Your bridezilla exorcism

These will seem like ridiculous exercises but my darling Bridezilla’s I know the syndrome and I guarantee you I can save you from yourself if you are diligent about your exercises. No matter what just remember on the day, I have got your back and I am on your side.

Exercise one

A childlike but not childish attitude

Children are amazing they live in the present. They delight in small blessings and often don’t notice unimportant details. They live with their hearts and skip. This is a great side to a child’s character. Rather than the childish… me me me me! Watch children, play with children. They will teach you the art of fun. Fun and laughter and a sense of humour will make you delicious to be around and fun makes fun…. the most beautiful brides I know are fun and joyful.

For more helpful advice on how to tame the bridezilla in you.


Exercise two

I am just not a fun or joyous person

Fake it till you make it. Start practising.

Exercise three

Live in the present, not the future or the past. Above all stay out of your head, it’s a bad neighbourhood. Doing something creative is a great way to go into that peaceful now zone.

Exercise four

Practise letting go with a visualisation. Imagine your resentment or worries as balloons…. imagine letting them go and watch them float away.

For more helpful advice on how to tame the bridezilla in you.


Exercise five

Still can’t let go or tame the wild horses that run wild in your head? Make a worry jar, write your worries on pieces of paper and pop them in the jar. The jar is your average mailing service to the universe, things you don’t know what to do about put them in your jar. Hand it over and forget it. It’s in the jar.

Exercise six

Repeat this mantra 100 times each time you brush your teeth, yes 100 times… everyday:

Things which are not perfect can be beautiful. The unexpected can be a blessing in disguise

For more helpful advice on how to tame the bridezilla in you.


Exercise seven

Every time you think of anything negative make sure you think of just one thing positive, it’s only fair

Exercise eight

The quality of the service you receive is largely related to the relationship with your service provider. For example your photographer will take much nicer pictures of someone who is not trying to control and direct him or her. We are all the same – we try harder for people we like. Being kind and thoughtful will cost you nothing but will gain you everything. Start cultivating happy fun relationships with your service providers. You don’t have to be bosom buddies but a little humanity and kindness really does turn on the lights. Want your wedding planner to do back flips for you and run the ship with a whip… be sincere to her, notice her work and effort and she will become your slave. In exchange for a few gentle words you will get service money can’t buy.


Exercise nine

Try stress busters like exercise, yoga, breathing exercisers, meditation and playing with children (actually playing with children is good for just about any ailment)

Exercise ten

Write your vows and read them every time you get wrapped up in the details and it isn’t going your way. You will remember the real reason for this day.

Why not be a Bridezilla?

I know you are saying, “So what, I find you get what you ask for and there is nothing wrong with wanting the best.” But the truth is… behave like this and you will get mediocre service, be stressed and exhausted and you will ruin your wedding day. You won't sleep the night before. You will have dark rings under your eyes. You will have a terrible time and your guests will notice. Everything will seem wrong and you will forget why you are there in the first place.

Turn in tomorrow for how to conduct your Bridezilla exorcism and rid yourself of the only person who can ruin your day.

Are you a Bridezilla? Test

Are you a Bridezilla?

Fifteen questions to help you face the bridezilla in you. Answers which may help you save your wedding day from you.

1. My list of ‘must have group photographs’, includes more than twenty groups?

true or false

2. I am a details person and my happiness depends on perfection

true or false

3. Rains will break my heart

true or false

4. It’s very important that everything runs exactly to schedule

true or false

5. I crash under pressure and hate being the centre of the attention

true or false

6. Wedding planners and other service providers are just money grabbers and need to be kept in line

true o false

7. Bridesmaids who are more attractive than me are dangerous and their dresses mustn’t be too eye catching

true o false

8. For the day to be a success I need to control all aspects of the day.

true o false

9. I am very unlucky and it seems that the world is against me

true o false

10. The day is about me and people don't need to get distracted

true o false

true o false

11. It is VERY important that the colours of my flowers are exactly like the ones in my mind.

true o false

12. when my photographer asked me a bit about what I wanted from my wedding photography I wrote down five pages of notes

true o false

13. i don't think artists work well when given freedom.

true o false

14. a wedding photographer is just a second rate photographer who can't make it in the commercial world of photography

true o false

15. I don't cope well when things don't go my way

true o false

Results to follow tomorrow.

Digital Retouching

Before & After

Ever been disappointed with how you look in photographs? Perhaps your skin has a tendency to look shiny and you hate the bags under your eyes.
Or perhaps it your body that makes you feel self-conscious in front of the camera. So what if you could ban your potbelly, the loose skin on your upper arms and that birthmark on your back from attending your wedding?
At JoAnne Dunn Photography, we can fix all the little things that bug you about your appearance—that untimely spot, the bump on your nose, even the extra padding around your waist. Using modern technology we’ll give you all the advantages supermodels have been enjoying for years in glossy magazines.
Don’t worry; you will still look like yourself after we’re done. The re-touching will be done carefully, so as to not change your personal beauty. You won’t even see the changes, unless you have the original photo to compare with.
This is how it works: After your wedding, each image is selected and analysed by various computer programmes to highlight the areas we can improve. In some images, we will subtly suggest the mood of the day. We will go over every image to bring back the sparkle and achieve a fine art look to the images.
You will have these photographs to treasure forever, so you deserve them to perfect. Just tell us what you want, and we promise to blow you away.
Some more examples of what we can do using digital re-touching:
– We can remove eyesores that might be in the way of the perfect view (e.g. wire lines, shadows, cranes, or pillars)
– Using Photoshop we can magic away dirty marks on your suit, an unexpected pimple or those nasty summer mosquito bites.
– It is impossible for anyone to have a great smile, with open eyes and perfect positioning in every picture. We can make small enhancements to correct imperfections, like whitening teeth or slimming flabby arms.
– We can slim you down and add a little glow to your skin. We can gently make a large nose seem a little less so without changing it so much that no one will recognise you.
– Sometimes, there will be people in lovely couple or family shots that shouldn’t be there (like your brothers ex-girlfriend who turned out to be a psycho). We can play with your photos and remove these ‘extra’ people.The list is endless, so it would be better to show you some examples. In this section of the website we have a few photographs of models. The pictures explain the value of touching up.

