WE’RE ONE OF THE RANGEFINDER 30 RISING STARS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY 2022!
In December 2022, the eminent New York-based Rangefinder Magazine
named us one of THE 30 RISING STARS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY. In their own words: “This prestigious list recognises and honours wedding photographers who are creating an indelible mark in the industry.” To say that we were completely overwhelmed by the news would be an understatement! To win the Rangefinder award you need to be nominated by an industry professional or a previous winner. A place on the RF30 list has gained the reputation of being one of the most elusive and sought-after photography awards in the industry.
Ever since we left our previous careers in science (Jim) and television (Katy) to pursue our dream of documenting love stories, we had always looked at the photographers named in the annual Rangefinder 30 Rising Stars Award with the greatest admiration and awe. Seeing their work always fired us up with creative energy, enthusiasm and excitement, and a quiet determination to work even harder at our photography: to create images that were more heartfelt, more intriguing, more arresting and more powerful.
To enter the Rangefinder award, you’re invited to submit 30 of your strongest images that, together, showcase your photographic style and approach across the entire span of a wedding day. Sifting through thousands of photographs, all containing incredibly special wedding memories for each of our couples (and choosing just 30 to represent us as photographers) was incredibly difficult. But, after much deliberation and soul-searching, we chose with our hearts.
We thought it would be fun to share the final 30 images that we submitted to Rangefinder with you. We hope you will enjoy this small insight into our mind’s eye, our creative process and the things and moments that we are instinctively drawn to.
We’re so thankful to all the wonderful couples who have invited us into their lives and into their most special of days, asking us to capture them with no stipulations, requirements or limits—you have trusted us so completely with your love stories, and really, that is the greatest honour of all.
Finally, a massive shout-out to the other 29 winners of this year’s Rangefinder Rising Stars Award. To be named alongside such talented people is such an honour!
This portrait of Hannah is from the first ever elopement wedding we photographed. It remains one of our all-time favourite images. We’d placed Hannah in a central position in front of the window, so that the natural light caught her face just so. Everything was all-set for some atmospheric, natural light portraits. This split-second moment caught Hannah as she adjusted her flower crown. Initially, we weren’t intending to include it in her gallery selection, considering it more of an ‘outtake’ than a portrait photograph. But something about the form and composition of the image kept drawing us back. We ended up including it, and it turned out to be one of Hannah’s favourite images too! Here’s to including the outtakes!
From the moment we began photographing weddings, we realised that there was a huge amount of emphasis on the couple’s clothing, especially around the idea of ‘the perfect dress’. Totemic ‘hero shots’ of wedding dresses often feature prominently in wedding photography. But we felt that a wedding day is about so much more than what you wear. So we wanted to strip this back a little. Claire had chosen a beautifully simple handmade dress for her elopement in the Scottish Highlands. This shot captures Claire’s reflection in the wardrobe mirror as she prepares to put it on. We were drawn to this image because it felt unfussy and real, and it encapsulated her mood of quiet anticipation for the day ahead.
We love to capture children during wedding days as they are often the most expressive guests! This little bridesmaid was totally transfixed by bride Adriana (caught just to the right of frame) as she got ready for her big day. Something about the combination of fascination, wonder and slight apprehension in her expression really captivated us. We often notice that there are a whole myriad of complex and subtle feelings (as well as the belly laughs and joyful tears) that come to the surface over the course of a wedding day, and we love to observe and capture them all!
Some of our elopement couples choose to ditch the tradition of not seeing each other on the morning of their wedding day, and get ready for their wedding day together instead. This is such a gentle and intimate way to begin your wedding day. We love it when couples choose to do this, because it often makes for some really beautiful, tender moments—like this groom helping to fix the veil.
The ‘first look’ is another much-anticipated moment within the story of a wedding day. Whether this is the ‘first look’ that the couple exchange with each other, or with a parent, or their bridesmaids/ groomsmen, it’s often associated with a big ‘ta-da!’ Maybe because we slightly shy away from the showy ‘big entrance’ ourselves, we chose an image that reflects this moment, but in a rather more low-key way. We loved the ripple of Hattie’s train as she descended the stairs. But if you look closely, you can just spot the excited faces of Hattie’s bridesmaids, peeking-out between the banister rails to the right of this image as she reveals herself to them.
