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asian wedding photographer

Asian wedding photographer london

I bloody love Asian weddings, the dancing, the colour, the festivities. The whole day is full of emotion. The beauty of the work that I do and living in London is that you become exposed to all different cultures and ways of life. It’s amazing to see how so many different people celebrate the union of two people. What also makes it fascinating, is when two different cultures come together and celebrate traditions from two very different parts of the world. I was lucky enough to photograph a wedding in the highlands that celebrated all things traditionally Scottish, whilst honouring the brides Asian heritage and having a Chinese tea ceremony as well.

asian wedding photographerasian wedding photographer

You might find my work differs from the usual and i’m not the typical Asian wedding photographer. Emotion drives my work. People are a constant source of inspiration. Working spontaneously in the moment is such a thrill, you never know what people are going to do next. Laughter, tears, dancing, singing, it can all happen in a matter of moments, that’s what I love to capture. There is a tremendous sense of community that one can experience at Asian weddings, everyone comes from far and wide to celebrate two peoples union. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is invited. Nothing is too much trouble and anything goes as long as it involves having a good time. It’s incredibly inclusive and open, Asian weddings recognise that it’s the chance for the community to celebrate, and I love that.

The dancing! Oh the dancing! I love this picture of a chap on his knees dancing to the rhythm whilst his mate slaps a twenty pound note on his head. Weddings, music and drink do the most wonderful things to people, the joy takes you to a new blissful place, where nothing really matters except for the beat of the drum.

I’ve been an Asian wedding photographer in London for approximately seven years and have been fortunate enough to have travelled all over this great city documenting peoples celebrations. I love how there is always an element of home life in an Asian wedding. No matter how grand the reception room is or how ornately decorated the ceremony room, we always start at home, paying respects to family. It’s a beautiful way to honour family and tradition but also to recognise where one comes from and what it took to get them where they are today, it must be quite a humbling experience. To see all of your closest family and friends, but also distant members of the community who have seen you grow come out and wish you well is a beautiful thing and something we could all learn from. To look out for and love each other, that’s the ideal.

Another element that I love about Asian wedding photography, is the contrast between eastern and western elements that make up the day. I love seeing bright colours against the Victorian landscape of London. The contrast between east, west, new and old creates a stunning spectacle. I’m yet to see an elephant ride to a church yet, but here’s to hoping! Whatever your background, creed or culture, a wedding is a time to celebrate, if you’re planning an Asian wedding in London and are in need of an Asian wedding photographer in London then send me a message via the contact form and we’ll get the ball rolling! I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got planned.

 

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Stowe school Wedding – Temple of Concord and Victory

Stowe school is one of Buckinghamshire’s absolute gems.

Here’s a load of reasons why you should absolutely consider getting married at Stowe if you live in and around Milton Keynes, of if you simply want an entirely unique venue to get married.

Exclusivity and privacy

The wedding below was held at the temple of concord and victory in the grounds of Stowe. It’s a national trust park which means anyone wanting to visit has to pay to get in. You may have a few amblers, but during the whole day, I think we saw four. That’s because concord and victory is so far up one end of the park, no one ever walks that far, the grounds at Stowe are that expansive.

Only a hundred yards walk from the temple is a private car park only for your guests. There is a security barrier to pass through on the way to the event area which is manned all the time so there’s no worries about leaving vehicles in public car parks. Not on the list, not getting in!

The grounds are so huge that you need a golf buggy to navigate them for pictures. This also means that even if there is another wedding happening on the estate, you will one never hear them and two never see them. This really can’t be underestimated as I’ve seen estates where they have put two wedding parties in too close proximity. Of course everyone is convivial, but I think it detracts from the uniqueness of your wedding experience.

Stunning and unique photo locations

Stowe is full of unique locations for pictures. Dotted with interesting temples, statues, archways and bridges, the grounds have so much potential for awesome pictures that you could photograph thirty weddings in a year there and never come away with the same set of photographs. Not only are the architectural features really cool, but so are a lot of the trees – i’m being serious. I love trees, so much so that I donate part of your wedding fee to a tree planting charity. They weave and knot and bend and hug, all different varieties offering plenty of different backdrops and spaces to interact with.

