the ceremony itself was very personal to us. We used Cate Baines at The Ceremony Company and she was fantastic. She really set the scene with a flamboyant explanation of how we met.

A Winter Wedding at Samlesbury Hall (c) Chelsea Shoesmith Photography (19)

In terms of a theme, I was keen to have a vintage feel to my dress because of my engagement ring but we didn’t really have a specific theme, other than telling everybody it was first and foremost a Christmas party.

For the colour scheme, I went with champagne (because of my dress having that vintage look), dark green, dark red and dark blue. I wanted to keep the colours simple and in tune with Christmas.

A Winter Wedding at Samlesbury Hall (c) Chelsea Shoesmith Photography (39)

My dress was designed for me by an Irish designer based in Singapore called Elizabeth Gregory Couture. It was great working with Elizabeth. She designed my dress around my engagement ring and she also designed and made my fake fur stole, which I finished off with a vintage brooch that belonged to Bevan’s great grandmother. I added a back necklace by Tilly Thomas Lux and matching hairpins. I’d like to give a shout out to Chloe and Sarah for the fantastic hair and makeup – two lovely working mummies!

Bevan wore a suit, also designed and made by Elizabeth. Her suit brand is called Elizabeth Grace. Bevan wore navy with a beautiful grey waistcoat sporting bright red lining.

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in the frame: how to pick your wedding photographer

March 1st, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

Mike Plunkett Photography (2)

Mike Plunkett Photography, image source

The date’s in the diary, the venue’s booked and now it’s time to make one of the biggest weddingland decisions of them all: who gets the photographer gig?

Trust us, there are lots of talented snappers out there (including those featured in our Suppliers We Love directory) – we are blown away by the beautiful imagery that is submitted to the blog every week, and so we understand it can be tricky to narrow down the choices.

Beyond the aesthetics there are further aspects to consider – cost, packages, approach, albums – but there’s no need to get in a head-spin, for we’re elaborating on these points today as we share our top tips to finding the right photographer for you and your big day…

James Tracey Photography (1)

James Tracey Photography, image source

what’s your style?

As you trawl through magazines and blogs, what style of photography speaks to you? Classic portraiture, i.e. posed couple shots and family groups with everyone smiling and looking the right way? Or are you a fan of a more documentary-esque, reportage style – pretty much the opposite, with events caught candidly ‘in the moment’ and barely an eye on the camera? Are edgy shoots your thing – often (but not always) featuring urban settings, bold colours, dramatic backdrops and quirky props, angles and cropping? Or there’s fine art, where reality has an extra-dreamy romantic filter applied; these pictures are super-tasteful, with the pretty pumped up to the max and a fashion magazine feel.

There’s always some overlap, but a wedding photographer generally leans towards one of the above – so decide what feels most ‘you’ and start looking for shooters who specialise in your favourite style.

Sarah Mason Photography

Sarah Mason Photography, image source

the package

There isn’t one set standard in wedding photography, so now that you’re noting down names and details it’s time to pay attention to the fine print. How many hours coverage will you need? Can they be flexible if the day runs over? Are you set on a second shooter and, if so, can they offer one? What do they provide in terms of an album: how many edited images; what about hard copies; is there an online gallery for friends and family to peruse? Start digging deeper: check client testimonials, look at whole albums rather than a handpicked selection of highlights from the last few years and make comparisons between your shortlist and other similarly-priced photographers.

Kate McCarthy Photography

Kate McCarthy Photography, image source

making your mind up

You’re going to spend a LOT of time with your wedding photographer – probably more time than any of your other suppliers – so once you’ve narrowed the potentials down, it’s best to meet in person. Have a list of questions ready – perhaps email them in advance – and put together a Pinterest board of images you love so that you can clearly communicate the kind of end result you want. A wedding photographer needs to be personable, confident, and outgoing, but also sensitive, respectful and professional. Once you’re face to face, it’s easier to make the judgement call as to whether they’re the one for you. Do they feel right? Our ultimate advice is to trust your gut.

Jessica Grace Photography

Jessica Grace Photography, image source

trust your choice

Once you have the photographer on board, it’s time to relax.  You picked them because you loved their work. Now its time to let them do their thang!

Obviously, your chosen photographer will have to work within the constraints of your agreement (and what actually happens on the day and what’s there to shoot!) but if you want our advice, here’s ten popular photographs we think you can’t miss. If you love these ideas, talk to your photographer in advance of your wedding, then stand back and let them set the agenda for the day.  Everyone works best if they are allowed the freedom work in their own way and if everyone is on the same page, then its sure to be a match made in heaven!

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