Getting Married on the Amalfi Coast

Our ‘inside Amalfi Coast’ wedding hints

1)Enquire at your planned wedding venue about the sunlight and the times of sunsets, and work around this. Remember, group photos should be taken before dark. Also, in some venues late afternoon sunlight can be harsh.

2)Having a mid-summer wedding? Remember the heat and the crowds. These things can actually add character to your day if they are planned for. Some ideas – placing quaint wooden hand held fans on guests’ chairs, or the bride holding a stylish sun umbrella. Make sure you are re-hydrated – drink lots of water, and keep a couple of tissues on hand.

3)Travel times should always be over-estimated, as they can be influenced by crowds, tourist traffic and phenomenally windy roads. Regular bus services are unpredictable. Our advice: try to avoid separate destinations for your ceremony and reception, or keep them close together.

4)In June, July and August, try to avoid midday or lunch weddings and opt for an afternoon or evening ceremony.

5)Lunchtime weddings in October can be beautiful.

6)Remember that many venues around the coast are only accessible by foot, so comfortable shoes, or a change of shoes, is a must – including for the bride!

7)Cake-cutting ceremonies outside, and in the dark, can be extremely difficult for photos since the flash has nothing to bounce off. However, as this often happens due to the natural time flow of the day, we highly recommending using a white canopy, drape or netting over the cake as a backdrop for the flash. This can be worked into the overall decoration scheme to make a feature, for example by tying the canopy between tree branches.

8)If you are having a church ceremony, keep in mind that a lot of the Catholic churches enforce dress codes. This means covered shoulders and knees. Although not applicable in every case, it is safest to check with the priest of the particular church, and suggest that female guests bring a scarf or shawl.

9)Choose your priest wisely. It is important to have a confident English speaker so that you and all your guests can hear and understand him. They are hard to find, but they do exist here on the coast. If necessary, consider looking into a translator. It is also important to try and find a liberal priest who is not too strict on procedures and timelines.

Why use a wedding planner?

Whether your wedding is taking place in a castle with 200 guests, or on an intimate beach with only your closest loved ones, it is always a good idea to hire a wedding planner. Here are our top reasons why:

1. A wedding planner will have reliable and trusted contacts at their fingertips, from florists and venues to photographers, hairdressers, make up artists and musicians. Even the dry cleaners to iron your dress will be sourced from the very best.

2. You’ll have someone on the ground that you can trust. Your planner can help with things that need be tested and approved—like site inspections, measurements, and fresh flower arrangements.

3. You are likely to get better service if your planner has been a long-term client of a hotel, florist or photographer.

4. A wedding planner will keep an eye on situations that might affect your day—anything from weather, best transport timetables and options, road closures, local festivals or events.

5. Your wedding planner will take care of all the last minute hiccups, leaving you and your relatives to get on with enjoying your day.

6. If you are getting married abroad, your wedding planner can provide a translation service—either themselves or through an interpreter—to avoid the stress and confusion caused by language barriers.

7. Using a planner will ensure that your wedding observes local rules, regulations and codes of conduct. Can you release fireworks at your chosen venue? Or wear a deep cut dress to church? Your wedding planner will know the answers.

8. Getting a marriage license can involve a lot of complex administration, especially if you get married abroad. A wedding planner can get documents stamped, signed, translated and delivered to you, without passing on the stress.

9. Hiring a wedding planner won’t break the bank. You pay the same fees to service providers as you would if you booked it yourself, and you will only pay the wedding planner for her time.

In short, everybody works harder and everything goes a lot smoother when there is a wedding planner around!

Joanne Dunn

Favourite towns and venues on the Amalfi coast #3

Amalfi – Steeped in history

The town of Amalfi was the capital of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi that dominated trade in the region a thousand years’ ago. It nestles like a jewel in a deep ravine in the Lattari mountains between two rocky outcrops, bordered at the back by hills and lush vineyards, and facing the azure waves of the Mediterranean.
The city centres on a mighty cathedral decorated with mosaics of all colours, with golds and silvers that reflect the sunlight to dazzling effect. The “Duomo” houses the relics of Saint Andrew, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and the city’s patron saint.
This is a food lover’s paradise. Simplicity is key in the kitchen, and chefs create simple wonders using what is local—creamy mozzarella, golden lemons, smoked provola, wild mushrooms and, of course, sea food.
Amalfi was a favourite of the British aristocracy in the 1920s and 30s, which flocked here in search of the romance and passion of its secret passageways and gardens. Today, lovers from all over the world are still drawn by its timeless soul.

Venue ideas

Santa Caterina, Amalfi – The Santa Caterina enjoys a panoramic coastal setting of incomparable beauty at the summit of an extensive property. It begins at the Amalfi drive, whose curve hugs the hillside, and tumbles down to the water’s edge in a series of landscaped natural terraces.

