Anna and Monte’s tree church wedding, Wairarapa

You may have heard of the living, breathing tree church at Ohaupo near Hamilton – well, the Wairarapa is getting its own one! It’s growing as I type, in fact. I was thrilled to get to photograph the church’s first wedding, when Anna and Monte were married there on Saturday. Monte’s mum Felicity, who is a celebrant herself, has created the church in her gorgeous sculpture-filled garden in White Rock Rd, near Martinborough.  Someone said to me on Saturday: “Felicity is amazing – she gets these ideas and next minute they’re done.” Planted in August 2015, the church is well on its way: the walls are filled in, and soon it will also have a beautiful green canopy.

Anna is the lovely daughter of my friend Bruce Girdwood, a talented photographer whom I met through the Wellington Photographic Society years ago. She and Monte met seven years ago when they were only 16 and they are so sweet together. They both worked in a woolshed for a while, so it seemed only fitting to take some photographs there, but really we could have gone anywhere on the farm – there were so many options! It’s always fun to shoot somewhere new. And to have some new experiences – I have never before taken group photos while using one foot to rub the tummy of a gorgeous little dog. Dudley wanted to be part of everything (including the dancing), and he was getting in the way a bit, so I called him over to me while I was taking the family shots. Then when I looked down he was lying at my feet with his little paws in the air, ready and waiting for what I had promised, so I had to follow through. :)

A huge thank you to Anna and Monte and your wonderful families for an awesome day – what a lovely vibe your wedding had. xx


Venue: Martinborough Tree Church

Celebrant: Tracey Bonnington

Anna’s dress: Phoebe Downs-Woolley

Suits: Hallensteins

Bouquets: Treetop Flowers


Anna and Monte Warren - February 14, 2018 - 6:32 pm

Wow! Thank you Catherine we love every single photo, and we loved having you share our special day with us. All our guests keep telling us how great a job you did. Thank you again Monte and Anna xx

Catherine - February 15, 2018 - 2:10 pm

That’s so lovely to hear, thank you guys! I can’t wait to show you the rest – so many lovely wee moments. :) xxx

Moira Blincoe - February 16, 2018 - 7:39 am

Absolutely beautiful photographs Catherine. Having seen some photos of the tree church structure many months ago, it was fabulous to see it on ‘the day’.
The wedding party looked amazing.

Catherine Cattanach - February 16, 2018 - 10:16 am

Thanks so much Moira!!

Ariane - February 17, 2018 - 8:38 am

I love the Photos! There are many great unusual wedding pics, Special mimics, and gestures. But I think it should be a big joy to photograph so nice and beautiful people in such great environment. I loaded them down to enjoy them also later again.

Catherine - February 18, 2018 - 11:49 am

Thanks for your kind words, Ariane – glad you like them! And yes you’re totally right – it was a big joy to photograph such lovely people. :)

Baby Arlo, five weeks

It was so nice to have gorgeous little Arlo in the studio! And his lovely parents Chloe and Elliot, I should add, although they weren’t quite as cute and snuffly.

Arlo obviously isn’t old enough to sit unaided so we used an old trick from the Victorian era for some of the shots of him alone – by throwing a piece of black velvet over the head of a parent you can make them disappear, voila, and then you have a supported, comfortable, safe baby. In this age of Photoshop it’s a bit easier to extend the background and disguise said parent: check out this article for some old photographs that include ‘ghost mothers’.  Sometimes they’d use a patterned piece of fabric to cover them, because otherwise Mum could end up looking like the Grim Reaper. :)

Jigsaw Strategy – transforming local businesses

Jigsaw Strategy is something a bit special – the result of three sharp businesswomen joining forces – and it was no surprise when they told me they were after something a bit different for their corporate photos. No plain white walls for them – it was straight to the graffiti-ridden alleyways of central Wellington.

Kate, Janet and Julene are on a mission to change the face of business strategy in Wellington. Having each owned their own businesses for a number of years, they’ve pooled their talents to create Jigsaw Strategy. It’s an all-female firm specialising in providing Business Strategy, Team Strategy and Change Strategy services to local Wellington businesses and the Government sector.

Kate seems to be somewhat of a “collector of people”… I first met her through a photo shoot for her family five years ago and I have continued to be their family photographer since then. Janet and Kate met in the Koru lounge late on a Friday night as they waited for a delayed flight. An ad-hoc business meeting between Julene and Kate turned into a discussion of how they wished the world worked… and the seed of an idea. 

These chance meetings spawned a realisation that all three shared the same passion for helping local businesses go from ‘Good’ to GREAT!’ Being women of action they didn’t let the idea of working together sit for long – they became partners in a new business venture and Jigsaw Strategy was born. True to form, Kate collected the fourth member of the team from her Taekwondo club. Brittany, Jigsaw’s Business Analyst, is a black belt. The best kind of person to be hanging out with in dark central-city alleyways…

Family shoot at the beach, Wellington

It sounds like an easy thing to find in Wellington – a beach where you can let your dog run around during a shoot – but not on a day when there’s a full-on Southerly blowing. Well, Kowhai would have been happy on any beach I imagine, but her owners’ faces would have been enshrouded by flying hair. It took a bit of scouting earlier in the day to find it, but Kau Bay must be the only beach to tick all the boxes: dogs allowed, North-facing, picturesque and amazingly sheltered. The water was so calm, and just a bit further out there were big white-tops.

Kowhai is just a young dog and she hasn’t been to the beach much, so she was in seventh heaven. And she made sure to share the joy by shaking off water all over everyone, numerous times – made for some great photos with a high shutter speed!

