Founded in 1584 on the site of a Dominican priory, Emmanuel College is a place that as a documentary style wedding photographer I have a genuine affection for. I love its non-conformist origins; the original chapel pointing north-south, a deliberate statement that there was no need to point west-east. Holy Communion received sitting down (rather than kneeling) and Fellows who knew how to relax; I can imagine the outrage caused by them playing bowls in the Fellows’ garden on Sundays; this was after all the early 1600’s.
The original chapel is now the Old Library, but it’s replacement in 1677 was a masterpiece of chapel, cloister and gallery, designed by Sir Christopher Wren; its altar complete with the stunning painting by Giacomo Amiconi, lit beautifully by the natural light pouring through the stained glass windows; perfect for the type of photography that I prefer using available light to create stunning natural images of such an important ceremony. The chequered floor of the chapel is incredible and its symmetry accentuated by the long aisle down which you walk and I love the Cloisters that are amazing day or night. No day would be complete without wandering along their graceful arched walkway and when they are lit at night they illuminate the building beautifully.
Like many colleges, its lush gardens are spectacular, providing a natural backdrop for a walkabout or to enjoy a champagne and good company before entering the Great Hall for the Wedding Breakfast. Once more the light is amazing as it streams in through mullioned windows to light up its Wedgwood blue panelled walls framed by the moulded plaster ceiling. In the evening the Old Library is transformed for entertainment. Take your first dance in the in what was once the chapel………this truly is a stunning environment in which to celebrate your wedding.
I get to work in so many great venues as a photographer and ‘Emma’ as students and alumni refer to it, is without a doubt one of my favourite venues in Cambridge. How can it not be when it’s more famous alumni also include people who indirectly have a significant influence on my work as a photographer; John Wallis who invented logarithms to base 10 and Thomas Young, famous for his work on the wave-theory of light…..