Photography Blog by Duncan Holmes
So, on a day when I got the news that this blog is number 46 on the top 100 photography blogs to follow in 2013 (by what criteria, I don’t know), I thought it only right that I should post something suitably epic.
A while back, a friend had posted a picture of a zombie themed wedding cake, with bride and groom at the top fighting off the climbing zombies. My thoughts immediately turned to the hills behind my hometown of Largs and the potential for bringing the images to life. Fired by this inspiration a shoot was born.
The first step was to secure a location for hair and makeup, no mean feat when you’re planning for a zombie horde. Thanks to the kind help of the folk at Kelburn Country Estate, we were able to rent the Henhouse and spend the day terrorising their usual guests.
Next up was the all important task of locating people to work in front and behind the camera. Early on, makeup artists Hannah Strickland and MissTaarna had signed upfor the event. There was a third originally going to help out, but she got sucked into a world of college work. A previous collaborator, Lesley Docherty of Head Strong Solutions also stepped forward to help out with hair for our cast.
A few weeks before the shoot, Kaspars Grisulis showed an interest and was immediately recruited as the groom for the day. He turned out to be the most laid back "groom" I've ever met, taking all the chaos in his stride and managing to run downhill with a chainsaw in one hand and his bride in the other!
The struggle became finding the right bride. Just a week and a half before the shoot, I bumped into Florence Sutherland on my way out of a networking meeting with the Scottish Creative Network. She’s a relative newcomer to modelling, butwhat a natural, totally professional, easy going and able to decapitate a zombie if required to do so.
All throughout this time there was a trickle of interest from zombies far and wide. I’d recruited a friend, Benita as a mother of the bride Zombie, and following a chance meeting with her husband in the supermarket on the day of the shoot, he too got roped in, with their daughter, Cara, stepping in as the bride’s sister! Other zombie roles were also assigned before and during the shoot, though some ofthese were really quite arbitrary and only in our heads.
Anyway, I’m jumping ahead. A lot of effort went into sourcing clothes for a number of our zombies. Heroic efforts by Sharon from Cancer Research andSusan from The Salvation Army in Largs helped me to outfit quite a number of our 18 zombies, with a suitable donation to their respective causes of course. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness and enthusiasm in supporting my mad idea. A couple of items were also acquired from other charity shops and my wife did her part in trawling for specific items.
I watched the weather reports all through the week and when 7 am dawned bright and clear, I gave the go ahead for the shoot. It was a brave thing to do in the Scottish weather, where things can change from hour to hour, or minute to minute.
A few last minute errands and I was up at Kelburn unpacking my car and barely taping up my red Z’s to direct folk before MissTaarna arrived with her family. Shortly after she unpacked, the first two zombies arrived, Amanda and Karin. The trickle of folk became a torrent, especially once the second makeup artist, Hannah, arrived and Lesley turned up with the folk from the train. With Kaspars there, Florence arrived moments later and I could breathe again, as at least the bride and groom were there!
Bringing up the rear was George Monaghan of monapics.com who would be shooting video. Also with him was Kate Sam, who with Hamish Archibald were also along to take photos and cameo as zombies for the shoot.
Once Kaspars and Florence were suitably made up,with a bruise or two, a scratch and some blood, we whisked them around Kelburn for some shots to establish them as being chased by zombies and then some shotsof them recovering and relaxing after the battle.
By the time we got back to the flurry of activity at the Henhouse, we entered a madhouse full of zombies, folk chopping up their clothes, smearing themselves with fake blood and rolling down grass banks to give themselves the lived in zombie look.
In only 4 short, mad hours, the two makeup artist had performed the herculean task of creating 17 unique zombies as well as preparing the bride and groom.
We left Kelburn in a convoy of cars, to adjourn tothe viewpoint above Largs. A brief gathering and then we set up the different scenes I’d had in my head, using the landscape to provide a cinematic scope to the images. It all culminated in the final battle at the top of the hill, with bride and groom fending off their wedding guests with a cricket bat and a chainsaw.
With the shoot done, we adjourned to Nardini’s in Largs for ice creams, where most of the cast and crew gathered for a cone, before heading their separate ways.