Any outdoor catering you want

Because there is no kitchen in the temple, you can have whatever you want around it. These cool cats opted for a really cool tipi to have the wedding breakfast in and barbecued everything for the food. After dinner, an ice cream van rocks up to dish out all the sweet goodies, it gets your guests up off of their feet and ready to mingle. Then in the evening, a wood fired pizza van shows up to help soak up the free espresso martinis they’d been drinking all day.

I don’t think there is anywhere else in the area that offers you a unique place to get married that is set in amazing scenery, with entirely unique surroundings AND let’s you decorate, dress and cater the event however you want. If I was going to plan a second wedding (to my Jen again of course) Stowe would be top of my list.

Ah yes, flowers by the immensely talented and all kinds of lovely girls from Herbert & Isles, check them out for all your wedding floristry needs.

stowe temple of concord and victorystowe school wedding temple flowersstowe school wedding temple flowersgroom getting dressedgroomsmen putting on tiesgroom adjusting collargroomsmen putting on buttonholeswedding guests greet each otherchildren at weddingmum kisses childkids playing at weddingwedding party get ready to enter ceremony roomgroom and brother cry before ceremonybride enters ceremonybride and groom during wedding ceremony at stowe concord and victory templebride and groom during wedding ceremony at stowe concord and victory templebride and groom during wedding ceremony at stowe concord and victory templebride and groom during wedding ceremony at stowe concord and victory templebride and groom during wedding ceremony at stowe concord and victory templebride and groom during wedding ceremony at stowe concord and victory templebride and groom confetti ceremony at stowe concord and victory templewedding guests hug groomwedding guests hug bridewedding guests hug bridebride and groom laughingchildren play with grandparentbride laughingpage boy hides face during group pictureswedding guests laughingwedding details cactus table seating planwedding breakfast details origamiwedding breakfast table close upcouple share intimate moment before seatingfather of bride crys during speechmother of bride cries during speechbride cries during speechbride smiels during wedding speechbride and groom laugh during wedding speechguests laugh during speechbride and groom laugh during speechesfather of groom speechbride and groom laugh during speechesbride and groom laugh during speechesguests laugh during speechesguests laugh during speechesbride laughing during speechesbride and groom laugh during speechesguests laugh during speechesguests laugh during speecheswedding toastguests laugh during speechesbride and groom stowe school wedding concord and victorywedding guests play ping pongchild stares at man in fancy dresspage boy stuck under hatgirls carry brideboys carry groombridal portrait in stowe gardensbride and groom portrait kiss in stowe schoolwedding guests hugwedding games ping pongwedding guests laughingwedding games limboguests reaction to limboguests fake moustachefather of bride hugs bridewedding guests hug on dancefloorwedding games beer and hula hoopswedding garden games sack racewedding fancy dressflower girl leaps at guestwedding garden games piggy back racewedding guest laughing with two drinkswedding dance moveswedding games tug of warwedding games tug of warwedding games tug of warwedding games tug of warwedding guests gaspbride laughing at tug of warbrother of bride laughingbride wedding garden games tug of warwedding games tug of warwedding guests singing on dancefloorwedding guests singing on dancefloor

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What is ‘Good’ Wedding Photography?

Choose a wedding photographer…

Sounds easy right?

Firstly, what if you don’t know anything about photography? Worse yet, what if i told that every single discipline of photography is different and that Wedding photography is, on balance, one of the hardest, so how do you choose a wedding photographer for your own wedding?

It seems daunting, overwhelming, or even just fucking annoying. So many to choose from, so many packages, so many awards. What makes a wedding photographer…good?

You know you like pictures. You want good, natural pictures of your guests enjoying the day. They should capture the spirit, the atmosphere and the mad ting vibes ya get me?

Do you actually get me though?

Photography is subjective, what you like, someone else might hate. BUT. It’s important to know what you’re looking at. In the same way a french chef is different to an Indian cook, and Gurkha food is different to food from the Punjab, photography comes in different flavours. You have distinctly different groups and genres and then subsets of that group. There are good and bad in each flavour.

(Most if not all of my analogies are food related, food is everything. If you want to get me a gift please post cheese to the following address..)

Where was I.

Here we will take a look at how i construct my images, what I look for, and why I work the way that I do. In doing so, hopefully you will be armed with a bit more knowledge of wedding photography, but also photography in general which will in turn enable you to book me (great idea) knowing more about what I do before we meet. Or, make an informed choice of what else to look out for on your search for the best wedding photographer in London or the rest of the UK.

Good. What is good?

