Tim and Nadine's Pilot Wedding - A Flying Success

Where and When

I was given the honour of photographing Tim and Nadine's wedding day on Saturday 6th September at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.

I've know Tim since he was two years old when his mum and dad moved in next door. He was the perfect playmate for my daughter Nicola, of the same age. Tim always had a passion for airports and aeroplanes and for him to realise his passion was a pleasure for me to be a part of.

Let me tell you more about how this amazing wedding came about... First let's go back to 2008, when Tim and Nadine first met as pilot cadets at Biggin Hill, where their relationship blossomed.

Fast forward five years, I was asked to photograph their wedding day. I suggested a few places they might like to visit as a potential venue for this glorious occasion.  They remembered the early years and approached the managers at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar to see if they could have their wedding in the hangar surrounded by Spitfires and to be transported back to a bygone era.

Hurrah this was going to be a wedding for all to remember for many, many years to come. This was the one and only wedding at this exclusive venue.

The Pre-Wedding Shoot

The photograph below was taken to mark the anniversary where Tim proposed to Nadine during a picnic at Wakehurst Place. It sounded very romantic, how by the side of a tree he knelt down on one knee and spoke those famous words "pass me a sandwich"... no not those ones the "Will you marry me" ones, and of course she couldn't refuse (she'd been waiting and hinting a log time, sorry long time). We went back to recreate the scene, to find the only tree that had been cut down was their special one.

SMS Creative Photography Location

The Wedding Day

The theme for the day was elegance with 1940s glamour. The Hangar was decorated to sympathetically reflect the 40s without overt opulence. And boy, oh boy, did they do well!

We started the day photographing the bride getting ready in her stunning Justin Alexander gown with her family and bridesmaids around her.

The ceremony took place at St. Mary's Church Westerham, with a Beauford to take the bride and her father from her home to church in style, and then the bride and groom to the Heritage Hangar for the reception.

We were entertained by the fabulous Nightingales with an army of authentically dressed ladies and gentlemen to entertain and dance with us. Perhaps the highlight of the entertainment was the Spitfire flypast, just before dusk the guests were interrupted by an air raid siren and ushered outside the hangar, only to be wowed by this spectacular display. It was breathtaking!

Everything Tim and Nadine had chosen for their day was excellent. From the food by Tom at Tourelle to the flowers by Chez Fleur that looked and smelt absolutely beautiful, all were exceptionally well done. The DJ entertained the guest until well after midnight.

SMS Creative Photography The Heritage Hangar Biggin Hill
SMS Creative Photography The Heritage Hangar Biggin Hill 1

My Photographic Kit

During the day Nikon cameras were used with an array of lenses from the 24-120mm to 70-200mm. I was also test driving a Leica S-System camera, which is know as the Rolls Royce of cameras, and used it for the photograph below. I have to say I love my Nikons' but was pretty blown away by Leica. Over the weekend I tested the Leica M-System also. They pretty much take you back to basics with manual focusing and have their place for static photography when you don't need to be quick (not ideal for shooting at weddings) but particularly well suited to my classic and supercar photography. The lenses are a piece of fantastic engineering.

SMS CReative Photography The Heritage Hangar Biggin Hill
SMS CReative Photography The Heritage Hangar Biggin Hill 2

Tim and Nadine's pilot's wedding was a flying success, I wish them many years of health and happiness.

Thanks for reading, if you would like your wedding photographed, please do get it touch. I am only able to take on commissions for a maximum of eight weddings a year.

My next newsletter will be in two weeks time about my exciting day at The Goodwood Revival.

Bye for now.


Beach Wedding Watergate Bay Hotel

Where and When On Friday 20 June 2014 I had the pleasure of photographing Charlotte and Jon's wedding at The Watergate Bay Hotel.  Jon's birth place is Newquay in Cornwall so it was the obvious choice to marry the woman he loves at this stunning coastal resort. It was going to be a wedding to remember for a long time to come. The Watergate Bay Hotel is on the north Cornwall coast and a surfers paradise. The weather was spectacular, I had to keep reminding myself that I was in the UK and not the South of France. An ideal place for beach wedding photography.

