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Newly married Philadelphia-based Shannon & Jonathan took a short vacation with a small group of friends and asked for some Marrakech portraits during their stay.  They had rented the privately owned small, but wonderfully chic Riad Bayou in the heart of the medina on one of the tiniest passageways ever.

Marrakech is great winter get away destination with its near to year round sunshine and warm climate. It is also the ideal place for a portrait shoot with a divine morning light that reflects off the buildings and onto skin giving to die for luminescence. Proof of its captivating beauty are in the 38 rolls of film I shot there!

Unsurprisingly we had trouble finding each other for our early morning shoot (easily done in the labyrinthine Medina!)  We chose early morning as the light is more gentle and flattering plus you’re also able to get more efficient shooting done without dodging motorbikes and donkeys in the road. The souks at 7am are a quiet place and a little unsettling as it’s the complete opposite to how they are at 11am. GPS maps spin around uncontrollably as soon as you’re under the cover of the souk’s roof and you’re not even sure where you are, let alone where you’re supposed to be going!

However, we eventually found each other, almost by accident and had a great time exploring a little around the Ben Youssef Madrasa before going inside to shoot under its magnificent arches and intricate Moorish design.  Being there early in the morning is the best as wait just an hour and the great courtyard will be full of people.

If you’re interested in taking a trip to Marrakech, watch out for my new travel & food blog Silk Atlas, where there’s all kinds of information on where to stay and what to do.

Nepal is one of those countries that you don’t at first think of when planning a holiday, but I was so glad to be invited to visit friends to spend a week in Kathmandu last November.  It was great to have someone who knew where to visit as the noise, mainly from the multitude of cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and tuk tuks plus the general pace of the city was a real shock to the system!

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When walking through Kathmandu we came across this group of women replacing the roof on quite a large building – no thought to health & safety, the workers stood on the scaffolding and threw up the tiles to each other from the ground, sometimes missing and having to dodge a heavy clay tile plummeting to the ground!

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We escaped the city for a night and travelled into the countryside to stay at a retreat on the top of a hill from which we could see the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas in the distance.

sarah hannam adventure in nepal kathmandu

A fun and stylish group of family & friends gathered for a birthday weekend in Tuscany at the fabulous Borgo Finocchieto, a private estate near Siena in the middle of the sublime Tuscan countryside to enjoy intimate dinners and dancing until late.

As soon as I was booked by San Francisco based planner Laurie Arons, I knew that the weekend of events Laurie was planning for her clients would be very special.  Such attention to detail and imagination that Laurie is known for created three beautiful evenings, each with their own individual theme.

The first evening’s celebration started with champagne and caviar in the garden, followed by dinner in the Borgo’s courtyard.  The table had a beautifully subtle early Autumnal style with flowers and overflowing bowls of pomegranates and crab apples.

With a theme of La Dolce Vita and after cocktails on the lawn with a jazz band, the second evening was a relaxed dinner al fresco with the guests seated on benches under the Borgo’s pergola surrounded by the most enormous and fragrant rosemary bushes.  I had to lean over them in order to photograph the guests during dinner, so I returned to my room that night smelling heavenly!

The third and final evening brought a Venetian masquerade drama to Tuscany with bespoke masks made to complement each individual guest.  After drinks & traditional Italian antipasti in the courtyard, the guests dined inside the Borgo at candlelit tables filled with ornate candlesticks and sumptuous arrangements of blood red roses, ferns and blackberries.

Planner: Laurie Arons Special Events  |  Venue: Borgo Finocchieto  |  Table Design & Florals:  La Rosa Canina  |  Stationery:  Amber Moon Design  |  Calligraphy:  Anne Robin  |  Linens:  La Tavola  |  Candles: Creative Candles  |  Travel: Tuscan Dream

The magnificent Bradley House in Wiltshire was the setting for an intimate winter wedding on a Sunday afternoon for a beautifully chic French bride and her English beau.  The wedding day stylishly mixed the couple’s nationalities with morning suits, afternoon tea, champagne and calissons d’Aix.

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It may look warm and sunny, but let me assure you this lasted for little more than an hour and then the blustery chill of a storm moved swiftly in!  I think this Bradley House winter wedding was one of my coldest ever and the bride and groom portraits outside were the fastest ever shot before we returned inside with numb fingers to the warmth of the house!

The whole day was a real family affair with everyone lending a hand and perhaps the most relaxed bride ever.  I arrived to find her offering everyone a glass of champagne and helping her grandmother cut some flowers, completely unfazed by the excitement and activity.  I loved how the bride eschewed colour to warm up her winter wedding and fearlessly went for a white bouquet of white anemones, roses, gypsophila and ivy as it looked so beautifully cool and elegant.

The bride loved my clean, but traditional style of photography, particularly black & white as it suited her french sense of style and although when we first met at the Quintessentially Weddings atelier at Claridge’s, she told me she was feeling very anxious about being photographed, she soon relaxed for her bridal portraits.  A beautiful full skirted tulle gown by Sassi Holford and professional hair & make up will really help the most nervous of brides to feel more confident in front of the camera!

The couple said their vows in a traditional ceremony at the village church directly next to the house, before returning to a champagne reception,followed by a traditional English afternoon tea and speeches.

Dress: Sassi Holford  |  Shoes: Jimmy Choo  |  Venue: Bradley House  |  Florist: Flowers by Passion  |  Caterer: Eat5Star  |  Flower Girls Dresses: Monsoon  |  Band: The Hipcats

In November I spent eight magical days in beautiful India.  The warm sunshine and light-infused colours of enamelled tiles, saris, flowers at golden hour and buildings painted in chalky pinks and oranges made everywhere a visual feast.

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I travelled around India’s ‘Golden Triangle’ taking in Delhi, Agra, the pink city of Jaipur and India’s most holy city Varanasi on the banks of the enormous River Ganges.  When people who’ve been to India describe it as indescribable I now know what they mean, as it’s unlike any culture I’ve ever experienced.  Its a bombardment of every sense and a photographer’s dream.  There is so much to photograph along every step of the street that it is an overwhelming feeling of wanting to capture so much and my 24 rolls of film was me being selective!

It was really wonderful wandering around meeting people who were largely happy to be photographed and the warm yet gentle light there was beautiful and great for photography.  I would say to anyone who is curious about visiting, but feeling a little nervous as I was, then go on an organised tour depending on the level of comfort and support you need.  I travelled to India with Exodus in a small group of 15 British and Americans and it felt great to be looked after so well by Bali our local guide who headed the tour and took away the headache of co-ordinating travel and accommodation – he even got us into a wedding with 600 guests!

It was a pretty intense schedule of a different hotel every night and two nights spent overnight on a sleeper train, but it was an excellent intro to this magical and amazing country and I’ll remember the excitement at seeing the white marble of the Taj Mahal illuminated in the misty sunrise forever.  I absolutely loved the trip and can’t wait to go back.

Tour Company: Exodus  |  Tour Leader: Balvinder Singh