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New creative start-up engages experts from around the world to educate aspiring and professional photographers in concept, portrait, wedding, fashion photography and more.

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Earlier this year, I launched a new digital start-up, Engage, to offer aspiring and professional photographers free online training in all aspects of the photography business, from concept, portraiture, wedding, food and baby photography to brand creation and business planning.

After deriving so much creative fulfilment from photography, I wanted to give something back to the industry that has given me so much. I’m very lucky to have solid friendships with expert photographers working around the world, and have engaged them to work with me on this exciting new project.

Engage sees specialist photographers from around the world stream live two- or three-day master classes on the Engage website, filmed in HD and involving interactive chats with Engage users, which are subsequently made available to purchase as downloads to enjoy and learn from on-demand.

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The aim of the company is to help photographers of all abilities to get creative, sharpen their skills, learn new tricks, network and ultimately establish themselves as brand leaders in their chosen fields.

When I moved from marketing into photography, I needed assistance in so many things. I needed to learn about the art of wedding photography, about composition, equipment, lighting, editing and more, and about how to translate those skills into a successful business.

I found that there were few courses readily available online, or indeed in-person, teaching those types of skills. So, after learning from friends within the industry, I was determined to offer other aspiring photographers a means to learn and develop themselves as professionals. Engage is now in place to do just that.

Engage has offered a number of test courses since launching at the beginning of 2015, including an exploration of iPhone photography art with award-winning specialist Gerry Coe, whose ‘Lone Tree’ piece sold out at the 2011 Royal Ulster Academy exhibition. Video of this class, and more, is available to download from the Engage website now.

For information on forthcoming Engage classes – involving newborn posing, child portraiture, food photography and much more – visit the Engage website.

Photo props come in a variety of shapes and sizes so choosing the right ones for your wedding can be a bit daunting. Props are a fabulous way to infuse some personality and fun into your special day, but remember, these are there to enhance your photographs, rather than takeover, so don’t overdo it! To lend a helping hand, we’ve rounded up our top 10 wedding day props to make your photos pop!

1) Sign me up

Quirky signs emblazoned with cheeky remarks are the perfect way to inject some fun into your wedding photos. Whether it’s your pretty bridesmaids bearing “What until you see her” signs, or a bride holding up a “Shut up and kiss me” banner, these make for some truly topical wedding photos. And the best part is, you can choose exactly what you want these signs to say, meaning these can be as personal as you like and for example, could even bear a private joke shared by just you and your other half. Finally, take the opportunity to have your photographer snap a photograph of you both holding a ‘Thank-you’ sign – the perfect photo for your thank-you cards, following the wedding.

Check out these fab wooden signs from Etsy, found here.

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2) On yer bike

A fun vintage bike makes for a perfect photo prop! Ideal for (but not confined to) a bride with a fun and flirty 50s style dress, a vintage bike can look equally stunning in the background, as it does with the happy couple on it.

Check out local company, Look Crafty about hiring a vintage bike for your big day here.

3) Arrive in style

If you are hiring a car for your wedding day, as well as arriving on time (and in style) remember that a stunning car can make for some amazing photos. When choosing your car, keep this in mind. For something that little bit different, check out this VW Microbus from LoveBug, which will definitely serve as the perfect backdrop to some truly unique wedding photos. Find LoveBug on Facebook here.

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4) Beautiful balloons

No, we’re not talking about your regular old party balloons here… think oversized speciality balloons and hanging lanterns. Available in an unbelievable array of colours of sizes, these will instantly transform a white canvas into a spectacle of colour and will look delightful in your photos.

5) In the frame

No matter how they are displayed, frames make for a great and inexpensive prop for your wedding photos. Source these online, from local charity shops or vintage fairs and don’t forget to ask around. You’d be surprised at how many family members have these stowed away in attics, just waiting for a chance to be revived!

6) Mirror mirror

If your venue boasts gorgeous, ornate frames, use them to your advantage. Likewise, stunning window frames offer an unmissable opportunity for truly unforgettable photographs.

7) Paper props

When the lights are down low and the drinks are flowing, it’s time to bring out the paper props! Everyone loves a good photo booth, and the opportunity to don an extravagant hat or moustache. This element doubles up as a wonderful wedding favour and offers any of you DIY brides and grooms the chance to get crafty! Check out these free paper props on Pinterest here or if you’re arty, draw your own. Simply print and adhere to wooden sticks and purchase a Polaroid camera to amuse guests for hours.

