Jan 24 2010

Martin Place in the City of Sydney is “the place for wedding photographs”

The mark of a good wedding photographer is one who is prepared for any situation.  So if the weather happens to turn bad and you need a location for the bridal party photographs in the City of Sydney it’s hard to pass up Martin Place and the façade of the old Sydney GPO at No.1 Martin Place.

Built in the 19th Century and given a complete makeover in 1996 when it was sold and refurbished, it’s now home to some very fancy retail outlets including Armani Collezioni, XILE and Anthea Crawford as well as the Westin Sydney Hotel.

The sandstone columns and large archways allow for soft directional light and the undercover walkway provides plenty of shelter from the rain.  Position the bride & groom below a sign or simply walking hand-in-hand and they can laugh in the face of inclement weather!

Admittedly the steps of the GPO are exposed to the elements but they do provide an opportunity for the bridal party to spread out on different levels, a nice change from shots where everyone is at the same level.

The Cenotaph in Martin Place commemorates ANZAC forces serving in World War I together with later conflicts and can often draw a crowd of tourists as it’s quite a public place but it shouldn’t impact greatly on your wedding photographs.  However, nearer to Christmas when the huge tree goes up at this end of the mall the sightseers will increase exponentially.

But there are other great spots in Martin Place that can be utilised such as the water fountain near Pitt St and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) building near Phillip St and Macquarie St, especially if the weather is fine.

Even a bus shelter advertising sign in the evening can be used to good effect and the time around twilight when the city lights start to twinkle will add a magic to your photographs that make this location something special.

Kim*

Martin Place, Sydney

Martin Place, Sydney


Jan 20 2010

How to choose a professional Sydney wedding photography studio

Trying to find the ideal professional wedding photographer in Sydney can be quite a daunting task.  There are so many to choose from and chances are you’re new to this kind of thing when you’re shopping around.  We’ve listed below 7 hints & tips to help you in your decision making process:

Photography | always check the photographer’s portfolio, the actual person who is supposed to be photographing your wedding.  It’s especially important to see a complete wedding or two that they have captured personally and not just their best images as this will give you a good feel for how they may photograph your wedding as a whole.  A good photograph involves a superior handling of light and composition as well as capturing the moment in a truly candid and natural style.  This is what really differentiates experienced professional wedding photographers and why an amateur is unlikely to achieve the results you deserve.

Personality | again, make sure you meet with the actual person who is photographing your wedding.  You will be spending most of your wedding day with your photographer and it is crucial you know a thing or two about them and how you will work together.  The last thing you need is someone who adds to the stress of the day, always in your face or under your feet.  Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to book a studio and then later discover you’ve been allocated a photographer you’ve never met.  By getting to know a bride & groom personally, the photographer ensures they’re on the same wavelength.  After all, we do a lot more than just take photographs on the day.

Professionalism | ideally, a professional photographer will be a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP) as it displays the photographer’s commitment to a code of ethics and a willingness to learn from their peers.  They should dress appropriately for the occasion and conduct themselves in a manner that is a credit to their studio and even has the parents singing their praises.  Find out too if they have won any awards for their photography as this is often a good sign that they aspire to be the very best in their field.

Place | it can certainly be convenient to choose a studio that is close to home e.g. North Shore, Northern Beaches, Inner City.  But we suggest you don’t restrict your search to only those in your local suburb as any good photographer should be more than willing to travel, at least within the Sydney metropolitan area if not all over the state.  Some may add an additional charge for travel expenses but this is unlikely unless it is outside of Sydney and even then they may be happy to travel for a couple of hours free-of-charge.

Products | a professional wedding photography studio will offer a range of products including custom-designed wedding photo albums and books.  A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most of us so expect only the highest quality products that are guaranteed to last a lifetime or more.

Praise | find out from the studio’s previous wedding clients if they were happy with their photographer.  A written testimonial is one way to gauge customer satisfaction but don’t be afraid to ask for a few names & phone numbers so you can talk to them yourself.

Price | as with any business transaction, your budget and the packages a studio has on offer must align.  A professional studio needs to be flexible with their packages, willing to add or subtract elements to tailor one suitable to your particular requirements.  The number of hours of coverage should also be completely flexible as there is no point paying for an 8 hour package when all you need is 6 1/2 hours.  Keep in mind though that you often get what you pay for so skimping on your wedding photography in Sydney means the results may not match your expectations.

