This post has been a long time coming! If we’ve met you in person and you’ve asked us anything about the bus, it’s likely you’ve heard bits of this saga, but here it is in full…
Over the past 8 years of photographing weddings, there’s been one part of it that I’ve always particularly enjoyed, and I’ve enjoyed other people enjoying it too; the photo booths. They’ve been so popular at the weddings and other events that they’ve been part of, and bit by bit the props selection has been added to and the overall setup has been improved until it has become something a little different to any other I’ve seen (there are so many wonderful and hugely talented wedding photographers whose gear bags I’m not fit to carry, but for the most part I like my photo booth better than the rest…is that attitude allowed in NI?? *gasp*). David and I often joked that if we had a camper van or a Citroen ‘H’ Van we could use it for coffee or as a photo booth (not realising that the latter was a thing! There are great ones in the US and some in England, but there were none in NI or ROI). Then one day I saw an Instagram post from a friend living in San Francisco of a photo strip from a booth, and as soon as I realised it was inside a camper van I knew this was what we needed to do. When the idea wouldn’t leave me I finally told David about it; he got on board and was so supportive despite the uncertainty and investment involved. Starting up in wedding photography was easy in comparison as I was working full time and it grew gradually over a few years, so it was a fairly gentle (if busy) transition between being employed full time, to working two nearly full time jobs, before finally being completely self-employed. This new idea meant getting a loan to get started and pushing hard to have it earning money to cover repayments and wages… that’s not scary in the slightest…(!) But it became as much David’s as mine, and he put a huge amount of time and hard work into making it happen, not to mention ensuring he was off work for each booking later in my pregnancy when my bump didn’t fit behind the steering wheel anymore…!
Back to the saga! After doing lots of research we finally fell in love with this unusual bus in England. We got all our ducks in a row and flew over to check it out, hand over the money, and drive it home via the Holyhead ferry.
We set off all nervous and excited, with me behind the wheel… until 45mins along the motorway the gear stick popped out – no gears to be found! We pulled over and (thanks to the advice of a fellow bus-owner to get breakdown cover) phoned the RAC. We got the most amazing guy who got straight underneath and got it back in working order, then said he’d shadow us until the next services just to be sure we were ok. (Cue ferry time change #1.)
Just as well, because another couple of miles up the road the engine overheated and seized, forcing us to pull over in the worst possible place – between an off-ramp and an on-ramp. Game over! He couldn’t leave us there so he tethered the front axle of the bus to the back of his van, and pulled us to the services a couple of miles away. I can say with complete conviction that I would rather go through childbirth again than be towed…there’s nothing that gives me a sick feeling in my gut like remembering that experience (and my labour wasn’t straightforward!). But again, the RAC guy was amazing and ordered a truck to come and get us. (Cue ferry time change #2.)
Due to our first truck driver reaching his limit of miles for the day, we got switched to a private contractor’s truck (boy, was he a character! Proper old school mechanic type, with the baggiest jeans I’ve ever seen on a man of his advanced years) and continued our journey to the ferry.
By the time we reached the docks we were exhausted in every way, and just wanted the day to be over. But then we had to get towed…again…by the same vehicle that was pulling the huge articulated lorries on; I had visions of our axle being ripped clean off! After all that we were so drained we opted for an upgrade to the quiet lounge.
Finally, we arrived in to Dublin port and were met right away by our next steed, which carried us right to our driveway. Yet again, we had someone great who seemed to appreciate how tired we were and just let us sit/sleep quietly in the cab (we repaid him with coffee for the journey back south, before David quickly changed and went straight to work – what a trooper!). All we can say is – God bless the RAC for carrying us all the way home.
