Neil Cooling Photography: Blog en-us (C) Neil Cooling Photography [email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Fri, 18 Feb 2022 10:47:00 GMT Fri, 18 Feb 2022 10:47:00 GMT Neil Cooling Photography: Blog 120 80 How to choose a wedding photographer I recently was asked to provide a blog about how to choose a wedding photographer so I thought I would add it to my Blog.

How to Choose a Destination Wedding Photographer

Seems an odd subject for a wedding photographer to blog about but the this does interest me and of course I hope the answer is “just use Neil Cooling!”.  Here are some headings and questions to consider when choosing your destination wedding photographer.

Top tip no #1 - Avoid friends and family

  • Are they experienced wedding photographers with a portfolio that you really like?
  • Will they have the right equipment with them and what happens if their camera fails?
  • What will be their priority on the wedding day, having a good time or photographing all aspects of the wedding?

Top tip no #2 - Start the search early

    Typically start looking for your photographer one year in advance if it’s a summer wedding

Top tip no #3 - Determine what style suits you

  • Classic - traditional with client’s photos list?
  • Photojournalistic, documentary style, informal and natural?
  • Illustrative - classic and photojournalistic combined?
  • Fashion - dramatic and styled?

Each are different, and photographers tend to specialise on a certain style. Which style do you like?

Top tip no #4 - Where to find the photographer

  • Do you have personal recommendations from the venue, wedding planner or other person familiar with the locality?
  • Check out their website, Facebook and Instagram – beware some work displayed may not be theirs
  • Read the reviews - cross check the client names to ensure they are genuine.
  • Try and get a feeling for the photographer’s approach and personality.

Top tip no #5 - Create a shortlist

  • Style of photographs, do you like them?
  • Personality, personal style and skills, do they meet your requirements?
  • Price - set a range, will you be prepared to pay more for the right photographer?

Top tip no #6 - Interview the photographers

  • Are they experienced, suitably skilled, registered and insured?
  • Do they carry back up equipment?
  • What involvement will the photographer have with you prior to the wedding?
  • How will they conduct themselves on the wedding day?
  • Do you like them, and can you imagine spending a full day in their company and will the guests be able to relax with them too?
  • Do you trust them to record your wedding day?

Top tip no #7 - Check out the package

  • What is the fee and how is it paid?
  • What elements of the day will the photographer cover and what happens if the timings overrun?
  • How do you receive the images and how many will you receive?
  • What is the post production process and what happens if you would like some changes made?
  • Is there anything in the contract that concerns you?

Top tip no # 8 - Make a decision

  • Revisit the portfolio, is it a style you love?
  • Revisit your interview notes, have you missed anything?
  • Consider the value of the photographs - the guests, the key moments and the emotions all need to be captured by the photographer.
  • Do you like the photographer, will you and the guests be comfortable around them, do you trust them to record your wedding day?

If you are looking for a relaxed, friendly and fun photographer who  adopts a natural style, who loves to get to know his customers, to understand their likes and dislikes that is me.  Laura and Dave did and were very pleased with the result,

“Thank you so much for everything! It was great for you to be a part of our day, and we do hope you enjoyed it too.
The photo gallery is STUNNING! Thank you so much - the photos are just gorgeous and we don't have any edits to suggest. We are so happy in particular about all of the wonderful guest photos you took - without which I think a lot of the different elements of the day may have been lost!
Absolutely in love with photos 160, 279 and 281 in particular!
Thanks again Neil"

Contact me at  and hopefully I will be available for your wedding. 


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) choosing a wedding photographer destination wedding destination wedding photographer french wedding photography getting married in France wedding photography Tue, 08 Jan 2019 08:18:18 GMT
Where to post, the social media conundrum for photographers As evidenced by just walking down a busy street and looking around, everyone has smart phones, and many like my daughters spend hours per day on them. As a photographer looking to grow and publicise the business the question is how do I reach prospective clients who in the main want to make their choice on-line. Be it ordering food, clothes or reading a magazine many now do that on their phone. So we photographers need to be available and visible to our potential clients in the same way. 

Like many I use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter as well as having my website visible to Google and Bing search engines. But is this enough?

I do find it easier to post stories around an image on Instagram and then share it on Facebook and Twitter. I get lots of "Likes" and slowly I am building a following. I have also invested in Facebook and used that to build my "Likes". I have not spent much time this year on my website Blog. Mainly because its not as easy and convenient for me, but perhaps I should. All the marketing gurus say the same thing; you must invest time in social media and keep investing time, be consistent, post regularly, be current, be interesting. Yes, but this takes up a lot of time.

Most clients find me via the website, one this week said they found me on Instagram; thats the first, some find me on Facebook. I have recently updated my website for search engine optimisation but I expect that could be better. Time will tell if more potential clients are directed to me when they search for photographers in SW France. I could do with a marketing buddy to help out and to do all these things but that has a cost. But is it a cost I should endure to help me with this conundrum?

Someone once said "if you keep on doing what you did you will get continue to get what you got". This is very apt and I recognise the way consumers buy is changing and I too need to change.  I accept if I am to increase my social media exposure to enable potential clients to find me I need to invest more time in social media. Sounds like less time relaxing to me, but hay ho needs must and here I am writing a blog.

Rachael & Neil Wedding, Saint Severin ChurchSmart phones are everywhere.Rachael and Neil's walk down the aisle was photographed by by many.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Charente wedding photographer destination wedding photographer Dordogne wedding photographer French wedding photographer wedding photography Sun, 07 Oct 2018 10:01:25 GMT
The Scots land in the Charente Jenni & David chose to travel all the way from Edinburgh to Bellevue near Birac for their wedding. Bellevue, formally Luxury Weddings in France ran by Clare and Andrew, is situated in the beautiful Charente countryside with panoramic views and it provided the ideal venue for friends and family to stay and enjoy the wedding and of course the summer sun.

The wedding day was relaxed but clearly somebody had been busy making and placing the wedding decorations. The ceremony location, the reception area and the courtyard had all been decorated with flowers, ribbons, decorated old jam jars, wine boxes and lots of gypsophila.

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Whilst Jenni was getting ready and drinking Champagne David and the guys were preparing themselves by drinking their favourite The Balvenie whisky. The whisky helped loosen them up for some photographs. Jenni & David's Wedding, Bellevue -43-4185Jenni & David's Wedding, Bellevue -43-4185

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It was an emotional time when Jenni's father entered to collect Jenni for the wedding. It clearly was a proud moment.

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The wedding ceremony was lovely, Jenni looked beautiful as did the 4 bridesmaids and 2 flower girls, the sun shone, and everyone relaxed and enjoyed the wedding.

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A little later after canapés and of course a few drinks we had some fun with the group photographs and created a few non-standard poses.

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The reception followed the speeches which produced lots of laughter and everyone got their own badge!

Jenni & David's Wedding, Bellevue -27-7003Jenni & David's Wedding, Bellevue -27-7003 Then later the guests enjoyed a lovely cheese cake. Jenni & David's Wedding, Bellevue -362-5329Jenni & David's Wedding, Bellevue -362-5329


Later as the sun set Jenni & David took time to get their photographs taken amongst the grapevines followed by some fun with sparklers.

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It was a great wedding, relaxed, emotional and memorable for all the right reasons.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) bellevue birac charente david bell jenni taylor wedding wedding photography whisky Sun, 28 Jan 2018 15:22:21 GMT
Italian English Wedding in SW France Rachael and Neil chose to get married in the L'Eglise Saint Severin and continue the celebrations at the beautiful Chateau La Gauterie in Saint Paul Lizonne. Many of the guests were accommodated at the Chateau which had been decorated by Rachael’s family.

Neil and the groomsmen were getting ready in the coach house and once ready were rewarded by a bottle of Vintage Port to calm their nerves before heading to the village bar.

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Rachael of course was in the Chateau where her family had spent many hours preparing the staircase and other areas.

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Once ready the bridesmaids then Rachael and her Father were transported to the church in a lovely vintage Citroen. On arrival at the church Rachael was early and the Priest asked us to wait outside. Then there was a sudden downpour and it was fortunate that the local Tratoria was open and we rushed inside for shelter.

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After 10 minutes the Priest was ready and the church with its white flower decorations provided a lovely setting for the catholic blessing.

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After the ceremony there was time to have a quick stroll around Saint Severin before heading back to the Chateau.

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The vin d’honneur took place on the terrace of the Chateau and everyone relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine. There was of course a few guests who quickly got into the party spirit.

