LGBT photographer

HAYLEY + MARIANNE - A LONDON ENGAGEMENT SHOOT

HAYLEY + MARIANNE - A LONDON ENGAGEMENT SHOOT

Anyone else a little tired from all this heat and humidity yet..? I’ve had to escape the house where there doesn’t seem to be any air, and I’ve come to favourite little place in town, Café Thrive. I love it here for the coffee and the munchies. Good stuff for veggies and vegans like moi.

These two beauties contacted me last year about their beach wedding, sending me a message through my Instagram page; I was walking along the beach with Rob at the time and just happened to be right by the Bournemouth Beach Weddings hut, so I replied with a selfie and we hit off instantly. Needless to say, they booked me for their big day and we’ve become awesome friends since. When I met up with Hayley + Marianne at their fabulous beach venue for the open day last September, we talked through everything and they told me that they were looking for an engagement shoot, but felt nervous about it being all posed and corny. Pish posh! No such thing with me. We decided on a complete contrast to their actual wedding, opting for an urban adventure instead.

Marianne has a brother who lives in Hackney, I’ve always wanted to explore Shoreditch, it was a match made in heaven!

They’re such a fun couple; always giggling away together, total couple goals and unbelievably cute together. They loved the idea of using lots of colour and as it happens, Shoreditch is jam-packed with murals and street art. We all met at Liverpool Street Station, had a very chilled out day just exploring the area, chatting, having a cheeky strawberry iced daiquiri and making the most of the sunshine and colour on all the walls. It also happened to be June 1st - the first day of International Pride Month. So we basically lived our gay unicorn fantasy, chasing rainbows around Shoreditch, The Nomadic Community Gardens and Boxpark.

I literally cannot wait for their wedding in September, I know it’s going to be so much fun and full of laughter.

Check out the photos below, just a selection of my faves from our day together. And if you’re thinking you might like to have an engagement shoot before your big day, something a little like this one, I’m definitely game for it, so get in touch and tell me all about your plans!

Until next time,

R x

BEC + TANIA - BARN 1890, ADELAIDE

 BEC + TANIA - BARN 1890, ADELAIDE

So as I’d mentioned, I was sat on a busy train to London, I’d just been booked by Bec and Tania, and was currently getting funny looks for squealing. Yep, I was going to Adelaide. YAASSS!!

Fast forward ten months and I’d just finished a wedding on my birthday, had started the walk home along the beach. S*** was about to get very real. I think I’d packed and re-packed my suitcase and camera bag at least five times by now. My original plan was to spend the whole of the Sunday - the day before I flew out - with Rob, which I suppose I did, it just wasn’t the day we were hoping for. That night when I got home from Rachel + Ryan’s wedding, shortly after Rob had made me some dinner, we had to rush our fur baby, Moscow, to the emergency vets and the outcome was a tragic blow; we had to make the painful decision to let him go and he went for one final long sleep. The Sunday was pretty much spent crying and trying not to panic about leaving Rob on his own for the best part of three weeks.

The next day I unpacked and re-packed my things a couple more times before taking the coach to Heathrow. I arrived early, grabbed some food and coffee and checked in with Rob back home. I think we spoke via FaceTime two or three times that evening. Then the time came for me to board the enormous A380 to my connection destination of Singapore. After 18 long hours (8 of which I managed to sleep on the first flight), I was boarding my flight to Adelaide. Both flights were so good and we landed into Adelaide at 7:30 am, bang on time and fresh as a daisy (maybe a little spaced out). Bec picked me up, we drove to her and Tania’s home in the suburb of Belair in the hills of Adelaide, and after a quick shower, a change of clothes and a coffee we headed out to meet her family at a nearby Vineyard that also doubled as a Kangaroo sanctuary. We ate the most delicious meal, washed down with some fine Australian chardonnay and fed the Kangaroos -a life goal mine very much achieved!