An amazing day and everybody seems to have had great fun. I was left a little gobsmacked and overwhelmed by everybody's enthusiasm for the project as well as their perseverance in the cold winds on top of a hill.
A video will follow shortly from George, featuring musicby the amazing Scottish singer, LouHickey.
And a big thanks to our cast of zombies: Benita, Marco,Cara, Maisie, Nikki, Fiona, Fi, Keira, Vicki, Victoria, Stuart, Karin, Amanda, Farah,Shannen, Haydn, Hamish and Kate. An extra big thank you to Florence and Kaspars and possibly the largest thankyou known to mankind to the makeup artists and hair stylist, Taarna, Hannah and Lesley.
Whilst I take pride in tailoring my wedding packages to individual customers, I know it can be good to know the prices up front. This new Deluxe Wedding Package offers you the best of both worlds, a complete package that includes pretty much everything you could want and a competitive price. This is the one to choose if you want to pull out all the stops and include albums for your families and wedding guests too.
The package includes:
1. An engagement shoot before your wedding, a chance to relax and have fun and get used to having your pictures taken in familiar surroundings. One picture from this shoot will be chosen for a specially designed Signing Frame.Guests at your wedding can sign their good wishes around your picture, to give you a lasting memento of the day.
2. Your wedding coverage in full, from start to finish as long as you need me to be available.
3. Your images on Disk and in a proof book, to allow you to choose your images for...
4. A luxurious leather bound 16”X12” Perfetto Album with 20 spreads (40 facing sides)
5. 2 Scaled down 8”X6” albums for your families, or just for spares to allow you to show your wedding photos.
6. 10 Mini albums, ultra small soft back versions of your album, a beautiful memento for your most important wedding party members and guests.
7. And finally 2 20”X16” Alumini Wall Prints, showing two of your pictures in glorious colour or moody black and white on these dramatic and beautiful prints.
All this is provided with my usual exceptional service, for only £1,750.00.
If all of the above seems too much for just one wedding, then just get in touch and let me know what you are looking for!
Weddings, though steeped in tradition, will often be subject to fashions and fads. If you think back to the seventies and all the vaseline soft focus wedding shots, with tobacco smoke vignettes you can probably notice the marked difference to today's pictures.
The advent of the digital age triggered a new fashion, that of selective colouration. Something that was relegated to the fringe back in the film days. Selective colouration is where you take some element of your picture and leave it in colour, while converting the rest to monochrome black and white. A simple example of this is the strawberry in this linked shot
Or in my slightly more macabre picture below from the Glasgow Zombie walk a few years ago. The subject here had taken such amazing efforts with their McDeath outfit, it seemed a shame not to highlight it and the background of park and people was quite distracting. The selective approach also allowed me to saturate the greens and yellows to enhance her deathly colours.
So this fashion in photography is still with us, lots of photographers throwing in a black and white shot or two, with the bouquet or other details highlighted in colour.
Used well, it can be an interesting tool to apply to some shots, used badly it throws out the composition of the shot, throwing the attention away from the main subjects as the eye is inevitably attracted to the splash of colour in the image. It has also been used so much now that it has become a bit of a cliche.
In this linked example the brightest item is the groom's tie. Why? Even the bride's flowers are relegated to a deeper red, so instead of us focussing on the happy laughing couple, we are drawn to the tie, the grooms laugh, maybe down to the bouquet and then finally, if we spend enough time looking, at the bride.
In this other example, the bride and groom are kissing, the gossipping bridesmaids are a nice touch too, but what do we see,first, the dresses of the bridesmaids, their actvity, the bouquet down at the bride's waist and then the couple kissing. Perhaps it was done in this instance to hide the bits of heads and faces and busy background, but has the photographer selected the parts to put in colour to tell the story or because in black and white alone, everything got lost in the mass of people, with too much going on.
Emphasising the subjectivity of such things, this exampleis one where I would argue the use of selective colour has been done well, the bride looking up at her bouquet makes it the centre of attention, the colour emphasises this and the bride and groom are still very much in view and attention grabbing dominating the frame and set against a simple unobtrusive background. Even the groom's splash of colour balances things and helps us to remember the bride and groom and not be too distracted by the flowers.