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Later in the afternoon Rachael and Neil took some time out to take a stroll around the grounds of the Chateau.

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The wedding breakfast was arranged in a marque positioned in front of the Chateau and at the appropriate time the wedding party settled down to their meal.

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Afterwards as the sun set the wedding party got into full swing and clearly everyone was enjoying themselves.

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Other than the vintage Citroen breaking down and failing to collect the new bride and groom the months of planning and creating decorations and details came together and the wedding day was enjoyed by everyone.

It was a wonderful day with lots of love, laughter and tears of joy. Everyone enjoyed themselves and I had a great time too.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) chateau gauterie french wedding photography rachael & neil saint severin wedding Tue, 23 Jan 2018 16:03:33 GMT
Fabulous Black & White Themed Wedding at Chartreuse du Bignac Lauren & Matt had been planning this wedding for some time. When I met Lauren and her Mum at one of their many pre-wedding visits to the lovely Le Chartreuse du Bignac and discussed the photography needs I knew this was going to be a fabulous wedding. And it will be a black and white themed wedding said Lauren. The Chartreuse du Bignac is a 4 star hotel close to Bergerac airport so ideally for wedding guests flying in. It is a wonderful location for a wedding, set on a hill with lots of hidden places to relax and enjoy the views of the beautiful Dordogne countryside.

When I arrived Lauren and the bridesmaids were all getting ready in the honeymoon suite, a private suite set on its own down by the lake. Everyone was relaxed and arranging hair, makeup, dresses and of course drinking Champagne. Lauren had as I expected chosen a wow dress. It and the jeweled shoes looked fabulous. 

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Matt and the guys were all getting ready in the main house. The bow ties caused a challenge but they overcame that and looked very smart in their tuxedos.

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Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (26 of 397) - 6858Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (26 of 397) - 6858 Back at the honeymoon suite Lauren was ready early and had time to relax. Dad arriving obviously caused some emotions.

Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (76 of 397) - 0705Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (76 of 397) - 0705 Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (101 of 397) - 0756Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (101 of 397) - 0756 So all was set for a beautiful wedding. White flowers, white lanterns and white rose petals decorated the wedding area and it really did look lovely.

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Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (116 of 397) - 0781Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (116 of 397) - 0781 Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (139 of 397) - 0826Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (139 of 397) - 0826 Afterwards the guests made their way to the south facing terrace where canapés and drinks were being served. Glitter balloons added some glamour, Phil the "Saxman" played in the background and parasols and sun brollies were in place as it was forecasted to be a hot day and it was.

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Almost all the guests adopted the black and white theme but there were a few "offenders" but nobody  seemed to object. Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (170 of 397) - 0893Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (170 of 397) - 0893 Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (214 of 397) - 0975Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (214 of 397) - 0975 The grounds of the Chartreuse du Bignac provided lots of variation for the guests to relax, tree shaded areas, walled gardens and open grass areas were all popular. The black and white theme did make for some good photography although it did prove a challenge setting the white balance during post production.

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During the reception there were some fun activities like frightening the bride in a chair lift. It was spontaneous, she didn't expect it and nor did I. But it made everyone laugh, except Lauren.
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Afterwards we took some time out to wander around the grounds and photograph Lauren and Matt relaxing. The setting was beautiful and Lauren and Matt looked great.

Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (259 of 397) - 1169Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (259 of 397) - 1169 Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (274 of 397) - 1222Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (274 of 397) - 1222 On the west facing terrace the hotel had set up the wedding reception. Again there was details everywhere, clearly Lauren had been very busy planning this theme and it looked stunning with the white and copper theme.

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There was lots of choice when it came to drinks and they were in abundance too; ready for the party that would of course follow later on.

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It was great to capture some fun images during the reception. The fun face cards provided on the tables of course helped. Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (313 of 397) - 1296Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (313 of 397) - 1296 The speeches followed and there was laughter and tears. Everyone was having a great time.

Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (332 of 397) - 1341Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (332 of 397) - 1341 As the sun started to set the party started. Initially it was drinks outside on the lawn but as the sun set the first dance followed and the party got into full swing.

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Later on the Fish and Chip van arrived. Again a surprise to me and a good idea I thought; it provided some welcome fuel for the party goers but Matt's Mum and Mia the Flower girl  were the first. Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac -  (394 of 397) - 1507Lauren & Matt Wedding, Chartreuse du Bignac - (394 of 397) - 1507

As I left the party was in full swing; it was going to be a late night for them but it was a great location for a wedding party.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) bergerac black & white theme chartreuse du bignac france lauren & matt huntley wedding wedding photography Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:51:33 GMT
Informal, relaxed, fun French wedding in Saint Privat des Pres Aurelie and Olivier traveled from Paris to get married in Saint Privat des Pres in the Dordogne. Aurelie was originally from the area and hence planned the wedding in her home town. It was a 100% French wedding less than 2 km from my home and it promised to be a fun day and it was. "Attention au tracteur" the French said as I waited with the towns folk outside the church and 10 minutes later the tractor arrived pulling a trailer suitably decorated with the groom, best men, bridesmaids and others from the wedding party all drinking and signing. Seconds later a Porsche delivered the bride. It looked like all the Saint Privat inhabitants were waiting to witness the arrival of the wedding party and as they pulled up they were greeted by cheers. It was going to be an interesting wedding day.

Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (12 of 296) - 9736Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (12 of 296) - 9736 Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (19 of 296) - 9749Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (19 of 296) - 9749 The settling for the ceremony was behind the Salle de Fetes in Saint Privat and was lovely. Rose petals on the floor, flowers, voile and ribbons in the trees, wooden benches for the guests and a ceremony area decorated in flowers and voile; it was really pretty. The children led the wedding party to the ceremony and the sun shone through the trees to create dappled light to make it special.

Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (85 of 296) - 9855Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (85 of 296) - 9855 Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (130 of 296) - 9963Aurelie & Olivier Wedding (130 of 296) - 9963 The ceremony was very informal and very long as all 6 bridesmaids and 6 best men gave a speech and it created lots of laughter. It was very personal and lovely. After the ceremony it was time to celebrate and drinks flowed and canapés were served. The Candy Stripes were there and they entertained and were enjoyed by everyone. There seemed to be no formal plan and everyone went with the flow which was great. I didn't know what was happening next so had to stay alert and I was pleased I managed to capture some of the impromptu fun in my photographs. I particularly liked the wedding bouquet throw to the single men and I wasn't expecting them all to run away as it was thrown, it was funny and everyone laughed.

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[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) aurelie & olivier candy stripes dordogne fun porsche relaxed saint privat des pres saint privat des pres wedding tractor wedding wedding photography Sun, 26 Nov 2017 08:52:51 GMT
Summer Fun French Wedding Charlotte and Chris wanted their wedding to be a fun day and Charlotte spent some time investigating and sharing with me the sort of photographs she liked. So, on the wedding day armed with Charlotte’s list I set off for the Chateau Fayolle just outside Riberac in SW France.

I arrived to see Charlotte’s team of helpers had decorated the entrance and outside areas of the Chateau. Clearly someone had been planning ahead.

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Charlotte and the girls were getting ready upstairs and Chris and the boys downstairs. Everyone was remarkably relaxed.

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Guided by Milo the Labrador Charlotte and her Dad made their way to the Chapel. The setting was really lovely. Chateau de Fayolle Charlotte & Chris' Wedding (95 of 400) - 8952Chateau de Fayolle Charlotte & Chris' Wedding (95 of 400) - 8952

The weather forecast in France is normally accurate and it promised a sunny +30oC, so it was going to be a hot one. But as the day progressed it seemed to get hotter and hotter more like late 30’s than early 30's. We all baked in the heat but remarkably Charlotte and Chris didn't look like they were suffering.

Chateau de Fayolle Charlotte & Chris' Wedding (106 of 400) - 8975Chateau de Fayolle Charlotte & Chris' Wedding (106 of 400) - 8975 Charlotte looked beautiful in her stunning dress and Chris looked very smart. The bridesmaids and flower girls in their grey and pink dresses and the guys in blue suits and pink ties all looked very coordinated and a pleasure to photograph.

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Janet and Gerry, the chateau’s owners had worked their normal magic and the venue looked lovey. After the ceremony those cool drinks were in demand and the fun soon started.

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Everything went to plan and everyone certainly looked like they enjoyed the day but boy was it hot.

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The party was in full swing in the Coach House when I left.