Hotel Luna, Amalfi – Situated in an old cloister founded by St Francis of Assisi in 1222, this is another perfect place for a wedding. Its charming chapel is used for wedding ceremonies and the cells that once housed the pious monks have been transformed and given all modern comforts, while holding on to an air of serenity. The hotel’s breathtaking views provide an idyllic backdrop for your day.

Favourite towns and venues on the Amalfi coast #2

Positano: A private paradise

Positano, also known as “the vertical city”, will not fail to take the breath away of even those with the highest expectations. Its buildings cling vertiginously to sheer cliffs that tumble into the sea. On a clear day, you can see as far as the island of Capri.
Though tourism is the major industry in Positano, visitors may find themselves more alone than in any other town on the coast. It is a tiny town without cars and only three thousand seven hundred inhabitants, and it can only be reached by foot from above.
Here, the ancient ways live on. Early mornings, you will find an old man hanging over the side of his boat trying to catch octopus. In late afternoon he and his friends will sit together and sew their nets. Positano is the legend of the Mediterranean Sea, caught in a little protective cove.
Positano also holds a prominent position in popular culture. It was the first place in Italy where the bikini was worn in the nineteen fifties, and it is said Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote the song “Midnight Rambler” in its cafes while on holiday.

Venue ideas

Hotel Murat –Housed in an old seventeenth century palace, Hotel Murat has been refurbished in the style of the Neapolitan baroque school of Vanvitelli, carefully conserving its architectural flourish and period objects.

Villa Fiorentino – This is a wonderful Mediterranean-style villa, the ideal place to feel at home. It is located just a short distance from the beach. With terraces overlooking the sea, you can admire Li Galli islands, the surrounding mountains and the houses that cascade in a pyramid towards the sea. The villa is sunny from morning until dusk and is surrounded by the lush vegetation of the Mediterranean.

San Pietro di Positano – Surrounded by scented Tropical and Mediterranean gardens, Il San Pietro di Positano overlooks the world famous bay of Positano. San Pietro has a perfect harmony of luxury and simplicity, which is the secret to a private and charming hotel.

Favourite towns and venues on the Amalfi coast #1

Ravello – Close to heaven

The charismatic and picturesque town of Ravello perches on a cliff 350 metres above the sea. The sharp drop gives the impression of looking down from a window in the sky. Its piazzas and terraces offer countless gorgeous panorama views of the Amalfi coastline, the endless Mediterranean, and surrounding vineyards and lush gardens.
Ravello was an important town of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, a trading power in the Mediterranean region between 800 and 1200 AD. It has also been a cultural hotspot in the twentieth century, and has been a favourite of great artists and writers including E. M. Foster and Virginia Woolf.
Ravello is a place of music. In the summer, concerts are held in the village¬¬ in styles ranging from jazz to opera. They are performed in front of sea, sky, clouds, mist, specks of colour and light from March to November.

Ultimate venue idea

Villa Cimbrone – Villa Cimbrone is the crème de la crème of what the Amalfi Coast has to offer. Views, sea, sun and sky all mix to create that magical ambiance for your day. The exquisite palace mixes the understated luxury of an elite venue with the intimate and romantic ambiance of a family-run hotel. Marry in the open air in the splendid gardens with breathtaking views, or in the elegant rooms in historical surroundings that date back almost a thousand years.
The earliest records of the Villa Cimbrone date to the eleventh century. As a patrician villa, it belonged to a noble family called Accongiogioco and then to the Fusco, a wealthy and influential family related to the Pitti of Florence and the Angio of Naples. But around the seventeenth century, the fate of the villa becomes unclear.

It was an Englishman, William Beckett, who purchased the villa in 1904 with the intention of making it “the most gorgeous place in the world”. With the help of Nicola Mansi, a local, Beckett transformed it into a fortified palace with towers, battlements and a mixture of Arabic, Venetian and Gothic details. Between the house and the cliff edge he built a garden, high above the Gulf of Salerno. The garden is an eccentric mixture of formal English rosebeds, Moorish tea houses, picturesque grottoes and classical temples.

The villa’s reputation for intimate romance is second to none—it was the setting for the famous elopement of actress Greta Garbo and Leopold Stokowsky in 1938. Over the years, it has housed some of the greatest minds of modern times. It was a favourite of the London Bloomsbury set, and former guests include Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence and Winston Churchill.
A sparkling jewel in a class of its own, Villa Cimbrone provides a unique setting for your wedding day.

Other venue ideas

Villa Eva – A romantic villa surrounded by a park of over 3000 square metres and beautiful gardens. It offers a view of the incomparable scenery of the Amalfi Coast and is a wonderfully tranquil spot.

Palazzo Sasso – This is a stunning five-star deluxe hotel that overlooks some of the Amalfi Coast’s most picturesque fishing villages. The hotel is a 12th century Italian villa whose beauty and tranquillity have inspired many famous personalities. General Eisenhower was a resident when he was planning the attack on Monte Cassino, and former guests remember Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini giggling over dinner in the restaurant.

Hotel Caruso – Narrow alleys carved between stucco-fronted houses and a deluge of steps lead you to Hotel Caruso. Have your wedding set against the panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea or directly on a private section of its lush terraced gardens. The breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast guarantee that your wedding will be special.

