Weather Forecast : Wind, Rain, Love

It’s obvious that a great deal of planning goes into organising a wedding. Like many of our clients, Laura & Sean had to do much of their planning at a distance from home in England before arriving here for their big day.Laura&Sean 0005 Laura&Sean 0029Most of the practical and logistical issues can, these days at least, be managed online or by way of email, but whether from home or abroad the one thing we know we can’t arrange in advance, especially here in Donegal is the weather.Laura&Sean 0071 Laura&Sean 0073On the morning of the wedding, we arrived to met up with Sean and his family at the house they were leaving from. Can we just say the weather was clearly going to be, well, challenging?
Laura&Sean 0136From the house, set up on a hill overlooking Trawbreaga Bay, the weather changes could be seen rushing in off the Atlantic. Waves of rain, high wind and intermittent spells of dazzling sunlight.Laura&Sean 0209 Laura was getting ready in a slightly more sheltered location, but there was still no likelihood of doing much out of doors.Laura&Sean 0349 Laura&Sean 0352 With a bridal party of seven bridesmaids, there was plenty of help on hand for Laura to prepare.Laura&Sean 0379 Laura&Sean 0395 Laura&Sean 0443 No, we were not going to risk any hair or dress mishaps outdoors in the constantly changing conditions.Laura&Sean 0492 Laura&Sean 0714 Laura&Sean 0830 As luck would have it, a break in the rain saw Laura and the girls make it to the church without any weather related mishaps.Laura&Sean 0850 - Version 2 Laura&Sean 1265 Laura&Sean 1438 Laura&Sean 1615b The Church of The Sacred Heart in Carndonagh sits high on a hill overlooking the surrounding area, and it’s a pretty exposed location on the finest of days.Laura&Sean 1710 Ceremony over, Laura & Sean weren’t going to let a little ‘weather’ stop them heading to the beach on the Isle of Doagh. They’d come a long way to get married here, they weren’t giving up on their wish to have the wild Donegal landscape feature as the setting for at least some of their wedding photographs.Laura&Sean 1916 There is something wonderful about the character of the light here, at almost the most northerly point in the country, with little between here and Newfoundland.Laura&Sean 1934 With a few brief spells between some fairly dramatic showers, Laura and Sean got the pictures they had hoped for.Laura&Sean 1986 Laura&Sean 2009 Laura&Sean 2091 - Version 2 That part of the day over, we all set off to Redcastle on the east, and happily more sheltered side of the Inishowen Peninsula.Laura&Sean 2334 Still just a bit breezy even here!Laura&Sean 2429 Laura&Sean 2439 So, the day moves on. Indoors with no thoughts or cares about the weather any longer. Sean, sporting his new wedding ring and look completely unruffled by the elements.Laura&Sean 2589 Laura&Sean 2717


Feels Like Home

Over the years that we’ve been photographing weddings, we’ve often been asked if we can suggest a “good place” for taking photographs. It’s a reasonable enough question, obviously. It’s also a trickier question than it might first appear, since it brings into play a number of factors that have little if anything to do with photography. Travel time, accessibilty, conditions underfoot, peoples comfort, the weather (obviously), all sorts of elements have to be taken into account.

Alison&Graham 0037_Memory Factory PhotographyThe driving force behind the question is pretty clear, most people have in mind an idea of a ‘picturesque’ setting as being needed, while from our perspective we’re as concerned with the practical issues as we are with the visual ones.Alison&Graham 0044_Memory Factory PhotographyMore than once in the past, we’ve had requests to take pictures in particularly remote or dramatic settings – well given where we are in the world, the drama of the landscape can really add to the work we produce. Sometimes though, it pays to take a step back and remember that we’re there to photograph a wedding after all, and that all the other parts of the day have a significance too.Alison&Graham 0059_Memory Factory PhotographyOur first sight of the Bride-to-be on the day, Alison. Yes, she just moved the tractor so we could park up beside the house. It’s pretty clear from the start that ‘The Land’ is more to Alison and Graham than a pretty backdrop for pictures. It’s an integral part of who and what they are, it’s not just scenery.Alison&Graham 0011_Memory Factory PhotographyAlison&Graham 0150_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0153_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0198_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0204_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0233_Memory Factory PhotographyFor a late Autumn wedding, the weather was kinder than we might have hoped for or expected. There’s a clarity about that low, angled light that picks out detail and texture like at no other time of the year.Alison&Graham 0326_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0418_Memory Factory PhotographyThe wedding took place in the cool, dark of the Church.Alison&Graham 0512 - Version 2_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0537_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0615_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0680 - Version 2_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0766_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0786_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0829_Memory Factory PhotographyThen, back into the clear wintry light.Alison&Graham 0871b_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 0899b_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1068_Memory Factory PhotographyOh, yes, that’s where this blog started . . . We were talking about locations, weren’t we?Alison&Graham 1156_Memory Factory PhotographyWell, we could have gone to the woods by the river in Rathmelton, The Town Park in Letterkenny or maybe we could have found a spectacular garden someplace. Or, we could just go home.Alison&Graham 1175_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1193_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1222_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1228_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1234_Memory Factory PhotographyThis isn’t just a ‘place for pictures’ This is their place, their life, their wedding day.
It feels right, it feels like home.Alison&Graham 1284_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1401_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1497_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1500_Memory Factory Photography Alison&Graham 1676_Memory Factory Photography

On Photography


“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

Aaron Siskind

For almost fourteen years here at the Memory Factory, as almost anyone who has visited the studio will know, we have had our dogs here with us. Over the years our nutty pups have featured in more than a few photographs we have taken, sometimes they have even made appearances in clients family pictures, having been temporarily ‘adopted’ (by the kids usually!)

