Pre-wedding photography scouting at Plas Mawr, Conwy and Sychnant Pass house

Plas Mawr, Conwy

I’d not actually visited Plas Mawr, the Elizabethan house in Conwy which dates back to the 1500’s, before checking it out from a wedding photographer’s point of view.

It’s a very cool place to get married, and definitely something a bit different.

The room where the ceremony will be held is able to fit up to 40 people, and this gives it a very intimate feel.

It is light, with large windows on two sides. A wide angle lens will be required for shots of the bride, groom, and guests during the ceremony. The 24-70 lens will be better for shots of just the bride and groom, so I will use two cameras so as to avoid changing between lenses.

Flash is allowed at Plas Mawr, but the natural light is so good I think it will be best to avoid using it as much as possible.

One point where flash might be needed is  when the bride and groom sign the register. The table is lit by three large windows, behind and to the left and right, which will create good hair highlights when complemented by a little fill flash.

I was then shown the other rooms in the house – it is mostly done out to look as it would have done when it was originally lived in, which makes it a really exciting place to take photos.

There are stairs to the tower (which Plas Mawr is best known for) and to an attic room.

The stairs themselves make an excellent point to take a photograph of the bride from above, with small windows creating areas of light and dark that will really bring the photograph to life.

The attic is Rachel’s, the lady who showed me round, favourite room, but she did point out that it might be difficult to climb the steps up there in a wedding dress.

There are big wooden beams which I think  could be used to create a great frame for a sequence of photos of the bride and groom.

I also liked the room with a four-poster bed and the kitchen, where there is very good light from the windows. There are so many good backdrops and ways to frame the photos that I’ll almost be spoilt for choice.

The courtyard and garden area outside is large enough for group shots. Plas Mawr and its tower make a good backdrop and the doorways make good frames.

Sychnant Pass House

Sychant Pass House is a two minute drive from the town of Conwy and tucked away in the woods on the way up to the Sychnant Pass.

The room where the bride will be getting married has a king size bed with ornate wood carvings. There is a skylight and numerous light sources that will make an atmospheric image.

I liked the chess set (I’m a bit of a chess boffin) and the fact the rooms are named after TS Eliot’s cats. It gives the place a kind of bookish feel that appeals to me.

There is a large lawn and a courtyard, either of which would be suitable for larger group shots.

The drawing room could be used for group shots if some of the furniture is moved around.

There are daisies and bluebells on the lawn, which could be used as for foreground elements in portrait shots of bridesmaids/children.

I’d noticed photos of the swimming pool at Sychnant Pass House on its website and thought the reflections might make for some good photographs, but have ruled it out because the humidity might kill my camera (it’s happened to me twice before) and wouldn’t be great for the bride’s hair.

Any suggestions for 9wk photography course?

I’ve been asked to teach a nine week photography course, with the subject matter entirely up to me.

I have loads of ideas of what I want to teach, but I thought it might be interesting to see if anyone out there has any suggestions for things they would really like to see on a course.

The course will be broad in scope, with the aim that beginners can grasp the fundamentals and the more advanced will be able to learn some nifty tricks and techniques.

It starts in September in a coastal area of Anglesey – I won’t say exactly where yet until all the details are finalised – and it will be one evening a week for 3hrs.

The course won’t result in a qualification, but is intended to pack as much information in as possible.

I don’t intend to include much about wedding photography, unless there’s a strong interest in it.

Some ideas I’ve already had are:

Photographs of the sea and water as an introduction to shutter speed.

Beach portraiture to examine how aperture affects depth of field and sharpness.

HDR how to using local churches as examples.

Beach portraiture using flashguns/off camera flash as an introduction to lighting.

Maybe some elements of video…

What do you think ? What elements of photography would you like to learn about?

Photovision photography trade show in Manchester


I went to the Photovision tradeshow in Manchester on Tuesday.

It was split into two areas at Old Trafford, one room where there were free seminars being given throughout the day and another area were a lot of the big businesses in photography were showing their wares.

My favourite seminar was the first one of the day, given by Guy Gowan, about using channels and actions in Photoshop to speed up photograph processing workflow. The speed he whitens people’s teeth is very impressive, I’ll definitely be trying to emulate some of his techniques.

The OnOne plugins for Photoshop were also very impressive, but had price tags to match.

There were a few different album companies on the trade floor, including one of the industry leaders Graphistudio.

A company called Innova had a fold up box that could be used to print wall photos on, a very cheap alternative to canvas or framing that looks much better than it sounds.

I wish I’d known of them when I had my last art exhibition.

I spoke to Animoto, the people that turn your photos into an all singing all dancing video. They look very cool, but I think they run the risk of becoming generic looking as more people use them.

And I spoke to a guy in swim trunks who was helping Aaduki promote their insurance for photographer and videographers.

All in all the show was pretty good, the free seminars were definitely the draw, but it was also a good way to meet other togs and traders.

North Wales Weddings – meeting couples

Me, Caz and Jac went to see my mum in Crete over Easter and our one week holiday turned into two because of the Icelandic Volcano.

It was great having an extra week in the sunshine, chilling on the beach, going for walks through olive groves, and looking at ants (…I like ants, little odd, I know).

However, I’m now having to work that bit harder to make up for the extra week I spent lazing round.

One of my favourite things about being a wedding photographer is meeting couples for the first time, and I’ve now met three couples in four days.

I met Alun and Ffion, the awesome couple who won my competition, on Thursday. I went round to their house and made a bit of a tit of myself trying to take a photo of all three of us using the timer on my camera – it totally didn’t work.

Nevermind, I got a nice photo of them together which hopefully will go in the paper next week and get me bit more bang for my ad bucks.

Yesterday, I went to Flint to meet Nicky and Chris and their dogs Teo and Jake (did I spell them right?). They’re an ace couple and have got some cool ideas for their wedding day, including getting married at Llechwedd Slate Caverns… I didn’t even know you could do that!

And today I met the lovely Vicky and Ross, who my friend Bev put me in touch with (thanks Bev!). They were the first couple who came to visit me, rather than the other way round, and I was listening to Bruce Springsteen (again!) which was a little embarrassing.

Anyway, it was nice to meet you all!

Since coming back from Crete I’ve also arranged to do some video tuition, run a photography course, started organising a mad-hatter tea party / photo shoot, filmed at Venue Cymru, etc etc

So apologies if you’re waiting for me to get in touch and I haven’t done so yet!

Tom Simone photography books and wedding albums

Here’s a book of my photography that I self-published using

This book is basically a mish mash of stuff I’ve done over the last few years which I ordered because I wanted to assess the quality of what Blurb offers.

I’ve now ordered a few different books through this company, including wedding albums.

Although it’s not cheap to order a hard-back book on premium quality paper from Blurb, it is still massively cheaper than ordering from companies specialising in wedding photography books.

They are also cheaper to produce than traditional albums, where you have to factor in the cost of ordering the prints.

I think the quality of them is actually very good, but they perhaps lack a little of the finesse of photobooks from somewhere like

You’re able to lay the Kiss books flat too, which means an image across two pages doens’t have a big fold in it, and this is a really nice feature.

However, there is a huge difference in cost, and I think wedding books from definitely fulfill a certain niche.

For example, if you’re popping round to your friend’s house you probably don’t want to carry a massive wedding album, but a photobook that fits in your handbag might be just the ticket.

I’ve not yet committed to one brand of wedding album or photobook and for the time being I’m very flexible with regards the type of album I offer.

Time will tell which kind of wedding albums prove the most popular, and in the meantime, if you have any thoughts of the type of albums you like, please feel free to comment.

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