In this final example the bridesmaids and their dresses are what first grab our attention, then perhaps the gentlemen's ties, leaving the bride, in her white dress and colourless. The image almost works, thanks to the composition and the separation of the couples from each other, to give each their own space.
Now photography is subjective, just because I find selective colour in wedding photographs to be a bit of a cliche, sometimes not thought through and often overdone, doesn't mean that everybody does. My comments on the above images are very much from my perspective and you might look at them and wonder what's bugging me about them. There are some amazing examples of it being used well, selectively and most importantly because it improves or enhances out perception of the final image. In my subjective view, I prefer to avoid the technique for the most part, preferring to try and use composition techniques, placing of the subjects in the frame and a few other tricks to try and get the picture to work as it should. Does this make me a better photographer, not really, just someone with their own approach to things.
This is also reflected in a lot of my photography, except where the shoot requires it, I prefer to err towards the natural, the human, the fun side of things. Digital trickery has its place, and I'm not adverse to dipping into the pallette of digital techniques if required, but it can never make a bad photo a good one.
And if, having read this, you decided that you still want that selective colour picture of the bouquet at the wedding, well I can do that too...only protesting when it won't give you a better picture.
Fashions come and go in photography, in clothes, in music and in art. Love can be forever and that's what wedding photgraphy is about, providing a glimpse of a past moment that a commitment was made, that is now part of your present and may well be your future.
Your wedding photographs are being taken to caputre the beauty, the love and the fun of your wedding day. They tell a story that you will be able to show to friends and family for years to come.
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.
When you eliminate all the trappings, Valentine's is about love, expressing love and confirming your love for another human being. This is no small thing.
So, as a special 1 off, today only deal, I will be adding my own commercial taint to the day! Any wedding enquiries received today and that lead to a booking, will benefit from a free family album with any album orders. This offer applies to weddings in any year.
For the family album you can either choose a leatherette bound scaled down version of the principal album, or 5 mini albums.
Have a good one!
As well as your professional wedding photographs, you will no doubt have been flooded with the photos taken by your relatives and friends. Sometimes these can be left in the digital limbo of your e-mail or on social media like Facebook or Twitter and lie waiting to be forgotten or lost.
I am now offering an option to those customers who opt to order an album or photobook to also request a "Guest Book". This would be a press printed coffee table book containing the snaps from your other guests. You'd just need to send me the best quality images you can, then I would design a simple snapshot coffee table book to compliment your main album.
Please note that due to the mixed quality of such images, it may not always be possible to print these at large sizes in the chosen photobook. This is also why I offer this service in a press printed photobook, rather than in the high quality wedding albums that I offer for your principal photos. Efforts will be made to colour balance and crop the images to provide a consistent viewing experience in the book, but retouching or other editing cannot be provided. You would need to ensure that you have permission from the relevant person to use the image in your book. You can also ask guests to e-mail their good wishes to you, for inclusion in the guest book design.
So for 2013, this service will be offered at a simple £50.00 surcharge over the cost of the corresponding coffee table book. Because the cost of these books can depend on the size and number of pages, the prices below are orientative only:
20 spread 14"X10" Coffee Table "Guest Book" £150.00 + £50.00 design
20 Spread 12"X9" Coffee Table "Guest Book" £140.00 + £50.00 design
20 spread 10"X8" Coffee Table "Guest Book" £130.00 + £50.00 design
(a spread is two facing sides i.e 20 spreads=40 sides)
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
For couples already booked for a 2013 wedding, or who book before the end of January 2013 for dates in 2013, I am pleased to offer the following special offer, which you can choose on top of the Basic Wedding package (1).
A 14"X10" Bellissimo Perfetto Album(2)
Two 10" by 7" Perfetto Albums
Four 7" by 5" Perfetto Albums
A perfect way to have your main album, smaller "show it round" versions and/or guest albums for family or other members of the wedding party.
All this for only £450.00, the normal price of the 14"X10" album.(3)
Remember though, you don't have to decide until you see your proofs! You just have to make sure that your wedding is booked already, or confirmed a booking for 2013 before 1st February 2013.
