Dec 6 2009

Killara Golf Club ensures “the competition sees green”

Enter Killara Golf Club and immediately you feel like you’ve gone back in time to that 19th Century era of charm and sophistication.  Established in 1899, a couple of years before Federation, it’s architecture oozes the sort of character that many venues lack due to modern blandness.  However, this is a wedding venue with history and a heritage that makes any function a grand event.

Step out onto their balcony and enjoy the views of the wide open expanses of the groomed fairways that are incredibly well looked after.  Enjoy cocktails & canapés as you watch the sun set in a blaze of glory beyond the tall trees as the attentive wait-staff look after the needs of you and your guests.

Nestled amongst the old stately homes of Killara in Sydney’s leafy upper north shore yet sprawling as far as the eye can see, this is a golf course that warrants a closer look when planning your wedding.  Not only is it a terrific wedding reception venue but it is also an ideal spot for your wedding ceremony and location photographs.

Interestingly, despite being an older and very well established golf club, they are incredibly up-to-date in their thinking.  For example, one particular wedding we photographed at Killara Golf Club was a little unusual as the bride’s arrival was upstaged by the big entrance of the groom and his groomsmen.

Having gained permission from the club, they arrived by helicopter touching down in sight of all the guests.  The brilliant, bold red colour of this ultra-modern piece of machinery was quite a contrast to the lush, green fairway where it landed.  Mind you, the poor pilot had to negotiate a hail storm that threated to put a dampener on proceedings.  Fortunately, Killara Golf Club has the option of an indoor space should the weather take a turn for the worst.

As it turned out, the rain held off and the bridal party were able to enjoy their time on the golf buggies as we shuttled from one great location to the next.  The course boasts tall eucalypts that catch the late afternoon sun, devilish sand bunkers on the edge of putting greens, and vibrant flowering trees all of which enable the bridal party to relax and enjoy their time away from the formal proceedings amongst stunning back-drops.

Back at the club house the family groups can be photographed on the first tee with some tall trees in the background.  And a large group shot with all the guests’ faces seen clearly is achieved by having them all stand around the practice green and shooting down from the balcony.  This area is also nicely maintained with a bed of brilliant, colourful flowers.

But it’s not all about the photographs.   The service is excellent and the food delicious – always an important consideration at any wedding.


Killara Golf Club

Killara Golf Club

Nov 29 2009

Cake Occasions “takes the cake”

There are a number of traditions that typically take place during the wedding reception.  Generally speaking, the bridal party make a grand entrance into the reception venue to rousing applause from their guests.  Chances are the guests have already enjoyed drinks and canapes and so it doesn’t take much to get them clapping & cheering.

Speeches are then interspersed between courses.  And then just before the first dance, often called the bridal waltz, comes the cutting of the cake.

Now the cake cutting doesn’t have to take place at this point but it does tend to be the most popular time.  Mind you, some couples cut their cake straight after their entrance when their photographer is not staying long into the reception or if the cake is being used for dessert and it needs to be distributed to guests sooner rather than later.

Of course, not everyone has a cake these days.  It’s becoming quite common to have individual cup-cakes which can work equally as well.  Although it probably makes it a little tricky to cut the cake when it’s so small therefore many are adding a separate cake.

So who do you turn to for advice and talent when you need a cake tailor-made to suit your requirements?

Thinking back to a wedding we photographed recently, I was very impressed with the cake that was not simply made but wonderfully created by Chris from Cake Occasions.

These guys were inspired by the theme originally created by Form Over Function for the same wedding.  With the intricately detailed icing and the perfect matching of colours, they clearly went to a lot of trouble to ensure the cake made a statement.

And in order to keep everything unified, the cake’s appearance tied in perfectly with all the decorations and other elements throughout the wedding reception.  Not an easy thing to do but they made it happen beautifully!

What’s more, the cake tasted a treat.  Now how good is that?


