Last wedding scout of the year at Plas Maenan, Conwy

Looking forward to filming Sarah and Craig’s wedding at Plas Maenan in the Conwy Valley this weekend!

It’s my last wedding of 2011 – then I’m moving house (from Bethesda to Rachub – not far), and then it’s Christmas 🙂

Plas Maenan has just been awarded the best accommodation in Wales and has the feel of a well kept country manor. This, coupled with it’s location overlooking the Conwy Valley, means it should be great for photos and film.

Incidentally, the photographer for the day will be Sacha Miller, who has an attractive documentary style.

Plas Maenan, Conwy Valley

The drive up is lined with tall trees, which will make for a good tracking shot of the car arriving.

The rooms inside are small compared to a church,  so I think I’ll make a lot of use of the wide angle lens on my dslr. I’ll do more handheld shots and use the tripod less.

We’ll have to arrive early to figure out the best position for the camera in the room where the service is to be held, as it is not clear how much room there will be at the front.

Staircase at Plas Maenan, Conwy Valley

I thought the stairs were particularly attractive and, when I visited, had appealing natural light on them.

The room in which the wedding breakfast will be held is reasonably large and light enough when the lights are on. If the lights are dimmed it may be necessary to use a video light.

Anna & Daniel’s Wedding, St Mary’s Church & Buckley Hotel, Beaumaris, Anglesey

Here are a selection of photos from Anna & Daniel’s wedding at St Mary’s Church and the Buckley Hotel in Beaumaris. It was a winter wedding, but the sun was shining and we got some great shots on a beautiful day.

Big thanks to the very talented Owain of Gweledigaeth video productions, who was my main camera man for the day.

Which photographs do we value the most?

I think the value of a photograph can only properly be measured after a significant passage of time.

A couple of weeks ago I had the emotionally difficult job of clearing my mum’s house out, following her death on October 3rd.

She did not have a lot of stuff compared with most people, but it was still helluva job sorting through it all, and in fact I’ve still got boxes of things lying around my house.

Mandy/mum died of cancer. She’d been diagnosed four years previously, but her health deteriorated quickly over the course of a couple of months, long enough to talk about life, the universe, and everything, and to say our goodbyes.

Predictably, this involved looking through a couple of the old family albums and reminiscing on times gone past.

It struck me that there were a handful of photos that really stood out, ones that brought back not only the memories of when the photo was taken, but also of all the stories that had been told and repeated over the years relating to the photo.

A lot of the photos that mean the most are actually of me, because these are the ones that mum treasured the most, and would most often talk about.

For example, this one was taken in a pub in London when I was four years old by a family friend, known as ‘Nina in London’.

I don’t remember the time at which it was taken, but it does bring back a lot of memories of mum talking about how much she loved it, and, I guess, by proxy, how much she loved me.

This was also taken by Nina, from her window as she watched mum arrive by bike, with me on the back, I think.

This is one that I stumbled upon, not sure where we’re off to, but perhaps visiting relatives on the other side of London. The baby is my brother Liam.

This was given to my mum as a birthday card for her 33rd birthday and is of me and Gethi, somewhere around Bangor I think, can’t quite figure it out. This was one of mum’s favourite photos.

And so was this one, of my brother and me in our Ysgol Llanllechid school photo, not long before they introduced school uniform.

This one was the first time I beat mum at tennis, at the courts in Caernarfon, which have since been turned into a skate park.

These photos have personal significance for me, and I think everyone probably has their own handful of photographs that stand out from the hundreds taken over the years.

I would like to think my experience of which photographs have lasting appeal to me is useful with regards how I approach photographing weddings.

Yes, there is a place for posed shots and group shots, but what I really want to capture is the emotion and experience of the day, and this usually requires a candid/documentary style.

Comments appreciated.

Pre wedding photo scouting at Catholic Church, Porthmadog, North Wales

Next week I’m photographing Frankie and Ollie’s wedding at Catholic Parish of the Most Holy Redeemer Church, Porthmadog, and Portmeirion.

North Wales wedding photographer church Porthmadog

North Wales wedding photographer church Porthmadog

North Wales wedding photographer church Porthmadog

There are large windows parallel to the aisle and a high ceiling.

This means the guests may be well lit, but Frakie and Ollie may be back lit. This means it will probably be a good idea to use a bit of flash, esp when she’s walking up the aisle.

There is plenty of room for me to stand back and keep out of the way.

Behind the altar there is a huge statue of Jesus set into a blue-tiled alcove.

I couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on when I was there, so not sure how it will be lit.