We know we’re not alone when we say that sunrise and sunset are our absolute favourite times to shoot with couples. The quality of the light, and the soft colours that you get at these times of day are really something else! This image of JJ and Tom was taken in November, which is one of the months with the shortest daylight hours here in Scotland. This frame was taken after a torrential downpour that lasted for several hours. When it ended, the entire landscape was steaming with vapour, making for the most ethereal light and atmosphere that we have ever seen on a wedding day. Gifted with such a dramatic backdrop, we simply captured JJ and Tom quietly taking-in a moment together amidst the mountains.
One of the many things that we love about being based in Scotland is the chance to shoot in a lot of historic castles with challenging, yet often rewarding, interior light! In these age-old buildings you feel that the walls could tell some incredible stories, if only they could speak! Katy, the bride in this image, is a fantasy fiction author. So this felt like the perfect setting for her elopement wedding day. We loved the fairytale, Alice-in-Wonderland, atmosphere of this image. It felt so perfectly suited to Katy and her work. Typically, we don’t mix natural and artificial lighting for interior portrait shots. But in this case, we really liked the way that the lamp balanced both the lighting and the composition of this image.
We’ve always felt that a big part of the fun of an elopement wedding day is the sense of journey and adventure that you get when travelling around your chosen location. Roads in the Scottish Highlands may be narrow and winding (so it might take you a while to get around), but my goodness you will be rewarded with the most incredible views! We always factor extra journey time into elopement days to allow for serendipitous moments, chance discoveries and opportunities to jump-out and chase fleeting shards of light. Delaney and Colton had hired a Landrover Defender for their Scottish elopement road trip. It proved to have its quirks and a certain personality all of its own. So it felt only right that it should be included in a quick ‘group shot’ along the way!
Many couples ask us our opinion on which is the best month to elope in Scotland. Our answer is always, ‘They are all beautiful, just in different ways!’ A lot really depends on your personality as a couple and how adventurous you are. This frame of Kat and Stuart was captured in March, which we call the ‘wild child’ month here in Scotland. It’s often when you get the most boisterous and unpredictable weather. We find that shooting together as a husband and wife team (with four cameras and four different lenses between us) really helps when it comes to capturing fun, spontaneous, unexpected frames like this.
As Scotland elopement photographers, we find the concept of a ‘wedding season’ slightly alien, because we capture elopements in Scotland all year round! We love the sense of the circling year, and how the colours in the landscape change throughout the seasons. The same view can look completely different in spring, summer, autumn and winter. It has to be said that winter elopements in Scotland are not for the faint hearted! Fortunately, Lucy and Tom were made of pretty strong stuff! They fully embraced the snowy February weather and brought all the drama and romance to the mountains in this shot!
One of the things that we find so enduringly beautiful about being elopement photographers is that no two elopement days are the same, because no two couples are the same. Each couple has a different dynamic and this feeds into the atmosphere of their day. Karina and Yusuf, the couple whose hands are captured above, were (by their own admission) not great ones for gushing words. But it became clear over the course of their day that they had a tender and delicate love language that was purely based on touch. We saw them exchange so many silent demonstrations of affection that day. This frame was one of the final shots we captured. It wasn’t posed or directed. We just noticed that they were standing with their hands naturally arranged in this gesture of balance and completion as they watched the sunset from the cliffs. The image seemed to sum-up something unspeakably beautiful about K & Y’s dynamic as a couple.
Choosing to elope is a big decision: it’s choosing a wedding day that’s completely centred around you, your partner and your love… and letting everything else fall away. It’s letting go of all the weight of tradition and social expectations, it’s protecting your day from complicated family dynamics, and other peoples’ ideas of how your wedding day should be. Many of our couples have made quite a journey to arrive at their elopement wedding day: whether that’s in terms of miles flown, or the deeper, emotional journey they have made to arrive here. When we document an elopement day, we honour and pay testimony to that. Our ultimate aim is that when family and friends (who may not have understood the concept of an elopement previously) see the images, they will understand why the couple chose to marry in the way that they did, and that it was 100% the right decision for them. All this emotion is revealed during tender moments like this during the ceremony.
We’re always surprised by how few people know that you can legally get married anywhere in Scotland (mountain, beach, forest, lake-side), as long as your ceremony is conducted by a registered celebrant. But you can, which is awesome! Photographing predominantly outdoor ceremonies, in all weathers, is not without its challenges! Shooting with cumbersome waterproof camera casings, dealing with rain on the lens and mist in-camera are all things that we regularly contend with. We’ve learnt that taking wind direction into account is key! Positioning the couple so that rain isn’t blowing directly onto our lenses and their hair isn’t blowing directly into their faces, is a big help when photographing ceremonies in tricky weather conditions! Quiet moments like this image, by a remote loch and amidst the mountains, is a favourite among our couples.