We had a few days together before the big day; I helped the brides with some finishing touches to their table decor, we ate more amazing food, drank more amazing wine, and I spent a lot of time with their family which was super sweet - a real plus to this trip and wedding. On the Thursday and Friday I spent time exploring the city - the train ride from Belair down into the centre was so good, travelling through the hills with the view over eucalyptus trees to the sea. If any of you have thought about a trip to Australia, I would highly recommend seeing Adelaide whilst you’re there. It has a great feel to it, more like a small town, but with all the amenities of a city, and the added bonus of being surrounded by parkland, vineyards and beautiful beaches. Plus - and it’s a big one - the coffee shops and restaurants are incredible.

So down to business…

After having a very chilled evening in the home of Bec + Tania while they enjoyed a night together at the cottage on the grounds of the wedding venue, I was picked up by their very cool friend who drove us out to the venue (about 45km south of Adelaide). The girls were getting their hair and make-up on in the shade of the cottage patio; I started with some shots of the prep as I love it so much, then took myself off for a quick walk around the grounds, jumped on Insta Stories for a cheeky live video, but the reception wasn’t great and the sound kept cutting out… #FirstWorldProblems

I returned to the cottage to continue with prep, had a cuppa and chatted with the ladies as they enjoyed a drop of champers, then once they were ready we snuck off into the vineyard for their couple shoot. Doing this before the ceremony and the guests arriving was such a breath of fresh air. It gave us some real quality time together to have some fun and frolic around the vineyard, it also meant that the brides were much more chilled out come the ceremony and once that was done, they could focus on having a party with their guests. If you’re not doing the traditional thing - and I would highly recommend it to all of my couples - you will definitely have a much more relaxing time for the rest of the day.

I won’t lie, there is definitely an element of added pressure when you’re doing a destination wedding (there are so many other things to factor in that could potentially go wrong on the lead up to the day), and coupled with the fact that Bec has been a friend of mine for the last 14 years or so -- enough said. Once the guests started to take their seats and gather under the enormous eucalyptus tree where the ceremony was held, the music started, and I couldn’t help but bubble up with excitement and pride while watching them both walk down the aisle together, accompanied by Bec’s father, Tony. It was a super sweet moment for sure. The ceremony was full of love and laughter, and some really special readings from their great friend and witness, Julie, Tania’s brother, Andrew, and her eldest son, Connor. I’ll openly admit that at one point as they read their beautiful vows to one another, a few tears crept into my eyes and I was awash with emotion.

Following the ceremony there were bubbles galore, and hundreds of hugs going around. We all gathered for some family photos in front of the barn (a stunning backdrop if ever there was one), then we wandered around to the terrace for bubbles of the boozy kind and some super tasty treats prepared by the awesome catering team - trust me when I say this, the food in Oz is like nothing you get over here - PHE-NOM-ENAL!! The whole team on duty that day were absolutely exceptional and were not only giving 200% to the guests, but looked after me like I was a VIP.

Some touching speeches followed the banquet, lead by Connor - boy, that kid is a real wordsmith - then came Rupert’s turn, Bec’s incredibly funny and rascal of a brother, Bec’s parents were up next with some great stories and it all got a bit emotional again, then a few sweet and heartfelt words from Tania’s youngest son, Rhett. I wish I was better at remembering people’s name, but I have to give a huge shout out and major props to the awesome friend and MC for the day, as she was absolutely superb and hilarious to boot!

So we cut the cake, which almost seems like a shame when it’s so damn beautiful, but it was also delicious and handcrafted by Tania’s very talented hands - I know it was delicious as we were all scoffing the off-cuts on the Friday morning with coffee before they both headed off to the venue to set up. Then what’s left to do at a wedding….?

P-A-R-T-Y!!!!

Damn this was a fun party and the reason why I like to stay and party with you all; as a wedding photographer, why would you want to go home after the first dance…? I know, I hear you, you’re tired and bed is calling, but this is when everyone really comes alive and into their own. If it were allowed, I’d probably just post photos from this part of the day, but people love to see the happy couple before they reach obliteration. Their friend and awesome DJ sure pulled out the dance floor bangers, and even threw in some vintage Madonna (both Bec and myself are HUGE fans!), so he gets a huge gold star. As the venue curfew kicked in, we all gathered outside the barn and the brides made their exit to even more hugs and drunken giggles before we were loaded onto the coach to take us back home. I’d go on about the rest of the trip, but it would need to be a whole series of blogs…

Just know this; it was a life-changing, life-affirming, extremely fun, totally emotional, banging trip that I can’t wait to repeat and I know our friendship is much stronger for it, and a bonus bunch of Aussie friends have been made in the process.

