Julian EmdonIt was very pleasant to work with a videographer who has a sense of personal space. Julian Emdon is quiet, unassuming, unobtrusive, yet friendly and obliging.

Take a look at the website of Andrew and Julian Emdon here and their You Tube clips here or send an enquiry to info@emdonvideos.co.za

I met Fadia at a photo shoot when she and a group of other make-up artists were completing their training. They each had about four faces to paint, and I was photographing each model as the make-up artist was done with her. There was a bit of a crowd in the studio, along with large boxes overflowing with make-up, bags busting clothing and accessories, music trying to make itself heard over the chattering, hair dryers, friends, pizza delivery … the noise and chaos levels were interesting.

Away from it all was a quiet patch. Fadia had stationed herself near the window and was quietly getting on with things. I particularly liked how Fadia’s models turned out, but thought I may have had it all wrong when suddenly she packed up and said good-bye … Was it possible that she had done all four models if all the other make-up artists were still agonising over models number two or three? My jaw dropped … did she do only one model? Was I confused? Nope. Four it was.

So, when I urgently needed a make-up artist recently, I gave her a call. She turned up on time, with a cheerful smile on her face, got on with the job without incessant natter, and was done and out of there not even forty five minutes later! I couldn’t believe it – again!

My client was so blown away by her transformation that she almost cried. Only the danger of smudging the eyeliner kept her in control.

Fadia has lots of in-store make-up experience, and works on sets as well as doing make-up for portraits and weddings. If you need to contact Fadia, please contact me, and I’ll pass your request on to her.

Make-up by Fadia Williams

I enjoyed this venue so much, I am thinking of celebrating my own big birthday there. It’s homely, it’s quirky, it’s artistic, the food is wholesome, the service friendly and efficient and the setting is beautiful.

The view as one enters Knorhoek Farm, with guesthouses up ahead and to the right. The restaurant is in a little glen down below on the left (out of the picture).

The restaurant is fairly small, creating an intimate environment for a special occasion.

Organza curtains divided the venue in two, so that the ceremony could be held away from the eating area.

The venue is intimate enough so that no one need miss out on a weepy moment. Large windows allow the natural light to stream in.

The restaurant is furnished with 'real' tables and chairs (not that plastic and laminate stuff), and the whitewashed beams and twigs against the reed ceiling create an airy feeling.

Old silverware decorates the ceiling.

Home-made preserves, books and flowers decorate the old piano, and porcelain plates adorn the walls.

I love the decor of the place, as well as the mismatched silver cutlery and old porcelain crockery on the tables. The wholesome farmhouse-style food is placed on the tables in large serving dishes, so there is no queuing for food. The portions are generous, and the staff pay a visit to each table to check if anyone would like more of anything.

Some guests had their hearty soup starter served in these delightful mini-tureens.

I can highly recommend their award-winning wines – not that I had the opportunity to sample too much, being on duty and all. However, I did have some of their Two Cubs White Blend, which is a John Platter three-star, and I made my way to their wine sales on the way home to buy a few bottles of excellent red to enjoy at home.

All good meals end with coffee. At Towerbosch, traditional moerkoffie is served.

A roaring fire in the fireplace keeps guests warm, and a small lounge area, complete with a bookcase groaning with books, provides a cosy place for becoming better acquainted with someone interesting. The wedding couple used this area to sign the register.

A lounge area is a good place for conversation, as well as a quirky, colourful place for photographs.

The venue is great for both summer and winter: the swimming pool and large lawn provide a great space for summer, and the large fireplace and roaring fire provide comfort and atmosphere in winter.

The twig-lined bridge provides a some extra detail to that going-away shot.

For more information about Knorhoek, their guesthouses and farms, and, of course, Towerbosch Restaurant, pay a visit to their website here – and do let me know if you’ve paid a visit to the farm itself, and what you think of it.

The entrance to Le Bac Estate, Paarl

We arrived at Le Bac Estate on stiflingly hot day … as hot as only Paarl can become. Luckily for me, I was dressed in my usual black pants and black t-shirt … wouldn’t want to reflect any of that blinding heat onto anyone else!

It was a relief to step into the cool, air conditioned room where the bride and bridesmaids were getting ready. From a photographic point of view, it was also good to discover that there was a beautiful old cupboard in the room, which was great for some still life pics of the dress and shoes, as well as some photographs of the little flower girl studying herself.

The rooms are furnished with beautiful wooden furniture. Little girls seem to find the wedding dress even more exciting than the bride does.

Checking her hair ornaments in the antique mirror.

The window light made for a good series of portraits.

The setting, as with probably any wine estate, is tranquil, and very beautiful. The problem with many of the estates, though, is that once you are in the reception area, or inside the restaurant or bar, you could be anywhere in the world. The venues are usually completely enclosed – probably to regulate the temperature – and visitors are cut of from the view outside. Unless you’re a smoker, chances are slim that you will get to enjoy the breathtaking scenery you’re paying for.

In this respect, Le Bac is different. Large doors open onto the vineyards and deck outside. Cool air wafts through the reception area, lifting the gossamer table cloths,  and the Cape light sparkles off the glasses and  suffuses the room. The design allows a comfortable flow from indoors to outdoors and one is constantly aware of the spectacular surroundings.

Large doors allow natural light and the summer breeze into the reception area.

A windless, summer's evening at Le Bac Estate, in Paarl.

A doorway from the reception area leads into the vineyards.