Good luck in your search and please feel free to contact us should you wish to discuss in more detail your wedding photography needs.

Kim*  

bride & groom

bride & groom


Jan 17 2010

Jonah’s Restaurant at Whale Beach is “high on a hilltop”

There is a place that will take you high above the clouds.  Well, not quite.  But the views are so spectacular that you will be blown away.  Jonah’s Restaurant at Whale Beach is the spot and you just have to check this classy joint out if you’re getting married on the Northern Beaches.

The historic home is perched on the escarpment overlooking Whale Beach and as you’re watching the surf roll in crashing on the shore below, all the cares of the world will just fall away.  This is the idyllic outlook you command should you choose to have your wedding ceremony on the grassed area below the restaurant or pre-dinner drinks on the stylish balcony.

Rose petals litter the aisle as the bride makes her appearance on the arm of her father atop the steps.  And it’s from here a great group shot incorporating all your guests can be achieved after the ceremony and the flurry of discreet, candid shots of the guests as they mingle, champagne glasses in hand and canapés at the ready.

The bridal party can then head down to Whale Beach or Palm Beach or even Palm Beach Wharf for wedding location photographs.  All are terrific locations that will provide the perfect backdrop to your shots.  Or you could simply take advantage of the space at Jonah’s.

For your wedding reception there is the choice of the larger restaurant for up to 100 guests or the more intimate terrace for half that number.  Either way you will be treated to the most fantastic food & wine.  They really know how to cook and their SMH Good Food Guide chef’s hat proves the point.

Add to that the world-class luxury accommodation and what more could you want?

We should warn you though that it’s not cheap but then again they do offer million-dollar views so it really is worth it!

Kim*

Jonah's Restaurant

Jonah's Restaurant, Whale Beach


Jan 13 2010

The Quarantine Station in Abbotsford is “fully sick, awesome”

We were recently asked by our bride & groom to find a suitable location for the bridal party photographs close to the wedding reception, Dedes Restaurant at the Sydney Rowing Club in AbbotsfordThe venue is right on the water and the couple were keen to maintain the waterside theme yet happy to leave it up to us to decide where best to take the photos.

So a brief look around the neighbourhood and we stumbled upon the perfect spot.  Only minutes from the restaurant is the original Animal Quarantine Station dating back to 1917 when it was first opened.  The park is appropriately named Quarantine Reserve and is now open to the public.

It’s one of those places that I’m sure the locals know all about but like to keep secret from the rest of us.  After all it’s right on the water and would make a really nice place for a family picnic.  There’s plenty of parking too.

But the plan wasn’t to throw a rug down and nibble on cucumber sandwiches.  It was, to enjoy the scenery, the company of best friends & family, and sip on a glass or two of champagne!

The first spot you’ll notice are the old stables.  The timber boards make a terrific, rustic backdrop for photographs of both the bridal party and just the bride & groom together.  There’s some really soft available light that’s ideal for shots of the couple, and in the afternoon the space between the two buildings is in the shade.  And being a large open undercover space means it can also be used during wet weather.  Fortunately, the place hasn’t been used to accommodate animals since 1980 so there’s no problem with the smell.

Take a stroll down to the waters edge and you’ll pass through open grassed areas that could also be used for photographs.  But we were keen to make the most of our time by the water and so candid shots through the small forest of pine trees was our preferred option.

The scene then opens to views across the water to Cabarita and taking a deep breath fills the lungs with the invigorating smell of the salt air.  You’ll notice the sandstone wall on the southern end of the park provides another background.

There’s some very cute, albeit small beaches with large, determined mangrove trees protruding through the sand.  Yet there’s plenty of room for the bride & groom, at the very least, to take a stroll and enjoy the sand between their toes.  In fact, why not let the whole bridal party kick off their shoes and get their feet wet!

For what it’s worth, it’s the sort of wedding location we would prefer to keep a secret…

Kim*

Quarantine Station, Abbotsford

Quarantine Station, Abbotsford


Dec 27 2009

The Restaurant Pendolino produces “eager anticipation”

In a quiet, out-of-the-way spot on the top level of The Strand Arcade is a restaurant that will knock your socks off!

