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What They Know? Van Middleton of Van Middleton Photography

by | Photography Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

 Van Middleton Photography What They Know? Van Middleton of Van Middleton Photography

Conveying such intense wedding day emotions requires a light touch by the photographer – who is at once involved in that emotion, but distanced from it. Van of Van Middleton Photography is adept at this, telling a story with each of the images he takes. Van shoots around the Byron Bay and Tweed areas, but travels anywhere in Australia or beyond, to capture your wedding day.

Please describe the path that led you to photography?

I guess you could say photography grew on me over the years. In my twenties I traveled a lot, and at about the same time digital cameras arrived. I went to some unusual places and began to obsess over the images I was taking. Travel photography became a passion, although still a hobby. When I finished much of my travels and settled back down at home, I took up someone’s offer to shoot a wedding. I did a decent job, the couple were happy, and I realized I could turn something I enjoyed into a livelihood.

What are the qualities that make a good photographer?

This is a difficult question. There are so many different photographers, with so many different styles, that it’s hard to pin down specific traits without projecting. I do think ambition plays a part in all successful photographers, since it’s the catalyst of many other characteristics: determination, hard-work, a desire to learn. These then have knock-on effects, such as technical skill leading to more creative possibilities, etc etc. For wedding photographers, being personable is also an important trait. You spend a whole day with the bride and groom, and you need to tap into all those pent-up emotions in them: it helps to have people-skills.

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You have traveled a lot. What places have had an influence on your life? And on your photography?

Everywhere I’ve been has influenced me in one way or another. But in general I’ve been humbled by how well I’ve been treated wherever I’ve been.

North Korea probably influenced my photography the most. It required the most ingenuity (I had to shoot with a tiny compact and smuggle out my memory cards) and I received a lot of validation from the images I took there. It gave me confidence and drove me towards learning and shooting more.

You like to learn. What have you done to learn your craft? How do you keep on learning?

I searched out those photographers I consider the best in the world and studied them, their techniques, their equipment, their style. I took bits and pieces from each of them. Anything below that echelon I tried to ignore and avoid. Then, at a certain point, it becomes less about learning from others and more about exploring and learning from yourself. The best photographers in the world forge their own path, so at some point you need to trust yourself, experiment a bit and develop a unique voice and style.

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You seem to encapsulate a whole story in an image. Is this what inspires you about being a photographer?

I’m definitely attracted to photos that tell a story, or capture a real moment. And by that I mean that manufactured images don’t inspire me as much. I’d like people (including the subjects when they view them later) to feel like they are observers watching an uninterrupted event. When I see a wedding photo with a groom tilting the bride back and someone tossing her veil and a flash going off to the right of frame, I can see all those components, and it strikes me as a bit silly. I don’t see the beauty there, I don’t really understand it. Of course you need to make things happen sometimes, but even when I do that I make it seem like it’s happening of its own volition, and I just happen to be there recording it.

You style is clean and seemingly simple. How is it that you develop an eye for this style, or do you naturally observe the world this way?

I think it goes back, again, to trying to avoid an image looking too manufactured. When I do tinker with the sky, I try to make it look like I didn’t tinker with it!

The landscape and surrounds is a feature in your shots of the bride and groom. Is this to give a sense of place or context to the image?

I’m a fan of landscape photography and landscape painting, and my personal feeling is that these sort of shots can be really dramatic. I’ve never made a conscious decision to shoot that way – I just find large spaces and natural settings beautiful.

How do you help your couples relax while having their photos taken?

There are no silver bullets here. Every couple is different. Some people (and I include myself in this bracket) are not very comfortable having photos taken, while others revel in it. I’m pretty easy-going, and I do my best to make them feel comfortable throughout the day. I make bad jokes, mostly at my own expense, and the mood is usually pretty relaxed by the time the location shoot comes around. I have a few tricks I use sometimes too – getting the groom to whisper something in the bride’s ear can have a good effect. Weirdly, telling them to laugh usually pays dividends as well icon smile What They Know? Van Middleton of Van Middleton Photography

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You say you would do ‘almost anything for your clients’. What notable situations can you tell us about?

I have a habit of climbing up trees, crawling through grass and hiking up hills. I’m also quite clumsy, so I’ve had my fair share of incidents. I’ve been attacked by a farmer’s dog (took a piece out of my thigh), I’ve fallen in a cane drain and I once sat on a cactus. I tripped over a toddler at a reception (missed the cake by about a foot), and one time I fell on top of the best man at a reception when my camera holster pivoted me off a wall.

If you could shoot a wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be (and why)?

India. For sheer colour and drama, it can’t be matched. I’d also love to shoot somewhere like Iceland – tundra and fir trees and snow. It’s so different to what I’m used to, it would be amazing.

What would you tell your younger self – knowing what you know now?

Not much, except keep going, and enjoy the ride.

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What are your dreams and aims for the future?

Shoot less, but make them count. I’ve been prolific in the past, to learn and grow my business, but now I need to slow down, refine what I know and seek out work and locations that inspire me. I need to spend more time on my brand and marketing, it’s something I’ve long neglected.

Being based in Queensland, what do you like to do for fun, in this State that is ‘beautiful one day, and perfect the next’?

I surf (though not as much as I’d like), and I hang out with my wife and little girl. That keeps me happy icon smile What They Know? Van Middleton of Van Middleton Photography

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Thank you Van for sharing your thoughts with us. To find out more about Van Middleton Photography please visit the website.

All images from Van Middleton Photography.