The decor is elegant and sumptuous. Large glass lanterns seem to drip from the high ceilings, their warm light reflecting from the tall mirrors, and painting the room with their amber hue. The burnished wooden floors and beams add a sense of homeliness. Enormous ice-filled silver bowls chill the white wine and the heavy white table cloths seem to glow.

The main reception area, 'Clementine', seats up to 40 guests.

The 'Oroval', the room adjoining the 'Clementine', provides ample dance space. Alternatively, it serves as a reception area for 100 guests.

The orchard lined garden provides a perfect, romantic setting for a wedding ceremony. I would suggest a canopy of some kind, though, as the bridal couple I photographed here were sweltering in their formal clothing under the merciless sun.

The orchard provides a sheltered setting for the service.

The service from the waiters was excellent, and the food superb – those perfect roast potatoes, oh my word! I couldn’t fault this venue.

For more information, contact details and directions, please take a look here.

The sun sets on another summer's day at Le Bac Estate.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

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The dark and soggy Cape winter kicked off with a white wedding in the rain a couple of weeks ago. (Of course, this week-end promises to bring the mother of all storms, but that’s another story.) I always admire couples who are brave enough to schedule their wedding out of season. For a start, it means they’re pretty sure about their magnetism: they know their friends care enough about them to venture out in a storm just to watch them get dressed up in very expensive, very fancy clothes and promise to grow old together.

The other bit I like about wintry weddings is the light. The Cape has magical autumn light (okay, okay, so (probably) do London, and Peru, and Japan, and probably Cambodia also). Most brides are hell-bent on showing off a golden tan in a strappy dress, and and dancing ’till dawn on a wine farm in a hot and sweaty December, and so forget the incredible display of rich colours put on show on an autumn evening. The golden light filtering through russet leaves sets the country ablaze and casts a warm light on the skin, creating infectious catchlights in the eyes and a healthy glow on the skin. On a rainy day, the artist’s palette of electric greys and vibrant blues paint a sky more  dramatic than any clear summer’s day. And, if you have a little patience, the sun will break through the clouds, washing the scene in the most spectacular light – a scene that would send shivers down the spine of any movie or stage director. All you still need is a bit of wind to rustle the bride’s skirt and lift her veil, and the pictures are pure magic.

The cold also helps to create a more festive mood. Fewer guests head outdoors to mingle and tend to stay where the party is. And if you are where the party is, then you have to party, so the atmosphere at the off-season wedding is usually far more buoyant (but maybe that has more to do with the red wine consumption on a cold evening than anything else!), and it shows in the photographs.

Be all that as it may, while the guests are knocking back their sherries and ports and red wine, the rain minimal good light cause a fair amount of stress for the photographer. The couple will have had their hearts set on good weather, despite having booked their wedding in the middle of winter, and will have been planning to head to a certain venue for a certain kind of pic, straight after the ceremony, not taking into account that the darkness will be barrelling in, like the evil guy in a fantasy movie, without any consideration for their wishes.

But everything, photographically speaking, depends on the light. The good light usually comes … but it hangs about for nobody. If it appears, you have to shoot, no matter where you are. You have to beg and plead with the enamoured couple to stay where they are, take in the moment, and not drive to that pretty garden where they really, really want their pictures taken. They knoweth not what they do! But you do.

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Of course, you can’t tell your clients what to do. It’s their day. And it’s about them and how they want the day to pan out, not about the pictures. Well, for you it’s about the pictures. But you’re there to serve them.

I photographed these really lovely people two weeks ago. (Funny how brides never feel the cold!) They told me they weren’t too fazed by the pictures (oh dear, I should have told them then and there that it’s not about them … many other people, like their parents and grandparents) are very fazed by the pictures), and that they would take any inclement weather in their stride. To their credit, they did. They were truly sweet and relaxed, although the gods conspired to throw dreadful weather and light at them the entire day. There was a minisquile break in the weather, straight after the service, and I did try to hold them where they were. But more powerful people than themselves (the patriarch, for example) felt it would be best to push on to the reception venue. The IPL traffic slowed the progress, and by the time we arrived there, the clear skies were no more. The clouds had drawn a dark and angry curtain over the sky, and all the pics were taken indoors, with flash – no one’s favourite, especially on a wedding day, when so much thought has been put into choosing a venue in a beautiful location.

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So, if you’re a winter wedding photographer, make sure that a) you own a flash, b) you know how to use it (!) and c) that you have tons of extra batteries. And take the tripod along. Far more useful, of course, is to have two flash heads so that you can use one off-camera (which I didn’t have here, by the way). Also make sure that there is a Plan B for the couple and group pics – decide on a preferred (outdoors) venue, and then ask that an area be decorated indoors for the group and couples pics. Even just a flower arrangement next to a picture window or in an attractive room can make all the difference to the back-up venue’s pics.

Of course, if the couple, the family and their guests are happy, easy-going people, the love and the atmosphere will reflect in the images, and the emotional content of a wedding photograph is always of far greater value than any backdrop or lighting set-up.

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The wedding album of Wayne and Louise is in the works.

Most of the pages were created in Photoshop, and then dropped into the Booksmart templates as a picture. The rough borders around some of the pics were created by scanning a darkroom image, cutting out the pic and creating a template. Using layers, I would drop in the images that I wanted to give the rough border effect, resize them using the Transform tool, and finish off with some grunge brushes.

The album contains some their Trash the dress pics at the end.