I really like the blue tiles as a background, but they’re tricky to light because of being reflective and curved. This will call for off camera flash at a very shallow angle to the wall, perhaps diffused with one of my tri-reflectors.

There are steps leading up to the entrance of the church, which might make a good place for a confetti shot, with guests lining each side, although there is hand rail that’s a bit in the way.

The wedding reception is being held at Portmeirion and you can see my pre-wedding scout here.

Carrie & Rich’s wedding at Portmeirion, North Wales wedding photography

Here are some pics from Rich and Carrie’s wedding at Portmeirion, North Wales, a couple of weeks ago.

They got married at St John’s Church in Bangor, then had the reception at Portmeirion.

Rich and Carrie looked great, and the location is stunning. We all had a great time, despite a bit of wind and rain when we first arrived.

In fact, the last three weddings I’ve done have been quite windy and rainy (all in May), so I’ve been becoming something of an expert 🙂


Busy bee wedding photographer and man who bleeds blue blood

Pretty full on the moment,,,, which is all good.

Congratulations to Emma and Trevor, whose wedding I filmed at Bron Eifion, near Porthmadog two weeks ago.I’ve just finished editing that.

They’re a lovely couple from large Welsh farming families, everyone had a great time as you can imagine.

Last week I photographed Carrie and Rich’s wedding at Portmeirion, which was quite stunning, and they both looked great. Haven’t quite finished editing the pics yet tho’, will post them up in a couple of days.

Also had some other work come in, including filming the gun dog show at the Anglesey show at Mona showground on August 8th, looking forward to that.

Tomorrow I’m photographing Laura and Andrew’s wedding at St Bridget’s Church, Dyserth and Deganwy Quay Hotel. V excited about that, not been to a wedding there before.

And tonight, in an hour or so in fact, I’m filming a man who bleeds blue blood at Oriel Mostyn.  –

Sounds random, but nice to mix it up 🙂

Pre-wedding photography at Glynllifon, near Caernarfon, North Wales

On Sunday I met up with Colin and Ceri at Glynllifon for a pre-wedding photo shoot.

I’d checked the weather mid-week and the forecast predicted storms, which could have been interesting.

However, we were lucky – the rain held off, and we even got a little bit of sunshine.

Glynllifon is a great place to take photos when it’s sunny because the trees diffuse the light and there are lots of flowers to add a splash of colour.

Looking forward to their wedding at Seiont Manor tomorrow!

Pre wedding photography @ Glynllifon, photographer Tom Simone

Pre wedding photography @ Glynllifon, photographer Tom Simone

Pre wedding photography @ Glynllifon, photographer Tom Simone

Pre-wedding photography at Portmeirion, North Wales

Last Friday evening I drove down to Portmeirion to meet up with Rich and Carrie to take some photos before their wedding in May.

Although from a photography point of view Portmeirion is one of the best venues in North Wales, the conditions were a bit challenging – it was raining and getting dark.

However, I always enjoy doing pre-wedding shoots, there’s less pressure and more time for me to play about with ideas and see what works with a couple.

At the top of the grass embankment in the centre of Portmeirion village there is a structure with a series a columns … you can see it in my photo scouting post from last year.

This caught my eye because of the way photos can be framed using the series of parallel lines.

In the photo below I got Carrie to stand with her back against one of the columns and turn her head until I got the desired lighting on her face (it’s called Rembrandt lighting – haha, makes it sound very artistic).

By luck rather than design, the light from behind her served to highlight her hair as well. Brilliant.

Pre wedding photo @ Portmeirion, photographer Tom Simone

This next photo was taken in the same location, but was converted to black and white by Caz (my wife).

I like this photo because I think the eye contact draws you into the image, and Carrie’s expression gives her an interesting, artistic look.

The lighting really lends itself to the black and white conversion.

Pre wedding photo @ Portmeirion, photographer Tom Simone

Rich and Carrie are actually friends of ours – Caz is going to be one of the bridesmaids.

Like most people, they’re not hugely comfortable in front of the camera, so doing a pre-wedding shoot is a great way to overcome this somewhat.

I find taking a series of photos before the wedding day also helps me enormously on the actual day – I can figure out what works best with couples and plan a strategy of how to get the best photographs.

I’ve filmed a wedding at Portmeirion before, but this will be the first I’ve photographed, so very much looking forward to it 🙂

…swinging back into wedding season

Met up with two really nice couples at the weekend, who had some great ideas for wedding photography and wedding film respectively.

And this weekend I’m meeting up with Andrew & Laura for a pre-wedding shoot at the Great Orme – can’t wait!

