Stephen Mark Photography » Wedding Photography

A selection of photographs from a wedding one very hot Saturday in August.  The bride wore a vintage inspired lace dress and carried a beautiful mixed rose bouquet.  All Saints’ Church in Sanderstead was packed full and their guests sung their hearts out.  The reception was held at Hartsfield Manor, Betchworth, Surrey, a De Vere venue with gorgeous gardens for wonderful photo opportunities.  After the laughter filled wedding breakfast, the evening continued with kayleigh dancing and many more smiles.


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A recent referral booking from friends of a previous couple I photographed reminded me to revisit their glorious destination wedding in Rome, Italy.   Reviewing their photos in retrospect allowed me to indulge in using new software and treatments, to add a new edge and look to some of the images.

I had met Zuleka and Ben when I was exhibiting at the National Wedding Show.  They were keen to find a photographer based in the UK to cover their wedding in a documentary style and photograph them at locations around Rome.  They liked my work and we bonded straightaway.  Prior to the wedding day I worked closely with them and their Italian wedding planner, Nazzarena Arman, advising on what we could realistically achieve and the required logistics to ensure I would be able to capture the best photographic opportunities at the Colosseum, Il Vittoriano, The Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain.  I flew out the day before the ceremony to undertake a full recce.

The big day was an absolute scorcher which was quite a shock for all the visiting English guests and quite a challenge to remain unrumpled!   The wedding ceremony was held in the ancient and serene Caracalla Wedding Hall which was a cool escape from the heat.  Marshalling their guests around Rome for the location photography was an exciting experience.  Locals and tourists alike gathered with curiosity to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.

To ensure they and their guests had relaxation time before the meal and reception began, they had booked the stunning Guest Terrace at the Hassler Hotel for the evening.   The view of the sun setting over Rome was an unforgettable backdrop, and a joy to be part of.  The ensuing photographs capture the fun and happiness to wonderfully document their unique destination wedding in Rome.


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  • Ben Phillips - 7 years ago tomorrow – thank you for capturing the special day for us!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Ahmadian - What a joy to my memory of this amassing day we had ,my how beautiful she looked and how beautifully you captured that !,
    i have never seen captured moments so real ,so much so when I saw the album in all places B&Q car park I was overcome with the emotions captured I cried ,
    I’ve now seen photos not in there album and you have done it again made me cry again ,I can honestly say your work as a photographer you are the best of the best and you did them proud a day never to forget you made sure of that ,
    Thank you .ReplyCancel

I was looking through some photography books over the weekend and found my copy of “Still Life” by Terry Hope, which is a great resource and knowledge base  for anyone interested in developing style in creative black and white photography.  Terry had approached me when he was writing the book as I was shooting commercial still life photography at the time and he wanted to feature some of my photographs.  He visited me at my studio in Clerkenwell to interview me on the stories behind various photographs I had taken for commissions, personally  or on my travels.    The book features 24 other photographers and is a fabulous, timeless book.  I have transcribed  the accompany text for one of my featured images and I hope you enjoy it.  Still Life is still available on Amazon if you are interested in owning a copy.  My other three featured photos and accompanying text will appear in future posts.

Simple pictures can so often work the best, and when I saw the shape that this particular tulip, one of the bunch that was sitting in the vase in my studio had naturally taken up, I knew it would make a wonderful still life study. My problem was that I was rushing to a meeting and yet I knew the tulip would not be the same when I got back. The tulip won!
I decided that I wanted to play around with focus in this picture and narrow it right down, and the studio camera that I was using gave me the opportunity to do this through the movements that are incorporated. Basically a studio camera is just a light tight box with a lens on the front and film container at the back, and by moving the front or even the back of the camera from the vertical it is possible to introduce different focus effects.
Here I swung and tilted the front panel of the camera so that the plane of focus was along the diagonal axis and this allowed only the tulip itself to be sharp – although if you look carefully you will see that there is also an area of sharpness on the edge of the table underneath the flower. I used a focus magnifier to examine the ground glass screen on the back of the camera in close-up so I knew exactly where my focus was going to fall and then took five sheets of film, each one utilising slightly a different composition.  This was the best study and proved to me that I was right to miss the meeting.
Lighting here was also kept simple. I placed the flower and vase on a sheet of glass so that a reflection was thrown there, then set up a white background and lit it by bouncing just one flash head from this. It meant that all the light in the scene is reflected and it gave me just the subtle feel I was after.
Printing and processing
I decided that I would produce the picture as a bleach print. The start of the process involved me lightly pre-flashing 10 sheets of printing paper in the darkroom, all of them at slightly different exposures. This was to expose the paper slightly so that it would acquire a subtle base fog, and lower the contrast. I needed to work with several sheets of paper because it is difficult to know exactly what result you will achieve until you’ve undertaken the final process, and I wanted to give myself a variety of densities to work with. Once I made each of my prints  I fixed and washed them and then put them into a bath of Farmers Reducer (a mixture of potassium ferrocyanide and sodium thiosulphate) that will lighten the  print, and pulled each one when they reached the point I wanted. Only when they were washed again and finally dried did the colour stabilise and I was able to choose the print I felt that worked the best.
Tulip by Stephen Mark Widdows
Sinar 5×4  Studio Camera 150mm Lens Kodak T-Max 100 film.
Exposure 1/125 sec  F5.6
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I was looking forward to photographing Claire and Ali’s wedding at Upwaltham Barns in West Sussex. They had booked me over a year earlier at the National Wedding Show at Earls Court. I always love photographing weddings at Upwaltham Barns as it is a great venue with lots of opportunity for creative photography.  The weather looked good for an October wedding day and after the civil ceremony, Claire and Ali had time with their friends and family in the courtyard which was perfect to capture documentary and candid shots. We spent a little time photographing family pictures and I also got some great relaxed shots of the happy couple as well. As always with wedding days, the time flies and it was soon time for the receiving line to go in to the wedding breakfast. Claire and Ali decided on sausages and mash which was delicious. The speeches were informal and fun, and the father of the groom even rewrote and performed ‘Get me to the Church on Time’  with his own lyrics following Clare and Ali’s relationship so far.  All very unique and entertaining and wonderful for me to capture the laughter shared.


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I thought it would be good to do a blog of some engagement and pre wedding shots.  I like to meet up at a venue for a recce before the wedding day wherever possible to explore the grounds.  It’s a great opportunity to do this together with the bride and groom to shoot some informal relaxed pictures along the way.  I like them to feel comfortable in front of the camera and enjoy themselves and we use the time to practice some ideas.


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