Photography Blog by Duncan Holmes
Following cancellation of another shoot, I had a Tuesday going spare. With a few more grey hairs I managed to throw together a replacement photoshoot, which due to some last minute shuffling resulted in the makeup artist and one of the models only being confirmed the night before.
So, the weekend before the shoot, I'd popped into the Lounge in Largs and had received permission to shoot there from the owner, Stephen. It's a nice restaurant venue with boutique styling and being a local I'd been there to eat, as well as covering a wedding there. I was given the grand tour and was introduced to the two floors above, derelict but providing a wonderful backdrop for some additional shots.
The day dawned brightly and following the arrival of Helen, our makeup artist and Maxine, our hair stylist, Lauren and Mariel, the two models and finally Ailsa, of AJR Designs we were ready to shoot.
We started off in and around the restaurant, making the most of the quiet time before the venue opened to the public. We then spent a last hour upstairs playing in the attic. I had some technological hiccoughs and had to improvise with a backup flash, but the results have been turning out fabulously so far.
Both models were perfectly suited to the great looks that Helen and Maxine had come up with and were well suited to Ailsa's dresses. A great morning's shooting!
And I'll end this piece by wishing Ailsa the best of luck, beauty and good fortune for her own wedding this Saturday!
The art of being creative indoors.
Often when wedding couples are thinking of their venue and their photos they are envisioning the best weather conditions and perfect blue skies. This is Scotland, so contingency plans need to be made..
Just because it rains though, doesn’t mean you have to make do with mediocre photographs. This is a chance for you and your photographer to show a little imagination and make use of the features of the location you find yourself in.
Window light provides a soft light that can provide a nice way to highlight the bride and the details in her dress, it can also provide an opportunity to use silhouettes against the light, which can be a nice creative touch.
Using nooks, corners and seating that might seem fairly ordinary at first glance can provide a dramatic background for the shoot, once again allowing the bride to shine. Similarly simple grey shades can provide a backdrop to the shot and allow the focus to be on the bride, instead of her surroundings.
Sometimes a little chance to play with the props that an indoor location provides can be a great way to break the ice and relax into getting your photos taken. These shots should that feel natural and be a good reflection of your personality and humour. A setup that takes too long to arrange or is too forced can result in some awkward looking photos.
If you’re having some photos taken at your hotel, don’t be afraid to take the photographer up to the bridal suite and get some photos there. This takes you away from the main wedding party and can give you a chance to decompress and relax a little. It can also be a chance for the photographer to capture some more personal moments or go for those really arty shots that work better without distractions. Or it can be a chance to pile everyone into a bath and take a picture.
An indoor wedding can prevent you from getting the shot of the whole wedding party, especially with larger weddings or smaller venues. So once again, this is a chance to be creative with smaller groups of guests or even the introduction of a photo booth. Now some photo booths are just that, but many photographers can set up a temporary studio, space allowing, permitting pictures of small groups of friends, families or couples.
It’s also a great situation in which to get some nice close-ups of the guests, the couple and some candid shots of everybody having fun. Kids often have ways of entertaining themselves at a wedding, so when they get free of adult restrictions it can make for some great candid moments.
All in all, no reason to cry on a rainy, windy, sleety, snowy, foggy day, just think outside the box and find a photographer who doesn't mind improvising.
And if all else fails, grab some umbrellas and mess about in the puddles, just bring your wellies so as not to spoil your high heels.
I thought, as the shoot itself is still under wraps, I'd turn instead to the hotel where it took place. The Prestonfield House
hotel is a real luxury hotel, boutique style with every detail designed and planned to a tee. Sometimes this approach can leave a hotel as a kind of cold sterile museum that can be quite intimidating.
But the lasting impression I got from shooting at the hotel was the warmth and welcome from the staff at the hotel. It looks like hotel owners have taken the same care in their selection, training and staffing of the hotel as they took in everything else. There was none of the brusqueness or bustle you find in some venues, each question was answered courteously, requests were handled quietly and smoothly with simple efficiency and care and even when they were doing their best not to trip over an entire photo shoot in progress, they all had a smile for us. I can only imagine that the same warmth and care would attend any guest at the hotel and any occasion held there.
