Is there anybody out there…..?

I have discovered a wonderful thing.  Its called Google Analytics.  For those of you who haven’t experienced its glories, it allows you to look at the activity on your website, find out which pages get the most traffic, how many times your site is visited and then left immediately (the bounce rate – and we’re all looking for a low bounce rate because it means that visitors are interested and stay a while).

Because I’m really, really nosy (aka interested) the most appealing aspect of Google Analytics is that I can tell where my visits are coming from.  I’ve had visitors to my site from Pakistan, Cambodia and Italy.   

The foreign visitors usually have a high bounce rate (though not always – I did a wedding recently where many of the relatives were from Pakistan hence the visitors from that part of the world).

So what I want to know is… who visited from Loughborough and spent ten minutes on my site?  Who keeps dropping in from Edinburgh?  I’ve sussed out the visitor from Walton-le-Dale – you do spend a lot of time on here!!  And I’ve got a clue who might be visiting from Sheffield, Sale, Macclesfield and Birmingham. 

But all those other visitors from London, Leeds and Luton, Norwich and Newry, and Fleetwood and Flint – who are you?!!!  I’ve only mentioned a very small selection of the hits I get but they come literally from all over the place.  And some of you spend ages and ages and ages looking at my site, visiting the different pages, checking out my prices.

Are you customers or other photographers? 

The suspence is killing me!  Go on!  Introduce yourselves!  Come over and see me sometime – face to face.  We’ll talk about your wedding, we’ll have a cup of tea (possibly an apero depending on the time of day!), we’ll chew the cud. 

If  you’re a photographer, I don’t mind.  Honest.  I’ve probably checked out your own site in the past.  Just say hello.  Let’s talk about wedding photography.

BUT PLEASE ….

Jo

P.S.  There. I told you I was nosy – wedding photography is an ideal job for a nosy person.

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OMG – It’s nearly February!

And I can’t believe how excited I am!

Why?  Well, because we’re almost at my very favourite month.  Valentine’s Day AND Pancake Tuesday all in the same 28 days (very occasionally you get an extra day in February, too, when us ladies get to do the proposing. Look out 2012 – its more than just Olympic year). 

So I say, what’s not to like?!

And just remember, all my lovely potential brides and grooms, we’ve still got a couple of spaces on our special Valentine’s Day promotion.  Just £25 to book an hour of fabulous photography time – and a warming cup of yummy hot chocolate thrown in!

Give us a call and don ‘t leave it too long – there are only a couple of places left.

See you soon.

Jo

Wedding Spending Priorities

Its about that time of year when we see loads of couples about their wedding bookings.  A very exciting time, not just for you, but for us too because there is nothing I like more than sitting down and chatting through the details of someone’s wedding.  Your wedding is very special to you – but for me its a new project, a new set of challenges and an opportunity to try new things often in a new location with new people!

I just like weddings!  Of course its a bit of a yawn for the male members of my household but well….they witter on themselves about sport and cameras and things so I think I’m entitled to obsess about  wedding shoes and dresses and paraphernalia!

As the years have gone by (you wouldn’t believe I’m only 26 would you?  Life has been hard!) one of the things that I have come to believe about weddings is that there are certain things into which you should pile your hard-earned cash.  And others that are froth and fancy and won’t make any difference to your day – and which, if you don’t have the cash to splash, it won’t make any difference to the general enjoyment of the day or your lives which follow.

Now you just know I’m going to tell you to spend money on your photography and I’m not going to apologise for that.  Your pictures will live with you for the duration of your married life.  So its worth spending the dosh to get it right.  Nuff said – I won’t go on.

But what else really matters?

Your rings.  Spend money on your rings!  Since the recession just consider how valuable gold has become – have you noticed all the adverts in the press and on the telly?  Your rings will hold their value if you buy wisely and buy the very best you can afford.  So don’t stint on this.

There are several jewellers I know and here are three of them.  Coles The Jewellers on Highfield Road in South Shore, Blackpool which is where I got my engagement ring.  Clayton’s The Jewellers on the corner of St. Albans Road and St. Davids Road South in St. Annes – they are jolly nice in there and they attend a lot of the wedding fayres -as do Coles.  And finally Peter Woodcock The Jewellers in Lytham whose window I occasionally linger outside with my nose pressed up against the glass and a wistful expression on my face!