The Restaurant Pendolino has only been open since 2008 but already it has made a name for itself.  Receiving rave reviews from the critics, it’s not hard to see why it has had such an impact.

The loving creation of ex-Otto chef, Nino Zoccali, Pendolino’s regionally-inspired Italian cuisine is made using only the finest ingredients, including organic flour and eggs and extra-virgin olive oils.

Canapés can be enjoyed from the top floor of The Strand Arcade overlooking the prestige boutiques where oodles of natural light pours in from the vaulted ceiling.  This building also doubles as the perfect venue for some bridal party location photographs,  or if they have happened elsewhere, perhaps a few shots of the bride & groom while they take a moment to share some time together.

When you enter the restaurant the feeling is wonderfully intimate with dramatically black painted walls and wrought-iron fittings.  Unusual though it is, it really works well, especially during the middle of the day when the sun might be blazing as the blinds will be drawn.

As a wedding reception venue, there’s plenty of room for over 100 guests with a dance floor to kick your heels up.  And we love how you can see the kitchen staff busy at work through the opening in the wall.  In fact, all of the staff at Pendolino’s will take care of you like you’re one of the family.

As a bonus, in a small room off to the left are shelves upon shelves of the most amazing extra-virgin olive oils for sale.  There’s quite an array and it would be hard to leave without something for the larder at home or a small gift for a dear friend.

Interestingly, although the pendulum in their logo is clearly the Italian meaning of the word “Pendolino”, the close association with the word “pending” conjures up for us images of “eager anticipation”, hence the title of this post.

After all, we can’t wait to visit again!

Kim*

The Restaurant Pendolino

The Restaurant Pendolino


Dec 23 2009

Margan Family Winegrowers & Restaurant is “the place to eat, drink and be merry”

On a hot & dry Saturday morning, with the mercury nudging 40 degrees, I found myself driving through the lush countryside of the Hunter Valley passing vineyards left, right and centre on my way to Margan Family Winegrowers & Restaurant.  You’ll find it out along the Broke Rd, past all the big name wineries in Pokolbin, which leads to the quieter, more tranquil area of Broke Fordwich.  A pleasant 1 1/2 hour drive from Sydney’s north up the F3, I believe it’s worth every minute of the trip!

Whenever I’m visiting the Hunter Valley I prefer to avoid the larger wineries choosing instead to drop in to the smaller, family-owned cellar doors of Marsh EstateMargan, Petersons and Scarborough.  They are incredibly passionate about their wines and the whole wine-making process, seeing it as more of an art form and less of a commercial enterprise, despite their well-deserved success.

Not surprisingly, the Hunter Valley is a very popular destination for weddings with couples choosing to get away from the big smoke, opting instead for a relaxed country wedding.  There are countless wineries that cater for wedding ceremonies & receptions and Margan Family Winegrowers & Restaurant is one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of photographing.

Secreted away at the foot of the Brokenback Range, Margan is a stylish venue that will impress the minute you crunch up the gravel driveway.  The open area out the back provides a large venue for your wedding ceremony, with a view across the burgeoning grape vines to the Brokenback Range.

Once the ceremony is over and the candid shots of the guests and pre-requisite family group photographs have been captured, the bridal party can then stroll through the vineyard for their wedding location photographs.  The late afternoon sun warms the landscape casting shadows on the painted wall of the large chook-house with it’s rustic, iron filigree windows conjuring romantic images of Tuscany.

However, a lone eucalypt, typical of this countryside, brings you back home.  Mind you, it does provide another feature to the scenic expanses, ideally juxtaposed with a bridal party enjoying light conversation and genteel laughter between celebratory sips of the local Margan wine.

Of course, no visit to a vineyard is complete without a stroll through the furrows between the vines and if they are covered in fruit and vibrant, green foliage then all the better.  Just watch your step if you’re walking in high-heels!

The courtyard of the restaurant provides additional locations for the bride & groom with the sandstone Margan sign and the bench in front of the lavender.  Even the tasting room with it’s beautiful artwork makes a great alternative for photographs. 

Inside the restaurant is the huge, high-ceiling Barrel Room where wedding receptions are generally held.  As the name would suggest there are barrels and barrels lining the walls providing an atmosphere entirely appropriate to the down-to-earth festive occasion.  Yet despite the vastness of the interior it still feels intimate and friendly, like you’re sharing an enormous banquet with family & friends.

