a bit of old carpet..

You may or may not know about a certain storm in a tea cup that brewed a few days ago within the wedding community over one of my photographs.  The image was one of a stair case.. and some amazingly wonderful 70's carpet.. and the storm included all sorts of things from the wedding industry going down the pan, what constitutes as a wedding photograph, what is art, what's the deal with all these soft furnishings.. it really did get quite bizarre.  If you don't know about any of it then you can read about it here.

If you do know about it then I wanted to share this.  I sent the owner of said wonderful 70's carpet aka my gorgeous bride Jen an email explaining what was happening as I thought she should have a right to know.. they are her stairs after all..

At around midnight last night this 'wee essay' (as Jen called it) dropped in my inbox and I sat and read the whole thing with tears streaming down my face.  I would really love it if you could take 5 minutes to read it...

I remember when I first met you & Pete. It was last Autumn at the designer vintage bridal fair. You won’t remember having met me, you were so busy & will have met loads of brides that weekend, but within a few minutes of conversation & a quick flick through a couple of photo albums I had decided you were the photographer for me. Stood there in your granny inspired vintage outfit I thought me & this lady have the same style; a love for brogues, granny fashion, folk music, floppy hats, polka dots, floral everything & an appreciation of the unique beauty in ordinary things. Two of my gorgeous bridesmaids kept saying, “she is so you”! 
A couple of weeks later & after 2 years of searching for the perfect venue Chris & I stumbled upon our dream wedding venue... a simple village hall in Dunham Massey which happened to only be a short bike ride from our house & coincidentally was a place I have visited hundreds of times with my Grandparents as a child. The only date they had free before this next coming winter happened to be Friday 13th April. Unlucky for some but not us as that also happened to be one of the last dates you had free for Spring/Summer 2012. Chris & I were over the moon that we snagged you. It’s perfect we thought, we can get married from home, we have Emma Case & my nana will be able to come.
My nana was able to be at my wedding! 
In January 2011 Chris’ beloved Nona died unexpectedly. We loved this woman so so much & we were devastated. We were so annoyed at ourselves for not getting our act together sooner because she would have loved to have been at our wedding & we would have loved for her to be there. To make things a 1000 times worse my own Dad died suddenly only a few weeks later. We were emotional wrecks & felt the same regrets all over again. A couple of months later Chris & I moved in to my own Nanas house. She herself had moved into residential care across the road from her home due to declining health. She was diagnosed with Alzheimers a few years ago, she is very old (having just celebrated her 85th Birthday last week) & she is incredibly frail. Regardless she is one of the loveliest ladies you will ever meet. She never has a bad word to say about anything, she is witty & she is always a joy to spend time with. Chris & I love her to pieces, we wanted her at the wedding. As we were making plans it was always a concern that for one reason or another she would not be able to be there. She has had a couple of hospital admissions over the last year. Even as the wedding drew days closer my Mum & I continued to debate about whether or not she would be well enough to spend the day with us & how we would arrange things to accommodate her. As you know, she was friggin’ ace, she lasted the whole day & as always was on good form. You got some photos of her that we will treasure forever.
As you know Chris & I now live in the family home. I tell her over & over how much I love it & she tells me over & over of how she found the house. My Nana & Granddad had been living in Portsmouth with a 6yr old daughter (my mum) & 4yr old son (my uncle), my Granddad was due to leave his service in the RAF & had gotten a job up North. They had decided to move back to Manchester, the city where they were both born. Nana tells me she had only one free day to find a house for the family, & so she came up from Portsmouth on the train alone, looked at a couple of houses in a morning & signed for this home that same day, she went back to Portsmouth later the same evening. She tells me she fell in love with this home at first sight. My mother grew up in this house & now more than 50 years later Chris & I live here. We love it. There are so many memories. 
The carpets although not to every persons taste & although worn & thread bare in some parts I have elected not to change. We love them. When I think about my childhood in this house so many memories relate to the carpet! As children my younger brother & I played hopscotch on the carpet pattern, we used to slide down the stairs on our bums (& then get told off), we used to roll on the floor in the hall with the dogs, we used to sprawl out on the front room floor & do jigsaws with Nana, we have had countless family photos in the living room – kids all lined up on the floor whilst adults sat on the sofa, there have been many Christmas trees with presents piled on the carpet underneath. Ironically my Nana remembers these things too, it’s her short term not long term memory she loses. I adore vintage things, this carpet is as vintage as it gets! When Chris & I moved into the house we had to move a lot of Nanas stuff out (people collect a lot of crap when they live in a house for more than 60years). Slight confession some of the things my mum put into charity bags I rescued. I kept some of Nanas blouses, pleated knee length skirts, leather & suede