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Thanks to Charlotte and Chris for letting me be involved in their wedding day.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) charlotte chateau fayolle chris dordogne fun hot riberac sunny sw france wedding wedding photography Sun, 05 Nov 2017 10:46:05 GMT
Rain didn't stop play at French Wedding An early Spring wedding in France comes with the risk of rain and the weather didn't disappoint, it rained most of the day. But that didn't dampen the spirits of Rosie and Alex, they were relaxed about everything, "What will happen will happen" said Rosie. So Janet and Gerry the chateau's owners rearranged the planned outdoor ceremony and moved it to inside the Chateau.

Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (35 of 450) - 7023Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (35 of 450) - 7023 Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (30 of 450) - 6525Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (30 of 450) - 6525 Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (165 of 450) - 7356Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (165 of 450) - 7356

Chateau Fayolle looked lovely inside. Janet and team had decorated the ceremony room in fairy lights and candles and it looked pretty and felt cosy and relaxed, ideal for Rosie and Alex. Rosie looked beautiful in her wedding gown as did the bridesmaids. Alex and the best men adopted a smart and relaxed look which suited their personalities and the venue.

Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (43 of 450) - 7055Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (43 of 450) - 7055 Yes the rain had an impact on the photography and we had to hastily take the outdoor group shots in between showers. We had some fun with the umbrellas and a leak in the gutter over a walkway focused the guests otherwise they would get drenched.

Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (375 of 450) - 7738Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (375 of 450) - 7738 Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (388 of 450) - 7775Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (388 of 450) - 7775


Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (295 of 450) - 7615Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (295 of 450) - 7615

There were lots of emotions on show, laughter and tears. Its not the weather that makes a great wedding day its the venue and the attendees. The guests embraced the day in the rain, enjoyed the food and drink, celebrated and had fun and partied into the night. Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (310 of 450) - 7543Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (310 of 450) - 7543 Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (362 of 450) - 7713Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (362 of 450) - 7713

Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (449 of 450) - 7941Chateau Fayolle Wedding Rosie & Alex (449 of 450) - 7941

Well done to everyone involved and thanks Rosie and Alex for allowing me to be involved.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) charente chateau fayolle fun rain riberac sw france wedding wedding photography Tue, 31 Oct 2017 08:23:32 GMT
The Asylum Steampunk Festival The Asylum Steampunk Festival is the largest and longest running steampunk festival in the world, attracting participants from around the globe. It took place over the August Bank Holiday weekend in the historic City of Lincoln. For four glorious days the historic streets of Lincoln were thronged with thousands of splendidly dressed steampunks enjoying a festival which strives to combine art, literature, music, fashion, comedy and simple good fun. Well done to all those who helped organise and stage the event.

Me, I bought a bowler hat, heard a young child say "Mummy why has that man got a funny hat and glasses on", I had a great time, I met lots of characters, walked miles and drank too much Ale.

Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln  (1 of 117)5859Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln (1 of 117)5859 Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln  (36 of 117)5882Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln (36 of 117)5882 Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln  (60 of 117)5922Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln (60 of 117)5922 Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln  (30 of 117)5867Asylum Steampunk Festival, Lincoln (30 of 117)5867
Do visit The Asylum Photos to view the full gallery and if you are in one of the photographs and would like to download a copy for your privateuse just email me.

If you are looking to visit next years festival then keep an eye on The Asylum Steampunk Festival website.

For those asking what is Steampunk, here is one definition;
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Therefore, steampunk may be described as neo-Victorian. Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre. The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created as far back as the 1950s or 1960s. Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) festival lincoln steampunk the asylum Sat, 02 Sep 2017 08:29:04 GMT
Wedding Photography is so competitive I was updating my listing on an American based Bride Services site today and happened to spot the directory summary and was surprised or was I? It contained the long list of everything a bride and groom to-be need to consider when planning and arranging a wedding. Yes the list is long and contained 1000's of suppliers. I know photographers are everywhere using their iPhones or the latest Nikon or Canon or other but I was shocked at the number of wedding photographers who had added themselves to the directory; photographers made up about 1/3 of all listed professions.

  • Accommodation 1296
  • Apparel 1653
  • Beauty 341
  • Cakes 2281
  • Catering 2108
  • DJ 3006
  • Favours 1233
  • Flowers 3577
  • Formal Wear 243
  • Invitations 2228
  • Jewellery  946
  • Musicians 1876
  • Officiants 1905
  • Photographers 15887
  • Planning & design 7485
  • Props 2073
  • Transport 991
  • Venues 6175

So it seems brides to-be have an enormous choice when it comes to selecting their photographer which is good for them and keeps all us professionals on our toes. We need to up our game, as they say, and showcase our services and qualites so the bride to be makes the right choice. Joining societies or photography groups may help, as will the look and feel of your website and your Facebook site. This all helps but as we all know to stand out we need to be different and as I am now entering the world of marketing I will stop there.

Good luck to all you wedding photographers.














[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) competition wedding directory wedding photography weddings Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:39:25 GMT
Spring Website Refresh Well as the daffodils appear its time to refresh the website and this year I have gone for a simple clean look. I like big images and the home page certainly displays big images now. I had considered reducing the amount of text but for now I have left the details as they were and just updated personal details and services. I hope you like it.

Chalais Ralleye-6384Chalais Ralleye-6384

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) daffodils refresh spring clean website Sat, 25 Mar 2017 16:11:13 GMT
Wedding Signature USBs add a bit of sparkle to digital image presentation I was pleased and relieved to see the new stock of Wedding Signature USBs arrived. I had ran out of my old stock and had one last wedding to complete so needed to order them early. That wedding is now completed and on route to Scotland.

I do love a bit of sparkle on my wedding USBs and these didn't disappoint. A 8Gb crystal and chrome twist USB in a deluxe presentation box with gift bag and lots or ribbons make these a lovely way to present the Bride and Groom with their digital images. They can of course be personalised but I am sure most couples will love them as they are.

So having received my initial stocks for the 2017 wedding season early it means I have one less thing to worry about for next year.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Digital Images Presentation Sparkle Wedding Photography Wedding USB Mon, 05 Dec 2016 14:55:56 GMT
Wedding photographs are so precious My wife pointed me to an article in this month's Good Housekeeping magazine about lessons learnt. The reason she did is the article was about wedding photography. The article by Charlotte detailed that her and her husband didn't want a traditional wedding. "Why buy all the outfits you'll only wear once? Or pay for a reception for distant relatives and colleagues we would have felt obliged to invite?". They viewed it a waste of money. So they did it their way and had a fabulous holiday and once home went to the register office to get married. Three friends attended as witnesses.They wore jeans and the following day they went back to work.

Later they regretted the scrimping. "At the time we were pleased we had the day we wanted. We chose to document the day with a few cheap disposable cameras rather than spending money on a photographer. The few photos we had to remember our special day were fuzzy group shots with red eyes".

Seven years later her husband died of cancer and Charlotte has no wedding photos to show her daughter. She said "I wish that we had splashed out on an official photographer who could have captured our happiness on our special day. It would have been the best money we had ever spent".

Yes this is a sad and a very unfortunate situation and I feel for Charlotte and her family.

So why share this sad story? Well 2016 for me showed it is becoming more common to have a relative or friend with a decent camera take photographs at a wedding and a number of my opportunities for this year were lost to these relatives and friends. I understand of course this would represent a big saving on the cost of the wedding but having a set of professional images that tell the story of this special day are so precious and not employing a professional photographer may be a false economy.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) memories precious professional photographer wedding photography Sun, 20 Mar 2016 16:43:48 GMT
Website Refresh As spring is coming, according to the fact the nights are pulling out and that some daffodils are in flower,  I thought I would refresh the website. So a full review was undertaken, a new style - new layout, new colours and new fonts, the wedding sections updated, the about me section updated and that was it a newly refreshed website is ready for 2016. I hope the viewers like the new style. I know style is a personal thing but I have tried to keep it professional, modern and above all interesting. I am sure iI will have missed something so I expect to make small tweaks as the weeks pass by. So if you spot an error please do let me know.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) daffodils refresh spring clean website Sun, 21 Feb 2016 15:04:54 GMT
Do all wedding photographers correctly value their services? About 12 mths ago I was contemplating what the correct charge should be for my wedding photography services. So given I am a little OCD I decided to list out all the items associated with undertaking wedding photography and set them out on a spreadsheet so I could determine the true cost of providing a wedding service. The initial list was fairly obvious and included;

  • time expended during any pre-wedding meetings;
  • time expended on the wedding day, determined by the package the couple choose;
  • travel time and expenses to and from the wedding;
  • time expended on post production;
  • cost of supplying wedding usb;
  • cost of supplying and preparing the wedding album (if selected);
  • packaging and posting wedding usb and album.