Each of the public rooms is designed to a theme and the little staircases and nooks that take you from one room to another do give you the feel of walking into your own little private space, even in areas you are sharing with others. The two main dining areas within the hotel are well presented and given slightly different characters and the suite I visited, the Churchill Suite, was vision of opulent luxury.
A lot of the public rooms had roaring fires as well, which gave a much more organic and alive feel to the exquisitely presented rooms. Where technology crept in, it was fairly unobtrusive.
This isn't your budget hotel by any means, but I can't help feeling that anyone fortunate enough to have their wedding at the hotel would be stepping into some very welcoming arms and would feel that their money was well spent.
Besides they have peacocks in the garden!
Now all the above may sound a tad elegaic, and I'll admit to not being a regular at the kind of hotel that offers its guests helicopter coordinates for arrival, but it was a very impressive experience. I might save up and take my wife to dinner there, next time we are through in Edinburgh, if only to complete my experience of the place.
Way back when, I did a post
on different venues in the area. As a wedding photographer here in sunny Scotland, I've had the opportunity to visit some new ones, so thought I'd provide a little update on the blog.
This isn't a huge function room, but the owners do offer a range of built in services, such as bar, DJ etc. that can provide a full package without much extra needed. This is most suited to smaller weddings, with the upper balcony and main floor providing space for people to break away from the main party if they want to. The frescos on the wall can be quite attractive, but they are high up for the most part. The wedding arch they arrange for newly arrived couples is at the main exit, so the ghostly glow of fire exit signs can sometimes stray into the wedding pictures. Friendly and welcoming staff. The dedicated wedding coordinator is a handy point of contact.Parking in the street around the venue can be difficult.
Although the Lounge is a restaurant/bar it does have a small function room and it is possible to hire the whole place for a wedding. Once again, it seems most suited to the smaller weddings, providing a cosy and intimate feel, with the bar providing a comfortable break out area between meal and dancing. The food is excellent and the staff are very welcoming. The decoration is eclectic, with a boutique feel to it, so may not suit everybody's taste. The Lounge is on Largs's high street, so it can be a bit busy outside but it is very handy for the nearby churches and registry office.
Sloan's is a bit of a landmark in Glasgow and many different events are held up in the Ballroom and other function suites. It's a good venue, as long as nobody minds stairs, for small and mid sized wedding parties. The ballroom provides a good venue for the meal and for dancing later, with a bar built in, to save people having to go down to the ground floor pub area. Because of its popular location, visitors might have to contend with the markets in the alleys leading to the venue and the usual flow of customers in the lower floor. The central location makes it easy to get to and from on public transport, which is great, considering the stresses of parking in Glasgow. The staircase can make a nice feature in photographs for small family groups and is only a step or two away from the ballroom itself.
The registry office at Park Circus is very well maintained and pretty in places, but it is a production line that is run slickly by the registrar and the assistants. Shots are taken at 2 or 3 points around the building (the upper landing spoiled slightly by the health and safety barriers raised higher than the original bannisters). Because of the fixed locations, couples may find their pictures match just about everybody elses. It is just at the edge of the Kelvingrove park, so there are plenty of opportunities for more relaxed outdoorsy shots with the couple, time allowing. It is best not to try and get pictures taken on the steps (other couples and guests coming in and out) unless you are the last couple of the day.The neighbours don't appreciate random parties of wedding guests on their steps, which can add a sour note to a wedding photo. Just round the corner are the big steps down the side of the hill and these can make a great place to arrange a large wedding group in interesting ways.
The Chartroom is a restaurant beside the marina in Inverkip and offers a function room for the ceremony, meals, dancing etc. It benefits from a nice location (providing you like boats) and a personal approach to organising the wedding. It might be a little cramped in times of bad weather, as the main bar is quite small and the regulars may block up other areas. Outside there is a decked area that provides a vista over the marina and towards the houses that block the view to the sea. A short drive away though you can access the small beach in front of these houses, or a wooded path that leads through the woods at the shoreline. These can make for great little breakaway spots to get some pictures of the bride and groom away from the main party. Cars can be brought round to the front of the chartroom on the path overlooking the marina, which can make for more attractive photographs than if they are taken in the carpark at the back (where the bride will usually arrive).
