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.


Click the link below to buy for less than £1300 on Amazon 

Sony SEL E Mount 50F14Z Zeiss Planar T FE 50 mm 1.4 ZA Lens - Black

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.

Buy for less than £1300 on Amazon here

Sony SEL E Mount 50F14Z Zeiss Planar T FE 50 mm 1.4 ZA Lens - Black

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 DerryPhotos.com

First Communion Photo Shoot – Prehen House

First Communion Photo Shoot – Prehen House

First Communion Portrait Photography - Prehen House - Derry

I was so delighted to be asked to photograph little Lauren's First Holy communion last weekend in Derry. It was even more special as Ciaran, Lauren's Dad is also my cousin. We had originally planned to do the portrait photography in an outside location in Derry but as the Irish weather is so unpredictable Ciaran managed to secure a spot at the stunning Prehen house in the waterside area of Derry. The house did not disappoint... The huge windows in the old country house acted like large soft boxes with natural light flooding in to the old dark rooms. The lighting conditions were perfect and made the portrait session very enjoyable. Lauren was so great and a natural in front of the camera. Thanks to Ciaran, Joanne and family for asking me to photograph Lauren's First communion. Have a look below at some of the photos from the day. If you would like photos like this please get in touch. 
Nicola and Alan – An Grianan Hotel Wedding

Nicola and Alan – An Grianan Hotel Wedding

Nicola and Alan - An Grianan Hotel Wedding

Its hard to believe that Nicola and Alan's wedding was back in March this year and it is great to look back over the wedding photos from their fantastic day. Their wedding day was on 18th March 2017 with the ceremony taking place in the Star of the Sea Chapel in Eglinton and the ceremony in the An Grianan Hotel in Co. Donegal. I had met Nicola and Alan a few times before the wedding and I couldn't have been made feel more welcome. Their wedding day was a day filled with so much craic and enjoyment. I went to Nicolas parents home in the morning for the bridal prep pictures and my second shooter Tyler Collins photographed Alan and his groomsmen. I would like to thank you both for inviting me to photograph your wedding day. I have no doubt you will have a lifetime of happiness together.  
Winning Image – 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Winning Image – 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

2017 National Awards - Sony World Photography Awards

Winner National Award_2017 badge In Feb I received some fantastic news and have been sworn to secrecy until now. I have won first place in the biggest photography contest in the world in the National Awards as part of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. I entered my image called "Bogside Bonfire" as part of a series in the Open category in the awards. My photo was selected as the best single image taken by a photographer from Ireland. Keeping this news under wraps over the past month or so has been so hard but it is now official. You can check out my picture and the other winners on the World Photography Organisations website. My prize includes a Sony a7II camera and a trip to London to the black tie gala event - 2017 Sony World Photography Awards ceremony. Amazing! I have always dreamed of winning an award as prestigious as this. I have admired the high standard of photography in these awards over the years and now to be included as one of the winners is my biggest achievement to date. Have a look here at last years awards ceremony My picture will feature as part of the exhibition in the World Photography Organisation exhibition in Somerset house in London for a week beginning on 21st April. This is a massive step in my photography career and I am so excited to be part of this fantastic opportunity. If you would like to purchase a copy of this print please head on over to my online store and Gallery by clicking here. If you would like to get in touch click here or email info@bernardwardphotography.com
Bogside Bonfire - Sony world Photography Awards Winner National Awards Ireland - Bernard Ward-2016

Bogside Bonfire by Bernard Ward - Winner of the Ireland National Awards as part of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Must have wedding day photos

Must have wedding day photos

Essential Wedding Day Pictures

Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life and your want to make sure your photographer captures every little detail that is important to you. A good wedding photographer will sit down with you in the weeks before your wedding day and go through a wedding day photography check list. Every couple will have their own essential photographs they would like captured on the day. Recently couples have requested we capture relics of a loved a one that is no longer with us, a precious pocket watch that has been handed down through the generations, pictures of special details in the room. These are all added to the pre wedding photography check list. Wedding photographers will be able to structure your day for you from the list of essential photos. Bernard Ward Photography have developed a check list of essential photos that is discussed with every bride and groom before their wedding so that they feel at ease and know what to expect on the big day. Your wedding day is a story that has a start middle and end and each part is photographed. Here is some of our essential wedding photos.

Bridal prep

Your wedding day is of course all about the bride and the main photographer on the day will shoot your bridal prep. Check out my checklist for the bridal prep and some photos below. We cannot forget about the groom and if we have time we can cover the groom prep too. We also offer a second shooter meaning more of your day can be captured including more detailed groom prep.
  • Bride portrait
  • Photos with the father and mother of the bride
  • Bridemaids toasting with champagne
  • Fine details such as order of service, wedding cards, shoes, jewellery, handbags, hats, etc.
  • The brides engagement ring
  • Photography of wedding invitation
  • Hair and Makeup shots
  • Bouquets
  • Family and Bridal party candid shots
  • Putting on vale and jewellery
  • Mother and bride portrait
  • Father and bride portrait
  • Bride alone time and portrait
  • Bride coming down the stairs or leaving her home
  • Bride and her father in the wedding car
  • Groom and Groomsmen getting ready
  • Best man helping the groom with his tie
  • Alone moments with the groom and portrait
  • Photos of the best man with the ring and close ups of the wedding rings.
fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-001 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-020 bride portrait bride and mum at the bridal prep enjoying a moment together before the wedding bridesmaids toasting with the bride in their dressing gowns Bride before leaving the house with her parents

