FOUR Photographers keeping it real awards

October 10, 2019

Recently we received the news that we have won FOUR awards in the Autumn ‘Photographers Keeping It Real’ awards. To win so many awards in one round is really incredible. That’s four more awards to add the one we won earlier in the year, so five in total. We are absolutely thrilled.

‘Photographers Keeping It Real’ is a really fantastic community that enables documentary photographers to share their natural, unposed images with one another. It’s a really supportive and inclusive place – no criticism, just photographers sharing their best ‘captures’ and of course all taken without posing or staging. Then, every two months, awards are held – and the very best reportage wedding photographers in the world enter. So, to win four awards really is humbling. Thanks so much to the judges – all amazing photographers themselves – for voting for us.

We – Hollie and Patrick – won two awards each so we thought we’d explain how we created the four images.

Victoria and Luke by Patrick

I took this image at Victoria and Luke’s beautiful and extremely fun Yorkshire ‘Tipi’ Wedding. 

Luke told me his guests would drink the bar dry and that’s precisely what they did = quite literally! All the beer on tap was gone before the first dance, by which time, everyone was more than ready for a dance or three. The dance floor got busy really quickly; usually I have to wait quite a while after the first dance to get action shots like this one. But on this occasion the dancefloor was absolutely full right away and it was quite challenging just to move round, let alone hold the camera steady – but challenges are good, and I soon got swept along with the energy of the dancers and was able to shoot away quite freely.  I love shooting scenes like this.

For the dancing, I always shoot wide angle, with my favourite lens, the Nikon 28mm 1.4 and I often stop down the aperture.  With all the activity going and so many people in each shot I knew that in each frame there was the opportunity to record a story as well as catch people and make an interesting composition.

The woman to the right of the frame who is completely lost in the music was one guest I had photographed quite a lot through the day – particularly during a very long and very funny game of beer pong!  I often find I pick out certain guests at each wedding who help tell the story of the day as it unfolds – rather like a comedian will use ‘callback’ to help create depth and character in their routine and build a rapport with their audience. I was already keenly aware that on the dance floor, she would be having the very best time and as I moved around, I saw her dancing in front of the saxophone player. So, I waited until I was able to get a shot with her, the saxophone player and the couple, Luke and Victoria, all in shot at the same time. Then, as if on cue, they kissed. 

For a documentary photographer one natural kiss is worth a hundred posed kisses – and that’s why I never prompt a couple to kiss. I want my images to take couples back to real moments in the years to come and ‘the kiss’ is that most obviously passionate visual display of love that we wedding photographers can capture. Even though it seems the most obvious, it’s nonetheless often the most elusive. 

When Luke and Victoria kissed, it really completed the image by giving it a meaning central to their day. The juxtaposition of the saxophone, the couple and the various guests with their hands aloft all mean it’s probably my favourite image of the year.

Zara by Hollie

Zara and Alex’s wedding in Hull was one of my favourites of the year. They had just a few guests – a very intimate ceremony – but that didn’t matter at all and I found so much to ‘capture’ throughout the day. 

After the ceremony, Alex and Zara went for a walk through the old town from the City Hall to Alex’s tattoo studio. Alex then tattooed Zara and Alex was tattooed as well, under Zara’s instruction. I got a lovely shot of Zara and Alex walking over the zebra crossing on the way to the tattoo studio, but it’s this image, of Zara on her own, that I really loved. 

We were walking back to the car and Alex fell a little behind us, so I ran ahead and as the road was eerily and unusually quiet, I was able to wait in the road for Zara to approach me. She half-turned and the image shows Zara shouting, excitedly, back to Alex. In another second Alex would have been in the shot.

This image is centrally framed, very symmetrical and shows just Zara, and a bus, in an otherwise empty street – there’s a feeling of unexpected drama, something about to happen. The splashes of white of the shops, phone boxes and road are visual echoes of Zara’s dress, though the eye remains drawn to Zara – she is utterly central to the image – and well, Zara was dressed so fabulously!

