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A Tale of Two in Textures

October 26, 2016

Jo & James' Southend Barns Summer Wedding

Jo and James' glowing August wedding was set in an idyllic barn location nestled in the lush West Sussex countryside. Here, it felt like the verdant green grass couldn't get much greener or the freshly harvested golden hay any more golden and I was excited to be photographing this day, feeling that even nature seemed expectant with anticipation in the air of a very happy day to come. 

What evolved throughout the day was this kind of photographic narrative; a story of a couple, revealed through the wide range of colours and textures found in details that I feel can often be overlooked in the hustle and excitement of the celebration itself. Capturing those details can offer an almost touchable impression of what is being seen, adding a kind of tactile aspect to the two dimensional, a sense which is easily bypassed when the focus of a photograph essentially is so visual. For this wedding however, I felt these textures and minutea opened up a world of information about Jo and James and the context of how they'd chosen to celebrate their commitment together.


When I met James and his Best Man at Chichester's Southend Barns (originally a Dairy Barn), the colour coordination was astonishing! The vintage convertible Bentley in midnight blue and grey sat in the forecourt and toned together with the guy's suits perfectly. Behind them crisp bluey grey shadows fell strikingly on the white triangular peaks of the Barn's entrance contrasting against soft wispy clouds in the pale powder blue skies above.


In the meantime Jo was in the bridal suite otherwise known as 'The Milking Parlour', getting into her beautiful white wedding gown which seemed to billow down like a waterfall of marshmallowy clouds. The texture of the fabric and design of the skirt whilst soft and romantic, also offered a sense of drama and presence - a perfect combination aimed for by most brides. The lighting and shadows upon the dress really helped to accentuate it's wonderful textures and tangibility, so much so that in this image of Jo's bridesmaids adjusting the dress, you can almost imagine the feel of it! The bridesmaids continued the theme of romance wearing long dusky pink dresses in a soft flowing fabric with silk ribbon detail.


Telling a tale around and beyond the couple themselves - making space to acknowledge the setting, venue and details photographically to me are pivotal in reflecting their taste and personal choices. When flicking through a wedding album, it's great when you notice a context to the couple's personalities and how the wedding day has expressed so beautifully through a few of these.

Revealing a little more about Jo's taste further to her luxurious gown, Jo's perfume of choice in a pretty bottle with her sparkling diamond ring both sat in contrast on an old weathered log. The contradiction of the polished shiny glass and platinum glistening diamond against the roughly cut wood with it's brown cracked bark made for a wonderful palette of texture and interest.


Always keen to add in subtle comedic elements every now and again, we captured a fun photograph of the bride, the bride's Mother and her bridesmaid cheekily peeping through the rusty iron gate. As the guys were also at the barn getting ready I think they were trying to gain a sneaky peek of them! The gate itself is a fabulous feature to the barns as punched out of the wrought iron is a bird in flight which appears on the venue's general branding and is often seen with light streaming through it. The surrounding brickwork and flint-stone walls revealed further textures, as did the piled up firewood as a backdrop to Jo and James' sweet flower girl.



The couple were married in the romantic Diary Barn with it's 'blank canvas' white walls and exposed rustic wooden beams above. Jo's bouquet and other flower arrangements were handmade from silk and so beautifully done almost impossible to notice they weren't real blooms. (Silk flowers are a fantastic idea if you want particular flowers out of season, or to ensure the flowers never wilt or discolour over the course of the day). As Jo's were a bespoke design I'm sure she will enjoy her bouquet as a fabulous keepsake which she can treasure for years to come! The pinks and whites tied in with the bridesmaids and selected decor throughout the venue. After the ceremony and formalities were sewn up, it was time for a bit of silliness on the lawns photographing the wedding party!


The boys piggyback raced whilst the girls struck a pose, and it was lovely to see friends and family enjoying these moments together.



After many more group photos were captured during some post-service drinks, guests settled down to a wonderful reception meal of a hog roast and enjoyed the humorous and touching speeches that followed. During the reception I spotted the wedding 'cake' which I absolutely loved - consisting of several tiers of mini meringues (impressively handmade by Jo), in pretty pastel colours and textures. Again in keeping with the wedding's romantic dusky pink theme, what struck me most was the shape of each meringue and how they perfectly imitated the barn's 'peaks' outside! I imagine this was unintentional, but what a lovely bit of visual continuity!


Before the evening guests arrived and dancing began I glanced out of the window and noticed the warm sun starting to set in the pastel sky. In the distance I spotted that the corn had been harvested in the back field so I took a quick stroll to check it out and whilst walking I 'stumbled' across what can only be described as this gigantic haystack! It was the perfect place for some pictures of the new Mr & Mrs Preen, so back we all went to capture the last of the warm light and, coincidentally, one of my favourite shots of the day. The layers of criss-crossing golden hay piled high against the melting sky, in contrast with the soft ruffles of Jo's bright white dress and sharp clean cut of James' dark blue suit; this image brought together textures at their best!


A classic english-country scene awaited Jo and James as we returned to the oak beam-laden, bunting adorned barn for some serious celebratory dancing! Seeing grandparents and newly-weds alike, embracing the joy and spinning each other around on the dance-floor was a delightful and heartwarming spectacle.



As the night drew in a cheeky glance through the gap in the barn doors revealed another 'peekaboo' moment with the couple embracing under the glowing festoon lights and with the bright moonlight shining above like a huge lightbulb in the now deep navy sky. 


Photos are moments caught and stopped in their tracks, long enough for us to investigate the details and find a new perspective or way of viewing the world. Jo and James' day was a bundle of opportunities to do this, photographically it offered so much texture, colour and shape which all enhanced the lovely fun and joy-filled personalities of a happy couple on their really fantastic wedding day. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Preen and thank you for allowing me to capture so many memories for you in all their beautiful detail. 

Love Kelly x

Kelly Hearn A.B.I.P.P - A.M.P.A