Cake Occasions

Cake Occasions inspired by Form Over Function

Nov 22 2009

The Tea Room, Gunners’ Barracks in Mosman “hits the target”

It always feels a little like a home-coming when I photograph a wedding in Mosman.  Having grown up in the suburb I can still remember as a young & adventurous teenager playing in the disused catacombs around Georges Heights near the Gunners’ Barracks, looking for what little treasures we could find.

Fortunately, what was once owned by the Army has now been opened to the public.  And what a treasure it is!

The old building overlooking the harbour is now home to The Tea Room, Gunners’ Barracks, sister restaurant to The Tea Room, QVB.

The courtyard area, often used for ceremonies, twinkles at night with an abundance of fairy lights.  And the dark, mottled old sandstone walls provide a wonderfully rustic feel that contrasts with the formal attire of a wedding party.

Climbing the steps to the plateau overlooking the courtyard and the birds-eye view allows all the guests to be clearly visible in a group photograph, so long as the photographer doesn’t suffer from vertigo.

On the other side of the building the covered verandah provides panoramic views across Sydney Harbour giving the bride & groom a stress-free alternative should the weather turn bad.  Mind you, watching a storm roll in from the south can be quite a spectacular sight!

Below the verandah, down the steps, is a large grassed area ideal for group & family photographs as the afternoon sun will be behind them all.  And the rich colours and textures on this other sandstone wall is perfect for bridal party location shots.  There is even a nice little alcove that can be utilised.

A short walk up the driveway to the lookout for more location photographs and the view gets even better.  The relatively recently built walkway and lookout has expansive views from the heads to the city skyline.  You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world!

Back down to the restaurant for the reception and you’ll be treated to some magnificent food.  I was fortunate enough to receive a complete meal the last time I photographed a wedding at The Tea Room, Gunners’ Barracks and all I can say is that it was mouth-watering.

To call the place a tea room simply doesn’t do it justice.


The Tea Room, Gunners' Barracks

The Tea Room, Gunners' Barracks

Nov 15 2009

The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney lets you “feel like royalty”

It’s especially nice to be granted the privilege of photographing a bride & groom and their bridal party in posh surroundings.  There aren’t too many places that can equal the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) for that feeling of rich opulence.

Like The Strand Arcade, also located in George St, Sydney, the QVB was built at the end of the 19th Century, quite a different era compared to that of today.  Back then a horse & cart was the equivelent of a limousine and photography was done using equipment so large and cumbersome that the very idea of photojournalistic & candid or spontaneous & natural was unheard of.

What’s great about the QVB is that it has a wide variety of areas, little nooks & crannies really, that can be used for photographs all within the one building.

For example, the central circular opening is great for tiered shots taken from different angles, both looking up and down.  However, be aware that come Christmas time their enormous tree will go up sadly removing this option.

Then there are the staircases, the larger ones both centrally located.  Of course, you may need to pause every now and again for the odd shopper, tourist or sticky-beaker.  But there are smaller and less used staircases at either end of the building.

The boldly painted walls are another great backdrop for wedding photographs.  One wall is almost the colour of fire-engine red and the other a serene mid-blue.  Either way they will help give a vibrant punch to your location images.

Finally, the shops themselves make a terrific background.  Selecting an up-market brand like Versace or Vivian Chan Shaw provides you with instant sophistication!

Keep in mind, you will need to have permission from the QVB management to use the space for photography, especially wedding & commercial photography.  If the wedding reception is not being held at The Tea Room, QVB then you will need to pay a nominal fee of $50 that is donated to The Guide Dogs.  I suggest you organise it at least a few weeks in advance because they will also want to see proof of Public Liability Insurance.

A magnificent location perfectly suited to night photography and when it’s raining.


Queen Victoria Building

Queen Victoria Building

Nov 8 2009

Sanders Waterfront Restaurant in Cabarita is “as close to the water as they come”

There is always something incredibly alluring & calming about a waterfront location.  I’ve heard it said that it’s the clean, fresh air of the sea that helps to clear the mind and induce relaxation.  I know that whenever I photograph a wedding by the water I find it partcularly easy to get into “the zone”.

