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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

The most annoying thing about this section? You’ll find a lot of the answers are ‘it depends’. There are thousands of photographers in the UK, each choosing to run their business differently. This means that often you’ll have to enquire to get a definitive answer, but at least this article should help you get the ball rolling.

How much does a wedding photographer cost UK?
How much does photography cost for wedding?

1. Student/starter/low-end/budget – £0-£500
2. Semi pro/mid standard – £500-£1000
3. Professional/good standard – £1000-£1500
4. Professional/Excellent standard – £1500-£2000
5. Premium brand – £2000+

It really is impossible to nail this down, and cost is not always an indication of quality, you may well find a talented individual only charging a few hundred pounds, who knows. The above list should give you an idea of what to expect. If your photographer is just starting out, then expect to pay a few hundred pounds, the trade off is the images won’t be particularly good. If the photographer you like is well known around the world and gives talks at conferences, you should expect them to be in the £2000+ region. There is an element of the more you pay, the higher the standard, but the average photographer in the UK charges £1500, so if you are keen on photographs and want high quality that will stand the test of time, then you should be budgeting between £1500-£2000. Don’t forget, it’s not just the photographs you are paying for. A higher price means better service, peace of mind that they have back up equipment and insurance etc.

How do I choose a wedding photographer?
Top tips:
1. Know your fine art from your reportage
2. Look at lots of complete weddings on the blog, not just portfolios
3. Meet in person and establish trust
4. Make sure you like them!
5. Understand what’s included in each package
This is a huge topic with many things to consider, thankfully to make life easier, I’ve written an entire blog post on this topic alone. You can read my thoughts on how to find a wedding photographer here. https://liamsmithphotography.com/how-to-choose-a-wedding-photographer/

Is a wedding photographer worth the cost?
Photography is subjective, the value is entirely dependent on how you perceive it’s value. Digital cameras on telephones have enabled us to take photographs whenever we like, with no fear of running out of storage. Has it devalued photographs? I believe it has. It has enabled habits of examining the image only in the context of the present and forgetting that photographs have long term value, they capture ones likeness for future generations.
Aside from this, I think wedding photographs are definitely good value. I say this purely from the point of view that it is incredibly rare for your entire friendship group and families to all be present in the same place. This means you can acquire high quality images of everyone you love. The equivalent cost of paying for every guest to have a shoot in a studio would be significantly higher, so if you remove the emotional value of the photographs and look at it from a purely practical angle, it is incredibly cost efficient.

Why are wedding photographers so expensive?
It takes a considerable investment of time, effort and money to develop a skill. Photography is a career choice, not a side hustle to make money. There’s a reason why most of the really good photographers in the world are in their late 30’s – it takes time to get good! The other unspoken truth is that wedding photography is unbelievably physically challenging, which means it’s not a job you could realistically do until you retire. It’s a young persons game, so the best in the world are able to charge a premium, firstly for their skill, and secondly, because they are excluding others to work with you.

Weddings are also seasonal. The vast majority of weddings in the UK occur on Saturdays in the Summer, which means there is a limited window in order to provide the service. If you are a wedding specialist (like me) then your earning window in a year is approximately 6 months.
Wedding photographers also have these main considerations to contend with:

1. From consultation to image delivery averages 70 hours – it’s much more work than just one day.
2. You only get one shot at it, so you have to be good.
3. Experience takes time, effort and money
4. Equipment is expensive, one camera can cost £5000.
5. Education – Degree/Practical courses/Workshops
6. Laptops, cars, accessories
7. Insurance – Liability and for equipment
8. Travel expenses
9. Marketing

Let’s examine all of the unseen work that goes into a wedding photographers job

If I charge £1800 for a ten hour wedding day fee and break it down to an hourly rate.
1 hours – Wedding Consultation if via Skype – 4 hours if in person accounting for travel
3 hours – Prepping for shoot. Washing and ironing, charging batteries, readying memory cards
10 hours – Wedding Day
3 hours – Average travel to and from wedding
40 hours – Post Production
3 hours – Admin Work (emails, calls, accounts etc)
That breaks down to £30 an hour, £24 an hour after tax. That total is also not taking into consideration – blog post creation, social media posting, website maintenance, equipment maintenance, meetings where clients choose not to book, etc. Being a wedding photographer is a lifestyle choice, it’s not a fast route to making money that some would have you believe. Expect to work very, very hard to make a decent living.

How many weddings does a photographer do a year
The average photographer shoots between 20-25 weddings per year. The majority of weddings occur on Saturdays in the Summer. Weddings are extremely tiring, if your photographer brags about shooting 50 in a year, I’d be inclined to ask how they keep their standards up. I know if I shoot back to back weddings then I’m knackered for at least two days.

How many hours should I book a wedding photographer? Is 6 hours of wedding photography enough? How long does a photographer stay at a wedding?
It depends on what you need and what you can afford. Typically a photographer would aim to be at the wedding from the bridal preparation, through to the first dance at least. Average coverage is 10 hours, this would allow from bridal preparation through to the evening dancing. It depends on your timetable, in some cases 12 hours is necessary.

Who is the best wedding photographer in the world?
Photography is entirely subjective, but here is my list
1. Liam Smith Photography
2. The ghost of Liam Smith
3. The artist formerly known as Liam Smith

Who is the best wedding photographer in London?
Photography is entirely subjective, but here is my list
1. Liam Smith Photography
2. The ghost of Liam Smith
3. The artist formerly known as Liam Smith

What camera do most wedding photographers use?
The most popular cameras in the wedding industry are the Sony A series and the Canon EOS R and 5D mk4

Do you provide food for a wedding photographer?
Yes. Weddings photographers are part of your day and work extraordinarily hard, you should definitely be feeding them. How much should you feed them? Quite a lot, same as you are planning to eat, we are hungry, hungry hippos.

Do I need two photographers at my wedding? How important is a second photographer at a wedding? Is a second photographer necessary?
The biggest advantages of two photographers:
1. Multiple angles of ceremony, speeches, bride and groom preparation
2. More pictures of guests
3. More candid images

Another massive topic that requires analysis from multiple angles. I’ve written an entire blog post on the topic here:

Do I Need Two Wedding Photographers?

How many photos do you get in a wedding package? How many photos do wedding photographers deliver?
You should always look for quality over quantity, but for a 10 hour wedding day, you should be expecting in the region of 500 images.