lined handbags & floppy felt hats which I love to wear & use! Like you & your photos I am confident enough to choose my own style, I don’t have to conform to anyone else’s ideal of what I should wear or look like & it’s pathetic when people feel the need to mock that individuality. I look back at photos of Nana when she was my age & think “God she looks great”! When I wear her clothes I can’t help but think of her & think what she achieved in life. Not everybody sees inanimate objects the way you do, some people look at on old hat & see an old hat. Like you I like to think about where it has been, what it has seen. The rips & tears give it character, they are the story & that is what makes it uniquely beautiful. This is why for Chris & I you were the perfect photographer. With our wedding you captured the sentiment & beauty of the things around you with such a natural ease. I don’t even think you realise how spot on you got it. We put so much thought into the things we decided to include in our wedding, the objects you photographed were belongings we had carefully selected for their story & sentiment & a lot of them were influenced by my wonderful Nana Muriel. 
The old china tea set in the cabinet belonged to my Nana. She gifted it to Chris & I when we got engaged because she knew I collected tea cups from charity shops.
The old leather bound books which I stacked on the tables belonged to my mum & uncle as children. Nana used to read them to my brother & I when we were little.
The old music reel which we had to peel away from Pete, belongs to my mum, she used to dance around the house to it as a teenager in the early 70’s.
The old vintage leather suitcase which we stacked the cards in belonged to my great granddad. God knows the places that that has been & seen. When mum found it had his old ration books & RAF papers in it.
The old sewing machine, my Nana tried to teach me to stitch with it when I was a girl. 
The old Guernsey Tomato crate we found in the garage full of Granddads old gardening tools covered in cob webs. Also Chris once grew a ridiculous freaky tomato plant which grew taller than he is & tomato plants were the speciality of Chris’ Nona who grew hundreds in Italy.
The lemon cheese favours were homemade by my mother from an old family recipe. My Nana used to make it & we would spread lashings of it on toast when we had breakfast here as kids.
The old school desk was a present to me on my Birthday from my parents when I was 8 or 9. My dad rescued it from a tip & polished it up.
My something blue, borrowed & old was my Nanas own Diamond & Sapphire engagement ring. I remember her on the day holding my hand, noticing it & saying “ooo this looks just like the ring I used to have”! She was genuinely happy it was being used.
The magic thing is Emma, I didn’t even ask you to take photos of these things, you just did it! Chris & I adore these photos they are something so personal to us. They are absolutely beautiful pictures of such treasured sentimental belongings.
On the morning of my wedding day, my house was full of my favourite ladies, we were all so excited & happy, the adrenaline was pumping. I was running late & I was a tad overwhelmed. I remember taking myself off upstairs to the bedroom (which was once my Nanas room & then my Mums & is now mine) to start doing my make-up. I felt too excited & jittery to even start my make-up. So I turned the radio on & decided to just take a few minutes to breathe. It was my wedding day! I was about to marry my best friend. I was feeling incredibly lucky (I even feel tingly now as I re-live how happy I was feeling that morning). The sun was shining for what felt like the first time in weeks, I realised that I had the best friends & family & they were all going to be there at the church waiting to celebrate with us. I was just completely overcome with joy & excitement. I remember vividly that the song on the radio was Jason Mraz “I Wont Give Up On Us”, the words of that song at that moment felt so appropriate. Chris & I both come from divorced parent families & one of the reasons Chris & I had put so much emphasis on my Grandparents is that we decided that their marriage is the type of marriage we want for ourselves. My Granddad died 10 years ago. Even now my Nana cannot talk about him without telling us just how wonderful he was, what a good man he was. They loved each other unconditionally. They had such a good partnership through thick & thin, richer, poorer, in sickness & health. They loved each other even after death parted them. They had a long & happy life together (I’m not sure how many exactly but I do remember a family photo on the carpet for a golden wedding anniversary). I want that so much for Chris & I. They are our role models. 
As I was having this little epiphany on my wedding morning, I could hear my mum & bridesmaids chatting & giggling downstairs. I could hear Lily the 2 year old flower girl looking for Molly the cat & at this moment this overwhelming sense of calm came over me. With every ounce of sincerity I have to tell you, the thing I decided to do then was to go & sit at the top of the stairs!! Seriously!! Cross my heart & hope to die honest!! I sat on the top step for about 5 minutes & just listened to everything going on around me. For those few minutes I was on my own & I was so peaceful. 
When you first sent us the link to the photos, I couldn’t help but notice that photo. I didn’t think it would be a particularly exciting photo to anyone else but I think you should know Ems that photo completely takes me back to one of the most precious moments of my day & I am sure it will turn out to be one of the most precious moments in my life. It was at that moment in the day when I thought “today I’m getting married to my best friend & it’s going to be friggin perfect”!!! 
Love from Jen x x

