Jul 8, 2020
I Do Drive Thru is a worldwide wedding startup, helping couples get hitched in the middle of Covid19 while adhering to the restrictions and saving the partying for later. Since launching in Melbourne, it’s spread nationally, and has since popped up all over the USA. Melbourne wedding celebrant Mel (who also moonlights as The Ceremony Store) runs us through why it started and how it’s helped couples all over the world.
I’ve been a Marriage and Funeral Celebrant for 15 years and own the companies, The Ceremony Store, The I Do Drive Thru and The Last Time. I am also a Celebrant Trainer with Australian Celebrations Training, Furniture Maker, Plus-sized model, Writer, Mother and Wife but I have always wanted to be an Electrician.
I am obsessed with learning as much as I can in this lifetime, I am perpetually curious. I try one new task every year until I get good at it, then I move on: I have learnt lock-picking, languages, carpentry, metal-detecting, and written a book.
When COVID 19 became a part of our world I was given medical advice to isolate which meant I could no longer do weddings. The next day I gave away/rescheduled 17 weddings and it was, to say the least; devastating, not just for me, but for my couples. Not only that, I felt horribly guilty giving my weddings to other Celebrants who could possibly get COVID.
That night I lay awake thinking about how I could keep those Celebrants safe and keep working from home during COVID.
To digress, I have always been a bit obsessed with Vegas style weddings and in my early Celebrancy career, I used to ride my red postie motorbike to weddings dressed as Elvis. It just seemed pretty natural that Vegas-vibed drive thru weddings and getting couples to stay in their cars while getting married and keeping the Celebrant distanced was the answer to all of my problems.
The next morning I texted 3 of the most awesome Celes I know, said let’s start this business, and all of them said yes without hesitation and 8 days later, we had a business name, logo, website and a press release. On our launch day we had over 32 calls from the press, 10 enquiries and booked our very first wedding.
Just by chance, my co-founders Kate, Zena and Klara were the perfect combo to get everything going, and the main driver between all of us was the passion to continue working while this crisis was going on around us.
We all love what we do and while we all kind of felt like sitting around grieving for what we had lost, we forced ourselves to build something new to fit with the changed times. Our catch cry became ‘we will work that out later’ as the business moved so incredibly quickly.
I honestly believe that anyone can do anything they set their mind to, impossible isn’t in my vocabulary. Any skill can be learned, any work can be completed no matter what limits there are, so we worked 19-20 hours days for that first week and we pulled it off.
The most rewarding thing about starting the business was the instant gratification we got with the media interest, we knew that our idea was good and the public interest confirmed that.
My gorgeous co-founders put so much trust in me right from the get go. We organised everything via phone, zoom and email, we have only sat in the same space once since we started the business, which is pretty incredible.
On launch day, seeing Klara on the 6pm news launching our business was such an achievement and then to replicate that model in each state over and over and then in the US has been amazing!
We now have 21 Celebrants working Aus wide with us and 2 in the US.
Celebrants weren’t the only people affected by COVID, it’s also the photographers, venue owners, car hire companies, florists, everyone has been affected in our industry. We worked hard to create a model that could encompass as many of these suppliers in local communities as possible, so they could be involved too.
A huge benefit to our business has been that we managed to snag some of the best photographers in Australia to work with us and these artists have provided some of the most epic photos of ceremonies.
Having these professional images to share with potential couples so they can see that tiny weddings can be so intimate and beautiful and moving has been incredible, a professional picture really is worth a thousand words.
Bringing work to all types of wedding industry professionals, while they were feeling pretty down about losing their own work, has given us all the warm fuzzies.
Our couples really range in age, we have had couple in their 20’s to couple’s in their 80’s. The similarity between them is that they really want to get married, but feel like they don’t fit into the white wedding dress/getting given away by Dad/first dance scenario. We have had couples that have stayed in their car for the ceremony, gotten out and married under trees, created convoys so family and friends can come and watch and couples have arrived via cars, helicopters, motorbikes and bicycles.
My fave couple so far is a couple where the Bride recently became paraplegic and she is still getting used to navigating new places and feels a little self-conscious.
Her Fiancé just wanted to marry her, because in his words, ‘she is the most amazing woman in the world’. When they heard about the Drive Thru and she saw that she didn’t have to get out of the car and worry about wheelchair logistics, she cried, because this was the only way she felt comfortable getting married.
COVID is going to be here for a while. It’s not going to magically disappear, and I honestly think this will impact the wedding industry for years.
In the short term we have the uncertainty of not knowing when we can go back to booking big celebrations and it makes planning pretty impossible.
Then when restrictions are lifted then yes, technically, we can go back to bigger celebrations, but is it a celebration if you can’t hug your Nan when you walk back down the aisle? Is it a celebration if you can’t share a shot glass or eat bread out of the same breadbasket?
The effects of social distancing will continue to live on, especially when it comes to celebrating that way that we are used to.
A surprising side-effect to this whole COVID scenario, is that suddenly eloping isn’t taboo, eloping makes you responsible, kinda like a hero, you are protecting your community by having a small wedding and that shift in thinking has been kinda rad.
People have been eloping because there isn’t the stigma attached to it anymore, heck the government practically endorsed eloping when you were only allowed to have the marrying couple and two witnesses present.
My advice to couples during COVID has been to follow your heart and remember that there is a huge difference between a marriage and a wedding.
If you wanna get married, get married, do it, commit to your lover, that’s so important, don’t let COVID stop you. There is literally no better time to love and be loved than right now, having companionship during a crisis is what will get you through it.
When people ask what you did during COVID how totally romantic is it to say that you married your honey and then shacked up in iso together?
If your heart is set on a wedding that encompasses family and friends, then wait, but wait until COVID is dead and gone and we can hug again. Have a huge wedding down the track, when you can handshake and dance, but you will have to be patient.
And for those that want both the marriage now and the big wedding, then do both! Have the most romantic, sweet tiny wedding now and make it all about each other, then have a wedding party when you can-best of both worlds.
Running a business during a pandemic is tough. Terms and conditions/your contract/Statement of Fees documents are everything. Mine was pretty broad but certainly never covered a killer virus!
I always say to other Celebrants be tough on paper, but soft in reality. You have to have your rules in place, but be flexible, don’t forget everyone is going through something and creating relationships, and word of mouth recommendations in this business is what it is all about.
I always rule with my heart and not my head, so I certainly don’t set the best example for other business owners, but I find if you treat people with kindness then that’s what you will get back.
I have always gotten more out of what I do for others, than what I do for myself, so to create a business that has helped so people feel good and have a bit of purpose during COVID has probably been one of the most rewarding things I have done for a long time.
Jul 7, 2020
I had a chat with alleged government agent/assassin Carlo, otherwise known as the the genius artistic brain behind Lunar Red Films. We’ve been lucky to work together on the wedding of Pepe and Sam, featured on (… info on that one soon), with none less than Nat Sproal, Torte by Mirjana, Killer Queen Creative, and Good Day Club.
My name is Carlo. My friends think I’m a government assassin (can confirm this is a generally held opinion – BA). Me mum thinks I’m handsome, but really I’m just your friendly, neighbourhood wedding cinematographer.
Melbourne is just chock a block full of wonderful, loved up weirdos, who are willing to break convention and tradition and just do their own thing. It means that each couple has brought a sense of heart and soul into their weddings, and have given it a stamp that is all on their own. I don’t know any other city where that happens.
Some people use the term “minimalism” (cue the air wank motion) – I prefer to say “steak and veg”. That’s how I like to shoot – as simple and as free of gimmicks and other fanciful shit as humanly possible. What that leaves me with is me, the camera, and the moment happening directly in front of me. I’m not here trying to manufacture someone else’s feelings, I’m not attempting to set up a moment that isn’t real. Everything I point my camera at is genuine and, hopefully, the couple remembers the feelings they have for each other in the moment as opposed to me yelling at them to behave a certain way.
I like to cap my weddings per season at a certain number. It means that I’m able to give each wedding my creative focus without being snowed under by work and burn out. When covid hit, I only had a handful of weddings left to shoot down the line, so it gave me a little extra time to edit the weddings I had already shot to perfection.
I feel like weddings and celebrations will continue to get more and more. unconventional the more couples and future clients realise that they don’t have to do what’s come before to have a good time or to profess their love out to the world. More colour, more rule breaking, more heart. Basically just more of the good stuff.
Jul 6, 2020
An image of genius photographer Lucy, in front of a genius-designed mirror, stolen mid-application of lipstick midway through Lil and Jakes reception.
This image shot on Kodak film, and found amongst incredible company over here at IWPOTY.
Shot on Kodak Tri-X film.
Visit this post to see why I shoot film at weddings.
Jul 6, 2020
Brooke Tyson Ritual – some of the most incredible bridal designs on the planet, with delicate contours and flowing textures, and what a treat it was to photograph them in a (real) blizzard, atop a volcano in New Zealand, draped over our incredible model, Fran, for the Story and Light photography workshop hosted by the genius wizardchildren over at Bayly and Moore.
Featured here is the Brooke Tyson Ritual Luna gown, as well as their Flora gown.
Story and Light was sponsored by the brilliant Australian film-lab Atkins, who kindly developed and scanned all of these images, shot entirely on Kodak Film. More on analogue wedding photography.
Removing herself from the perilously wild volcanic blizzard (despite the hardy protection of the Luna gown), here, we see Fran emerging from a more friendly forest, in the Brooke Tyson Flora gown.
Above and below is the Flora gown. Anyone that has ever met a New Zealander knows that the Ritual collection benefits from the classic kiwi ingenuity, developed in and around curious brain-zaps that test the edges of what bridal gowns should look like.
Celebrating free-spirits and with inspiration taken from cinema and folklore, the Brooke Tyson Luna gown was pretty much made to be draped across Franc and then whisked by a blizzard in on top of a volcano.
Brooke Tyson are also featured here on my top 5 best modern wedding dresses.
Jul 5, 2020
Melbourne wedding celebrants: finding a great one is challenging, and it’s hard to get an idea of whether their vibe is gonna fit your tribe ahead of time. The Celebrant A List is an initiative put together to help solve that, and their A-List Ball which I joined majestic celebrant-ey forces with last year, brought together a whole swag of the industries best under one roof in Melbourne.
Since we had so many luminaries of the industry packed into one of Melbournes best bars, it would’ve been rude not to set up a Vanity Fair style photo-corner.
I’ve been super lucky to work with many of these maestros, so read on and enjoy these community marvels and a little insight into the Celebrant A List.
Lord of the dark-funk, Jac the Hitcher lives here.
Grandmaster suave, Matt Finch lives here.
If you want to skip the gab (not recommended, but hey, it’s your life), here’s a run-sheet of some of the best Melbourne wedding celebrants that are featured here (in no order):
Lord of all things neon and dark, find Annie here.
As well as being found under an excellent hat, you can find Sean here.
On paper it’s a directory with some hand picked celebrants. Maybe it’s also an antidote to the ‘come one come all’ sites that I find just end up causing us much confusion and anxiety for couples who are by and large going through this process for the first time.
BUT what it actually is a chance to be a little different in the market. All of the directory members are people from my own and some other close confidant’s personal networks.
These were people we already were swapping leads with. So whilst it’s not the definitive and finite list of who’s a quality melbourne wedding celebrant, I can definitely say that all members are quality people and celebrants.
As well as being found wrapped in curtains, Megan can be found here.
Megan is pointing over there, and to find her we’re pointing here.
So the A List is also a little community group. We all know which other members are better suited for which kind of couple just based on the initial enquiry.
So my advice would be to get on the directory, to find the kind of wedding celebrant you think fits the bill and send them an enquiry.
If they’re not available, we work as a group to find you someone that is not only free but will also fit what you are looking for.
This Tasmanian legend can be found here.
This debonair devil can be found here.
Is Brian Jones or David Koresh a funny or poor tasting joke?! Nah but in all honesty, the crew on the A List is from the network of wedding celebrants who were already naturally jelling together.
Everyone on the list is vouched for – we avoid cult like activities, thinking and environments, we feel the market for that is already catered for!
Not just a good looking rack for short-shorts, find him here.
Haha, what a question! If I was to say what was the mission of the A List, it would be to address exactly this challenge.
We have moved from a world where once upon a time we had to wait until every Thursday night at 7:30PM before our favourite show would be on…now I can binge watch whatever I want, whenever I want.
This is how society works now, so the A List is the kind of place where people can come and not only can we help them feel less overwhelmed we also support each other’s businesses.
With her name an homage to Fleetwood Mac, find Erin here.
It’s for this reason alone why we don’t have hundreds and hundreds of members as we genuinely feel like in the end that helps no one – the couples or the celebrants.
As I already mentioned, just by enquiring with one us, we’re kind of all there to help you find not only the right celebrant but also many other vendors.
We all buy based on people giving us recommendations, it’s kind of the same approach over at the A List.
This rainbow pocket rocket can be found here.
Well before good ol’ Rona hit the plan was to try and host an event in each major city where we have representation. But now we’re focussed on our big event next year, Hitchmas.
We plan on making this the best business workshop/networking/party kind of event ever hosted in the wedding world.
This cartwheeling legend can be found here
Jul 4, 2020
I’m super pleased to be releasing my own Pic Time Art Galleries as an online print shop, through a new platform recently released by the brilliant mob over at Pic Time.
I’ve wanted to have a place to share and sell prints for going on 8 years, but the task always seemed to arduous and riddled with pain-in-the-ass complexities that stopped me from leaning right in.
Selling prints is a great way to give your bodies of work the respect they deserve! I guess a secondary stream of revenue doesn’t also hurt, but what I think is most important is that this is a way to let someone else create future-nostalgia out of something else you have made.
