Wedding at Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Alava, Basque Country, Spain

Wedding at Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Alava, Basque Country, Spain

With its unique architecture and stunning setting Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Elciego (Alava) is a fabulous place both to get married and to photograph a wedding. I’ve shot weddings there on many occasions and it’s always a place I look forward to returning to. Laura and Aitor’s wedding was particularly exciting because it coincided with an eclipse of the moon! Proof, perhaps, that a god does exist!!

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Rioja Wine Photographer: A year in the life of Bodegas Gómez Cruzado, Haro (La Rioja)

Rioja Wine Photographer: A year in the life of Bodegas Gómez Cruzado, Haro (La Rioja)

A few years ago Chefe Paniego, the sommelier at Restaurante El Portal de Echaurren, invited me to try a wine he was particularly enjoying at the time: a Gómez Cruzado crianza. It was full of depth and roundness despite being the most humble of the wines in the winery’s range. Since then, I’ve tried out other Gómez Cruzado wines and always been struck by their fantastic interpretation of the Rioja vineyards.

So it was particularly exciting when the winery got in touch with an idea of a project to photograph a year in the life of Gómez Cruzado…

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English-speaking Wedding Photographer Spain: Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Álava, Spain

English-speaking Wedding Photographer Spain: Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Álava, Spain

Yesterday I showed images from Linda & Nate’s wedding at Hotel Marqués de Riscal to a film maker who’d seen me at work. 

“Ah,” he said, “Now I understand why you spent so much time on the ground.”

It’s true! I spend a large chunk of my time at a wedding crouching close to the floor.

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Rioja Wedding: La Arboleda del Sur, Hotel Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Rioja Wedding: La Arboleda del Sur, Hotel Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Last night I was watching an interview with the great American photographer Annie Leibovitz in which she says she’s scared of sunny days!

“It’s sort of a joke, you know?” she said. “You get there and whoever you’re with says: ‘Aren’t you glad I brought the good weather?’ And it’s like for me, and the kind of work I do, I pray for overcast days.”

Me too! But when shooting Spanish weddings in summer at noon, I my prayers aren’t answered that often. 

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La Vieja Bodega Wedding Photography - Casalarreina, La Rioja, Spain

La Vieja Bodega Wedding Photography - Casalarreina, La Rioja, Spain

It was a beautiful, cloudless morning and hard to believe the forecast for rain. I was hot in the car on the way to the bride’s house in Logroño. I was hot in the car on the way from the bride’s house to La Vieja Bodega Restaurant in Casalarreina. And I was hot as I walked around the restaurant’s beautiful garden scouting for shot locations.

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English speaking professional photographer in La Rioja and Basque Country, Spain: Chef Curtis Stone visit

English speaking professional photographer in La Rioja and Basque Country, Spain: Chef Curtis Stone visit

Curtis Stone is an Australian chef who made good in the US, first with a regular spot on a national tv network, then on Celebrity Apprentice. He went on to open two restaurants Maude and Gwen (named after his grandmothers) in Los Angeles, his adopted home. 

Curtis and Maude executive chef, Justin Hilbert visited La Rioja and the Basque Country at the end of last year searching for inspiration for new dishes to add to Maude’s menu.

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Event photographer Spain: Valdezcaray Legend Telemark Skiing, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Event photographer Spain: Valdezcaray Legend Telemark Skiing, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Over more years than I care to remember I’ve skied in the Alps, Pyrenees, Canada and USA but it’s these past few years that I’m enjoying the most. Since taking up telemark skiing four years ago a whole new world of backcountry adventure has opened up. 

La Rioja’s Valdezcaray ski resort may be titchy by world standards but when the snow and the weather is good and you’re able to leave the crowds and disappear to the other side of the mountain, there’s little to compare it with.

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Rioja Wedding Photographer: Isabel & David, Palacio Casafuerte, Zarratón, La Rioja, Spain

Rioja Wedding Photographer: Isabel & David, Palacio Casafuerte, Zarratón, La Rioja, Spain

It was very clear - and humbling - when I first met Isabel and David that they wanted me to shoot their wedding. They are journalists and I was a journalist in London before moving to Spain. They were looking for someone with that journalistic eye to record their wedding.

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Professional Wedding Photographer in La Rioja: La Arboleda del Sur de Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Professional Wedding Photographer in La Rioja: La Arboleda del Sur de Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Human vision is very selective. We see what we want to see and block out the rest. Carried along by the emotion of a wedding our eyes focus on the laughter, tears of happiness, the gorgeous flowers, the beautiful clothes etc. They skim over ugly stuff like street signs, power cables, waste bins and so on.

The camera, however, doesn’t. It records everything in front of it. A large chunk of my concentration is taken up eliminating the crud as I work out the composition.

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English-speaking wedding photographer Spain: Palacio Azcárate, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

English-speaking wedding photographer Spain: Palacio Azcárate, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Wedding plans change. It’s a fact of life. I first spoke with Marlit and Iñaki about their civil wedding plans and reception at Palacio Azcárate in Ezcaray (La Rioja) around 10 months before their marriage. By the time we actually met up a few months later Marlit had a big announcement: she was due to give birth about six weeks before the wedding. And so everything now had to be tailored to accommodate young Leander!

