In the middle of May 2019 I was asked to provide some elopement photography in Wales for Anna and Irvin. They had travelled from their home near Chicago in the USA, where they both work in academia as university lecturers in literature. There was a family connection to this area as Anna’s mother was born in South Wales before emigrating to North America. They had chosen to stay at Gliffaes Country Hotel near Crickhowell in Monmouthshire. Located in the Brecon Beacons National Park it benefits from generous gardens, woodlands and even its own stretch of the River Usk. It was near the river under a large oak tree that the happy couple exchanged their vows. A local church minister had agreed to accompany them to provide some wise words and blessings. Once the rings were placed the newlyweds then performed ‘jumping the broom’. Apparently this custom is widespread in areas of America, thank to no small part to the 1970’s novel Roots, though it originates from the mid 19th century antebellum era. Having said that, there is a Welsh connection. There is a theory that the expression may drive from ‘jumping over a broomstick’ where broom here refers to the plant Cytisus Scoparius or common broom. This plant is associated with the Romani people of the UK, especially those located in Wales. I have not done much elopement photography in Wales, but I found it a very enjoyable process. As I mainly photograph weddings in a documentary manner, this was more of a portrait lead experience. Though I approached it as I do when shooting portraits during my regular wedding coverage. I generally let the couple act naturally, suggesting a direction to take a walk in, where I have seen a picturesque scene and just need to place the bride and groom within it. I try to only give direction if I deem it aesthetically beneficial, such as slightly re-positioning an awkwardly placed foot or hand. But generally I find if you have a calm manner and let people be themselves, it pays dividends. As the resulting portraits are very natural and an honest representation of subjects’ characteristics. To be honest though Anna and Irvin were a really easy couple to photograph, very comfortable in each others company. I wish them all the best in their future adventures.
“Sacha! These photos are stunning thank you so much!”