So invest in your jewellery – its important and its wise!

The next thing I think is important is to select your wedding venue with the comfort of your guests in mind.  Its a party, after all, and its important to make sure that your guests have great food and good wine and are treated impeccably.  Service and hospitality can make or break your day.

So listen to the reviews of newly wed couples and make sure you sample the food first – and not the restaurant food but the real deal wedding breakfast.  I’ve never asked whether couples get to taste the food from a real wedding but I would have thought it was essential – how else do you know whether a venue can cater for a large party?

At Zoe and Justin’s wedding, above, they even sent the best man out for some goodies at the church to ensure that their guests didn’t go hungry – it always makes me giggle when I think back to those very special canapes! 

Its worth investing in a great suit for the groom.  Andy (above)  had one made for his wedding to Rachael last year. Its an item that can be used time and time again (and I think a groom in a lounge suit looks great – but that’s personal taste) and you will really feel that you have got your money’s worth. 

If you want something a little more dressy than a lounge suit next on the list would be a dinner suit as again, over the years, you’ll find it comes in handy at various functions.  They’re not hideously expensive if you shop around and if you consider that even if you might hire a tux for only one function a year, it will have paid for itself within two or three years.  

The reality of hiring formalwear is that you get to wear it once only.  If you have your heart set on top hat and tails, by all means, go for it.   But if you have a budget to consider (or you just want to spend your money wisely with the longterm in mind) it might help to think that you have other options. 

 And, of course, there are family cultures and traditions to consider too such as those at Shelly and Matt’s wedding last autumn.  There’s no doubt that they are fun to photograph and interesting visually.

Whilst I think that it is very important in these straightened times to be careful with your pennies, don’t forget that it is also your big day!  You can soon take the romance and fun out of what should be a wonderful special moment by wondering, as you’re just about to say ‘I do’,  whether you should have settled for the £49.99 two tier sponge cake rather than the £59.99 rich fruit!! 

You know me – I think that there is far too much wedding naffness that comes with a huge price tag.   Its not just about saving money – its about spending the money you do have with clarity and wisdom.

END OF SERMON!

Abi and Theo – 19th December 2009

Do you remember the weather just before Christmas?  On the Saturday of Abi and Theo’s wedding the ground was covered in a seasonal coating of frost – we had yet to experience the following week’s deluge of snow.   As Abi walked up the church path at Ansdell Baptist Church she looked absolutely beautiful against the wintery backdrop.

I really liked this picture above – the rush of getting to the church on time.  I just really like the atmosphere of it!

There were these two little chaps – I don’t know their names – but they were just full of mischief!  And all the way through the day they kept on eyeing me with huge suspicion!  It was really funny and it sort of became a bit of a game to try and capture some shots of them!

Abi’s dress was magical and she looked a very beautiful bride – her blonde colouring, the pearls and ribbons of her jewellery, the little jacket with her dress – well she looked like the perfect Ice Princess.  In the nicest possible way, of course!

This was a very special wedding with Abi and Theo’s faith taking centre stage.  So it was important to capture that element.

But by the time we were due to leave the church, rain had turned the frost to ice and made it treacherous for the guests to leave using the church door steps.  So we shot all the groups inside the church.

By the time we left the sun was trying to shine – so we headed to the promenade in Lytham near the shrimping boats.  I managed to get some really lovely shots of the pair of them together before the heavens opened and we had to abandon the idea. 

The rain combined with the cold and then brilliant golden sunshine meant that this was a tricky set of circumstances for Abi and Theo.  But Abi never stopped smiling and Theo was unfailingly polite – it seemed that they were there for all the right reasons.

The reception was at the Clifton Arms Hotel.  I didn’t get any information about the flowers, or the dress or hair and make-up.  So Abi – if you’re reading will you add some information on the end of this post please.  I know that my brides are going to want to know who designed your fabulous dress!

Caroline and John, 20th November 2009

We had so much stuff going on before Christmas and into the New Year that I have yet to post some of the weddings that we did at the end of 2009.

Caroline and John’s big day dawned bright and beautiful.  I had to drive through some fairly major puddles to get to the venue at Springfield House and all the fields around this lovely venue were awash.  Nevertheless the sun shone and, although a little parky at times, it was a really lovely day.

Caroline had this amazing pair of shoes – I can’t remember where they came from but they were really funky and had these sweet little cat creatures painted on the soles.

