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A Winter Wedding at Leasowe Castle

What a magical start to the new year. A Christmas themed wedding at the stunning Leasowe Castle, with Rachel and Graham.

I’d previously met Rachel while photographing her friend’s wedding last year. She was a bridesmaid and mentioned she had begun preparations for the big day. Her photographer was booked, with half the payment made, so as you can imagine I was very surprised to hear from her soon after asking if I was available. She’d enjoyed my work so much that she decided to forgo the deposit already made and asked me to capture the day. To say I was flattered would be an understatement!

Rachel and Graham were married at St Laurence’s Church, Frodsham. The service was emotional, as sadly Rachel’s dad passed away last year. It was a beautiful moment when Rachel’s mum walked her down the aisle, with her dad’s ashes. It truly felt he was walking with them and there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. There were so many touching moments like this that added his presence to a day filled with happiness and joy.

After the ceremony, we made our way to Leasowe castle, which had been chosen after a visit from Rachel’s mum and dad, who loved it and took Graham and Rachel during their engagement and they fell in love with it too. The castle was still decorated for Christmas, as they had wanted a Christmas theme and it added so much to the enchantment of the setting, especially the beautiful lighting. Rachel and Graham arrived in style, with a stunning white Rolls Royce and a surprise bagpipe player!

Just as we arrived at the castle I was able to capture some amazing shots of the unexpected sunset. There was also a beautiful staircase that provided the ideal setting for more intimate photos of the happy couple. I have to say Rachel looked so elegant in her dress, everything matched beautifully and throughout the day her happiness shone through.

My favourite photo has to be the one of Graham delivering his speech. He had a bit of a wobble as he began talking about Rachel’s dad, and both his mum and Rachel put their hand on his arm at the same time, which was just so beautiful. It really shows the love that was felt during their day.

I’m so happy Rachel changed her mind and decided to ask me to be her wedding photographer, I feel blessed to have been part of such an emotional and magical day.

Why Does It Take So Long To Get My Wedding Pictures?

One of the questions I’m asked most about the weddings I shoot is, “When will I get the photographs?”

The thing is, there isn’t one specific answer. It depends on many factors, for instance, if your celebration takes place during the height of the season when I am out shooting back to back weddings, it can take up to 9 weeks to get your photographs. Couples often wonder why, so here’s my short guide to what happens to your photographs after the Big Day.

I shoot literally thousands of pictures of your wedding. That may sound excessive but remember, one photograph captures a tiny moment of the day. Once I get back to the office I then have to download and view the pictures. I look at each frame in great detail and this can take hours. Imagine looking at 1000 pictures and you take 30 seconds to look at one image, that’s 8 hours of work alone! Once I’ve looked through all the pictures it can take another few days to decide which will make the final cut of around 600 photographs. This is often tricky as there are so many good shots.

Once I’ve chosen those 600, it’s now time to start editing them. Because I am so passionate about delivering each couple with stunning memories of their day, I don’t like to rush this process. I would never want to compromise on quality!

So, what does editing involve? And why does it take so long to do?

Editing photographs is a creative process that brings out the very best of the images taken. This can include things like:

  • Cloning – removing exit signs or the odd wine glass that’s been left lying around. At one wedding I had a beautiful picture on the Menai Straits but had a tree coming out of the groom’s head! It was such a good shot I really wanted to use it, so I spent a few hours editing that one image. It was totally worth it.
  • Dealing with colours – this is a bit difficult to explain but as an example, church colours can be quite yellow and difficult to work with as it can make everything washed out. It takes lots of time to reduce the yellow tones, so everyone looks a more natural colour.
  • Cropping – I may decide after looking at certain shots that are quite wide and include lots of background that they might actually look better as a close-up. Getting the right composition is really important on any photograph.
  • Should a photo be colour or black and white? It may seem like a simple decision, but believe me, it isn’t!
  • Saving a gallery – once all the photographs are edited and I’m happy with them I put them into a digital gallery for you to see. Each photograph is a big file and so this process takes hours.
  • Backing up images – I like to have 3 backups, one on my iMac, one on a hard drive and one on the cloud. This in itself can take a long time, a good 3-4 hours per back up.