Watergatebay Hotel newquay wedding photography SMS Creative Photography

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

Watergate Bay is also home to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant. It really wouldn't have been right if I didn't experience a meal there and support Jamie's quest to empower unemployed young people in Cornwall with the kitchen skills and experience to flourish in the world of work. With views across the bay you feel like you are part of the vista. The food is exquisite and extra special attention is applied to presentation and detail. The atmosphere relaxed but professional, a fantastic recipe for success. The restaurant sits above The Beach Hut which is part of The Watergate Bay Hotel, I look forward to going back to try this place as it came highly recommended!

Jamie Olivers Fifteen Watergate Bay Newquay SMS Creative Photography

What the Bride Wore

Charlotte's dress was chosen with the location in mind and was a delicate chiffon pink under skirt and cream top skirt with lace bodice and delicate buttons at the back with a bow. Designed by Naomi Neoh who works from her design studio in Dulwich, South London and bought from Victoria Allinson Couture in Limpsfield, a stones throw from Oxted. Her three bridesmaids complimented her in blue and mother of the bride in a deep blush pink with contrasting lace bodice, all colours reminiscent of the seaside. Shoes were by Jimmy Choo. As we were going to be on the beach for some of the photographs and it was National Flip Flop Day the bridal party changed into theirs!

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Photographing The Wedding

The wedding photography started with Charlotte getting ready in the bridal suite, the beautiful ocean views really leant itself to available light photography, shooting on a high ISO which added to the high key nautical feel. We had access to all areas of the hotel and took advantage of this. The ceremony took place in The Events Space with the windows folded back so it felt like you were elevated above the beach with nothing but blue skies to look at and the walls decorated with bunting made by Charlotte's mum. The chairs in the aisle graced with a delicate pink rose all set the scene for this fairy tale wedding. For photographing groups on the balcony after the ceremony with the seascape as the background and backlit by strong sunlight (remember it was like being in the South of France), it was important to use flash at maximum output so they weren't in silhouette. As June 20th was the day before the longest day we took full advantage of the sunset and now was the time to get that silhouette with the sunset as the backdrop. For anyone wanting to recreate this you'll need to turn off the flash and expose for the background light. I always shoot in manual mode and don't rely on the cameras internal metering and use my judgement and experience to get what I'm looking for. You can try bracketing the exposure of this and choose which works best for you, experimenting is the ideal way to learn.

Watergatebay newquay wedding photography SMS Creative Photography

Silhouettes convey an emotion that the imagination can decide upon.

I am so glad I got to be a part of this truly magical day and toast Charlotte and Jon to a lifetime of magic moments.

Watergate Bay Hotel is the perfect location for a beach themed wedding.

Thanks for reading, my next newsletter will be in two weeks time.

Bye for now.


Wedding Photography Tips

This is how I do it!

First of all to be a great wedding photographer you have to have passion and buckets of it helps, a passion for the art of photography and a passion for communicating with people, this is a winning combination. I’ve been photographing weddings for over 35 years and started with a twin lens Rolleiflex using four rolls of film with only 12 exposures on each, so every shot counted and you had to get it right!! Let me tell you how you can do it with these wedding photography tips.


Passion isn’t something you can buy you need it to be able to get the results as this is probably one of the hardest genres of photography but probably one of the most rewarding, after all you have been entrusted with a very special day there really is no margin for error. Location Always make sure you have visited the location the wedding is taking place at so you are familiar with the best spots for group photographs, bride and groom shots and where the sun is positioned at the time of day you’ll be shooting. A plan B is a must in case rains prevents any outdoor photography, so check the inside of the venue too (especially if it's a church ceremony).

My Kit Keep it simple!

You have a lot to think about on the day - who’s who, what’s the weather doing, am I in the right place at the right time, the names of the people you are interacting with, is my exposure correct with the changing light. Knowing your kit inside out is crucial to be able to make split second decisions. I carry two D700 Nikon bodies with additional battery attachments that way I don’t have to worry my batteries are going to die, after approximately 1000 exposures the second battery automatically kicks in. One body is fitted with a 70mm-200mm lens and the other a 24mm-135mm lens. I use a Nikon speedlight attached to my shorter focal length lens body as a fill in light source and also as a main light when shooting inside. I carry a foldaway reflector too, you never know when you might need it, especially for natural window light shots. In reserve I carry two more bodies as backup and a wider focal 18mm lens should I need to introduce this lens for the back of the ceremony wide angle shot. I often shoot with a second photographer as it’s impossible to get all angles covered, especially during the ceremony when roaming photographers are a big no no. I carry a sturdy tripod to prevent camera shake if I need a slow shutter speed in the church, as any supplementary lighting is often forbidden and natural lighting is far more complimentary. Make sure your 32gb memory cards are formatted and ready to go. I carry a light metre with me so I can get an accurate reading, I check this with the histogram on my camera too. In my kit bag I carry two spare flash guns with charged batteries and lens cloth cleaners.