Attentive, delightful staff serving well-prepared, exceptionally delicious food just makes the whole setting perfect – cheers! 

Kim*

Margan Family Winegrowers & Restaurant

Margan Family Winegrowers & Restaurant


Dec 20 2009

Pilu at Freshwater is “a breath of fresh air”

There is certainly no shortage of wonderful beaches in Sydney’s north.  Select from any one of a dozen or more and you’re bound to have a picturesque location for wedding photographs.  But what would be great is to find a restaurant at one of those beaches that has more than just pretty views and easy access to the sand & sea.

Fortunately there are a number of excellent restaurants suited to wedding receptions, one of them being Pilu at Freshwater.

It should come as no surpise that Pilu at Freshwater is located just north of Manly at Freshwater Beach, situated at the southern end of the beach with panoramic views through large windows as the surf lazily crashes on the shore below.

The venue has a distinctly welcoming, home-like feel to it, as if you’re staying at a friend’s place whilst holidaying on the coast.  A courtyard surrounded by hedges is available for your wedding ceremony should you choose to have a relaxed, relatively informal event.  And if the weather doesn’t go to plan you can always use the restaurant as an undercover option.

Down on the beach there are several places to utilise for your wedding location photographs.  The southern end is well sheltered from a southerly should the breeze prove to be a little too strong.  However, it can be nice to have the bride’s veil gently caught by the wind in photographs.

Stroll along the good sized but not too long beach over to the northern end near the Harbord Diggers and you’ll find some sparkling rockpools and an outdoor saltwater swimming pool.  A little further on is a large rock shelf that gives yet another protected spot for location photographs.

Before returning to the restaurant there are some sand dunes that work well for bridal party photographs, just near the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club.

Back at the restaurant and you’ll be treated to some deliciously fine cuisine.  The Italian food is defintely biased towards seafood but then what would you expect from a seaside restaurant.  Yet the Sardinian flavours are so mouth-watering you’ll want to come back on another occasion so you can try all the dishes you missed.  I guess two SMH Good Food Guide chef’s hats puts them up there with the best.

Interestingly, it’s the fun all the guests were having on the dance floor that I remember the most from the last wedding we photographed at Pilu at Freshwater.  For such an intimate venue there is still plenty of room for a small band or a DJ and a good-sized, enthusiastic crowd to bop the night away.

Kim*

Pilu at Freshwater

Pilu at Freshwater


Dec 16 2009

Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour is “an oasis in the city”

There’s a place in the city that is a garden of tranquility in a sea of chaos.  Quietly tucked away amidst the hustle & bustle of the busy City of Sydney is the Chinese Garden of Friendship conveniently located on the Cockle Bay Wharf side of Darling Harbour opposite the Sydney Convention Centre.

The area of Darling Harbour is littered with countless shops and restaurants making it as much a local haunt as it is a tourist destination.  Therefore it’s nice to find somewhere to take time out from the frantic pace of your work day or sightseeing.

For much the same reason, the Chinese Gardens makes a wonderful venue for both wedding ceremony and location photographs.

There are numerous venues within the Chinese Gardens where your wedding ceremony can take place.  The most popular include the courtyard in front of the Dragon Wall, the Water Pavilion of Lotus Fragrance and the Peace Boat Pavilion.  All have their different benefits such as the number of guests who will be able to watch proceedings or the back-drop during your ceremony.

Go for a wander through the gardens and discover little nooks & crannies for your wedding location photographs.  Many of the tracks make for great candid shots with bamboo and rocks bordering the pathways. 

Then there are spots to stop and have the Lake of Brightness in the background.  And choose the right time of year and there will be everything from Azaleas, Port Wine Magnolias, Gardenias and Camelias flowering brilliantly in the shots. 

Close to the Teahouse Pavilion you’ll find a small waterfall that cascades down translucent black rocks with brilliant green foliage that is perfect for an intimate bride & groom photograph.

Many of the pavilions provide good cover for the bridal party photographs should it be a wet day with some of the pillars adorned with Chinese characters - a nice touch that gives context to the images.