You’ll see that the landscape is a huge feature in much of our photography. We photography couples at all stages of their journey through, and into, the landscape. We do really enjoy using a long distance perspective to show the drama of the context.
Over the years, we have captured everything from large scale wedding ceremonies in beautiful venues attended by 50-100+ guests, to two-person elopements, where it’s just us, the couple, the celebrant and the mountains. We’ve noticed that the greatest difference between these two different sorts of ceremonies is the vows that the couples exchange. When it’s a private moment, just between the couple, they often feel liberated to truly speak their hearts and share their feelings in a way that might not be possible with other guests looking-on. It’s an incredible honour to be present in these deeply personal moments, and to capture them with sensitivity. The image above was shot from afar on a long lens, to give PK and Andy the space to share their personal vows, which were then carried away on the mountain wind, completely unheard by us.
Where couples invite close family and friends to share in their intimate wedding day, we are always looking out for moments of special connection. From the minute we walked into the room, we could tell that Zac was incredibly close to his wife-to-be’s family. He had given us a tip-off that he’d prepared a card and some fun, thoughtful gifts for his in-laws to open on the morning of his wedding day, so we were poised to capture their reaction when they did. This heartfelt, spontaneous family group hug gave us all the feels when we looked back through the images of the day.
The weather is something that we often get asked about by couples planning an elopement in Scotland, with good reason, it’s notoriously changeable! Specifically, couples often ask: “What happens if it rains on our wedding day?” Our answer is always: “Embrace it!” As the famous Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. So get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little!” We always reassure couples that there is nothing like rain to bring unexpected joy, laughter and spontaneity to a wedding day… And, in our experience, it frequently makes for some great photos, too!
We loved this spontaneous moment when an unexpected snow blizzard rolled in during this ceremony in the Scottish Borders. Being a family of Australians from Queensland, it was perhaps a rather unique situation for them, and we loved the glee on their faces as they picked up and ran for shelter.
It’s worth braving the rain for the rainbows! There’s a reason why landscape painters have been flocking to Scotland for hundreds of years, it’s because our changeable weather makes for the most incredible light! When couples from overseas visit Scotland, they are always amazed by just how many rainbows we have! Rainbows, by their nature, are fleeting things, so you have to be pretty quick to capture one! This image was taken at the end of a rainy day as the sun sank low in the sky. We turned a corner, and there it was: a glorious rainbow burning bright against the mountains! We jumped out of the car, sprinted across a bog and just managed to capture Steph and Matthew basking in its final rays (and looking remarkably calm and composed, considering…).
The ‘first kiss’ that a couple exchange as newly weds is perhaps *the* most iconic moment of a wedding day. It’s the scene that everything builds-up to in a romantic movie. But we actually love even more the split second before a couple kiss. We’ve always felt that there’s something lingeringly, delicately beautiful and perhaps even more tender and sensual about the ‘almost kiss’.
The tale of the bridge that no longer exists… We don’t shoot a tonne of drone photography over the course of a wedding day. But it’s really fun to do a bit of drone work when there is an interesting alternative perspective to be found. This handmade bridge spanned two halves of Alyssa and Blake’s wedding venue, and we felt that it would really lend itself to a drone shot, which it did! Not long after this photograph was taken, the bridge was sadly washed away in a freak storm, undoing all of the owner’s painstaking carpentry work. A reminder that nothing is permanent, moments are fleeting, and photographs are one of the few things that can preserve memories forever.
Elopement wedding days in Scotland often involve a lot of epically dramatic shots amidst the mountains, which we love! But we’re also big fans of the quieter, more reflective moments too. The frame above caught Jayme and Zac having a cheeky pre-ceremony whisky to steady the nerves. They had been hanging-out in a dark area by the bar. We’d spotted this nice framing in the window light, so we suggested that they might take a moment to savour their drinks there instead… Typically, we let the action unfold naturally on a wedding day, and document the story as it does so. But we do always keep an eye out for nice light and composition, and offer some very light ‘direction’ if we feel that it’s going to make for a better image.
One of Jim’s favourite sayings is, “Luck is preparation meets opportunity!” We feel that this is so true when it comes to elopement photography! We knew from the weather forecast that there was going to be a heavy snowfall in Glencoe overnight. We also knew that there would be quite a small window of crystalline, winter wonderland perfection before the wind shook the snow from the trees, the temperature increased and it melted, or a lot of other visitors tramped all over it! So we headed into the hills early, and were rewarded by one of the most ‘picture perfect’ winter snow scenes we have ever experienced on an elopement wedding day.