Sadly, a little over a year ago, one of our original pair passed away but Leica is still here and the other day saw her fourteenth birthday. Here she is, checking out a William Wegman calendar featuring one of his dogs, “Fay Ray” who as it happens, shared the same November birthday. Wegman and I share the same birthday too coincidentally, albeit separated by a few years. Fay, like Wegman’s other dog “Man Ray” is long since gone but their lives were recorded and remembered in books, calendars, short films and exhibitions.

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Photography and photographs have always been associated, by their very nature, with things past. Sometimes the real value in a photograph is not directly related to any aesthetic quality it might have, sometimes it simply serves as a reminder of someone, some thing, or some place we feel we want to remember.


Roisin : All Grown Up

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Long before we even moved to Ireland and opened the studio here at The Memory Factory we’ve been behind a camera, documenting family, friends and all sorts of subjects, including a rather self-conscious three year old Roisin “The Poet” McLaughlin seen here. Fast forward 20+ years and find ourselves photographing Roisin & Barry’s wedding on a wild October day in Lagg and at The Malin Hotel.

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A Shot in The Dark

Snap. Snapshot.

1: An informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small hand-held camera.
2: A shot taken quickly by a hunter.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “snapshot” was first used in 1808 (some twenty-one years before the commonly accepted date considered to mark the invention of photography) by Sir Henry Hawker. He noted in his diary that almost every bird he shot that day was takenby snapshot, meaning a hurried shot, taken without deliberate aim. Snapshot then, was originally a hunting term, and not one which implied carelessness or a lack of skill. I suppose as photographers we like to align ourselves with the latter definition, rather than the former. As we have said elsewhere, ‘formality’ has become (rightly or wrongly) synonymous with ‘boring’, and we are exhorted to ‘snap away’. Fine. We will. The trick is to marry the two definitions, and to blend them into something worth remembering. Millions of photographs are taken every day by people with no aspirations to be considered photographers or artists, but they are made with common intent. To commemorate, to celebrate, and above all, to remember. That face. That moment. That they were there. That they existed for that time. Many of them may be technically flawed, the equipment may have been poorly chosen, the circumstances less than ideal. Yet there may be value in them just the same.

Feature_Kevin&Alex 2125As strangers, brought in from somewhere outside that group of people, we are entrusted with the responsibility of making images which will connect with our clients and help them mark and remember some of the most profound moments of their lives. Usually, we would hope to get all the technical mumbo-jumbo sorted too. Usually.



Thoughts on Photographing Weddings

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We’ve been musing a lot recently about one particular aspect of our work at Memory Factory Photography. It’s become a large part of our business although it’s not something we ever imagined ourselves getting involved in. The main thing that put us off was probably everyone’s preconceived notion of wedding photography, even the fact that there is such a term, as if it’s something separate from any other kind of photography.

Really what we’ve always been driven by was a fascination with photography, and, while the particular event being photographed matters, in the end the important thing is to see each event as simply an opportunity to make beautiful, moving, insightful pictures (with a bit of luck). So we would say we’re still not really interested in “wedding photography” – what we are interested in is making photographs at weddings.

The way in which couples have chosen to have their wedding day recorded for posterity has changed so much since photography firstbecame popular. My granny and grandad, married in 1925, spent their honeymoon in Moville and caught the steamer to Derry where their wedding photograph was taken in a local studio – just one beautiful picture of the bride and groom leaning on wooden table, a vase of flowers for a bit of decoration.


In 1950 my mother and father were married at St Aloysius Chapel, Garnethill in Glasgow and walked round the corner to a studio in Sauchiehall street to have two pictures taken, one of the bride and groom and one of the bridal party. The one of the bride and groom was carefully hand tinted and presented in a mirrored glass frame.


In 2013, almost a century later, Lindsay, my Grandmothers Great Grand-daughter was married in Cambridge. We took a few pictures . . quite a few pictures, actually.

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On Photography

None of Them

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“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. ”

Richard Avedon

Portrait Photography

We Gotta Get Out of This Place

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We spend a fair amount of our time here in the studio photographing families – usually the kids for the most part, with the parents resisting the idea of being in front of the camera! Yes, certainly, we do shoot a lot of families as a group, but in the mind of Mum & Dad, the primary concern is their children, and sometimes the family group can seem almost like an afterthought.

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Working in the studio can be great too. We’re in control of the lighting, the weather isn’t an issue, and there’s usually a bag of sweets somewhere that can help if needed. Sometimes though the studio environment perhaps over emphasises the process, the situation can become as much a part of the subject as the photograph itself.

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The value in having that portrait made, of the family all together is undoubtedly clearer over time, it marks and preserves an idea of a family for future generations, and repays the effort involved many times over. Yet, sometimes, it’s maybe just a little too, well, “photograph-y”. OK, so that’s not even a word, but you get the idea. So weather and all, (and here in Donegal, the weather is a significant factor!) sometimes we like to get out . . .

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Photographing families and kids outdoors on location brings its own challenges in terms of light & lighting, wind, maybe rain (Not unknown in this part of the world!) Ultimately though, we feel it can be worth it. Kids in the studio can be great, co-operative and fun. Outdoors though, in The Wild if you like, the emphasis moves away from the photographic process, and while the situation is necessarily controlled, shifts back towards the subjects in front of the camera.