So it’s especially enjoyable when the ceremony, location and reception photographs happen all pretty much within the same vicinity.

Sanders Waterfront Restaurant in Cabarita is an unusual mix of an intimate venue surrounded by the sophistication of motor cruisers & yachts as if you’re in some millionaires’ paradise.  It brings back memories of Shores Restaurant which was a larger restaurant also located at a marina, namely MHYC, but sadly it closed recently yet has re-opened as The Upper Deck.

So the wedding I photographed the other day at d’Albora Marina in Cabarita just outside the restaurant was situated in what I would consider an ideal location.  The deck area with it’s weathered timber boards looking out towards all the boats really set the scene.  Inside the restaurant there was room for a band to set-up and a dance floor allowing the bride & groom to perform a well choreographed bridal waltz followed by the guests boogie-ing the afternoon away.  Fortunately, the number of guests was less than 40 as they would have been hard-pushed to squeeze in more than an extra dozen or so.

It should come as no surprise that the food was impeccable.  I think the bride, having worked at the restaurant in the past, had an inside running on how good the place was.

But the one aspect of the day that was truly convenient was the fact that we could simply utilise the beautiful sandstone and seashore literally next door to take photos of the bridal party.  This meant no wasted travelling time or the unnecessary use of hire cars as we were a stone’s throw away.

Ahh…if only all my weddings were this simple!


Sanders Waterfront Restaurant

Sanders Waterfront Restaurant

Nov 1 2009

Dunes Restaurant, Palm Beach gives you “all the sand you need”

Palm Beach is one of Sydney’s best known and loved northern beaches and is a remarkable and convenient venue for an outdoor wedding ceremony as it lends itself to a delicious blend of beautiful ocean views and scrumptious fine dining, both in close proximity to one another.  One of our wedding couples took advantage of this recently, exchanging their vows only metres away from the beach and their reception venue, Dunes Restaurant.

An approaching storm created a spectacular backdrop for their outdoor ceremony.  The various hues in the sky made certain that Palm Beach lived up to its world renowned beauty.

Overcast weather is, in fact, an ideal situation for wedding photography with each cloud gathering to create a blanket of soft diffused light, not to mention the dramatic setting storm clouds offer and the display of an optimistic rainbow for the grand finale.  To be honest, rain on your wedding day isn’t an entirely bad thing.  Seriously!

Located on Barrenjoey Rd, Dunes Restaurant offers a comfortable and very relaxed dining experience.  I noticed they displayed an honest willingness to accommodate and provide a flawless experience to their guests, generating in me a desire to return as a customer very, very soon.

The staff were well directed and carried out an exceptional job.  Their dishes were of an outstanding quality, from their well married flavours (forgive the pun) right down to the creative presentation, and were served with minimal delay.  As for the dessert… if ony I had room for seconds!

In a nutshell: great food, great service, great location!


Dunes Restaurant Palm Beach

Dunes Restaurant Palm Beach

Oct 25 2009

“Rain, rain, go away…”

So you’ve planned your wedding day down to the last minute and even created a complete blow-by-blow timeline using a spreadsheet.  All those minute details have been covered and you’re now wondering to yourself what else is there to do.

My question to you would be, ‘Have you planned for the unexpected?  Do you, for example, have a wet-weather option for both the ceremony and the location photographs?’

Now if you’re having a church wedding then you should be fine unless the church leaks.  But it may be useful to ensure you have some large golf umbrellas to keep you dry when entering & exiting the wedding cars.  We always carry at least half-a-dozen extra umbrellas for just such an occasion and are constantly surprised by wedding car hire companies that don’t do the same.  What’s more, our umbrellas don’t have loud corporate logos emblazoned on them.

But what’s the plan then for your photos after the ceremony?  Hopefully you’ll be able to get some family photos inside the church provided there isn’t another wedding service straight away – a common occurrence at many of the more popular churches.

Typically, you’ll then want to head-off to have some photos with the bridal party in a picturesque location.  Is it to be indoors or outside?  Again, do you have umbrellas for the entire bridal party?  It looks better too if they’re colour coordinated.  Solid black or white looks particularly smart although alternating white with a colour can also tie in nicely with the bridesmaids’ dresses.

