Gemma and Nick’s wedding … part 1

Gemma and Nick Huggett married in St Andrew’s Church in Cobham followed by a sumptuous party at Painshill Park on 24th June 2017. It was a very elegant yet extremely relaxed and joyous occasion celebrated with friends and family. The weather was gorgeous; sunny with clear skies and the church was a beautifully atmospheric venue. Reverend Charleen Hollington conducted the ceremony which was both moving and full of laughter. As you know my blog is more about the images than the words … so enjoy the first part of day!

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Laura and Phillip get married …

Laura Winchester and Phillip Rudd planned a gorgeous vintage, rustic wedding on 18th August 2017. I was absolutely delighted to be asked to photograph the wedding as I’ve known Laura for a number of years and love her creativity and sense of fun. The ceremony was in the beautiful Southover Grange in Lewes followed by a hog roast and dancing at Rushford Farm.

The couple with help from family and close friends created a lovely space to party in a previously empty field. There were marquees, an open fire, play areas for the kids, hay bales and sofas to lounge on, cider and champagne to drink, amazing cakes to eat and the a most fantastic dessert buffet I have ever seen. Laura’s forties styled dress was handmade by her Uncle David and was absolutely stunning. The suggested dress code made for some very stylish outfits. The weather threw everything it had at the day but it was such a fun filled, energetic event I’m not sure anyone cared! Many congratulations to the lovely couple!

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Luca Love Colombia – La Esmeralda School, Rionegro

In my previous post about Luca Love in Colombia I described my experience of working with them at a documentary photo workshop. The small, family run business provides support in different ways to their local community in Rionegro near Medellin.  Momenta Workshops who run the workshops, offered Luca Love a chance to participate and I was given the opportunity to work with them to build a portfolio of images.

Luca Love’s mission is “… to provide those in need with the necessary tools to make a significant and positive change in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. By donating and distributing essential necessities, founding education projects in high poverty areas, and providing employment with a fair wage to those in need, Luca Love aims to expand social conscience and be a source of assistance and opportunity.”

Although not currently a non-profit organisation, Luca Love focuses on and is driven by giving back to the community. During the workshop Momenta identified this blossoming business as a candidate to benefit from their expertise. Momenta advised how to develop clear goals, get their message out to a wider audience, to build market share and increase profits. With guidance on state of the art business systems, media engagement and mentoring from the Momenta experts, Paulina and her team are slowly building their business and their capacity to fulfil their mission of providing opportunities and support to their community. I’m looking forward to watching their progress and visiting again.

The local school in La Esmeralda benefits with funding for an English teacher and provision of healthy snacks to the children after swimming classes. I was able to meet the children, attend one of the classes and go to the pool with them. Here are some of the images from last year.

The children from La Esmeralda school with me (taken by one of the parents).

The school is in a small village surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Marleny explaining to the parents why we are at the school to take photographs of the children and asking for written consent.

Isabel teaching at the after school English class. She works with children in a range of ages.

Marleny acting as class assistant!

Fun with the children after school.

 

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Madeira Flower Festival May 2017

In May I celebrated a milestone birthday on the beautiful island of Madeira. This was my first visit to Madeira and I loved the contrasts between the coasts and the mountains, the lush valleys and the rocky beaches.

We were lucky that it coincided with the annual Flower Festival – an absolutely spectacular event in the capital Funchal. The festival runs over four days and includes a children’s parade, with local children laying flowers to create a Wall of Hope, displays of exotic tropical flowers, flower carpets and exhibitions. On the Sunday there was an explosion of colour and music as dozens of floats travel along the front watched by massive crowds. It was fabulous experience. At the height of the day the sun was intense and it was tough for the adults and children who sang and danced for the few hours the spectacle took to complete. It was very difficult to photograph, there were so many people enjoying the show and the light was really harsh but the images will hopefully give you a flavour of my experience!

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Valencia

After the workshop I attended in Valencia in August 2016 I stayed on for a few days to explore the city on my own. It is beautiful with an astonishing mix of old and new architecture. Here is a selection some places I encountered. Sadly I had a mishap with transferring many of the images to my PC and I am still trying to recover photographs taken at the City of Arts and Sciences. I hope I may be able to share them at some point!

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia

Exploring Valencia – August 2016

Exploring Valencia – August 2016

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Valencia, the perfect backdrop to learn about lighting and posing

I attended a Scott Robert Lim workshop in August to learn more about posing models and the use of natural light, flash and video light in the environment. The workshop was part theory and a lot of practical work when we had the opportunity to pose the models and decide what form of lighting to use. We explored the magical old town of Valencia with historic backdrops, glorious plazas, towers and bridges, finding grand vistas and hidden corners everywhere. The ultra modern City of Arts and Sciences also provided a fantastic location, with a very different feel to that of the older buildings.

Scott is a well known educator, running workshops across the world and is a favourite on Creative Live, a superb free resource for photographers. He is also a well respected photographer in his own right, with a wonderful portfolio of weddings and portraiture. Although working with models is not my typical genre I learned many techniques easily applied elsewhere. I also, as is typical on photo workshops, met some lovely and talented people. Working in small groups on the final day was an excellent opportunity because we could pool our knowledge and take turns to hold the lighting apparatus. Many thanks to Koreena, Kam and Chris for their support.

The models, Aurelia Liansbergaite, Nika Orazem, Dejan Vučić and Rachael Van Harmelen were fabulous, endlessly patient and helpful to a large group of photographers.  Unfortunately I had a mishap with my images, losing them when making structural changes to my hard drive. I have recovered many through a deep search of deleted files but will have to redo my post-processing work The images in the gallery below survived!