If you’re considering escaping abroad to elope or to treat the rest of your friends and family to the wedding of a lifetime somewhere, I’m game and my passport is ready for you!

Please check out the super awesome supplier's pages (linked below), give them some social media love and most of all, check out Bec + Tania’s awesome highlights below!!

Until next time,

R x

Barn 1890 / Amanda’s Flowers - Blackwood / Melange a Trois / BeYoutiful Make-up by Anj / Medhi El-Aquil / Chef Steele

Spoilt For Choice - Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Venue

One of the things I love the most about living in Bournemouth - and subsequently running my business from here - is being surrounded by so many stunning places of natural beauty.  We have the New Forest, Moors Valley Country Park, The Jurassic Coast, The Purbecks, Brownsea Island, and so many more.  On top of that, an almost endless list of venues that fill these areas, which you couples get to choose from. 

Basically, we are spoilt for choice. 

For me as a wedding photographer, it is one of the most amazing things, to firstly be invited into a couple's special day, but on top of that, to get to work within these venues - that's just incredible. 

I've been very fortunate in the (comparably) short time I've been a wedding photographer, by having a portfolio that is now made up of completely different venues for each couple I've photographed - with the exception of just two.  Next year also, the venues I'll be covering weddings at are all different.  So far I've worked at the following: The Legacy Rose and Crown Hotel, Merley House, Passford House Hotel, Poole Guildhall (twice), Bryanston School, Les Bouviers.  This year I still have weddings at Bournemouth Town Hall, Dudsbury Country Club, St. Laurence Church in Upwey (with reception and evening at Upwey Village Hall and The Old Ship Inn), The Holiday Inn - Southampton, and Gorwell Barn, Abbotsbury.  

Next year I've got a growing list of fabulous venues which include: The Hilton - Bournemouth,The Italian Villa, The Old Hall - Ely, The George Hotel - Huntingdon, The Sibson Inn, The Chine Hotel, Newbury Rugby Club, The Orangery Suite, Spitbank Fort, Kingston Maurward, Barford Park and RAC Woodcote - Epsom to name a few.  I'm absolutely loving the variety.  

I've always been a bit of a dreamer, and was always told that unless you win the lottery, you are the builder of your own dreams.  I stand by this.  So in light of this, when I first started down this road of becoming a photographer, I purposely made a 'wish list' of venues/types of weddings I think of as my dream list to photograph.  

The List - or at least a portion of - in no particular order:

  • Same-sex weddings 
  • Bournemouth Beach wedding (obviously)
  • Kew Gardens (and any other botanical gardens)
  • London/Urban wedding
  • Theme weddings (especially Star Wars!)
  • Destination weddings - New York would be amazing (because I LOVE to travel)
  • Festival weddings
  • Barn weddings
  • Cinema/Theatre wedding
  • Forest wedding

Specific venues would include: The Barbican Centre, The Southbank National Theatre, The Sky Garden (Walkie Talkie building), The Shard, so basically most well known buildings in London. 

Anyway, I digress.  Getting back on topic, I suppose what I'm trying to say is; I fully understand the dilemma couples must face when it comes to planning their wedding.  They're a political minefield anyway, but to add on top of that choosing where to hold the day can be (but hopefully won't be) a nightmare.  

I remember planning our wedding.  Rob and I did the guest list first, then sorted everything else out around that.  We live in Bournemouth, most of Rob's friends and family who came live in fairly close proximity, so the only challenge was whether we held it here or nearer my family.  Both options caused the similar issues - namely travelling distances.  So we thought about it some more and came to the conclusion; it wasn't about making our families happy, but rather about making us happy.  So we landed on London and had a bloody good long weekend there.  So that would be my advice to all of you future newlyweds; choose somewhere that makes the both of you happy, reflects you as a couple and the guests that join you will enjoy it all the more for doing so. 