More to follow at a later date
So the year turned and the Scottish Creative Network managed to pull together another day at the Radisson Blu hotel. Last year's shoot, with bridal gowns and clothes from Obscure Couture and Dom and Emily, was a pretty good day for me. I got some great pictures, including 6 that appeared in the recent exhbition.
This time though, I'd decided to do something different. Still creeping at the edge of fashion, but with a strong story element.
The basic premise echoes touches of Mr and Mrs Smith (spy's fall in love, have a fight etc.) but I decided to throw in a random curveball or two, by making my spies a little more than human and throwing in a laser burn, instead of bullet holes. The full piece will be presented as a kind of photo story/graphic novel.
Following a recent fashion show at the Corinthian, I had recruited Neal Alexander and Leeann McCall as my two leads in the piece. They were both quite enthusiastic to be trying something new and a little off kilter from the usual fashion norm.
I also managed to draw in Aileen Wallace for her makeup skills. Some further casting about and a recommendation brought on Jay Campbell to help out with hair.
The hardest part was in fact finding suitable extras for the two additional roles in the piece. My friend, Benita Jonsson, was helping and assisting with the shoot and just happened to bring her husband along for the first part of the shoot, hey presto a star was born in the shape of Marco, and promptly shot in the head with a laser!
and I have been FB pals for a while and I met her at one of the Baby Blues Club nights. She's an actress and a dancer and had the ability to create the severe look I needed for a boss handing across assassination orders.
We actually started the shoot off the day before the Radisson hotel shoot. We shot near Shields Road, using the West Street industrial estate and some fabulous graffitti around the side of Cotterell Lighting, We managed to persuade a fireplace showroom to loan us a corner for the initial hair and makeup, Though by the time we wrapped at 5:30 pm, Neal was reduced to getting changed back into normal clothes in the back of a car.
So that was two scenes in the bag for the story.
I was already having continuity meltdown after only 2 scenes, so I spent that night sketching out the various steps for the next day.
The day at the Radisson did start remarkably well, everybody turned up! The fact that the organisers had to delay the start due to the need to wait for a room worked in our favour. It gave us a few extra minutes (an hour) for hair and makeup and for Leeann to try on some of her outfits.
Leeann was the clothes horse for the day, sporting a dress from Psychomoda, 2 corsets from Crikey Aphrodite and a couple of outfits from C.Watson. Neal got to wear a tux and his casual clothes and different shades of boxer shorts. He did seem deeply enamoured with the laser gun he got to play with, in between eating every scrap in sight.
The organisers had gained us access to the corner bar, 3 rooms, the public areas of the hotel and the restaurant. We were able to mostly shoot in the order of the scenes in the story, though Leeann had to be remade up for the restaurant scene and de bruised.
All should hopefully become clearer when the final piece is ready.
I was very impressed by my two main models for the day, both relatively new to the experience and being thrust together in a story of love, betrayal and sad farewells. We managed to keep the mood light and comfortable and still be very professional when the camera was clicking. Aileen and Jay did spectacularly well with hair and makeup and Benita was a very patient assistant throughout the day. Glynis was a trooper, arriving in time for her makeup call and waiting being cold until her short scene at the end of the day's shooting. A special mention should also be made for Alison Campbell of Crikey Aphrodite, who turned up with a rotten cough and none too well, but managed to fashion up some great looks from her Crikey Aphrodite wardrobe.
The SCN crew provided light relief by filling a coffee machine that had no water tank in it and scattering a waterfall over their prized camera kit, but were otherwise the pictures of efficiency in getting us all round the place.
It was a very different experience to the previous year. Because I knew what scenes I needed for my story, I wasn't trying anything and everything with each location and once I had the shots I needed I was stumped for additional pictures to take. The advantage of this was that we did have the extra time for hair and makeup changes, food and other interruptions which made the day a bit more civilised and less frenetic.