But on reflection there was of course other overhead costs to include that were less obvious. These all have to be totalled up and divided by the expected number of wedding assignments;

  • insurance costs;
  • marketing costs (maintaining the website plus any subscription, referral and marketing campaign costs);
  • Professional membership subscriptions for continuing professional development as well as providing clients with some confidence regarding standards of work;
  • Equipment maintenance, cleaning, calibration and replacement.

I also had to determine my day or hourly rate and take into account the taxes I would need to pay.

When you set all this out on a spreadsheet it shows you the true cost of providing a wedding photography service and you soon recognise the cost difference between providing a professional service and a part time service.

Sadly correctly determining the cost of providing a professional wedding photography service does not guarantee you will get any more work because you also need to be competitive. Reviewing the competition is another interesting exercise to undertake and at the end of that process you can clearly determine where your charge sits compared to the other wedding photographers in your area.

I found this an interesting exercise, it ensures I correctly cost and charge for my services because I now have a model that determines my true cost so now I know what profit I am making on a wedding assignment or not depending on the agreed charge and I recommend everyone to do this.




[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) competition costs profit wedding details wedding photography Wed, 30 Dec 2015 09:45:00 GMT
Rain didn't stop the wedding The French weather can sometimes catch out the wedding planner and wedding photographer and force a quick change to the plans. That said the weather forecasts do seem accurate in France so if it says it will rain it invariably will but we all hope it won't. One of my favourite wedding images is below. It records one of those moments when the plan had to change.

The wedding was taking place at at the Luxury Weddings France venue at Bellevue, Birac in the Charente department of France. Rain was forecast but the day was sunny. The forecast said a storm would arrive at 3pm just as the ceremony was starting so the decision was made to bring the ceremony forward 30 minutes. Everyone rushed around and the ceremony started and was almost finished when at 3pm the black clouds arrived and with it a rain storm. The venue cleverly utilised the sun parasols to provide shelter to the guests and everyone made their way to the barn. This photograph shows the bride and groom being rescued from the ceremony with the best man holding the parasol and chief bridesmaid helping with the brides dress. From a photography point of view the remainder of the day was very stop start as it involved grabbing outdoor images in between the down pours. It was in the end a fantastic day, everyone enjoyed it and we captured all the photographs we planned to, it just needed patience.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bellevue Birac Charente Rain Wedding wedding photography Wed, 23 Dec 2015 12:45:00 GMT
A macro lens and some patience can improve your wedding photography I recently decided to take my 100mm f2.8 macro lens along to a wedding with the intention of using it to photograph the details. Macro photography is extreme close up photography in which the selected subject appears larger than life size. This can bring some challenges. You need to use the smallest aperture to gain optimum image sharpness and depth of field. But that means you need more light and so the exposure time is extended and that can introduce blur. Also the point of focus can be shallow so the focus point needs a bit of thought as does the overall composition. Practice as they say makes perfect and from a few shots I was able to include the below in the final selection.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Wedding close up lens macro wedding details wedding photography Tue, 15 Dec 2015 23:00:00 GMT
Natural, fun and beautiful with a little help from Photoshop ​During my last wedding of the summer the planned intimate session with the bride and groom was cut short by rain. These 30 minutes or so allows the bride and groom a period of time to relax away from the guests and I get to photograph and record some romantic memories. However on this day rain stopped play. A few weeks later whilst reviewing the final images the bride commented that it would have been great to have had an image of the two of them by the Chateau gates; was this possible to create one she asked? I pride myself on producing stunning images that are natural, fun and beautiful so I don’t use Photoshop. But I did have a lovely full-length couple image and also an image of the Chateau through the gates so perhaps they could be combined? I don’t have the skills to do this but found a company who did and a few days later the bride had the photograph she wanted. It was a first for me, I was pleased with the results and I would do it again. A week or so later I received a glowing testimonial from a delighted bride and groom and everyone was happy. Thank you Photoshop and Paul.

Emma & Neil -2-IMG_6762Emma & Neil -2-IMG_6762 Additional -7421Additional -7421 Emma & Neil Gateway croppedEmma & Neil Gateway cropped

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Emma & Neil Photoshop Wedding wedding photography Tue, 08 Dec 2015 23:00:00 GMT
Wedding Emotions Weddings are full of emotions, love, joy and happiness being the main ones and sometimes frustration too. After weeks, months or years of planning the eagerly anticipated wedding day arrives and in my view the role of the wedding photographer is to record the day’s events and of course capture some stunning images of the bride and groom. I do this in my reportage style trying to tell the story of the wedding through images. When I first started out as a wedding photographer the job was to record the key elements and the required group images and this was relatively straight forward, but now things have changed. The groom’s first glimpse of the bride, the little girl playing, the tear in the bride’s eye, the group laughter, the father’s loving look. These and more are the moments I look and listen for. These spontaneous moments help tell the story of the wedding day. Some involve the bride and groom but others do not so it’s these hidden moments that I love to record and share. These moments are not staged or posed they are natural and beautiful and give an insight into the real wedding day, a day full of love, joy and happiness. Here are three of my favourites.


IMG_9499-91IMG_9499-91 IMG_6035-152IMG_6035-152

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Wedding emotions photography reportage story storytelling wedding photography Thu, 03 Dec 2015 10:47:05 GMT
Delighted customer makes it all worthwhile I always ask my customers for feedback on my services. Obviously I hope its going to be good but the real reason I ask for feedback is so I can learn from it. I market myself as a relaxed, friendly, inobtrusive wedding photographer who endeavours to provide stunning images that are natural, fun and beautiful so its important to me to ensure that this is the service that the customers experience. Every customer is different and my personality may go down better with some customers than others but how I perform on their wedding day and the quality of the images they receive needs to be the best I can deliver and you only know if you have achieved this when you get receive the customers feedback.

This week I received feedback from John and Sarah a couple who were married in May at the Luxury French Wedding venue at Bellevue near Birac. They were a lovely relaxed couple I met them at the pre-wedding meeting and amazingly they remained relaxed on their wedding day. They wanted the photographer to quietly record the day, to be able to go with the flow and be unobtrusive. Yes there was a wedding photography plan so we did have a plan for the day and we generally stuck to it. I was very pleased with the final results and so were they and then to receive this feedback some 4 months later makes me feel so proud.

After our first encounter he understood straight away what type of photographer we would like. One comment he said was ‘I will be there all day but you will hardly see me’. This was so true, even the guests stated that he just blended in. This is how he managed to get such lovely moment catching photos and keeping the day relaxed for us. That said, his staged shots are amazing also, his aspect ratio of land sky and scenery are excellent. We would recommend Neil any day of the week. Great guy, he helped to make our special day and the photos make it last forever.

Thank you John and Sarah.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bellevue Informal John Relaxed Sarah Wedding feedback wedding photography Sun, 11 Oct 2015 09:34:53 GMT
Wedding Photography Plan I had some good feedback from both the bride and groom at a recent wedding and then again from the bride's parent's last week. It seems not all wedding photographers publish and agree a wedding photography plan with the bride and groom. At this particular bride's sister's wedding they were very disappointed with the photographs as the photographer had not captured what they believed to be key groups of friends and family. I don't know if the photographer was at fault or if the bride and groom were but the outcome was the bride and groom and family were disappointed with the photographers work.

It maybe because I have an eye for detail or I am conscientious or just organised or worried I will miss something but I always draft, issue, discuss and agree a photography plan for the wedding day with the bride and groom. I then use this as my checklist on the wedding day. Some can be simple but some can be quite detailed. Two examples are, the wedding family that provided the feedback had 24 formal group photographs on their plan which is a lot and I have a wedding next week where the bride to-be has sent me some sample images of certain photographs and poses she likes as well as a short list of formal group requirements. Had these couples not done this then some of the expected photographs would have been missed.

My customer service background tells me that to satisfy the customer you must as a minimum identify the customers needs, agree a plan with the customer and deliver as promised and to delight the customer you need to go that extra bit further. I don't think agreeing a photography plan is going that extra mile its just being professional don't you think?