Where do wedding photographers stand during the ceremony?
You should have a conversation with your photographer about where you think you would like them to stand. The choices you are limited too are either behind the officiant (sometimes unable to move) or stood in the aisle.

What do photographers wear to weddings?
Whatever they want. I choose to wear all black; jeans, shirt, boots. Shorts aren’t off the table if it’s incredibly hot. If it’s a concern, then you should simply ask.

What is a receiving line at a wedding?
The receiving line typically consists of the married couple and both sets of parents, stood in a line greeting every guest as they enter the reception. The receiving line is not a necessity and you can have as many people in the line as you wish.

Do wedding photographers deliver all photos?
No. RAW photos stay with the photographer. Why? Often we take multiple images in a sequence and then send the client the best one. My cameras sometimes bounce off of my waist and take a picture of the floor and sometimes, it’s down to the artist, the creator to disclose the best version of their product.

What do you do with your wedding photographs?
1. make an album
2. make gift cards
3. make Xmas tree baubles
4. print a canvas
5. frame prints
6. create a multiframe

When should I book my wedding photographer?
As soon as possible. Wedding photographers book up two years in advance, if you’ve found someone who you want to work with, you shouldn’t delay.

What does a second shooter do at a wedding?
The second photographers job is to capture angles that the primary photographer cannot, photograph the grooms preparation and to capture candid images of guests.

How many photos do wedding photographers take?
A wedding photographer can take thousands of images on a wedding day. 5000 image is fairly standard for a 10 hour wedding. 10,000 or 20,000 is not unheard of.

How long do wedding group photographs usually take?
This depends on how long your list is. If you assume that each group will take 3 minutes to assemble and then multiply that by the number of groups in your list you’ll have a good estimate to work with.

How long do wedding couple portraits take?
This depends on the style of photographer you have booked. A fine art wedding photographer prides themselves on posed couple portraits, these are heavily curated so expect them to take an hour at least. Documentary photographers however can take as little as ten minutes.

How can I save money for my wedding photography?
1. Avoid paying for an album up front, this can always be made later
2. Don’t have an engagement shoot
3. Ask for contributions rather than wedding presents
4. Book years in advance and lock in a rate to avoid inflation
5. Book at the very last minute and ask for a reduced rate

What is usually included in a wedding photography package?
1. The wedding photographer for a set amount of hours
2. Digital photographs
3. Optional extras – Album, second shooter, prints, online gallery

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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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Canon 28mm f1.8 review

Canon 28mm 1.8 review

In need of a wide angle (ish) prime?

I went to Alan Law’s law-school in 2017, (it’s great, you should definitely go) and was intrigued by Alan’s style. He said he typically use the 24mm wide angle prime. I loved the look of it, intimate, gathered the scene, but didn’t warp the face like some wide angles can do.

I’m a stickler for improving your technique before shelling out on new gear. I really wanted a wider prime lens but I wasn’t sure it would fit my style. I scoured the net looking for the best option. Spoke to friends and colleagues and looked at plenty of sample images. 

I’ve also posted more personal articles, so if you find this review helpful, check out my article 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me.

The 24mm, you’re looking at £1k+, it’s a beast of a lens, L series and stops down to f/1.4. I couldn’t justify the expense so I looked to my kit bag for what I already had. I own the 17-40mm f4, which is an L lens, but f/4 can still be too dark when working indoors. Then I found the 28mm f/1.8, which I’d bought maybe two years prior, used a couple of times and then forgotten about when I started shooting the 35mm and 50mm combo.

Go on any photography forum and have a look at the gear discussion section. Anyone talking about the ins and outs of the latest and greatest gear are rarely taking the best pictures.

Remind yourself often of the Ansel Adams’, the William Kleins and the Diane Arbus’ of the world who took outstanding photographs with equipment decades old. Digital photography has surpassed film in terms of outright quality (not in aesthetic, but that’s another debate) and modern lenses can out-resolve the old school equipment by a stunning margin.

  • Good pictures come from any camera – it’s the photographer that makes the difference.
  • Don’t get hung up on technical issues like movement, chromatic aberration and fringing – some of the greatest ever photographs are even out of focus. No one examines raising the flag at Iwo Jima at 100% crop to check sharpness.
  • Get equipment that works for you, a camera that you can afford and practice with it until you break it.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

Right, that’s me down from my high horse, where was I?

This lens in short is brilliant. Impressively sharp, lightweight, relatively inexpensive. The lowest you’ll want to open it up is to about f/2.8, beyond that and it begins to get quite soft. Shooting at f/1.8 is fine in the centre, but I’d only recommend shooting wide open if you have no other choice. For me that scenario would be if you’re in a church that is nearly pitch black, or during the evening reception or photographing speeches when constant flash isn’t appropriate.

I’ve been a guest at weddings where photographers have used flashguns during the speeches and it was like a bloody disco. I suffer from migraines and I was genuinely worried that I would have to leave. I understand the need to shoot through a moment, when it turns into a strobe light however, it gets a bit ridiculous.

That’s where having a prime lens you can open up is a must (for me anyway. I’m not saying by any-means that how I work is how it should be done), venues in the UK tend to be dark, particularly churches, and because of the marriage licensing laws in this country, very few ceremonies are held outdoors. And when they are outdoors, you can bet your bottom dollar the clouds will come over. Shooting in low light is a must, and the 28mm f1.8 gives you the option to do that without breaking the bank. With the invention of the new EOS R cameras, i’m yet to find out if the new focusing system will make this lens even more of a steal, but I do plan to try it out. One issue I’ve always had with shooting wide angles wide open is the propensity to miss focus. This is why I’ve often opted to stick with the 17-40mm and shoot at f4.

It’s cheap, sharp, versatile, quick to focus and lightweight – weight is becoming more and more of a factor as I get older, something for you young persons to think about. Get light gear, invest in good straps and good shoes, it’ll pay dividends over the course of your career.

Sample images, that’s what we all want in reviews, here we go:

canon 28mm reviewcanon 28mm review

canon 28mm

Overall, I’d give it 4/5

It ticks all the boxes apart from focusing accuracy and for being soft at f/1.8 – but it’s still a solid enough performer for me to keep in my camera bag along with much more expensive lenses.