So, for now, here is the "cast" in full graphic novel mode, they will be more photographically inclined in the final piece:
This alliterative and charming couple bring an end to the trio of weddings this year with brides from within the same family. Deborah is the cousin of the sisters Susan and Janet, who also got married this year and also chose me to take their wedding pictures.
The morning dawned with torrential rain, I drove to Duck Bay at Loch Lomond in the rain and scouted out the location beneath my umbrella. I was nice an early though, so that by the time the wedding was about to begin it was dry and there even some breaks in the cloud cover. Once again the weather gods were smiling on me.
Although Deborah had asked for no shots of her during her preparations, I was early enough to sneak up to her room and get a couple of photos with her very shy bridesmaid and proud parents before the main event. Even allowing myself a little time for pictures of Darrell and his best man, Simon out on the jetty, everything was done at a relaxed pace in keeping with the relative peace of the location.
It was a small, low key wedding with the 32 guests attending a service with the registrar, being subjected to the photographer's whims and then dining within the same function room at the hotel. A few late evening guests joined us after the meal. With no venue to venue travel, I probably ran out of ideas long before the hotel's warning to "have them back by 4:30" turned me into a pumpkin.
Once again there was a distinct sense of deja vu, especially when I sat next to Janet and Susan's mother at dinner, the previous mother of the brides.
During the outside photographs we were buzzed by jetskis at the beach, a motorboat full of wetsuited folk on the jetty and were even briefly invaded by some Japanese tourists. It was an eventful wedding in that regard.
With the late evening light still streaming through the windows, the first dance was held, a last few photos were taken and I was able to wend my way home to Largs. A nice gentle wedding with happy people, a happy couple and the lovely view of Loch Lomond. We'll just pretend the midges stayed away so as not to ruin the romance!
Back in the swing of wedding season and last Saturday saw me venturing into the wilds of Glasgow for the wedding of Susan and David.
This was my first trip to the registry offices at Park Circus. This is a great location with beautiful interiors but with a throughput that would shame a factory production line. Following a lightning ceremony, we had 5 minutes in the conservatory and 5 minutes on the balcony before the couple were pushed out the door and the doors locked behind them. I guess being the last slot on the day's schedule the workers were eager to be away.
It was a more relaxed feel at the reception, held at Sloans. It was quite strange being back in the ballroom, as the last time I'd been there had been a photoshoot
with the lovely Miel.
Susan and David were a lovely couple, relaxed and happy once the wedding nerves wore off a little. I'm looking forward to showing them the resulting pictures, when they get back from their honeymoon.
This was actually the first of my "family" weddings this year. I'd shot Janet's wedding
earlier in the year and she's Susan's sister and will be shooting Debbie's wedding in a couple of weeks, who is their cousin. This isn't the only instance of keeping it in the family this year. This Friday's wedding for Nicola and Kevin arose because of Kevin's sister Julie's
wedding last year.
Naturally I'm available to weddings from other families too!
Last Wednesday saw me waltzing my wife into The Corinthian in Glasgow for a fashion show arranged by my Eris Events. We arrived nice and early, so I was able to grab a few pictures of the rehearsal and makeup in progress, leaving my wife surrounded by Michelle and Jacki (principal organisers of the event) and their bits of organisation.
It was a little different to the first show I went to last year, I knew some of the models and had worked with several of the designers this time. So it was good to see some old and new faces.
The show had been choreographed to have the models moving along and around the catwalk. It was an interesting 3 dimensional approach, and it was nice not to have the models towering above us, up on the high steel and glass tables the whole time. Sense had kicked in, the models were barefoot on the glass.
The designers featured were Crikey Aphrodite, C.Watson, M.A.D. Clothing, Psychomoda, Betty Spoke and Nutmeg Couture. The gorgeous models were K T Matsetse, Lee-Ann McCall, Kirstin Gribbin, Aimee Louise Owens, Macoula Dembele, Tuma Keke Nissi, Prisca Baikpon, Lindsey Hamilton, DeBay Delux and Gillian Murray. Makeup artists were Louise Tumulty, Katie Ford and Madeline Anne.