So the start of our adventure didn’t quite go to plan, but our motor problems led us to Shane Lawlor of Lawlor Customs! Shane is such a legend – by day, an ace technology teacher, and by night/weekends/holidays a VW air-cooled engine specialist with a passion for Bugs and Buses. So much so that he now owns a life-sized replica of Herbie (alongside an itty-bitty battery powered one his wee boy rides in – it’s incredible). Shane loved our plans, and we loved him – he worked tirelessly for us to get the bus ready for launching at the end of January 2016. We really can’t stress enough how key he was to bringing this all together, and our Brazilian bus kept him on his toes, as some parts are the older split screen bus parts, while others are the later bay window bus parts. His words after explaining each challenge are always “…but I love it”.
There were some modifications to the bus that he undid for us (like the grille at the front, which was put back in, as was the passenger door handle, and more authentic lights at the back) and after going back and forth with many different colour suggestions we opted for Jupiter Grey, one of the original VW colours, with white roof and bumpers. As we were developing the concept and design of the bus, it started to take on an old cinema vibe, which then influenced some decisions (or was it the other way around…? Bit of a chicken/egg situation!); rich red seat cushions like classic cinema seats, matching fabric door cards, the genuine cinema/theatre sign letters that we imported from the US for the sign…
…and, of course, the name and branding. Once we had the name decided and the look of the bus nailed, we contacted Ben Connolly from Angel & Anchor. He did a great job coming up with concepts for our branding, and it was so hard to choose! But in the end we went for the logo you’ll have seen already:
As I mentioned, Shane worked every spare moment so that we could have the bus ready for launching. We decided to go big and take it to the Wedding Journal Show. At this stage the engine wasn’t quite finished, so Shane brought it down on his trailer and we pushed it in to place, where I polished it within an inch of its life! It was so great to see people’s reactions to it (after we kept it a closely-guarded secret for months) and have so many people climb in for a go – it was a good, good feeling!
Shane took the bus (by this time named Hector – after the dedication on the bench we got engaged on in Edinburgh) back to the workshop and got the engine looking and running beautifully (seriously, the man is a legend…did I mention??). Our first booking was to be the first of many visits to Orange Tree House in Greyabbey, for Leah and Ken’s wedding. It was such a sweet day, with a sunset to match (I swear that sunset backdrop alone got us a few bookings!) and it couldn’t have gone better.
Since then we’ve celebrated at weddings from Drenagh to Darver, brought the craic at festivals, met Goldilocks at a Teddy Bears Picnic, welcomed the summer coming at school fayres, and supported competitors at a coffee event – to name a few. We’re still only at the start of this adventure, especially as it feels a little like starting over this year because of taking a step back for the wintertime while I was on maternity leave. So we’ve lots of plans, things we want to develop, and ways we want to promote what we’re doing. We’re immensely proud of what we’ve done up to now (with help from the RAC, Shane and friends, Ben C, and our family), so we believe in this venture and want to see The Picture Bus go far.
So, in case you didn’t know, or haven’t seen me sporting a growing bump at weddings as the summer and autumn progressed, there’s a baby due at Retrosight HQ very, very soon! Really I’m already on maternity leave and distracting myself with nesting, tidying, napping, and packing and re-packing my hospital bag, but I wanted to share some of what this year has looked like with you. It’s been a quieter year which has been perfect as I experienced the most ridiculous exhaustion in the early months of pregnancy, and it allowed me to have everything wrapped up before the due date, whereas December would normally be especially gruelling with getting editing done before Christmas.
Thank you to those couples who were so patient while it took me a little longer than I would have liked to get their photos to them, and to all those brides, grooms, and mums who kept on checking in with me on wedding days to make sure I was eating and drinking enough! It made me feel even more welcome and a part of the family than normal. But overall, and as ever, thank you to each couple and family who trusted me with this precious task of capturing such special moments; know that I do not take it lightly, and these moments stay with me too.
