One of the great benefits of doing what I do is that I certainly get my share of fresh air. I always find it exciting when I book an Engagement / Pre-wedding portrait session that’s somewhere where I haven’t been before and that was certainly the case for this shoot with Nicole & Paul, who selected Saltaire as the location for their shoot as it was where Paul grew up. I’m not sure why I haven’t been to Saltaire before. Everything about it suggests that I should have been. It’s picturesque, historic, it has a connection to the arts through the rather fantastic Hockney gallery there (Worth a visit in itself!) and it’s not that far from me as it’s just to the north of Bradford in West Yorkshire. Before I get to the photographs, I thought that you might be interested in a bit of the history of Saltaire and how it came about.
Saltaire is an unusual place and work started on it’s building in 1851 by the Victorian industrialist, Sir Titus Salt, who named it by combining his own surname with that of the river Aire on which it stands. The whole village was built with neat terraces of stone houses for his workers, wash-houses with tap water, bath-houses, a hospital and an institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gymnasium. The village had a school for the children of the workers, almshouses, allotments, a park and a boathouse. Titus certainly knew that a happy workforce was a productive one!! Having said that, he also banned alcohol from his model village, meaning that the only establishment at the time that did allow people to partake was named “Don’t Tell Titus” by the people who lived there – a name that it still has today. Salt’s mill closed in 1986, but since then it has reopened as a large gallery and centre for local commerce & it’s here that you can see quite a few of David Hockney’s paintings since he too was a local lad.
Right, the history lesson is over now, you can wake up at the back there, although there will be a test later. You might be able to tell from the photographs that it wasn’t the warmest of days when we met up. It was right at the end of the autumn, so we still had a lot of colour in the trees, but at the same time, it was quite windy and cold. I thought that with Nicole being Swiss, she’d be used to that, but as we talked about Switzerland (somewhere else I’ve never been before if you’re thinking about a location for a shoot…), it turned out that the Swiss winter is very different to ours. The mountains and the altitude mean that it’s a dry, crisp cold rather than a damp, windy one. It’s a good job that we had the time to stop for a coffee and a warm-up half way through. I’m definitely enjoying trying as many Yorkshire coffee shops as I can too…
By Mark J Hillyer, Wedding Photographer in Yorkshire.