This week is a busy one on the blog, and we're already back with a second couple shoot! Ben and Ellie join me under the breathtaking Wysteria at Hampstead Pergola & Hill Gardens, for their pre-wedding couple shoot. You'll be looking up this location for your own Sunday strolls, the second you see these photos, I promise you.
For every shoot, I try to source a different location. I want each couple to have their own backdrop, and more selfishly,
I want fresh visual inspiration to work with every time.
There were a few things to consider here; we were meeting in London, and it would be morning on a super sunny day. The harsh light conditions led me to look for natural space with cover, architectural structures we could use if light was too harsh. I looked into secret garden spaces too, to try and achieve that intimate feel. And on my internet investigations, I stumbled on this beauty of a place.
To all those who know it, Hampstead Pergola & Hill Gardens is a hidden gem. Tucked away on the edge of Hampstead Heath, is a very unassuming pathway past some quaint houses. Turning a left and looking up to a gate,
I was presented by a huge grecian like structure,
looming up out of the trees and grass of the park. I couldn't believe it..
I ran around under the arches, like an over-excited kid. Under and past each set of columns was the sort of dreamy light you cannot fake. But better than that, the place felt like it went on forever. It seemed to snake its way through the park, with its long reaching corridors of dappled natural light and climbing ivy.
Faded grandeur is so romantic to me, it's intoxicating to enter a space which feels like it has housed a different time.
I won't lie, I pictured the Edwardian garden parties which would have taken place here, the fashion, the culture. Yes, yes, I live with my head in the clouds, I know.
But the light here was just perfect. The sun was in and out from clouds, but harsh, and hiding inside this light stone structure created the perfect shelter. Once Ben and Ellie joined me, and we started shooting, the whole place came to life. Each of their embraces were framed by stunning corridors of faded grandeur;
shafts of light setting into the background at intervals, with flowers and greenery dotted throughout.
The romance of the ivy climbing up and around each column was like something off a film set, and as I watched Ben and Ellie relax into the shoot and become more affectionate, I couldn't stop smiling.
These guys are so sweet together, the pictures prove that. But they are also funny. On that quiet Sunday morning, on what felt like my very own private film set, I could hear the gorgeous sound of quietly spoken words and laughter.
When a couple like this, finally begin to settle into the whole process, it's absolute magic.
And in my humble opinion, you cannot get to this comfortable place without practice. You can read blog posts about posing, and tips for what to wear, but really- you just have to give yourself the time to feel it out.
The most honest, romantic photos capture a feeling not a photo.
And these two totally embraced that.
Quick Nearly-Wed Q & A:
Do you remember the first time you saw each other?
E: I think so. It was within the first few weeks of college, quite a few years ago and we were both meeting so many new people every day, it's hard to pinpoint the exact first time!
How did they propose? And how did you react?
B: We were spending the weekend in a town on the south coast (UK), I found a spot on the cliff overlooking the sea, free from other people as I know Ellie would hate it if there were any onlookers.
E:We couldn't stop grinning! We celebrated the traditional way: with a pint of ale and a game of air hockey in the arcade!
What do you think makes you work so well as a couple?
E: It sounds simple, but just actively trying to make the other one happy. Plus, curry.
I'm super excited to shoot the wedding in September, and to see what extra loveliness we can muster up on the day. Never underestimate the value of photos like these. In years to come, you'll look back and remember how you felt in the lead up to your wedding. And that's magic.