Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ashley & Andrew - Day After Session

Ashley and Andrew were married three years ago here in Bermuda, but as soon as the day after the wedding, they knew they wanted a second chance at photos. The day of their wedding was rushed and the couple were so overwhelmed by the event that they felt nervous and awkward. On top of that, they had wanted to go to the beach for photos, but since they had such a fun cocktail hour planned that they were afraid of missing that time with their guests who had come so far to celebrate with them. As they suspected, this showed in the images they received from their photographer. They have never ordered a single print and every six months or so, they look at the photos again and feel say. A running joke began of how they were one day going to do a reshoot. Every time they were planning to go somewhere on holiday, they'd say, "let's get our pictures done there!" From Miami to Curacao, Acapulco and Mexico City. Ashley never actually thought they would actually do the reshoot. But this year, for her birthday, Andrew handed her plane tickets to Bermuda and said, "Let's do it!" It was such a sweet and amazing gift, especially since Andrew is not a fan of having his photo taken, but Ashley was thrilled and that was when I received an email and our planning began.

Ashley and Andrew have been together for over ten years. They met in Pittsburgh a few days after she had moved back from Florida. Theirs was a case of opposites attract. Andrew is a CPA, and Ashley is an artist. When Andrew proposed, he decided to prove how creative he was too, despite his career choice. Ashley received a call from the art museum about meeting to discuss an upcoming mural project. She was walking through the gallery with the people from the meeting when she spotted Andrew standing there in a suit with a huge bouquet of roses and Ashley was very confused. She assumed he wanted to go to lunch when the meeting was over so she started whispering to him that she would call him when it was over. But in those moments, as she turned around, she noticed everyone else was gone, including the people she was supposed to be meeting with. And then Andrew was down on one knee. He remembered that once when they were walking through the gallery, Ashley had said the huge Monet painting of the water lilies was her favourite as a kid, and there they were standing in front of it and promising each other to spend the rest of their lives together. I am starting to notice a theme here - that Andrew is one incredibly thoughtful man and certainly full of surprises, even after ten years.

For some reason, Ashley had always envisioned a fan shaped bouquet and it appealed to her much more than a sphere. At first, she imagined a fan shaped palm leaf behind the flowers, but finally decided to go with the softer image with just the orchids and roses. The elegant and unusual arrangement was designed by Flowers by Gimi, and they placed the flowers in a silver tussy mussy that Ashley had brought with her to add a little vintage romance. She tied the ribbon to make it more personal and I loved the look.

Andrew was offered a job in Bermuda years ago, and while he didn't take it, they couple have been intrigued with the island ever since. They had a big wedding planned in Pittsburgh, but realised it just wasn't what they wanted. So they ditched everything and started planning a more intimate celebration in Bermuda. It was perfect since much of their family would have had to travel anyway and this way, they could all spend a few days together on holiday. One of the unexpected best parts of Bermuda were the caves. They were married on 1st November, so their rehearsal dinner was on Halloween and they had their dinner in the cave at Grotto Bay in costumes - how fun are these two??!

Although Andrew and Ashley did have a backdrop of the ocean in their original wedding photos, they longed for the dramatic rock formations that are so signature to Bermuda. We spent a lot of time working together to find the perfect location that had all the elements the couple were hoping for and finally decided upon Warwick Long Bay.

Ashley had two amazing dresses which she wore on the official wedding day and which she still loves so much. Her ceremony gown was a Carolina Herrera, which swept Ashley off her feet with all those divine ribbons and folds. It was perfect for her style. Her darling polka dot birdcage veil was found at Artikal in New York.

The day of the shoot, we tried to reschedule as the forecast was not looking good, but at that stage, Ashley was unable to rebook her hair and make up appointments so they decided to go ahead, even though it was unlikely we would have sun. I was a little distressed and felt under huge pressure as photography is all about writing with light and when the light is dulled, I often find so are the images. But in retrospect, it may have worked in our favour as where I set up the scene, we would never have been able to shoot with that backdrop if the sun had been out.

With her hair and make up, Ashley was going with a bit of a retro vibe, with a bouffant beehive and dramatic eyes. The Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Southampton did an amazing job of completing the look she was going for and I loved the vintage feel of the shoot.

When Ashley and I spoke on the phone to try to finalise some ideas for the shoot to make it special, I asked her what the two of them loved doing most. She said "drink tea".  This was music to my ears as anyone who knows me or possibly even follows the personal side of this blog sees that I have tea parties for my children all the time with real china and silver tea services. So when I saw her dress, I knew just the set I wanted to use and the whole image came to me. My lovely assistant, Caroline, helped set up the carpet and props before the couple arrived and it was then that I was almost grateful for the grey of the day so we could use the dramatic water backdrop and face the couple straight into where the sun would normally be.

