We have something really cool for you today with this fantastic nautical themed wedding shoot at The Dockyard in Chatham, photographed by Caroline Nicholson Photography. We love the air of Hollywood sophistication that the team created, and with the yellow, navy and white colour combination this shoot is bright and fun with the nautical details running throughout…
“The brief for the shoot was easy given our location – we wanted a nautical themed wedding shoot with the sophistication of a Hollywood classic. I’d done a couple of shoots at The Dockyard in Chatham which were hugely popular, and wanted to do something to pay them back for allowing me to shoot there previously. The aim was to create a classic Kent wedding while showing off an incredible venue, as well as being styled to create timeless images with a fashion edge. I wanted to do a creative shoot, but go back to the whole reason I started shooting weddings – to capture the elegance and glamour of a couple in love. We had a real life couple, Clare and Karim, who had just married and loved it so much that they were dying to do it all over again.
“The venue is amazing and has been used for filming numerous Hollywood blockbusters. It’s currently being used for filming TV, with Mr Selfridge and Call The Midwife in residence. Our groom was styled by the team at an incredible men’s fashion label, Hawkins and Shepherd (formerly Pin Collar Shirts UK), who are currently dressing people like David Gandy in their handmade pin collar shirts and tailoring.
“Our stunning bride wore Ronald Joyce and Alfred Angelo, and Kirsty McCall was our utterly brilliant hair and make-up artist. I’ve worked with her several times on wedding days and she never ceases to amaze me with her speed and creativity. Once she was on board and Carl Thompson from Hawkins and Shepherd had worked out his themes for his outfits, the flowers and cakes etc, just fell into place. Essentially we just all had fun and created some images I’m truly proud of – it was a wonderful team effort, with the Dockyard giving us free reign over where we shot – it was a photographer’s dream!”
“Once the concept had been sorted and the suppliers were on board, all that remained was to get going. In the space of a few weeks we had everything finalised and decided we all wanted to do the shoot before Christmas. At this point we all started praying for good weather; even in the rain The Historic Dockyard has loads of places to shoot, but life would have been that much harder on a bad day. Thankfully we got a lovely sunny winter’s day and created some film inspired magic!
“We began in the morning at Commissioner’s House with our gorgeous brides, Dawn Ferguson, Hayley Griffiths, Samantha Stevens, and Sarah Rogers, and our wonderful make-up artists Elaine Barrow and Shamirah Sairally took over, expertly transforming the ladies into Drama Queens. Both girls worked so quickly, and came on board at the eleventh hour when another hair and make-up artist couldn’t take part – they saved the day, quite literally. Our Drama Queens took their pick of the gorgeous accessories from Claire Ogden Designs, and then worked their own little miracles doing each other’s hair for the shoot, and we all agreed they did amazingly. While all that was going on, Gwenda Wilkes from The Vintage Floral Design Company dropped off the stunning floral garlands that featured rather prominently all day; they were so beautiful, all made with preserved flowers.
“Next, Jinder Raja from The Finer Details and Elizabeth Solaru from the legendary Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium worked their creative magic on our styled areas in the Tarred Yarn Store and the 3 Slip – Big space. Jinder specialises in beautiful wedding invitations and accessories, and all of her beautiful brooch bouquets are designed and produced in her studio in Surrey with the utmost attention to detail, and it showed – they were truly unique. Elizabeth arrived with an absolute cavern of cakes and treats which everyone one of us was trying to resist. She is of the belief that a cake should delight both taste wise and visually, and these were nothing short of remarkable; the workmanship on her cakes was impeccable.
Les Misérables opens in cinemas tomorrow, and today we have something super-exciting to share with you – a stunning styled bridal shoot which took place at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, where much of the film was shot! This amazing shoot was dreamed up by Caroline Nicholson. After watching the official Les Misérables trailer Caroline thought about what a great place the set would be for a photo shoot – but surely she wouldn’t be allowed to shoot on the film set… would she?
“I have rather fanciful ideas on many days, but it’s not often I get to see them through to fruition. However, on a very cold day at the end of December one of my ideas became a reality and, boy oh boy, was it worth all the hard work.
“As November of 2012 drew to a close and I completed my last wedding of the year, I started to get that creative itch that I so often get. I adore the weddings I’m lucky enough to capture, but I always come away with more ideas, things I’d love to try, that one shot that we just didn’t have time for, that one image that allows me to push the boundaries of my own wedding photography a little further. So I decided I had to do something really creative, just for me, and just for the fun of it.