In all honesty, I like the way that the focal length looks. The pictures it takes look right to me, for some it’s 35mm, others 24mm. I’ve warmed to this lens purely because of how true to life it looks. If there was a better version of the 28mm, I’d be all over it.

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How many pictures do we get?!

Great question, the packages say three hundred and four hundred, but this really is a minimum. My philosophy on what to deliver has changed somewhat over the years and it was all triggered by an email exchange with a previous client.

In their final gallery I had decided to leave in a picture of the bride hugging one of the guests. It was shot quite wide, but you could clearly see the happy expression on the guests face and the warmth of the embrace could easily be identified in the image. Beyond that, not much else I happening in the frame. No big laughs, no one falling over, the hug is the only action in the image, the surrounding people and setting are for context only. As a rule of thumb, images like that wouldn’t have typically made the cut in the past, not enough excitement for me. This could have been born out of excessive pride, thinking that I would be judged on this image and deemed to be a mediocre photographer, but thankfully, these thoughts no longer plague me. By the way, you can learn more fun facts about me here.

Fast forward a few months after the wedding and the bride reaches out to me to say thank you, this is not abnormal i’m sure you’ll be glad to know. It was abnormal in this case however as many thanks had already been sent my way. It transpired that the gentlemen depicted in the aforementioned photograph had very sadly, and very suddenly, passed away. The image that I had taken of him was the only photograph they had of him. Isn’t that an incredible thought. We can lose images through house fires, computer crashes or degradation of paper over time. A entire family history can effectively be wiped out by one disaster, it helps put into perspective the importance of photographs, and the importance of proper archiving!

It helped me understand an element of photography that had been in front of my eyes the entire time, but i’d never been able to see before. That is, the images that people cherish are rarely the ones that you expect. They may be composed poorly, be technically poor, or slightly out of focus. Look around your parents or grandparents home, the photographs are never technically perfect, but they either define a moment, capture a personality, or are the only image of a person in existence.

To that end, I include a lot more images in the final gallery. Because who knows, although it might not meet ‘my artistic vision’, you wont care if it’s the only image you have of a lost family member. You won’t critique it if the lighting isn’t great or if there’s a hint of movement, you don’t see the technical flaws, you see the person. I’m glad I’ve come to this realisation early on in my career, the images are never about me, they are about you and the people you love.

This is a long winded answer isn’t it?

400 is an absolute minimum. I include around 50 prints in the box, 300 images on the highlights slideshow and then the gallery will be 400+. The biggest collection I delivered in 2018 was 1168 (bear in mind that these images are still of quality, I don’t bombard you with nonsense), if I deem it to have value to you, or depicts a family member otherwise not captured in the rest of the images, then it makes the cut. There is no upper limit!

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How to use macro in your wedding photography, without a macro lens

Details are important. In the same way that a great filmmaker will give you shots of important objects or items significant to the plot, a great photographer will give you close ups of the smaller parts of the day that create the entire narrative.
 
In my work, details take a back seat in favour of photographing people. I think they help bind the story, but they’re not key plot developers. Like the binding of a book. It holds it together, and completes the package, but the story still exists in its entirety without it. Here’s another tip: don’t get hung up on your gear.
 
In any good narrative, the same rules apply. Like the old adage goes, “if you show a close up of a gun in act 1, it must go off in act 2”. There’s no point in photographing details if they have no real relevance to the plot development. Poorly placed close up shots in a narrative can be a distraction, rather than an aid.
 
But! As I mention, they have their place. An even bigger but, I don’t own a macro lens. I don’t take enough close ups to warrant the expense. Instead, I employ the following camera hacks to get the results I want, using the gear I already have.
 
The reverse lens macro camera hack
dslr macro hackwedding photography macro hack
 
Very simple on paper, but can be difficult to master. 
 
Take the lens off, turn it around as if you were going to put it on the body the wrong way around. Hold it up against the body annnnd…macro lens.
 
This is best executed with a camera that has live view, most do, but I grew up in an era where this wasn’t a thing, so mentioning it is out of habit as much as anything.
 
Remember, you can’t control your aperture anymore. 
 
Canon users – the lens usually defaults to its max aperture, so expect a very shallow depth of field 
 
Nikon users – the lens usually defaults to its minimum aperture, so expect a very deep depth of field 
 
Canon users – because the lens defaults to its widest aperture, expect to use a fast shutter speed in order to achieve correct exposure. Because the lens is no longer talking to the camera, the live preview isn’t going to be accurate, so take the picture, look at the screen and adjust accordingly.
 
Nikon users – because the lens defaults to its smallest aperture, expect to use a slower shutter speed and high ISO in order to achieve correct exposure. Because the lens is no longer talking to the camera, the live preview isn’t going to be accurate, so take the picture, look at the screen and adjust accordingly.
 
Close up filters
 
On balance, the simplest solution out of the three, but its second in this list because you will have to pay for them. The beauty in the first method is that you can use any lens that you already own.
 
Close up filters come in different varieties and will have +3, +5 etc. written on the them. The bigger the number, the more magnification. Simple, cheap, effective.
 
Extension tubes
 
Essentially bits of plastic lens mount that make your lens longer. They increase the distance between the glass at the rear of the lens and the camera sensor, and in turn allows you to focus much, MUCH closer…sometimes too close if you use the whole stack.
macro extension tubes
 
Pick them up for cheap on Amazon.
 
Take your lens off, mount these on the body, then mount your lens on the extension tubes. Easy peasy. Make sure it clicks into place, no accidental broken lenses please. Voila! Instant epic macro.
 
Oswaldo technique
 
I have absolutely no idea what this is, so I made up a name that amused me.
close up lens
 
What to do?
 
You will need a large optical glass element. I have one of these in my bag because I use it for ‘lens chimping’ – the technique where you deliberately blow out highlights to create lens flare.
 
With this same piece of glass, if you hold it in front of the lens, it become a magnifying glass. Bosh!
 
There we have it. Four techniques to achieve close up photography without having to shell out for a dedicated macro lens.
 
One technique costs nothing, big win, but sometimes clumsy. Increased chance of smashing a lens.
 
Extension tubes and close up filters are my favourites. Close up filters are cheap, lightweight and take up very little space in your camera bag. Extension tubes optically produce the best results, but are a bit bigger.
 
Either way, with one of these methods you can create close up shots of wedding details, probably most useful for rings, and save a pretty penny.
 