Additionally, selling your prints makes you lean into your own work more, and think more critically about who you want to be from an artistic point of view. There’s nothing quite as challenging or humbling as trying to reduce tens of thousands of your images into a concentrated body of work that might just contain ten.
For the last few months, Pic Time invited me to be a tester of their new gallery functionality.
This functionality is a part of their existing platform – so if you’re already using Pic Time as proofing software for your clients (as I am), this simply bolts on top via a separate subscription fee, and from there you can enjoy all of the additional functionality that an art gallery requires.
David Foster Wallace #1 will be available on my print store.
Find out more about Pic Time art galleries here
Find out more about my print lab here.
Jul 3, 2020
After a chat with IWPOTY on a livestream yesterday, I wanted to write up a post on the topic of editing, how I edit, and as a judge of the International wedding photographer of the year 2020, what little bits of TLC our judging panel will be looking at as we go over your submissions.
As our beautiful craft has become democratised and we can all be photographers, the by-product of that is a temptation to lean away from the craft-centered approach that held up all the photography that defined how the 20th century was recorded: one of careful capture, and attention to detail and the creation of the finished image, and that’s the reason those images stand the test of time.
This isn’t just a post about editing, as much as it is about the idea of “truth” in an image, because the whole industry seems to be in a little state of confusion at the moment, and left right and centre we’re hearing “authenticity” and “truth” screamed from the mountain as objective poles at the top of a single summit.
Actually, it’s been in this state of confusion for the better part of 5 years to my eyes, or as long as I’ve been invited to talk about the identity crisis of the whole “authenticity” thing with my big fat mouth.
We’re not in the business of “truth” or “authenticity”, we’re in the business of nostalgia: whatever truth we think is in an image is going to be interpreted differently by the person looking at the image, or the person that’s in the image, and that itself is going to change in 5, 10, 20 years as details get forgotten or change shape.
So our job is to be there and give to what’s in front of us, and give ourselves the best chance to make the most amount of future nostalgia for the couples.
Just look at any Magnum gallery, which is (rightly) considered the yardstick of photojournalism, or for a more prescriptive example, the Steven McCurry photoshop scandal, which gave a bad name to editing, while then distracting from the fact that it’s a very necessary part of what we do and what he does, and that the slamming was mostly unwarranted.
(But… maybe he could’ve just cleaned it up a little more).
So from an editing point of view, the things I’m looking for as a judge are the level of care made in bringing that nostalgia to the highest standard it can be on a case-by-case basis, and how that level of care is restrained enough so that it still stands out as a photograph, and not a piece of computer art.
What it comes down to is this: Are we gonna let a hunk of pixel-making plastic do the seeing, or our eyes and intuition?
Everyones got a DSLR, everyone can be a photographer. Nearly every photographer I meet is friendly, is invested in a great client experiences and uses down-to-earth in their marketing as a point of difference. So if everyone is creating good work and is equally good company, where does that leave us as more folks jump into the trade, and what are the parallels to making work that will stand apart in a competition?
There’s a whole bunch of answers that I’ll look into over time, but one thing that can’t be faked, is investing love and care into the craft of the finished images, and looking back to what it means to take a craft-based approach to the creation of the work itself.
First up, let’s delve a little more into why I’m interested in this, and why this is important as craft-centred photographers: this classic James Dean image.
Taken shortly before his iconic star blew up, some of the words that come to mind mind from this Dennis Stock photograph are “simple”, “romantic”, and that feeling, on the tip of our tongue, that there was a little bit extra fantasy back in the day.
All of this rings true, but it does so because of how simple and digestible the image is – in it’s purest, most concentrated self – thanks to an experienced darkroom operator, Pablo Inirio, knowing where to take it.
Specifically – removing the deep-shadows from everywhere in the image except for James and the leading-lines of the curved fence.
How a camera views a scene, is one thing. How we feel a scene, is another. And thanks to camera manufacturers (understandably) indulging in a race to the top for perfection, we’ve given away a few traits that we now associate with analogue photography: ambiguity, imperfection, and anything just a little bit “off”, that we can’t put a finger on.
And the goal with any great image, should be to bridge the gap, between how a scene feels, and how the final image looks. It’s not popular to talk about this gritty technical stuff. It’s especially unpopular amongst professional storytellers, who might have us believe that gear and editing don’t matter, but they do, and have an enormous partnering impact on our voice and point of difference as photographers.
That big header image draped across your website. Spotted it? If not, it might not be as strong as it could be, because while the person looking at it is trying to inhale the story and vibe you’ve created, their subconscious is distracted by all those little specks. I see it all the time, even on successful photographers portfolios, and it’s so quick to correct.
Not spotting our images is like being an opera singer and cramming sand in the audiences ears. Clean that stuff out: not only is that a very strange thing to do, but now no-one can hear what you’re saying.
And I don’t mean skin blemishes, or stars: spotting means removing spots of (usually) hard-light that show up in an image caused by random sun reflections, or micro-textures that can subconsciously dominate a frame.
Spotting isn’t about distorting reality or removing things that should be part of the image: it’s about making an image easier for the viewer to consume, and easier to understand the heart of the image (we’ll deconstruct that esoteric clap-trap in just a minute).
It’s hard to understand the benefits of spotting, until we see an image that has had a simple 10-15 seconds of spotting work, against one that hasn’t. And this is the part where we get to decide whether this even matters. One can argue it doesn’t – this is for folks who like myself can justify going the extra mile.
We feel the extra simplicity and strength of a correctly spotted image, because there are less small little pieces of distraction that dilute the main message of the image. Spotting needs to be done because when we’re looking at a real-life scene through our eyeballs, our brain is able to filter out the little hard spots of light, as the scene moves naturally in front of us: but when we take an photo, those little imperfections are frozen, burned into the sensor, and take the centre stage in the final image, which to me is less real than proactively spotting them out, and having the purest version of the image.
Spotting your images is the quickest way to tidy things up and have a great, print-ready image.
A correctly spotted image of a Newport Substation Wedding – all of those hi lights aren’t adding to the story of the image, aren’t clear what they’re attached to, and are taking away from the power of the image as representing a gathering in a majestic room. So, off with their heads.
Lean back from the image, let your eyes haze, and let your hand wander with the stamp-tool – it’s remarkable how quick you’ll autonomously clear little specks from one corner of the image to the other.
There are many reasons to dodge and burn an image, but start with the following as a foundation, and it’ll pretty much inform how and when you use this technique:
I used “a truth” rather than “the truth”, as there’s no such thing as objective truth in an image: every image we make is influenced by our vision, what we include, and what we leave out, but we rabbited on about that already.
By having conviction in our own vision, we can make each image align with our own version of the truth in that image – this is something I also wrote about last year.
Whatever that truth turns into once we’ve given it over is then out of our hands.
Back to our dear friend, James Dean: the reward for investing a little elbow grease, is the reward of a classic image. How a negative and a camera-sensor interprets both light and the key elements of an image is nearly always at odds with how we interpret it as a human: the goal of thoughtful dodging and burning is to bridge this gap.
Bring up skin that needs to sing, burn out hi lights that are taking over the airwaves, and gently make it so that the most intense points of contrast are happening at the main “story” areas of the image.
And more importantly, ensure this is just augmenting and reducing the natural light play that is already happening within the image.
This isn’t about creating unreality, or an unreasonable expectation of beauty: this is about showing up for our couples and putting in that little bit of extra elbow grease, knowing they’ll appreciate that little bit of extra work.
Here’s the other reason we clear blemishes and other kinks (within reason): the only reason we can see them, is because light is creating the shadow on them. And the biggest reason that’s happening, is because the light we’re placing someone in for a portrait usually favours the part of the portrait we connect with most (the eyes for example), and so everything else takes second place.
If you don’t believe me, put a beauty-dish, soft-box or some other highly diffused light directly in front of someone, and watch most of them disappear, as no shadows are created. Further, if someone is in the middle of an action that causes veins or other things to be augmented beyond how they regularly would, there’s no real reason for those to be taking centre-stage, so we should be happy to reduce them to simplify the image to the things that we want to be connecting with.
This can be done at the same time as the regular spotting pass.
For spotting and blemish removal, I find the Lightroom healing tool too slow and clunky. So what I do is, after I have my final exports out of Lightroom, I open up the library of finished JPG’s in Photomechanic. From there, it’s a pretty quick exercise of tapping through the collection, and hitting “CMD+E”, which immediately opens the image in photoshop. Tap the “J” key for the spot healing tool, hit “CMD+S” to save, then “CMD-Q” to close the image, then “Alt+Tab” to go back to Photomechanic. Practice the routine, and you’ll have the most efficient way to go over that final pass at your fingertips.
If composing in the moment to make the most of the situation wasn’t possible, then correcting course in the edit is nothing to be ashamed of.
This is just a general note to keep in mind whenever looking at an image, and in most cases by just asking the question of “how did this feel when I was there”, the small, gentle tweaks required to tell the best possible story of that image become self evident pretty quickly.
Now, if we’re delivering 1000 images for a wedding, it’s an insane proposition to spend 10 minutes on every single image, and not viable, unless we like the idea of not paying our rent and delivering our images to our clients 3 years after their day.
Some of these principles (spotting, etc) can be applied to nearly all the coverage. But these are mostly for the images where there’s a little something else in them that begs to be brought out. You always know it when there is, and it’a always worth spending that little bit of extra time: for you and for your couple.
We get to decide whether we’re going to be hands-off in our editing process, let the camera do the seeing, and let some arbitrary idea of “truth” be the driver. And maybe that’s ok.
Or, we get to impart a little bit of the original magic of photography, recognise the value of truth-bending and white-lies as a way to creating something that ironically creates a better and more relevant truth, and how through that, we give the people receiving our images a little bit of magic that comes closer to how it felt.
To see occasional image-edit time lapses, follow my instagram.
Jul 2, 2020
In all the flurry of things happening fast movement not stopping click click go go get it all don’t miss a moment…
It’s nice to hold back, strip it all away, and wait,
for just, one.
Jenelle and Parker, one frame each, one click each, on film that expired over half a century ago, and processed at Atkins lab.
Whatever happens along the way, I reckon it’s nice if everyone can come outta this little plane of existence with just one image like this.
And in case you were wondering, the rest of their day was as inversely colourful and upbeat as these were moody and sedate.
This post here goes into detail about why I shoot film at weddings.
Jul 1, 2020
Occasionally the wedding industry has someone move in from another branch of the broader arts and design sphere, and the spin they have on things is always a little different to what else is currently around. Enter Nathan Kaso weddings, mastercraftsman of moving image, sometime viral-video maker, and now your friendly local wedding videographer.
Generally my couple’s say they forgot that I was even around, which I take as the ultimate compliment. A very wise man (a certain Oli S, no wait that’s too obvious, O. Sansom) once taught me that when shooting weddings, having a small-footprint is the way to go. So I’ve stuck with that and do my best to stay out of the way and capture all the natural feels. It must be working because most couples aren’t sure if I’ve even turned up.
I put a fair amount of effort into my hair (head and facial)*, not going to lie. By the midway point of the ceremony it’s generally turned into a sweaty mess, but I’m hoping people take note at the start of the day and tell their friends
It takes a lot of effort to look like you’ve made no effort.
I actually quite enjoyed ISO. Once I got past my business crumbling to pieces, I really enjoyed spending time with my kids. But it wasn’t just the usual routine, we got right back to basics (as it seems a lot of folks did) and went bike riding, kite flying, walked along the river, simple things that we normally don’t seem to find the time for. Honestly it was bliss, and the break that I didn’t know I needed.
When the apocalypse hits, I’ll go Superman style with a fortress of solitude in the snow.
Provided my kids are old enough for M15+, I’ll be bringing with me the 1996 classic Fargo, because the Cohen Brothers and Roger Deakins and Steve Buscemi in a woodchipper will never get old.
Jun 30, 2020
In the middle of classic Australian expanse, about 2 hours west of Brisbane as the crow flies, sits Australia’s second largest inland city, and recipient of “most vowels in a city name” award. Welcome, to the gloriously rural region of Toowoomba, Queensland. Known for it’s Carnival of Flowers held annually in September, and having recently installed it’s own airport more and more people are getting to know this hidden gem of a town. Today though, we’re here to focus specifically on the BEST Toowoomba wedding venue, Gabbinbar Homestead.
Read this post if:
The majestic diversity speaks for itself. It’s the perfect middle ground between country wedding and city wedding. While Toowoomba isn’t a bustling hub of activity like Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, it has the most endearing rustic charm that you can’t quite find in those larger cities. This rustic charm honestly makes for the most heartwarming, down-to-Earth wedding ceremonies.
Shooting at rural wedding venues like this just make you feel like you’re part of something special: and part of that here owes to the almost total seclusion from the outside world of it’s private garden edges.
I’ve shot at countless wedding venues and no place quite makes you feel at home like the gorgeous Gabbinbar Homestead. There are so many hidden gems scattered throughout the venue, and the mystique of it all is something you have to feel to believe. You find yourself weaving in and out of the trees, snapping pictures of family and friends of the bride and groom in such a relaxed, magical atmosphere. Rural wedding venues just seem to bring out the best in people.
Gabbinbar’s all-inclusive wedding package, aptly titled ‘The Gabbinbar Experience’ is just that. It’s basically everything you need to experience the exact wedding day you want to bring to life. Specifically:
Plus all of those often overlooked, finer details that go into executing a flawless wedding that come with the territory of having everything in the one place.
Outside of this theres 3000+ rooms a stone’s throw away for guests and family.
So, if you’re thinking of escaping to the country for your wedding, short of the rural expanses of the moon there’s no better place than Gabbinbar Homestead.