Camera Settings

I choose to set the shooting control on my camera to manual so I can have full control of any given lighting. I have my flash set to manual too and set to two stops under the exposure of the camera so it should deliver the correct dose of light to fill in the shadows of group photographs or, for when your subject is backlight, full flash is best. This is something that over the years becomes second nature as does the camera settings. I generally set my ISO to 400 but change to 1600 for internal shots in low lighting and often use a low dose of flash too, this all depends on what my experience is telling me. I always set my camera file size to JPEG normal and RAW so I have two files of each image. A typical combination when shooting on a bright day is shutter speed 250th and aperture f11. When using my camera fitted with the 70mm – 200mm lens I don’t use flash and sometimes set this on aperture priority of f4 or f5.6 so I can shoot on a fast shutter speed in bright lighting. The image below is an example of this, I have used the backlighting and flare to my advantage, as usual these shots are rarely planned and capture the moment. I have my white balance (WB) set to auto, this is fine tuned in post production. Another crucial thing that makes life easier when you are sorting all the images from two or three memory cards together in one folder, is to set your cameras all to the same time, otherwise you’ll be doing lots of sorting to get everything in chronological order. You don't want to put yourself in this position.

SMS Creative PhotographyWedding_Tips_2

Post production

Once I have downloaded the images usually between 1000 to 1500 images the editing takes place, this is a lengthy process and often takes place over two or three days. All images I take whether in the studio on location or weddings go through a fine tuning post production process prior to printing to ensure they are true in colour, this too is a lengthy but necessary process to ensure optimum quality. The RAW file (up to 10mb each) records maximum data, this helps if you are caught out and have over or under exposed your file, the RAW file will allow you to retrieve the data that a JPEG wouldn’t. Don't rely on this as it's always best to get the exposure right to start.

SMS Creative PhotographyWedding PhotographyTips_4

What Next If you would like your wedding photographed please call the studio to check we have your date available I am only taking 8 wedding commissions a year to ensure I can give them the time and attention they each deserve. To learn more about photography and understanding your camera, my masterclasses with give you the confidence to take better photographs.These can be small group classes or on a one to one basis. My classes will give you valuable wedding photography tips that you can use whatever you are photographing.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now.


Emily Jon's wedding Chartwell Westerham

Emily Jon's Wedding Chartwell Westerham

Back in March when it was icy cold I photographed Emily and Jon's wedding at St Andrew's Church Limpsfield Chart, the reception took place at Chartwell in Westerham.

I also had the pleasure of photographing Emily's sisters wedding at the same church 8 years previously, I remember the weather being a lot warmer but still just as beautiful.

This is a snapshot of their day, it was magical, a pleasure to photograph.

SMS Creative Photography Emily  Jon's wedding Chartwell Westerham



SMS Creative Wedding Photography

On Saturday 30th March 2013 I photographed Jon and Emily's wedding at St Andrews Church in Limpsfield Chart with the reception at Chartwell. It was a bright day to start with but sooo soo cold, it wasn't long until we had a few snow showers. This didn't dampen their day though and with over seventy guests to celebrate this occasion we were all in good spirits. I'll post some images up from the wedding once Jon and Emily have seen them on return from their honeymoon in the Maldives.

In the meantime the wedding I photographed on a very, very hot day back in July at Coltsford Mill wedding venue was featured in the Real Wedding section in the April/May issue of Your Surrey Wedding Magazine. We were all sweltering back then. I'm sure you'll agree the photographs reflect the wonderful day they had.

SMS Creative Wedding Photography

I'll be back soon with an update of the other things that are happening here in Oxted at

SMS Creative Wedding Photography during spring time.