I think it’s a really arresting image because of the composition with Zara shouting out of the frame but also, because of Zara’s kinetic energy as she is caught mid-stride with her dress flowing in the wind. I think you can really feel the happiness and joy of the moment and also the anticipation – this is   not your ordinary trip across a zebra crossing. But finally, I think it’s that we don’t know who Zara is calling to that really makes the photograph so engaging. We have to imagine who it is and what happens next. And that is why I entered it into the PKIR awards.

Rebecca’s ‘bouquet toss’ by Hollie

Rebecca and Liam got married at the lovely venue Little Wold Vineyard in East Yorkshire. The rain fell all day long and the ground was sodden. There was also fog and mist which is quite apparent in the image.

Rebecca threw her bouquet twice. First and conventionally, she gathered all the women from her wedding. Then she got all the men together. For this image, I stood to one side. Standing to the side allowed me to get a more interesting image, as I was able to get separation and perspective between Rebecca and all the men, as they get ready to scramble for the bouquet.

Half a second after this image was taken, the bouquet is caught and fought over by the men pictured, which created some very funny images. However, it’s the earlier image in the series with the moment of anticipation, the grey sky contrasting with the flowers, that really stood out to me. The eye goes to Rebecca first, as she stands against a dark background – then, the eye follows her eyeline, to follow the flight of the bouquet just a moment before it is caught. The expectation in the faces and body language of the central group of men is intense – but then, they are surrounded by a larger group who look decidedly uninterested. I love the timing of the shot as it leaves it open as to how the action will be resolved though I think it’s clear that this unconventional moment – in terms of wedding traditions – is about to get very, very muddy. And it certainly did.

Hollie feeding Harrison (and herself) by Patrick:

This image was taken on our own wedding day. All through the period of planning our wedding, people asked, “Who is going to take your wedding photos?” It became a running joke. 

I had asked our closest friend – and the G in ‘M and G’ – Matt Godman to take a few images on my Nikon F100 film camera. I love film photography as does Matt – long before starting our business, we used to work on photography projects together at university using our old Nikon film cameras (along with the university’s Hasselblads and Mamiyas). So, together we thought it would be great for him to have the opportunity take a few images of the day using a film camera. However, on the wedding day, Matt unsurprisingly quite fancied a rare day off wedding photography – so, after taking a few images on the F100, he came and found me and handed it back to me, telling me he was, “going to find a drink”. Later on, during the first dance, he took some more images with it which are really beautiful.

As Matt handed me the camera I started to head back to the old barn to put it somewhere safe when I saw Hollie feeding our son Harrison at the same time as she was handed a pork pie (by my sister I believe). I stopped at the barn door, turned around and I hurriedly took a few shots before be spotted. No well-thought-out framing or composition – just a central, mid-range shot. However, sometimes content can overcome aesthetics, and it’s the precision of the moment and the humour that really make the image. As this was a film image (shot on Ektar 100) I preserved the framing as it was shot and left it as a completely unedited image.

The fact that she was feeding Harrison at the same time as eating herself added a comic element to the moment –even better that the pork pie was a little tough, so Hollie really had to bite hard on it – a fact which is pretty clear in the photograph.  After I took the shot, I put the camera down and went back to having the best day of my life.

And there is a backstory as well. Hollie has become a big advocate of breast feeding in public. The first time she fed Harrison in public she felt terrified. Now it’s so important to Hollie to help normalise this natural process through her own example and perhaps help other people who may feel nervous and self-conscious about breast-feeding in public places. 

On reflection I’m so glad I did take it the photograph as it’s become one of Hollie’s favourites. It’s pretty special to me too, to have taken an award-winning photo of my own wedding – but maybe a little hypocritical, as we had an ‘unplugged wedding’ with no image taking amongst the guests… though as it was an analogue (film) camera maybe I just about get away with not breaking our own rules! You can’t plug in a film camera after all.

Also, I think the image says everything about Hollie: she is incredibly beautiful, she’s a dedicated and amazing mum… and she really likes pork pies.