From a Toowoomba wedding venue abundant in charm and heart to a completely unique shotgun-style Melbourne wedding venue, visit this post featuring The Alter Electric.
Jun 29, 2020
I don’t know much about cakes, but I do know that beyond being face-plantingly delicious, there’s a bunch of love that has to be artfully weaved into the process, lest it ends up just resembling an attractive piece of cardboard, and Torte by Mirjana is the local bees-knees of the taste game.
Apart from Mirjana being an absolute magnet personality and culinary wizard, the thing that stood out to me most is that everyone who talks about her work, talks about the taste. That might seem like the most ludicrously obvious talking point, but it never occurred to me that in a space where so much of the work looks good, what really matters it the drooling gob that it’s ending up in, and what that gob then says about the experience #goblife.
We had a little mid-iso chat, so if you haven’t been introduced to her work stick around and hit up her links at the bottom to check out her majestic work online.
I’m Melbourne’s Punky Brewster version of a cake lady
I get to make a whole bunch of mess in the kitchen, and then somehow miraculously end up bringing an edible art piece into existence.
I think my ability to make a personal connection with my clients and establish a relationship during the cake designing process its that or the msg version of sweet sugary love I put into each cake.
Torte took a little break during covid and I grew a new title which was homeschool teacher… didn’t really like that, so I started making mini heart cakes that were inspired by my love of Wes Anderson and all things vintage, and they were a real hit with lovers who were in lockdown – so I’m hoping to see some baby shower cake orders soon!
Nostalgia you can taste!
Jun 28, 2020
Every once in a while at a wedding, you’re graced with a little moment where the thing happening in front of you, the environment itself, the weather, and the gear you’re using all come together in perfect harmony.
To read more about why I shoot analogue film at weddings, head to this post.
Jun 27, 2020
How to do the perfect champagne spray at a wedding: everyone’s seen it, everyone’s had a crack at it, and everyones experience ends with one of “nailed it”, “nearly took my head off”, or “fizzled out to a flaccid wisp like Creeds record contract” (I bought a few of their albums back in the day so this is all fair game, and I guess that makes me fair game).
Also file this under – things you can practice at home in a pandemic. Great for your serotonin levels, not so great for your lounge room walls, so maybe one to take to the streets.
How to do a champagne spray (condensed version):
There’s a gentle art to the champagne spray, and it’s both easier than you might think in the moment, while at the same time requiring of a bit of careful strategy and forward-thinking so that the proceeds don’t resemble the unfortunate scene of a garden hose with no pressure at a kids water-fight birthday-party in the middle of summer.
Because if we’re gonna have a day of beautiful debauchery and anarchy, contributing to the carbon(ated beverage) atmospheric trust-fund – and surrounding garments – is one of the cheaper thrills we can have on the day, with a mighty power-to-weight ratio as far as thrills gained, and dollars spent on cheap wine.
Fun for everyone – even me as my gear gets gloriously soaked in the stuff (tips for photographers: if you want to get the best champagne shots, sorry – but you need to be right in front of it – and if you don’t come out needing a dry-clean, you haven’t shot it right).
In order to get a wild spray going that lasts as long as the winners ones do on an F1 podium, we need to consult our dusty “armchair teenage physicist” manual, and brush up on the “why” before we get to the “how”.
This means we need to press our thumb against the hole, as soon as the cork is removed. This in turn keeps extra pressure inside the bottle, which means it’s going to try and force it’s way through the available gap. If the champagne has pressure that is mostly kept in by your thumb, that means that in order to release that pressure, it’s going to have to push it’s way through that gap – and fast.
And when you maintain that while continuing to shake it – that’s where it all starts going bananas.
Luckily for us, we have everyones favourite rainbow anarchist (well, the other favourite to this wonderful mob) Dee Brinsmead, wedding celebrant and co-owner of The Altar Electric, to help run us through how it’s done.
Bring yourself into a state of maniacal glee. This should be fun, you should have your crew around you (if they’re part of it), and you should be prepared to make a mess, take an eye out, blow a hole in the photographers expensive lens, all the good stuff.
Here, a friendly neighbourhood cat takes part.
Acquire champagne, twist and remove the wire cap, so just the cork remains.
With your thumb over the cork, pre-shake it enthusiastically.
Begin to undo the cork until it’s nearly off. Brace your thumb against the base of the cork, and flick it into the heavens above, or at your photographers head.
Tip: if the cork is tough to remove, grip it with #intention very tightly, and carefully rotate it and “unscrew it” out with your hand.
At this point, you should immediately cover the hole with your thumb: in fact, trying to completely block it – and shake the bottle like a maniac. I promise you the champagne will begin to escape, no matter how robust you think your thumb-bottle sealant game is. This is where a champagne-spray often fails, and this is the step to nail correctly.
Every second of champagne-exit where the hole isn’t blocked, is precious pressure lost.
From here, just gently remove pressure very slightly, in the direction you want to spray, being conscious of where it’s coming out as you pivot your thumb. Continue to shake with maniacal glee.
Tip: As the contents and pressure in the bottle deplete, you can squeeze as much out if it as possible by increasing the pressure you’re creating, and pressing your thumb against it more firmly and closing the gap. The little pressure that’s left in the bottle will be amplified by having the gap made even tighter.
Voila! You’ve successfully emptied the contents of a bottle in the manner in
which was truly intended by the manufacturer, but can’t be claimed as such on fancy champagne labels.
Just know that you’re doing your winemaker countrymen proud.
Jun 26, 2020
Good Day Club are your friendly neighbourhood Rainbow Anarchists. Good Day design the most wild, colourful, bombastic, insert-synonym-here wedding celebrations in all the lands of/including/but not limited to, Melbourne and it’s surrounds.
Since one hand is loaded up with shiraz these days, we figured we’d load up the other with a keyboard and have a bit of a chinwag about all things celebration.
I’ve been lucky to share a couple of shoots with these maestros, from Tanglewood Estate all the way over to The Altar Electric where their stylish hands mark is laid permanently, onto it’s peach-pastel walls of eternity. Etc.
Read this post if:
I’m Kate Forsyth, creative director and co-founder of Good Day Club. I steer the ship and set it’s creative direction, but I also do pretty much any and all things from changing lightbulbs and fixing broken chairs to buying milk and cleaning the toilet.
I’d say my friends think I am constantly doing lots of glamorous and creative stuff and swanning around at parties and weddings, whereas the majority of the time, ship steering is where it’s at. If I do get to attend a party or wedding, I guarantee you if I do get to go to a party or wedding, I shall end up crawling on the floor sorting out bung neon sign plug or rectifying one thing or another.
The creative part of my job is pretty ace though – from working with ace clients to create their dream event, to making + building, meeting fellow vintage lovers and passionate people and collaborating in heaps of way.
They’re unique and people feel empowered to do whatever the heck has meaning for them. Melbourne weddings are less about what’s trending and more about what floats the boat of the couple.
Personalisation, colour, fun, personality, boldness and the unexpected.
My high levels of weirdness. The fact that I have like 30 tonnes of furniture and props at my fingertips. The number of Potato Gems I consume.
For want of a better term, we’re a one-stop shop because we can design your wedding, furnish and light it, create your graphic design, set it up, style it and take it all away.
And we’ve leaned very hard into our niche of a wild mix of old and new. People tell us our work is immediately recognisable and that makes me feel so happy, that I eat some more Potato Gems.
We were already looking at efficiency this year, so it’s been a supercharged version of that. Efficiency with our costs but also with our processes – making everything work better and easier for our customers (and staff). We’ve also looked at doing less things better, cutting out a few services and we’ve added our first digital product (video call backgrounds).
We’ve always prided ourselves on our rad designs but what we talk about less is that we are a smooth AF operation as well.
And we just got smoother.
Our clients are always telling us that they loved how easy we make things and that is our mission!
Look, who bloody knows. Honestly, while we’ve been busy improving our offering and efficiency, I’ve been interspersing that with having semi-regular existential crises/breakdowns about what is going to happen to celebrations.
If I leave the ‘why are we here’s?’ and ‘what is the purpose of all this?’ at the door, I’d say that celebrations will continue to be more and more unique and personalised, and a reflection of the couple and what’s important to them.
Couples have had a LOT of time to think about what’s important and so while wedding size is currently mandated by the government (srsly, how weird is that sentence?!?) I think smaller celebrations with more of what the couple want will continue to be all the rage, even once bigger weddings are allowed again.
I mean, do you really want to spend $150 to feed and water your cousin’s boyfriend or your work friend’s partner you’ve never met?
Cutting that guest list gives you heaps more freedom to go all out on the things you love.
The mark I want to leave is a big, bold and cray colourful one where I’ve contributed to a movement of couple’s feeling super empowered to do whatever the fuck they want for their wedding, dumping traditions that mean nothing and other people’s expectations.
Jun 25, 2020
2017, overlooking the Cathedral of Porto: running a small portrait session for photographers at the Bodaf conference. Great time to pull out some gear well past it’s useby date in one of the most beautiful little cities I’ve been to.
This frame taken on a beautiful piece of 1960’s engineering (Yashica 635 twin lens reflex) on Kodak film.
Jun 24, 2020
Anthony Cribbes – recipient of the most debonair hair-sweep, occasional farmer (only, or mostly during pandemics), wedding celebrant, founder of The Celebrant A List, and one part of the trio behind the iconic Collingwood Wedding chapel The Altar Electric.
Read on for all this and all the other things he does that didn’t fit in this sentence.
Man what a time ISO LYF has been! I live in the country but for the last 5 years it feels like the road is more my home. Being able to stay closer to home has made me realised that I will be putting a priority on focussing my business in a more local sense.
It’s almost like I guess you could say that I am becoming a business cliched bourgeoisie and opting for a ’tree-change’ or ‘downsizing’… only I promise I am doing it in a non-pretentious way, not so I can start a new Insta account of: ‘My journey from big city life to self discovery’ kind of crap.
Before ISO I was passionate about community and quality over quantity. I see weddings now moving from a ‘bigger and better’ world to one where people are placing a premium on the connection.
This means I can see a lot more smaller weddings happening. We actually made a change to the Altar Electric around 6 months ago for this very reason, we didn’t just want to be offering registry style weddings, we wanted people to be able to have a small wedding celebration.
One that was about creating great moments but didn’t bring with it the anxiety inducing costs.
Haha…I’ll leave the Wizardry stuff to my mates out at Hogwarts. Altar Electric is actually Dee and Sarah’s (my amazing business partners) original concept, I just helped give it the nudge.
Initially we were thinking it would be about Registry Weddings…but in the end we realised what we were actually tapping into was a whole new vein of thinking from pockets in the community. We didn’t realise just how under served the small wedding market was.
From our understanding that wasn’t due to a lack of desire but more a lack of supply from an industry that was focussed on large groups only essentially.-
Oh so many! I think the biggest thing anything Celebrant can do is to not get carried away with their own ego, I see it all over the place and could also be accused of being guilty of it myself.
I think once you start telling yourself you’ve made ‘it’, things will turn, because it’s at this stage when people stop evolving, adapting, learning and improving.
I am definitely a way different Celebrant in terms of my style now then I was 5 years ago when I first started. How I win my work is also drastically different.
We can always learn from anyone… right now the people I am learning the most from are the Celebrants who are only 1-2 years into the business but are completely slaying it…also avoid having a gimmick, it will run dry very quickly, just be genuine.
There’s 9,500 of us in Australia, so just know that there’s the right kind of Celebrant out there for you.
I always think it works best as a Celebrant when I work with couples who I can genuinely go and have a beer with down at the pub and talk about other things than weddings.
That’s the kind of fit you are hoping for, so make sure you try and find that kind of person for you.
Find Anthony Cribbes online
A feature on Melbourne wedding celebrants is also here.
Jun 23, 2020
Something I teach when lecturing about the strange bastard art of photography, is about segmenting our brains and our time when there’s a “thing” happening, so we can gracefully and intentfully photograph the “thing” from more than one angle, and in the process, gift that “thing” with more variety in how we see it.
Got it? No? Perfect.
A “thing”, is defined as a block of time where there is no deviation in the fundamental arc of the event by other contrasting events or alternative measures of some-such otherwise.
Canapes hour? That’s a thing.
First speech block? That’s a thing.
Portraits hour? That’s a thing.
Righto – glad we got that cleared up.
Case in point: the “thing” here, was about a 2 hour block, where Jenelle and Parker and all their guests were partying together on some ten houseboats that were tied together, off the eastern coast off the edge of Canada.
2 hours is a lot of time where there’s just partying, diving, and BBQ’ing going on. This means a lot of opportunity to intent-fully divide the time up, and try and extract some more wondrous things out of it that test both us and the narrative that’s there.
I’ll spend, for example, 25 minutes moving around doing photojournalism on digital cameras, and then, i’ll gift myself a calm lap, on a camera half a century old, to try and see this scenario (previously referred to as “thing”), in a different way.
In this lap, i’m extra slow, watchful, and, deliberately, not particularly worried about missing moments en-masse, but rather, more concerned with getting “a couple of good ones”.
Staying in a state of “fomo” and shooting like a maniac on digital is good for content creation and capturing opportunity in a sometimes thin way, but then the tradeoff is you’re watching less intentfully at what’s happening – and maybe missing the opportunity to show an event in a better light.
I walked along the edge of one of the houseboats, turned a corner, saw a bit of commotion, held this 1960s bucket of bolts to my eye, and breathed in.
One of my favourite images ever, let alone wedding ones.
Shot on Kodak Tri-X film, and developed by Atkins Pro Lab.
See their full wedding day featured on the USA’s largest wedding blog: Jenelle and Parker’s rustic week-long wedding featured on Wedding Chicks.
