Adventures Of A Wedding Photographer

Disclaimer: Any photographs displayed are not representative of any of the ‘stories’

They’re simply for illustrative purposes…

Mother of the bride “Make me look beautiful”

Me “It’s a camera not a wand” 😂😂😂

Bride (4’6” about 15st – 210 lbs) “You’ve made me look fat”

I’ve not been your dietician for the past 30 years!

Guest “Have you photographed weddings before?”

“No I usually work for the local morgue photographing cadavers, but it’s my day off today…”

“What side does the Grooms family sit on?”

“Whatever the Bride says…”

Was once photographing a wedding in Liverpool when the Bride and her mother started arguing about her choice of groom. They’d been together 12 years and had two children! It came to fisticuffs. I left….

Plenty of more tales for another day…

I’m a loner but never lonely

I was born in Sunderland. Saturday 7th July 1962. I lived in my grandparents house in Cooper Street until I was 1.

Then we moved to Southwick in Sunderland. Cato Square. Don’t even think it exists anymore.

At about 9 years old we moved to Barmston in Washington. During that time Washington really was a New Town! Lots of green space between it and Sunderland. No Nissan getting in the way!

I used to go out exploring at weekends and all school holidays. It was a fantastic time. I used to explore the area between Barmston and what was Sunderland Airport (now Nissan).

There were 3 main areas if I recall.

Barmston Pond.

Some ‘Pill Box’

And ‘The Black Forest’.

When Sunderland air show was on I’d lie on the pill box and watch the planes.

If I felt brave I’d venture into the Black Forest but mostly…

I’d lie on my back on a mound near Barmston Pond and just watch and listen to the skylarks. All day, every day. I loved it…

Words…

I went to a pretty poor school when I lived in Washington Tyne and Wear. Washington Comp. A mixture of old buildings, 1960’s constructions and Pre Fabs. I wasn’t that interested in an education if I’m honest. I managed to leave in 1978 with two GCSE’s. Achieved a C in both Maths and English.

Over the next forty odd years I’ve developed an interest in words. I have Chambers Dictionary on my phone. If I come across a word I don’t understand I bookmark it…

I’d love to send an email that included all these bookmarked words!

We all have untapped potential

At 21 I was about 9st 11lbs. Started doing Karate with Sensei Alan Gallagher – in the same class was a guy called Wayne. Literally built like the proverbial brick house…

Me…thinking I was Bruce Lee…

I wanted to understand his ‘secrets’ of his muscle and size…”weights” he said…so onto my mam’s catalogue I went and ordered some York weights….and I trained and trained and trained. Eventually I moved to Bolton from Washington and joined a ‘commercial’ gym….and trained and trained…

You can create your body and your mind. You are your only limit…

Alan showed me – calm – persistence – character…

A year ago today…

I can’t believe it…back in 1988 I moved to Bolton…was looking for a gym to train in. Found a gym called Physiques ran by Charlie Buchanan (Google him) – I loved it. Was my touchstone. It went through various ownerships…and closed down a year today…I miss it terribly. It was no modern gym. Old school. Just the way I like it…friendly, familiar, functional..,

Over 33 years at the same gym…

I miss it terribly

There’s something about seeing that curtain closing…

When I was a child. I had many maternal and paternal uncles and aunts.

Over the years some of them died. The ‘Cooke’s’ which I’d like to concentrate on this blog have a particular interest . My dads family.

My Aunts Marg and Lil used to take more interest in myself and my twin sister more than my parents to be honest. They’d take us all over on Sundays. They were spinsters who lived in the same house they were born in . Cooper Street, Roker, Sunderland.

And there was a brother – Anthony – he never married. And lived in the same house. My uncle Tony.

Marg and Lil looked after him…

I remember playing squash with him at Crowtree Leisure Centre a lifetime ago…

Once I got into my teens (say 15-16) we never really got each other although I used to keep in touch.

When I got married in 2000, Marg, Lil and Tony were guests. I didn’t see much more of them until two things happened. My ‘peer’ cousin Colin died at 40, then his father died a few years later…

Tony died recently…I attended his funeral ‘virtually’ via a webcast – it reinforced to me how short and fickle life is…

Two minutes ago I was having chicken dinner in his house…

Now the curtains are closing on his coffin…

I faked it as a ‘Wedding Photographer’ for 20 years!

Back in about 1992 I worked for Kellogg’s in Manchester. I was ‘into’ photography but not in any professional capacity. A colleague wanted a print of Ashness Bridge I’d taken on a Canon EOS1000FN.

Another colleague saw it on my desk as I was about to ‘deliver it’…

And said “That’s fantastic! Would you photograph my wedding!”

A few gulps later I said yes, but, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing…

So…photographed the wedding and learned very very quickly…

You don’t need to be an artist (although it may help)

You need to understand the emotional hot spots…that’s the key…

So…even though I attended many seminars by the likes of Yervant and Nigel Harper I just did my thing…

I did the very best I could. Was never complacent and only had one complaint in twenty years. A bride said I made her look fat…well, it’s a camera not a wand. And if you’ve lived on pies for twenty years there’s only so much photoshop can do…

And here’s the dichotomy – every wedding is unique…and the same. The emotional hot spots are easy to predict – Bride getting out of car – groom seeing Bride for the first time – the exchanging of rings – the first kiss etc.

And I’ll probably never shoot a wedding ever again…I’m not that interested, I’m old and can do without the hassle…however never say never…

Was never a big reader

At school the only book I was ‘forced’ to read was ‘Kes’ after that never read much at all until…

I met a girl who was an avid reader…first gift she ever gave me…

Now…I’m from Washington, Tyne & Wear and in those days Holden Caulfield was as far removed from me as President Carter. No idea who he was. What he represented. I just didn’t ‘get it’. But I persevered with it…

Then I got into Ian McEwan..,

Here was something I could understand a little bit better. Just the plot and emotion without the Americanisation.

So…here began my reading journey..,

That’s my ‘library’ now. 😳
I read all sorts now.

My daughter has started sending me books…we try to out read each other 😂😂😂

Amongst the books she had sent, she sent me this…it has a certain vernacular and rhythm much like ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – you have to keep at it…

Just watched ‘A Rebel In The Rye’ it was ok…a lot of the stuff I already knew…

Wild Camping? Give me a break…

Lots of people now posting their ‘Wild Camping’ adventures on Social Media as if it’s a new concept.

Well…the terminology might have changed.

In my day it was called camping..

Circa 1980 was at a loose end one Easter. A friend suggested we go camping in The Lake District.

Now…I lived a conservative life in Washington, Tyne & Wear. Furthest I’d been was Filey one summer holiday with my parents.

Anyway, bought the gear, no idea…Ultimate Peapod Tent, Berghaus rucksack, Trangia stove etc.

And we’re off…

Caught a bus from Washington to Newcastle.

Then a coach from Newcastle to Keswick Bus Station (now Booths)

Then the Mark 1 legs took over…

The initial formula of getting to The Lakes never changed…

I had many many adventures over the years.

I’d walk to a pre-planned camp site or more often, just walked until I was tired…put my tent up. Ate, drank, slept. Decamped then started walking again…

I walked all over The Lakes…and I mean all over…

If social media existed back in the 80’s and 90’s I’d be a <YouTube> <Instagram> sensation 😂

My mate Alex (deceased) on Helvellyn
We’re on top of the world ma!

Legs are a bit weary now. Being late fifties ain’t no fun. Still aim to complete the Birketts though!