Hotel Palumbo – From the enchanting gardens of this lovingly restored medieval palazzo, your gaze can wander out to the furthest point of the Gulf of Salerno, the Cilento Coast and the archaeological inland area of Paestum. The astounding blues of sky and sea are enhanced by the intense green of the hotel’s Mediterranean gardens.

Mamma Agata – For an exciting and different epicurean experience, Mamma Agata is the perfect spot. Situated high above the Amalfi Coast, it boasts terraces with views of the cliffs of Ravello cascading down to the sea. This famous and favourite location makes for a personal and intimate wedding.

Our philosophy

Your special day, your way

At Joanne Dunn Photography, we know that every wedding is unique. Some brides may have poured over fashion editorials and would love an album done in a similar style. Others want to be disturbed as little as possible. Most couples have parents who hope for something a little classical. As a team, we can offer you a service that suits you and will do our best to keep everybody happy with the minimum of fuss. JoAnne Dunn photographers have commercial experience from journalism to fashion. They tackle each wedding the way they would any commercial assignment. Each photographer familiarises themselves with your brief, which in turn helps them to understand your desires and needs. With your list of most important ingredients they have all they need to shoot your wedding the way you hoped. JoAnne and her husband Gianni are fluent in Italian and English, taking the stress out of photography logistics if you are an English-speaking party celebrating your marriage in Italy. The less to worry about, the better! After all, everyone wants is a stress free day to treasure forever.

Capturing those delicious moments, forever

Your wedding is one of the most treasured and special events in your life, filled with emotional, meaningful and candid moments. Yet this day often slips by so quickly it can seem like a blur. Professional wedding photography can help keep the memories fresh and allow you to travel back, at any time, to the magic of that day. It can even capture the moments you missed. At JoAnne Dunn Photography, we will: Treat each wedding as a unique commission tailored to your unique desires and needs. Capture the spontaneity, emotion and detail of your wedding using a mixture of reportage photography and portrait style. Work quickly and unobtrusively to allow you to enjoy your day. Use modern, top of the range digital retouching to bring out the best in your photographs. Bind your most treasured memories into a luxury album that, one day, you can show your grandchildren.

Joanne Dunn

Eloping to the Amalfi Coast

It is the romantic dream wedding – eloping to a small pocket of paradise, just you and your partner. You can enjoy a relaxed wedding day, soak up the local culture and also cleverly combine your wedding and honeymoon into one blissful and glorious stretch.
But although your elopement will let you forget about common wedding headaches like mile-long guest lists, complicated seating plans and embarrassing speeches, there is one tradition you would not want to forgo: amazing wedding photos to show your family and friends. Our photographers specialise in this type of photography, taking all the pressure off you while documenting your day without intruding on your privacy.

From our experience:

Remember that you chose to elope for a reason. Make the most of the private moments.
There will be endless photo opportunities. Our photographers are intimately familiar with the Amalfi Coast, and they will guide you to the best little spots and views that will make all the difference to your day.
Pay close attention to your appearance. The details will become an important feature in your photos – the shoes, cufflinks, your hair, makeup, the vows, etc.
If you are brave, consider a “trash your dress” shoot together – in the pool, on the beach, by the flowerbeds or in rustic surroundings.
Have fun with each other; it makes a difference to your photos. Allow yourselves the time to let the day take you where it wants to. A glass of champagne on the piazza, gelato on the beach, a quiet walk around old alleyways… These are the moments that will be etched into your memories forever.

Joanne Dunn

Private boudoir photography

It’s likely that you will never again look as gorgeous as you do on your wedding day—so what a shame it passes by so quickly! You may have bought delicious wedding underwear that your groom will never see because you both passed out with exhaustion after your emotional day.

At JoAnne Dunn Photography we offer a personalised service to make sure even the most intimate secrets of your wedding day can be lovingly preserved. Why not have some sexy but tasteful images taken of yourself before you put your dress on? They make wonderful first year anniversary gifts and in twenty years’ time you may want to build a shrine to these images.
Take a look at the gallery to get some idea of the sizzle this option can add to your photo collection. You will notice that there are only a few photographs, and only of models. It is because we guard our clients’ privacy and have special contracts for these shoots to put clients at ease. The contracts ensure that your private images are only ever seen by yourself and Joanne.

Joanne Dunn

Trash the Dress

For unique, powerful photos, a little bit of madness will go a long way. The latest trend for daredevil wedding photography is Trash the Dress shoots, where the bride wearing all her wedding finery wades into water, walks through wheat fields, lies in a flower bed or descends into murky cellars.

So far, we at JoAnne Dunn Photography must admit that we have only succeeded in convincing one lovely bride to gracefully step into the Caruso Infinity pool. Unfortunately, this dip in the pool was completely spontaneous and we would have preferred to come prepared with a swimming costume and underwater camera. But the results speak for themselves—these photos become just awesome.

Needless to say, this option is for the brave at heart. But don’t be put off by the title—you don’t have to destroy the dress completely. It is important to come up with an idea that tickles your fancy, and that you are comfortable with. Anything and everything is possible with a little planning and courage. We can help turn your fantasies into art.

Joanne Dunn

Magical Places and Spaces

At JoAnne Dunn Photography, we have the privilege of shooting weddings in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Many of our clients travel great distances and spend small fortunes to share with their loved ones their love of a particular part of the world.

To honour this commitment, we take care to carefully describe the place chosen for each and every wedding we shoot. At the end of the day, our photos will include not only gorgeous shots of your wedding, but also the surroundings—beautiful landscapes and environments, at different times of day.