Lets get it right out there. Good is subjective. If you bloody love it, then you love it. That’s it. Sometimes poetry, music, food, literally anything can speak to you on an unconscious level. It speaks to you in a way that you cant even begin to comprehend, it just is what it is, and whatever that happens to be, you happen to love. Its the classic Marmite story, some people love it, some people hate it. To some it tastes great, to others it tastes unbelievably bad. You cant explain your taste buds. It just is.

Sometimes pictures and photographs can work in the same way. The images you parents had in your home, the films you watched as a kid or even the culture in which you were brought up in will radically change your perception of images and what feels right to you.

All I’m saying is, go with your gut.

That being sad, this is how I work, and what I love about wedding photography.

William Klein has long been a hero of mine.

I’m not too keen on the word hero (even though my word cloud suggests I use it alot?) as I have a tendency to change who my influences are on a regular basis in my constant desire to gain knowledge. Klein however, has been a lasting love. His images are direct, unambiguous and confrontational. I love that. But more so than that, I love that his images capture reality. Nothing forced, staged or repeatable, they show moments in their purest form, that’s where magic lives.

I took this image at a wedding in 2018.

good wedding photography

The content is fairly self explanatory, the guest reaching for the strawberry is clearly irritated at my presence. Whats the story? Just so you know that I don’t walk around the wedding trying to antagonise guests. It just so happened that every time i was near this guest she happened to be eating. It was very funny. If she was genuinely mad at me though, I probably would have deleted it.

It reminds me of Klein’s most famous picture, and that’s probably why I love it. Its honest, its direct and its confrontational. 

Composition. Depth. Multiple narratives.

When I take wedding photographs I want there to be intrigue on multiple levels. Lets do a side by side so you can see what I mean.

Here is a picture of a guest hugging the bride. This is still technically a good photograph. Its in focus, its well exposed and it captures a moment. Their outfit establishes context so the viewer can look at it very quickly and ascertain that the person is at a wedding and is happy about it. Great.

emotional wedding photography

Now lets look at this image.

The same is true as before. Its sharp, in focus and its fairly obvious that we are looking at a wedding.

This time, we have two people, which invites you as the viewer, into the moment to experience it with them.

good wedding photographer

This time, we have depth, not just the story of one person, we have multiple stories happening within one frame.

This is harder to do.

good wedding photography

The moment is unfolding in front of me, but you have to be aware of what’s happening all around you in order to take the best shot.

If we are trying to define what ‘good’ wedding photography is, then in my humble opinion, its shots like this.

good wedding photographerbest wedding photographer

The tide is finally starting to turn in favour of wedding photography, for years it was seen as a gateway to other varieties of photography. With the influx of wedding photographers like me who take it more seriously and strive for greatness, the industry has improved no end and is becoming increasingly recognised for its difficulty.

I believe images with multiple narratives are what makes wedding photographs ‘good’. But it’s not possible within every single image you take, sometimes the right way to go is to play it simple and clean. Maybe I should bin this entire post and say instead – if you like the portfolio and you trust the photographer, then you’ll ultimately trust them to make the right call on the day.

What is widely considered to require considerable skill is to weave multiple stories into one image. It allows the eye to move across the image and digest sometimes multiple narratives within a single frame. In all honesty, taking a photograph of a close crop of a single person laughing is really easy, but, if that’s what you like and that’s what you want, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t seek that out, it’s your wedding, you do you. It’s important to establish however that that is not how I choose to shoot, I will always look for laughter and odd moments, but I shoot wide, and I will always look to create depth where possible.

what is good wedding photography

Like in any industry there can be a great deal of snobbery around the execution of a practice. Some people love Constables paintings and hang replicas in their home. I find them twee and if I were given an original would sell it immediately. This is the joy of life and ones taste is incredibly important, which is exactly why you have to embrace it and not bend to the will of the market or what is in vogue, we all know that fashions change anyway. In my opinion weddings shouldn’t be seen as something to commodify or be subject to whim and fashions, it of course is, but I like the idea of keeping it about the celebration and not what others are wearing, or what colour palette or dress style is the most popular. You are unique, you do you, I’ll photograph that because that’s real, and real is awesome.

That helps explain the single image, but what about the narrative?

Wedding photographers are really good at coming up with stupid phrases to define their work. Visual storyteller, photo ninja, blah blah blah (I bet if you search enough you’ll find something like that in my archives…moving swiftly on). What is however true is that you won’t be presented with just ten images in the final product, the biggest wedding gallery that I delivered this year had 1564 images in it.