I wanted to share Jen's letter for a number of reasons... not to win any argument or get one over on anyone but because for me, over the last few days it felt like people were losing sight of what was important.

Every....  single...  thing in Jen's letter is important to me and as wedding photographers they should be important to us all.  I'm really glad I chose that image,  I'm really glad that some people got on their high horse about it because now I have the most precious email from one of my couples reminding me EXACTLY why I do this job.

I also think that next time we're all shooting a couple's most important day of their life it might be good to just take those blinkers off and to really see everything.. because it's all there right under our noses... or in some cases.. right under our feet.


  1. I think this is great, one of my pet hates is seeing photographers miss things at weddings or special events, I see details and I see them miss it, that's frustrating, it so so important for what you do. Well this letter just puts 'them' back in their box and might just start making doubters of what you do realise you really connect with your couples and understand them, in my book that's just fundamental as a great wedding photographer. XX

  2. Wow, what a beautiful and emotional letter!! Emma, you really must have a sixth sense about these things!! I really don't know what to say other than Jen and Emma you are both amazing ladies (not that I have met you Jen but I can tell from this letter!!).

    I live in my husbands nanna's house and I love the secret hidden trinkets I find in the outbuildings. The house was totally stripped before we moved in but I love the fact that 4 generations of his family have lived here and that our bedroom was where my husbands dad and uncle grew up together.

    Four people shared this tiny little house (which I think's too small for 4) with an outside loo (until the extension was built! I loved hearing about how the house we live in now has no front door because there used to be a shop next door and people used to tie their horses to the door knocker...which eventually annoyed his nan so much she had it bricked in!! What a fiesty lady!! We should treasure these little memories/stories....they are our history!!

  3. Goosebumps, everywhere. I bloody love you Emma Case, don't let anyone ever knock you back!! xxx

  4. I saw these tweets the other day when I first noticed this all going down. If I can't have you as my wedding photographer then I want this guy. He got it right away!! It's not about good or bad or art or what the photographer wants or what another person wants or any of a million other bullshit things... It's about what *I want*!!


    29 May ‏@WTF4Photography
    .@EmmaCase While some may find the image in question "bad", they forget it has meaning to the couple. Anyone else is unlikely to "get it".

    29 May ‏@WTF4Photography
    .@EmmaCase For anyone [else] it needs to be seen in context along with the other images from that wedding & then it makes much more sense. #ilikeit

  5. This will no doubt bring a tear to everyone who has a heart and a conscience.

    Emma, you are such a wonderful human being. Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt letter. I can't help but feel I almost know Jen reading through it, such a vivid picture of her family, her life it is that she paints.

    Jen, I am SO looking forward to featuring your beautiful wedding photographs that Emma submitted for my blog last week. I have only just downloaded them in the past 5 minutes and they are absolutely beautiful. And you get I am including that sentimental stair shot too.

    With so much love,

    Annabel xXxXx

  6. damn straight - now that is why brides and grooms select you to capture their day - because you get the story and that objects are never just objects - they have history and love.........what a beautiful letter to treasure!

  7. What a fantastic letter, and a great reminder that it's not about a list of "shots you should get" but about what's meaningful.

    I do hope you'll be sending t'haters a lovely print (the avocado loo one, of course) from your upcoming etsy shop as a thank-you for the overwhelming positivity that's come out of all this :)

  8. deep breath...

    Emma you are such a sincere person. But I agree (thankfully) there are many others just like you, with your sincerity that comes from having experienced life. They too have their own life as beautifully told above. Who is anyone, in the wedding industry or not, to say otherwise on what is important to them, not what is acceptable but what is important to that individual. I strongly feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, we wouldn't grow as a race without exactly that. However, if you are commenting on a work of art or commercial art as such, then that comment should be one that holds a contribution to the community. One that helps develop self-expression.