Our location shots help to set your wedding in context, both in time and space. The architecture, land and sky will be portrayed so that everyone watching the photos will be cast under the same spell that first caught you.

Joanne Dunn

Delightful Details

Taking a photograph of your shoes might seem rather silly today. But imagine the same image in twenty years. Ever smelt a perfume and suddenly some forgotten (and perhaps a bit naughty) memory has come rushing back? The same will happen when, in twenty years’ time, you see those shoes and remember the day you finally bought them and hid the receipt from your fiancé.

At JoAnne Dunn photography, we use photos of descriptive details from your wedding—your shoes, place cards, a ribbon or some flowers—in the same way that writers use little details to evoke a particular time, or scene. These details will help us describe a time, a mood, a feeling or a client’s taste, and they are what will transport you back in time when you look at your album in years to come.

Photos of details will give an ‘editorial’ feel to an album—exactly in the way that glossy magazines feature lots of gorgeous details in their wedding coverage. But they are also a loving homage to the many months of work you put into planning your wedding and its special themes and colours. By immortalising these details, we can unlock a flood of special memories.

Joanne Dunn

Informal Formals – Keeping Mum happy.

There is no way around it: If you don’t want to upset your parents, you will have to take some group photos. Guests hate doing them, but the truth is that even couples who swear they don’t want any group photographs are always sorry they didn’t do a few. After all—you don’t necessarily have to put them in your album!

There are ways of easing the pain of group photography. First, don’t request too many as this takes time and guests get frustrated with the wait. We also recommend nominating a bossy helper who knows everyone, and arm him or her with the (short) list of guests to be included. We also HIGHLY recommend that group photographs are done in daylight since this will make the people in them look much more attractive.

Clients often want group images to be taken in front of a panoramic view. We don’t recommend this since it means that you will see neither the people nor the view properly. However, with groups of three or less some exceptions can successfully be made. We prefer good lighting and a setting that enhances the arrangement of the group. If you want a photograph of all the guests, depending on how big the group is, stairs may be required.
It is very important to set aside enough time to do group photographs. The more groups you require, the more time we will need. Careful planning is required before your wedding. It is also useful to do the possible group images before the ceremony—for example, the bride with her family, or the groom with his family. This takes some pressure off the schedule after the ceremony.

Joanne Dunn

Timefull Classics

Clients often tell us that they want timeless photographs. What a strange thing to request! Washing away unique time stamp images, only makes the photos weak tools for bringing back memories.

At JoAnne Dunn Photography we aim to produce ‘timefull’ images that evoke memories and capture what the people in them were like when they were taken. Photos that tell a story about the time, the location and the love shared by the wedding couple.

We know that when people ask for timeless photos, they really mean classic. But classic wedding images need not be cheesy or embarrassing, or detached from the ‘time fullness’ of your wedding day. We prefer to define a classic wedding image as a little quieter but stylish with a hint of romance. Although we still take a relaxed and natural approach to posing we may request you to kiss, or walk through a gorgeous puddle of sunshine.

Joanne Dunn

Insiders Guide to the Amalfi Coast – part 04

By foot or by boat

Positano is a tiny town without cars and only three thousand seven hundred inhabitants. It can only be reached by foot from the above. One walks down many little stairs and hilly pathways down the sides of the Lattari Mountains which crown it. Walking down at a pace a little faster than a stroll, due to the sharp decline, finally one reaches the volcanic sand beach. Nestled and protected in the arms of the mountains, the tiny rectangular coloured houses spread themselves half way up the mountain lazing in the sunshine. On a clear day, if you look out to sea you will clearly see the islands Punta Licosa and Capri. Just another six kilometres out to sea you would find three little islands collectively called the “Sirenuse”. As the name would suggest legend has it that their shallows are inhabited by bewitching Syrians. One thing is certain, that this place is so exquisite in its situation; the imagination can’t help but get over excited.

Fishermen and seafarers, they were some of the very first to set sail to America. Some to become very wealthy and later returned, even if only for the holidays. Positano was quickly discovered after the Second World War by the discerning American traveller. By the sixties it was the fashionable hide away of the wealthy, with visitors like Any Warhol. Much like Capri is today. Fashion has always had an on going love story with Positano. It was the first town, in Italy, where the bikini was introduced in nineteen fifty nine.

I love Positano because it is slightly more difficult to get to, there are fewer tourists and early morning you will find an old man hanging over the side of his boat trying to catch octopus. In the late afternoon his friends will sit together and sew their nets. It’s ridiculously pretty and one has the impression that change hasn’t been around for ages. Italy the way I fanaticised it would be. But the fantasy in its natural form is rare. Positano seems to be a legend of the Mediterranean Sea caught in a little protective cove.

One of the best ways to see a place is to be guided by some one who lives there, if they love the land all the better. Only as I wrote did I realise how very in-love with the Amalfi coast I am. Place of sea, sky and mountains. Place of tastes, music, song, dance and art. This is the Amalfi coast as I know her; divine and delicious. Naturally.

Joanne Dunn

Insiders Guide to the Amalfi Coast – part 03

Little fishing village

Cetara is and always was a little fishing village. Still inhabited by a few little old fishermen with tough hard hands, boats symmetrically scatter themselves along the pebbled beach. The sea is gentle and friendly; wearing simple swimming goggles completely changes the swimming experience. Every year Cetara celebrates “The sacred day of the tuna and anchovy” for three days, twice a year, around May to July.

