Winner (& 3rd Place as well):
SWPP Beautiful Brides Competition

It’s always great to win things isn’t it – I know, I know, it’s the taking part that counts and all that. Well, of course, it is, but it’s always nice to win as well. So, how delighted was I when I got a call out of the blue recently from the SWPP to advise that I had won their recent “Beautiful Brides” competition from hundreds of entries from photographers worldwide. Now, before you start looking at my profile pic to see how much of a “beautiful bride” I am…it’s a photography competition. Not that I’m saying that the brides in these images aren’t beautiful, they all are, but the competition isn’t based on how beautiful the bride was, more so the impact, lighting, composition etc of the picture.

And then there was the bonus…upon checking the SWPP’s website to see my winning entry in all it’s glory, well,knock me down with a feather, if I only hadn’t come third in the competition as well. My prize, a full years free membership to SWPP and a few bragging rights :-)

So guys, here’s the images below with just a little of my thought process behind both. Both images have been finished in my “secret recipe” nearly black & white finish that I concocted in Photoshop recently – a bit like KFC (yum yum), it shall remain a closely guarded secret!

The winning image I took of Lesley in the bridal suite at Glenbervie House back in April on her marriage to Mark – you can see the full post here of their fab day. I’m a great lover of using natural window light to provide just enough light on the bride’s face. The effect this has is usually to make the rest of the room to the left side darken slightly, thus providing a more dramatic image. I just asked Lesley to look out the window as if something were going on (who knows, there might well have been). An arm on the window ledge completes the scene rather than simply standing in space.

mike_cook_brides_02a

My third placed image was one that I took of Lisa last year on her wedding to Neil, and was taken at her parents home during the bridal preparations. You can see that I’m a fan of this look as it’s similar in style to my other image, albeit slight more serious in look and feel. Again, just a turn to the window to the right and, this time, just asked Lisa to lower her head and look to the ground (I very rarely ask brides to close their eyes as this usually leads to squinting).

mike_cook_brides_03a

win a portrait shoot

I do hope you like these images and, if so, please do leave a comment or two at the bottom of the post as it’s always very much appreciated. Plus, what would be really fantastic, is a “Like” on my Facebook page as it’s always great to get new people on board. And, for all those that “Like” my page, you’ll be entered into a monthly draw to win a free portrait session plus a 12″ x 8″ framed print (worth £145), so good luck.

Mike

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 …and please do leave a comment below as I love to know what you think – it’s very much appreciated!

SWPP Gold Award Winner:
The Story Behind the Shot

Today, I’m especially delighted to announce that one of my recent images has been given a Gold award by the SWPP. Gold awards are only to given to images that are deemed to be of the highest possible standard and are judged by some of the best photographers in the land, which makes this all the more pleasing :-).

So, a little background behind the image you see below. This was taken on a recent “Rock the Frock” session with Karen & Jaimie and, if I’m being honest, we didn’t really have much of a plan as to what we were going to do that day, other than we wanted to kick off in Aberfoyle and just drive around until we found some cool locations. Karen had seen a previous “Rock the Frock” image of mine where I managed to get the couple to wade into the River Forth, so decided that she would like something similar. Driving around, we stumbled upon this location at the edge of the Loch (please don’t ask me which one as I wouldn’t have the foggiest). The water was shallow enough to wade in far enough for there not to be any shoreline in the shot. To make the shot more dramatic, I underexposed for the sky and hills in the background in order to bring out the detail, and then just lit Karen & Jaimie with an off-camera flash on full power.

Of course, images like this aren’t created without a willing couple, so a big shout out to Karen & Jaimie for taking the plunge.

This image will now go forward to the annual awards which leaves me in with a chance of being Photographer of the Year which, of course, would be very nice!

Mike

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As Featured On… :
Shareaholic Channels

Exciting news today folks. Just received an email from those good people at Shareaholic who have just launched three new channels – wedding, green living and photography. So, imagine my delight to find out that my blog, yes, this very thing that you’re reading right now, has been chosen as one of the featured sites for the launch – hop on over right now and you’ll see quite a few of my posts scattered around the new channel.