Jun 22, 2020
Danee of Killer Queen Creative is a feel-good merchant, personal branding genius, and resident rockstar of the Melbourne hair and makeup scene. We took over The Line for Pepi and Sam, and now she’s taking over my internet space.
I’m Danee, founder of Killer Queen Beauty. My friends think I play with pretty things and put on eyeliner all day and swan around at weddings.
In reality, like all small biz owners, my craft is only a very small part of what I do- the rest is all about running the show and keeping the wheels turning.
I’m a one woman creative show, offering makeup, hair, and education. I help rad rebel brides to have the non-traditional day of their dreams by giving them advice, support and expertise for wedding day beauty that is non-boring, non-conventional and as unique as they are.
I like to think of my brand as the punk maverick of the beauty world. I do things differently, I love to smash beauty stereotypes, and I despise conformity!
I LOVE being part of the wedding industry in Melbourne and feel like I’ve really met my people- weddings in Melbourne have such much scope for creativity and there are so many amazing venues that are all about being flexible to couples’ wildest desires. And there is so much ridiculous talent in this city.
I’m stoked to be part of the more alternative side of weddings because that’s where I feel all the creativity and the envelope pushing happens.
To me, a wedding is a really big opportunity to express who you are and create some amazing art, experiences and memories.
I think it’s heart and magic. I put everything into my weddings- they’re not just jobs for me but magical celebrations and connections.
I like to bring a creative approach and lots of feelgood vibes to someone’s special day; being part of the planning process and connecting with the bride on the morning before all the mayhem starts is petty spesh. Weddings are a bloody big deal and your wedding day is one of the best days of your life- why not spend it with rad people who get a buzz off creating the best day possible for you?
I spent the time in lockdown helping couples reschedule their weddings and navigate a nutso time!
I also opened up a lot of digital offerings, and took the opportunity to have a good shake up of all my systems and processes; as a result of that I ended up overhauling a lot of my systems including my website, so it’s all much more kickass and easy to find what you want.
Through the whole time, I’ve learned that I’m heaps more resilient that I thought- and I also learned to surrender control over things that were bigger than me, to ride the wave a bit better. As a result I think I became more adaptable and more chilled about chaos.
I think those qualities make me pretty well placed to deal with any wedding fiascos, and help you through any hiccups.
I might drink all the wine but I’m a good companion to have if the seas get rough.
People want to create celebrations that are unique as they are. It’s not about cookie cutter anymore; people are really putting their stamp on their big day and making it all about an expression of them and their love story. I love that couples aren’t as concerned about tradition, but more about celebrating their love.
I want to be part of as many out-there and wild weddings and make people feel larger than life on their day. I’m all for encouraging radical self expression and defying convention so I’m more than happy to be an enabler of that.
I want couples to look back on their day and ecstatically and fondly remember everyone that was part of it and how magic it all was. Like, when they’re in their 80s they can look back at their wedding photos and say they threw one hell of a memorable party.
Also! I want Melbourne to be a standout destination for out of this world nuptials!
I want to be part of a wedding revolution going forward, pushing for diversity and change in the industry. Helping and mentoring younger vendors in the industry to develop their brand to find their niche and their people. Being part of a wider network of mavericks turning tradition on its head, and bringing innovation into the wedding space.
Jun 21, 2020
From small, intimate duos, to full, scaleable big-bands. Here is a roundup of 5 of the best wedding bands, DJ’s and musician duos you can possibly get your ears around in Melbourne.
Booking a wedding band or musician has a little more gravitas on it than you might imagine. Far more than being just background music – it’s the difference between your guests having a ripping time or not, and in no small way, they are often the glue between all of the other elements you’ve booked.
If you’re going to book an artist, they might as well be top of the tree and genuine lovers of what they do: music!
Here’s 5 Melbourne wedding bands that fit that bill – read on for a little more detail:
5 of the best wedding bands in Melbourne (not in order):
Like This band leverage something entirely unique that can’t be bought or imitated: they’re all real-life friends, and have played together as a unit since forever.
What this means for you, is this: no awkward referring to sheet-music or scenarios with band members not being in sync with each other, which is far more common than you might imagine, and affects how authentic and on-point the music comes across to your guests. And this translates to them partying hard.
Like This Band are a well-oiled machine, and having seen them perform at several weddings, it’s something special to see.
Expect an immersive experience, where the members are joining guests in the middle of the dance-floor for sax-solos, sing-alongs, and the most incredible musicianship available in Melbourne. Scaleable from large to small, they can take a post at any point of your wedding.
Their lead vocalist and pillar of charisma, Cadeyrn, can literally morph his vocals to sing, anything. From Sinatra, to Nick Cave, to John Mayer, over to every classic imaginable, you will absolutely be doing a double-take and wondering if the real deal is in the room. If you haven’t yet heard Like This, this can’t be overstated enough: Like This don’t cover other artists, they BECOME them.
Make an enquiry with Like This
Renee and Jamie with have you swooning over their ethereal soundscapes, filling the air with what should be impossible with just two people. Because of this, these two are commissioned all over the world to cast their craft as the backdrop to wedding ceremonies and canapés.
Expect an experience where your guests are doing double takes at how Renee and Jamie are interpreting every type of song under the sun, and making it their (and your) own.
Renee has a voice that softly cuts through a gathering and just has to be heard to be believed, and the way Jamie and herself weave songs into something far beyond what you know them as, is just out of this world.
Apart from that, if their instagram is anything to go by they’re well documented as going to extra lengths to make sure their wizardry waved over your day is not only music but a fully personalised experience that will leave a memorable mark on you and your guests.
Make an enquiry with Tobi Tobi
Led by Luke O’Connor, Lark Music are at the pinnacle of the modular band experience. Within Lark Music, you can pick your flavour: from DJ, to duo, to ten-part band and beyond. Lark offer a fully customised experience entertaining small intimate weddings, to large wedding armageddons.
Expect a slick and professional experience that can only come from a seasoned machine that has absolutely seen it all.
With their incredible extended network of musician friends and enormous tight core, if you can forgive me sounding like i’m marketing an I.T firm for a hot minute, they are the epitome of a “scaleable soultion”. Soulution was a typo but i’m damn well leaving it there because it fits.
Make an enquiry with Lark Music
The head-honcho of Just Me Plus One, Vanessa, is a seasoned songstress with over 1000 (!) gigs under her belt. An incredible body of work like that translates to a wild level of experience and empathy that has her locking in with crowds like, I guess, some kind of well-churned item of dairy produce onto lightly caramelised bread.
When you book Just Me Plus One, you get a seasoned performer who will not only cast a cracking spell on your guests on the day, but before all that, walk you through the process of either creating a bespoke package for you, or work together with your own recommendations.
Expect the warm, room-controlling presence of someone who can simultaneously walk the professional tightrope of having an impossible number of wildly varied gigs under her belt, while at the same time being a calm, friend next door presence to all in the room.
Make an enquiry with Just Me Plus One
When “No More Nutbush” are the first words that hit you on their website, you get a small taste of what you’re in for. Aleks and Eddy are a partner-duo (in case you haven’t picked up the theme of this post – all of the artists here are either friends or partners!), and i’ve had the wild pleasure of watching Aleks keep a room of the most discerning partyers going late into the evening.
Expect the best DJ’s in town turning up to turn up. If you want to get a good feel for how their sets weave, they’ve brilliantly included a variety of mixes over on their website linked below.
Expert crowd-readers, One More Song somehow split their attention between manning the decks and empathetically reading the crowd from top to tail.
Make an enquiry with One More Song Entertainment
And there we go. Hopefully this post was a delightfully useful little morsel of an insight into the wedding band options available in Melbourne.
5 of the best wedding bands in Melbourne (not in order):
Jun 20, 2020
Atlas Singles is a little peek into some of my favourite images, along with some lyrical wax from the last bits left in the jar.
Here’s one from wayback.
A little cabin on a lake in the Blue Mountains.
A clunky, 50 year old camera, that just a few days later, i’d have to jam a stick into it’s front to trigger it.
Barely nailed focus.
Said god-knows-what to them which generated a reaction, took a wild guess as to when the right moment to click was (you only get one chance when you’re using a camera you have to wind-up).
Missed the “moment”, and got some ephemeral in-between.
For me, more perfect than perfect.
Shot on a Yashica 635G Twin Lens Reflex on Kodak Tri-X for Zoe and Adam, before they did the wedding thing out at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
Jun 19, 2020
Not just a recent TIkTok phenomenon, Bottlebrush Films are what happens when Marty McFly and Quentin Tarantino are placed in a sandwich press and then thrown into the Matrix (and then gloriously re-assembled and tasked with creating a wedding film, etc).
Bottlebrush Films are Grace and Andrew, maniac creatives, internationally award-winning wedding videographers, and founders of the Lonely Hearts Film Camp – An “American summer camp… but in Australia”.
Here’s a few snippets from a socially-distanced chinwag we shared (with our keyboard fingers, and socially distanced by about 27 kilometres).
That we’re incredibly good looking and humble. No but really, we’re lucky to get lots of love from our couples, the mains ones being ‘holy shitballs how do you create such unique films?’, ‘you guys are hilarious we can’t wait to party with you at our wedding’, ‘fuck, film our day already’.
Nothing but good vibes from everyone we work with so we certainly don’t take all the kind words for granted.
‘They look like the kind of people who’d do a perfect straight arm-y and not spill a drop’.
And that we’re incredibly good looking and humble.
We’re very chill in a crisis, we’re great at being hermits & even better at making noooice pizza dough. (Can confirm this is true – in fact you can usually watch it on their insta-stories).
My favourite discovery though – we don’t need much to be happy (…just toilet paper apparently)
Casablanca, it’s timeless & has it all – love, war, friendship, betrayal, a witty script & a bangin’ cast. Most importantly it doesn’t show any lushy food – I can not be stuck in a bunker watching someone stuff their face with aioli & chippies if I haven’t got access to any.
Thanks Grandew. It’s been real.
Jun 18, 2020
With over half a decade of photographing weddings all over the planet and in my hometown of Melbourne, i’ve been lucky to square-off with the best melbourne wedding videographers in the business: listed on this page, are what I believe to be Melbournes most unique wedding videographers.
Melbournes best wedding videographers (not in order):
Needless to say – picking your Melbourne wedding videographer carefully and thoughtfully will be one of the best decisions you make for your day.
If you don’t believe me – just check out every “I wish I…” post where folks look back at their wedding day. In #1 spot each and every time – is those that didn’t hire a great videographer, wishing they had.
Photographs are all well and good, but when push comes to shove, there’s nothing like having your loved ones preserved in movement and sound by the absolute genius artisans on this page.
First and foremost – they’ve gotta be a good egg! You’re going to be spending an entire day together, so at a minimum, you want to like each other. There’s a fine line between affable, and downright intrusive, and as through all of life, you never really know what someone is like until you’ve had to either spend a morning at the supermarket together, or spend the day in front of their lens. So as a public service gesture, all of the videographers on this page are so perfectly tuned in, aware, and certified as utterly brilliant company.
Secondly, and this goes without saying, they have to be a master of their craft. Anyone can wave a camcorder around, and just as your uncle Bobs footage will be so marvellously perfect in it’s own right, over the fence is what these maestros create: art.
So, here we go – what I believe to be Melbournes most unique and creative wedding videographers and cinematographers.
These two characters wouldn’t look out of place on the character-rack of Tarantinos writing-room. But luckily for us (you), we instead get them all to ourselves. Master crafts-folk and hilarious to boot, Bottlebrush Films are the power couple to end all power couples. Or if not end them – ride with them on a unicorn into an alternate galaxy. Etc. Whatever. Just go follow these two on Tik Tok. Now.
The most debonair, dashing craftsmen in the game. Jared, Jacob, and their impossibly perfect haircuts swoon around weddings carefully out of the way, with a look of curiosity on their face that you later realise has translated into the most impossibly unique way of seeing what’s in front of them. Small wonder they are quite literally flown around the entire planet filming love across all cultures, because no-one else beats to their drum.
Nathan Kaso is a brilliant dark-horse. An expat of the creative advertising world at the highest level, this maestro has a bag of tricks that might make you wonder where he’s tucked the other ten of himself. Subtle, watchful, careful, and known to deploy an excellent dress sense to rival a tropical James Bond, Mr Kaso is the pick of the most discerning creative couples.
C2 Films have been on the block for a while. You don’t just get to rock a moustache like their dear leader Marcus does without having done a few laps of the park. C2 have become synonymous with class and elegance, and a dreamy approach to cinematography that wouldn’t be out of place in a Peter Jackson film (if he, say, directed a romantic flick).
I’m slightly biased here – as Supergreat Films is the cinematography arm of Briars Atlas. Supergreat Films shoot wedding videos just like the old days: on beautiful Super-8 film straight out of the 1970’s, with some classic 90’s VHS to boot. Supergreat Films is about capturing the feel, not the story: no sound is recorded, no speeches, and the guarantee isn’t a chronological order of what went down, but a wild, anarchic representation of what went down using some of the most beautiful ways of recording moving image that us clever little humans ever developed. With all that said, it’s recommended to hire a proper end-to-end videographer, and hire SuperGreat as an addition.
Supergreat films website:
I’ve been super fortunate to work with all of the highly sought after and creative Melbourne wedding videographers on this page, and if you’re after something out of the ordinary, you can’t go past any of these, and they come at my highest recommendation.
If you’ve already booked one of these legends and want me to come along for the ride on stills, you can make an enquiry here.
Jun 17, 2020
This is one of my favourite images from Lil and Jakes wedding. Up close and personal with my characteristically well-dressed friend John at The Diggers Store (nestled just over an hour outside of Melbourne) who probably thought he was the feature of the frame, who looked aside with furrowed brow, while I actually focused on old mate to the left, deep in a state of existential ponderment.