One way to beat the exchange rate, and you if you prefer “the road less travelled”, is to visit these places in winter. They are practically deserted and only the people who really live there remain. However be prepared for many of the touristy shops and restaurants to be closed. Cetara was once an important hideaway for Arabic pirates who would raid the coastlines Tyrrhenian Sea. It is an ancient little hideout with a history over a thousand years old.
Due to the nature of the town it’s a good place to taste the sea. My husband and I have two favourites, Ristorante S.Pietro and Ristorante AcquaPazza. The S.Pietro is an old favourite among local people who love and understand sea food. Believe me there is allot of understanding to be done when it come to food and it’s preparation in south Italy. I often crave the thin slices of raw swordfish on a bed of wild rocket and sweet white onion.
(Again find out what is fresh and recommended. Let them guide you; they take your eating experience seriously.)
The name Acquapazza refers to a Neapolitan method of preparing Seafood. Literally translated from Neapolitan it means crazy water. The Ristorante AcquaPazza is unique because it does unusual combinations. Combinations, which may not surprise Capetonians, but shock the traditionalist Italian food lover. Recipes which date back three hundred years are common and expected by the citizens. So, this is a brave little non traditional restaurant which my mother in-law rejects because “you really don’t eat there”. (This is said firmly slowly and passionately, with emphasis on and repetitions of the word eat.) They shock by serving home made linguini with tuna eggs and figs, spicy bean and mussel pasta and calamari with pureed chickpeas and raw dark green olive oil. (I know it sounds Italian but here that is experimental). Be warned that Aquapazza can become very expensive if you start on the starters, though the starters are the best part and give you a chance to try a little of everything.
On the twenty eighth and ninth of June every year the village celebrates their saints, Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The grand finale takes place on the second evening. Spectators are treated to an amazing fireworks display over the sea. The shiny black sea reflects mammoth sea urchins. The colours, lights, sounds and even the smells burn to a climax. Often I find myself cheering and emotional.

Joanne Dunn

Insiders Guide to the Amalfi Coast – part 02

literally stunning

Amalfi is a treasure crevice cut into the cool rock at the foot of the Lattari mountain range. Quietly it sparkles within, protected; it’s unimaginable what lies within. One enters through arched passageways, which open into a beautiful square. Then splashes gold light catch your eye. You look up to see what must be one of the most exquisite and impressive cathedrals in the world. Its details and outside walls are decorated with mosaic of all colours, even silver and lots of gold. Combined with sunshine, the effect is dazzling.

Every year around June, Amalfi hosts a historical boat race: The Ancient Maritime Republics Regatta. People with history and the spirit of the sea in their souls celebrate the sea. Dressed in traditional costume they perform passed on rituals under the scattering light of fireworks. Fireworks are an important tradition along the coast line and generally in south Italy. Even grown men are passionate about the fireworks.
Every town and village has a patron saint. On the saint’s scared day, a statue of the saint will go around the town on the back of a van or on the shoulders of men. Passing along the streets with noisy clanging music, children and adults alike are calling, “He is coming!” imploring you with a twinkle in their eyes. Those adults have been running into the street to see their town’s saint, ever since they were little and before. Memories flood back as they stand with tears, notes and petals to shower on the passing protector. Once all the offerings have been collected and the complimentary Saint poster has been received, fire works are set off. Loud bangs and sparks try to frighten the sunshine into lighting up. For the entire day and night the fireworks will beat the sky like a drum.

Many people have never left their Amalfi villages for very long, if at all. The dances and food, song and music are all steeped in old traditions. Traditions which have had many a passionate love affair with rogue influences. Traditions which could be accused of being just a little romantic. They are both in love with and living in their past.

Flowers flop over walls, shocking bougainvilleas and coy but testy prickly pears garnish the town. Citrus, in particular lemons are a symbol of the region. All along the coast you are making an educated choice if you choose something with lemons in it. Lemoncello, lemon sorbet, Dilizia al Lemone (a heavenly lemon desert).

If you love fish, then Amalfi is for you. (My husband loves fish the way some people love drugs.) Most of the restaurants serve fish and if you keep it simple, you can’t go wrong. It will be fresh, delicate and special. Order the house white, it’s likely to be home-made by close relatives or friends. It’s not a quiet refined wine but rather an extremely fine home-made wine. Clean, pure, light, delicious and cheap. In summer it’s advisable to throw a peach into your pitcher and even red wine is chilled. A good rule my hubby, the food worshipper, has taught me is to look for the restaurant with a shorter menu. It means things are fresh because that’s what you should be after.
I once heard Johnny Depp (in an interview) say that it is almost impossible to have a bad meal in Italy. The key is eating what is local and in season; (you payless and it tastes better) creamy juicy mozzarella , rich smoked provola, cherries, peaches, oranges, lemons, grapes, wild mushrooms, chestnuts, pasta (no cream, EVER, well hardly) raw olive oil, fish wrapped in lemon leaves, tiny fried fresh fish, simple pizza, mussels, clams and the best tomatoes you will ever eat.

I recommend two important experiences of the Amalfi coast. One from land and the other from the sea. First hire a Vespa and do the whole fifty kilometres from Sorrento to Salerno and back. Especially when it is really hot and there may be traffic, theVespa is an escape. Has to be a Vespa, it’s a tradition. If you are like me and you suffer on bendy roads the Vespa is the solution. The double-decker public buses, believe me, are not the answer. I cannot describe the joy of a Vespa! My second suggestion is to hire a boat or take a sunset cruise. To see the coast from the sea is inspiring, even from a peddle boat. On a calm day one can even dive in the immense blue sea and have a safe off shore dip.