Allison - January 16, 2018 - 8:15 am

What a wonderful record of a special family time. I love the effects of the wind, and also the ones with the dog shaking itself dry.
You have captured the relationships with your camera and that is special.

Catherine - January 16, 2018 - 5:16 pm

Thanks very much, Allison!

On being a Fujifilm X Photographer

I’m really excited to share that Fujifilm have asked me to become one of their ambassadors. I am now a Fujifilm X Photographer, one of a worldwide group of photographers selected to help the company show what its gear can do.

As an ambassador I will assist or speak at various Fujifilm NZ events, review new Fuji equipment, write some social media content, and provide Fujifilm with some publicity images shot on my GFX-50S, XT-2 and XT-1. I’m encouraged to express my unbiased, honest opinions in my reviews, in case you’re wondering!

And no, they don’t give me free cameras and lenses, sadly. :) I do get a discount though, and if I ever want to try out equipment I don’t own, they’ll send it down from Auckland so I can have a play with it for a couple of weeks. Where possible I can preview new equipment before it’s released to the market, and my work will feature (soon) on the Fujifilm Global X Photographer website. And I get a free t-shirt. :)

Retired engineer Martyn Spencer, Wellington, May 2017.  Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, 1/125th at f4, ISO 1000

Just recently I was in a quandary over which portrait lens to buy for my medium-format GFX-50S; the 120mm f4 macro or the new 110mm f2, so I was able to test them side by side. If I hadn’t, I reckon I would probably have gone for the 110mm, because I tend to gravitate toward shooting wide open. But you get less depth of field at a given aperture on a medium format camera, and at f2, it’s such a fine sliver that you’re talking some eyelashes sharp and others on the same eye out of focus. That is a beautiful but potentially dangerous thing! Especially as I’m often shooting fast-moving children; I could imagine having to throw out heaps of photos because I’d totally missed my focus. A medium-format camera is already naturally a slower beast than a 35mm dSLR, so I don’t want to restrict myself too much.

The f4 maximum aperture on the 120mm still offers a gorgeous drop-off in depth of field while giving me a little more of a safety net, and it has the added benefit of the macro capability. The 120mm focal length is the equivalent of 95mm on a 35mm format camera, so it’s a beautiful length for portraits. Neither the 120mm or the 110mm are cheap lenses, so it was great to be able to make the decision with confidence.

Artist James Ormsby with his 2x4m charcoal drawing of ancestor King Tawhaio, Wellington, July 2017.  Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, 1/125th at f14, ISO 1600

It’s funny because I didn’t ever set out with a plan to switch to Fuji from Canon, but a few things happened along the way that made it the logical choice. I loved my Canon gear! But in 2015 I started looking at getting a medium format camera too, and borrowed a 10-year-old Hasselblad H3D with a view to buying it. It was glorious at ISO 50, great at ISO 100, and pretty awful at ISO 400. So I decided against it, but looking at the incredible details and colour at ISO 50 certainly planted a medium-format seed, so to speak. At around that time Hasselblad announced a completely different (and much cheaper) style of medium format, the compact, mirrorless X1D-50C. Still a very expensive camera, but nothing like previous Hasselblad prices. I was seriously tempted, but then Sean Aicken at Wellington Photographic Supplies mentioned that Fuji was about to come out with a competitor.

Three years ago I had bought a Fuji XT-1 as a ‘handbag camera’ to take on a trip to Sweden, and I fell in love with the old-school styling and the way most of the key controls were on quickly-accessed dials. There’s something wonderful about making quick adjustments with your hands, rather than beeping your way through electronic menus. That was quite a big reservation for me with the new Hasselblad X1D actually; it’s a beautiful camera to look at, but it didn’t feel as good in my hands as my little Fuji. So when Sean said Fuji was coming out with a medium format camera, and at a similar price level to the Hasselblad, I was pretty much sold already.

Ramso, Sweden, July 2015. Fujifilm XT-1, XF18mm f2 R, 1/1000th at f5.6, ISO 200

I bought my Fuji GFX-50S medium format in March, and now have two lenses for it – the versatile GF32-64mm, and the GF120mm macro. That was obviously a big outlay. I still had a big Canon kit; two DSLRs, two flashes and seven lenses. For a while I used both systems, but when I made the decision to cut right back on my wedding work, I realised it didn’t make financial sense to keep straddling the Fuji/Canon fence. So, much as I love Canon, I found myself jumping down on the Fuji side. I now have an XT-2 as well, so I mainly use the two small mirrorless cameras for location work, and my GFX in the studio, although there’s a degree of crossover.

Shand Shelton architects Phil Conroy (L) and Roger Shand backstage at the St James Theatre, Wellington, August 2017.  Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, 1/60th at f14, ISO 1600

And now here I am, part of a group of passionate X-Series and GFX users worldwide who’ve been selected to represent Fujifilm’s commitment to image making, and to the tools used to create those images. I feel very honoured to have received this invitation, and hope I can inspire other photographers using X cameras and lenses. I’m excited to meet some of my fellow New Zealand X photographers next month in Auckland – will keep you posted!

Wendy Brandon - January 10, 2018 - 2:51 pm

Congratulations Catherine. Interesting to see you made the switch. I’ve H5D and agree re the ISO, I rarely shoot above 200, which means I have to use the tripod a lot! I’ve been thinking about a change medium format-wise so food for thought. Thanks

Catherine - January 10, 2018 - 4:01 pm

That’s interesting – I assumed the H5D would be a lot better! I thought it was just because the H3D technology was 10 years old, which is a lot in camera years. :) But I guess a lot of Hasselblad users are doing tripod work and it wouldn’t really matter. It’s certainly magic at low ISOs, that’s for sure…