I love to challenge myself and push boundaries in my photography projects but this one needed some detailed planning, great execution and a whole lot of luck.
I was speaking to a potential wedding client who was getting married at The Bear of Rodborough Hotel near Stroud in the Cotswolds when I mentioned that I knew the hotel and the surrounding area well (having grown up nearby). Immediately adjacent to the hotel is ‘The Common’ - 500 acres of common grazing land which boasts herds of free range cattle and amazing views. A thought came into my head and I just blurted out “wouldn’t it be great if I could get a photo of you on the Common at sunset with some cows?”. The couple loved my enthusiasm and booked me on the spot - the pressure was on!
The Common boasts different herds of cattle and horses but the most striking are the Highland cattle - a nonchalant and shaggy bunch with impressive long horns. How was I going to achieve that photo?
Before the big day I researched the grazing patterns of the Highland cattle at dusk with my brother who lives in a village on the edge of the Common. He told me they often stayed in a certain area of the Common and had daily habits. Who knew? I immediately enlisted his help and put him on ‘cow watch’. I checked the sunset times for the wedding day and the direction in which the sun would set. That morning I set off for The Bear in our Land Rover just in case some off-roading was necessary and also because it could accommodate any dress the bride might be wearing. I cleaned it inside and out the day before much to my wife’s surprise.
Half an hour before sunset I spoke to my resident cow spotter who had located the Highland cattle which were making their way along a path to a drinking trough. I prised the newlyweds away from their family and friends, bundled them into the back of the Land Rover (luckily the dress was not a big meringue) and literally headed off into the sunset. We found a group of about six cows, with more in the distance, heading for a drink at the trough. The sky was perfect with just the right amount of broken cloud to make the sunset interesting and I positioned the bride and groom dangerously close to those large horns. I reckoned I had about three minutes to capture the scene and quickly worked through my camera settings and the composition just as the orange sun peeked out from the clouds.
I took the happy couple to a lovely viewpoint on the way back to the hotel and I showed them the photos in the back of the camera. They were elated at what I had just achieved. The Bear, some cows and a sunset – as promised. I love it when a plan comes together!
For creative and well thought out photography, contact me, Simon, at Platinum Photography UK. I can’t promise bears, cows or sunsets at every wedding but I will work tirelessly to capture your day just as brilliantly and individually as you are.