This image also harks back to the first ever elopement we photographed. Experiencing the beautiful, heartfelt simplicity of an elopement wedding for the first time had a profound impact on us. We were in love, and we’ve never looked back! We’ve learnt so much since then, and we would like to think that we have both grown as photographers. But the profound honour that we felt at being invited to capture intimate moments like this, has never left us. Over a hundred elopements on, we still feel deeply honoured by the incredible trust that our couples place in us every time we are asked to document an elopement wedding day. We still also love images of couples holding hands—a real essence of connection.
Growing-up, Katy always loved the enigmatic poem ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost. This frame really reminds her of it. When selecting images for our Rangefinder submission, we were particularly looking for shots that were well-composed, told a complete story within themselves, and/or really made you feel something. This image fell into the latter category. Melissa and Luke married on a chilly February day in the Cairngorms, a thickly forested area in the Scottish Highlands dotted with lakes (or lochs as we call them here). As their ceremony ended, a snow blizzard blew-in from across the loch and took us all by surprise! This frame shows M & L embracing the moment and the snow. Looking at it, we could feel the poetic winter romance of their day, and the freezing temperatures!
Eloping just the two of you doesn’t mean that there isn’t the opportunity to celebrate at the end of your wedding day—far from it! We’ve had so much fun capturing two-person celebrations over the years…and there’s nothing that says: “yay, we just got married!” more than a champagne-pop. This capture shows Scott “geein’ it yaldi” (as folk say in Scotland), which roughly translates as ‘doing it with great gusto – especially partying’. This made us smile, as did Jenn’s reaction to Scott’s efforts. Photographing together as a husband and wife team with four cameras and four different lenses at the ready definitely helps when capturing spontaneous moments like these.
Over the course of a wedding day, there is so much energy, action and high emotion that we always like to balance this with moments of stillness and calm too. From the moment we met Joel, we could sense that he was an ‘old soul’. So when we spotted him taking a quiet moment, overlooked by an even older soul from an age gone by, it felt like a frame that we had to capture. We’ve always been drawn to the European portrait painters of the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly for the way that they use light to enhance their subjects. Their work is both timeless and yet of its time. Our greatest desire and hope for our photography is that, looking back on their wedding photos, our couples will feel this about our images too.
One of the things that we notice about capturing elopement weddings is how much time and space in the day there is for the couple to just ‘be’. Jenn and Scott had invited their family and friends to send a letter or card to open on their wedding day—cue a ginormous pile of mail! J & S settled themselves by the fire in a cosy pub with a glass of whisky and began to read, with late afternoon sunlight streaming in through the window. It was such a soft and tranquil atmosphere as they soaked-in all the beautiful words sent by their loved ones. We’re always drawn to moments like this on a wedding day, when time seems to stand still for a little while.
No Scottish wedding is complete without a ceilidh! For the uninitiated, a ceilidh is a set of traditional dances, accompanied by a jaunty folk band and performed with great energy and speed. It involves the whole room, everyone dances with everyone; in short, it’s a total riot! From a photographic point of view, ceilidhs are quite hard to capture well because you’ve got lots of people moving fast, in a low-light setting, making achieving sharp focus tricky. This is particularly true for us, as we typically try to avoid off-camera flash as we find it a bit of a mood killer. In this frame, we decided to make a virtue of the low-light and fast-moving action—we asked the couple to remain still, while the rest of the room continued to ceilidh around them. The resulting image encapsulates the rather discombobulating feeling of experiencing a crazy Scottish ceilidh dance firsthand!
We chose this as our final image, because we felt that it perfectly completed the story of an elopement wedding day. Winter elopers, Nicole and Henry, had spent their wedding day exploring the mountains in the snow. As dusk fell, they returned to their Airbnb, which had a hot tub in the garden. We fired it up, they popped some champagne, and… well, you can see how things went from there. Being winter, we knew that it would get dark very early, so we’d brought along a hand-held light to back-light the scene—the rest of the steamy atmosphere was all down to the couple’s incredible connection!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed looking through our Rangefinder submission. To other photographers out there, we honestly can’t recommend the process of looking through your own back catalogue and selecting just thirty favourite images enough! It’s honestly so illuminating and instructive. If you have enjoyed this little insight into our work, and would like to connect, do feel free to follow us on
If you’re a couple who has seen something here that resonates with you and would be interested in working with us, do get in touch via our
contact form. We would love to hear from you!
Katy & Jim x