Of course, this year we also launched The Picture Bus which has joined a few of the weddings I photographed (so many props – pun maybe intended – to my husband David for partnering with me in creating the Picture Bus, promoting it, running it with me at events, and particularly when I didn’t fit behind the wheel any more!) and has been a standalone feature at plenty of other weddings, festivals, events, and once even in David’s grandparents’ driveway so we could get some family snaps! Look out for a special post on the Picture Bus Facebook page very soon…
For now, I leave you with a glimpse back on 2016, and I wish all those newlyweds and parents of newly-borns a wonderful first Christmas on this new part of your adventure together.
As I type, Jill and Aaron are putting the final preparations together for their wedding day… The church has been decorated, the suits and dresses are ready, and in just over 24 hours they will meet at the top of the aisle to make some incredibly powerful and significant promises to each other. I always think of the day before someone’s wedding day as feeling rather like Christmas Eve when you’re little; such a huge amount of excitement and anticipation, thinking “just one more sleep”, and wondering if you’ll be able to get to sleep at all with the excitement. I guess the difference is probably falling into bed with a fair amount of exhaustion after all the months of planning have finally been completed. But the excitement still remains! One more sleep until you commit to spend the rest of your life with this person you have chosen, and who you will continue to choose every day, no matter what. There will be such adventures – perhaps in travelling to other lands, or in the everyday tasks as you learn to live with and for this person – and days when you feel your heart could burst with so much love. Some days will feel like your heart could burst with such sadness when pain comes, but that person you have chosen is by your side… your greatest fan, loudest cheerleader, and most faithful friend. I’m very excited for you, Jill and Aaron! I hope for every good thing in your marriage, and that it grows stronger every day.
See you tomorrow!
I love getting parcels in the post! Especially when they are new sample albums that were long overdue (on my part, not the album company!). You may recognise these weddings from the blog – it’s so lovely to see them in print and bound so beautifully in these two different album styles.
The first is a 12×12″ navy faux leather album with a design printed on the cover – I love that you can have freedom with cover design like this, and it’s a great finish for an album that you want to be a little bit contemporary, but not have a photo printed on the cover. On the inside is matt photographic paper on thick board, so the pages are stiff and weighty. Handy for durability and not getting fingerprints on your wedding photos! The faux leather has a subtle grain to it, giving an authentic texture, but there are genuine leather options too. It comes beautifully packaged, wrapped in protective fabric and placed in a black leatherette presentation box so keep it clean, safe, and dust-free when you’re not showing it off.
The second album is a 14×10″ plum fabric-covered book with laser etched names and date. It so happened that there was a perfect colour to match this wedding, but there are lots of other colours available, and other cover styles too. The box for this one is also fabric-covered to match the album, and strong too. This is a Fine Art Album, which uses art paper instead of photographic paper, so it’s a softer finish while still keeping the images very crisp – perfect for vintage weddings and more natural styles. There are so any ways to lay out your album – using full edge-to-edge, keeping white borders and spacing your images, or a mix of the two – and you can have a fine outline to frame your images, or keep them simple and clean.
These are just two of the many options for wedding albums, so whether I am photographing your wedding this year or beyond, or your wedding has long past and you haven’t got around to creating your own album, get in touch to find out more and get your memories of your wedding day gathered into one unique book.
Every so often a couple suggests a location or idea for their engagement session that I never, ever would have thought of. This sunny Christmas Eve session was one of them! When I arrived at Michael’s family farm the wellies went on (not so unusual) and the guns came out (there it is!). Thank you Katy and Michael for sharing Christmas Eve morning with me and allowing me my first firing of a shotgun (into the air of course). Look out for the beautiful engravings and enjoy how blissfully warm the sun looked despite the biting cold! Not long to go now, you two!!
Michael and Jo are dear friends of myself and David, so as well as this being a particularly special wedding for us it was also an opportunity for the two of us to shoot together, which was a lot of fun! He has a great eye for photography, especially candid photos, and we’re looking forward to a couple more definite “Team Titmus” weddings in the coming year.