Below I've posted a few photos from the venues I've covered weddings at, so expect a follow-up to this post at some point next year.  

Until then, 

R x

 

 

Collaboration - A Vintage Woodland Wedding

The day finally arrived! 

After being rained off on the original day we had planned to do the shoot, this time the sun was out and the light was just perfect.  As much as we'd talked about and planned this, there were certain elements that had been kept secret even from me, which I suppose is fair enough given that social media drives our businesses these days, and you don't want to give it all away before the big day. 

So we arrived at the wooded area Vicki had chosen as our location, unpacked and trekked with all of our gear into the woods.  Luckily, there were no bears, but plenty of wild mushrooms, slimy logs (yuck!) and mosquitos - I have the bites on my arms and ass to prove it.  Back to the photos.  Once we'd got everything to the site, it was immediately clear in my mind that we had to recreate a pseudo-Alice in Wonderland/Mad Hatter's Tea Party set.  

If you're wanting this theme for your wedding, believe me, we can pull it off for you!  With Vicki's glorious vintage china and Lucie's mind blowing cake creations, how on earth could you go wrong?!  If you're in any doubt, just take a look at their pages (links below).  I suppose you'll be wanting to see some photos...well feast your eyes! 

Until next time, 

R x

Vintage China Hire - www.grannyschinacupboard.co.uk

Stunning wedding cakes - www.lucielovestobake.com

Love is Love

Hi guys and gals! 

So I'm officially back from my days off with the other half - did you miss me??

I've had five brilliant days together with my wonder-man, Rob.  We celebrated his 21st... ahem, 37th birthday, spent a day playing computer games (both massive geeks!), had a wonderful night in Brighton, a day at Moors Valley Country Park, and a day at Compton Acres.  Side note: I can't wait to do my first wedding there in March!!

So what's the reason for this post, I hear you all ask?

Well, when we were in Brighton, we got to walk hand-in-hand and watch other same-sex couples doing the same - it was truly heartwarming.  Brighton was the first place where we shared a night away together back in the early dating days.  Before we came home, we were stood at the Victoria Square fountain, I was taking a photo and Rob tapped me on the shoulder - a couple were meeting there.  What's so special about that you might ask?  It was two young guys, one was waiting by the fountain as the other approached, they immediately went to hug and kiss one another, and then the guy who was waiting by the fountain took the hand of his partner and span him around - it was the most romantic scene I have witnessed in a very long time. 

When we got home, I was going through the photos on my computer and looked through the photos from our civil partnership back in 2011 - there was probably a maximum of 50, all taken on the phones/compact cameras of our guest as we didn't hire a photographer (doh!) - and it got me thinking... Mainly that I wish we'd had a photographer that day, and about how much it means playing that part in another couple's special day.

I know I bang on about this all the time lately and it's probably driving some people nuts - I'm sorry (not sorry) - but I mean this, that it would be everything for me to be involved in another (or many) gay couple's wedding.  I've had two wonderful years of photographing so many beautiful couples with many more to come, but I'm still waiting for the day another gay couple book me as their photographer. 

I've tried many ways to attract more same-sex couples to RGW PHOTOS, and almost got there with one.  So I've put my thinking cap on again. 

I would like to offer a FREE couple's shoot to all you gorgeous gay guys and girls - how's that for aliteration!  You don't need to be getting married (just yet!), but ideally be planning it in the not-too-distant future.  

What do you get?

  • A free (yes, FREE!) photo shoot with me
  • All the photos lovingly edited by me
  • An online gallery to view, share and download all of your photos
  • One mounted 10x8" print of your choice from the shoot

Ideally the shoot will take place in the Bournemouth area, and all travel will be covered, but if you want to do the shoot somewhere else, all I'd ask is for a contribution toward my travel. 

If you're interested, get in touch, I would love to hear from you!  You can email me at: richard@rgw-photos.com - message me on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/RGWPHOTO - or just give me a call on 07533 401199. 

Until next time, 

R x