This afternoon I’m really proud to introduce another of our very talented Brides Up North Sponsors, Mark of Valentina Weddings to the blog. Mark’s images speak for themselves – this guy has
some serious skills. After cutting his teeth in underwater photography, Mark rocks weddings on dry land both at home and abroad (you should check out his work in Tuscany before going any further – ah-may-zing).
Mark’s also offering a free pre wedding shoot to readers who quote Brides Up North when booking.
Let’s say hello!
How did you get into wedding photography?
mark says:I am self taught from being an underwater photographer twenty years ago. I used to be a scuba diver instructor working throughout the world and started photographing underwater for commercial contracts throughout the world. My job took me around the world on many occasions working is some amazing places like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Maldives, Kenya, Malta and of course throughout the UK. The range of work was amazing, one week I could be photographing sharks in Australia, the following week I could be in icy cold water in Scotland photographing salmon in a fish farm! After many years of that I wanted to settle down a bit so I came back to the UK, sold all my underwater camera kit and had a few months off deciding what to do next!
Why wedding photography specifically?
I kind of fell into the whole wedding photography environment. During my time back in the UK I was photographing landscapes and a couple of friends were getting married and they asked me to photograph their wedding for them which I did. I loved the simplicity of wedding photography compared to my underwater photography days. An underwater photography shoot was a massive undertaking, so much planning, flying kit half way around the world, then waiting for a weather window, getting to the location by boat, kitting up then doing the photos- it is a big task. Wedding photography has a lead in time but I just turn up on the day and we have a great time- I love it!
What is your favourite thing about being a wedding photographer?
I love being involved in a couples happiest day ever, it is such a positive experience, there is so much love in the room and everyone is at their happiest. I also love to “break the mould” of what many couples and guests perception of what a wedding photographer is. We have all been to a wedding (even I have!) were the photographer runs around looking stressed, orders people to stand in lines for the family shots, steals the bride and groom for about an hour for more photos leaving the guests wondering where they have gone. I just love doing things differently, my clients tell me I am so relaxed and chilled and they hardly knew I was there- that is what a wedding photographer should be.
How do you get couples to relax on the day?
I smile, have fun and keep them nice and relaxed keeping them with their family and friends for as much time as possible.
Any advice to any brides who don’t like to have their picture taken?
I shoot most of my photos with a zoom lens so that puts some distance between us and they can relax more. For the close up shots of the couple I typically work about 10-15 feet away from the couple with a zoom lens so they hardly know I am there and can relax more.
What sort of makeup should a bride wear to look great in her pictures?
Quality make up is essential to last throughout the course of the day, I am a big believer in using a professional make up artist to help you and guide you with colours and style. Having the make up applied for you on your wedding day takes the stress away from you and ensures it looks it’s best. I am fortunate enough to photograph weddings in Italy and good make up is essential in the hot conditions to make it look its best throughout the whole day.
Anything to avoid which might look bad in the wedding pictures?
Too many staged photos, I like to let the day flow and capture the wedding day as it happens in true documentary style.
Which celebrity wedding would you most like to photograph and why?
I would love to photograph Kelly Brook’s wedding just because I think she is a very beautiful lady and quite down to earth. I have photographed a couple of celebrity weddings one of which had Noel Edmunds as the best man and the ventriloquist Nina Conti did a half hour set. Nina was amazing and put the ventriloquist masks onto the bride and groom, I struggled to take the photos as I was laughing so much!
Any really memorable weddings that you have captured?
I had the pleasure to photograph a couple called Liz and Chris who were such an amazing couple. The circumstances around how I came to photograph could only be described as fate having met Chris’s mum out in Sorrento when I was photographing a wedding out there. Only weeks after meeting Chris’s mum she was told she only had weeks to live and as a gift to her son wanted me to be the photographer for the wedding. The day was a beautiful celebration and Chris’s mum was certainly there in spirit. The wedding was held outside under a large tree and the weather on the day was a sunny calm day, but when Liz and Chris said their vows a sudden breeze came from nowhere and the leaves in the tree rustled for a few seconds- it still gives me goosebumps today.
Are you married? Tell us about your day.
When you work in the wedding environment then get married yourself I feel you have to do something different. I got married in a stunning castle on the West Coast of Scotland called Glengorm Castle on the Isle of Mull www.glengormcastle.co.uk My wife and I were on a boat off the coast of Mull and saw this stunning castle on the very northern tip of Mull looking out over the sea to the Cuillins mountains of Skye. When I decided to propose to her I search the internet to find the castle and we went for a holiday, two years later we returned and got married there. We have just returned from a visit back to Glengorm castle to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.
Any funny stories to share?
There can always be something that does not go to plan at a wedding. A bride at Middleton Lodge was putting her wedding shoes on and a strap broke leaving the shoe loose on her foot. Completely unphased by this she called reception and asked for a roll of Sellotape and promptly sellotaped the shoe to her foot! I got a great photo of her laughing as she fixed the shoe to her foot and she chose to include that shot in her album,
What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
I think my relaxed documentary photography style, simplistic pricing structure and personable nature is why clients book me. I don’t do pushy sales or have hidden costs in my packages so the bride and groom know what they are going to get, how much it will be so they can budget accordingly. Cost is always important, but having someone who you feel at ease with and can trust to mingle in, not control the day and get some great photos is what I think is more important. I have many very happy couples and these can be viewed on my Thank You’s page of my website.
What can a couple who book you expect on the day?
Anyone booking me for their wedding will get stunning documentary style wedding photography. We will have fun on the day, I will work quickly ensuring the couple get the maximum time to drink champagne, chat with friends and enjoy their day- after all that is what makes for great photos. I will be with the couple throughout the day from bridal preparations up to first dance and some partying afterwards. Their wedding photos will be prepared for them whilst they are on honeymoon and are typically ready within two weeks of their wedding day.
What is included in your “package”?
My package includes full day coverage, high resolution images to the couple with copyright to use them and share them with friends, all the photographs set to music on a viewing DVD, all the images prepared ready for an iPad or tablet device and an online Client Area on my website. A pre-wedding photoshoot can be included into your package which includes a signing frame with one of those photos. You can also add a stunning luxurious wedding album to your package if you wish, I use Jorgensen of Australia wedding albums as their albums are very high quality and compliment my work.
Can you give us an idea on price?
I pride myself on a simplistic approach to pricing with no hidden extra costs. My prices are £1295 for the full day coverage which includes your high resolution images on a USB stick, viewing DVD set to music and an online Client Area on my website. An album can be added to that package to compliment your photos, you can have as many photos in your album as you want and prices start from £400 for the album depending on size and style.
Can you do a discount for Brides Up North readers?
I would be happy to offer a free pre wedding shoot to couples who quote Brides Up North when booking.
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or see more examples of your work?
My website is www.valentinaweddings.co.uk or they can call me on 01423 206355 to arrange an informal meeting to look through my albums and get to meet me.