I pick up these darling tea pots and cups and saucers at auctions and poor Ben thinks I am utterly mad but when he sees these images, I know he realises it is worth living with all the clutter!

I picked up this divine vintage camera in Nova Scotia this summer. I had decided not to get it and left the shop but kept thinking about how I could use it in shoots and things like this just don't come up in Bermuda so I went back and bought it after all. I have had more regrets and unusual and special things I did not get, than the money I spent on the ones I did get so followed my heart on this one and so glad I did - how perfect is it with their style?

I know I have been featuring my birdcages in a few shoots recently, and it is weird as I am completely against any caged animal ever, but I do love the look and with a fake bird inside, that makes it ok, right?

These were not the bride's orignal wedding shoes, for those ones were lost, but how fun are these pink ones with my carpet, tea cups and her flowers?!

The sun did peek out for a brief moment, but oddly enough, I prefer the soft light better - a rare thing for me to say! Just depends on the shoot every time and reminds me you just never know.

Like many tourists to Bermuda, Andrew and Ashley's favourite thing to do is renting a scooter and buzzing around the island. They have never one that anywhere else and it is so much fun. On their first trip, they took so many photos of themselves on teh scooter and they adore those shots. So the couple wanted to capture one of them on a (much nicer) bike in their full wedding outfits.

The Vespa became a must and was the exact image they were looking for, but became the mission impossible. Ashley had assumed that retro style vespas could be rented on the island but all she found on offer were modern and less aesthetic options which as an artist, would never cut it for her. She considered asking a dealership to loan her one for an hour but that turned out to be too complicated to coordinate. They had given up hope when they came across this fabulous bike in the hotel parking lot so they asked a very helpful doorman about it. He recognised the Vespa as belonging to on of the hotel employees and the couple tracked him down and asked if they could use it for the shoot. Surprisingly, he said yes and was very generous to offer to bring it to the beach. I even convinced him to get it up off the tarmac and onto the sand dune - not an easy (or safe) feat so thank you Shawn!!!! Poor Ashley and Andrew felt a little unstable as they slowly started to sink into the sand so we only had a moment but it was so worth it and I am thrilled they went to such an effort.

The second dress, which Ashley changed into for the dinner reception on the day of their wedding, was a tea length Anne Barge in a pale pink taffeta with Alencon lace. This ended up being Andrew's favourite. She also wore a hairpiece that she had designed and created herself. Unfortunately, on the day of their wedding, she had not photos of this ensemble at all so she was thrilled the look had its day in the sun (or dramatic clouds as was the case this day!) at last.

The other thing that the couple really felt they missed out on on their wedding day was feeling their toes in the sand and the water at their feet. That they did on this evening as Andrew can attest, for their reshoot very slowly started seeming more like a Trash the Dress session as they became wetter and wetter and I shouted from the cliff for them to get closer and closer to the sea.

The sun had long since set at this time and it was getting dark extremely quickly so became near impossible for me to focus every time, especially when the love birds were spinning about. But as per usual, I adore this mistake below - the softness and romance of the out of focus dip simply makes my heart skip a beat - love love love. Not sure if the rest of the world agrees with me, but so much of what I do is also for me, for I am an artist, and this image below to me is art.

Andrew's original suit on his wedding day was beautiful, but he spilled red wine down the leg (sign of good times!) which didn't come out.. They couple were looking for suits this time around and he considered changing his look to a smart seersucker or something, which (of course!) he looked amazing in, but in the end, he decided he preferred to recreate his original look and found this suit on sale a couple days before they hopped on the plane to Bermuda. Whew - just enough time to get it tailored and I adored his look, and even the change of tie when Ashley changed her dress - so sweet!

Ashley was keen to get a few more shots on the rocks, and although it was very dark and my iso was almost maxed out, I am so glad we did these last two series. The water smashing agains the rocks they are on and their expressions are priceless - Andrew couldn't quite believe it when I kept asking him to move further down the rock to where the waves were crashing. Ashley was true to form and for the sake of art, remained poised at all times. Of course, the fact that Andrew was breaking the waves for her helped a smidgen too.

Ashley and Andrew - if I haven't told you already a hundred times, I loved you guys. You were so fun to work with, so trusting of my vision, and also of course being so in love always helps make my job so much easier. I am sorry you didn't have enough time to get the shots you were looking for the first time around, but I am so glad you took the time this summer, for hopefully these capture all you are to each other and more. I loved meeting you both and wish you both much happiness in the future. xxxx