Penny & Chris Wedding-93Penny & Chris Wedding-93

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) customer photography plan planning satisfaction wedding photography Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:03:57 GMT
Image Backup Routine Saves the Day Yesterday I was organising my backups. I use G-Technology ev series and having 1 week or so ago set up a 2Tb RAID as my main backup file decided I didn't need to reuse my old 1TB backup G-dive. So I decided to erase it and use it as a backup to my master images G-Drive. Sadly they have similar folder names and............ you guessed? I pressed erase on the wrong one. As soon as I did it I realised but the process is so quick by the time I pressed stop it was over, finished and images erased and a dark cloud descended on me. Mmmmm I thought, or words to that effect.

After a coffee and gathering thoughts moment I decided perhaps I can restore the data. I contacted G-Technology and waited and this morning received the, no you cannot, news.

Thankfully its not all bad news as I did have a backup all be it an old one. So this afternoon I restored the old images backup dated 14 August 2014 and reloaded the last three assignments that were still intact on their CF cards. All I need to do now is re export the last weddings gallery images to the new images file and I am almost up to date.

I cannot imagine what I would have felt like had I got no backups. It would have been a major disaster but thankfully I had one. So the G-Technology investment at the start of this year has been worth it. I wonder do all photographers have this in place? I used to rely on simple backup devices but as the catalogue of photographs grows this becomes and became unmanageable. 

So the lessons are, always double check before deleting files and more so for folders and ensure you always have a back up of your very important photography images.

St Aquilin Classic Cars-13St Aquilin Classic Cars-13

I chose this image to accompany this Blog as I liked the idea of the hand horn presumably as a backup to the electric horn?

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) G-Technology Photograph RAID backup process storage Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:13:04 GMT
Peach, white & grey colour scheme made for great photography Penny and Chris decided that their wedding should be in France so over 1 year ago they booked the Luxury Weddings France venue at Bellevue, Birac in the Charente. I met them in February and found them to be a fun couple. Penny was clearly in charge of the arrangement planning and Chris was obviously one of lifes chilled individuals and they made a great couple. We took a few photographs at the time and they looked great and I couldn't wait to see them dressed up on their wedding day.












Fast forward to August and I arrived at the venue to find guests chilling and drinking champagne, not a bad way to start the day. I went to see Penny and she along with the bridesmaids were drinking champagne too, they were all so relaxed. Lots of giggles and laughter which was a good sign. Gemma Welch had arrived and had already started on the long line for hair and makeup so we all just chatted and talked about the day ahead. Some photographs were taken of the details and the group and then I went to find Chris and the three best men, yes three. They were already dressed and drinking beer, the Bellevue bar had provided a jug of it and it seemed to be going down well.

Penny & Chris Wedding-16Penny & Chris Wedding-16

We chatted and I found this to be a fun group not phased at all about the day ahead. We took some fun images of them messing around in front of the mirror and then I went to check out the marque. 

Penny & Chris Wedding-23Penny & Chris Wedding-23

The marque looked great. All decked out in peach and white. Jam jars wrapped in hessian and adorned with peach gerbera flowers and white gypsophila were really pretty, all provided by Mary Devereaux, peach lacy bows on chairs, and peach napkins and crystals on the tablecloths, I really liked it, sort of simple and fairy like but really pretty.

Penny & Chris Wedding-71Penny & Chris Wedding-71











Then back to Penny who was having her hair and makeup done. After a while it was dress on time so made myself scare whist she dressed. 10 minutes later I was back to photograph the final stages of Penny getting ready, she loved fabulous. She made some final checks and emerged in her lovely fishtail gown, and along with the bridesmaids in peach and flower girls in white they together made for a good photograph. Arm in arm Penny and her dad Chris headed off to the ceremony.

The sky remained blue but at times it threatened to rain. The forecast said rain showers at 3pm and just at the end it started to shower the wedding party so the parasols were sourced and the Bellevue staff held them high during the end of the ceremony but it soon passed over.

Penny & Chris Wedding-151Penny & Chris Wedding-151

The ceremony was lovely as Ron the celebrant did a good job as ever. I like Ron he always remembers to let the photographer get the important shot. Afterwards the groomsmen and bridesmaids coupled up and made for a lovely photograph as they followed the bride and groom in search of the champagne celebration.

Penny & Chris Wedding-193Penny & Chris Wedding-193


The afternoon seemed to quickly pass as friends and family got reacquainted and celebrated the wedding together. After a quiet period I needed to record the formal groups Penny and Chris requested so we gathered the guests and completed the formal photography.

Penny & Chris Wedding-267Penny & Chris Wedding-267











Then some time later I whisked Penny and Chris off for some quiet time and a chance to photograph the two of them in a relaxed environment. The green of the vines and corn provided an ideal contrast to the grey suit and white gown and made for a great backdrop.  As did the gentle shade of the tree lined avenue leading up to Bellevue where we also captured some nice images of Penny and Chris. So photographs complete and with the reception due in 30 minutes we headed back to the guests.

Penny & Chris Wedding-239Penny & Chris Wedding-239











The reception was a fun affair, lots of speeches, laughter and tears then afterwards the party really go going with the DJ working his magic in the hall. The first dance, the croquembouche, dancing to Motown all followed and I left around 10pm but not before the last moonlit photograph was taken through the large wrought iron gates of the guests chilling in the still evening.

Penny & Chris Wedding-537Penny & Chris Wedding-537


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bellevue Chris Luxury Weddings France Penny gerbera gypsophilia peach wedding photography Sat, 22 Aug 2015 12:43:04 GMT
Quirky Wedding Getting married in a forest setting is not everyones idea of a wedding. Combining this with DIY decorations, tent and yurt living, compost toilets, no electricity or WiFi and rubber ducks made for a very quirky wedding indeed. 

The bride was 45 minutes late but the wait was worthwhile as she arrived in a vintage gown that looked fabulous. The forest clearing was all decked out in bunting and the guests seated on straw bales with cushions were comfortable during the wait. The ceremony went without any issues and two daughters taking part made it a very family affair. Afterwards as the bride and groom passed through a mist of lavender confetti the party started. Big blue skys and lots of sunshine, canapes and drinks made the afternoon go so quickly. Then, later than planned but who cared, seated under the sky and even more bunting the reception meal started.

French chic abounded, everyone was relaxed, the setting was very different and unique but everyone enjoyed it including me. Thanks to Ade and Ella for letting me be apart of their wedding and to Wendy & Mathew at Quirky Camping for a great day and alternative wedding venue.

Ade&Ella Wedding-303Ade&Ella Wedding-303Alternative wedding


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Ade Ella Forest Quirky Camping Tents Wedding Yurts Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:48:23 GMT
Wedding Photography - its not all about the money Wedding photographers all work hard but the financial rewards are not great unless you undertake 50 wedding per year! And who in their right mind would want that bearing in mind in South West France the wedding season is approximately only 6 months long! A wedding normally takes about 4 days to complete; there is the long day attending the wedding followed by a few days of post production working on the images until the final set is published. Its more time consuming then many people think so the financial reward for all this work is not great, but for me its not all about the money. Yes I need to make a living, we all do, but getting rich is not likely as a wedding photographer. Unless as I said earlier you complete many wedding per year and are able to charge a substantial fee for each one!

Anyway the real point of this note is to say that its not all about money its also about feeling good about what you do and this for me is so important.

After each wedding I always ask for feedback, and if you read my blog you will know how important feedback is to me. I learn from this feedback as we all would. So when I receive detailed feedback that is really positive about my work its fantastic and that happened this week.

I completed a wedding assignment at Chateau du Trichot on the Aquitaine Lot-et Garonne boarder near Tournon d'Agenais for a couple who had planned everything themselves and never even visited the venue. It was a lovely day, it was hot and tiring but I really enjoyed it so when I received their feedback (please read) I was overjoyed. It was so complimentary and it showed that my work ethic and style were recognised and appreciated. So thank you Billie-jo and Neil.

So its not all about the money.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) compliments delighted customers feedback wedding photography Fri, 10 Jul 2015 07:48:42 GMT
Chilled wedding Most of the weddings I attend involve some stress on the part of either the bride or groom or both but recently at Bellevue Luxury Weddings at Birac I was greeted by two totally unstressed individuals, John and Sarah. I had met them before at a planning meeting and I noticed then they were quite laid back. The seemed to have everything organised and had thought through every detail. So it didn't come as much of a surprise to see they were still relaxed on the day of their wedding.