    Art is what it is. It's purpose is to communicate ideas. Simply, if you don't like or 'don't get' those ideas, move on. If you didn't like a painting in a gallery you wouldn't stand there staring at it waiting for an epiphany! You'd walk on and find a piece that does give you an experience of joy or generate emotion. Art is defined as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others". Crossing this border of fine art photography into the (stale) British wedding industry has with evidence, been successful. Anyone who has ever heard of you Emma can surely and plainly see that. It obviously isn't for everyone, thats ok. However, there are plenty of photographers and willing brides and grooms to go around to satisfy everyones aesthetic sensitivities.

    I for one, am quite happy to look at carpet pictures and 'life' all day long. This is what is important to me. Bring it Emma!!

  9. Such a beautiful letter and a beautiful way to view the world... so much appreciation for the simple things that most people don't even notice.. this is the stuff that means something in life. x

  10. COCOstudio Photography31 May 2012 at 23:53

    That is an amazing email and just proves how amazing YOU are at understanding your couples and what is really important. Anyone can take photos of a bride and groom who already look photogenic on their wedding day - but to capture the essence of someone's life, family and memories is a whole other league of amzingness!

  11. Wonderful email, wow. She writes beautifully. I guess when something comes from the heart, it flows easily. Thanks for posting this, Em x

  12. I'm so glad I read this before leaving the flat rather than on the bus or in the office as I can now go and dry my face and sort my red eyes out.
    Wishing Jen & Chris a very long and happy marriage.

  13. Theresa Goddard1 June 2012 at 08:32

    i agree with every word. There's a photo of a photo you took of my brother who died when he was 2. This was just on a shelf next to another photo and for some reason you took a photo of it. Thank you xxx

  14. What an amazing letter. I see so many terrible sets of wedding photos - more bad than good - that I hope this really resonates with the sea of average, cynical wedding photographers. This is not my trade and I am only briefly aware of the firestorm - but originality, creativity, integrity and emotional intelligence should underpin all our work on behalf of our clients.

  15. What a wonderful letter, I feel like I know Jen now! Emma you really have a unique gift and you are a beautiful person! This was a blessing in disguise I think, as some people needed a wake up call. Thank goodness for the likes of you in this world :-) x

  16. This is exactly how i want my wedding to feel and look in my photographs. I will be passing this blog onto our photographer.

  17. Amy @Soon2BeMrsBarber1 June 2012 at 10:15

    When someone introduces a piece by saying "I sat and read the whole thing with tears streaming down my face" it's probably not best to read the post whilst at work. In a busy office. I'm blaming my red eyes & sniffles on a sudden hayfever attack!
    Simply beautiful. x

  18. Emma,

    I wanted to have you for our wedding (but you were already snapped up) because I watched you at my best friends wedding and everyone bloody loved you. When I started looking for another photographer, the term 'documentary style photography' kept popping up and I think it is an entirely appropriate term to use. I want my wedding day documented, and that means I want every detail of the day captured. Jen talks about how every object was carefully selected and meant something to both her and Chris. I am currently spending hours and hours making cake stands with my beloved, sewing decorations, and asking friends to provide objects which will enrich the day because they are beautiful yes, but also because they will have a story behind them. Upon meeting our lovely photographer the first thing I explained to him was that the tiny details of the day, the objects, the handmade origami birds, my friends mums (now vintage) suitcase which will be full flowers and the vases on tables which will have mostly been donated by friends are captured in great detail.

    I want these 'things' photographed because thats what is important to both me and my love. These photo's may be critiqued by the rest of the world, but for a limited period only, we on the other hand are the ones who will be looking at them for the rest of our lives. I think it is a great skill to be able to listen to what a couple are saying and interpret that in a way that is both personal and beautifully captured- something I think you are amazingly good at doing, and something I know my photographer will do. As long as this rule is abided by and the photographer really sees everything as you say above, then the rest of worlds views can go fuck themselves quite frankly.


  19. Wow Emma - that's amazing (and the letter had me in tears too!) It's perfect! Well done for "seeing" all the important things. I hope I see them at my client's weddings too.

  20. Having met Emma at the very same Designer Vintage Show last year, and falling in love with her, I can only dream that Emma's pictures of my weding next year to "my best friend" will be as moving as that letter. x Si

  21. tears to my eyes x

  22. Absolutely amazing. The letter and your comments before and after hit the nail on the head. It's no one else's day but yours and thankfully they hired you to photograph what what important to THEM,,, no one else... well done Emma on highlighting this, and shame on the people that mocked it so harshly x

  23. Woah, amazing and awe inspiring. Thank you Jen and Emma. Beauty is all around us, and if I’ve learnt anything from life it’s that it is so important to find beauty and joy in all those tiny seemingly mundane places.