I think we are so used to taking photos on our smartphone and instantly uploading them to our social media pages we expect that it will be the same with wedding pictures. Editing your wedding photographs is truly a labour of love – and you can’t hurry love!

My Year

As 2018 draws to a close, I’ve finally found some time to reflect on what has been a truly wonderful year.

I’ve had the unique honour and pleasure of capturing 35 weddings. I can’t quite believe it when I count them all up! The couples I have met over the last twelve months have been gorgeous on the inside as well as the outside. And the venues have been totally stunning. I love discovering new places and this year didn’t disappoint, some of the views will be etched on my mind forever. Each and everyone was so different, but what shone through in every celebration I photographed was love. The love between each bride and groom and the love people showered over them on their happy day. Love that is so palpable you can almost touch it. Love that somehow manages to live forever in a single frame taken on a camera.

This has been a really fulfilling year for me professionally too. I’m delighted to have been given 41 awards for my photographs, something I never thought would happen. It’s been very humbling and exciting all at the same time, and I’m so happy that all my hard work has paid off.

I’d like to share with your some of the highlights of 2018.

Wales Regional Photographer of the Year

In March I was named Wales Regional Photographer of the Year. This was a lovely surprise and gave me a real boost for the coming wedding season. Nominations are given by brides and grooms and then judges, who are also professional photographs, review the entries. It was really nice to be recognised by both my couples and fellow professionals.

The Owl

A couple of weeks later in March, THAT photo went global! I managed to capture the moment when the ring bearing owl at a wedding decided to take a detour and swoop on the best man. I found my photograph became the focus of press attention after a video of the scuffle, recorded by a guest, went viral.

The interest was unbelievable. The photograph was on page 3 of every national newspaper, I was interviewed by BBC news, was contacted by press and radio all over the world, from Canada to New Zealand. It was on the Chris Ramsey show, made it onto the TV Quiz show Have I Got News For You – it even got a mention by Chris Evans on Radio 1.

My phone didn’t stop for 48 hours, going off day and night as different parts of the world woke up to the story. To be honest it made me feel quite humble. I had been a press photographer for so long, it felt like I had seen and done everything. But this was something else, it was surreal. It’s something I will never forget.

Guild of Photographers

These awards are given by highly experienced judges who grade in accordance with international judging criteria. It’s a bit scary putting yourself forward for these awards because they are so well respected. Photographers can enter wedding pictures each month, and there are gold, silver and bronze awards.

And I got a gold – the best thing ever as they’re so hard to get! I also was very happy to receive 40 bronzes.

I feel so proud of these achievements, and they push me every month to find that special award-winning photo. It’s a real incentive to keep going, keep improving and work hard. My wedding couples get some very special shots because I’m always striving to get the most amazing shot I can.

Masters of Wedding Photography UK and Ireland

This a really prestigious award, one that is also hard to get as it is judged so rigorously. Again, this is one that is scary to enter as other photographers in the group are top class and I have great respect for them.

I decided I would enter one of the now-famous owl photographs. It was my first ever entry – and I won! I was very proud to get this one.

Wedisson Awards

People who enter for these awards are from all over the world. Wedding photographers submit their images and compete with each other for a place in the monthly collections, chosen by Weddison Awards. They pick the most interesting, breathtaking, and creative wedding photographs. All the winning photos are of the amazing ‘wow’ shots at the end of the day. I’ve been a member of this group for the last 8 months and have been delighted to win 5 awards.

The Best Reward of All

One of the reasons that I’ve been on courses to learn new skills and bring new ideas to my pictures is because I want to grow and improve all the time as a wedding photographer. As satisfying it is to be recognised for my work, I’ve not rested, and want to be the best I can be.

I could never have dreamed that 2018 would have been such a successful year for me as a photographer. And I wouldn’t have got here without the trust and support of my amazing couples. I want to thank each and every one of you for making my job so delightful, and for allowing me to try new things and make creative decisions that have resulted in award photographs I am immensely proud of.

So farewell 2018, and I can’t wait to meet new couples and see where 2019 will take me.

COPYRIGHT STACEY OLIVER PHOTOGRAPHY