“The concept came from my work in the film industry, and my love of film in general. For a long time I’ve adored film stills almost as much as the films themselves, and films influence my work quite a lot. I love the atmosphere that stills capture, the unreality of what they show us, the behind the scenes magic they convey. I wanted to incorporate this into a shoot and I was looking for a really unusual venue for several brides who wanted to wear their dresses again, some of whom I’d photographed before on their wedding days. I wanted it to be something really contemporary, and I knew my lovely brides were up for having some fun – bringing out their inner ‘Diva’.
“Hold that Thought.
“I grew up in Rochester in Kent and still live nearby, and through my contacts I established that much of the new Les Misérables and the recent Sherlock Holmes films were shot on location in Chatham, at the Historic Dockyard. It’s an amazing venue and having shot weddings there before I knew it had huge potential for a dramatic shoot – I just didn’t realise quite how much. I’d been looking forward to Les Misérables for some time, and one afternoon after watching the official trailer for the film I started thinking…
“What if I could arrange to do my shoot on the set of the films?! Nah – never going to happen – there’s no way they are going to let you shoot on a film set; not a chance….
“Only they did let me shoot on the set! Waaaaahhhhhh!
Location / Coverage: Kent and the South East mainly – but often travel nationally and internationally.
How did CLN Photography get started and how long has the business been going?
I’m not going to give you some waffle about how I was a photographer since I was 5, because that’s just not true. I’ve been obsessed with photos for as long as I can remember though and couldn’t get enough of being behind my dad’s 35mm Leica when I was little, snapping away at unsuspecting family members and my pet rabbit. As I grew up, my love of photography never diminished, but I never saw it as a serious career and ended up in an office in London after I left university.
As technology moved on I kept up with it and continued as a hobbyist, but kept getting asked to shoot weddings, christenings and so on by friends and family. The circle widened and the more I did it, the more I got positive feedback. Eventually I had people I didn’t know telling me I should do this for a living.
Eventually, after being disappointed with the wedding photos from my own wedding, I decided that creatively I wanted to do more. I knew there was a gap in the market for people who wanted to be treated in a different way to what I had experienced, and I wanted to work my way. So, after some encouragement from my wonderful husband, about two years ago I got some training with some of the country’s top photographers that I admired greatly and I become CLN Photography.
Have you always wanted to be a wedding photographer? Can you remember how old you were when you took your first picture and what it was of?
Not always, no. I was convinced I was destined to be an international Ice skater, or a princess! Alas, that wasn’t to be, photography had always been something I indulged in, but it was simply something you did when you weren’t studying or doing ‘real’ work; thankfully that attitude has changed. Whilst I wasn’t always focused on weddings I’ve always loved sharing the joy of weddings, and now having organised my own can completely understand the stress and how I can help alleviate it. I still love the laughter, the emotion – everything about a wedding excites me. Mostly I just love capturing people, plain and simple. Capturing real emotion in a still image, whatever the emotion, has always brought me joy.
As for my first picture, I’ve got a very vague memory of me directing a battered Polaroid camera at our pet rabbit in the garden; we left that house when I was five so I guess I started young. Then of course there was my dad’s 35mm SLR and that magical click when you wound the film on and took the picture – it was so addictive and I wasted a lot of film!
Who works for CLN Photography?
Mainly just little ol’ me. I usually work alone when shooting, mainly because I find it works better that way. With one photographer, everyone knows where to look for guidance and for the shot. For larger projects, I have a team of people I can call upon who assist me with weddings or on shoots, and some fantastic colleagues that do second and sometimes third shooting with me if the couple want a bit more coverage. We all work independently, but when we work as a team on projects it’s so much fun. Creatively we have very similar styles and we try to match each other perfectly so that the images seamlessly match when working on a wedding for example.
Which areas of the UK do you cover? Do you go abroad?
Mainly Kent and the South-East as that’s where I’m from, so naturally most of my clients tend to be in that area. However I travel all over for work and I have family all over the place too, so there are lots of areas like Newcastle that I know well and love even more. I love seeing new places so just let me know where you are and I’ll be there.
What sets CLN Photography apart from other wedding photographers?
