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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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just peachy. enzoani for a romantic lakeside wedding at the fisherman’s retreat – natalie & sim

February 26th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

Enzoani for a Pretty Peach Wedding (c) Nik Bryant Photography (19)

Here at Brides Up North we’ve almost forgotten what sunshine feels like. It’s been a loooong winter, am I right? Well, today on the blog we’re featuring a wedding that’s guaranteed to heighten your summer cravings – a sun-drenched ceremony, cobalt skies, and a pinky peach colour scheme of dreams –  #sorrynotsorry.

Natalie stripped all embellishment from the tulle of her divine Enzoani dress for an elegant ‘naked’ finish and ivory, pale eucalyptus green and gold ruled their palette along with pops of peach. Combined with the sunshine, the blue skies and the lakeside views, their day feels as refreshing as an iced glass of fizz. Just what the doctor ordered.

Brace yourself, readers – summer is on its way!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Nik Bryant Photography.

Enzoani for a Pretty Peach Wedding (c) Nik Bryant Photography (48)

natalie says: We got engaged in Barcelona in September 2016, after watching the magic fountain show. It was just perfect!

Our wedding date was 8th July 2017. We didn’t have a specific reason for the date; we simply wanted to get married in summer 2017, we’d chosen our venue and they had the 8th July available so we snapped it up. I’m studying at university, so the date meant I’d have finished for the summer and would give us time to finalise any details in the run up to the wedding. Oh, and we were also hoping for some summer sun!

Enzoani for a Pretty Peach Wedding (c) Nik Bryant Photography (63)

We got married at The Fisherman’s Retreat in Ramsbottom. The room where our ceremony was held had floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the hills. It was a gorgeously sunny day and we were really lucky to say our vows with such an astonishing view in sight. For the reception we changed rooms so we had full access to the lake and our guests could sit outside to enjoy their drinks and celebrate. We originally chose the venue because it was in such a beautiful location and because they gave us a lot of freedom in terms of how we spent our money. There was a ‘minimum spend’ but we could decide to spend this on whatever we wanted instead of it being a set package like so many other venues.

Enzoani for a Pretty Peach Wedding (c) Nik Bryant Photography (67)

We had a peach orchard theme to tie into the gorgeous views at the venue. We wanted a friendly, casual but fresh vibe for our guests and it turned out exactly as we wanted.

Colour-wise, we went for peach and gold with lots of greenery, for example eucalyptus leaves for place cards and greenery wrapped around the wooden beams in the ceremony room.

Enzoani for a Pretty Peach Wedding (c) Nik Bryant Photography (36)

My dress was from Perfect Daze Bridal in Scissett, Huddersfiled. It was from the Enzoani Blue collection and called Janessa. I loved the fabric and had the tulle part reshaped to create a detachable train which I loved! I had the jewels taken off the tulle and shaped so it was ‘naked’ and I adored its simplicity.

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every emotion captured: phil drinkwater photography

February 22nd, 2018 | Julia Braime

Phil Drinkwater Photography (3)

It goes without saying that you want your wedding photographer to produce the most beautiful images of your big day, but it’s also important to select a pro that will fit in with the flow of your day, who will feel like a guest and who will make the process as simple as possible.

Fortunately for you we know a fella that offers all of the above, our talented Sponsor Phil Drinkwater of Phil Drinkwater Photography, who is joining us on the blog today.

Based in the North West, but documenting weddings all over the UK and overseas, Phil loves nothing more than delivering the story of the full day through his gorgeous images. He aims to blend in and promises to capture every emotion, so you can relive the special moments of your day time and time again.

We’ll hand over to Phil now to show off some of his fabulous images while telling us more about his love for all things wedding…

Phil Drinkwater Photography (14)

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

[juennaopen]phil says: I started just over a decade ago now. I was originally working in beauty (makeup) and fashion photography, but everything I produced looked too “beautiful” for the fashion industry. It was quipped a few times that I should shoot weddings, so I did! I think I suit the happiness of a wedding day and the accuracy that is required to be a wedding photographer. The different stories in a wedding day really attract me and I love to hang out with happy people at such an amazing occasion.

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

I’ve combined the best of different styles, but most of my time is spent beautifully documenting the day. I don’t subscribe to the “dark and moody” style of photography much and I’m always looking to produce bright and beautiful tones which flatter. It’s important for me to be involved in the day – I like to capture the day every emotion at a time, and knowing the personalities allows me to predict where to be and what to be focusing on.

Phil Drinkwater Photography (5)

What is it that you love most about your job?

It’s being at the wedding itself. I love to feel the emotions on the day and it’s exciting to develop the picture-based story in my mind as the day progresses. It’s why I only offer a full day wedding option – I wouldn’t want to miss anything.

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

It sounds dull, but the most important thing couples are missing at the moment is consideration of image backup policy. Many photographers don’t use dual cards on the day (where their camera is writing to two cards at once at the wedding) and don’t backup the photos when they get home. Outside of that, it’s down to someone whose work and personality you love. It should feel like walking into that perfect new house – something should just feel “right”.

Phil Drinkwater Photography (13)

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

I think I’m the most consistent photographer that I know. Many photographers will put their focus into certain sections of the day, or certain types of photos. For me, nothing is given more attention than anything else. I’ll do everything possible to produce the very best in every single photograph.

What is the feedback like from your couples?

It’s that they loved having me as part of the day, that they hardly knew I was there and feel the photographs really tell the story. One groom also called me a “photographer ninja” because I seem to be everywhere at once! Another commented that my booking system was excellent.