 
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2019 – I won three new awards

award winning wedding photography

I’m not particularly fond of awards. I like to think I’m on the fringes. A bit like the Stewart Lee of wedding photography. I take pictures that I find interesting or funny and then hope that it resonates with people.

Fortunately my love of capturing real moments instead of staging seems to have struck a chord and I am incredibly fortunate to work with the most amazing couples who share in my vision. On a personal level, awards don’t really mean a great deal to me. The joy in the job is creating images that allow my couples to relive their day. Images that spark an emotional reaction. I’m also grateful that I never got fancy with my camera gear.

They probably mean very little to me because I am my harshest critic, too harsh in the opinion of those closest to me. I believe holding myself to the highest standards across all domains will not only improve my work, but also improve me as a person.

Awards are funny things. People who I’ve never met, judging images of people they’ve never met. When my work is so heavily predicated on the emotional connection the viewer has with the image, then surely the client can be the only real judge of an image? When you see ‘award winning’ on a wedding photographers website, it’s never followed up with the criteria of why the award was given, does that matter? I don’t know. This blog post feels like a stream of thoughts rather than a cohesive critique of a subject. I just start writing and see what happens. Now that I’ve written that, I guess at least you know that I’m not self censoring, and what I write is actually what I think.

I think what I’m trying to say is that my work has to resonate with you. You have to be able to see something in my images that sparks an emotion, triggers a positive reaction. Awards and client testimonials can re-enforce those feelings, but awards on their own can’t tell you that I’m good. I’m a big believer in that you, the viewer, knows what’s good already, only sometimes you have to see it before you know what you’re looking for.

This is a very long winded way of announcing that I won an award. Three awards in fact.

I like to think on things, assess, and then really try to think about how I feel about it. Writing helps me think. Writing for me is thinking.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the world of seeking recognition, becoming hell bent on winning certain awards as a mark of prestige. What I don’t like about it is how black and white it is, you either win an award, or you don’t. It’s not a dialogue or a critique from someone you admire. It’s a catalogue of images that the judges either like or they don’t. I only enter awards where the judging is conducted by peers who I admire, it’s very easy to forget that no one really cares about my ‘artistic vision’ if the product isn’t of high quality. I could in theory win every wedding photography award but have endless client complaints because I’d only chased an image that would win me an award, rather than documenting the day properly.

In this instance, this award feels jolly lovely as I’ve managed to deliver on both quality of narrative, super happy clients and also images with artistic merit which the wider wedding photography community has acknowledged…which is nice.

Below are the images that won. What makes these awards doubly funny is that I don’t think it’s my best work, so I immediately find myself in a stupid position where I’ve won an award, but the excitement is immediately tempered by the fact that they didn’t choose my favourite picture, so who is the arbiter of quality?

I can only re-state what I’ve mentioned hundreds of times before. It comes down to you, the client. You’re the people that count. When you choose to work with me and come away with a selection of pictures that you love, then that’s all that matters.

award winning wedding photographyaward winning wedding photographyaward winning wedding photography

Like my work and my philosophy?

Have questions?

Good!

Feel free to send me an email and ask any question you like, I’m a real person at the end of the email and more than happy to help!

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Questions to ask your wedding venue before you book

Not a poorly considered, generic, waste of your time list, here’s info that is actually useful. For fellow photographers, also, check this article out: Don’t get fancy with your photography gear!

Does the venue have a sound limiter?

I doubt you will find this information freely given to you when you visit a venue as a potential client. Wedding venues are businesses and they want your custom. The big problem I have is that you only get one crack at a wedding and they cost alot of money. That being the case, it is vital that ALL information is freely available, good and bad, so you, as the customer, can make an informed choice.

Sound limiters always catch people out.

What is it? It’s an installed device that monitors the sound levels in the venue, if it goes above the set limit, all the sound system shuts off and you are left in silence until it’s restarted.

This disrupts the party momentum and often guests and the client are left stood looking at the band and saying ‘wow this band are rubbish, they blew up the speakers’, which of course, isn’t true.

Before you book, ask if there is a sound limiter. If there is and its not an issue for you, great. If it is an issue because you want to rave, then you may need to find another venue. Better to find out before than mid way through a real headbanger.

 

Can pictures be taken during the church service?

This is important for obvious reasons and i have written about it previously, but the more coverage it gets, the more likely it is someone will see it!

Not all vicars/priests/minsters/celebrants etc. let us wedding photographers take pictures during the ceremony.

When its in their domain, its their rules.

If you would be devastated by this, find out before booking. This is vitally important as there is genuinely nothing we can do about it. I have had experiences where even on the day the celebrant has changed their mind, which creates a whole new set of issues, but if you have it in writing from the venue/church then at least we have that to fall back on. The ceremony is often the most emotional part of the day, to watch those moments play out in front of me without being able to capture them is heartbreaking.

 

How much is the booze? Because half a bottle of wine each is never enough

Such a question could be revealing about my personality type eh? I’m not an alcoholic, i only drink when i work…and i’m a workaholic :)

Seriously though, it’s worth finding out. Guests will drink the champagne at the toasts, they will also drink the half bottle of wine each, which sounds alot when booking, but the wedding breakfast is normally 2.5hrs, it’s quite easy to drink that much wine in that time.

If a bottle of beer is £6 and cocktails are a fortune, then people will wince each time they go to the bar, that’s not conducive to having a relaxed mega fun time with friends.

 

What happens if it rains?

This has little impact on how I work, i document, so you have to roll with whatever comes. For you and your guests though, this is important to know.

If the venue is spectacular in summer with the most fabulous gardens, just make sure you ask what happens if it’s lashing it down, only for peace of mind that you don’t end up in a cupboard.

 

How far are the nearest hotels and how much are cabs?

Not all wedding venues can house everyone who wants to stay there, so again, as far as being considerate to your guests, have a look at how far away he venue is from hotels. Guests will want taxis, if it costs £50 to go 2 miles, might be worth looking at arranging carriages to ferry people rather than one off hire.

 

How much time do we have to setup?

Love to have lots of home made details? Thinking of a bit more of a DIY affair? Make sure you’ve got plenty of time to setup. I’ve been in the situation before setting up weddings for friends where we’ve had a team of people and two days to setup…and only just made it.