Before the ceremony

This would be anywhere between the bride/grooms home to outside the ceremony location such as the church or hotel
  • Bride portrait in the car
  • Bride with father in the car
  • Bride and Groom alone for first look (this is becoming more popular. Lots of brides and grooms are now choosing to have the first look before the ceremony.) This can make for excellent photos with the bride and groom showing lots of emotion seeing each other for the first time away from the guests of the wedding
  • Bride with Bridemaids and flower girls
  • Bride with her parents
  • Groom with his best man and grooms menbride arriving at the ceremony in the car Bride in the car on her wedding day. Photography by photographer Bernard Wardfiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-224
Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-173 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-223 flower girl before ceremony      

The ceremony

  • Detailed shots of the Church or venue. Close ups of details and decorations
  • Nervous groom waiting on his bride and shots of the grooms men
  • Guests arriving at the venue and also inside
  • The bridal party walking up the aisle then the bride walking up the ailse
  • The groom looking back anxiously waiting
  • Brides father/brother/mother giving her away
  • Exchanging of vows and reaction of the bridal party and family
  • Lighting the candles
  • Bride and groom exchanging rings
  • Readers, musicians, gift bearers, priest ect anyone involved in the ceremony
  • First Kiss
  • Signing the register
  • Bridal party on the alter or at the front of the venue
  • Bride and groom walking out of the church or venue and kissing half way down or at the back
  • Greeting or receiving line at the back or outside the church
  • Bride and groom shot inside the wedding car
Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-306Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-304Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-536 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-499 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-394 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-364 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-338 Sandra & Rory_0150 Sandra & Rory_0088 Annie and Matt wedding Roe Country Park_0017      

After the ceremony

After the ceremony is time to start getting ready for group shots and portraits. I always try my best to get family shots here before everyone heads off to the reception. This is where the best man and chief bridesmaid can help gather up the immediate families. If these shots are missed after the ceremony the can be got later at the reception. I always ask the bride and groom at the pre wedding meeting to give me a list of family members they would like to include in the family shots. This way everyone who is needed in the group shots can be quickly rounded up after the ceremony. After the family group shots we will head to the location of the bride and grooms choice to get the bridal party photos, bride and groom photos and bridal portraits.
  • Bride and groom group shot with her parents
  • Bride and groom group shot with his parents
  • Bride and Groom with his and her parents
  • Bride and Groom with brothers and sisters
  • Bride and Groom with their kids if they have any
  • Bride and Groom with close family members
  • Bride and groom with the whole bridal party
  • Bride and groom kissing in the wedding car
  • Groom with grooms men
  • Bride with her bridesmaids
  • Fun shots with the bridal party as well as candid photographs between posed shots.
  • Bride and groom portraits alone
  • Bride portraits on her own
  • Groom portraits on his own
fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-822Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-274 Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-811 Fiona and Glen Silver Tassie wedding Letterkenny - Happy couple fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-785-edit fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-658 Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-963-EditAn Grianan wedding photos by bernard ward Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-778      

Wedding reception

After the group shots have ended it is time to head of to the reception. The reception is a more relaxed part of the wedding for most including the bride and groom. The guests have started to drink and mingle and there is a party atmosphere. This is the perfect time to capture some natural candid photographs of for the wedding album. Often the second shooter will be there before the main photographer capturing guests mingling and chatting and capturing any moments of the children playing.
  • The reception space and details of the wedding room and cake before any guests enter
  • details in the hotel or venue including table arrangements, cards, candy carts, etc.
  • The bride and groom arriving at the venue and the guests reactions
  • All speeches, gifts, and reactions of the guests
  • Photographs of groups of guests at the tables
  • Cutting the cake
  • The bride and groom's first dance
  • The bride dancing with her father or groom dancing with his mother.
  • Natural candid shots of guests talking dancing and the bride and groom
  • The band, DJ or any dancers that have been organised
Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-1790 Inishowen gateway hote wedding - Photography of Grace and Ruairi wedding day_-1382 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-1052 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-1053 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-728 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-684fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-1147 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-1142 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-989 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-988 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-904 Annie and Matt wedding Roe Country Park_0040 Annie and Matt wedding Roe Country Park_0032 fiona-glen-wedding-silver-tassie-21st-october-2016-letterkenny-900
Choosing the right photographer is an essential part of your wedding planning. You need to make sure that both you as a couple and the photographer will be a good partnership before handing over any money. All photographers have a a different style and approach and how they interact with your guests is vitally important. This is why a pre wedding meeting or two, or three... is essential for both the photographer and the couple to get to know each other. Getting to know a bride to be and groom to be is one of my favourite parts of the wedding journey. I hope this is helpful to any brides planning their wedding day. If you would like to get in touch please click here or email info@bernardwardphotography.com. you can also check out our wedding portfolio by clicking here. Some of the wedding venues included in this article included Inishowen Gateway hotel  An Grianan Hotel  Slieve Donard Hotel
Grace and Ruairi – Inishowen Gateway Hotel wedding

Grace and Ruairi – Inishowen Gateway Hotel wedding

Grace and Ruairi got married in St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry and then had the reception in the stunning Inishowen Gateway Hotel  on 18th Feb 2017. I was delighted to be asked to capture their big day. The weather was not on our side that day but it didn't stop us having an enjoyable bridal party shoot in various locations in Derry. After the ceremony I met the bridal party in the Brooke Park which was the perfect setting with St Eugene's Cathedral as the back drop. Next stop was the Guildhall square to capture the bride and groom with camper van and beetle surrounded by the bridal party. Afterwards we headed towards the Derry walls overlooking the Bogside and St Eugene's again in the background. The Bridal party then escaped the rain for a quick pint and some candid photographs in the Lyric bar in the Maldron hotel. A great day all round and a day filled with fun and good craic. Here is a sneak peek at some of the pictures from Grace and Ruairi's big day. More pics to follow in a full blog post in a few weeks time. If you are engaged and planning your wedding day get in touch here for a chat. Why not view our other wedding stories over in our wedding gallery.