Joanna is a beautiful, creative, gentle bride, and makes everything seem so effortlessly natural and pretty. Every detail of this autumn wedding was perfect and fitted in wonderfully at Ballydugan Mill – one of two matches made in heaven that day! (The other one is obviously Jo and her handsome groom). Michael wore a sharp suit, amazing cufflinks, and look of utter devotion for his bride. As I edited the photos of Jo walking down the aisle I almost shed a tear myself seeing the moment he welled up at the sight of her! A special mention must also go to one of the most fun bridal parties – what a great group to have around you when you make the most important promises of your lives. Photographing this couple was such a pleasure, and the way they look at each other is something truly magical.
“Ancient town of Leith, most wonderful to be seen,
With your many handsome buildings, and lovely links so green…”
A short hop across the sea took me to this wonderful town with its handsome buildings and this happy couple. All the best shoots begin with tea and scones, I hear!
I love weddings (funny that!) and there are lots of things I love about them… one being the way couples bring all these aspects of themselves together to create a unique wedding day that is perfectly them. This Larchfield Estate wedding was a prime example of that, not only in the details but in the people they had involved in the day. Look out for amazing macaroons and cakes created by their friend Dan off of ManMade, their friends in the ceremony, and yet more talented friends taking the mic onstage. So much to love about this wedding! Well done Scott and Hannah, you are two awesome people with creativity coming out your ears, amazing friends and family, and great taste!
Often on the morning of the wedding you can find the bride’s father washing the car, shining shoes, or ironing a shirt. Finding him washing the dog was a first for me! Sarah’s family dog was cleaned up and brought to the church as a surprise to greet her and Matt as they came outside. It’s little touches like that – things outside of all the great and tiny details planned for months in advance – that surprise, delight, and make a wedding day that little bit more special for a couple. I’ve found the same thing with the vendors chosen to work with couples; make-up artists and hairdressers who make the morning more fun and relaxed, drivers who are a joy to be around, venue managers who guide you through the reception and make everything run smoothly with ease. These are things you don’t always expect to make a difference and add to the day, and it’s a lovely bonus when you realise the impact they have.
Matt and Sarah’s wedding was so much fun, and they had the best people around them in their bridal party, families and friend groups. They seemed to just go with the flow of the day, taking in every moment, and making sure everyone had a great time, and definitely looked like they had the best day of their lives. Thank you for having me as part of it, I absolutely loved celebrating with you!
Throughout the past year and a half I have been telling myself how I must get back to blogging and sharing some moments from the weddings I have had the privilege to capture. I’ve been wanting to so much, and I’m so relieved that I’m now back in the position where I feel I can. It’s been an incredible couple of years, with so so many weddings photographed, photo booths snapped, families laughed with, and wee ones cuddled… and in the midst of it all I’ve just not stopped to blog. This year in particular has been an exciting and busy one, as near the start of my wedding season the wonderful David asked me to marry him! We always knew we would want a fairly short engagement, so that meant giving ourselves 5 1/2 months to get organised… all while being in the midst of the busiest time of the work year – it seemed like a good idea at the time! I don’t regret a single bit of it, except for having to ask some of my couples to be extra patient while they waited a little longer for their photographs (thank you, thank you, thank you for so patiently waiting!) but we had the most perfect day, and were so blessed to have our dream photographers Ashley & Jeremy Parsons over from Kansas City to capture the day. After a busy autumn of orange-leafed weddings and long days and winter nights of editing I’m now beginning to get caught up, and in the coming weeks will start sharing a few of the 2014 weddings in more detail before the new season begins.
So here is to one heck of a year; to the couples who let me in to such precious moments, and their families who welcomed me and made me feel at home; to the new adventure that each of these couples began in 2014; to many years of joy and happiness for every couple; and to an exciting year ahead with more weddings, more adventures, and MORE BLOGPOSTS!
And if you fancy taking a look at some of the Parsons’ work (and a nosy at our wedding day captured so remarkably by them) you can check it out here.