The simple pleasures of shooting weddings on film.


So many downsides to this statement, I hardly know where to begin. When compared to shooting on modern digital cameras, film has well and truly been left in the dust. This is even more apparent when photographing weddings, especially in Cumbria with its random weather paterns and dark winter days. Shooting exclusively on film would put any photographer at a major disadvantage.

Its also a softer medium and often (compared to modern digital cameras) has more grain. In digital terms this is called noise, generated by more sensitivity and thus more heat passing through the sensor. There is nothing on a film camera up to using sheet film that digital cannot outstrip in terms of final image. Its just way more clinical. Cleaner – better – predictable – more control. Saving only two critical areas where film can still win: The organic look or natural feel that film gives and transition between light and dark. Film has a way of moving between light and shadow that is unsurpassed, it isn’t about dynamic range but more about how it is rendered.

Then there is the soul…






The decision to become a photographer, made in Portugal in 2001 saw me shooting on film, but using it now doesn’t make me nostalgic at all. Its more about how it captures images and embracing its organic qualities, how it can further enhance what I deliver as a final portfolio of photographs. Photographing weddings using film to compliment the digital images is a choice. The tonal range of film and its unique way of transitioning from light to dark means that it looks like nothing else. Digital can come close with the help of VSCO or Mastin but these are now matching tools for the digital files I produce more than anything. The organic look of images is important, Not to be mistaken with the faddy brown colour spaces that photographers are using on images currently. Like looking back at your parents wedding photographs, these will show their age in time.

Cost is an important factor as a roll of black and white Ilford film now would be around £5, colour film around £8 and professiona fujifilm emulsions costing up to £20. Its impossible now to cost effectively shoot an entire wedding on film and not charge clients upwards of two and a half thousand pounds for thirty or forty rolls and processing. So shooting three or four rolls at a wedding will give people a compliment to the digital images taken on the day, a hybrid of the two and something timeless, shot on a camera that often has manual focusing, produces square images instead of rectangular or even produces more than one image in a single shot.

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Its also fun. There is an enjoyment to be had from working on film, seeing your images for the first time on a scanner bed or printing in the dark room. Not many photographers work with film now but for those who do it is incredibly rewarding. This brings me back to the soul, not just that film has the ability to make soulful images (great photographers do that) but more that its alternative, unique and good for the soul to work with.

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The links above are for some of my favourite emulsions and if you would like film shot at your wedding you need only ask.

Alison and Joe’s wedding at Blaithwaite..

This is the fantastic wedding of Joe And Alison at Blaithwaite, my home from home (its only seven miles away) wedding venue. The sun shone in the main allowing an outside ceremony and I really made the most of my time catching everyone on the way to and back from the Ceremony. Chatting to Alison previously and also sharing images via email and Instagram gave me a great idea as to what they wanted from their days photography. I like brides to help out with ideas as it also allows me to share any ideas that i also have. Alison had been in touch about the areas of the house that we could use to create some different images, working them into the day so the day still flowed.

Blaithwaite is an incredible place, with sweeping paths down to the Summerhouse, huge trees that provide great cover on windy days and the backdrop of the house itself which looks awesome from the lawn.

Some awesome iced cream was consumed, some amazing dancing was thrown down and two people madly in love tied the knot. I could photograph this day over and over again.

Supplier shoutouts:

Dress – Bromley Brides 

Dj Steve from Dynamic

Flowers by Elaine Forrester

Makeup by Rebecca Jones

Hair by Hancock Hair

Groomsmen suits by Marc Darcy

Venue Blaithwaite House

Laura and Stewarts’ wedding photography from the Heather Glen, Cumbria…. He’s her Lobster.