It was such a treat photographing this wedding on old, banged-up film cameras. This was the wedding of a couple of dear friends, and I somehow managed to high-tail it back to Australia the day after delivering a talk in Vancouver, landing the morning of their wedding, and catching a few hours sleep in my hire car.
And then at midnight, I hit the road again, to deliver another talk in Rome.
Small wonder none of the Italians could understand my blubbering, jetlagged Australiana, but it made the translators of Way Up North earn their fee.
I love this image, and it’s still strangeness takes me right back to that very odd few-day whirlwind.
Shot on god-knows-what camera, on Kodak Tri-X film.
Visit this post to see why you should shoot film.
Jun 16, 2020
No-one runs a wedding ceremony quite like Nat Sproal Celebrant, and you kinda get a taste of what you’re in for with her catch-cry, “non-crap weddings for legends”.
Nat is on a fast moving carriage headed into “do it your way”s-ville, and that’s Nat’s wheelhouse. Nat controls a room, sometimes controlling said room into uncontrollable fits of laughter, and generally is a master at breaking the ice, and stopping her couples from breaking a sweat with hear down to earth way of running a ceremony.
Here’s some outtakes with 5 minutes spent with her.
Just a mad dog who marries peeps for a living and surfs the adrenaline wave.
My friends think I run the big show and then swan around drinking champagne – which is pretty spot on.
But there’s also some planning and writing in there too.
The fact that there is a culture.
A culture of doing things a little differently.
Well, particularly north of the river anyway.
A cracking celebrant is a great people person, a talented writer and a charismatic presenter. If you have all three things locked (rare in this gig, despite it being saturated with purveyors), you’re dangerous.
I’m working my way to being a total weapon.
But mainly I think I just keep it real. You won’t find fluffy text, a watercolour logo or a proclamation that I love love in my bio. Ever.
I’ve communicated with my clients from the start. I was in touch with all couples with weddings until the end of 2020 before the lockdown even started- and I kept talking to them.
My priorities were supporting them to have a ripping wedding at a later date- but also protecting my business. I’ve updated my site, resources, set up a CRM and written ceremonies up till the end of Nov. I’m ready to roll baby.
I reckon we’ll see further steps away from original plans and more diversity. Lots of downsizing, weekday weddings and fresh ideas. Lots of people’s priorities and financial capacities have changed.
I’ve got a couple who were having a massive wedding at a big venue who have quartered their guest list and changed to beer and pizza at a local craft beer house with live tunes. They’re so much happier and it suits them to a tee. There’s a lot of this going on which has me pumped.
I have a sick project in the works which will cater to these types of couples who are switching things up- and new couples wanting to leave the bullshit behind and focus on what counts.
Watch this space!
See Nat and other Melbourne wedding celebrants from the A-List Ball.
Jun 15, 2020
For those with “can’t-let-go-of-the-past” syndrome, or beautiful pieces of engineering cut short before their prime? This is a little how and why I drag around gear that passed it’s use-by date half a century ago and why I consider myself a film wedding photographer.
For a brief moment there in the late 00’s, opportunistic young-things were meeting the cries of the old-guard lamenting “film is dead!” with “yes, i’ll take all that dead processing gear off your hands for free, thankyou very much”. All of the beautiful analogue film processing gear that had seen so much love, had been decommissioned and retired, before being snapped up by enthusiasts for a song.
As a result, more film-labs began to open than they did close, and now there has never been a better time to shoot analog at weddings.
Film has been a key part of my look and approach since I became a melbourne wedding photographer, and an ongoing reason why creative folks and even other wedding photographers book me – even if in some cases I just channel the look of film photos in my digital images.
In 2019, I was awarded the analogue international wedding photographer of the year award, and in this post I want to discuss why I shoot film, what it’s benefits are, and why you might consider the use of analogue film as part of your wedding coverage.
It slows you down, and costs you money. In a generation of excess, our freewheeling brains need to be reined in. Historical patterns show that the more Tik-Toks and short-form content (ie – catering to short attention spans) there is entering the arena, the more room is then created for long-form content, and things warranting pause and stillness, as we collectively look for a space to make us feel something again.
When something forces you to respond slowly and consider the cost, the by-product of that is that you give yourself to the medium more. Where there’s tonnes of advantages in firing off thousands of frames on digital, there’s just as many advantages to having the costly walls of constraint around us (constraint being the only true useful tool in creativity that continues to stand the test of time).
People throw the whole timeless thing around in association with analogue film, but I think that only really holds true for black and white (Tri-X) film.
Most colour stocks actually have their own distinct look and feel that, when processed by a modern lab, aren’t what I’d necessarily call timeless. I don’t say that in a bad way – but the timeless colour we’re perhaps used to, is more the Kodachrome, stuff from the 60’s-80’s that our eyes more closely align with timelessness.
The rich, punchy colours of beautifully over-exposed Portra film aren’t any more timeless than digital, and are actually very distinct in their own right.
The sheer variety of looks in analog film stocks, lenses, and camera bodies is staggering, and each link in the chain imparts it’s own little flavour on the end look of the image.
So for me, shooting analog film is less about timelessness, and more about variety.
In my own tests, shooting analogue film is an objectively better experience for the person in front of the camera – if for nothing else, because we’re slipping into a loss of generational memory of those old cameras: and so these crazy old things bring on a strange sense of removed nostalgia and wonder, simply because it’s assumed that they’re just mantlepiece decorations, rather than fully capable image-making machines.
Having someone use an archaic piece of engineering with all the romance of a past-craft makes them feel valued in a totally different way. Even if the whole shoot isn’t being done on film, having some gear in the bag to switch things up can completely change the tone of the shoot.
David Rees is a good point of reference for the question “can the intrinsic value of a thing be increased or amplified by wrapping some old-world artisan air of craftsmanship around it”.
Typically, there are two main approaches that a photographer will take when choosing to use film as well as digital during a shoot, and they are either hybrid shooting, or separatist shooting (I made that second label up, but I can’t think of another way to title it).
Hybrid film photography is when the photographer shoots analog film, but aims to have the feel and tonality of the images completely in tune with the digital coverage. Often the aim of the preset applied to the digital images is to have them look as close as possible to the film ones. In this way, hybrid shooting is a process-based approach to film photography, rather than an output based approach: which is to say that it’s used mainly to provide variety to the photographer, rather than to the couple. This is not how I shoot film.
Separatist shooting is when the differences in the two mediums are celebrated, and no effort is made to create consistency between the digital images and the analogue images, meaning that the photographer gets to enjoy the process of shooting with different cameras, as well as providing something unique to the couple, and extra variety in the images they receive. This is how I choose to shoot film.
Separatist shooting is my preferred approach, and this is why: over the last 100 years, we’ve had hundreds of beautiful, differing formats used to create images. Different analogue film-stocks, and different lenses that all interpret light and render a scene, differently. I think those differences should be celebrated. It also keeps me more entertained pushing to find the deeper uniqueness of a particular format, rather than agonising over getting a perfect match between analog and digital, which for me, defeats the purpose of enjoying analog film as a medium.
Mixing things up is probably the number one reason why I shoot analogue film at weddings.
I don’t necessarily think consistency is overrated, but I do think surprise and intrigue is underrated. And as a film wedding photographer, there’s no greater joy than delivering a set of images where couples get the chance to swoon over that sprinkle of images that seem to just have something… else, to them.
Sure, I could go into the all the impractical bits of it, but for me, they’re joys. The only prolonged implications of shooting this stuff, is that it costs. It’s easy enough to throw in a roll here and there, but with analogue film and developing costs, we’re looking at about $70 for a couple of rolls – or about $3 per shot.
That’s fine when it’s a small part of the shoot, but a full-day analog wedding shooting only film can run past $1500 in film and developing costs alone very quickly, and that’s where it has to be considered as an add-on, rather than something that can be thrown in.
If you’re considering having your wedding photographed on analog film, I can recommend a bunch of ways in which it can be approached: whether having your entire wedding photographed on film such as Lil and Jake here, or doing what I do much of the time, when I detect that the idea sparks joy: bringing along some weird, wonderful gadgets, and making some images on them over the course of the day.
If you like, you can see some of what’s in my camera bag over at Shotkit, although it’s in need of an update (i’m pretty sure all the kit there hasn’t survived my anarchist hands for half a decade).
The poor-mans Rolleiflex, this little beauty is quiet, a marvel of engineering, dream to look at, and a pleasure to carry around.
This is my “good afternoon, i’m making some serious work” camera. A little heavier, a lot louder, but due to having an enormous mirror inside it, what you see through the ground-glass is what you get: whereas with a Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera, there might be a very slight difference in what you end up with.
The grand-daddy of common press-cameras in the 1950’s. Extremely portable, lightweight, invites curiosity, and the looks of it alone are good enough reason to be a film wedding photographer.
If I had to take one to a desert island, it would be the Yashica. If I got to take a tripod too, it would be the Hasselblad. My favourite film stocks are Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak Tri-X, although these days i’m taking a leaning towards the rich colours of Ektar.
If you’d like me to shoot some analogue film at your wedding, you can connect with me here or on instagram, and maybe for a doubke-whammy of awesome, let’s get our analogue on at one of the best alternative wedding venues in Melbourne.
For more of my film-only work, you can follow my personal account here.
Jun 13, 2020
Looking for an alternative to the traditional registry wedding? Unfurrow your brow and cast your eyes over to Melbourne’s answer to the Vegas wedding chapel – The Altar Electric.
The gloves are off, and The Altar Electric, has overhauled their entire space in Collingwood.
Previously a rich blue and in a slightly smaller room, The Altar Electric has a new lease of life in incredible pastel peach colours, with explosions of floral colour courtesy of the inimitable Melbourne florist Bloom Boy, styling features from The Arbourists, and an entire vision executed by the wizard-folk at Good Day Club.
The Altar Electric have been leaders in getting couples hitched while we’ve all been sailing the perilous waters of Covid-19, providing shotgun-style weddings and a colourful alternative to traditional registry weddings.
Now, as isolation restrictions lift, the venue is opening up and moving towards it’s full capacity of 40.
The venue has the most incredible light draping through its industrial style windows at any hour of day.
BYO cardboard Elvis – but you can order the real deal via their in-house Elvis impressionist.
The space is littered with the hallmarks of Good Day Clubs’ intricate styling – a roof filled with disco balls and chains, and decadent knick-knacks from wall to wall.
No bridal snog is complete without the floral explosions of Bloom Boy behind it.
Schoolhouse Studios, 81 Rupert St, Collingwood VIC
Jun 12, 2020
I’ve been lucky to photograph love and ceremony on all continents, which means seeing so much of the worlds most incredible bridal design on brilliant lovers in all kids of places: these are 5 of the best modern wedding dresses i’ve had the pleasure of working with.
When you look at how Australian and New Zealand designers have to fight for a place at the table with smaller markets and at a geographical disadvantage to the rest of the world, it’s no surprise then that some of the most brilliant and forward-thinking designs have actually come from this corner of the globe as they place tradition a gentle second, and innovation first, pushing the craft of design past the edges.
And so, incidentally, these designers are all from Australia and New Zealand.
As an art-lover, a beautiful and thoughtfully designed gown is captivating to look at and brilliant to photograph (as a kid who grew up on death-metal and martial-arts, this isn’t exactly a sentence I ever thought i’d say).
This is a run-down of 5 of the most beautiful gowns i’ve had the pleasure of photographing.
Brooke Tyson Ritual is what happens when you have a curious kiwi, captivated by the world of cinema and nostalgia and with a childhood spent playing dressups, cast her hand to the fine art of bridal couture.
Suzanne Harward is a designer i’ve had the good fortune of working with several times, and you can see a feature on 3 of the best Suzanne Harward wedding dresses here too.
Suzanne Harward is an icon of the Australian bridal design scene, with a rich long history while always staying two steps ahead of the trends. Check out the impossibly brilliant songbird gown.
Suzanne Harward songbird gown.
Alex Perry isn’t necessarily a name synonymous with bridal design – and this isn’t even a piece from his bridal collection – but that didn’t stop the forward-thinking Liv from adapting one of his other pieces for her wedding to Adam.
These two marvels are featured on Together Journal, where you can see even more glorious images of their day and her incredible sense of style.
Founded by Kyha Simpson after tying the knot and wanting to bring something new to the industry, One Day Bridal. Designed and handmade in Melbourne, One Day Bridal are one of the early frontrunners of doing things differently, and as a result have inspired an industry-wide shift in risk-taking designs.
I hope i’m not the only one who, based on the brand name, initially thought Paolo Sebastian was some kind of lavish octogenarian European designer with over half a century of brilliant work under their belt.
Nope – it’s the work from the genius mind of an impossibly young designer, Paul Vasileff, straight out of Adelaide, Australia.
Paolo Sebastian gowns blend a nod to tradition offset with something resembling the top end of the disney playground of fantasy designs.
Jun 11, 2020
One of the constant themes in my enquiry inbox is a reference to Wes Anderson styled wedding photography.
Ok. So. There’s something a little (wildly) gratuitous about drawing any connection between a prolific director (for the kids playing at home, that’s Wes Anderson) and the owner of a humble wedding photography business in suburban Melbourne (that’s me).
Wildly, of the level of wildness entertained by 18 year olds who put racing stripes on their Toyota Corollas back in the 90’s thinking it boosted their engines horsepower (I wasn’t one of those, but I *might* have lowered and tinted a 20 year old family sedan). But since I’ve started photographing humans around the world at their weddings, folks keep drawing a connection between the two, without my prompting.
Which is really humbling, as he has a massive body of work, and excellent hair.