I arrived early as normal to find John already dressed and ready for the day. He was of course looking forward to the days events but had no concerns at all. What a great attitude I thought. I went off to find Sarah and found her chilling in the bridal suite. Hair and makeup hadn't started yet but there was plenty of time she said. I took some detail photographs, flowers, shoes, dress etc and went off to find John relaxing at the bar. After taking some photographs of him and the best man it was back to Sarah. She was having her hair done by Emma and was drinking champagne, still very relaxed.

And that is how they both stayed throughout the day.

For me the photograph here summed up their relaxed attitude. It was taken late afternoon after all the ceremony, champagne reception and main photographs. I like to take away the bride and groom for some private time together and the first thing they did was find a quiet spot and sit down. John kicked off his shoes and they drank champagne and chatted. Nothing seemed to faze them and that for me made my job easier and the day was very enjoyable indeed, thank you John and Sarah.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bellevue John Sarah chilled relaxed wedding wedding photography Sun, 05 Jul 2015 09:02:01 GMT
How to choose your wedding photographer I find it fascinating how the bride, its usually the bride in my experience, chooses their wedding photographer. Some use the recommendation from the wedding planner or venue owner/manager, some search out a local photographer via the internet, some  search out a destination photographer to travel to the venue and some bring one with them, usually a friend or family member. But how do they choose their photographer for what is the most important day of their life?

The challenge for me as a local photographer is how do the prospective bride and groom find me and then what is needed for them to go on to book me?

What does my website need to say and show to get them to contact me and what needs to happen during that initial contact for them to agree to use me? Obviously I have read what the marketing types say I need to do and believe I have implemented much of it. I have taken 3rd party advice on my website and made changes to it to hopefully improve the visitor experience and I try to be polite, friendly and helpful when I am contacted. All I can do then is trust that my style and my charges are acceptable and keep my fingers crossed.

It was interesting reading Claire Penn's, a fellow wedding photographers, view on this subject on the French Wedding Style Blog. She pretty summed up the decision process of choosing a professional wedding photographer believing the decision required them to consider four topics and I agree with her. But obviously they need to find you first.

  1. Local v destination photographer
  2. Is it within my budget
  3. Do I like the style
  4. Do I like their personality

I like to think that I can tick all these boxes but that is down to the bride to-be to decide.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) budget choices personality planning style wedding photography Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:22:20 GMT
Wedding Directories and Blogs Getting married in France or indeed any other foreign country can be drought with difficulties but by using a well established and reputable suppliers this process can be made a lot easier. But how do prospective brides and grooms to be find these suppliers when they are 100's or 1000's of miles away?

Getting married in France or indeed any foreign country can be fraught with difficulties but by using well established and reputable suppliers this process can be made a lot easier. But how do prospective brides and grooms to be find these suppliers when they are often 100's or 1000's of miles away? 

Access a wedding supplier networking group.

I am in two.

I watched Emma Willett and the team start up their wedding suppliers networking business Getting Married in France and Brides in France,  and I saw it gain momentum and grow and I thought I should get involved too. So as well as sharing images and stories I decided to pay my money and get included in their White Book. This directory provides prospective brides and grooms with a wealth of information and contacts for all things wedding. Its a great place to source your wedding suppliers from.

I also got involved with Monique Trulove and her wonderful  French Wedding Style Blog. It claims to be the number 1 online resource for French styled weddings and its well established, very popular and very informative. It too has a supplier directory and so I joined that too. 

So having spent my hard earned cash with these two ladies I hope my investment will pay off and it will help me grow my wedding photography business. Only time will tell...


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) blogs networking suppliers wedding wedding photography Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:48:07 GMT
Website audit by others provided much appreciated feedback You know when you spend hours working on designing and building a website and believe its the best it can be? Well Monique Truelove and her team from French Wedding Style recently reviewed my wedding photography pages on my web site and provided some interesting and welcome feedback. I am not sure what I expected but the exercise was very worthwhile. I was pleased to receive comments like "I loved looking at Neil's photos" but it was constructive criticism or suggestions to improve the site that I was looking for. Comments like "make the Blog more visible on the Home page", "remove the obligation to register when viewing the portfolio", "move the details in French to a French only page" were all were appreciated. I took onboard all the comments and a week or so later have applied them. So I hope the viewing experience for my potential customers and existing clients has improved as a result. So it goes to show two or more heads are better than one and website feedback should be encouraged and the comments taken on board. Perhaps you should get yours checked out?

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) communications feedback improvements marketing review suggestions website Sun, 28 Jun 2015 15:02:01 GMT
DIY Wedding in France Last week I was proud to be associated with a DIY wedding at Chateau de Trichot near Thezac in the Lot et Garrone. When I say DIY I mean that the bride to be plus helpers all worked together to arrange the wedding. Not unusual you may think but what I thought was odd was that none of the wedding party including the bride or groom to be had even visited the wedding venue nor had they had any help from anyone local or associated with the venue. Using the venue website and some images I took during my pre-wedding visit they totally planned out every detail of the wedding themselves. They arrived on the Tuesday before the Thursday wedding armed with all they needed and went about decorating and preparing the wedding setting. They brought in white roses in their suitcases along with candles, petals, cake, signs, lights in fact everything they needed. They did collect foliage from the gardens but the rest arrived in suitcases or cars from England.

I along with the caterers, band and celebrant were not imported!

When I arrived everything looked just right and what followed was a beautiful relaxed wedding day. Everybody just chipped in and helped out and made it the wonderful day it was.

Well done Billie-Jo, Neil and co.

IMG_0363-71IMG_0363-71Billie-Jo & Neil's DIY Wedding

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Billie-Jo Chateau de Trichot DIY Neil Wedding photography planning teamwork Fri, 05 Jun 2015 12:28:09 GMT
Its important to network with wedding suppliers There are lots of suppliers involved in helping ensure the wedding day goes to plan and meets the couples expectations. Some of these suppliers are often overlooked but when you view the wedding photographs you will see signs of their work or contribution and this should be recognised more. So during the last two weddings I have made an effort to network with the other wedding suppliers and help them by taking photographs of their work or service so they can use the image on their website or social media. The photographer has a unique position as a wedding supplier as he or she gets to record all the details of the day. The other suppliers are often busy doing their thing or have delivered their product and left so it was nice to take some time and ensure I had a photograph or two that I could share with the supplier. Hopefully they will share these images and attribute them to me and this free marketing should boost my enquires and hopefully help secure more bookings. So a little bit of effort on my part helping other suppliers is I believe a good investment of my time and of course helps make new friends.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) beautician caterer celebrant entertainer florist hairstylist musician networking patisserie photographer planner stationery stylist transport venue wedding Sat, 30 May 2015 09:15:04 GMT
Wedding Season Nerves As the first wedding of the season approaches my nerves are saying double check the camera equipment, the booking details, the photography requirements provided by the couple and the car and print off the photography check list and plan. Fortunately I am familiar with the venue so that is one less thing to worry about but all other aspects need double checking so there are no surprises, or only small manageable ones, on the day. 

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) nerves planning preparation wedding photography Wed, 20 May 2015 07:53:28 GMT
Fairytale Wedding Castle Last week I visited Château du Trichot ahead of a wedding booking I have at the end of May. It is a magnificent 12th century castle with high vaulted ceilings, large stone fireplaces and majestic stone stairs. It is situated near Thezac in the Lot et Garrone region of France just over the Dordogne boarder and it will provide a tranquil and beautiful setting for a fairytale wedding. The bride to-be is planning the wedding remotely and has allocated 4 days to decorate and prepare the venue for her dream wedding. I cannot wait to see it all dressed for the wedding.