Shot from the right direction, the boutique was a great location, with the mirrored ceiling that became almost like water in some pictures. There was a lot of glass and mirrors about and the room was quite busy with cabinets and decor, but I think I managed to glam it up a bit.
This one here was actually taken during the break, with the ladies in dresses by Psychomoda.
Many more pictures from the talented designers can be found on my FB and here on Flickr
And here's a last shot of all the models from the Nutmeg set on the staircase.
So, with the prospect of a Friday night in front of the TV, I was enticed away by an invite from Charlie Ross, leader of a new Glasgow based dance troupe, Slanj Pride. There were a couple of things that drew me to this 1. a chance to shoot dance up close, an opportunity that doesn't often arise and the beautiful location at Mar Hall.
I'd been considering making my way to this beautiful hotel to drop off a few business cards and try and get on to their wedding supplier list. I was somewhat daunted by the surfeit of albums from other photographers along the main hall, and with no wedding in my pocket at the venue, I chickened out of this plan.
I did have a lovely meal at Il Posto, the restaurant in the grounds of the hotel, before meeting up with the 7 (later 8) ladies of Slanj Pride, their kilt supplier, Brian and Brian's pal who was videoing on his SLR.
The event was a charity dinner following gold event at the hotel's course. The aldies weren't due on until 8:30 (eventually just after 9) so we had some time to grab quick head shots and group shots out in the grounds. It was a cold evening, so needless to say the shots outside were quite speedy. I was then treated to the sight of the ladies practising and testing out their interchangeable kilt fronts. They practised to beats so each move was an echo of a "duh".
It was a lot mroe impressive when they finally sprang into coordinated action in front of the dinner guests. A Scottish piece which evolved from a few highland dance steps into a mixture of pompom waving cheerleading and dancing. It certainly woke them up.
A charity auction ensued, with the ladies of the troupe holding up the prizes, some of which went for eye watering prices, all in a good cause of course.
The final raffle draw was performed by Ricky Ross (whom I had last seen in the flesh at Whitley Bay Arena at a Deacon Blue gig, before most of the dance troupe had been born. Needless to say, with all this dancing youth about me, I did feel the weight of my years a little. A final dance to a Deacon Blue tune and the ladies were free for a few more shots before packing up and leaving.
Some of the pics can be seen over on my Flickr pages, including some with the troupe in the midst of their routines.
Following my recent excursion to Edinburgh, I took advantage of the offer of a press pass and dragged my cold filled head back to the capital for the Oohfashion Fall/Winter show. I was quite proud of my pernickety self for not cornering the organiser, Gary, about the use of Fall vs Autumn.
I managed to find the venue, The Green Room at 14 Picardy Place, with relatively little fuss, I even found somewhere to park the car. So bright and early, I arrived at the tail end of the rehearsal. This was a good chance to scout out the best seat in the house for pictures. A couple of other photographers had already nabbed the top of one aisle,so I found myself, slightly worried for my hearing, parked with my head next to the speakers.
The organisers had chosen to create a square of chairs facing out and in, with an aisle between, to allow the models to walk between the rows of the audience. I really liked this approach, it grounded the fashion and personalised it, so you still had some of the theatre of a catwalk show, but you also got to see the designs up close and get a feel for how the styles might fit (or not) into the real world.
Gary, head honcho at Oohfashion, was wandering in a frenzy, with his clipboard, with occasional cries of “I need to pee” and “I’m hungry”. Various helpers strode up and down the rows of chairs to ensure programs and other leaflets were all in order.
Once the beautiful people of Edinburgh began to arrive, the glamorous setting of theGreen Room really began to feel like a grown up fashion show. The only minor flaw was that due to the limited size of the venue there were a number of people stuck in the bar on tiptoe or climbing the walls to get a view of the fashion.
So a little after 8pm, after chatting to fellow photographers who had settled around me in my perfect spot, I was all ready for the show to start. (as a side note I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Daniela Flores, who was sat beside me, we’d sat next to each other at The Only Way is Glasgow, so it was onlypolite to introduce ourselves).