We lined the ceiling with lanterns (an engineering masterpiece it has to be said), made all the bouquets, decorated the tables etc. Something is always forgotten and it always takes longer than you think. Make sure if you are going DIY then the venue allows you access well in advance of the big day, otherwise you’ll be majorly stressed out and that’s not fun.

 

What time do we have to leave the day after the wedding?

Weddings are celebrations, I don’t think it should be about money and therefore find it disappointing when the venue throws you out at 10am after having a skinful because there’s a wedding the next day.
I get it, its a business. If i ran a venue, its not how I would choose to operate, one wedding a weekend i say, but hey, maybe that’s just being daft and unrealistic.

Orrr maybe not? That’s how I shoot weddings, one a weekend, go hard on one, knowing you’re at your best. Anyway I digress. I know from my own wedding that you have to exit the premises at a certain time the next day at certain venues. If you and your friends are hungover, this is an inconvenience so def worth thinking about.

I’ll tell you what happened at my wedding.

The next morning, breakfast seemed like a civilised idea at the time, except everyone was still in bed. Eeking out the minutes of sleep up to 10am to get maximum shut eye. In the end we all went to the pub and had a few more beers with lunch. In conclusion, breakfast for all guests was a waste of money.

One thing whilst i think of it…

If your venue isn’t a hotel, you’ll have a night porter and that’s it. No room service etc. If you find yourself needing something in the middle of the night, you won’t be able to call someone to get it. We had a guest who was really sick and sorting help for her was difficult as there was only one person on duty…just a thought.

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We’ve hired a wedding videographer, is that cool with you?

Yes!

But!

There are a few considerations on this point, here’s some useful info.

Firstly, all about how I work.

Before we delve into why this isn’t cool, I also just published this article fellow photographers may find useful: Don’t Get Fancy With Gear.

In order to get the photographs you see on my website and various social media channels, I have to be in fairly close proximity to you. Not right up in your face, but you’ll know I’m there. Sometimes you may not be able to see me because I’ll be off photographing something else, other times I’ll be stood right next to you.

One of the reasons my wedding photographs are so immersive is because they are taken from the perspective of a person stood in the group, watching the moment unfold.

I get in close and I shoot wide angle, so then when you look back at the image it’s easier to relive the moment, the perspective allows you to insert yourself back into that memory. My pictures are taken from the point of view of someone who is stood next to you, you can’t fake that look, you have to physically be in the right place, as in, sometimes I will be stood right next to you. This is why I bang on about meeting me before you book, so by the time we get to your wedding we’ve had so much contact that you know all about me and it’s much more like a friend photographing you wedding, someone you trust.

Enter the videographer

Now, the style of wedding video you like might change whether or not the videographer and I are a good fit.

I can get on with anyone, so that part is never an issue, it’s more about having incompatible styles.

Staged videos – I don’t stage anything.

Some videographers stage a lot, so this can be an issue.

If I’m trying to capture candid moments and the videographer wants you to pose, then we may have a problem, typically because video takes longer to set up and longer to shoot. Therefore, you’ll be away from your guests for longer periods of time. The net result is fewer opportunities for me to take candid pictures of you and your guests together. I will be letting a moment breath and for things to happen organically, the videographer may be talking to you directly and asking you to perform certain actions – walk here, hold hands, kiss now etc. I don’t do that as I think it interrupts the flow of the day, but that’s why it’s really important to give you all the info upfront so you’re not disappointed after the wedding.

Wouldn’t you just take pics of the guests whilst we are away?

Yes, of course, and that has happened before. But what is really important to acknowledge is that if the couple are absent for long periods, the atmosphere in the room changes. Everyone has travelled from far and wide to see you, so whilst the hi-jinks may last for half an hour, eventually it will start to wane as they long for your company.

Will I be a problem for them?

As I mentioned above, I get in close, I’m near you, sometimes stood right next to you. If you are hiring a videographer who shoots lots of wide angles or full length shots then I might be a problem for them.

It’s really easy for me to Photoshop videographers out of my pictures, I have to do it a lot, but it’s not an issue. On the flip side, It’s near enough impossible (or impractical) to edit me out of the wedding film, so if i’m in the way, there’s not much they can do to edit me out.

What questions should we be asking then? How do we know if you’re compatible?

Typically the wedding videographer is hired after the wedding photographer, best bet is to send me the link to their website and I’ll have a look. I’ll be able to tell based upon how they shot the video what to expect. 99% of the time it’snot an issue, but, better safe than sorry. I’m not an arse so I’d never say ‘on no, don’t book them’, if you love their stuff then of course we’d make it work between us. What I would do however is speak from experience and let you know what to expect, how the day will flow and how that may effect my working process, then you can make an informed choice, and that’s a win for everyone.

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Should We Have an Unplugged Wedding?

This question will no doubt evolve as the years go on and tech changes. As of 2019, here’s my take on it.

Have an unplugged ceremony only, the rest is a free for all.

Here’s why.

Weddings are emotionally charged (check out When Should I Book My Wedding Photographer? here). Its making a lifelong commitment to an individual whilst in the presence of the people you love most. In all of the billions of people in the world, you two have made a connection that makes sense, and you want to celebrate that. Fantastic.

In order for those emotions to be felt, you need to be able to feel them. Sounds daft to say, but here me out.

By the way, you may find this a very fun and interesting read: We Hate Having Our Picture Taken!

What gets in the way of interacting with the world in front of you? Technology.

The research is clear, phones are addictive. They are designed to be. Did you know silicone valley parents send their kids to tech free schools? They design it, they know how damaging it can be.

When you feel your phone vibrate, you become distracted. Research has found that the brain can be distracted for up to three minutes after your phone has beeped, lit up or vibrated. Its why everyone is now saying to never take your devices into the bedroom or have them on in the car. They affect your concentration, so much so that you cant sleep and that you’re more likely to crash your car.

The correlation is there. Technology is a distraction.

In the context of a wedding, if you’re distracted by a phone, you wont be in the moment, you wont be paying attention. This inhibits emotional reactions and means you’ll miss an opportunity to feel something real, this would be sad.

Reason number two. The pictures are crap.

You’ve hired me to take photographs, so it makes sense that i have the best view. I’m stood at the front, my pictures are going to be ace.

Cousin Dave’s picture from row Z is going to be crap, period. It will exist in the vaults of a devices storage to be erased when he changes phones.