Such a great wedding day. Really, such a great day. Laura and Stewart had planned their wedding at the Heather Glen with a rather meticulous eye. I can appreciate that as we all know that with weddings (and wedding photography) the devil is in the detail. So, once again I shot too many images, then had the job of trawling through them for a day and a half, just to get the selection done. I did also get to work with one of my firm favorites again in Silver Lady Wedding Cars , which was great and the cars just looked awesome. They always do… One of those suppliers that you don’t mind saying to a bride who needs transport for her big day, “Call them, their cars are the best kept”. It’s my new mantra, It isn’t about being best buds with a supplier but just recommend the best ones.

So I started in a house filled to the rafters with girls, champagne and goodies from Hotel Chocolat. Not a stress in sight… Mainly due to the hairdressers and makeup starting early. I started early too and got there with a good head of steam to shoot one of my first weddings with the Fuji X cameras. I also managed to nip down to the pub to catch Stewart and the boys prepping with buttons, Stella and Stout. Not cute names for groomsmen but more what was on supply behind the bar.

Everything went without a hitch, erm, except for getting hitched which also went without a hitch… Okay…. We had a bit of time to adventure in the garden, did a pile of group images bathed in gorgeous evening light and also a little creative stuff with a kindly borrowed straw edged hat and some beautiful Cumbrian shadows, which I will leave to you fine people to spot for yourselves. Some of the children from Laura’s’ school were surprise too when they popped up just after the signing of the register to sing for everyone. Not many dry eyes in the house after that i can assure you. They all sang amazingly well and had been practicing secretly for weeks at school!

Right then, oh the Lobster. Can’t miss out the lobster. It is probably familiar to some but not others. Maybe He’s her Lobster will explain. Enjoy the images, a great great couple who will have an amazing life together. Before that they had awesome dancing, awesome cake at an awesome venue. Bon Voyage…

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Lake District Wedding Photography. The wedding of Phil and Jen at the Merewood… Troutbeck too.

* Big post warning *

There really aren’t enough adjectives to get me through the descriptions of Jen and Phils’ wedding. Lets throw a few in early on so you can all get a feel for the kind of wedding that it was, the shenanigans that occurred and also the great people who were involved. So: awesome, fortunate, bright, emotional, sweet, grand, beautiful, wicked, dope, supafly… okay that’s enough. I always say that it is the characters that make any wedding day shine, regardless of weather, planning, location, style or color themes. This…. This wedding was no exception.

The Merewood is a favorite for me and I am sure that I am not alone in saying that as the location and the views are some of the best in the Lake District. Being high up off the Windermere shoreline means that you get a later sunset too. For winter weddings this is great as it means on clear frosty days you get at least another 20 mins of good light. Not to be sniffed at when you only have six hours of daylight total on a winter wedding. This was a summer wedding though and everything down to Jesus Church in troutbeck had a lovely hazy glow on an overcast but warm day. As I was photographing in Jesus Church I was consigned to the back as usual on the balcony but managed to get some really nice images with a long lens. 

After church and a great confetti shot we retired to the Merewood for a few extra images, drinks and giggles. I could put another hundred images into the online portfolio alone. Every single one was a keeper and together produced a portfolio of mighty proportions. A great day in the heart of the Lake District… Thank you both.

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Sam and Kerryl at Graysonside, Cockermouth… Fast ‘N’ Loud

Sam and Kerryl are nestled in among a group of the nicest people that I have ever met. Their wedding was suitably epic to boot. A ceremony at the beautiful Graysonside on the way to Lorton, followed by a Huge Bakerwood Marquee reception in one of their fields at home. Due to the commitments of the registrar on the day of their wedding, they got married early… Really early, but this meant that we could pack the day to the rafters with photography in various locations and also wait for the light to be really right for each. It also meant that we could give them time to mill around with people and come and grab them when the moment was right for photos.

So, the day before I took a look at the forecast and it said hot. Hot Hot Hot. Those of us of a fairer skin were soon wilting in the heat and it took at least one Red Bull to keep me going (maybe two) for the whole day. We started at Kerryls’ folks house in Penrith and then took on the epic drive to Lorton via the Whinlatter pass which is an amazing drive on a wedding day. It also gave me time to get my head into the days photography to come. The Lake District is beautiful at the best of times but on a wedding day it seems to shine that little bit more and give a little more back than when I am out taking landscapes.