So umbrellas can work well if it’s a light drizzle.  But as soon as it’s pouring or the rain is coming at you sideways you’ll need to be undercover.  Clearly it pays to have created a Plan B with your photographer before the day so that you have an easy alternative if the need arises.

A number of good wet-weather locations are listed below.  Over the coming months I will endeavour to post a separate entry discussing each of their benefits.

However, if on your wedding day there should be some dark and ominous clouds on the horizon, consider too that it might be the perfect, albeit dramatic, backdrop to your photos.



Wet-weather options

The Strand Arcade | Queen Victoria Building | Martin Place | State Library of NSW | Art Gallery of NSW


HMAS Watson

HMAS Watson

Oct 18 2009

Moby’s Whale Beach ensures “a whale of a time”

Of all the places you may want to be on a hot & humid summer’s day, the beach has to be number one.  Especially when you’re the groom wearing a three-piece suit!

That’s why when we’re asked to shoot a wedding in summer, we’re relieved that the bride & groom have selected a venue like Mobys’ Whale Beach.

Now you probably don’t need me to tell you that it’s located at Whale Beach, one of Sydney’s stunning northern beaches, but I can tell you that the magnificent panoramic view out to sea is, well, magnificent.  And if you keep your eyes peeled from June to November you may even catch a glimpse of the whales making their annual migration.

But a good reception venue needs more than just spectacular views.  And in the case of Mobys’ Whale Beach they really come up with the goods.  From my experience, their food is consistently a cut-above the norm which is pretty important in my books.

What’s more, the venue has a nice relaxed yet stylish feel to it with a separate area set aside for the band and dancing.

So if you’re planning a summer wedding you can’t really go past the beach – actually, it’s pretty damn good any time of the year!


Moby's Whale Beach

Moby's Whale Beach

Oct 11 2009

The Strand Arcade in Sydney makes “a stylish location”

One building I have enjoyed using for wedding location photographs over the years is the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in the City of Sydney.  However, it is a very busy place and it can be difficult getting photographs of the bridal party or even just the bride & groom without nosey tourists popping up in the background.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find another location with similar grand architecture also dating from the late 19th Century, namely, The Strand Arcade.

Home to some pretty ritzy retail outlets including Alex Perry, Allanah Hill & Lisa Ho, the open plan design of the building means there is lots of natural light.  But the roof is covered so it also makes an ideal location if the weather turns bad.

The stairwells have some beautiful tiling with warm colours and gorgeous light fittings that particularly suit shots of the bride & groom together.  And it can’t hurt to get a nice image or two with some of the fancy stores in the background.

Although I personally prefer to avoid “setting up” shots where at all possible, the location did lend itself to more of a “model-like” shoot than most.  And mind you, if the bride & groom have gone to all that trouble to dress up for the occasion and that’s what they want, then why not?


The Strand Arcade

The Strand Arcade

Oct 4 2009

Ballast Point Park, Birchgrove is “not your average park”

Where do you go to have photographs taken with your bridal party that hasn’t already been done before?  That’s often the dilemma…

Well I think I’ve found just the spot!

There is an awesome location in Birchgrove at the end of Ballast Point Road called, not surprisingly, Ballast Point Park.  It’s the former Caltex site and it has been re-created with a lot of elements from it’s past.  It has a terrrific mesh of very graphic, industrial compositions combined with large grassed and fine gravel areas.  It also has sections that have been heavily planted that will only get better once they become more established.

As the park was only recently opened in July 2009 it is a spot that hasn’t been over utilised.  And given that there are countless nooks & crannies you could easily return again and again as a photographer and find some new angle to “wow” your clients.

It has views across the harbour where you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the distance.  What’s more, it receives a good deal of light at the end of the day (although it doesn’t face west) providing you with those few extra precious moments to have some great images captured.

It’s so good, you just have to see it for yourself!



Ballast Point Park

Ballast Point Park, Birchgrove