The Twenty 13 from Mick Cookson Photography

Mick Cookson is the photographer behind many of the Little White Books photoshoots – one of his images is the front cover of the new edition.

Here he shares with us his current 20 favourite shots from the large number of weddings he covered in 2013, with some detail and explanation to go with them.

I love this idea….I think numbers 3 and 16 are my favourites….

‘1. Christine & Stephen at Gorton Monastery


I’m going to start with this image, one which I love. Christine & Stephen have been together for a good few years, but decided to tie the knot in March of 2013. Without hopefully sounding a little patronising, this image prove love has no boundaries, no religion, creed, colour…or age. Their wedding was at Gorton Monastery, professionally planned and run by Andrea Swift – a wedding planner I can thoroughly recommend.  An intimate family wedding this one, with a simple civil ceremony, followed by a wedding breakfast, this wedding had it all – a string quartet, casino, 20 piece swing band, Gorton Monastery…but most of all it had this. Written all over Christine’s face was the reason we were all invited. Her expression says it all, and it remained like this all day, from hair and makeup, to taking the dance floor for a jive. Even the jokingly, the subtle reminders to Stephen to look slightly more romantic for my camera worked…but here was a bride who was every age, and every bride on their wedding day.  A timeless, classic image and I loved every minute of the day.

2. Victoria & David at The Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge


Victoria and David also had an intimate, family wedding. The wedding very nearly didn’t happen due to a very sad event, but bravely, the couple opted to carry on with the plans and marry. Possibly the most difficult wedding I’ve ever had to photograph, a full-on rollercoaster of emotions this day, and in the middle, a young, happy couple, oblivious to the outside world for a few moments in time, as they exchanged their vows. The sun came out, rather aptly, but very severely as they spoke their vows, and I had to make a split second decision as to where to move to and how to expose the shot I wanted, without drawing attention to myself. One of my favourite images of all time this one; a young couple starting a new life as Mr & Mrs Barrett, whilst we all quietly observed and, through the emotion of an otherwise dark day, witnessed a little piece of light, and a little magic.

3. Three Best Men, Nunsmere Hall


I was at Nunsmere Hall for Kate & Jay’s winter wedding. The day went perfectly to plan, except someone threw me a curve ball for the speeches. The couple opted to have the speeches from the stairs in the main hallway, with the guests standing around looking up. No problem, except it was 4pm in February and dark! The three guys had synchronised their iPads for their combined speech. Linked to a projector above reception, we all gathered to hear the speeches. Come the Best Men’s turn, their speech brilliantly  entertained us all…especially watching poor Jay wilt with embarrassment (sorry Jay). Brilliant fun, expertly delivered by the trio, and one of my favourite ‘Speeches’ shots ever. You can see how dark it was by the glow on their faces from the iPad screens…

4. Amy & Jim, Adlington Hall


Amy and Jim were married at Adlington Hall just before Christmas. As wedding photographers, we photograph the bride’s dress on nearly every wedding, but this image just kept niggling away at me. I just love the peace to this image – the ‘quietness’ of the shot, before the bustle of the wedding day ensued. Just me, and the dress. Taken at The Wizard’s Thatch in Alderley Edge, the shot was lit with off-camera flash in an otherwise unfeasibly dark room. Balancing the colour of my flash, to a small practical lamp, I created this ‘look’, and just love the atmosphere and simplicity of the image. The feel and warmth to the image, plus the all-surrounding silence before the day began is captured here in a single frame. This shot will feature very strongly in Amy & Jim’s album I’m sure…

5. Katie & Andy, Royal Clifton Hotel, Southport


Katie and Andy were married in the Spring at The Royal Clifton Hotel in Southport. Quiet, camera-shy and very much not wanting a big fuss made of them above their invited family and friends, the couple commissioned me to discreetly capture their wedding day without any intrusion. I’ve made this point before about gaining (especially) the bride’s confidence in allowing me to quietly photograph her during the morning’s preparations. I hear too many horror stories from make up artists moaning about how some wedding photographers ‘burst in’ and change the mood (to suit them and their often staged ‘natural / reportage’ images), and forgetting that they are merely there to do a job, not turn the spotlight on themselves. Katie had my trust after a few minutes in the day. Not fazed by my being around with a Nikon, she quietly did her thing, and I did mine. Just as she was putting on her wedding dress, I took this image. In her body space? Yes. Imposing photographer? Nope. Their Jorgensen album looks stunning too.

