I admit I am slightly late this year with this one…

At the start of each new year, I post an end of year summary and what I am looking forward to in 2019.

I am a bit late this year (posting in mid March) because I have been a bit busy until now.

First of all, in the late Autumn of 2018 as my season of weddings in France came to it’s conclusion, I re-branded. I say re-branded, but actually went back to a tweaked version of a previous logo as I was not entirely happy with the new for 2018 logo. I’m pleased to say the Firehorse/heart logo is back!

Then it was the labour of love that is a new website. It’s one of those projects you look forward to finishing as the build can be frustratingly slow and tedious due to the combo of sheer work involved (around 6 solid weeks) and the techy bits! It’s definitely an art and one I would not wish to do any more than once every few years, but I am very happy with the end result, but glad that is now done!

So with the re-brand and new website checked off the ‘to do’ list, I was then able to turn my attention to the year ahead, but more about that later, – we need to do 2018 first…

I say it at the end of every year, “this year was the best to date”. After 18 years full-time photographing weddings and 12+ years filming them, I used to expect I’d reach a point when I would stop saying that, but unless as an ‘artist’ you just give up, you should never stop improving.

OK, it’s more a case of refinement after such a period of time ie, no revolutionary jumps, but steady evolutionary progress. New kit can help produce a technically better result as can software improvements in editing/processing images etc, but it’s mostly your continued learning and application to the task that keeps you moving continually forward.

So 2018 then, what stood out for me?

There wasn’t much in the way of new kit in 2018 so most of my ‘effort’ was directed in what I believe is the key to results, developing the relationship I have with my clients. OK, not every single one will engage as much as I might like or dare I say, they should, but the vast majority do and the results then speak for themselves.

I’m not going to cover every wedding I attended last year, but I have selected a few that stood out for me.

The first wedding that stood out to me was also the first of the year. Very short notice (less than 2 weeks) and slightly ahead of the main season for weddings in France (May-Sep) and it was the wedding of American groom Jarrod to Colombian bride Angie at a private residence in the countryside near Bordeaux. It was my shortest coverage of the year, only around 5 hours and probably the most simple wedding I attended. Very intimate and low-key, – a proper small family wedding.

Next up we have Kathryn & Will at the fabulous Chateau Soulac. This venue overlooking the River Dordogne is one of my personal favourites and on this day, there was another wedding taking place, a royal one! This wedding had all the usual wedding ‘stuff’ but at the same time was just a laid back affair that just flowed beautifully and K&W were just a great couple to work with.

Chloe & Ryan at Chateau de Lisse in the Lot et Garonne. Sometimes you just get a feeling that something is going to be just right. A keen follower of mine on Instagram, I expected Chloe’s wedding to Ryan to be perfect. And it was. The weather, the location, the people and Chloe especially made this wedding sing!

Special mention to American bride Trisha to Brit groom Paul at Chateau du Raysse on the Dordogne border. A new venue for me and I didn’t quite know what to expect with T&P’s topsy turvy (read the post!) wedding but it was perhaps the most original and relaxed wedding of the year. Completely perfect.

I think it’s fair to say American’s Kiki & Avram had the plushest wedding of the year I attended. From the prep to the ‘first look’ to the naked teepee meal & speeches, – the entire day was just a photographer/filmmakers dream.

The most emotional-intimate wedding of the year was that of Dutch couple Laura & Erik. Another fairly short notice wedding that came as something of a welcome surprise, the date was brought forward due to family illness. A very ‘DIY’ hands on wedding, it was without question Laura herself who made this wedding. Read about and see the results here.

Posy & Mike. Another really emotional one, especially for bride Posy whose mother due to illness could not attend. Some weddings in advance I get a feel for and just know they will be a bit special. Others, I can’t always ‘sense’ but this one blew me away. The planning and execution, the bride’s elegance and poise, the friendly atmosphere made this wedding for me and the results sing as a result.

I could go on and on and mention the merits in each and every wedding but will conclude with the other bookend, the close of the season. Again, a very short notice (just a few weeks) job and being mid October on the Atlantic coast, could have been a challenging one. But it was nigh on faultless and I’d have to say the most intimate for me as I lived with them and ate with them as a guest for the entire weekend. Insiders get the best results! Tanya & Tim.

And so to 2019 and the year ahead…

I don’t think I have ever been more excited about a year to come than this one. Why? Partly it’s because of the couples who have booked me for their weddings. Every year there is a closer connection from their first contact that continues and grows throughout the entire process. That tiny number who book me for their photography/filmmaking and then keep any form of contact to a bare minimum are just not going to get the same kind of result. All I can do is encourage… 

The second element I am most looking forward to is the filmmaking side in this next season. I’ve been filming weddings in one form or another for 12+ years but until now, have not made any revolutionary leap forward. Some time in 2018, I decided that once the Winter admin was done, my ‘Next Big Thing’ would be a huge push in this direction.

So for 2019, I have invested in new kit and training, but most importantly, have a clear and planned vision of how it will work and based on my previous experience, know it will be something a bit special. The evidence of that will begin to appear as the season progresses.

And that’s more or less it for this post. I have another 8 weeks approx to the first booked wedding of the season (though something last minute may come along yet). I am at something like 5 new venues this year, working with 2 planners I have not worked with before and looking forward to plus revisiting some old venue favourites and looking forward to catching up with some of my fellow wedding suppliers again. Most of all, I’m simply looking forward to your weddings, each and every one of which is unique.

À bientôt

Simon