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Corporate wine portrait photography: Bodegas Montecillo, La Rioja, Spain

Corporate wine portrait photography: Bodegas Montecillo, La Rioja, Spain

Passion, care, experience, knowledge, enjoyment, trust… these are all key concepts I’m trying to portray in my corporate photography. I want to show the pride and commitment people put into their work. And I want to show them in a natural, relaxed way that puts a human face on, in this case, a bottle of wine.

This all sounds very well on paper but when you’re in a field at 6.30am with the sun rising, the magical light fading and two winemakers from Bodegas Montecillo who aren’t professional models well, put it this way, the adrenaline is buzzing. 

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Commercial and Wedding Photography: La Arboleda del Sur de Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Commercial and Wedding Photography: La Arboleda del Sur de Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Among the most eagerly anticipated restaurant openings this year in Spain has been the Echaurren’s Arboleda del Sur in Ezcaray. Hotel Echaurren has La Rioja's only two-star Michelin restaurant and has long been a favourite wedding venue both locally and further afield. 

However, space was limited… until now! The Arboleda is purpose-built for events of more than 50 people with adaptable spaces depending on the size of the party.

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Northern Spain wedding photographer - Diana & Juan, Briones, La Rioja

Northern Spain wedding photographer - Diana & Juan, Briones, La Rioja

I love being close to the action; it's where you feel the emotion that is so much part of my wedding photography. However, sometimes it’s important to take a step back to get the bigger picture. Diana & Juan’s wedding in Briones in northern Spain’s La Rioja is a good example. 

The ceremony was in the family garden high above the river Ebro with sensational views overlooking Rioja’s vineyards. The only problem was that there was a three metre high wall around the garden blocking the view. So I had to get high, very high.

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Fashion photographer Spain - Mantas Ezcaray, La Rioja, northern Spain

Fashion photographer Spain - Mantas Ezcaray, La Rioja, northern Spain

Mantas Ezcaray, a family blanket & scarf manufacturer, sells its gorgeous products all over the world. The firm has garnered international success due to the quality and the largely hand-made nature of its products.

For this year’s catalogue, it wanted to incorporate the beautiful local surroundings. This made lots of sense, since the mountains near Ezcaray lend themselves to promoting a wool product. 

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Portrait photographer Spain - Ezcaray Basketball club, La Rioja, Spain

Portrait photographer Spain - Ezcaray Basketball club, La Rioja, Spain

My oldest son Nicky has become an enthusiastic member of Ezcaray’s basketball club. A few months ago someone at the club had the idea to create a book of stickers of all the players - young and not so young. Swapping football players stickers is something I remember doing in the school playground when I was young. Selling packs of stickers seemed an inspired way of raising money for the club. And of course they asked me to make the photos. “A 100 portraits, in two hours?” - I thought to myself - “Of course! Group photos too? Bring them on!”

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Corporate Portrait Photography Spain - Bodegas Montecillo, Navarrete, La Rioja, Spain

Corporate Portrait Photography Spain - Bodegas Montecillo, Navarrete, La Rioja, Spain

Bodegas Montecillo, in Navarrete (La Rioja), wine is a household brand widely sold across Spain. It’s part of the Osborne group who’s marketing is probably best associated with the giant bull silhouette statues you see near main roads as you travel around the country.

To differentiate Montecillo from other household wines widely sold across Spain, the photographic brief was to produce elegant images which showed the professionalism and personality of winemaker Merche García and her creations. 

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Briones winery wedding photography, La Rioja, Spain - Bodegas Vivanco, Briones

Briones winery wedding photography, La Rioja, Spain - Bodegas Vivanco, Briones

Some have amazing architecture, others a stunning setting. It’s hardly surprising that getting married in one of Rioja’s beautiful wineries has become a popular option for many couples. Wineries can not only offer a fresh, modern and relaxed setting for a celebration but also a link to a traditional industry. The fact that industry happens to be wine is, I guess, a bonus for many couples!

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Professional Photographer Navarra Spain: Helados Grate, Viana

Professional Photographer Navarra Spain: Helados Grate, Viana

To make fantastic ice cream you need fantastic ingredients and that is why raw materials are key to Fernando Sáenz. From their Helados Grate base in Viana, Navarra, Fernando and his partner, Angelines Gonzáles, concoct delicious ice cream recipes.

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Wedding photographer Logroño, La Rioja, Spain - Marta & Mateo

Wedding photographer Logroño, La Rioja, Spain - Marta & Mateo

Looking over these photos from Marta & Mateo’s wedding in Logroño (La Rioja) last autumn, I’m struck by the fact that they, and most of their guests, hardly stopped smiling and laughing.

The wedding itself took place in the city’s Santa María La Redonda cathedral - known locally as La Redonda - and the reception afterwards was at the always inspiring Hotel Marqués de Riscal, in Elciego (Basque Country).

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Rioja Wine Scenery Photography - Late autumn in La Rioja, Spain

Rioja Wine Scenery Photography - Late autumn in La Rioja, Spain

Baking hot in summer and freezing cold in winter, the Rioja weather can batter the senses throughout the year. It’s a climate of contrasts over the seasons, months and sometimes even over a few hours. Very chilly mornings can turn into beautifully pleasant days. Beautifully pleasant mornings can turn into brutally hot afternoons. And so on and so forth.

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