So because of that bring raised, I wanted to open up a post about cinematic shooting, symmetry, and how I “find the feel” in seemingly simple situations, show a few images, and cut through to breaking that down: what DO people mean when they say “yeah, that’s got a real Wes Anderson vibe to it”?
In a nutshell, it’s overwhelmingly about, simply, symmetry.
What Sony’s Walkman did to the CD-player back in the 90’s and what Apple’s iPod did to the “portable music player”, Wes Anderson has done with this one enormously broad, fundamental design element.
It’s usually, (nearly) as simple as that, and it’s what I look for at every wedding. In fact it exists, whether we like it or not – we might just have to crank our neck a little.
If we extend it all a little further though, for me, the elements that give something a “Wes Anderson Vibe” in a broader sense, are:
And that’s without even touching on the intricate ways he weaves a story or creates a particular sense of theatre out of the characters. We could talk all day about the level of formula that his imagination uses, but we’ll just stay in the symmetry & composition saddle for the moment.
For me, I want to bring in a little bit of unique cinema into my Briars Atlas images, without getting too complex. Just a dash of… “I can’t put a finger on it, but when I look at this image, I feel like i’m peering inside a movie”/.
That means having an eye towards what it means to photograph with symmetry and finding calm in the chaos, so that within the set of images I deliver, there can me moments of calm and beauty in seemingly mundane situations.
Here’s a small selections, of my favourite “Wes Anderson” style wedding photos.
Jun 9, 2020
If you’re getting married in Melbourne (or anywhere for that matter), it’s hard to go past our own hometown maestros, Suzanne Harward bridal gowns, for world-leading bridal design. In this post, we’ll look at a few of the best Suzanne Harward bridal gowns i’ve seen.
Based in Collingwood, the Suzanne Harward team are responsible for some of the most forward-thinking, design-minded pieces that are not only a joy to photograph (I might have a personal bias), but incredibly decadent pieces for brides.
Most importantly, each and every time I chat with a bride about their choice of gown, they end up falling over backwards in adoration for the team, and it’s pretty easy to see why.
I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph several fashion-forward brides over the years and got to photograph the best modern wedding dresses around – which much of the time happens to be a Suzanne Harward.
Here, i’ve picked three of them, that offer a quick look at what the Suzanne Harward team can do a across the whole spectrum: from elegantly classic, to something from another planet.
All photographs below captured by and remain copyright of Briars Atlas.
Laura’s Suzanne Harward gown knocked my socks off as soon as I walked into their Daylesford bridal prep house. Hanging from a rustic door, it was adorned with the most incredibly bright florals etched into it, with gorgeous soft peach/pink tulle layers.
Laura and Walker were married at the Daylesford convent, a beautiful historic location that made for a perfect contrast to Lauras gown.
I’ve just gotta step in here: how incredible is that speckled light above? You can find that yourself by heading to the Daylesford Convent Gallery.
Treats. Always. Win. Laura and Walker invited their beautiful little scallywag Bonnie along, and she stayed for the entire day and partied well into the evening at the Daylesford Convent.
Want to see more of Laura and Walker? They are featured in print, having been published inside issue #19 of Together Journal. Already got your Suzanne Harward gown and want me to photograph it? You can enquire to hire me here.
Iro’s stunningly detailed dress is a masterclass in modern classic design. I like to think that I have this gown to thank for this image landing me as a category finalist for International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2018 – a beautiful moment in bridal prep accomodation in rural Victoria, before her wedding to Alex at Newstead Butterland.
What they won’t necessarily tell you on the Suzanne Harward website, is that no matter how gloriously decadent their gowns are, they are able to withstand a champagne spray from even the most enthusiastic friend.
Just when you think that you can’t be beautifully surprised by a new take on subtle classicism, Suzanne Harward come out with this sleek, elegant gem. Natasha and Jacob were married at the Melbourne registry office, and we spent a little time traipsing around some of my most favourite, secret spots in the city, with gorgeous soft light that played off against the simple shapes of the gown.
These brilliant humans are featured on my website here.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this roundup of the best Suzanne Harward wedding dresses (in my humble opinion – don’t let that stop you poring over their incredible range on their website below).
All images taken by Briars Atlas. If you’d like to make an enquiry for me to photograph your wedding, head here.
Jul 10, 2019
Wedding portaits: you’re getting married, you’re organising your vendors, and you’re at the point where you’re facing the classic conundrum that is working out whether you do or don’t want your day turned into a Hollywood film-set, and whether you are or aren’t going to be dragged away from your guests for 3 hours for a portrait session.
Originally published on Polka Dot Bride
There’s no right or wrong way of going about your wedding portraits: the main thing is to look at a lot of images from a variety of photographers, and build up a vocabulary of photos that you connect with (Pinterest being one of the great ways of storing that vocabulary), and understand how and when the portrait session (or sessions) fit into your wedding day.
Here’s a few helpful little home truths and things to keep in mind about your wedding portraits that I’ve found useful in navigating all this:
First up, someones gotta say it: while being totally necessary, your wedding portraits are still, simply not the most important part of your day. Not by a long, long stretch! I say this as a photographer who adores that part of the day (this post here has plenty of wedding portrait examples) and invests a hell of a lot of personal energy into them, both on the day and at 1am in my editing cave in the weeks after. Your photographer should be able to advise on the ideal amount of time for them to get images up to the standard that you’ve fallen in love with on their website.
At the same time, they should be able to confidently make you great images, in a small window of available time. I’ve been in situations where 45 minutes have been allocated, and then rain has erupted, and that reduced to just 5 minutes because they wanted to get into the warmth of their packed barn and on to the beers.
I think that’s fair enough.
And a photographer should be able to confidently deliver you some glorious wondrous images, in that 5 minutes. While I personally recommend 30-50 minutes total to my couples, split across two parts of the day, I was able to work out what was important to do in that 5 minutes, work like a crazy-person and get them a beautiful set in just 5 minutes.
So, step back and ask your wedding photographer how long they recommend for the wedding portraits. Work out how long you’re prepared to spend and have a mutual understanding that on one hand its a beautiful window of calm where you get to be with just each other and on the other hand, it’s also precious time away from your guests.
The first-look is still a little bit of an unknown out here in Australia. It doesn’t help that it’s name has this kind of scary grandeur attached to it. Let’s dispel a few myths, and look at a few of the positives.
The first look is, simply, a moment where you get to meet each other before the ceremony, and inhale a little bit of calm together. It doesn’t take off the magic of seeing each other in the aisle (if anything, it amplifies it).
It does give you the chance to make some portraits immediately after and reduce how much time is spent away from guests later on. Most folks often miss out on the canapés hour, of course there’s no right or wrong approach here, but personally, I’d want to be hanging around my crew for canapés! Remember you can still head out at sunset together, and get the best of all worlds.
This is about having an all-in attitude. This is the test. How far are you willing to go for your portraits, in the moment? This is worth thinking about briefly ahead of time, as it can help you slip into the right state of mind on the day if the weather goes south.
There’s no right or wrong answer: but from a photographic point of view, the more risks you’re prepared to take (within reason), the more wild the photographs you’ll receive will be, and fitting to that particular moment.
Maria and Ingo leapt out into rain and rainbows for their wedding in Tuscany, and I think it was worth every second of that 1-2 minute sprint. Us photographers are a weird bunch, and you can probably always consider us up for running out in a hail storm to get the best shot, so this is really just for yourselves to consider.
The worst thing that can often happen is a bit of dirt on your dress and water in your hair. So get out into the rain, make some wild photos, then load up on some whiskey. That’ll get you warm again.
It’s taking every ounce of strength for me to say this, but, when it comes down to it, there’s no such thing as bad light, only bad photography. Us photographers – we might moan and groan about overhead sunlight (I certainly do!), or about harsh green fluorescent light, and there’s some truth in there being something extra special about sunset, twilight, and all that jazz.
But, this is really important: your photographer should be, first and foremost, a problem solver.
There’s no such thing as bad light – only light that might make them uncomfortable. And if they’re good at their job, they’ll be able to work through that discomfort, solve the challenge of whatever the lighting situation is, and still be able to deliver you magnificent images, and be comfortable in solving problems caused by un-ideal lighting.
A lot of what makes this image work was about carefully bringing it to life in post-production, but a photographer should be able to see great opportunity and know what to do with it. Mix up the indoors, with the outdoors.
With all of that said, I’m still a big believer in crafting the optimum scenario where possible: your photographer will be able to work with you on your timeline and styling to offer any advice to make things that little bit more magic for both your guests and your images.
I’m no stranger to being asked about festoon arrangements, or timings for portraits. Put your faith in your photographer and ask if they have any suggestions. Chances are, we’ve got a brain full of ideas that we’re willing to share, all in the name of getting you the best wedding photography.
Try and prioritise at least some of your portrait shoot later in the day, around sunset and into twilight. This is when the dance of light does some especially magic things.
Like every area of your wedding, you want to do the hard work on the back end, not the front end. What this means is connecting with caterers, stylists, and photographers you feel you can trust, so that on the day you’re not having to intervene. This is especially important with photography and specifically, wedding portraits. A shot list can hinder your photographer, and take them away from doing what we do best: which is being responsive to unfolding moments.
Don’t meet a million vendors for each category, meet a few and spend time with them. Make sure you get those little bells of trust ringing that tell you they’re the one. And then let them do what they do.
Because the best wedding portraits – the ones you’ll print and find yourself sending to everyone – fundamentally come out of ignoring nearly everything I’ve written above, and enjoying a couple of carefree windows with a photographer you feel entirely comfortable with, wherever they end up being taken.
These are a fun couple of portraits to close this article up – because this should all be, well, fun!
May 5, 2019
In 2018, I teamed up with one of the grooms I’d photographed (who is extraordinarily handy at building things without getting himself electrocuted – you can see his wedding to Kate here on Nouba), with a proposition: “so, how about we make wedding arbours, that light-up” – and so came our spin on modern wedding arbours for wedding ceremonies.
We sensed the whole neon trend beginning to reach peak, and yet there was nothing really in the way of ceremony wedding arbours available that were progressive and modern.
Since beginning The Arbourists, not only have we been fortunate to be the backdrop behind so many couples beautiful wedding days and crazy parties, but we’ve been featured in New York Times award winning author Chris Guillebeau’s podcast, Side Hustle School, we were featured as part of a Xero PR campaign, and we somehow found our silly heads on the very front of the careers section of Australia’s largest newspaper.
But this is all fluff, as the most important thing is that some of the most forward-thinking couples have entrusted us to be involved in their big day, and our Arbours have inspired a shift in design thinking that we’ve seen across the entire wedding styling industry.
Over the years we’ve seen the most incredibly beautiful arbour installations, painstakingly setup and adorned with florals, only to be taken down not an hour later.
We figured: why aren’t the being used at the reception afterwards? While this is less about materials waste (although the beautiful florals themselves often get discarded immediately), this was more about the labour around it only serving the setup for such a short period of time.
Further, we realised there just weren’t any options out there available for evening ceremonies, as far as an arbour or centrepiece to the ceremony.
We created geometric modern wedding arbours and chuppahs (and more), that are extraordinarily strong to withstand being fitted with florals, and are able to be portably powered.
Because of this, for any small weddings or elopements, our arbours are able to be set-up, installed, and used absolutely anywhere.
These are the worlds first portable-powered, neon, modern wedding arbours, and we’re super proud to have brought something just a little different to an industry with strong roots in tradition.
We also have our reversible crucifixes permanently installed at the incredible Altar Electric in Collingwood, and couples all over Victoria have LOVED using them for their wedding portraits both during the day, and into the evening when the smoke machines and neon is turned on.
Our modern geometric arbours are available as a set of triangles, and come in matte-black, gold, or white. Our chuppah is available in gold, and crosses in multiple colours.
All arbours are able to support dense floral installations, and we’ve been thrilled to have some of our favourite florists, such as Flos Botanical and Babiana Botanic, load them up with their incredible work.
Hire The Arbourists modern wedding arbour for your wedding or elopement by making an enquiry here, and if you want someone to photograph you in front of them we might know a Melbourne wedding photographer who’s done a little bit of that.
Apr 10, 2019
Depending on who you ask and what their personal experience has been, raising the question of kids at your wedding might be akin to asking “should we invite the early-onset of armageddon or the vertically-challenged apocalypse to our wedding with open arms?”.
It’s a bit of a contentious and polarising one, and a conversation that’s well-documented already out there in internet-land as far as the pros, cons, and how to manage the decision either way: everyone’s had their own experiences, and everyones personal situation is wildly different.
With all that said, having seen my fair share of weddings with the glorious little scallywags where nobody ended up dying, i’m just going to step into the ring as a raving advocate of our dear little humans being present at your wedding, from a different point of view.
Let me explain my heavy bias, over a few key points.
Straight up – in front of a capable photographer, the magical theatre of vertically challenged humans is a sight to behold, and one of the greatest gifts you can get back in image-form when all is said and done.
Excuse my French, but kids, again, bless them – just don’t give a fuck (or they did, but then came across a certain bright book at the airport bestseller stand when their parents weren’t looking).
This wonderful quality that we systematically try to rid ourselves of as we enter adulthood is responsible for them colluding, doing their thing, and in turn, giving you the photographic gift of this wonderful little human theatre that you were too busy to notice happening.
That’s worth celebrating, and the irony here is that due to the Theory of Small-Human Close-Proximity Exponential-Collusion Effect (sorry, I made this up – if you google it you’ll find nothing – yet), the more kids there are present, the more they’ll be too busy being wrapped up in their own awesome world to cause any trouble.
Stake your otherwise rapidly-diminishing claim as household power-holder before your spawn exercise their terrifying muscle of independant-thought by making sure that any moments of cacophony are properly captured and stored.
