Picture the scene; It's lockdown number 3 at the beginning of 2021. I haven't worked for 9 months and haven't done a whole lot other than (like most people) sitting about at home watching the tv, waiting for the pandemic to blow over and for life to go back to 'normal' (whatever that was.)
One of my clients, who's had to postpone their wedding from 2020 drops me an email, asking if they can have their pre-wedding/engagement photoshoot, as their wedding in summer will soon be here. I was so excited at the prospect of getting back to work again, but also somewhat daunted as over the past year, all of my clothes had seemingly shrunk, and I was averaging about 600 steps a day. 'Where would you like the photoshoot to take place?' I asked. 'On top of Bredon Hill.' I sat at my desk and uttered the words 'bugger.' I had barely been outside in a year, and when I did, the building I live in has a lift. On top of that, Bredon Hill is steep, and the side we had to be on to get images at sunset, was really, really steep. Over the next month I tried to cut down on the number of desserts I was eating (to two a day) and embarked on a routine where I'd walk up the local Malvern Hills each day - facilitated to a move to Malvern in the mean time. I spent a month desperately trying to get back into shape, at the same time remembering how to use a camera. It was hard work and I was largely miserable. But it was absolutely, 100% worth it.
I met Charlie and James at Deer Park, the venue at which they're due to host their reception at in a few months time. Bredon Hill loomed above us in cartoon like fashion. Unbeknownst to the couple, who arrived dressed for a summer walk in the park, with James so laid-back he was even wearing flip-flops, I had been there for half an hour already, mentally psyching myself up and stretching my legs in the effort to not simply collapse after the first 100 metres.
We started the walk, through a field of sheep and their adorable young, conveniently stopping to take photos at anytime it felt like my lungs might explode. I had gone and scouted locations on Bredon Hill just a week before, so I knew roughly where would make for good photos. When I went up on my test-run it was 9am, drizzling and with low cloud or fog obscuring most of my view. For the engagement shoot itself, we had just the most perfect sunset. I really couldn't have asked for more (apart from it perhaps being a little warmer at the top!)
From my scouting-mission the previous week I knew there was a bench conveniently placed about one third of the way up the hill. This not only allowed me to take a lovely photo of the couple, looking out over the countryside (and unfortunately for them, directly into the sun) but enabled me to take a breather! As well as all of my camera gear which was two cameras and three lenses, I was also carrying a bottle of champagne that Charlie and James wished to 'pop' at the top!
Towards the top of the hill, things started to level out a little. Bredon Tower was to our left, but we split off right and into a small wooded area. As the hillside we'd walked up was so steep and sheer in places, the backdrop to the image below is nothing but sky. The sun coming through the tree gave the image a lovely warmth, and the blue tones worn by the couple (coincidentally) really helps set them apart in the image that's dominated by green and gold tones.
As I mentioned earlier, everything just went so well for the three of us. James and Charlie were great in front of the camera, the sun was setting behind just the right amount of cloud that meant it wasn't too bright, but at the same time was very warm and gave a golden glow to the photos.
A complete chance occurrence here when the two ladies on horseback decided to photobomb us! At first they tried to hold back and linger in the back of the image, but I asked them to continue walking through as it would lend me something to include in the image (as well as provide a story for the couple to recount - see how the story develops below)
Once at the top, we were presented with this amazing landscape that looks like it's from an alien world. The setting sun's light just picking out the tips of each blade of grass, highlighting the edges of each geological feature. I went with a wide angle lens for these images, wanting to capture more of an environmental portrait.
So here's where the story with the horses continues. The two ladies on horseback had waited for us to open a gate for them, before galloping off to do a circuit of the top of the hill. When I was changing lenses for the images above, the on rider asked if I could take a photo of the two of them, with their horses, on her phone. As we were fast approaching sunset and I was having to shoot into the sun with a phone, the resulting image wouldn't have been great... and I was stood there holding a rather capable camera in my hands. Instead, I handed the phone back and asked the owner to take my number down - I took the resulting image, and emailed it to them later that evening.
After finishing the photos with the horses, which only took a couple of minutes, I got the couple to stand in roughly the same position so I could shoot straight into the sun, giving the images a gorgeous orange-gold glow.
The rock in the image below (and in the main image) as it turns out was of great importance to the soon to be bride and groom, as it turns out it's where James had proposed to Charlie! The couple volunteered to stand on top of the rock (I wouldn't usually ask a client to do something so risky) and I took these incredible images shooting into the setting sun. One of the things I particularly like in the image below is how the space between the couple looks like a heart!
Location: Bredon Hill, Worcestershire.Keywords: Photographer-directed image (140). 1/500; f/2.8; ISO 200; 35.0 mm.