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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

Engagement Shoots

The decision to make a lifetime commitment to someone is a huge milestone. For you, it may have been love at first sight, or perhaps it’s taken a few years to pluck up the courage to pop the question to your beloved. Whichever way your proposal happened, getting engaged is an exciting and possibly one of the most romantic times for both of you.

During those first giddy weeks of telling your nearest and dearest, you’ll begin the search for venues, dresses, shoes, caterers – and of course for your ideal photographer! A great way to see if you have chosen the right person to capture your wedding day is having an Engagement Shoot.

I’ve offered Engagements Shoots to my couples for quite some time now and although the idea seems quite new, it really has taken off over the last year or so. Engagements shoots are like a mini-trial for the big day. The best thing about them is that we get to know each other, usually, somewhere that’s special to you both, in a relaxed and informal way. I love hearing about how my couples met, how did they propose, I like to know as much about them as I can.

Not many of us are completely comfortable in front of a camera, and nerves can make people look anxious and even terrified! By having a chilled-out engagement shoot you have the best opportunity to learn how to be your most natural self, whilst having your photo taken. It’s my job to make sure you don’t freeze in front of the camera. We can work together to come up with poses that feel effortless, and in turn that will really help how you feel on the actual day and make your photographs even more stunning.

Kathryn and Scott recently had their Engagement Shoot. Scott was quite nervous about having his photograph taken, but we met at Wepre Park, the local woods to us and chatted for a short while and he soon felt more at ease. He made Catherine laugh a lot and the pictures worked a treat. Capturing a lovely natural laugh or smile makes me so happy too!

Finding a lovely location can be quite simple. How about a walk through the woods, or a stroll by the river? Or maybe you met at an unusual venue and want to celebrate your love for one another there? It really is up to you.

The shoot is calm and casual, there’s no standing on ceremony (unless that’s your thing!) and I can assure you we will have lots of fun. It’s never too late to have this kind of photoshoot – sometimes couples have pre-wedding shoots done just a few weeks before the wedding.

Couples often use a photo from their Engagement Shoot to put in a signature frame at their wedding. Guests can sign the frame and it makes a gorgeous keepsake for years to come. They can also be used for ‘save the date’ cards to tell your family and friends that you’ve decided to tie the knot.

However you decide to use your gallery of beautiful photos, you won’t regret having such a wonderful memory of a most amazing time in your lives. Getting engaged is truly special and deserves to be celebrated wholeheartedly!

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An Enchanting Day at Tower Hill Barns

I knew from the moment I arrived at Alicia’s parent’s home in Wrexham that this was going to be a day of fun and laughter.  The bride was surrounded by her 5 bridesmaids chatting and giggling, and her mum and dad, Linda and David were on hand to help with all the preparations.   

Alicia & Dan were married at St Mary’s Cathedral in Wrexham, which is also Alicia’s family church. It’s a beautiful traditional building, and one I was familiar with as I shot Alicia’s brother’s wedding there just last year.  

After the ceremony we made our way to the enchanting Tower Hill Barns for a perfect afternoon of delicious food and drinks and plenty of entertainment, some of which came in the form of Dan and his rugby playing friends who were in fine voice, singing lots of rugby songs, the best one being Calom Lan – which really made me all goosebumpy again as it’s my dad’s favourite song too. 

I was so happy to be back at the barns, not just for the amazing setting (have I mentioned how fabulous it is??) but also to see the all the lovely staff who make everyone feel so welcome. Tower Hill Barns is a family run business and they go out of their way to make you feel right at home. Having people around who obviously love their job and want their guests to have the best time really does make a huge difference to a wedding day, they were all amazing.      

We had a great time with some different coloured smoke bombs that the bridal party danced around with, and I’m so pleased the pictures capture the exuberance of the moment! 

Alicia’s dad, David, is Italian and it’s a big tradition in Italian families for all the men to gather in the evening and smoke the biggest cigars they can lay their hands on.  This was one photograph I knew I just HAD to get, so as the evening was drawing to a close, I got the menfolk together and got one of my favourite shots of the day. 

What a day to remember!