But our favourite spot is the bridge that zig zags across the lake.  There is a Frangipani that smells heavenly with a back-drop of these enormous Weeping Willow trees.  All this and more with another splash of colour when the lillies are in flower.

Sublime, exquisite, serene!

Kim*

Chinese Gardens of Friendship, Darling Harbour

Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour


Dec 13 2009

Rose Seidler House is “a modern time warp”

Rose Seidler House is an unusual venue for your wedding location photographs but the images will definitely stand out from the crowd.

Located in the upper north shore suburb of Wahroonga, it is surrounded by tall eucalypts that are in stark contrast to the building’s strong architectural lines.  Built by the famous architect, Harry Seidler, for his parents between 1948-50, and named after his mother, it was exceptionally modern for it’s time.

The house itself is dominated by a ramp leading up to the living areas.  The geometrics are particularly striking as black & white images and are nicely juxtaposed with natural garden and bushland setting.

Walking up the ramp to the landing finds you facing a wonderfully intense painted wall full of incredibly bold colours (a mixture of reds, blues, greys, browns and yellows) intersected by curved black lines and dots that makes a fantastic back-drop for bridal party photographs.  Apparently, all the colours link in with materials and other walls & doors throughout the house.

The timber boards here also work well in black & white looking out across to the bush or use the funky chairs as a feature to add yet another splash of colour to the scene.

Inside are furnishings in dominant oranges, deep browns and brilliant mid-blues together with walls & doors that make yet another statement.  With lots of large glass windows looking out over the property it is possible to get some exquisite window light gently falling upon the bride & groom.

The kitchen itself is a clean, eclectic mix of whites & chrome together with red, blue & yellow cupboard doors.  The kitchen utensils were the most modern of their time and now lend a real nostalgia to that post-war era.

The historic house is generally open to the public on Sundays and although we have used it as a wedding location for bridal party photographs in the past, it is necessary to check with the caretaker to see whether or not they will allow such photographs and what sort of fees may need to be paid.

Understandibly, this is not your average wedding location but it will certainly allow your photographs to say something about you; your past, your present and your intended future life together as husband & wife.

Kim*

Rose Seidler House

Rose Seidler House


Dec 9 2009

Bells at Killcare lets you “leave all your cares behind”

As much as we love to photograph weddings in Sydney, it’s nice to have a change of scenery and travel somewhere outside of the metropolitan area that’s not too far away.  One such place is Killcare on the NSW Central Coast.  And it may just be the perfect alternative for your wedding guests to enjoy.

Only a short drive from Sydney’s north, about an hour or so up the F3, you’ll find Bells at Killcare.  They describe themselves as a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar as well as a world-class destination and quite frankly we believe they more than live up to that reputation.

Drive up the gravel driveway and you could be mistaken for thinking you’re holidaying in the European countryside.  Set amongst extensive grounds is the big & beautiful main house where guests can dine and relax.  Yet the decor and furniture has a decidely coastal feel to it with clean whites and striking blues dominating.

The accommodation is made up villas and suites that are well-appointed and tastefully decorated to ensure you relax the minute you walk through the door.  Combine that with the warm & friendly welcome you’ll receive from the staff and you will not want to leave!

The dining room is well-suited to smaller wedding groups seating up to 70 people but the wide open space of the lush, green, manicured lawns permits about 200 guests to enjoy a cocktail wedding ceremony and reception.

There are also a number of spots for the bridal party to slip away for some location photographs including a garden near the cabins with a small pond.  You’ll just have to mind the mosquitos if your photographs are at dusk.  Of course, choose the right time of year and there are magnificent flowering trees to add a vibrant splash of colour.  And the well maintained hedges near the fountain add yet another back-drop.

The house itself boasts yet more places to take photographs inside and out.  One in particular is the balcony with round pillars bordered by a hedge.

And you’re only a stones throw away from Putty Beach, Pretty Beach, Killcare Beach and the jetty at Hardys Bay.  But who wants any of those locations when all you need is at Bells at Killcare.

After all, they are blessed with the incredible talents of Stefano Manfredi in the kitchen, the well-renowned chef who used to be at the amazing bel mondo in Sydney once upon a time.  And with two SMH Good Food Guide chef’s hats they must be doing something right.

Quite simply, this place is your home-away-from-home!

Kim*

Bells at Killcare

Bells at Killcare