It’s always great to get news like this, as I do often wonder sometimes if all the hours put in blogging are worth it – well, of course they are, although recognition by others is not the main aim of my blog. Primarily, I just want to keep you informed of everything I’m doing and put some kind of human voice to the many many images that are on this site…and I hope I do that, but please tell me if that’s not the case as I’m always open to feedback as to how I can make the blog more engaging for you. By the way, if you like my stuff, why not follow me and receive an email each time I put up a new post – just glance to the right and you’ll see the “Follow Me Guys” link to do just that :-).

“Share the Love”

So, in case you’re wondering who Shareaholic are…well, you see those little icons at the bottom of this post, just there where it says “share the love”, well, that’s what they do, among many other bloggy type things. So, if that’s your thing, be sure to head on over to their site and take a look. And, for good measure, as I’m one of the featured bloggers on the launch, they’ve given me a little badge – just cast your eyes right and down and you’ll see it.

Thanks again guys, much appreciated.

Mike

If you enjoyed this post, then why not add a comment or two below – it’s very much appreciated. Even better, why not push the boat out and give me a “Like” on my Facebook page in order to keep advised of all my new weddings & pre-wedding shoots and random other stuff. And don’t forget, if you want to share this post, you’ll find a whole host of social media buttons below just for this purpose.

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I’m in the Top 100 (and No.1 in Scotland)

Great news everyone – really pleased to announce that my blog has finally made it into the Top 100 UK Wedding Blogs. Been trying to get onto this list for ages and now that I’ve got there, got to keep it there. Your contribution really helps here by adding comments to the blog posts, as this naturally increases the blog’s popularity. So, a big thank you to everyone who’s made comments up to now – this is very much appreciated.

The Top 100 list features all types of wedding suppliers and has me at No.73 on the list overall. However, a quick count of the photographers alone put me at 14th on the list but, wait for it, I’m No.1 amongst Scottish wedding photographers! And, I get to display this badge as well on my site.

If you’re in the wedding planning stages, it’s well worth a look at the list to see the blogs listed, as these can provide a great source of inspiration for your own big day.

Anyway, must get back to blogging!

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Edinburgh Wedding Photography:
600,000 Views for One Wedding Image

Last week, I had the pleasure of photographing Emily and Ryan’s wedding at Edinburgh Zoo. As well as the usual more formal images, the guys wanted to capture some images that encapsulated the feel of the day and, having got married at the zoo, it seemed only right to try to get a few images with some of the animals. A recce beforehand had shown me that this was going to be a bit more tricky than at first envisaged, as the layout of the various cages and pens didn’t lend themselves to include a photograph of the bride & groom. But needs must…

I felt the best opportunity to capture such an image was to look for an enclosure where I could locate myself at one side of the enclosure and place Emily & Ryan on the other side with the animals in the middle, and the meerkat enclosure seemed to fit the bill more than most. Of course, there’s a huge element of luck involved here, as a meerkat stood up at exactly the time and place that I wished for. Having set up the shot already, I quickly refocused and grabbed the shot you see below. I shared this image on my Facebook page last week and Ryan then reposted it to one of the more popular content sharing sites where the image has received over 600,000 views to date (617,000 to be precise). Whilst most of the comments are very favourable, there were a few suggesting that the image was “faked” and that the couple were “out of focus”, so I thought this would be a good place to set the record straight. First of all, yes, Emily & Ryan are out of focus in the shot, but that is the intention. The thought process behind the image was to have the focus on the animal, with the couple in the background, but with it still being quite obvious that they are on their wedding day which I believe I’ve achieved. Secondly, the image is in no way “faked”. Of course you could create this image using composite images in Photoshop but there would be no point as it wouldn’t reflect what actually happened on the day. Sure, there is a huge slice of luck involved but, as they say…he who dares!

Anyway, hope you like it.

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