  24. Beautiful, such an amazing heartfelt letter reaffirming everything most of us already believed. That you are bloody awesome and it is never 'just a shot'.

  25. I'm so SO glad you received such a glorious, heartfelt letter from your bride, and hope you didn't have a second of self-doubt when you bore the brunt of hatred.

    On a similar note the letter,I have a dress that my grandma bought to treat herself in the 50's, and it was one of the only dresses she EVER bought herself as she used to make all her own clothes as she was so poor. She wore it until it was threadbare and I, too, rescued that dress from a bin bag when some of my grandma's things were being cleared out of her house. I intend to fix it up a little, take it in, and wear it myself. It's not fashionable, and people will more than likely say 'what a plain, hideous old dress'...but I love it and it means so much to me, and when my grandma eventually passes away it is one of the only things of hers I will have as she has 17 grandchildren.

    The letter you have been sent shows how vital it is that we remember the little details, know our clients well and have a good, strong relationship with them. If your clients had chosen anyone else to be their photographer they wouldn't have the same wonderful memories that you have clearly given them, and no one else has the right to tell them that a photograph that they will hold dear to their heart is meaningless and bland.

    Emma, your style is perfectly unique, and perfectly wonderful. It may not suit all, but you fill an intriguing little niche in this diverse world, so let the haters hate. You just keep flourishing and being your own marvellous self, and doing your own marvellous thing, and people will continue to love you for that.

    There. Said it.

  26. Amazingly beautiful and a true compliment to your gorgeous photos x

  27. I hope I choice a wedding photographer who captures our day just as perfectly!
    Beautiful letter to cherish for ever.

  28. Sweet justice to the 'haters'. You are one of my fave photographers, everytime i see your work it gives me a flutter in my heart..you see & record images beautifully differently. Jen's letter flicks the fingers up to all the uncalled for comments. I can see a cult carpet shot aka Emma Case Stylie making history! xx

  29. So moving and beautiful. Made me cry! This is what it is all about, capturing moments of the past and the present and the future in the little things that some people just miss. You got it soooo right Emma! x

  30. i see a carpet greetings card collection and i know who we could send the first batch too.
    love you x x x x

  31. Beautiful words, made me tear up! That carpet represents so many things! Good for you Emma for seeing the things others may overlook! This is a precious memory and this is what wedding photography should be all about! Capturing memories and making them eternal! xx

  32. Just...WOW. That is all. And I just cried again ;)

  33. I've just come across this blog via Rock n Roll Bride. I own a bridal store in Australia which is filled with personal items, and it always ceases to amaze me how quick people are to judge, and to voice their opinions in a nasty way. Yes, we are a little different to the mainstream, but that's no reason to insult and be rude. Your work is stunning Emma. A wedding isn't a production or for show, its about memories and history and love. Your photos show that so much more than so many I've seen. Just because its a set of stairs with old carpet to someone, doesn't mean its not filled with memories for the person the photo is for, which I think both yourself and the bride proved perfectly. Thank you so much for the post xx

  34. The difference between yourself and the people/photographers who spend their time being spiteful on the internet is that you have the vision to see the importance of these kind of moments and details. This letter proves that, 100%. The fact is that I think a lot of that kind of criticism comes from fear, fear that wedding photography has changed and that they are being left behind. So, they spend their time on internet forums proclaiming the death of the wedding photography industry when in fact it's more alive and relevant than it has ever been. To be honest, I'm really kind of glad they don't get it.

  35. beautiful letter and beautiful images from you! I totally remember my grandparents carpet and my parents. An eye for detail and capturing memories - your images will be treasured - well done you and well done also for rising above a few peoples opinions.

  36. When I clicked on the link to the photo of the carpet, I immediately understood why Jen wanted to keep it. Indeed, memories are more important than a new carpet. And that carpet has already witnessed a lot of things, including a golden wedding anniversary. It surely is a treasure to keep. :) But Jen shouldn’t forget to clean the carpet on a regular basis, so that its lifespan can be further extended. Who knows? It might still be there to witness Jen and Chris’ golden wedding anniversary.

    1. I agree with what Henry had to say. Well, if I were you I wouldn't sell it or trade it either. :) A carpet like that is priceless, Emma. I wish I'd be invited on Jen and Chris’ golden wedding anniversary, though. Haha :P

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