Firstup on the parade were the designs from Jenivieve Berlin Millinery, showing herLace and Chain collection. Having seen some of her work at TOWIG it wasinteresting to see some new designs.
Next up were Christine Watson’s designs, under her brand C.Watson. I had only ever met Christine in the company of Nicola Napier before (the designer behind Nicci.n), so it was fun to see some of her own work on display.
21st Century Kilts brought around the first appearance of the male options for theday. Tweedy and stylish looks with a minimalist nod to plaid.
Ness was up next, a familiar brand from shops here and there in Scotland. It was fun to see the styles and combinations on the models here, which gave it a younger look than I had imagined.
Nicci.n’s designs then hit the catwalk and caused the usual stir with the mix of styles, cuts and the lace masks for some of the models.
Those Were the Days Vintage Boutique provided the next range of outfits, for men andwomen. The first thought that hit me when I saw the first male model in his green overcoat was a reinvented Crusty(think back to the early nineties and the grungy, dreadlocked folk with a dog on a string). The boutique managed to create some interesting looks for the rest of the models too.
Rene Walrus had had a few pieces at the Ooh Fashion launch, so I had had a preview. Using some of the same ingredients as the other milliner’s on the day they also managed to make their own stamp on the occasion and had some veryindividual styles. I really liked the berets with spikes, which seemed to be the kind of hat that you could see onthe high street, if people still wore hats.
Megan at NutMeg Couture brought her Goddess Collection to the show. It was great to see these dresses again, and get a better angle on them. If only Scotland had a proper film industry,with regular premieres, because then all you would see on the red carpets would be dresses from NutMeg.
Meloosha, a boutique in Alva Street showed some of their Autumn/Winter attire. This range of different outfits gave a stylish nod to winter, with some dresses for those Christmas do’s.
Karen Reid Designs brought a bit more fun and colour to the evening, starting out with some more feather creations before moving on to colourful discs and wild explosions. It ended with a giant bow and long veil for the alternative bridal touch.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I’d accidentally met the designer behind Sweet Danger’s outfits during my recent dealings with Obscure Couture. Leelah was working as their intern when I dropped by to pick up and drop off the clothes we borrowed. She came out with her own distinctive range of looks andstyles, which nodded occasionally to more extreme fashion, but also presented some interesting approaches to nightwear.
By this time my bum was going numb and I had been hit on the head a few times bythe Hungarian photographer behind me, it’s a sign that I was enjoying myselfthat I hadn’t expressed variousexpletives at full volume.
Kakao by K and Lady Jojo’s were next up. Kakao had a classic approach to their collection, whilst Lady Jojo’s went for a range of distinctive tea dresses thatcrossed over from the 50’s with a healthy dose of the 21 Century.
The lady behind Tea at Aunties was sitting two seats away from me and while, as their name suggests, there was a retro touch to the looks, they were still contemporary, with some nods to wool to keep you warm in your minidress.
21Century Kilts made a second appearance, just to confuse me. I wasn't entirely sure if this had been planned ahead, or if the changes for Psychomoda were taking longer than expected.
And finally, Psychomoda through their hat into the ring. I’d also had a preview of one of their outfits at the Oohfashion launch, so it was interesting to discover some slinky gowns to compliment the bigger wilder outfits. There’s a heavy Scottish influence in some of her outfits, so it is fun to see the traditional touches brought screaming into current times.
All in all it was a good night, and except for a couple of technical glitches(someone forgot to bring a microphone), the organisers ran a slick event. Kudos to Gary Anderson and his crew.
With no stage to climb the models also had a smoother walk, with less chance of tripping on or off the catwalk, they just had to brave the gauntlet of the audience’s feet.
Being a school night, and loaded with the cold, I did a runner at the end of the night. The little shining light at the end of night was stopping off at at a takeaway on Broughton Street and being served by a lovely young Spanish woman who was also a graduate of my university in Spain, ICADE. She was in the UK to brush up her English and start work as a social worker, so best of luck to her!
More pictures from the show can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographybyduncanholmes/sets/72157627808459153/