6. Victoria & Ron, Walton Hall, Warwickshire


Victoria & Ron have top positions in TV production. That’s all I’ll say on the matter. I’d previously photographed a colleague’s wedding and Victoria asked me to capture her & Ron’s big day down in Solihull and onto Walton Hall. Even though these two know cameras, angles, production techniques – the works, Victoria smiled at me, telling me not to worry about it…and, oh…you can’t back out 😉 They knew about my past life in TV production anyway!  So, working with two people who bring some of THE most important television coverage to our homes, I accepted the ‘challenge’. This image stood out for me, from their collection. Being introduced as the new ‘Mr& Mrs….’ I had to guess which route they would take to the top table (sometimes we’re told by the MC, but the couple always go their own way!). I guessed correctly on this occasion and using a 24mm lens, captured this image. A newly married couple walking into a very full and excited room of guests, their expressions say it all. I love this image.

7. Claire & Mike, Stock Restaurant, Manchester


One of the best weddings I’ve ever photographed this one (see it HERE). It had everything. A couple who couldn’t / wouldn’t stop laughing all day, a minister who let me have full reign, a Manchester City Centre location and a collection of formal images to die for….organised, off the cuff chaos! A perfect wedding day. Claire & Mike work in Manchester City Centre, so wanted a full-on urban wedding at St Ann’s and Stock restaurant. During the mild chaos of a thousand cheek kisses I had the idea of putting the couple in a shop window – something I’ve always wanted to do. Bridesmaid Lynsey charmed the store manager into letting us in. We had three minutes, literally and this happened! Just one of a brilliant and diverse collection of images, thanks to a bride and Groom who were up for anything…and even devised a few scenarios of their own. Thanks guys…

8. Victoria & Karl, Styal Lodge


Styal Lodge. A classic Cheshire, rain-spoiled wedding day. But undeterred we captured some great images, with and without umbrellas. Sadly we never had chance to get over to the lake for a few shots – the weather was too bad. Victoria & Karl never let any of this cloud their day (no pun intended!), and the wedding was all smiles and one-liners (thanks Karl!) all day, right up to and including a hilarious rehearsed first dance whilst wearing oversized photographic masks of Gran & Grandad! After the first dance, we nipped outside to cool down a for a few minutes. Shot handheld on a 24mm f1.4 lens, I love this one. Atmospheric, private and a lovely wedding images. And no, it wasn’t staged…this was a newly married couple being themselves…

9. Laura & Lee, Beeston Manor, Hoghton


Laura & Lee tied the knot at Pleasington Priory, with a reception at Beeston Manor. During Laura’s preparations, I noticed this quiet moment of reflection run across her face (remember the trust / bodyspace thing?) Laura knew I was there- I had been for around an hour or so, but she didn’t see me get this image. A classic image of a bride, quietly reflecting on what was about to happen. This image works in colour and mono, but I much prefer this colour version with the bridesmaid and her red dress reflected in the background.

10. Liz & Mark, Stanley House, Mellor


Liz and Mark were married in Summer at Stanley House. During Liz’ preparations, I shot this image. An almost impossible task to decipher the perspective and layering on this image, I love it. It’s so simple in it’s design, but sorry, I’m not going to say what’s going on – except that no mirrors were used!

11. Karen & Paul, Manchester Town Hall


Karen and Paul were married in November at Manchester Town Hall. I was actually a guest for this wedding, since my good mate Jason was on camera duties. It was pre-agreed however that I help out with a few of the formal portraits, using off-camera flash and generally being Jason’s assistant and bag-carrier for the shoot. But, I couldn’t resist helping shooting the speeches, so everything was covered from two angles, with two different lenses…it meant we could both relax and capture the images in the low-light haven that is Manchester Town Hall. This is Karen & Paul being announced into the wedding breakfast. Taken on a Nikon D700 with a 35mm f1.4 lens, this image is a classic, atmospheric wedding image from one of my favourite venues….and I still got chance to have a slurp of my beer from time to time, before becoming a guest (full time) again. Big thanks to Jason for doing a great job!

