Owen + Amanda

I went to a friends wedding. Without the kids.  I spent two nights away from them. It's the first time I've ever spent a night away from them. The wedding was in Wanaka, so we flew over amazing southern scenery, drove over the crown range, found our apartments, got ready for the wedding, joined the rest of the guests to watch the ceremony and watched the helicopter fly off to epic photography locations. I drunk lots of beer and had an awesome time. I took my camera because I couldn't not bring it. It's really really rare that I get to visit places like this. So here are a lot of scenery photos and photos of my friends AND some photos of the most amazing bride and groom. Thank you to Simon Darby for letting me pop out for a few minutes to get a few shots of Owen and Amanda (and letting me use his lens). And then some next day hangover photos and skating and climbing and more scenery and then it snowed on our way back to Queenstown! I probably wasn't dressed for snow.

Anoukoun + Emma Lao wedding

I arrived at Anoukoun's parents house on a most beautiful hot sunny morning. There were guests arriving and decorations being completed and food being displayed and Emma, the bride, getting ready right next to all the activity giving instructions and trying to remain calm. She retreated to a bedroom for the final getting-ready phase while Anoukoun (Arnie), the groom, hung out with all the arriving guests. Then the most amazing Lao ceremony ritual ensued. 

 The men (and anyone else who wanted to) made their way to the top of the driveway. The groom and his attendant held a lovely parasol umbrella, a bouquet of flowers and candles which were lit, and the convoy made their way down the driveway towards the house amongst hollering and whooping, laughing and cheering! Then when the procession reached the front steps leading to the house, Arnie had his feet washed by his little sister, then they were stopped by relatives who made them all drink whiskey before granting them permission to enter (in between more friendly cheering and laughing). Once finally inside EVERYONE squeeezed into the lounge (spilling out onto the deck) where the traditional ceremony would take place. Emma was led from her room into the ceremony to sit next to Arnie. And the ceremony began. There was chanting, candle-lighting, rice throwing, egg eating, string money gift tying and more whiskey. It was awesome. And after all that there was delicious food, more whiskey shots, and speeches. I managed to sneak the bride and groom away from all the guests for five minutes to get some photos of them on their own. In the driveway. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed the day!

Ben and Tiffany

I was asked to come and help out at Ben and Tiffany's wedding by Gemma Flay Photography since she knew I was keen to get experience. Driving over the hill after passing through Omaha with all it's extreme new building to the old farm house was an amazing contrast and an adventure in itself. I was wondering if the gravel road would ever end. It did... next to an amazing little set of private beaches and two houses that were completely the opposite from each other.  

I arrived early enough so I was able to go and meet the bride, and have a minute with her and her bridesmaids while they were getting ready in the big house on the hill. Then I went to photograph the Groom and groomsmen getting ready in the old house. In the tiny room with 6-8 people crammed in at any given time, the room that was about 10 degrees hotter than any of the other rooms, with the old duvet and the old mirror that was too short and had butterfly stickers on it. Funnily enough, again, these are my favourite photos of the day. I loved being a fly on the wall recording the moments between the four brothers and the close family friends. The nerves, the tension, the fiddling with bow ties and cuff-links. You get the picture. And then after the ceremony the groom twirling his new ring on his finger. The girls Facebook status update break. The Double Browns. The beach. The eyelashes. The groomsmen and bridesmaids...

The afternoon was beautiful, with the bride and her two daughters all looking gorgeous. And knowing the hard time they had all been through in recent times with their youngest daughter having gone through surgery and chemotherapy, made being there, at their place, all the more meaningful. Then I left before the reception began. I'm sure the rest of their night was full of laughter and happiness. Here are some of the photos I took... my second wedding photographing experience!

Myles and Emma

I wanted to photograph a wedding. I had no intention of becoming a wedding photographer, being quite content with my family-life photography sessions. But a very close friend has asked me to photograph her wedding in August, and I suddenly realised I needed to get some wedding photography practice under my belt before then. I have been to weddings before... I have had my own wedding... but I don't think anything really could have prepared me for photographing a wedding. I am beyond grateful to Marie Richards Photographer for allowing me learn from her, and so honoured that Myles and Emma were happy for me to tag along and take photos of their most historical day.

Myles and Emma were set to get dressed and ready for their big day at locations very far apart, so Marie asked me to photograph the groom and groomsmen getting ready while she stuck with the bride and bridesmaids. 

I showed up at Myles and Emma's home without ever having met them before. Emma was already somewhere else, and had probably been getting ready for hours. Myles welcomed me in a friendly but distracted way, too focused to worry about me.  I told the groomsmen (and groomswoman and page boy... aaand mother and father of the groom) to go ahead and pretend I wasn't there.  In the space of time from entering the doorway to leaving for the ceremony, I had learnt a lot about their story, and their love which was reflected in the home they share, and in the closeness of their friends and family and ease in which they expressed their emotions. The hand-made wedding ring box, the puzzle Emma made for Myles with a secret message on the back, the music, the whiskey - it made me feel like this time, at their home, was the most significant part of the day for me, even though it's not  part of the day that is usually focussed on. It was the part that was real; the part that came before the show. Oh, and it was HOT... really hot. 

The rest of the day was stunning of course, and Emma was a beautiful bride. The ceremony itself was held at the Kumeu Valley Estate, at the end of a meadow under some pine trees - a magical place. The reception was in the cutest building in the most fairytale setting. We left after the bridal party entered for the reception, but I would have loved to stay and join in the festivities.  My body probably wouldn't have held together though, even if we had been able to stay. I felt as though I had run a marathon and not eaten for two days. 

My aim was to document the candid moments of the day in a way that had substance and meaning. I have always loved a more journalistic style of wedding photography, so wanted to set myself the goal of telling their story with the photos I took. I also felt connected to Myles after hanging out with him before the ceremony, so stuck with him a bit more during the day, rather than taking heaps of photos of Emma who I never really had the chance to meet properly. Marie and second shooter Gemma Flay Photography worked their magic with all the key ceremony and portrait aspects. I just learnt so much from the day, and have also come to the realisation there is still so much to learn. Here are the photos I took that represent their day through my eyes...

Lana and Guy

I am so so happy and in love with this shoot! My good friends who live in Dunedin are getting married next year, so I had a quick engagement photo shoot with them at St Clair beach. These old pier piles at St Clair have got to be one of the most photographed places in the country, but you can see why! 

I didn't make them pose too much as I wanted them to just act natural, and it was FREEZING and windy and trying to pose them would have taken too much time. Plus Max was sleeping in the ergo carrier at the same time, so I wanted to get him out of the wind as quick as I could!  While editing, I decided to tone the photos down a bit and give them a more dreamy feeling, which I think works well with the setting. 

I also love the big mural on the side of the St Clair life saving club's building by Dunedin artist Lindsay Crooks, so got some photos with them in front of it! 

These photos will contrast completely with their tropical Rarotonga wedding next year which I'm sure will be full of bright flowers and lots of warm sun!