Joanne Dunn

Insiders Guide to the Amalfi Coast – part 01

The Amalfi Coastline, from the Mediterranean Sea, seems to be a divine organic tiara. The sun’s rays catch little flashes of splendour from the minute villages which are carved into the sea’s crown. Ravello, the thirteenth jewel, perches straight above on the Lattari Mountains. The Mountains and their straight faced cliffs fall lazily down to the sea from above. From my gushiness, you can tell, I am madly in love with the Amalfi coastline and in particular Ravello. I know the little villages and their curves intimately. We are not able to visit all the villages, since our time is brief, so I’ll selfishly stick to my personal favourites. This is my “Insiders Guide” to the Amalfi coast.

Medieval Garden Village

Have to start with Ravello! That’s where it all began. I first heard about Ravello, three years ago, in a book on a plane to Italy. The author described it’s deliciously lush gardens and dizzying views. Little did I know it was a start of a lasting love affair. I do admit that I fall in love with many places regularly. But I have to say that with Ravello it was different and seem predestined. I asked Gianni (hubby) where Ravello was, he pointed at the mountains behind our house, “twenty minutes away”. It’s difficult to decide if Ravello is a garden or a village. This Medieval village garden has a petty coat of lemon and vine terraces. The blossoms and their fall, heavy purple jewels hang from vines, the rusted leaves set the petticoat a flame and finally dissolve into a resting abstraction. Goat and sheep herds with their shepherds and tinkling bells roam the mountains. So on the way up to Ravello, one always goes up to get to Ravello, one is often slowed down my by a scampering pool of fluff and chimes. I always insist on silence in the car as we wade through.

Our first meeting was not the moment we fell in love. It was not love at first sight. I didn’t make an effort to explore very much past the piazza. We missed everything. Ravello is to be climbed and explored. It is three hundred meters above sea with the sea of Amalfi directly below it. Ravello has many stairs but each one is worth it for the views are unimaginable. It was later, when I was commissioned to do a photographic reportage on Ravello, that I saw her many faces and dresses. I woke up at four one morning to search for the best view point to shoot the sunrise. Climbing the many, many, many stairs… a light which seemed celestial. I had a moment. Empty, quiet and suspended, seemingly from the sky above the sea. Truly unbelievable and yet giving one perfect perspective. Vast and close, things seem miniature but yet immense. It’s confusing, as the eye is not used to such huge perspectives and being reminded how very small we are.

Ravello is a place of music. Old music, classical music, folk music and occasionally you might catch a few swinging jazz notes on the wind. Beautiful and prestigious classical concerts are performed in front of these overwhelming spaces. Sea, sky, clouds, mist, specs of colour and light. It is said that Villa Rufolo was Wagner’s inspiration for the gardens of Klingsor, during his visit in eighteen eighty. An enchanted garden and Parsifal is a magical piece with a little of Ravello’s soul. Every year, since the nineteen twenties, Ravello has been home to the Wagner Music Festival. It is held in the hot summer months of July. Set in the very gardens which inspired the master. The festival is a celebration of a passionate love affair of the artist and the landscape. A landscape with coloured flower wings and enchanting Arabic influenced architecture.

There are other music festivals and performances such as Jazz, Arabic, Spanish, Medieval, Folk, Opera and Classical. Ravello and its surroundings have a long concert season from March to November. (Even in midsummer, take a warm jersey. You are up in the clouds and it can get nippy). There are dawn concerts which commence with the sunrise. Ravello is at her most beautiful from four till six in summer mornings and afternoons. In the late summer evenings, on the piazza (Duomo Square), small concerts take place under the watchful gaze of the great dark pines. Music lovers and other lovers come from all over the world to see the astonishing views, drink in the sent of the flowers and take pleasure in the music.

Ravello and its surrounding mountains are inhabited by a little tribe of folk musicians and dancers. Some are classically trained and others play Jazz, but their love is for folk. The leader of musical gnomes can play and sing just about anything. Mad as a potter but thoroughly captivating. He and his fellow musicians earn a living doing concerts in Ravello for wealthy Americans and English, who come to get married. These musicians are some of the happiest humans I know. Ravello seems to have intoxicating powers and has been known to have strange effects. I once saw an extremely wealth lady in her seventies, kick of her shoes and “give” herself to the music. There are times when Ravello is particularly dangerous to self control. As different trees and fruit trees blossom and bloom in spring and early summer, they can quite confuse a restless soul. The sensation is similar to being in-love. The fact that one is at the top of a mountain looking down does something quite wonderful to the head and heart. Add a little sublime music of your choice and well it’s the perfect place to cast a love spell. No discussion of Ravello would be complete without mentioning my favourite little part of this world. The gardens, flowers, views, trees of Villa Cimbrone are unimaginable. A steep demanding little fifteen minute walk from Ravello, the villa is open everyday from nine till sunset. The Terrace of Infinity is one of Ravello’s best views. The terrace looks straight down onto a seductively curvy part of the coast. The effect is startling due to the sharp drop of the mountain the garden is on. It gives the impression that one is looking down from a window in the sky. The lemon tree terraces frill round the mountain and tiny ladybird size cars trace the contour of coast. The effect is just a little surreal.