Some of my favorite images from the day were taken down a little lane at the side of Graysonside which is really beautiful in the dappled sunlight. Oh, I almost forgot. The fast ‘n’ loud tag at the top of the post: Sam and Kerryl have their own rally car and are fans of everything fast using it in events for the West Cumbria Motorsport Club. Although we couldn’t use it on the day, I took some great images with the wedding car, a Mitsubishi Evo. It is really noisy. Another shot that made me smile was the ladybird crawling over their hands. Oh and the shot of Kerryl with the long grass and that huge sky behind. It’s a great portfolio and one that I could shoot over and over.

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The wedding of Lauren and James at the Old England, Windermere… Darling this is love.

This is a great location for a wedding, it really is awesome. Throw in a lake Cruise on Windermere with Windermere Lake Cruises and you are set. Lauren and James Came through to Windermere from Thornaby, near where I went to university, so we could talk about the awful takeaways in Middlesborough and why the A19 is never busy. Also there to lend support with steaming dresses and giggles were her lovely bridesmaids – A right hoot on an otherwise pressured morning. The makeup on the day was the incredibly talented Jackie Brader who did makeup for my wife on our own wedding day and is without doubt my favourite makeup artist in the Lake District.

So. The wedding itself. A small affair with around thirty guests in total, just friends and family, but a really lovely atmosphere, which in many ways I really liked. It was a bit more about the two of them than the occasion or the venue, the food or the champagne. Really personal with small touches that bound the day together.

A small civil ceremony followed by a lake cruise and dinner back at the hotel with some great group shots on the lawn and a little jaunt under starling filled skys down to the Bowness marina at the back of the Old England. The starlings making a hitchcock esque backdrop for one of the final but personal favourite images of the day.

A real treat to photograph and a real treat to edit.

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Jackie Brader Makeup artist Windermere Lake District Wedding Photography


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Staggering pictures of a wedding from the Windermere marina wedding

Kayleigh and Tony Graythwaite, Grange-Over-Sands… Groundskeeping by the Mario Brothers.

If a wedding were about key moments or defining moments that make up memories from the day, this one would read like a vintage timepiece. Seriously, I remember so much from this day I could probably recount most of the jokes and conversations that made my sides hurt with laughing, the images that were produced which have been looked at over and over, burned into my retina from constant reworks. I wanted it to be really perfect…. Kayleigh and Tony were amazing, up for any mad ideas and pretty much got on with enjoying their day.

Graythwaite is a really really great venue, the grounds are really nice too and even better when you think about them in 3D and go a little off piste. Images were taken in greenhouses, literally from inside bushes, hanging off balcony trusses and from one of my firm favorites, the floor. Combining some funky angles with a bit of a rest.

The best mans’ speech had everyone in tears and it was clear from the outset that his only intention was a hilarious take down of the groom, well versed and well prepared. It really was impressive, with laughter that was likely heard as far away as the Netherwood. The props could probably be seen from the Grange- Over-Sands Lido.

The venues in the Southern Lake District are often some of the finest and although Graythwaite isn’t the biggest, it probably has the biggest heart, is looked back on with the most fondness and is probably one of my favorites. Two days after this wedding my own wife gave birth to our little boy Samuel, so a lot changed after this wedding and I am viewing it now almost like the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. It was also great to hear that Tony and Kayleigh have had a baby now too, which is amazing and also an embarrassing indication of how far I am behind with producing blog posts. What can I say, It has been a choc-full year.

A phase of darker, moody images ended here and I felt that I had said everything that I wanted to say with harsh contrast and fast negative films like Ilford 3200, which was the film of choice for this particular wedding. I still keep two rolls in the bag though for special occasions.

Please enjoy these images. Time, work, creativity, preparation and soul goes into producing a portfolio like this and the edit alone took three days to complete. Would I do it again…. Oh aye!

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Lake District Wedding Photography Cumbria

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