IMG_9183-8IMG_9183-8Chateau de Trichot

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) 12th Century Castle Chateau de Trichot Lot et Garrone photography wedding Tue, 19 May 2015 09:26:39 GMT
Wedding Cancelled I had a couple cancel their wedding this week just 3 months from the big day in August. All arrangements had to be cancelled including the beautiful (and expensive) chateau. I felt really sorry for them, the emotion and the cost, it must have been a difficult decision and I feel for them. Sadly these things happen; I had one last year cancel just 1 month before the wedding. I will look to fill the booking as I am sure the other suppliers will but don't hold out much hope given the long lead times normally involved with weddings. I feel a discount offer may help. Anyway positive thoughts are needed for all involved.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Wedding cancellation oppertunity sadness wedding photography Mon, 18 May 2015 17:39:33 GMT
Wedding Photography Planning - ensures the clients are happy and minimises my stress Well the wedding season has started and some photographers have already been busy. Me? my 1st wedding is on 23rd May so I am officially in ramp-up phase. Wedding information sheets have been issued and returned to ensure I have all the correct details, wedding party names, numbers, special guests etc. I do like to ensure I can speak to the best man, bridesmaids and parents using their first names as it makes everyone more friendly and relaxed - and that makes better photographs. The wedding photography plan is generated from the wedding information sheet and I have issued it to the bride and groom and the wedding planner (if applicable) so all are aware of what I am planning for the day. I like to avoid surprises so for me planning ahead is so important and also I need to delight the client so I need to know and agree what shots they expect and equally don't want. Lets hope everything happens as planned but if things change, so be it, I will be ready camera in hand.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bride Groom Photography Wedding Wedding Photography Planning Tue, 12 May 2015 08:14:12 GMT
Pre-wedding photography visits to wedding venues is a must Yesterday I visited a new wedding venue that I have wedding bookings for this season. I haven't visited this venue before so I needed to go and see it first hand. It was 90 minutes drive away and I spent 2 hours on site looking around, familiarising myself with the venue and taking some photographs. I also got to meet the owner and we had a chat about what they offer and how they work, so it was a very worthwhile 5 hours.

I believe in minimising my stress levels on a wedding day and that means avoiding any surprises I can and knowing the venue. So to have a relaxing look around in advance helps; this leads to me being relaxed more on the day and that hopefully shows to the bride and groom to-be. After all they will have more than enough stress on the day without worrying about me.

According to some venues I have spoken to about pre-wedding visits they say its unusual for photographers to visit them in advance of a wedding. I find this odd, how can a photographer provide the best service without visiting in advance? Obviously some venues may be quite simple in terms of location options but this venue was spread over 10 acres and had many secret spots that would help cease some stunning bride and groom images.

So I believe in pre-wedding venue visits because it helps me plan the day and provides the bride and groom some stunning images that may not have been possible with a photographer that wasn't familiar with the venue.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Pre-wedding photography visits wedding chateau wedding photography wedding venues Tue, 05 May 2015 14:19:01 GMT
Wild Flowers - now you see them now you don't I just got back from a short holiday relaxing in the south of the Dordogne. There was not much to do but relax! There was however a meadow a short walk away so I took the dog and camera and went to explore. It was sunny and there was a choice of wild flowers to photograph. Some I recognise some I didn't. Two days later I had a revisit and found the farmer had been curating hay and all the meadow was gone! So I was pleased I made the effort two days earlier. There is a message there  - don't put off today what you think you can do tomorrow.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Dordogne meadow wild flowers Thu, 30 Apr 2015 12:30:26 GMT
Classic Cars in Dordogne France Last Sunday was a bit miserable weather wise, all grim and raining. I had planned to visit the Segonzac classic car rally on the motorbike but it was too wet. Nevertheless I attended in the Land Rover and it was well worth the visit. The village was lovely, there was refreshments provided, even a bar to keep the visitors happy and the quality of the classic cars was good. There was even some vintage motorcycles. I stuck to my artistic style and heavily cropped the car images giving only a small clue as to the model or manufacturer; it make it more interesting I think and of course different. It was a good morning out and I need to look out for future classic car and motorcycle rallies in the area.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Dordogne France Segonzac classic cars vintage motorcycles Fri, 24 Apr 2015 08:39:38 GMT
Wedding Photography 1980's Style Last week I was able to help out a lady who wanted some old photographs digitised and reworked for a digital album she was preparing as a gift. Most of the photographs were loose but one was in her wedding album. It brought back lots of memories when she delivered the album to me; it was a Spicer Hallifield. That may not mean much to most of you but if you was a wedding photographer in the 1980's then this was the wedding album manufacturers you probably used. What was also interesting was the style of photography; all posed and formal, in fact only one photograph was what I call natural. Wedding photography has changed so much and I much prefer my current style to that of the 1980's. I may even search out and share some of my many 1980's wedding photography images so you younger photographers can have a smile!

Carolyn Thompson WeddingCarolyn Thompson Wedding


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) 1980's Wedding albums hallifield photography spicer styles Tue, 14 Apr 2015 07:25:20 GMT
Monitor calibration is a must I recently got a calibration reminder for my monitors that it is 3mths since the last colour calibration. I completed the recalibration but there was very little change an any device, which is good. Interestingly when I first calibrated the two laptops and two monitors the change was significant. I thought the colours were about right, how wrong I was. All that time I spent adjusting colours during post production was wasted because what I saw on screen was not the true colour. I use the Datacolor Spyder4Pro, it is easy to use, not expensive and now ensures what I see on screen is what will be printed for the client. I would recommend this to all professional photographers.

IMG_4513-4IMG_4513-421 Yr old Cognac from Courvoisier captured at the Courvoisier Museum in Jarnac, France.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) calibration colour datacolor quality spyder4pro Sat, 04 Apr 2015 09:02:32 GMT
Wedding planning - so much to do I had a meeting this week with a bride and groom to be. They flew in from the UK for a couple of days and had so much to see and do. I saw them on day two but they certainly had a busy time. They had arrived the day before and attended the tasting to sort out the meal, then it was a trip to the venue to look at that, then the accommodation, the flowers, the photographer, the wine and then on to meet the celebrant. A bit of a worlwind of a visit. Amongst all this I was able to chat to them about the photography; their needs and dislikes. Again the message, no cheesy photographs please, was delivered; no jumping and no non natural posing. That all suits me as I search for natural, fun and beautiful images that tell the story of the day and that the bride and groom will cherish.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Wedding bride groom meeting photography planning preparations style Sat, 21 Mar 2015 09:10:55 GMT
New look website Brides it seems in most instances make the decisions regarding a wedding photographer so I thought i would refresh my website with this fact in mind. So out with the grey and black and in with the pastel colours. I also updated the About Me page  making it more personal and revisited the Wedding Information page to ensure it reflected my style and approach. So you marketing types should be proud of me taking onboard the feedback received and read about. Lets hope the clients like it, but only time will tell.

IMG_8370-14IMG_8370-14Sunrise on Hythe Beach

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) brides marketing pastel personality website Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:00:00 GMT
The cost of providing wedding photography I was reading an article by #BrettFlorens, a leading wedding photographer, in #PhotoproUK that suggested wedding photographers should ensure their rates take account of basic overheads, actual wedding costs that are incurred and a reasonable value for the time incurred.  I completed the exercise and was surprised to note the true cost of providing wedding photography was higher than I thought. This provides an interesting conundrum because if you include all the costs then the rates need to increase significantly; but if the rate becomes too expensive it may lead to limited if any bookings and of course too cheap may give the impression that the service will not be to an expected standard. I agree rates need to be competitive but at the same time reflect the costs incurred in delivering the service. My rate seems to be mid table, not the lowest nor the highest and I am pleased with that but this year I have lost many bookings to lower cost photographers, both professional and semi-professional. Increasing my rate further will not build my business so I need to keep costs down and focus on delivering stunning images and then the business, I hope, will continue to grow.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) photographer photography wedding wedding photography fees Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:48:58 GMT
Jarnac bridge over the Charente by night Enjoyed a cold and wet night photography session in Jarnac last week and was pleased with the results  but I got some odd looks from passers by as I walked around in the dark with my camera and tripod!


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bridge Charante Courvoisier Jarnac Night River Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:54:20 GMT
Capture in camera or create in Photoshop? Many photographers use Photoshop to edit and change the images recorded by their camera, which is fine, each to their own. My view is you should try and do what you can in camera and then finish the image in Lightroom, Photoshop or similar. An example is below. This image was captured late evening and exposed for the sky which meant the foreground was almost black and the church and trees in silhouette.  By reducing the shadows the field of cows were revealed, by reducing the highlights the colour of the sunset was fully revealed, a tweak to the contract and exposure and adding a vignette finished it off.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Sun, 26 Oct 2014 09:17:06 GMT
Wedding Wall Art I am not sure how many brides & grooms choose an image from their wedding to adorn a wall at home? I love working with the more adventurous couples as this can provide some very different and certainly not traditional images that I think would look great on any wall.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Alex Art Bergerac Chateau Tasha Wedding Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:09:25 GMT
What to Exhibit? I am grateful that two local businesses allow me to exhibit in their restaurant/hotel; La Brasserie de la Place and Hostillerie de Perigord both in Aubeterre sur Dronne, but I like to change the images every few months but this time I am not sure what with. Should I go for striking images like the recent classic car rally, local landscapes, wedding art, or local black and white art? Its difficult to choose given the cost of producing and displaying art work is expensive, but I guess if I don't speculate I won't accumulate!