Villa Cimbrone’s gardens are filled with sculptures, trees, flowers and various other little treasures collected by the English Nobleman who built it. The pines are tall ancient silhouettes and the castle-like villa evokes longings for fairytales. There are grand discoveries, like an oversized marble rose garden, centered with a sundial and gated with huge ceramic urns. There are also places which seem to be secret places to sit and think. Little sculptures tucked away. The bronze turning that special powdery mossy green, while giant blazing leaves float gently to the ground. The time is older up there. It is another world, with its own time, a magical time which offers another perspective. Writers and artists have been besotted Ravello’s virtues. The immense space inspires, humbles and even inflicts melancholy. The Spanish artist and ceramist Miro, the English painter Tuner and the writer Virginia Woolf are but a few of the many artists who have visited Ravello. “Room with a view”, written by Foster depicts many a Ravello scene. Even us mortals can’t help but be inspired by Ravello’s eternity. Yet it has a special naturalism as villagers go about their day. It proposes many unique vantage places to examine without and within.

Joanne Dunn

15 good reasons to get married in Italy

1. Weddings are an institution in Italy and therefore are super organised. Large Italian weddings are notorious all over the world (they take their traditions with them where ever they go). So everybody from wedding planners, venues, hairdressers and florists work a lot. Practise makes perfect and so it’s safe to say Italy offers some of the world’s finest wedding service providers.

2. Italy is seriously beautiful from Lake Como (where George Clooney lives) to Sardinia and everywhere in between. It seems to have many worlds contained in one, so no matter what your taste, your desires can be satisfied.

3. The food is amazing and is so varied from one neighbouring town to the other. Johnny Depp can be quoted as once saying “it hard to get a bad meal in Italy”.

4. It’s about as romantic as it can get. From the old architecture to the old folks sitting watching on the piazza. Can’t really beat Italy for a little bit of “amore”.

5. If you like fireworks Italy has a long fireworks tradition and just about any venue can organise a fireworks display.

6. The live music which is available is quite astounding even in little towns like Ravello. You can find just about anything imaginable from classic to jazz, from Opera to Hip Hop. Just as Justin Timberlake discovered last summer when he was caught getting down to the tunes of the local Ravello DJ at Villa Cimbrone.

7. Delicious wine and “prosecco”.

8. Some of the most beautiful cities in the world are in Italy. Cities adored with amazing architecture and art. The streets bustle with life and history. Hours can be spent sipping wine at the café on the piazza.

9. The weather is mild and a delight with most of the rain coming in Autumn and winter. But we do not recommend August because it can get very hot.

10. Venues which are quite sublime, there is with something for everyone.

11. It’s a great people ‘weeder’. The reason so many couples choose destination weddings, is that for the same price of having a big ‘come all’ wedding back home, they can have a smaller wedding with only those they really want at the wedding.

12. All your guests will be in a holiday spirit and way from their reality. They are therefore far more likely to let down their hair and kick off their shoes. SO not only will you be giving your guests a dream wedding to attend but also a little holiday in the mix.

13. Italians understand and love, LOVE. The have written, sang and died in the name of love for centuries. They are a passionate and emotional bunch, if you are in love you will feel at home.

14. Italians are warm and very hospitable. They welcome foreigners and pride themselves on being friendly. Doesn’t hurt that the men are shall we say sensitive to a girls need for a little attention.

15. Italians are known for their style and taste. Which will naturally be infused into your wedding and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Wedding photography imitating fashion photography

Most girls fantasise about a traditional white wedding dress. But when it comes to wedding photography many would prefer images that look less like the classical wedding photos of their parents, and more like the fashion spreads of the glossy magazines that they have loved since they were little. Images that express something more than the run of the mill—something a bit more mysterious and sexy.

At JoAnne Dunn Photography, we offer couples the option of booking a fashion-like shoot where we break all the rules of wedding photography. There will be only one purpose: making you look beautiful.

Our fashion shoot service appeals to couples that are eloping for their wedding, and for whom the photography might be the most important investment. It also appeals to trendy, fashionable or funky couples that cringe at the thought of classic romantic wedding photography. The shoots are usually a huge amount of fun and the couple’s input is very important to the planning and execution. An open mind, the willingness to play and a little cooperation will guarantee a truly unique collection of photographs.

The fashion shoot can include both portrait and couple shots, and it could take place during the wedding day or on a completely separate day, depending on how many images you want and what style you have in mind. The best lighting for fashion-style shoots is during the two hours before and the hour after sunset. Otherwise we become very limited as to where we can shoot, since we want to try to avoid the hard, horrible light that is at its worst around midday.

Joanne Dunn

10 Top Tricks to help you look your absolute best on your wedding day! #10

10. Good attitude

There is nothing uglier than a controlling, grumpy, sulky, spoilt brat of a bride who has forgotten the reason she is there in the first place. If you are relaxed and having a ball, you will see it in the pictures. You will radiate love if you concentrate on those feelings. Tension, stress and irritation all show up in photography. No one is gorgeous in these states of mind. Having a little trust in the people you have chosen to create you dream, will go a long way to improving your enjoyment on the day. And if you have fun, so will everybody else, and of course my job will be easy. Does it really matter that the ponies are a different pink? So many brides tell me, “it all has to be just perfect, I am a detail person.”

Well while those brides are checking up on the wedding planner (who is doing the 100th wedding) she is missing the best light and the party. You’ve got to let go! This is such a common syndrome among brides and I often work hard in the preparation to loosen them up. For their sakes and of course my own, I want the best pictures possible. So if you are a control freak, promise yourself (and me) that for just one day you are going to let go and enjoy. Or else what is the point of the party.