The Golden Rules For Being A Bridesmaid

by | Wedding Planning Wisdom, Wisdom


Ms Chevron

It’s been a long time since I was last a bridesmaid – 6 years in fact – so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I felt a little rusty in terms of performing my bridesmaidly duties. So, since we’ve been following Darren and Teagen’s Wedding Countdown journey, and now that the wedding has happened, I thought it appropriate to share some post-wedding golden rules for being a bridesmaid.

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Golden Rule #1 – It’s not about you.

Let me repeat. It’s not about you. It’s not your big day, it’s hers… and theirs… and then maybe even their parents! So in the wedding pecking order, bridesmaids are a little down the line. Once you understand that the role of bridesmaid is a little more ‘personal assistant’ than ‘boss’, life is much simpler. If she wants you to be somewhere at 6am, then smile and nod and remember it’s what you’ve signed on for! She trusts you to not only be helpful but to make her feel special. After all, it is her big day.

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Golden Rule #2 – Have a laugh.

What good are friends and bridesmaids if you can’t laugh together on their happiest day? Alcorn Images were preparing us for a photo when they noticed we were all doing a last-minute ‘cleavage check’… what a modest bunch!

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Golden Rule #3 – Don’t stress her out.

My brother was running late. I announced this to the matching floral robe brigade followed by the instruction “don’t tell the bride”. Except the bride just so happened to be one of those in a floral robe. Rookie error. I chided myself as I watched her start to play out the flow-on effect of him running late throughout the rest of the day.

Moral of the story – sometimes it is a good thing to keep secrets from the bride, just make sure she’s not within earshot. Preventing unnecessary stress is one of the greatest gifts a bridesmaid can give to the bride. And if all else fails, grab a glass and drink with her.

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Golden Rule #4 – Respect her wishes.

Every person is different and that is no exception when it comes to weddings. Each bride will have her own set of ideas about how the day is to turn out. The best thing you can do is find out what she wants, and then respect that. In this case, the bride wanted her mum to help her get ready out of sight of the bridesmaids so there would be a nice ‘reveal’ moment.

Teagen also wanted a private meeting (on either side of the hotel door) with her groom-to-be pre-ceremony. This was a little difficult for me as I really wanted to give him a hug (being my youngest brother), but respected her wishes for him to not see any of us dressed and ready. And yes, I got my bear hug post-ceremony – proud sister moment.

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Golden Rule #5 – Smile her down the aisle.

This is an easy one. Smile as you head down the aisle before her… no-one wants to see an unhappy bridal party. And if you happen to get a little teary during the ceremony or reception that’s ok! In fact, it’s moving to see love and emotion expressed freely.

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Golden Rule #6 – Know when to give her space.

Whilst you may be needed to fix her veil, do routine lipstick checks, or even help her get to the loo, there comes a time when a bride needs her space. Back off a little during these moments and use it as an opportunity to check on other things or simply enjoy some down time. She’ll love the rare chance to have a final moment with her Dad, or be alone with her new husband, and you’ll get to enjoy the festivities as well.

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Golden Rule #7 – Go above and beyond.

Darren and Teagen’s invitations had asked guests to be there ‘with bells on’ so her younger sister (aka maid-of-honour) had arranged for bells to be hidden within the bouquets as a surprise. This was something sweet and meaningful and a great example of thinking outside the box.

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Now go and be the best bridesmaid you can be!

Images by Alcorn Images

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April Birthstone Diamond

by | Jewellery Wisdom, Wisdom


Pascale of Style Rocks

The April birthstone is Diamond. Happy birthday to all those born in April!

Well where do we start with diamonds? It’s amazing how such a small stone has such power: enough to start wars but on a happier note, to be the symbol of two people sharing the rest of their lives together, whether it be diamonds on the engagement ring, or on the wedding ring!

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Image: StyleRocks

Diamond history

Diamonds are one of the oldest gemstones on earth, given that they are actually a form of coal (carbon). When placed under extreme pressure and very high temperatures (from geological forces), they eventually are pushed up through the earth’s crust. But this is not a quick process, this takes some 1-3 billion years!

Diamonds are mined in Central and Southern Africa, as well as Russia, Australia and Canada. More recently though, India and Brazil have yielded some significant deposits.

Why are we so fascinated with diamonds?

Historically these tiny little gemstones were thought to have supernatural powers, warding off panic and spells. They were also thought to amplify thoughts: so ‘good’ becomes ‘great’ and ‘bad’ becomes ‘horrible. The stone of truth and victory, they were worn by many in battle to help claim victory over their enemies.

Their connection with love and relationships is particularly potent: diamonds are also considered to be able to strengthen relationships between couples, hence their usage in marriage proposals.

But let’s not forget the bling factor. Who can’t help but be dazzled by something of such purity and brilliance?!

Amazing diamonds 

As always, it’s easy to find much of the annual $30 billion diamond industry on the red carpet! The recent awards season brought some incredible diamonds to showcase, as we saw with Angelina Jolie wearing some incredible 42 carat diamond earrings by Robert Procop at the Oscars, while Helen Mirren wore some impeccably designed Asprey earrings at the BAFTAs.

In terms of some really unusual design, we came across these ‘sliced’ diamonds in these ‘Fierce’ earrings by L’Dezen.

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Image: L’Dezen

Aren’t they incredible? Slicing diamonds is a relatively new technique – we love it for providing a new take on a mighty old gemstone. What do you think?

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Ms Gingham says: After all, they are a girl’s best friend!

About Pascale: Pascale Helyar-Moray, Founder and Director of StyleRocks has fourteen years of financial services experience as a marketing and communications professional working with blue chip companies in Australia and the UK. Maternity leave forced her to re-examine her career options and in looking for a business she could run from home, created StyleRocks in order to harness her lifelong passion for jewellery.

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