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 8) Under my umbrella

Not to rain on your parade, but the chance of rain on your wedding day demands a backup plan, in the form of pretty parasols! Come rain or shine, matching umbrellas ensure your photographer can capture pretty cool outdoor shots, whatever the weather.

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9) Lights, camera, action

Perfect for that all-important first dance, illuminated initials look spectacular positioned on the dance floor and are sure to impress your guests.

10) Hang tight

For those getting ready shots, props can also play an important role. A wedding dress hung up on a customised wooden hanger looks super in photographs!

I love it when a plan comes together! 15 months ago I set my second shooter, Michael Love up on a date with a childhood friend, Vanessa and the two of them hit  it off and haven’t looked back.

I was incredibly honoured to have been asked to shoot the couple together for some fun images in Ebrington. While Michael knew many of my techniques it was funny having him on the other side of the camera for once.

One thing was evident to me, Vanessa and Michael are peas in a pod and are perfect for one another.

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To see more of Vanessa and Michael’s shoot check out the slideshow below!

I am really looking forward to Ciara and Shane’s wedding at the Caetlegrove Country House Hotel in August.

We had such a fun time on the shoot with their daughter Lily as we explored the forest around Castlefinn.

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To see more of Ciara and Sean pre-wedding shoot check out the slideshow below!

Let’s face it… many girls are just as excited about their wedding shoes as they are about the dress! The possibility of rocking an extra special, once-in-a-lifetime pair of shoes is sure to get hearts racing, but hey, as Marilyn Monroe once said: “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world!” So with this in mind, guest blogger Aideen McCanny rounds up this season’s hottest designer wedding shoes. Get ready to swoon girls!

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If you dream of being a princess on your wedding day, then no other shoe will do! Jimmy Choo has topped all other wedding shoes with none other than a Cinderella inspired glass slipper! “I think every girl desires a ‘Cinderella’ moment in their lives,” said Jimmy Choo creative director Sandra Choi. “This story ignites a love affair and fascination with shoes that never die. I wanted to create a shoe that felt magical, with alluring sparkle and a feminine, timeless silhouette evoking those childhood emotions.” 

Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can literally change your life, so ensure wedded bliss gets off to a fairy tail start with these magnificent diamond encrusted, magical shoes. But be warned… these beauties will set you back £3000.

Manolo Blahnik

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We’ve got Carrie Bradshaw to thank for bride’s favouritism towards the iconic Manolo Blahnik pumps! Sarah Jessica Parker’s most memorable moment as character Carrie Bradshaw is definitely when long-time love interest Big (re)proposed with those blue satin, brooch encrusted ‘Hangisi’ Manolo Blahnik pumps, immediately turning them into one of the most iconic pairs of shoes of all time. Olivia Palermo reignited brides’ love for these heels when she donned them for her nuptials this year. And of course, these stunners will double up as your something blue so it’s a win-win!

For a pretty pop of colour on your wedding day, these hot heels cost £650.

Christian Louboutin 

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With their signature red sole and killer stiletto heels, for many brides, no other shoe will do! These ‘Love Me’ pumps exude a refined feminine sensibility and are perfect for completing any wedding day look. The simplicity of this silhouette is given a hint of drama with perfect bows and feature blue leather inners, ensuring your something blue is covered! ‘Love Me’ are priced at £545.

Charlotte Olympia

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Not for the faint hearted, more and more brides-to-be are turning towards Charlotte’s creations for a wedding day look like no other! Handmade in Italy, Charlotte Olympia’s designs are “inspired by a bygone era of old Holywood glamour.” For the bride who wants to evoke a sense of fun, these blush Desiree pom-pom embellished silk pumps would look perfect paired with a 50s inspired tea length gown!

Desiree are priced at £550.

Aruna Seth

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With a strong belief that women should be confident and aim to stand out from the crowd, Aruna Seth delivers a collection of irresistible wedding shoes, season after season. With celebrity fans including Pippa Middleton and Katherine Heigl, it’s easy to see why brides put their faith in this designer.

These Farfalla ivory satin peep toe pumps are embellished with a Swarovski elements butterfly and cost £625.

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