Many factors contribute to the number of images that will be delivered, considering in my package it says 400, that’s a big increase. This is why I divide the presentation up to mix what I want to deliver and what people want in the real world. If it were up to me and my theatrical artistic vision, I would deliver only ten images, but then who would hire me? The reality is, people want to see pictures of their guests, not just ten pictures which meet the photographers ‘vision’. That being said, I present approximately 400 images in a slideshow which balance the artistic side and the narrative and the deliver the entire gallery last. The intention is to give you the highlights of the day to relive whenever you would like, and then the full gallery fills the additional requirements of the photographer and contains all of the group pictures and images of guests that may not meet my highest of standards, but whats the point in me keeping back pictures of your family that you could otherwise have? Pride? Maybe, luckily I don’t suffer from that and have no problem handing over images of a person who would have otherwise have been missed (some guests do hide from me and can be very difficult to capture)

The skill in telling the narrative comes from being able to take the pictures in the first place. This may sound stupid, but honestly taking photographs of strangers is incredibly difficult and took me a long time to get used to doing. Some photographers still aren’t confident in this practice and is the reason why their galleries are only full of pictures of the couple.

So here’s a top tip when looking for a wedding photographer – if the gallery is full of pictures of the couple and not much else, don’t expect many pictures of the guests. The couple portraits will probably be the priority for that photographer.

There we have it. In a nutshell, if you’re hoping to understand what makes an individual image great, you’re looking for depth, multiple stories and lots of emotion. 

emotional wedding photography

Like my work? Well darn tootin’ that’s great, we should meet up and drink tea.

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Details Are Important…

Do you take pictures of details? Yes.

It’s not top of the list – but details shots are still important.

beautiful wedding flowers

Liam is the name, documentary wedding photography is the game. People, people, people. That’s my focus, ninety percent of the images I deliver are focused on the people. Their energy, love and enthusiasm is what makes the day, without the people you love, a wedding just isn’t the same.

However…

Details are important too.

Weddings are a big undertaking and is absolutely a team effort. Contribution to the details, décor and ambience of the day is often how friends and family physically manifest their desire to see you achieve what you want. Mums sew miles of bunting, aunties bake cakes, best friends make five hundred vodka jelly shots. Everyone contributes to the day in the same way that all the people you have invited have in some way shape or form contributed to your development as a person.

That is why, I do photograph details as well.

winter wedding flowers

I don’t tend to show those photographs on my Instagram or portfolio because to me they are additional images that are nice to have. In the fine art wedding photography world, details are everything, the photographs are amazing, but that’s just not me.

In the same vein, I do also believe that if you’re going to photograph something, anything, then you should do it properly and approach it with the same care and attention to detail that you would any photograph. Despite focusing on documentary wedding photography, I think my detail shots are good enough to rival any dedicated fine art practitioner. I honed my skills photographing restaurants in the midlands whilst I was at university and that’s how I learnt to compose images of flowers, table settings and entire rooms to get them looking their best.

Another reason why it is incredibly important to photograph details, is because you will definitely forget them. Nothing prepares you for your own wedding. No matter how good you are at being present in a moment, the emotional current that takes you away on this amazing journey has the power to erase massive parts of your memory. I think it’s because the whole experience is so overwhelming, the brain can’t cope with it and struggles to create new memories. This is just from my experience, I struggle to recall many parts of my own wedding, I think it’s because the whole thing felt so alien to me (yes I appreciate the irony considering how many I attend). All the family, the intense feelings of love and joy, the unfolding of formalities and planned events one after the other, it is a lot to take in. I for one, am glad there are photographs of the room as it was set up before anyone sat down as it was so damn epic that i’m glad I have it preserved.

Lastly, details are important because everything costs money. Flowers and cake are often big bits of expenditure for weddings. Decorating the venue and buying bouquets and buttonholes for groomsmen and bridesmaids is not cheap and can run into the thousands of pounds. Weddings are a celebration after all, preserving and celebrating every element is important as it all adds up to create…i was going to write ‘an unforgettable experience’, but that undermines what I’ve just written and proves how difficult it can be not to be cliched. I should surmise with this – parts of your wedding can absolutely be forgotten because you can become overwhelmed with emotion, so get pictures of everything.

