So what do wedding photographers so when they're not photographing weddings?
One thing is that every (other) October a few dozen of them descend on Culdaff in north Inishowen to take part in Jay Doherty's Learning to Fly Wedding Photography Retreat... it's a coming together of like-minded souls who, in Jay's words, gather as a community to listen and share, laugh and cry, forge new bonds and relight old unions. On top of that there's also the opportunity to learn from some of the top photographers from across Europe...
The 2021 retreat bought together a first class line up of educators - including Victor Lax, Simon LeClerq, John Gillooley, Paula O'Hara & Lauren Chambers, with the bonus of Doreen Kilfeather sharing her stories from the world of editorial photography. Everyone of them a great photographer, artist, business person, and all just really lovely people too.
So why am i telling you all about six superbly talented photographers, educating a couple of dozen, amazing in their own right photographers?
Well long story short, Jay asked me to tag along over the two days of the retreat to document the goings on - to take photographs of the photographer - no pressure there then! The results can be send in the video used as part of the ticket launch for the 2023 retreat.
It was a proper family affair at the Redcastle Hotel, Donegal, when Paula & Jeremy celebrated their wedding day, flanked by their children and surrounded by their wider family circles who'd travelled from near and far to enjoy the revelry of a Donegal wedding.
Their day included a very personal ceremony, lead by Brian Barr, of poetry, readings, with music provided by Aria String Quartet, and Niamh @ Flower Power providing the floral decoration, prior to the finest local cuisine being served up by the always accommodation Redcastle team; and when it came time for everyone to let their hair down Sax In the City made sure the dancefloor stayed full throughout the evening.
Earlier this month the McGinley & Gibbons clans descended upon Dunfanaghy to witness Chloe & Gerard tying the knot at Holy Cross Church, officiated by Father Doohan; before everyone made their way to the Silver Tassie in Letterkenny to celebrate the rest of the day away.
I was honoured to be able to document their day;
My own day started with a sunny drive to Chloe's family home in Dunfanaghy were the bridal preparations were well underway for the ladies, while the menfolk were tasked with blowing up balloons, making sure the route to the church was well signposted before bringing home the bacon (and sausages, and all the other wedding brunch necessities.) With my breakfast roll safely nestled in the passengers seat to enjoy on the journey back the way I'd come, I headed off next back in the direction of Letterkenny, destined to meet Gerard & his groomsman (plus the all important pageboys) with their personalised fleet of cars & drivers getting ready for the day ahead...once everyone was suited & booted the convoy set off to the Holy Cross Church for the main event of the day.
Afterwards the beautiful, and very personal service, the bridal party & myself made our way to Ards Friary for some photos by the shore. If you're ever lucky enough to allowed to drive beyond the Friary itself make sure you don't miss the turn up the hill on your way back out again - I've experienced the excitement of driving along a narrow, walking-day-tripper filled path, towards the looming, potentially padlocked, ornate exit gates that were closed across the path, so you don't have to! A one word prayer was said as I approached, and thanks given when i realised the padlock wasn't actually locking the gate!
A quick pitstop in McCafferty's Bar was the last detour before we all made our way to the Silver Tassie to join the rest of the guests to celebrate the night away.
It is safe to say documenting moments as they happen is my favourite way to photograph - that's not to say there's a time and a place for something a wee bit more structured, especially for bigger family groups... ironically in a roundabout way the moments in between those 'posed' shots can get the most natural results of all as everyone lets their guard down...
I had all this in mind during a recent family photoshoot in St Columb's Park - Ruairi was on his first visit to Ireland to meet the family, and his mum wanted to make sure to get photos with his wider family - especially him, his grandparents & cousins... so we all dandered the park, in the good weather, stopping a few times to get everyone together in the one spot; all the while I, happily, shoot the moments in between too... here are a few of my personal favourites...
Laura and Michael gathered their friends and family together at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel Derry to share in their intimate wedding; with many personal touches such as hand fasting as part of their ceremony, and the most unique cake stand - lovingly crafted from horse shoes by Laura's Dad. Here's an overview of their day....