Kingley Vale, West Sussex

Kingley Vale in West Sussex near Chichester is an ancient wood full of fascinatingly twisted veteran yew trees. Some are amongst the oldest living things in the country. A trail leads you through the woodland and onto the chalk grassland. It’s a beautiful walk, full of variety and is the habitat of many different birds and butterflies. We visited on a bleak and misty afternoon in January so wildlife was scarce but were lucky to occasionally see glimpses of sunlight through the dank and dark woods making it even more mysterious.Kingley ValeKingley Vale 2

Luca Love – a family run business full of heart

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I was extremely excited to join another Momenta Workshops trip last October, travelling to Colombia to provide photographic services to Luca Love. This opportunity was long-awaited. A chance to visit South America again – Colombia in particular – and learn more from Momenta “guru” Chris Anderson. Irresistible! We comprised a small group of four students, our Colombian expert, Emanuel Echeverri and of course, Chris. We were based in Medellin, a city which has fortunately outgrown its reputation for being the drug capital of Colombia. There are still areas not safe to travel in as a tourist but it is increasingly visited by travellers from all over the world. There is a museum of work by the Colombia artist and sculptor Fernando Botero, whose work I have loved for years and it was a special treat to see the massive sculptures in Plaza Botero and his paintings and smaller sculptures inside the gallery.

But my main activity was working with local family-run buiness Luca Love, a fairly new organisation set up by Paulina Tobin (based in Houston) and her sister Daniela and mother Marleny in Rio Negro, Colombia. Marleny’s husband Jorge is also involved behind the scenes. Luca Love sells bracelets made by local women around Rio Negro, about an hour’s travel south of Medellin. Marleny designs the bracelets and teaches the artisans how to make them. By visiting the women to deliver materials and collect finished work she enables them to work from home and still look after their families. Luca Love currently funds an English teacher to work in the local school in La Esmeralda and have provided other local community support on an ad-hoc basis. Currently they are developing their product line and growing their small business to be able to put more of the profits back into the local community.

My task was to spend time with Marleny and her artisans and also visit the school benefiting from Luca Love’s support. I could then provide a portfolio of images to be used in marketing, blogging and on the Luca Love website. With regular technical and planning guidance from Chris, I built relationships locally with those involved and created lots (and lots) of images. I was able to see the process from design and selection of the beads through to seeing Marleny train the women in new designs and then watch them making the jewellery and gift bags. I spent time with the children in their English class and in the playground and local swimming pool and met many of the parents and teachers. The kids loved practising their English while teasing me about my funny Spanish! The final selection of images delivered to Luca Love are those that Paulina and her team can use to create visuals that tell the story of Luca Love. They illustrate its inception, its purpose and the direction they are headed in. It is a very exciting new venture for the family and the community.

Below are some of the images from this collaboration and I will blog again with more about this project. For me it was extremely rewarding; I met many fascinating and friendly people, I improved my Spanish, enjoyed excellent wines and delicious food and I improved my story-telling photography skills. I also made new amigos (!) among my fellow students and Marleny, her family and friends. It was a really wonderful trip.

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These images were taken on the Momenta Project Colombia Workshop 2016 in Medellin, Colombia. Photo © Laura Morgan/Momenta Workshops 2016.

These images were taken on the Momenta Project Colombia Workshop 2016 in Medellin, Colombia. Photo © Laura Morgan/Momenta Workshops 2016.

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Seville … a city break

For my birthday in May I travelled to Seville with my sister, looking for some relaxation, culture and an escape from the dreary UK weather. Two out of three ain’t bad!  There was so much rain that we had to dash between shops and churches to stay dry – but there were occasional bursts of sunshine that lit the city up. Old Seville is simply beautiful with the contrast of old and new architecture making every turn a new experience. Our first visit was to the Parasol Metropol – a few hundred yards from our hotel and we had breakfast each day in its shadow. It looks like a giant mushroom and walking around the top gives splendid views across the city. Seville Cathedral is absolutely astonishing inside with neck-cricking wonder and with the Giralda (the minaret of the mosque which was previously on the site) it can be seen from almost everywhere. The Palacio Real Alcazar is a beautiful building with intricate mosaics and arches – and again you spend a lot of time looking up. Unfortunately the gardens were closed due to the weather but from what we saw would have been a great area to explore and relax. Church interiors are overwhelmingly glitzy and although rather full of “bling” for my taste – stunning in their abundant beauty.

There are parks too – the cool shade of the Parque Maria Luisa was welcome – on of the few sunny days we had and Plaza Espana with the carriage rides, mosiacs and tile work, vendors and fountains is also worth  visiting. We also saw the World Press Photographer of the Year Exhibition.  The images were powerful and affecting – the size of the prints add even more impact – I was so glad to catch it as I’d missed the London showing. The show at the Museo de Baille Flamenco was spellbinding and we sat so close to the stage that I feared the dancers would actually kick us. Add in an amazing choice of restaurants and tapas bars and you have a perfect city break.

For more information about what to do in Seville: www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/seville#experiences

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April wedding at Southend Barns

Lex and Andy married at the stunning venue of Southend Barns in Donnington near Chichester. The beautifully restored and decorated barns are part of a working farm. The day was simply gorgeous. Everything went smoothly, including the spectacular Chinook fly past and as a friend of the family it was a privilege to be invited as a guest as well as photographer. Obviously my celebrations didn’t start until work was finished, although I did enjoy taking candids of the after dinner dancing and craziness! The meal and canapes by Food and Fork were fantastic and the flowers by Wild Willow were simple yet stunning; fresh and natural and perfect for this stylish wedding.

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