Studio shoot with Jennifer Taylor – Mrs Ireland 2017

Studio shoot with Jennifer Taylor – Mrs Ireland 2017

Portraits of Jennifer Taylor

Late last year I was introduced to Jennifer over Facebook by my sister... I have two wonderful nieces who are both on the autistic spectrum and my sister (Annmarie - their mum) does some amazing work trying to raise awareness of autism. My sister Annmarie Coyle also runs the fabulous Legenderry Ladies which was set up to help women who had set up micro businesses by giving them a sales platform in the form of pop up shops and craft fairs etc. At the City Hotel Christmas craft fair 2017 Jennifer and Annmarie met and had one thing in common... both had children who are autistic. Jennifer was very kind and volunteered her time to come and help sell tickets for The Jigsaw Project whilst allowing kids to try on her Mrs Ireland crown.  
Anyway... to cut a long story short Jennifer amongst many other things has just been signed to a modelling agency and needed some portfolio shots done. I was more than happy to help Jennifer out with this due to the fantastic work she does locally. I would like to give a big shout out to Lawrence Cooke who owns The Photographers Studio who gave use the use of his amazing studio for the day for the photoshoot. You wont find a better studio in town and it is available for hire. Head on over to their page now and give it a LIKE.  
"I felt I was not the pageant stereotype, I am not a size 8, in fact I am a size 16-18, and the fashion industry calls this ‘plus size, nor am I young."
Jennifer needed a wide variety of shots for her portfolio prior to getting signed and so we goy to work in the studio and we had such a fun photography session. Jennifer is 32 years old originally from Scotland and is married with a little boy. back in October 2017 she competed in Dublin in the Ireland Pageants final and on the overall title of Mrs Ireland. Jennifer is the marketing manager for the Richmond Shopping Centre in Derry. The centre is a sponsor for Miss Earth Northern Ireland Pageant and Jennifer is normally one of the head judges...She saw that there was a Mrs category and decided to take a shot... She never expected that she would be a finalist in a pageant let alone win the competition.  
As mentioned Jennifer's little boy Zachary is autistic and she works hard to try and raise awareness. This is very close to home for me and so I had no hesitation in offering to help Jennifer.

My sister Annmarie Coyle has started a crowdfunding page to try and help raise funds to create a sensory room in the Model School for children with Autism and sensory needs... read her story below.

Weʼre raising £2,000 to create a sensory room in Model Primary School Derry for children with Autism and additional sensory needs.

We have 2 little girls Alice and Molly both aged 7 and 5. Our 2 daughters are diagnosed with Autism. They have very difference sensory needs, one being non verbal. They attend the Model Primary School and are both in the Autism Unit in the school which is a small class of up to 8 pupils. This is a fantastic school and also has a Learning Support Unit for key stage 2 as well as many other students with Autism and additional sensory needs throughout the mainstream classes. We would dearly like to raise money to be able to create a sensory room which would benefit all of those children including our daughters. Sensory rooms are so important for emotional regulation, fulfilling needs from all senses such as visual, tactile. It also helps children to calm when anxious which in turn helps them to learn when it is used in their daily structure. This would benefit all the children in the school. To do a little to help please donate what you can by clicking on the link below. Thanks so much.  
Michelle & Ali – Bishop’s Gate Hotel Derry

Michelle & Ali – Bishop’s Gate Hotel Derry

Michelle & Ali - Bishop's Gate Hotel Derry - Wedding Photography

Michelle and Ali - What a fantastic couple. I would like to begin by thanking Michelle and Ali for inviting me to capture their wedding in the Bishop's Gate hotel in Derry. Michelle was given a recommendation by a friend to contact me to photograph her wedding back in 2016. We had pencilled in the date in the diary and I didn't meet Michelle and Ali till earlier this year. The happy couple got married in Cuba a few weeks prior to having their Derry version of the wedding on 4th August 2017. When I found out it was to take place in Bishop's Gate Hotel I was delighted as I have already photographed the interior and know the place really well.


It was clear from the outset that Michelle knew exactly the type of photographs she wanted. She gathered a collection of wedding photographs she found on the internet that she loved and asked was I able to shoot in a similar style. This was perfect for me as I love being creative with my photography and I did my very best to deliver the dream photos for Michelle. Michelle has gone on to leave me the most amazing review which can be seen on the homepage of my website.,

Thank you to again to Michelle and Ali and to all the staff at the Bishops Gate Hotel for being so accommodating.

A lot of photographers in Derry have the same thing going on. Bernard however, is in a whole league of his own. With his ability to mix a contemporary, modern style with vintage type photos, he created the perfect wedding photographs for me, photographs I could only ever have dreamed of. He has such a great eye for detail and is so particular, not stopping until he has the perfect shot. He is an absolute gentleman and such a professional, with the patience of a saint might I add, needed for any bride on her big day. I would highly recommend Bernard ward photography. My first choice for any professional photos. Such a talent. Thanks again for my dream photos Bernard. They are just perfect. Michelle + Ali

Bride and Groom

Mr & Mrs McIntyre Golden Wedding Anniversary

Mr & Mrs McIntyre Golden Wedding Anniversary

Family Portraits - Bishops Gate Hotel Derry

I was asked a few weeks back to photograph the Golden wedding anniversary of Mr and Mrs McIntyre. I was excited to photograph the family portraits for the family and extended family.

I was delighted that they had chosen the Bishops Gate Hotel in Derry as the location for their family photographs. The boutique hotel in Derry offers some amazing photo backdrops and is the perfect spot to get the family together for some professional photographs.

The McIntyre family and extended family were a pleasure to photograph. Thanks so much.