This is feeling a bit ranty…

All i’m trying to say is this. Don’t miss an opportunity to experience something real. Be present in the moment and allow yourself the space to be emotionally vulnerable. Its a beautiful place to be.

Now i know as well as anyone the joys of taking pictures, so denying that from someone feels like an odd recommendation. But it is only for the ceremony

From the point of view of the bride.

You want guests to be paying attention to the moment. Smiling at you, part of your team, celebrating the moment, part of your fan club. If you’re walking down the aisle and you cant see someones face because its obstructed by a phone or even worse an ipad, that’s really impersonal. And you know aunt Mavis hasn’t turned the flash off, so bam!, point blank flash in your eyes – welcome to migraine town.

What would you rather see? Rows of the smiling faces of the people you invited to share in this moment? Or a collection of their phone cases.

From the point of view of the groom.

The people at the back of the room see the bride first, so they get their phone out ti take a picture. The people in the next row cant see, so they lean out a little bit to get a clear shot themselves. Multiply by twenty rows and you cant see the bride walking towards you. One of the most wonderful moments in your life, obstructed by mobile phone screens. What if you couldn’t see each others faces? How frustrating would that be.

How to stop this from happening?

Ask the registrar, vicar, priest, rabbi etc. to announce to the congregation to put their phones away, no pics during the service and please be present with the couple in the moment. Easy solve.

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When Should I Book My Wedding Photographer?!

ASAP, but let me elaborate…

Firstly, there are FLIP loads of wedding photographers out there in the wild. Admittedly some better than others, and some offering better value than others, but, there’s no need to stress, I’d put good money on you being able to get an excellent wedding photographer with only a months notice on a key date in mid summer. In fact, I’d guarantee it. For those of you worried about booking a photographer in the first place because you hate having your picture taken…check out why you shouldn’t worry.

Read any bridal magazine or blog and they will probably give you a generic answer of ‘a year to eighteen months before your wedding’, but what if you want to get engaged at valentines and want to get married in august?

Most information out there is utterly useless, there are very few genuine resources of quality that will give it to you straight (…like a pear cider made from one hundred percent pear…Stewart Lee fans? …anyone??) and provide genuine answers.

The truth is, there’s plenty of photographers, and most will be booking 25-30 weddings in a year. Wedding photographers work the same schedule as each other, so it then makes sense that their friends are also wedding photographers too, aka, they can refer you on to other like minded folk with a similar style of picture-mo-taking.

Want peace of mind? Here’s a piece of mine…

Booking well in advance gives you peace of mind. Knowing that your photographer is booked in, locked down, deposit paid, concrete, jobs a goodun’, bobs your mothers brother, lets you kick back and relax, ticking that one off of the list. But if you do find yourself putting together a wedding on short notice, don’t sweat it, you’ll get someone good. If you can’t find someone, i’ll find you someone!

Some cool things to know.

We book most of our weddings in September-November for the following year or in January-March. So don’t fret, getting engaged at valentines puts you at no mega disadvantage, everyone else is looking at the same time too.

Do people book well in advance? Yes, sometimes up to two years in advance. Others however will book a month before the wedding.

2019 saw an interesting shift in booking patterns where many couples had to get married before the originally agreed leave date. That meant an influx of enquiries to shoot very short notice registry office ceremonies, so there are always varying factors that can have wide implications on the wedding market.

Key dates.

Admittedly, there are a handful of dates through the year which will be booked first. Typically those are bank holiday weekends. Beyond that? It really is a case of try your luck and see. As savvy clients look for dates that will being down costs (i know i did, dream venue on a Thursday…in winter. Bargain), then the odds of getting your first choice for all your vendors is greatly improved. This means that the wedding season is stretched across the entire year, its no longer just summer months. So when i say a wedding photographer will book 25-30 weddings, that means some in December, a few in April, October? Sure. Further to this, if you’re getting married on any day that isn’t Friday or Saturday, you are mega odds on to get your first choice.

Whats the takeaway?

We work all year round. Chance your arm and get in touch, if i’m booked, i’ll help you find some quality alternatives

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What is a first look?!

Good gracious old bean, what on earth is a first look?

I have no idea where this modern tradition came from.

“Aren’t you going to research it?”

No i’m not.

“Why not?”

Shush you. The relevant information is coming.

First looks are typically followed by a quick few pictures of you both together, for another interesting read, check out why you may hate having your picture taken.

A ‘first look’ as it has been coined is an opportunity to see each other before the wedding ceremony. Typically it takes place when the bride has just arrived at the ceremony venue and the groom is waiting. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it typically rolls that way.

With that being said I am currently helping a wedding client put together a timeline that involves a first look couple shoot. They both get ready in the same flat, they see each other all dressed up, hug it out (most likely), then we head to the park to take some portraits of them together before the ceremony, then walk to the venue to get married!

wedding first look

Doesn’t it break from tradition?

Yes it does, in oldy worldy England seeing your other half before the ceremony was considered bad luck. Some choose not to wear veils, some get married in black, some get married on the beach. Thankfully these traditions are constantly being challenged and your wedding can take whatever shape you like. Word of warning, don’t be surprised if your parents are confused by the desire to break from tradition. Hopefully yours are supportive, mine got really weird when I told them I would be double barrelling my surname and taking on Jen’s…

What are the benefits of doing this?

I am married, and I also don’t like being the centre of attention (for extended periods of time anyway), so I can inform you from the perspective of someone who has professional and personal experience of both scenarios.

Weddings can be scary. The feelings of excitement can mimic those of fear. Increased heart rate, sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, nervousness and excitement are almost interchangeable. When you’re about to get married however, it’s difficult to tell which on it is. It can be an incredibly overwhelming experience, so much so that the adrenaline dump that can occur during those moments can actually negatively affect your ability to create new memories (this bit I did research), which means you may not be able to recall the moment your partner walks down the aisle because the emotional experience is so intense.

This is where the first look can be a winner

You know you and your partner knows you better than anyone. This is an opportunity for you both to relieve any anxiety pre-ceremony and make sure that the nerves turn into excitement. It’s then quite common to walk down the aisle together too, confronting your challenges together, being there and supporting each other, that’s a pretty cool way to enter into a marriage.

Again, walking down the aisle separately is still no issue and it often means everyone is more relaxed, walks slower, takes it in and is able to be present in the moment and savour it.

Did you do a first look?