12. Louise & Ian,  Capesthorne Hall


Sometimes, it’s just the ticket to enjoy the formal portrait sessions more than the actual documentary work in shooting a wedding. Louise & Ian were great fun to work with, allowing me to do my thing, but also wanted some chill time – a chance to get away from the 100 or so guests for a bit of fresh air and a few minutes respite. This image is from a second session, taken just after the speeches had finished, and while the room was being refreshed for the evening entertainment.  A simple, classic and traditional wedding image. Directed  by myself – (OK, I admit it) –  I just wanted to capture a collection of more formal images, to contrast with the ‘Rock n Roll’ approach to the rest of the photography coverage. Classic, tranquil, and I love this atmosphere in this one.

13. Michelle & Paul, The Bridge Hotel, Prestbury


Michelle & Paul were married back in June at The Bridge. Michelle is a professional hair stylist, with her own business. Opting to style Mum and the Bridesmaids’ hair, here’s a shot of two sisters enjoying a joke (possibly at my expense!). I love this one; it says everything about sisters, and doesn’t need any more from me…

14. Rebecca & Aidy, Merewood Country House, Windermere


Mad-Cap Rebecca and Aidy were married in Summer at Merewood Court Hotel in Windermere. I say mad-cap, these two were just brilliant fun to work with. Aidy even dropped his trousers for one of the formal images for a laugh! During the session I noticed this car park entrance mirror…well – it’d be a shame not to use it! Yep – hands up, Totally contrived…but weddings are about having fun, surely…?

15. Cat & Gareth, Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester


Cat & Gareth’s wedding was a full-on urban adventure, mixed with a little traditional family and church ceremony to get the day started. The couple wanted something funky. From dancing on the bar in Mojos, some gritty urban images in Castlefield, to a first dance shot with a difference, I created this one. In homage to Anton Corbijn, and indeed all the 1980’s NME photographers – I give you THE ‘non-wedding’ wedding image. It breaks every rule in the book. Great! I love it. Cat & Gareth do too. But I couldn’t decide which image I wanted to use from this wedding – there were too many to shortlist. So, Cat & Gareth get two mentions; and here’s that first dance shot…


The drummer for the band couldn’t make the wedding, so another drummer stood in. We found a mirror off stage and gaffer taped it over his drum, as it had another band’s name on it. Come first dance, this happened…..magic!

16. Louise & Matt, Browsholme Hall


After the speeches at Louise & Matt’s August wedding, we had a second portrait session in the grounds of Browsholme Hall. Totally relaxed, I just let them do what they wanted. I carefully positioned myself to get some lens flare from the setting sun – NO Photoshop trickery here, sorry. This is a live image taken on a 105mm lens straight into the sun. It was almost impossible to frame and focus this one, but we hit it first time. Summer weddings…you need images like this!

17. Donna & Mark, The Midland, Manchester


Donna & Mark were married in church up near Failsworth, then it was back ‘into town’ for a reception at The Midland. After a troubled journey back into town (the streets were shut due to the Pride Rally), we eventually arrived at The Midland. Gathering themselves to enter the hotel, I thought I’d reflect the wedding party in the brass name plaque of the hotel, and make things look a little different. My clients loved it!

18. Charis & Paul, Styal Lodge


Charis & Paul live in London, though Charis is a Cheshire lass, and had booked me for this August Styal Lodge wedding.  I love this images of Charis leading Paul onto the dance floor for their First Dance. The mono adds a timeless quality to the image, whilst the lamp and ribbons add a ballroom quality to the shot. Unusual, but a favourite documentary wedding image from 2013 of mine, and will be for a good while yet…

19. Jade & Lewis, Norton Grange


Here’s Jade arriving at Norton Grange for the wedding reception. Lewis was supposed to have jumped out of the car to open the door for Jade – however he got into conversation. Jade sat quietly reflecting on becoming the new Mrs Howell, unaware that I was there with a 70-200mm lens. A lovely moment I think you’ll agree…

20. Nicky & Nick at Sandhole Oak Barn


Back to Summer and I was at The Waggon & Horses pub, opposite Sandhole Oak Barn, waiting for the Groomsmen to arrive for a brunch (and a beer!). Camped in the car park, I waited for a car to arrive full of suits, all on the same mission – a pre-wedding beer. Suddenly I noticed them walking conga-like through the field, focused on getting to the pub as efficiently as possible! A pure documentary image of a lovely piece of the wedding day…’

Find out more from Mick here on his website, or on Facebook and Twitter.

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