Note1 : - The Basic Wedding package involves full coverage of your wedding and proofs in a thumbnail book and on DVD Disk. Albums, prints or other products are ordered separately.
Note 2 : - With this album package, covers are only available as a leatherette with cameo in black, tan, burgundy or navy
Note 3 : - A surcharge may apply if the albums must be posted, rather than delivered by hand.
Please contact Duncan
for further details and to check if your date is available.
Back to blogging again after a short break. In the meantime there have been a few weddings, a shoot, a failed fashion show and I’m 5 days into my first ever exhibition.
Louise and Andrew were married at the registry office in Largs, followed by a cosy wee reception at the Lounge restaurant. A nice family affair and a very emotional groom, it’s the first time I’ve seen a groom propped up by the best man due to nerves! Louise was also an interesting bride, racing to her appointed position and leaving her dad trailing 4 feet behind in her wake. The Lounge was a revelation with a boutique styled function room and giant Buddha heads on display.
I went along to see Nightwalk’s A/W show at the Arches,following a brief trip to Mono to see Lorna Shields and drop off some leaflets. I was surprised at the number of folk outside the venue, only to discover that the power was off. An hour or so outside in the cold (the sensible folkd isappeared to a pub, but I was meeting my wife) and they finally called the show as dead in the water. Models, MUA’s and designers were escorted by torchlight to pick up their belongings and that was that. This shot is of a few of the models, before they dispersed.
Then last week’s wedding was with Siobhan and Sean, again at Largs. This was my first trip into St Columba’s Church, with one of their relatives officiating. It was a cold day with hints of drizzle, but the weather was kind to us for the most part, and they got their wish of bouncing on the 4 poster bed! It must be something about cold days and the Brisbane Hotel thatbrings out the mischeivious edge in wedding couples.
The shoot was a trip to Edinburgh’s old West in Morningside in the company of Psychomoda. Models, Anna and Jen, and makeup from Caroline Stewart were also along. I’ve worked with Alison from Psychomoda a lot, so it was great to catch up with her. I’d also worked with Anna over the summer, so got a chance to see her strut her stuff outside a studio. Jen was new to modelling, but soon adapted to the lunacy that is a shoot. I’d also had the opportunity to work with Caroline once before on a private shoot, it is a small world and it’s always fun to see how easy it is to keep bumping in to folk. Caroline was quick at rustling up the looks for the two models and tweaking them as the day progressed through 3 sets of clothes from Psychomoda’s latest collections. These can also be seen on the catwalk at Edinburgh’s Online Fashion Week which is somewhere out on the internet somewhere. Alison found this amazing location for us to play with, and a pub round the corner for makeup...very civilised.
And finally my exhibition. It launched with some trepidation and minor disasters on Friday 19, with the first full day on Saturday. It will run during the day (10 to 5) for the rest of the week up toFriday 26th. Here’s some pics from Friday setting up, the launch night and Saturday, when I was visited by a couple of models featured in the prints in the show.
After a few days of gallery sitting, it finally sank in that I have this space all week and a nice back gallery that could work as a small studio space for headshots. Needless to say the call is out there for anyone that wants to come and play and interrupt my vigil at the gallery. 1 shoot already arranged.
3 of the largest prints fell off the wall and got slightly bent, but I have managed to sell five others so far! I’d not taken into account the passing traffic when experimenting with my wall fixings, the vibration shook a couple of things loose before the sticky had a chance to set properly.All should be well from here on though, I came into the gallery this morning and everything was where it should have been! There’s been an interesting mix of folk through the doors, some known, some new and I’m looking forward to seeing who walks through the door during the days to come.
So a holiday which involves commuting to Glasgow every day and spending 7 hours gallery sitting. It seems only logical to spend the weekend after doing back to back shoots on Saturday and Sunday as I bring my spy vs spy/androids in love idea to life, with the help of Aileen, Jay, Lee-Ann and Neal, plus extras, designers and assistant. A welcome return to the Radisson Blu hotel and it’s interesting and varied locatons.
And this blog? Typed on the train and ready for upload when I get home from Glasgow. Nice sunset tonight, golden for a change.