Last week I spent a couple of days in my dogs spiritual home Staffordshire to network and party with a bunch of amazing UK photographers.

Basically, I’m in a relaxed Network of primarily wedding photographers, and we always meet at the start & end of the wedding season to hang out and geek.

Last year, the amazing Hayley Ruth unearthed a hidden gem of a 30-sleeper mansion called Roaches Hall, so back we went for our pre-season hangout.

I’ve still got a dent in my head from hopping over that ledge and into that sharpened wood last year!

Basically it’s quite a unique network for forward-thinking, primarily wedding & portrait photographers, who love to share ideas & socialise.

We come together we share things we’ve found & openly geek in the company of like-minded pros.

As we hire the hall for 4 days, we like to spend a day socialising, a day shooting, a day learning & a day to breakfast before heading home

Last year Stew Randall rounded up a former bride, game to trash her wedding dress; a family popped by for a free shoot and one of the network & his fiance let us loose on them as subjects.  Plus Cris Matthews brought smoke bombs to add an entertaining amount of atmosphere to the shoot.

I blogged last years session here if you’d like a nosey at the images.  I just looked back at them & it was a great get together indeed.

This year we decided to turn the focus on ourselves as subjects!  We all know how weird it is for our couples, more often than not with no modelling experience, to step in front of our lenses & play natural.  So we thought we’d have a go ourselves.

Plus we’d hopefully get a bunch of cool new profile pics for our blogs (as my red ear shot at the top needs to go!).

The Hall in in the most amazing grounds, and here’s Hayley Ruth & Rachel Connerton bearing down on the lovely Carrie Bugg in the woods.

I thought I’d dive in for a snap too, as she looked ace.  I’d borrowed my bud Jennifer Clare‘s 135mm f2 lens & loved the look

Here’s my catch of the super lovely, borderline insane Emily Hancock, who ran a few ace seminars on day 3

The latest addition to our ranks was the wonderful Annemarie King, a fellow northern wedding tog who probably fit in perfectly with the gang.

I drove down with the legendary Cris Matthews, an old pal of mine who always brings a lot to the party.

He hate’s being photographed, and mainly you get pics like this:

But we convinced him to settle down & let the pros work their magic.

We’ve also renamed him Flash Matthews as his flash skills are second to none.

I suggested he wears his pants on the outside so he can fight crime & protect the innocent.

In a great nod to the incredibles he said: “No Cape!”

It was ace to spend a bit of social time with my 3B Media homie & all round good egg Rob Booker.

I love how he can turn on a natural beaming grin, but rather liked this steely glare I got as he was messing about.

There were some crackers of him at the GTG last year (here).

Another of the Northern representatives was the kind & buoyant spirit that is Mike Galley

Always fun to hang with.

It was fab to hang out and spend some time with the amazing James Pearson too.  His work keeps me inspired (check his blog for details).

It’s so good to meet & shoot alongside such powerhouse creative talent.

Another of my fave shooters in the network, giving herself up to the glass was Laura Lawson of Lawson Photography.

Her and Pete are another source of inspiration to me, documenting peoples day with such chilled-out creative flare.

Here’s Pete Lawson snapping Laura.  It’s something he does a lot; and I love how they live & breathe photography.

I think I’d say that if I were to have to choose a uk wedding photographer to shoot my wedding, these kids would defo be on the list

After jumping off a kids playground for a bit with one group of togs, I stumbled into these togs in the bin yard (it’s funny where good light’s found)

I rounded them into a bit of a group shot…

Then started a jumping theme.

I had the idea of shooting everyone just hopping off the ground a bit, but not looking like they’re jumping.

This was my fave.

I particularly like Tom Arber 2nd from left rocking a bit of freestyle pensive chin action.

Last year we found an ace studded sofa in the Hall and brought it outside to snap each other on.  Someone had had the same idea again this year, and Ian Olsson (back left) spotted it outside and did some casual group shots of us lot lounging.  I liked the ‘Friends’ vibe of it (& the incongruous woodland vibe interjected with a random sofa), so I had a pop mesen.  I wish groupshots were always this casual. 

Afterwards I shot a few pics of the Lawson’s looking lovely on it.

I think this was shot on my new 50mm f1.2 & I just love the separation between crispy subject & bokehy background.

To the side of the sofa I spotted a cute little sapling too that shot from laying down looked kinda cool.

Back inside, and a little later on, Stu Cooper had found a metal stag her was using as a prop, & we got this fun portrait of Em. 

As the sun started to drop I ventured with another fun bunch into some piney woodland & started snapping the l lovely connertons.

Skulking in the fringes I spotted t’Arber bouncing around

Followers of my blog will probably have noticed my love for all things tilt-shift.  Type it into the search bar at the top & you’ll see videos, SLR & compact stills

Last year, Laura Lawson lent me her tilt-shift Canon TS-E 45mm lens and I fell in love.  I had a good golden hour wander through the woods, deliberately misusing the lens to do the opposite of what it’s designed for (straightening the angle of view and correcting depth of field) and instead burring selective parts of the image for creative effect.

I did a whole post on the effect & results here.  It’s a really cool effect, and although it can be faked in post production (such as with the Totally Rad Photoshop action ‘F-Zero’ here), it’s looks amazing done ‘in camera’.

James Pearson, The Lawsons & I all had a go on Hayley Ruth…

And I love the dreamy look of this tilt-shift lens

I was honoured to let Laura & Pete have a go on me too!

They’ve just blogged their images here, including a bunch of me.

Here they are rolling round snapping JP.  I think one of their corresponding images might have made their blog.

I love how, tilted right, the crazy lens shows a solitary foreground branch, James’ noggin & a path of focussed woodland.


I’m not convinced I could work this look into my actual commercial wedding work, but I love it.

Jonas Peterson, the amazing Scandinavian snapper who works out of Brisbane Australia, does it all the time & has made quite the look out of it.

Here’s James, giving it pensive on a log

Laura knows how much I like the tilty look, so superkindly gave me her old LensBaby, which  had a tilt-shift-esque dream like look.

I’m thinking it’ll be interesting to shoot 5dmkII video through too!

I was inspired to lie down under Pete while everyone was snapping him & rather like this look.

Look a those two lovelies.

One we were spent, I found Tom Arber loitering in the woods with Stu Cooper & decided to frame him in the crazy windy wood behind.

I like this one he caught of me too.

Anyhoos – as ever, after a few days bouncing off & laughing with these ace photographers, I left feeling energised & geared up for a fun wedding season.

If any of you have happened to happen upon this blog and are looking for a photographer to capture your big day and I’m booked, or not the tog for you, you’d be hard pushed to find better than the bunch I’ve mentioned here.  Do check their work & blogs out!  Ones I know’ve been posted and are ace are the Lawson’s entry here & James Pearson’s post here.

Either way, I can’t wait to meet them all in September/October on the other side of the season for more of the same.

Party on, y’all.

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