Firstly honesty. I’ll always say if something isn’t going to work, or if I think a different photographer would suit a client better. I only want to produce work the client will be 100% satisfied with and if that means sending the work elsewhere I will. Also, my total commitment to getting things right and making you feel completely comfortable in front of the camera. I truly care about what I do and I’m always striving to improve. I will never dictate how your photography should go; sure, I have a style and a way of working, but we’ll always work together and build up a relationship before I even go near a camera. I love what I do with a passion and I hope that helps enhance peoples experience with me. With weddings in particular, I’ve been the stressed out bride (the disasters with our wedding were legendary!) so I know the pressure involved and I know how important these memories are. I treat every shoot like it was my own wedding day and hope that reflects in my work.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I always hate this question as there are so many things I could say, but I think the variety. I’m always making new friends, learning new things from other phenomenal suppliers and photographers in the industry, being creative in a different way, seeing different people’s reactions to things. As they say ‘”Variety is the spice of life” and that definitely applies in this job.
I think it’s also the ability to create something that people treasure. When a mum gets her baby photos, or a couple get their wedding pictures and tell me how much they love them, there is nothing better than that feeling.
Does CLN Photography have a specialist style of photography?
My style is quite distinctive; I love high contrast, bright, bold images. I love mixing textures and clashing colours, and trying to think outside of the box where possible. I love putting people in situations that you wouldn’t normally see them in, like a bride on a building site, and I love finding the abstract in everyday situations; using places people love, but finding a new way to capture them.
Do you just do wedding photography?
No, weddings are fabulous but a lot of what I do is simply ‘people photography’. I found that over the years, capturing people and life is what I love the most and what I find the most creatively challenging. There is nothing better than someone telling me they hate having their photo taken or they aren’t very photogenic, because I guarantee by the time I’ve finished with them that opinion will have changed. It’s a great feeling.
Do you have a favourite picture you have taken (If you can choose!)?
I have loads and I always find it hard to choose as my favourite picture is usually one that I’ve taken recently, however this one really stood out last year and I had loads of comments on it – I think I even had a variation of it on this very website!
What’s your top tip for choosing a wedding photographer?
THE most important thing about choosing your photographer is getting to know them as a person first and a photographer second. I’m not saying you need to be heading down the pub and inviting them to family meals, but before any packages are sorted out or pricing is discussed, you need to know if they ‘fit’ with what you want from the day. Absolutely go on personal recommendation if you can – there’s nothing better than a friend who’s already experienced what a photographer has to offer.
Obviously you need to love the images they are producing, but on the actual day, the images they produce will pale into insignificance if all you can remember about the person who took them is how much they annoyed you and your guests. If you aren’t completely sure about the person then keep looking. There are so many massively talented photographers out there it won’t take long to find someone who will compliment your day (hopefully that person will be me!) and not tarnish it.
Where can I find out more about CLN Photography?
You’ll find out most about me by simply giving me a call, I’m always happy to have a chat and answer questions. If you’d like to have a look online though, I’m all over the place:
Have you thought about what you will do with your wedding dress after your wedding day? Have it dry-cleaned and store it away for the next 50 years, have it made into a christening gown for your first born, sell it? Forget all those ideas, put it on again and have a cherish the dress photo shoot!
This is exactly what I did with my wedding dress, 3 years after getting married. I had the absolute pleasure of being involved in a fabulous group cherish the dress photo shoot with the amazing Caroline from CLN Photography.
Last month I joined five other ladies (and one groom) at the magnificent Cobham Hall in Kent, a 16th Century mansion currently used as a school and a stunning wedding venue.
Caroline had arranged for a hair stylist to come and make us all look beautiful, Yarwood-White very kindly let us borrow some of their jewellery collection which really glammed-up the look, and Caroline bought us all pink and orange Gerberas to give the pictures a burst of colour.
Throughout the day Caroline had us posing in different ways, including a stunning ‘Vanity Fair’ shot which is one of our favourite pictures, jumping off things, spinning and running around. Both the building and grounds at Cobham Hall are stunning so we used many different parts of the garden and the building to create the most amazing cherish the dress pictures.
It was a surreal experience wearing my wedding dress again and what made it even more surreal was being surrounded by five other ladies, also wearing their wedding dresses! We had the most amazing day and had so much fun, we were all exhausted at the end of the shoot. The results were amazing, Caroline really has an eye for detail (and how to pose!) and we all now have a huge selection of pictures to keep forever.
Once you are married, why not put your wedding dress back on and not only feel like a princess again but have some amazing pictures taken by Caroline of CLN Photography to cherish (pardon the pun) forever. It’s not just for the ladies, men can join in too!
Here is a selection of our favourite pictures from the shoot…