In this way, if there’s any delusions of grandeur in those teenage years, you’ve always got record of some of some of their not-so-fine moments, should those be displayed at your wedding, or in front of their friends at their 13th birthday party.
This is also a tool you can really apply to any areas of your wedding.
Worried about getting drenched in the rain? Flip it. Celebrate it. Make sure you have a spare outfit, head out with your photographer, get drenched, and enjoy the awesome images that come from it.
Worried about kids being underfoot? Celebrate it (and keep sharp objects away from the edges of tables).
Worried about them bellowing over the vows? Celebrate the quirk and discord that brings, and know that the little scallywag can almost always be gently taken away and cared for out of earshot.
And before that happens, you’ll have some wonderful images of the glorious little deathspawn in full-flight.
Ultimately, it’s your day: whether kids have a place or not is entirely your decision, and if you do invite them, simply go all the way and make sure there’s enough logistical things that let them fall into their own world. But consider this: where there’s a positive for every negative, there’s also another perspective: looking at that negative, and instead asking – is the day about being perfect, or being memorable in it’s imperfect glory?
Apr 5, 2019
Not just recipients of gold medals in general charm and debonair, Jared and Jacob are Humdrum Films, Melbourne filmmakers with an incomprehensibly detailed eye and progressive style that’s hunted down by the most discerning couples worldwide.
Humdrum Films don’t make wedding films that just show you the play-by-play – their films make you feel, and their films cast an artistic eye over your day that you won’t find anywhere else – one of the perks of them having long-established careers in other arms of arts filmmaking.
Humdrum let their curiosity wander, and turn your already beautiful setting and story into something you probably didn’t quite imagine it could be, in the best possible way.
There’s a good reason that Humdrum Films are in my Melbourne wedding planning guide, as well as nestled atop the 5 best wedding videographers in Melbourne over here, so take a gander at a wedding we worked on together: the wedding of Hannah and Ben, held at the Royal Mail Hotel Dunkeld, in the Grampians.
Hannah and Ben ducking out for the last wisp of sunlight at the Royal Mail Hotel.
You can view Hannah and Bens full day, supported by the incredible planning of Will and Jac, published over on Farewell Fiancee.
Also, this film by Humdrum has to be seen to be believed – prepare to have any idea of what you think a “wedding film” looks like, gloriously squashed.
A short list of other vendors that took part in Hannah and Bens wedding:
Photography: Briars Atlas
Venue: The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
Wedding Planner: will&jac
Celebrant: Megan Thompson
Music: Rutherford Entertainment
Bridal gown: Paolo Sebastian
Makeup: Tess Holmes
Suit: P Johnson
Stationary: Mickey Loves Jacqui
Sperry Tent: UnderSky
Furniture: Place Settings
Whiskey Cart: Good Day Rentals
Apr 4, 2019
It’s such a thrill to work with the most discerning couples week in week out, and it brings me enormous pleasure to offer a style of work and personal investment that isn’t available anywhere else, and so on this page are some of my melbourne wedding photographer reviews.
WOW Oli we just watched the clip. And again. And another time, ha! Absolutely floored by them all. We bow down to the master! So incredible.
Thank you so much.
Also, I absolutely love how much these photos show how much fun we were having that day. It seems like a dream, did it really happen? Can’t wait to see the entire set, absolutely no stress or rush on any of it.
So thankful to have received what you’ve pulled together for us so far. We’re absolutely blown away with them all.
Like seriously, absolutely overwhelmed with how amazing they all are. Thank you so so so much from the bottom of our hearts!
Where can we start? Sarah and I have just sat down to revisit your marvellous work and we’re stoked that you were there on the day capturing the magic of the land, the people and the joyous moments that flowed.
Thank you so much for giving yourself and your creativity to our party on the hill. It kinda feels like a world ago now, these very photos taken moments before a pandemic was ever on our minds. So many humans in close proximity(!). So thank you, really dig it man.
I’m going to pass it over to Sarah and she is going to share a few words 😉
Oli it was such a pleasure to hangout with you on the first of March 2020!! Thanks for being so down for the barefoot walks and the early morning in Sth Gippsland. Sooo appreciate your Very Generous extra time on the day, too. Adore your work and CAN’T WAIT to get some things printed!!
Bless you and bless your life-giving skillz x x x
You Sir are a genius!!! Our world’s aligned for a reason.
You have us two captivated, as you captured every emotion and moment – obviously we’re blubbering messes at the moment! What a marvellous showcase.
The preview was exciting and the main event has blown us away.
You captured us and each and every moment of our Wedding day spectacularly. You are quite the story teller!
Oli, we are crying. I think I’ve already ‘previewed’ it 5 times this morning. Thank you for helping us relive it.
We really can’t thank you enough.
We are over the bloody moon mate. So many incredible memories and they all came flooding back. Both very emotional. Has absolutely made both of our days.
You did such and amazing job capturing our friends, the architecture, the property and nature, the moments and the feeling. Seriously mate. Cannot wait to see anything else you have.
We particularly love our posed shots. The moody black and whites are amazing. Your colour grading is so beautiful. The way you frame. Just all of it mate!
It was one hell of a day for you starting at 6am till about midnight. I can’t thank you enough for everything you did for us.
You blew all of our expectations and still are. You have given us another shot of wedding love and vibe. Let’s see how long we can stay on this high!
Oli… wow… I knew you were incredible, but that blew me/us away.
Many many tears.
They’re beyond beautiful and we couldn’t have pictured them anymore perfectly. THANK YOU SO MUCH, you fucking maestro. And those film ones, I’m drooling.
These capture everything I love about photos, moments being encapsulated in time and feeling like you’re right there. They’re all beautiful.
And I’m so glad you took film for us because there truly ain’t anything like it!
(I do love shooting film at weddings – read this post to see why)
For more Melbourne wedding photographer reviews, head to my Google reviews.
Apr 1, 2019
I’ve photographed hundreds of couples, and nearly every continent on the planet (including Antarctica). This beautiful job has had me photographing love, ceremony, and connection all over the planet as a destination wedding photographer for the most discerning couples, and it would be an enormous honour to photograph your wedding, no matter where on the planet it is.
These beautiful couples have been featured in Martha Stewart, Wedding Chicks, Hello May, Together Journal and more, and it’s easy to see why.
Ryan and Alan, deep in Lake Placid, in Upstate New York. Martha Stewart Weddings featured their incredible day, and you can view it here.
Lexi and Sean locked it down in a beautiful intimate ceremony at San Francisco town hall. I got to fly in and document this old Sydney friend marrying her fella in a whirlwind day-trip from San-Diego.
This is Fran, in a gust of wind, in an actual blizzard, draped in a Brooke Tyson gown, on a volcano in New Zealand. The places this crazy gig takes me.
Maria and Ingo, from Germany, to the majestic Pumphouse Point, deep in the heart of Tasmania. I spent a few days with these marvels, and you can view their beautiful destination elopement on Together Journal.
Jenelle and Parker don’t do things in halves. That means bringing all of their beautiful community over to the pristine Gananoque waters off the coast of Canada, and hauling my ass over from Australia to document their incredible 3 day wedding, on a string of houseboats.
You can see their incredible week-long rustic wedding in full over on Wedding Chicks.
If you’re looking for a destination wedding photographer, make an enquiry at my website, and be sure to follow along at my instagram.
Mar 30, 2019
When Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker broke ground as one of the most radical performances in recent memory, you’d probably be forgiven for not believing that one of The Dark Knight writers, Jonathan Nolan, was, like the production studio and most of the population, in vocal opposition to the casting choice.
Originally published in pulp for the Rangefinder NYC February edition. Available also online.
Ledger defied critics in the loudest way, broke any subtle typecasts he had and built himself into a Joker that dismantled what it meant to revive an established character. This is what’s revealed when you test the edges of who you think you are, or are told you are, and lean away from one of the most popular pieces of recycled advice: “Just be yourself.”
We’re in a narrative-driven culture competing for ideology air-time, and we’ve never been bombarded with so many different ones at such frequency and so forcefully. It’s “be yourself” one minute and “always step outside of your comfort zone” the next, with a scarcity of roadmaps available to navigate how and when to switch on each of those oppositional states. A convincing counter can be found for just about any mantra out there at the moment, and mentally sifting through competing narratives is nearly a full-time job in itself.
One of the most charged narratives out there right now for creative professionals and freelancers is around the intersection of our identity and our craft. Identity, and therefore artistic voice, is often presented as that fixed construct and something that should be reflected in all parts of our work. But aligning ourselves with this narrative does two things that can potentially cause us grief: It makes the assumption that we’ve taken proper stock of ourselves and know “who we are,” and it can create unnecessary tension around the idea of being truthful to that identity in our work and telling truth in our images.
And now, this construct is supported by every digital touch-point in our lives. Without sounding like an apocalyptic defeatist, online social platforms are exactly engineered to create more confirmation bias and solidify your already-presented identity. Through a system of carefully engineered notifications and filtering, they bind us to this presented identity with a high rate of frequency. This has a profound subconscious effect on how we go about living in the small-business world and producing the work that we do.
The candid photography and authenticity movement that is driving the story heavily on social media currently is less an objectively good way of going about doing things and more of a response to our perception of photography in the ‘90s. Whether we like it or not, we all leave our own, new mark on the historical proof we’re creating somehow, and it’s near impossible to get an idea of how that will hold up in 30 years. This is an ambiguously freeing thing, and while we should celebrate that as makers, we should also do it with the context that this isn’t better. It’s just different.
Before, during and for a long time after the Industrial Revolution, we didn’t really consider concepts of our work and self being too intertwined. We got the damn work done because we had no other choice. We had to support our family. Thankfully, the general employment climate and standard of living is better, which affords us more choice, but an abundance of that choice has presented its own set of challenges. In this case, it’s the challenge of excess and that identity magnifying glass we’re placing on ourselves because we now have the time and space to do so.
In a world where you can do anything and be anything, we’re now told to be authentic, to wind things back to what’s real and truthful. And this is particularly potent in photography, where we’re tasked with keeping historical record of real things happening in front of us.
However, authenticity and truth don’t exist—not in the way they’re sold to us, anyway—and perhaps the pursuit of those things isn’t the most useful way of finding our curiosity. When the broader online think-tank promotes a thin, arbitrary idea of authenticity, it all starts bearing a striking level of similarity. We see this most obviously in how that authenticity is manifested into branding design, but that’s a conversation for another day.
So when engaging with the precious task of bringing out our voice into our work and brand, and being true to ourselves or our clients, in an industry heavily steeped in the idea that we have to “be” our work and live out binary authenticity through it, where does this leave us?
Various studies report that 70 to 80 percent of people lament not having their dream job, and a problem lies in the idea that we’re putting that dream job a yardstick ahead of a greater goal: exploration. Fundamentally, we are liquid, not stone—we just forget that as we go through school and the workplace, and find ourselves having to set a fixed identity relationship with everything around us, cemented with our job title stamped on paper.
You don’t have to “be” your work. Treat your business more like a pet piglet by your side. Walk it, feed it, let it roam. Give it a hot bath occasionally. Feed it a strawberry (no, seriously, Google “piglets eating strawberries”). Most importantly, be open to the idea that it can have an identity of its own. You can treat it like a game while still serving people in a beautiful way. That does not have to be a state of conflict for you.
I never hide the fact that I wouldn’t book myself, or anyone like me, for my wedding. This isn’t to say I don’t believe in the work that I do; I’m deeply engaged with my way of producing images and finding couples who like it. I’m surrounded by lush imagery, intimacy and end-to-end storytelling. But me? I don’t want that for myself.
I’d hire a gritty, jaded ‘90s photojournalist to photograph my wedding day on grainy film and a super wide lens. No prep, no portraits, no “storytelling.” I’m very present to the fact that our powerful imagination can fill in the gaps; I don’t need prescriptive images of every last micro-event doing the heavy lifting for me. There’s amplified value in scarcity, and that’s where my values lie for what I’d hire (subject to my wife’s input, of course).
Does that make me inauthentic in the product I choose to sell?
There’s a lot of power locked up in words, and even though we’ve passed the madness of the loud hipster application of authenticity (I’ve waited patiently for six years for the fad to pass so that I could grow this damn man bun currently sitting post-pretentiously atop my middle-class noggin), we’re still in the middle of an ideological gold rush to show our B-side instead of our A-side, to move against heavy curation and to be “real” with what we post. But curated A-sides were never disinteresting or damaging—they just got hijacked by #influencers and advertisers. There’s nothing wrong with someone’s work or personal identity being shrouded in curated mystery, with all the rest left private, for them, like it used to be.
The next movement will be a middle ground and our ability to induce magic in the people that view our work by turning how we live and how we craft into a character. Perhaps not the Joker or any other folks also sporting a Glasgow smile (your bookings might suffer), but something more in line with human anthropology and ritual in all of its forms—the real, the fake, the tacky, the authentic, the staged, the awkward. This is the wonderful human circus, and we owe more to it than gratuitously pretending we can capture its whole, objective truth.
Show me any wonderful, iconic body of documentary work, and i’ll show you a body of work by an individual, with a vision.
And never forget that there’s an enormously wide range of ways in which to reach the hearts of people through our identity and craft, beyond moose-antler logos and slideshows accompanied by the indie acoustics of José González.
Mar 26, 2019
It’s time for a change.
6 years into photographing love, ritual, and the strange, weird & wonderful human circus around the world, I’ve found a couple of weeks to step back (who knew, 6 years ago, that it would take 6 years to find this time), ask myself what I want to do and how I want to present things, and change everything for the better.
This new site is now also a place for me to regularly unload thoughts on the industry, tips for photographers and couples alike, and more.