Many congratulations to Mr and Mrs McIntyre on your Golden wedding anniversary. I wish you many more happy years together.

Would you like family photographs like these done? Please contact for more details

Get in touch

Sony FE 50mm 1.4 Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA lens review

Sony FE 50mm 1.4 Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA lens review

Sony FE 50mm F/1.4 lens

Firstly I would like to thank Sony for sending this lens to test and review. Since my recent win at the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards Sony have provided me with some digital imaging equipment including the Sony A7II mirrorless camera. Just this week the Sony FE 50mm 1.4 arrived in the post. I have been using this lens all week. My first observation with this 50mm lens from Sony is the weight and build quality. The all metal body and size of the lens makes it a beast at 782g. The well known phrase nifty fifty certainly doesn't apply here.  This is a high end 50mm with a price tag to match at around £1500 in the UK.
Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 review-2664

The 50mm 1.4 fe lens from Sony.

The front of the lens has a 72mm thread for attaching those filters. The lens build quality is absolutely fantastic from front to back. The focus ring is quite large and very smooth to operate. On the left side of the lens you will find the A/F switch making it easy and quick to switch from auto to manual focus.
Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 review-2659

Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 72mm thread

Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 AF MF switch

Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 AF MF switch

Sony have included a very welcome and superbly deigned aperture ring which allows the photographer or videographer to change aperture on the lens manually. This is extremely useful for videographers especially as changing aperture using the ring is so smooth and silent. There is an option to de activate the click on the aperture ring which is so so good for videography.  The focus peaking feature on the Sony A7II camera is such a fantastic feature on the camera and works beautifully with this lens.
Aperture Ring on Sony FE 50mm 1.4

Aperture Ring on Sony FE 50mm 1.4

Sony 50mm FE 1.4 attached to Sony A7II body

Sony 50mm FE 1.4 attached to Sony A7II body

Image quality

With all the technicalities aside let chat about the images. I personally love the 50mm focal length not just for portraits but for street and even landscapes. Zeiss have been producing high quality glass for years and I had high expectations with this lens having that blue Zeiss stamp. I was very eager to start shooting this lens wide open at 1.4 to test the sharpness. with 11 blades in the aperture this did not disappoint with superb sharpness from middle to corner and creamy bokeh making the image subject look almost 3d popping out from the blurred background.
Look how sharp this image is around the eye in this portrait of my daughter Maria. f/1.4, 1/250 sec, ISO 1000

Look how sharp this image is around the eye in this portrait of my daughter Maria. f/1.4, 1/250 sec, ISO 1000

baby portrait shot on the sony fe 50mm 1.4 and sony a7ii

baby portrait shot on the sony fe 50mm 1.4 and sony a7ii. F/1.4, 1/640 sec, ISO 6400

Sharp at 1.4 with superb Bokeh. Check out the blurred background. Fast 1.4 lens

Sharp at 1.4 with superb Bokeh. Check out the blurred background

The 50mm focal length is such a great lens for portraits and group portraits and in fact I will always have a 50mm lens in my kit bag at all times. You can see from the above portraits how sharp the images are with the Sony. If I had more time I would have loved to have tested this lens out in a studio or at a wedding for bridal portraits or family portraits.
horse portrait with 50mm lens

1/4000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 125

50mm Sony 1.4 lens

1/4000 sec, 1.4, ISO 100


Opinions are undecided amongst street photographers on shooting street with a 50mm. Personally I dont care what lens I have I will shoot street photography with whatever lens I have. I do feel however that it can be hard to get up close to a subject on the street whilst capturing the whole environment but nevertheless this review is not about street photography more so the performance of the lens, so I decided to hit the streets of Derry and take the Sony for a test drive. I starting walking the streets during the day around 1pm and the sun was very strong and high in the sky so I was unable to avoid some harsh shadows. I was however able to shoot at very high shutter speeds keeping the ISO between 100-400. I also headed out in the evening as the sky got more cloudy and the sun was dropping so I could begin to lower the shutter speed and increase the ISO. I was honestly blown away with the colours I was getting from the Sony. The fast 1.4 lens was producing some unbelievable blurred backgrounds and pin sharp images almost resembling the look and feel of a medium format image. I was now beginning to understand the premium price tags for the lens. I headed out again that evening to try and test out the lens in the evening. I am a big fan of panoramic shots and decided to go for a landscape image using the 50mm. I shot 6 images handheld all using the same settings and made a panoramic image in Adobe Lightroom. I was again very impressed withthe colour rendition and also how sharp the images were even at wide open at 1.4.
Lisahally docks at night derry sony 50mm 1.4

Lisahally docks at night derry sony 50mm 1.4. Handheld at 1/50 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800



Overall the image quality from this lens is absolutely superb. I would love to test this out at a wedding or in the studio but from the short time that I used it I have no complaints. Doing some pixel peeping I noticed zero chromatic aberration when zooming in to 100% on high contrast areas. Distortion was minimal with this fast prime lens and with good sharpness at f/1.4 from centre to the edges of the frame. As mentioned the lens produced beautiful colours and very little lens flare from what I tested. Autofocus outdoor was a breeze and super quick and nailed it every time. Low light scenarios also absolutely no problem with this 50mm too. My only real bug bearer is the shear bulkiness and weight of the lens which to be honest is not that much of a big deal. I am more use to using smaller nifty fifty lenses and for a 1.4 premium lens producing such high quality images... maybe I can let the bulkiness slide. Build quality is superb but I would expect nothing more from anything with he blue Zeiss badge. I hope this review was interesting for you and provided some insight. To find out more head on over to the Sony website or buy from Amazon To See more of my street portrait work head on over to my home page and check out my commercial, landscape and street photography site