And one of her friends had this perky little fascinator  – she told me where she got it from but I’m sworn to secrecy!

The flowers came from Zime Design in Lytham.  They are listed on our favourites section on the website,  mainly because I think Catherine who runs it is a very pleasant lady.  But I think the deep purpley red of the lilies was fabulous and it was lovely to see a proper hand-tied bouquet.  (Its one of my pet hates to have plastic handpieces on a bouquet – they are never very effective and I ‘ve had situations where the flowers just drop out of them whilst the bride is holding them – so be warned).  Catherine and her team did a fabulous job.

Caroline was one of the easiest brides to work with – she never stopped smiling the whole time.   In fact, disconcertingly perhaps for John, she giggled the whole way through the ceremony –  but in the nicest possible way.  John said afterwards that he knew she would either laugh or cry – the emotion of the day sends people in different directions! 

Caroline and John had three of the nicest children and they were easy to photograph – no big tantrums and tiaras (though the hair pieces were very nice!).  They just got on with having a great time.  There were quite a few children there that day – a big family wedding – and they were all really well behaved.  Just nice kids to be around.

Sara is the lady who runs Springfield House.  She has had this fabulous venue for a few years now and has  made great improvements – lovely decor and fairly uncluttered despite being an older property.  The lounge with the open fire was really welcoming for the older members of the party and less noisy than the bar area.  Great for those who just wanted a little calm after all the madness and excitement of the day.

One of my favourite things about Springfield House  are the chandeliers which I think look lovely and sparkly, particularly for a winter wedding.   They are in the very welcoming entrance way, also with a grand staircase and under Sara’s eye it has been decorated very elegantly.  It makes for a very special and intimate wedding.

It would be really nice to be able to photograph groups on something other than the lawn – because during the winter the ladies heels are going to sink into the grass.  Which leads to the guests feeling a bit reluctant – so it would be good to be able to photograph from the room above the entrance way.  I did try to scramble through the 6″ gap but sadly even my weedy frame wouldn’t allow it.  So a ladder job it had to be (with my trusty assistant for the day, Marianne, holding it steady!).  But the resulting shot was good and I was pleased with it.

Caroline and John have been one of my favourite couples of the year.  They were really easy-going and seemed to embrace the day for all the right reasons. The light at the end of the day for photos was lovely – just golden and gave Caroline this lovely halo effect.  Her hair looked fab anyway.

Thanks for selecting Fotoamour to photograph your wedding and hope you have enjoyed your fabulous montage.  I’m looking forward to using some of the photos with that wonderful late afternoon sun in the gallery, when I get it updated later this spring.

14th February – you know what day it is!

Its Love Sunday!   An alternative name for Valentine’s Day.

Not Valentine's Day ... but Caroline and John at their wedding. More to come on this soon.

And we have a special treat for you here at Fotoamour.  We’re offering appointments (though some have already been booked) to our couples for a fabulous and lovely photoshoot. 

Mirandi and Stephen - our February wedding last year

You’ll get an hour of our time, some experience in front of the camera, fabulous pictures (and there’s no pressure to buy) and …. two scrummy hot chocolates at the lovely Lowther Pavillion Cafe.

Abi and Theo - more to come later this weekWhat could be better?

All you have to do is give me a call or email us at info@fotoamour.co.uk and book your appointment.  We’ve even got Dawn and Dusk appointments for those of you hardy (and mad enough to spend Valentine’s Day morning anywhere other than bed – well, that includes me then!) adventurous enough  to take advantage of the day’s best light.

Give me a call and we’ll book your appointment.

Accessorising an outfit – Duttons for Buttons

Just happened to chance upon a website that I haven’t seen before and that I think might be really useful for some of my brides.  Duttons for Buttons has shops in Harrogate, Ilkley and York and they sell …. yes, buttons!

However, they also sell lovely silk flowers for which you could add, for a pretty touch, to a bridesmaid’s dress in the same colour, or even a wedding dress.  They would also look great on a hairslide for a flamboyant hairpiece at a reasonable cost.

If you are very ‘crafty’ you could make your own hair pieces with buttons, beads, flowers and ribbon etc etc.  The list is endless – but this shop does have a great range of products and it would be worth checking out their mail order section if you are after something in particular.

www.duttonsforbuttons.co.uk