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Wedding Photographer: Busy in Bereavement

It has been a strange week for a wedding photographer. My father’s death on 1st September ushered in all kinds of extra work, as anyone will know who has been responsible for arranging things after the death of a relative. We had a struggle to find a funeral date that worked for all close relatives, and then a struggle because the undertakers decided they couldn’t do that one after all – so we ended up changing undertaker mid-stream!

But as you know, one of the surprising things after a bereavement is the discovery that life goes on. In my case that meant that there was work to do, and photographs to take.

Hard at work as wedding photographer at Martyn and Stephanie’s celebration in Doncaster

First stop was Doncaster for Martyn and Stephanie’s wedding. I had been booked long ago to photograph this wedding – and the couple were actually already all paid up! As my dad approached the end of his life on earth, I committed to the couple that I would be at their wedding and ready to photograph, whatever the situation. As things worked out – and I am really thankful to God for this – Dad died late on the Thursday evening before the Saturday of the celebration, so there was no really awkward clash. And we were able to drop in to see both my sisters and my mum on the way home.

Martyn and Stephanie’s wedding was at Lakeside Community Church in Doncaster, and we took photos of the couple beside the lake.

The Monday after the wedding saw me at the undertakers with my sister in the morning, and then working for the Salvation Army at William Booth College in the afternoon. Each year group of new officer cadets in the Sally Army is called a session; each session (in all such colleges across the world) has a “sessional name”, and this new intake are “The Defenders of Justice”. For those of us on the fringe of the Salvation Army, wry smiles sometimes accompany the announcement of session names that are a bit too “super-hero”!

I usually photograph each session on their arrival and again shortly before their commissioning, two years later. I also photograph some staff members each year – one of them included in the shots below. For the new arrivals there are formal and informal portraits, and I was given a fairly free hand to be creative with the informal shots this time. The session were lovely to work with, and I look forward to getting to know them better.

The Defenders of Justice Session with the Principals, William Booth College

Staff Training at Affordable Granite

Thursday, and it was via Leatherhead to register my father’s death and then to Affordable Granite in Charlwood where I used the D5 to record moments of the company’s first post-Covid Staff training day. As the country faces a recession, it is vital for small and medium sized businesses to be efficient and flexible for changing market conditions; the day was focussed on Productivity, with all staff being given a basic lesson in the econimics of the business and on Process, with a chance for everyone to share thoughts on how the firm could streamline day to day methodology. The session ended with a cool -presentation on cleaning of natural stone, from Rebecca of Athena Stonecare.

I have found work to be good therapy in a traumatic week. In between shoots and edits, my photographic work has also included creating the beginnings of  a slide show of my dad’s life, to be shown on loop after the funeral. My next wedding as photographer happens to be my niece’s, so grief will be shared with the bride and groom for that one.

Scanning, editing and collating slide shows to honour people’s memory can involve considerable work, but it can bring tremendous joy and comfort. If you need help with that kind of project, then please contact me and it would be a privilege to help.

One of my last portraits of my father June 2022

Dad with his mum, early 1936

Dad with his mum and siblings, 1950s

Dad with me, Cader Idris, early 1970s

Dad & mum with my daughter 1985

Oh – and finally – today’s cover photo. What happens if you drink a GnT with a big ice cube in it, but then just leave the cube to melt, put your wedding photographer’s hat on and go off to a Doncaster wedding for the weekend?

This is one of the things that can happen – blue mould floating on the remains of that ice cube. I had to grab my camera! (D700, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro.)

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