No I didn’t, it felt like the right decision for me at the time. Post wedding it’s impossible to draw any rational conclusions about what could have been different, the whole day felt perfect so the notion of changing anything seems absurd. Like most of my blog posts the message remains the same. Acknowledge who you are and go with what you think will make you feel most comfortable. It doesn’t matter if it’s in vogue or if it’s completely left field, if you think it’s cool, then by definition it is.

Are there any other benefits?

One big benefit is it means you get to share a moment together. During the day you will get whisked away from time to time, engrossed in conversation or lost in a particularly tasty canape. The day picks you up and takes you with it. Whilst the morning can feel like a rush to get to the ceremony on time, a first look allows you to slow down and spend a good five minutes embracing and contemplating the big leap you’re about to take together. The moment can be incredibly intimate but it also means you get to spend more time together.

N.B if you’re having a late ceremony or winter wedding, first looks can save the day. It means you can still have a candle lit ceremony but it also means you can schedule pictures of you both together for earlier in the day when there’s still daylight, noice!

Thanks Liam, what about disadvantages?

I mentioned that the tradition is broken, but that might be your vibe, breaking with tradition is sometimes the intention of the couple so may not be an issue.

The biggest problem? YOU HAVE TO GET UP EARLIER!

Oh my god it’s a tragedy, can you imagine, getting up earlier than, like, 8am? Why o why!?

Ok, enough with the hyperbole, I get up at 6.30 don’t you know.

In all seriousness you will have to ready earlier as we will have to schedule enough time, aim to be at the venue half an hour before you’re due to start, that should be enough.

Ok, so we think we might like to do a first look, how do we set it up?

The best bet is for us to visit the venue together and work out where the sun will be and what will look the best. If we’re going to set it up, may as well go all in. I’ll advise on where I think will be the best location to give you privacy as well as a wonderful backdrop.

What else to consider?

Do you want your bridal party nearby? If they can see you both they will coo from a distance, could be funny, could be distracting if you think you’ll cry.

If the bridal party are there with you, would you want to take some formal pictures around the same time? Saves doing them after the ceremony!

We could also go straight into some portraits of you both together, but, my honest advice, if you’re having a first look, it’s probably because it’s going to be emotional. I’d let it run it’s course and not overthink it. If the moment feels right to take some formal pictures, cool, let’s do it. If you need time to compose yourself and wipe away tears, that’s cool too. Some parts of the wedding day need military style planning, this isn’t one of them. Let the emotions come on their own, the pictures will be amazing however it pans out.

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The photographs most people regret not having on their list!

 
group photographs
 
I document moments. Fleeting, unique, unrepeatable.
 
There are however, always group photographs to take. Group pictures have their place within the documenting of the day and grandparents and parents often wish to have them printed and placed on the mantelpiece. 
 
By the way, here’s another interesting article you may find useful: We hate having our picture taken!
 
Group photographs are a necessary part of the day, it’s incredibly rare to encounter a wedding where there are zero group pictures. As mentioned before, for the older generation, there inclusion is a given and the idea of not having them can cause friction – it definitely did at my wedding anyway!
 
The trick to efficient group picture-taking is planning. Having a list is a must, with detailed names and extra details such as with or without drinks? Children included? partners? all of these questions and delays can add minutes per shot. If it takes four minutes per group picture, and you have a list of twenty group combinations, you can see how it can quickly spiral and take up the entirety of the drinks reception.
 
There is no set formula for who to include, it’s your wedding day, i’m always saying ‘you do you’ – no one should ever tell you what to do on your day. 
 
I will make one suggestion though.
 
As your wedding photographer I see it as my duty to share with you things I have experienced in the past, feed the info back to you, which in turn allows you to make and informed decision. 
 
Here is a selection of images that have been fed back to me that clients wish they had captured.
 
They are not group pictures per-se. They are in fact individual shots with family members. Because of this, it makes it much easier to take them, as there is only one person we need, rather then a collection. These images can be taken at any point in the day (maybe before the raving starts though).
 
Bride with Mum.
Bride with Dad.
Groom with Mum.
Groom with Dad
Separate pictures with siblings.
 
It’s not a huge list, but worth considering all the same. The bond we share with our immediate families can be amongst the strongest emotional ties we ever experience. Not in all cases, but fair to say probably most. 
 
Its not often we consider the historical significance of photographs. Those contained in our family albums or those that exist in grandmas memory box are often taken for granted.
 
With digital technology it’s easy to become complacent and rarely print and frame our photographs. 
 
It’s sad to consider. But in the past i have had wedding clients call me and ask if I have any additional images of wedding guests who have since passed away. Its often only when people are gone that we realise we took their presence for granted.
 
Go and hug the person closest to you, say something nice to them and why not have a picture taken with them on your own on your wedding day. It will last forever, and once you’ve got it, you’ll never have to regret not taking it.
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Don’t get fancy with gear

“Many are willing to suffer for their art. Few are willing to learn to draw”

This is as much to my students as it is to me, everything great takes time. Often a lifetime (unless you’re Van Gogh…but I don’t think I am)

Patience, build slow, develop your skills, do not seek instant gratification.

This quote from Simon Munnery works on multiple levels. Of course it is immediately funny, but also underpins the impatience that I experience so frequently across multiple domains. 

I’m 30 year old award winning wedding photographer in London, soon to be 31. The retirement age in the UK will probably be around 70 by the time I get to state pension age. In real terms, this gives me about another forty years of work. Being self employed, the idea is I become super successful, make a tonne of money and retire early. This however goes against everything that I believe in. I’m not thinking about age, wages and pension, I’m thinking about my legacy. I want to be working, taking pictures til my very last breath. Squeeze the shutter button, sudden pain, bam! Gone.

To this end most of my goals are in five and ten year chunks. The most amazing part of blogging is that in five years time, I can re-read this and be accountable for what I’ve written. Please feel free to bookmark this, set a date and ready the firing squad.

In all seriousness, whether it’s Facebook groups, my students (I teach photography too) or even my family, there are many out there thinking short term. If I get the new VSCO presets this is gonna be it! If I find out the gear they use i’ll be the next Avedon. I’ve been guilty of this too. However, as of 2018, I’ve made the decision to cut all my paid advertising and go full hustle. Paying others is short term, I want long term greatness. The funny thing is, at 30, I still feel like I’m learning new things all the time. Probably explains why my Instagram has so few posts. I’m not burgeoning with self confidence, so I had to work at my craft, listening, learning and always improving. At the beginning of my career, peers told me I charged too little (this still happens) but money is no driver for me, enough to cover my bills is, feed my fish and chickens, that’s plenty, I love the work itself, the grind, the journey, call it what you will. I want to build slowly, incremental increases, always keeping my confidence and always learning. 