Phil Drinkwater Photography (19)

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

I like to hang out with the bride and bridesmaids in the morning to experience the various emotions they go through as they approach “the moment”.

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 photograph everywhere! Probably half of my weddings are in the North West, but I’ve photographed London and Scotland and Wales, and been abroad quite a few times. I’d love to photograph a wedding in Morocco because I adore the colours in the country, and the taste of the tagines! I’d also love to do an amazing beach wedding in the Caribbean and I’m sure that’ll happen sometime soon.

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documenting your day: silver sixpence film & photo

February 12th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

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As a special treat for surviving the majority of Monday and to ease you happily into another (bloomin’ freezing) week, we have some beautiful wedding footage in store courtesy of our talented Sponsor Silver Sixpence Film & Photo.

The highly-skilled duo behind the business are husband and wife Penny and Ed, who left their successful careers in big screen feature films to play an intimate role in couples’ weddings by documenting their day through beautiful videography.

Keen to capture couples at their most natural and reflect the true emotions of the day, East-Yorkshire-based Penny and Ed capture their footage in a discreet manor and edit to produce gorgeous films that preserve precious memories in time.

We’ve invited them along to the blog today to tell us more about their fabulous work and the benefits of hiring a videographer – they’re also spilling the details of their latest venture – wedding photography – and offering you lucky readers a cheeky 15% discount too. Read on for all the details.

Joe and Michelle from Silver Sixpence Films on Vimeo.

When did you first start filming weddings and how did you get into it?

penny says: We are a husband and wife team and we met when we were both working in feature films. We were both in high profile jobs; I was working for the director on the last three Harry Potter films and Ed was working on a film with Heath Ledger before moving onto various others, including Skyfall. Ed had been filming the occasional wedding film since he left university in 2003, and when we met we realised that we both shared a love for telling personal stories and so we created Silver Sixpence Films so we could do that together. We loved working on these projects so much that we decided to leave feature film and concentrate on what we love most.

How would you describe your style videography? 

Because of our background we approach each wedding in the same way we did a feature film. We try and shoot everything cinematically and we spend a lot of time in the edit putting the story together so that it perfectly captures every couple’s day in a personal and unique way. Because a wedding day is an important day in people’s lives we like to work in an unobtrusive way so our aim is to put together a wonderful keepsake of the day without intruding on the celebration as it is taking place.

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What is it that you love most about your job?

We love meeting couples and becoming involved in their day in such an intimate way. We talk to them before the wedding and spend most of the actual wedding day with them, but it is after everything has finished and we start to work on it that we spend a couple of weeks editing their film and really getting to know them. We often get very attached by the end of the project and feel very close to our brides and grooms. We really care about what they think about what we have produced, and we are always so excited when they love it.

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

We would recommend that each bride and groom look at the films that each videographer puts together and try and work out what style of film that they like most. Most videographers will be happy to send a full-length example film to prospective clients so make sure you have done this, so you can get an idea of what the full finished product will be like. Some videographers are more hands on and posed than us, so they might ask you to stop as you are walking down the aisle, or they may constantly give you directions and interrupt your day. Some people might be reassured by that control, but we find it intrusive and so our approach is more relaxed. People often comment that they didn’t even know anyone was filming because of the way we work on the day, which has meant we have been able to film at even very small, intimate thirty-person weddings without intruding on the day.

Liam and Marianne from Silver Sixpence Films on Vimeo.

Why would you encourage couples to have their wedding day filmed?

A wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and you will want to look back on it and everything that happened. Most people these days plan to get a photographer, and photography is a beautiful way to capture your day, but it will never be able to portray the same emotion as a wedding film. We have lost track of how many of our clients have told us they have been in floods of beautiful, happy tears when watching one of our films. On our wedding day we had a short film made and a year later sadly Ed’s nan had passed away. We are so grateful that we have that wonderful memory of her and of the day that we said, “I do.”

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What is the feedback like from your couples?

People get very emotional watching our films and we often get thank you cards and presents detailing how perfectly we captured the day. People often comment, not only on how they didn’t realise the wedding was being videoed, but also on how wonderfully it has been captured. Our bride and grooms often tell us how they love seeing all the parts of the day that they missed because they were busy doing other things.

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

For us, our favourite moment changes each wedding. Every wedding is unique and with our discreet style we are constantly filming and looking for that perfect moment. On some days it is when the father-of-the-bride sees the bride for the first time on the day and breaks down in happy tears, on other days it’s the groom seeing the bride walking down the aisle whilst barely holding it together. Often, it’s the children, they do such wonderful, funny things. Wedding days are full of such powerful emotion and we love being a part of that.

Phil and Nichola from Silver Sixpence Films on Vimeo.

What would you say to couples who feel nervous about being filmed?

Our job is to make our couples look amazing. If we capture something and they don’t look brilliant, then chances are it won’t be in the film. The great thing when working with us is you can relax knowing that we are some of the most highly trained people working in the industry and trust us to make you look fantastic. When we take couples out for their portraits together we treat it as a bit of time for them to spend with each other first, and a chance to capture some beautifully romantic shots second. We shoot from as far back as we can so that the bride and groom are free to talk and laugh without feeling self-conscious. If someone needs feedback we will give them simple suggestions to help them feel more comfortable. We are looking for relaxed, natural footage and before too long everyone tends to end up enjoying themselves. Couple’s often comment on how they loved going out with us because it was the only chance they got to spend some quality time together all day.

Other than videography, what are your other passions and what do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a videographer?

Ed is also a very good photographer and has won awards for his work. I love interior design and styling which is why I get so excited about the details on a wedding day. I could see myself being a florist, or an event planner.

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