If you’re a couple reading this, probably the most useful thing to know is that I’m fortunate enough to have the best job in the world: being selected by the most discerning couples to document love and anarchy from Australia, to Europe and everywhere in between.
Mar 25, 2019
Best Grampians Wedding Venue: Royal Mail Hotel. Through the wedding of Hannah and Ben we’ll take a look at this bloody majestic venue.
The Grampians is renowned throughout Australia for it’s stunning scenery, numerous hiking trails, perfectly preserved National Parks and gleaming lakes. It’s also home to a diverse range of native Australian flora and fauna. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful untouched utopias in all Australia. The last time I ventured there was to photograph an absolutely phenomenal wedding for some equally phenomenal folks. Allow me to show you around the very best Grampians wedding venue, the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld.
I mean, have you been to the Grampians? If you answered “no”, skip ahead to Page 37. If you answered “yes”, skip ahead to Page 65.
Page 37: Get there. ASAP. Now, skip ahead to Page 8. I don’t want to see you back here at Page 37 again. Vamoose!
Page 65: Ok, cool kids. Gather ’round.
Anyone who has visited the Grampians knows why it’s such a hot-spot for loved-up couples planning their nuptials. For those of us who are yet to visit – I’m looking at you, Steve – the Grampians is a gorgeous area just 3 hours north-west of Melbourne. It is full of rolling hills, gleaming lakes and some truly breathtaking scenic views. The natural countryside exudes a rustic cheer that seems to welcome visitors at any time of the year.
If you’re keen to stay on in the Grampians after the wedding is all said and done, there are plenty of interesting activities to sink your teeth into. You can check out the Halls Gap Zoo for a chance to make some furry friends. Or go to the Grampians Grape Escape wine, food and music festival if you’re there around the beginning of May. A simple hike through the Grampians National Park is enough to have you feeling at one with nature and about as relaxed as you can get. See, there’s plenty to do once the “I dos” have been exchanged. It’s the perfect place to spend a few days away from it all.
The Royal Mail Hotel and its sister property, Mount Sturgeon, make for one hell of a wedding. There’s this Pioneer-esque vintage feel about the place that just makes for such a timeless setting and atmosphere. The hotel has plenty of accommodation options for guests (as hotels are wont to do) and the Homestead at the Mount Sturgeon property conveniently sleeps 12. On offer are some super affordable wedding packages that include:
On that note, I’m going to love you and leave you with a few of the country vintage inspired snaps I managed to capture at this sweeeet Grampians wedding venue. To see more, head to Hannah and Bens wedding here.
Mar 23, 2019
Rupert on Rupert is the most stylish intersection of sass and grit hidden inside inner Collingwood. I’ve been fortunate to photograph there, drink there, party there, meet there, and setup my other companies styling installations there. Each and every time it’s a treat to be inside, and this set of images is from Alix and Tims Rupert on Rupert wedding.
Alix and Tim’s first dance, film noir style on the floor of Rupert on Rupert.
The incredible interior looks straight out of a David Lynch or Wes Anderson film.
The iconic Rupert on Rupert floral wallpaper backdrop!
Not everyone was up for the party. Head over here to see more images of kids at weddings.
Rupert on Rupert has room for up to 220 people in a cocktail setting – with many of those folks ending up in this classic chesterfield room.
Tim and Alix running the bridal gauntlet for their entrance to the warehouse venue.
Simple hangouts in beautiful classic Collingwood backdrops near Rupert on Rupert. The back streets of Collingwood and nearby Fitzroy have an endless number of industrial, gritty, and historical backdrops, and just a 10-15 minute walk around the venue makes for endless photo opportunities.
Rupert on Rupert was also featured in my post about Alternative wedding venues in Melbourne – see the post to find more wedding venues like this. If you’re considering having your wedding at Rupert, i’m happy to share a bunch of information on all the hidden gold around the area, as well as tips on making the most of a wedding at the venue.
Rupert on Rupert online: www.rupertonrupert.com.au
Venue size: Warehouse cosy, with room to rave. 85 seated, 220 cocktail.
Mar 22, 2019
When working out what the best alternative wedding venues in Melbourne are, it’s natural to look for guidance from the big apple.
New York is kinda like an egg. Ask 5 people for their favourite way to consume it, and you’ll get 4 different answers, and one who’d prefer a nut-based alternative. From the lush heritage upstate venues, to the impossibly enormous barns, to the Manhattan dives and industrial warehouse spaces closer to what we more commonly identify with the city, greater New York has variety of feels wider than it’s ever given credit for.
Here’s seven slices of New York, right here in our own Melbourne, that double as some of the most unique, alternative wedding venues in town.
The Substation has this classic “we’re just casually repurposed an industrial Brooklyn warehouse” written all over it, with staggering floor-to-ceiling windows (this criteria would be less staggering if, for example, the windows were in a hobbit-sized home but we’re talking a less vertically-challenged structure here), red statement curtains, and one end lined with more secret little rooms than you can poke a stick at.
With plenty of space to spare both in the main atrium and the rooms below, Melbournes alternative wedding venue queen Newport Substation can be mapped to nearly any configuration, including any furniture layout you can imagine, and an on-site burrito stand for guests to tuck into. Set up a band in one corner, hire a leading progressive florist like Good Grace & Humour or Georgie Boy to dress up one end with an impossibly wild installation (or leave it in all it’s all bare glory), and you’ve got a space that’ll be on the tips of the guests tongues for weeks. After they recover from their hangovers.
Check out Nicole and Dan’s incredible wedding at Newport Substation.
Newport Substation website: www.thesubstation.org.au
Newport Substation wedding gallery: Nicole & Dan
New York vibe: Majestic Manhattan. Have we just stumbled into an historic slice of midtown?
Venue size: Enormous. 250 seated, 300 cocktail
And thankful for it existing, we are. Separated into a Main Dining Hall, Conservatory, and Cocktail Lounge, alternative wedding venue in Melbourne king Rupert on Rupert takes the crown for classic modern New York bar vibes in Melbourne, and wouldn’t be out of place in any of the more recently gentrified areas of inner-Brooklyn: which is also code-word for gorgeously designed, thoughtfully laid out, with a level of subtle considered genius by a design team that makes the space grow on you like the third album from that previously favourite artist of yours.
Geographically tucked neatly away into the “local knowledge” category, pop into Rupert on Rupert on a weekend, and it’s jam-packed with folks who know what’s good.
Rupert on Rupert has three main areas, each of which can be repurposed as you need, and the menu is headed by (x) and a crack-team of friendly maestros who can cater incredibly for vegetarians and vegans alike.
I’m not saying to just get Aunt Jenny on her iPad taking the photos for the day, but I will say that with every inch of the interior so thoughtfully considered, you could probably point your 2002 Nokia at the urinal and still get an incredible image pretty much anywhere inside Rupert on Rupert.
But don’t do that, because it’s extraordinarily weird that you’re still using that phone.
For more inspiration check out Alix and Tim’s reception at Rupert on Rupert here.
Rupert on Rupert website: www.rupertonrupert.com.au
Rupert on Rupert wedding gallery: Alix & Tim’s wedding at Rupert on Rupert
New York vibe: Designer Brooklyn. The sweet smell of a green-thumb in design.
Venue size: Cosy & compartmentalised. (85 seated, 220 cocktail)
These are a few things that you definitely won’t find at Panama Dining room anymore.
When stepping into this cavernous room filled with giant arch windows you might be forgiven that in it’s past-life as a music venue in the heartland of the pub-scene, the majestic gateways of Panama Dining Room looking into and around the city were completely covered up.
Since being exposed in all their glory, Panama Dining Room has staked its claim as one of Melbournes best open-bar, dining-hybrid venues, and if you gently squint, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the warehouse-loft of a pre-crash Wall St tycoon in the 80s.
So squint, dear friend, bring that cigar to the lips, and inhale that sweet, sweet smell of pre-2007 venue tobacco laws, while you imagine yourself in that steamy machine of systemic exploitation known as wall st.
Fortunately for those of the stamina variety, Panama did carry one little thing over from it’s days as a live music venue: a 1am liquor license.
So party on, dear aspirational Gordon Gecko.
The Panama Dining Room is located in the heart of Smith St, which places it in beautiful proximity to some of the most iconic and historical parts of Melbournes oldest suburb, Fitzroy. That puts it at arms length away from an incredible lot of great portrait opportunities that can be had even with just a quick little sprint away from the Panama.
As far as alternative wedding venues in Melbourne go, Panama is at the unique intersection of ticking every alternative box, while also being placed at the centre of the action.
Panama Dining Room website: www.thepanama.com.au
New-York vibe: Classic giant New York loft. Wall St cash money, baby.
Venue size: Let’s run with “Sprawling”. 160 guests seated, 220 standing
There’s much to be said for nostalgia. It is after all, the reason why we fought tooth and nail for an (ill-fated, but I digress) Hey Hey it’s Saturday revival wayback when, and why the the whiff of a can of Lynx can suddenly remove two decades of time and space for those in the mid-30’s bracket.
The savvy folk at Showtime events and caretakers of State Library Victoria know the value of nostalgia, and so they know that once the lukewarm memories of higher education and it’s study pressures have faded into memory, there’s nothing more appealing than inhaling an Espresso Martini and double-stack of canapes in one of the worlds most extravagantly beautiful study halls.
Enter, State Library Victoria.
Thankfully to the mad hatters at SLV, there are a total of five separate, incredibly distinct spaces in which to host your wedding, that can cater from the intimate to over 500 guests. So whether you’ve spent your days as a cave dwelling misanthrope or have as many friends as Tom from Myspace, you’re probably covered.
The lay of the land at State Library Victoria starts at the obviously decadent La Trobe Reading Room, throws a curveball of art via the Cowen Gallery, and ends at the recently revitalised Ian Potter Queens Hall, with the glorious North Rotunda and Isabelle Fraser room in between.
The State Library of Victoria, as well as having a variety of rooms that would be the envy of a Labrynth-trotting Bowie, is smack in the heart of the CBD – lending itself to plenty of beautiful portrait opportunities, classic Melbourne laneways and beyond, and is one of the more left of centre alternative wedding venues in Melbourne.
State Library of Victoria website: https://venues.slv.vic.gov.au/wedding/
New York vibe: When majesty met grandeur and took it to slicksville.
Isabelle Fraser Room: 156 Banquet 220 Cocktail
Ian Potter Queens Hall: 290 Banquet 500 Cocktail
La Trobe Reading Room: 520 Cocktail
North Rotunda: 60 Banquet 90 Cocktail
Cowen Gallery: 220 Banquet 350 Cocktail
Location: Melbourne CBD
Location: West Melbourne
5km out of the CBD, smack-against a bunch of shipping containers and an old-school automotive garage, it initially feels like you aren’t quite allowed to have all that room and calm all to yourself – but then you lean into it, and in return are gifted with one of the most unassumingly mighty warehouse experiences in Melbourne.
With the seasoned hands of Sam & Celeste and their hospitality empire at your fingertips, Gather and Tailor is a modular set of spaces, and the perfect blank canvas where you can call in as much or as little of the in-house styling as you need.
Check out Ash and Karan’s glorious Gather and Tailor wedding here.
Gather & Tailor website: www.gatherandtailor.com.au
Gather & Tailor wedding gallery:
New York vibe: Gutted out of town warehouse
Venue size: Pretty damn big, mate. 300 seated, 450 standing (Across two physical spaces).
Quat Quatta contains some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful interiors and exteriors around, and the breadth of portrait opportunities on-site both inside and outside are unbeatable. A festooned outdoor area makes for a glorious intimate ceremony space, before the party is carried inside.
But, let’s just hold off on all the adjectives and hyperbole for a hot damn minute, though: because something about this venue in particular isn’t talked about nearly enough: the bridal suites.
These old heritage rooms at the wings of Quat Quatta, apart from being a pretty splendid place to get all that bridal-suite stuff done (application of bandaids, eating of cupcakes, necking of champagne, and whatever else goes on in there), are totally gorgeous and a way under-appreciated part of the venues makeup, and one of my favourite areas of the building to take portraits on the day.
Quat Quatta is a place of wild charm and a more traditional-looking outpost that holds more than it’s own with plenty of variety.
Quat Quatta website: www.quatquatta.com.au
Quat Quatta wedding gallery:
New-York-ness: 6/10 (only because it’s more of an upstate-New York vibe)
New York vibe: Gutted out of town warehouse
Venue size: Pretty big, mate. 300 seated, 450 standing (Across two physical spaces)
There you have it. Six of the best alternative wedding venues in Melbourne, that while well-set in their own charms, would make anyone lusting after a little slice of those New York vibes feel right at home.
Author: Briars Atlas
Feb 2, 2019
Melbourne might be more known for it’s incredible alternative wedding venues the pop up from the inner city all the way out into the suburbs, but we’ve got so much incredible nature at our fingertips, and closer in to the city than you might imagine, so these are some of the best Melbourne parks for weddings both small and large.
As a Melbourne Wedding photographer i’ve spent over half a decade photographing love and ceremony all over the state, and so this is five of my favourite garden and park locations where you can host your wedding.
** To find out all associated costs for hosting your wedding at any of the parks below in Melbourne, please be sure to check the links and make an enquiry directly to them (you don’t wanna load the joint up with 200 of your crew only to then have the Prosecco-Police roll up and point everyone towards the exit).
Stephanie and Aleks were married during Covid19, which meant a downscaled wedding at one of Melbournes best parks to host a wedding.
Melbourne Botanical Gardens
Royal Exhibition Building gardens
Collingwood Childrens farm
St Vincent Gardens south melbourne
Also to Consider
That’s a wrap of some of the best Melbourne parks for weddings. Now, go forth and select one, and then let us drop one of these on it.