Sometimes people ask me if I do photography / video full time… I do, but not always weddings. In fact, today I’ve mostly been photographing Thomas Telford’s chair.

And lots of other furniture at the museum in Bangor.

It’s a very different skill to wedding photography, but I find doing different things helps contribute to me becoming better generally photographically. Shame I can’t write proper sentences anymore though.

Meifod, Caernarfon, & Llanengan Church pre-wedding photographer scout

I visited the church in Llanengan, down the Lleyn Peninsula, and the Meifod hotel near Caernarfon, in preparation for photographing and filming Ffion and Alun’s wedding in June.

I write up these notes so I have a clear idea what I’m doing on the wedding day, and so couples can see the thinking behind what I plan to do on their big day.

The church at Llanengan is located in one of the most beautiful areas of North Wales, a few miles past Abersoch down the Lleyn Peninsula. I got the key from the owners of the Sun Inn, a pub where I’ve often gone for food before, nice place.

There is a path leading up from the back of the church, which could work as a place to photograph Ffion and Alun with the church in the background.

There is window next to the door, so there should be good light for a photograph of the bride entering the church.

The church has a kind of double roof, with arches down the centre inside… this makes it a challenge to photograph/film all the seated guests, but could also make for some interesting compositions.

The natural light isn’t sufficient for photographing in most areas of the church, but there are overhead lights and the Reverend seemed relaxed about taking pics during the service.

There is an impressive stained glass window, under which I assume the couple will receive blessings. One issue here is there is a hanging light which somewhat spoils the shot from behind… could perhaps get round this by taking an extra picture of just the window and blend this with the photo of the couple.

Outside the church, my eye was drawn to the red telephone box. Not really sure why yet, cos I can’t quite picture a picture, but perhaps something will come to me…

Not far down from Llanengan is Hell’s Mouth, a spectacular beach, but perhaps a bit far from the road to get down to take photos on the day.

The Meifod, on the Bontnewydd side of Caernarfon, is prob a bit more than a half hour drive from Llanengan, maybe more considering there will be summer traffic to contend with.

The room where the wedding breakfast will take place is very large and well lit, so will get some nice photos here. Noticed two different backdrops for photos of individuals, the brickwork, which has some interesting lighting from the arched window, and cut logs.

There is an appending marquee where buffets are sometimes held, and as this is white it will make a good spot for candids of guests, with bounced flash.

There are some good locations for photographs of the couple outside, but I struggled a bit figuring out the best way to do a group shot of everyone.. think this will be a step ladder job, v cliche.

k, think that’s about it… looking fwd to the wedding.

Tom Simone – personal photography

This website is dedicated to the wedding photography and videography side of what I do, but I’ve recently spent a bit of time updating my personal website –

This year I’m attempting to do a 365 project, where I take and upload a photo every day. Yesterday it was my son Raffi who starred, think he and Jac will probably take top spot on quite a few days 🙂

Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge, wedding photographer look around

I visited the Vic Hotel in Menai Bridge yesterday, in preparation for Lesley and Nicola’s wedding in May.

These are my notes on taking photos there on the big day.

(I do this mostly for my own benefit as it helps me think through what I’m going to do.  I post these notes on my blog so you can see how I think/work….)

There are steps leading up to the front of the hotel, which are wide enough for a group shot of up to about 80 people. A step ladder will help me get some elevation and improve the shot.

There is a garden area in the back suitable for group photos of families, as well as bridal and groom’s party.

In the garden there is a faux waterfall (which wasn’t switched on when I visited), which will be lit by a ye olde style lamp. Think this will make a nice photo of the couple at dusk, with some ultra-soft fill light from a softbox from camera left… will practice this beforehand because it’ll be a little tricky to get balanced.

The service takes place in a long, narrow room, with the couple facing a window. Les and Nicola will have enough natural light on them, providing there aren’t storm clouds outside, and I”ll have to make sure they don’t stand too close to the window, otherwise I won’t be able to stand far enough away.

The reception room was quite dark when I visited, partly because it was a v rainy day. There are windows along one side, so the natural light could be a lot better on the wedding day.

The ceiling is white (so no colour cast), but it is divided by large beams which could interfere with bounced flash. Best solution will be to have a couple of flash guns on stands to light the room.

The  Victoria Hotel is close to the Menai Strait, and it will definitely be worth taking a walk down to the water front to get some photographs there, best with shallow depth of field I think.

There are views of the Menai Strait from the Vic, but there are fences and houses that would spoil the pic. Also noticed an archway which will look nice if it has flowered.Wedding photography at Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge

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