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Stony Stratford

I always enjoy writing these blog posts, mostly because i conduct research into places that i frequent and uncover riches of previously unknown information.
Take Stony Stratford for example, a major part of Milton Keynes (probably the best part on balance) has had a market since 1194 and was part of a major transport route between London and Cheshire…i didn’t know that…here’s some other things i didn’t know…

Stratford – an Anglo Saxon word which means ‘ford on a roman road’ – ok, whats a ford?

Ford – a place to cross a river, shallow, with good footing

Stony – the ford, place to cross, has lots of stones.

A stony place to cross a river on a roman road. Cool.

Here is one of the most depressing lines from Wikipedia – “Until the early 1900s, livestock marts were still held in the market square but in more recent times the square has become a car park”.

Whats that song? Is it Joni Mitchell? Paved paradise, put up a parking lot…and we wonder why our towns are polluted and we spent mega money on imported food in supermarkets. Shall i run for local councillor? Nah. “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member”

Check this. In 1290 an Eleanor Cross was erected in Stony Stratford, whats that all about? There was once a lady called Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I, and when she died, he had these crosses put up at every stop that she took on her journey to rest. 12 stops from Lincoln to Charing cross.

Stony Stratford also nearly burnt to the ground, once in 1736, and again in 1742. The question remains, what were they doing to burn an entire town down twice in six years. Fire juggling? Petrol fires? Too many straw roofs and a love of fireworks?

Milton Keynes gets alot of shtick for being mostly roundabouts, but there is some serious history here. Don’t forget Bradwell abbey is noted in the doomsday book, you know, the book where all the doom is kept.

You will read the following across my entire website, ‘meet your wedding photographer’. Its one of the best investments of time you’ll make. Before the wedding day in stony Stratford we met for a drink, started a Whatsapp group and started exchanging pictures of puppies, of course as well as answering wedding related questions. By the time the day itself arrives, i’m part of the team, and it makes such a difference. Its like being a part of the family, and everyone is relaxed having me around. If you’ve got shy children, this can benefit them hugely. A wedding is a great opportunity to get pictures of the whole family, meeting them beforehand puts them at ease and they are less likely to be freaked out when i show up on the day with a camera.

The opening picture is one of my favourites ever, such clear high five denial, love it.

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Does your photographer need to visit the venue before the wedding?

When it comes to booking your wedding photographer you’ll often have lots of questions, great. Honestly I mean that, the more questions, the more answers and the more likely that you’ll end up with a collection of images that you absolutely adore. It’s very easy to assume that clients have an in depth knowledge of photography and the variables involved in making great wedding photographs. This of course is bad practice and it’s up to me to make sure that you have all the information you need in order to make an informed choice on who you should choose to be your wedding photographer. A very common question is “Do you need to visit my wedding venue beforehand?”.

There are a few variables involved in this…

Do I need to visit the venue before the day?

[Editor’s Note: To learn more about Liam Smith, check out his article 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me by click on the link].

Light is essentially what makes or breaks a photograph. Quality of light, strength and direction are what make quality photographs. You can’t predict the light in the same way that you can’t predict the weather, the chances of the light being the same on the venue visit as the wedding day are slim to none.

My work specifically doesn’t rely heavily on posed shots, therefore there is no need to scout locations as they are not the priority on the day. When arriving at a brand new location I will look for cool trees and big windows.

The background in my work is often irrelevant. I shoot at large apertures which means that the background will be out of focus. Alot of the skill in my work is being able to quickly determine what is interesting within a scene and what could be potentially distracting. In those split seconds I make a decision on how to compose the photograph. Even if I was aware of what was in the background, when you’re in a flow state there is no conscious thought and you work automatically, if I took tie to consider all of the formal elements within the frame, the moment would vanish before I was ready to take the picture.

That being said, I do still take some group pictures and some portraits of the couple – that is, if they want them.

In the final collection these images comprise roughly 1% of the images. The main reason to visit a venue would be to scout these locations in order to make sure the posed images are the best that they can be. To visit the venue to plan a small number of images isn’t necessary. When you hire me, you’re hiring someone who you trust. A photographer who brings with them a wealth of knowledge and experience and a person who you trust to make the right call on the day.

Having photographed well over 100 weddings I am very well versed in making these quick decisions. Summing up the direction of the light and the background in a very narrow timeframe is part of what i’m used to doing and something i’m very good at.

Other factors: sometimes, I physically can’t, if a wedding is abroad then this of course makes perfect sense. With the prevalance of google and wedding blogs, it’s very easy to conduct a virtual scout of a location and use google maps and google earth to work out the best location for staged pictures. This is a remarkably accurate way of conducting the location scout.

Investing time in meeting you.

All solid relationships are built on trust. It’s the reason I’m not fussed about engagement shoots. If you trust me and are comfortable in my company, then the pictures will be fantastic. This is why I insist on meeting before you book. A cup of tea, a pint or even dinner. The more time we spend together the better. Many of my clients I consider friends by the end of the wedding journey, such is the level of emphasis I put on this.

BUT (and a big but)

If it would make you feel even more at ease, I will of course visit the venue…

For me, this ultimately falls under the banner of customer service. What’s also great is that we can always tie up our first meeting with a visit to your venue so you can tell me more about your day.

One thing that’s worth mentioning is that it’s beneficial to see the venue closer to the wedding date as this means the foliage, blooms and weather will most likely be in line with what to expect on the day itself. Summer is my busiest period, which means it’s difficult to arrange to meet at the venue on weekends, so sometimes I do go on my own to have a walk around the grounds and become familiar with the venue.

To summarise.

Do I need to visit the venue before the wedding day, no. Will I visit the venue before the wedding day, yes.

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