St. Stephen's Hampstead Wedding Photography
recent work // north london
It's been a pleasure to capture adventurous couples who have used this fabulous space as their blank canvas. St Stephens on Rosslyn Road in Hampstead is available as a private hire venue. I was unable to attend Jason & Mark's marriage at St. Stephens Trust back in 2015. Missing friends getting married can be an occupational hazard but I'm proud to say that in 20 years, I've photographed every wedding I've been booked for! Civil weddings can sometimes forfeit the majesty of an ecclesiastical setting so a deconsecrated church offers a spectacular alternative. Whether you want to deck the aisle with flowers or trace the halls with neon signage, you have cart blanche. It might seem strange to see dancing and disco lights in a church but it's a great place to mix and match traditions. Suze & Karen wanted to celebrate their New Zealand heritage and we were treated to an incredible Māori performance on the altar stage. The shape of the church and side aisle naturally section the floor plan into areas that can be assigned for different uses. Equally the overflow spaces mean the nave can be repurposed for the ceremony congregation and later for dining tables. Outside, there's a lovely triangular courtyard fringe by wrought iron fencing and filled with dappled sunshine. It's a perfect area to enjoy champagne and freshly prepared canapés during cocktail hour in the warmer summer months. I live in my flat just on the other side of Hampstead Heath from St Stephens so there'll be no travel fees or any of that here!
I do hope you all enjoy looking through some of my latest photography... 'arry loves to go to 'ampstead, so please get in touch about your plans :)
St Stephen's Trust
St Stephen's is a remarkable Grade I listed building on the corner of Rosslyn Hill and Pond Street. A former church building holding up to 1200 worshipers, it nestles between the gorgeous North London suburbs of Hampstead and Belsize Park, NW3. Samuel Sander Teulon called his 1864 Neo Gothic design his 'mighty church', considering this ornate example his finest out of 114 churches. The exterior is adorned with sculptures by Thomas Earp and some mosaics by Salviati have survived within the chancel. It was originally completed in 1870. Used as a Parish Church until 1977, it suffered decades of neglect and occupied by squatters. Thankfully it was faithfully restored to its majestic glory over three phases in the early 21st century when it was leased to the St Stephen’s Restoration and Preservation Trust. With help from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, it was then returned to the public for community use. In 2012, St Stephens won an English Heritage Award for 'Finest Specimen of Brick Building in All The Land'! It certainly looks great with a vintage red London bus parked outside on Pond Lane. Available for civil wedding or reception hire as well as other special occasions, concerts and anniversaries. Why not perform your Best Man's speech like a megastar from the pulpit? With acoustics good enough for Ed Sheeran concert the sound reverberates around the cavernous arches with dramatic effect. Some guests use the church just for the ceremony while others make it their one stop shop for the day! There are many fantastic options regardless of what you choose. Their friendly team welcome enquiries via email firstname.lastname@example.org
London's Deconsecrated Churches
I studied History of Art at school and fell in love with Church architecture. While I'm not religious myself, I find them incredibly peaceful spaces to catch your breath and get lost in thought. There are plenty of stunning alternatives to marrying in a Church but somehow, there's no substitute for walking down a real aisle, flanked by a receiving line of your friends and loved ones. Depending on which council you talk to, some still have strict rules about lighting candles or playing certain music due to archaic rules on hybrid weddings. For a neutral venue that still offers that traditional wow factor, a Deconsecrated Church ticks a lot of boxes. Hampstead has St Stephen's Trust but there are options aplenty around London. Peckham has The Asylum Chapel which you can glimpse in my story about Mark & Jonathan's wedding at Brunswick House. St John's Smith Square is even more central just south from the Palace of Westminster. Alternatively you can search a little further afield with The Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington, The Round Chapel Auditorium in Clapton, and One Marylebone (previously Holy Trinity Church), designed by Sir John Soane.
Lighting Your Wedding Venue
As a committed Documentary Wedding Photographer, I love shooting weddings with 100 per cent natural light where feasible. By making the most of the ambience, you soak up the atmosphere in a way that's hard to improve with artificial lighting. Inside on gloomy days and especially after dark, photographers are tested. My cutting edge Sony Alpha cameras pick up every bit of light and focus at lightening speed using ultra fast prime lenses.
I often say that as a photographer in 2022, there's no reason to be afraid of the dark. It's not the light level that's the issue, it's the contrast between the lightest and darkest points that concerns a photographer. Uplighting walls can create an atmospheric sunset style glow around your guests but it looks less than ideal on camera because it puts your photographer in a creative corner. If your guests are not lit to match the intensity of the uplighting while they're seated for the wedding breakfast, your photographer may have to shoot without so much environmental context. Pictures from above or below avoid the blown out over-lit backgrounds but restrict angle options and depth. The alternative may be to expose for the background, plunging the foreground subjects into silhouettes - fun for a few artistic shots but should only be used sparingly. Hot shoe mounted flash flattens everything when 'bounced'. Direct flash usually makes everyone look like they're caught in headlights. If I need to add some discrete flash I will but I'll use my experience to find the best way to give you a beautiful variety of images. On the dance floor, firing off my side strobe lights with coloured gels can replicate the contrasty disco vibes and help trap the action without too much messy motion blur.
I'm a big fan of photographing weddings at St Stephen's in Hampstead because there's two tiers of large clear windows. The lower tier floods the wings with daylight while the upper tier balances the light beautifully in the central aisle. It's a useful example of how to light your wedding tables. By positioning lights from the middle as well as the sides, you create all important harmony. This doesn't need to be perfectly lit but a string of festoon lights over the tables add fun and festive key light to your setting. Even candles set in the middle of your tables give a moody glow. They'll never match the capabilities of electric lights so try dimming down any artificial side lighting to give your candles a chance to work their magic! Perhaps choose double wick candles like in the movies? Lady Grantham offers a lesson in Downton Abbey about the perfect candle height to face ratio so that the light falls at the most flattering angle. No doubt she should have been a photographer in another life!