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Aubeterre Brasserie Charente Hostillerie Hotel art exhibit Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:25:07 GMT
You win some you lose some - winning customers I was pleased to be invited to a meeting with a prospective bride and groom this week. I felt I talked too much but its exciting and I am passionate about what I do and I wanted that to come across to the bride and groom to-be, and because its not just another wedding to me its their wedding and it needs to be special. I also had two wedding confirmations this week which is fantastic, thank you Cally and Suzanne. I also lost a booking; my style didn't suit them it seems, but I don't know what style they are looking for but once I find out who they chose it will. It could have been a price issue or perhaps they already had someone lined up? Never mind you cannot win them all.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Sun, 05 Oct 2014 12:44:13 GMT
Trying to earn a living as a Wedding Photographer in SW France Getting a wedding photography business off the ground in SW France is a slow affair and patience is needed. That said September has brought a number of wedding photography enquiries and even some bookings which is great. It must be difficult for the brides (grooms don't seem as involved) to chose the wedding photographer - what role does cost, style, personality, recommendations, endorsements play I wonder in their decision?

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Sat, 27 Sep 2014 11:53:18 GMT
Just added #Weddings to my #Google+ account I am trying to expand my social network using Google+ so please follow me. 

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Google+ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 10:26:04 GMT
Whitstable Beach Happy with the beach images shot in Whitstable in Kent this week. I think they show the mood and the wild weather we had for part of the trip.

IMG_5336-22IMG_5336-22The route to the Pub

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Beach Pub Whitstable Sun, 13 Jul 2014 10:42:53 GMT
Desaturated Images Just desaturated some of Katrina and Lukasz's images to see what feedback I get on Facebook. Fingers crossed its liked! IMG_4981-1IMG_4981-1


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) desaturated katrina lukusz Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:54:37 GMT
Lowel GL1 gets an outing I was pleased to try out for the 1st time the new Lowel GL1 lamp. It made the night images and gave them colour and depth that is not available from my standard flash.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) GL1 Lowel dancing light party tungsten wedding Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:47:18 GMT
Dreamy French Wedding Just posted a lovely set of dreamy French wedding images taken last weekend in Annepont, Charente Maritime. The bride and groom and all the guests looked great as did the venue all decorated in ribbons and flowers. I enjoyed the day and i know everyone else did.


[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) annepont charente dreamy flowers french wedding Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:43:51 GMT
Wedding Albums I am really pleased to receive my wedding album samples ready for the 2014 Brides and Grooms to review. I have 3 options from the extravagant and luxurious Allura to the simple but impressive Impress. Available in a range of sizes and colours there is a wedding album to suit all pockets.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) album prices samples wedding Sat, 05 Apr 2014 08:06:05 GMT
Pre-wedding meetings with Bride & Groom to be Next week i have the first of my pre wedding meetings with the bride and groom. Thursday and Saturday will be busy meeting and getting to know them as well as their needs and wants. Both are new venues for me too so that will be interesting as well. Looking forward to it.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) bride groom pre wedding Sat, 05 Apr 2014 07:35:02 GMT
Images on display at Hostellerie de Perigord & La Brasserie de la Place in Aubeterre I am pleased to have on display various images in the Hostellerie de Perigord and in the Brasserie de la Place, in Aubeterre sur Dronne in the Charente region of France. Why not pop in if you are in the area and have a look? I am hoping they will promote my services as well as perhaps attract some artwork sales. So fingers crossed.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Aubeterre sur Dronne Brasserie de la Place Charente Images Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:41:10 GMT
Lightroom 5 - my journey has begun with Anthony Morganti's help I got Lightroom 5 loaded on the Mac and struggled then I found a great tutor in Anthony Morganti. He has simple to follow tutorials on the web and I would recommend them to anyone in my position. Currently I have completed 4 and looking forward to number 5. Already they have enhanced my images.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Education Lightroom5 Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:25:40 GMT
Aubeterre Art - traditional views of Aubeterre sur Dronne with a subtle change Just edited some images of Aubeterre sur Dronne which is recognised for being one of the prettiest villages in France. It offers narrow winding streets and ancient buildings to explore, several cafes and good restaurants. Many of the images of it are well known so I decided to do something slightly different and make some subtle changes. I hope people will like them and who knows I may make some sales!

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Aubeterre Aubeterre sur Dronne abstract art charente wall art Thu, 20 Feb 2014 15:38:24 GMT
My planning Sunday provided 3 lists - to do, to learn and to buy Had a planing session and put together 3 lists - to do, to learn and to buy. Also extracted and filed away all the best bits from some photography magazines. All part of my declutter and get organised plan.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Planning declutter organised Sun, 09 Feb 2014 16:14:56 GMT
Wedding confirmed at Annepont, Charente Maritime, France Great news! I passed the interview and got the booking for 28 June 2014! Its a good feeling to be given the opportunity of being involved in what is the biggest day of a couples life. I had a look at the venue, a lovely little privately owned water mill close to Annepont. So all is set for some great images. I just hope it stops raining before then!

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Fri, 07 Feb 2014 16:25:36 GMT
Potential Wedding at Annepont, Charente Maritime, France Had what I hope was a good interview on 29th with a bride to be that is getting married this summer at her parents restored water mill in Annepont. We discussed style, approach and arrangements for the day and it all sounded great. She likes vintage, natural, black & white and sepia images, and I do too but its difficult to judge telephone interviews so I have my fingers crossed it was well received by her because I would love to be part of her special day.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Annepont Charente Maritime interview water mill wedding photography Fri, 31 Jan 2014 08:15:41 GMT
Another Wedding Photography booking for August at a Chateau near Bergerac, France I am pleased to have a new wedding booking for August at a venue that is new to me. The Chateau looks great lots of history and luxury;  it will provide some fantastic images. Exciting stuff.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Bergerac booking france photography wedding Wed, 29 Jan 2014 12:05:34 GMT
Societies2014 and afterwards Just back from #societies2014 with lots to follow up on. Need to sort #weddingalbums out as a priority and order some #prints for #wallart in  and

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) albums aubeterre brassiere hotel societies2014 wedding Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:16:40 GMT
Long time no speak Its been so long since I updated the Blog. Just keep forgetting. We have had some lovely testimonials in this period in fact everyone seems to be pleased with the work undertaken; weddings, lifestyle and even some house sales photography. The latest two haven't appeared on the website yet so I must add them.

On the weddings front we have bookings for next year and even an enquiry for 2015. Over the next few weeks i need to update the wedding details with the 2014 wedding album details. So its all go

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) albums aubeterre house lifestyle wedding Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:01:56 GMT
Testimonial I was knocked for 6 by the testimonial received from Helen and Vaughan. I completed their wedding in October and i thought it went really well. I enjoyed the day and was pleased with the images. Receiving such a lovely testimonial made it perfect.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) testimonial wedding Sat, 09 Feb 2013 09:44:07 GMT
Quiet Month Well a month has passed by since my last blog, I think thats probably too long, anyway its been a quiet month. I posted some cross country photographs plus some images of Riberac market and a phonebox in Essex! I really liked the phonebox, the isolation and the warm glow from it attracted me. As winter approaches i want to capture some frosts and foggy morings, so thats my challenge this month. Bye for now.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) Chalais Cross Riberac market Wed, 28 Nov 2012 11:12:42 GMT
Delivered at last! Well after delays due to an unplanned trip to the UK and other work commitments I delivered the wedding DVD and CDs yesterday to Vaughan and Helen. They were really complementary and I was really pleased with the feedback they gave me, they were delighted with the images and also complemented me on the way I conducted myself on the day; helping to organise the guests at the various locations, cajoling them to get the images I and the bride and groom wanted and generally blending in so I did not impact on the relaxed flow of the wedding. I really enjoyed it and I am really pleased they did too. They promised a glowing reference too; what more can you ask for?

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) DVD cajoling organising wedding Thu, 25 Oct 2012 08:30:37 GMT
Busy Weekend Do you suffer from slow internet speeds? I do. As a result its taken me most of the weekend to upload about 1Gb of wedding photos to the wedding section of the site. It was a good job it was raining here and hence no distractions. Anyway now that's completed, and as a reward someone ordered some prints straight away; made all the effort worthwhile, thank you.  Next job is to print the CD covers and cut the CDs with all the photographs; but not today.

[email protected] (Neil Cooling Photography) CD internet photography! wedding Sun, 14 Oct 2012 14:45:50 GMT