Shropshire is a hidden gem. At a wedding I was photographing recently the father of the bride welcomed guests to the county by saying that he knew most of them “didn’t know where on earth Shropshire was before they came, and half of them still didn’t have a clue where they were.” He was only half joking; when I tell people I’m from Shropshire, I’m usually met with a blank stare. Either that or an exaggerated “Oh, THROPTHIRE” if I’m in Australia (a strange relic from a 1990’s coffee advert, apparently).
So why on earth did Shropshire pull me back to the UK after four years living and loving the long hot Australian summers? Sydney has an incredibly reputation as a hotbed of wedding photography, with some of the worlds best coming from her fair shores, but here I was packing up my life and heading back to 5 weeks of summer a year, unpredictable wedding weather conditions and living with a hot water bottle stuffed down my pants for six months of the year.
Well, here goes:
1. Unknown equals unspoilt, dontcha know? I’m no city girl. Tried it, got the t-shirt, got fed up of the t-shirt and the city. Shropshire is a remote wilderness by comparison. Sharing a border with Wales, my home county is a dreamscape of rolling green hills, winding country lanes and cosy pubs. This equals plenty of beautiful rural weddings to shoot, which means mandatory welly wearing, wildflower bouquets and frolicking/trespassing in the open countryside.
2. Family. They’re pretty important, I’m sure you’ll agree, and I was missing out on my family, albeit a tiny one. My gran is an incredible 96 years old, my dad is getting on a bit, and my family of friends has started expanding through the birth of some new small people. Now I get to see my gran three times a week, hang out with my dad on the farm, and be a physical presence in my friends kids lives.
3. Old things. Australia is a pretty new country compared to England, and as much as I love art deco architecture, I was really missing higgledy piggledy buildings. This feeds into my wedding photography too – Shropshire offers a huge list of stately home wedding venues, and two of them are just down the road from me (Walcot Hall and Garthmy Hall).
4. Proximity to…well, anywhere. England may be small in comparison to Australia, but she’s well connected! It takes five hours to fly across the breadth Australia, but now I can be in Greece, Turkey or Morocco in that time or less. Tack on two hours and I can be in the USA. A huge part of the reason I became a wedding photographer in the first place was the idea of being able to travel and work – it’s proving much easier to realise my dream of being a destination wedding photographer with the UK as my base, with weddings in Ireland, France and the USA already in the pipeline for next year.