All the little bits and pieces come together to tell the whole story of the day, not all details are flowers…

farm wedding

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What Are Wedding Door Games?

What are they? Why are they funny? Why you should consider having them at your wedding. That’s what you’ll be learning on today’s blog post right here on Liam Smith Photography!

In certain cultures it is traditional for the groom to be to arrive at the brides house and have to pass a series of tests in order to be deemed worthy of taking the brides hand in marriage. I’m sure once upon a time this was a leisurely affair with a few giggles before the would be groom was granted access to the house.

Fast forward to 2018 and it’s all out war – in the nicest possible way.

Do not cross these challenge setters, they may look like bridesmaids, but behind the twinkly eyes and flowing gowns lies the hearts of maniacal fiends just waiting to get you to do anything they want. This may be a post for bridesmaids more than anyone, you can get a sense of what kind of torture you can inflict all in the name of having a laugh. I hope all bridesmaids read this and implement it at every wedding they ever attend. It is always funny. Always. Not only that but it strengthens the bond between the bridal party as often friends have come in from distant parts of the country and may not know each other particularly well. After a few of these games, everyone will be best friends.

I’ve only ever encountered these games as part of chinese wedding tradition, but im told other cultures embrace the games as well in various different guises. One would imagine that once upon a time the rules were fairly straightforward and the rules known up and down the lands. I have never been to a wedding however where any two games were the same, it does seem as if the gents really are at the will of the bridesmaids.

So what can you expect?

Eating things – things is deliberately ambiguous

You should be ready to eat anything. I’ve seen hundred year eggs, i’ve seen toothpaste, i’ve seen turtle jelly. The funniest part about the turtle jelly was that it was purchased by one of the girls in china, and even she, being a native chinese speaker, couldn’t work out what was actually in it. It smelt horrible, but the rules are the rules, the boys wolfed it. What makes the eating part even worse in my eyes is that the door games happen in the morning. In the middle of the day, the stoach is settled and it’s quite easy to chow down on pretty much anything. At 7am? Not so much. Turtle jelly washed down with beer is a curious mix that providdes hilarious pictures, if not a dicky tummy.

Physical exertion

running, jumping, press ups, start jumps, running in circles. You may be wearing a suit, but that doesn’t matter. You could be wearing a woollen suit in december, you could be wearing linen at a summer wedding, either way you’re going to sweat. Throw into the mix the fact that you may have already eaten something savage, having to do twenty starjumps afterwards is really going to test your mettle.

Embarassment

the levels to which this can go, I really think it has no limit. Scroll down for a few example pictures from a recent wedding where the girls took it to new heights. Funny doesn’t even come close. These boys were absolute champions and contended with every challenge that they were cofronted with. A true bonding experience where the groom could call on his boys to help him win his bride. What better way to have a laugh in the most ridiculous fashion than with all your mates right there with you, an entire well of stories to draw from no doubt.

Here are a few examples of tasks to get the creative juices flowing

Peanut butter on cling film

Coat a piece of cling film on both sides with peanut butter, hold it up and then have the boys lick it off. Simple, yet cunning

wedding door games

Blindfolded make up

Fairly self explanitory this one. Get onto pairs, one is blindfolded and puts makeup on the other person – make sure they don’t use their hands, otherwise they can feel where the facial features are and put it on far too accurately.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Each task is preceeded by having to answer questions about the bride. I’ll let you in on a secret, the answer is always wrong. With a wrong answer often comes the need to drink a shot of something. Again, this is of the task masters choosing. Expect flavoured whiskies, gins, vinegar and anything else that will be sure to pick you up first thing in the morning.

Eat the hot-dog pressup

I feel that this image needs some explaining, even with the layering of the action it’s hard to know whats going on.

wedding door games

The task – one chap lays on his back and inserts a hot dog into his mouth. Another chap, who has derobed and already wearing ladies underwear, then has to commence with pushups on top of his partner and take a bite out of the hot dog upon each descent. As you can see, with the last bite comes an interaction which looks like a full on snog, the girls were in raptures, to be honest so were the boys.

My job as a wedding photographer has allowed me access not only to the incredible individual stories within peoples lives, but also exposed me to different aspects of culture and tradition that I would otherwise have absolutely no access to. I love wedding photography, chack out some more of my articles for more helpful info on all things wedding and wedding photography related.

wedding door games

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