I read a great article the other day about the animator/illustrator from Studio Ghibli. They held his retirement party and the very next day he was back in the studio drawing. Having a purpose is what keeps us moving forward. Even after I’m too old to shoot weddings, I’ll still be shooting.

The meat of this article.

Don’t get fancy with photography gear.

I mean this sincerely and believe it to be true in all aspects of life. You don’t need fancy gear to make great work. Tracey Emin used her bed. Tabatha Bundensen used her Grumpy Cat. Get creative with whats around you, its the creativity that tells the story, not the object. Can this be more perfectly exemplified by the jackass crew? No money, rubbish camera but played to their strengths – skateboarding, creativity plus nonsense. Result? Millionaires.

That market exists, the debate will rage on about the value in upgrading, but it does still exist. Manufacturers whack out the latest tech every year, all the while ignoring what reviewers, working professionals and the general public really want. “Hey you wanted two card slots on the new 6D, whoops! We left it out, oh well, £1700 please” Jose Villa shoots film and can charge $25,000 for a wedding, but we need an articulated screen…

I’ll stop ranting…

My point is, to want to get good, buy what you can afford and get creative. My writing style I’m starting to realise is mostly aimed at myself. I covet gear. It happens. But for the record I did start with an EOS3 and my first digital camera was a 10D (side note for fun, I bought the sigma 170-500 when I first started based upon the idea that a beast lens made me better, incidentally my favourite focal length is now 28mm)

I have no issue telling you that my camera and lens combo is a 6D and a 28mm f1.8. Total value, about £1500 new. I took this with it…

canon 28mm wedding photography

and it’s a great picture. Its fast to focus, can be used at 1.8 (although 2.8 is often the widest i’ll shoot), built well, reliable and most importantly is incredibly light. Carry around chunky gear all day for thirty odd weddings and your back wont thank you, probably why so many are making the shift to the tiny fuji’s.

So why did I write this?

Partly because I encounter alot of young creatives (particularly the A-Level students I teach) stifled by the idea that they need top end kit. It is a challenge to think of ideas, and not everyone is creative. Use what you’ve got around you, it’s practice at being resourceful.

I am of the opinion that the dopamine releasing effects of mobile phones is enough to lure young and old into a stale place creatively, so I’m going back to basics and rediscovering my love of Lumen prints. Photo paper, pens, pencils and scissors. Phone in the other room, 6 music on the radio, start, brain, now!

 

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What does a wedding photographer wear?

What does a wedding photographer wear?

This has plagued me for years, well, at least it did, but not anymore.

Oh the questions, oh the anxiety!

Below the pictures is the long winded version, for ease and practicality, I ‘ve listed below here what I wear.

Gant trousers

White shirt (from Next)

Holdfast moneymaker

Brown leather shoes

Edit*

I am about to change my outfit as the leather shoes, whilst looking smart, don’t support the arches or lower back n the way i want. I’m currently playing with the air cushion shoes that Clarks make. Pics coming when I’ve got the whole outfit sorted.

what does a wedding photographer wear?

Every Saturday morning I would begin dressing only to declare ‘why, why do I have to wear a suit!’ – except this wasn’t set in fair Verona.

And so the journey to self confidence, setting expectations and better client relations began.

I found it immensely difficult in the early stages of my wedding photography career (still kinda do in all honesty) revealing myself. This was partly due to the fact that I was in my early twenties and well, in the grand scheme of things early twenty somethings don’t really know much about anything, they haven’t been around long enough to have experienced life. So each day was met with a new existential crisis. Who am I, where am I, when am I? And other such nonsense.

This must have been immensely tiring for my wife.

I eventually decided I needed to see a therapist, it was the only way in which I would be able to get answers to the questions I had always had – this isn’t where I expected this post to go.

Doing so, changed my life.

I began to understand who I was and ultimately, not be ashamed, embarrassed or anxious about being true to myself. In fact I began to come to terms with the fact that confronting those issues was absolutely my duty in order to be the person I ultimately wanted.

This then liberated me and allowed me to ultimately choose what I wanted to wear to photograph a wedding – we got there in the end.

I found that when I was true to myself on all levels, I began to attract people who also believed the same things I did. I put myself out there as a documentary photographer, so I started getting those clients. I advertised as a photographer who loves fun and emotional outbursts, so I got clients who wanted those images.

I don’t know why, but for about five years Id been focused on what I thought people wanted, rather than what I wanted. When it clicked, the whole thing changed.

In order to move about, get high, get low, jump fences, you need clothing that will allow this. In a suit, it’s simply not practical. You become far too hot, look a mess and totally out of place.

So, if we answer ‘what does a wedding photographer wear?’ the answer becomes incredibly simple.

You wear clothing that fits in with your brand and how you have set expectations.

If you advertise as a formal or fine art wedding photographer, then you are rolling in a circle of clientele who would probably expect you to be wearing more formal attire. You work doesn’t require you to roll around on the floor or run and jump, so your clothing should reflect that.

If you advertise yourself as a fun loving documentary photographer, then clients will expect a much less formal approach as it will most likely be a much less formal wedding.

The holy grail of answers though – simply ask them

Communication, clear communication at that, is the key to all strong and lasting relationships.

Wedding clients are real people, same as you and me, the best bet? Ping them an email a few weeks before or give them a call and say. Bonjour my lovelies, do you have any objections or requests for what I wear on the day. In order to work at my absolute best I normally wear XYZ. If they are horrified at what you’ve said, maybe you need to ask yourself if you’re pitching to the right crowd. In my experience, 99% will reply ‘you wear whatever you like’.

To give you a real world example. Summer of 2017 was an absolute scorcher in the UK, I’m talking seriously hot for us British folk. Wedding forums up and down the land were full of fellow professionals asking the same questions – what should I wear? It’s so damn hot. A good friend of mine said he looked at the weather forecast, picked up the phone and asked his couple if they would care if he wore shorts to photograph the wedding (it was in the high 30 degrees celsius). Their reply – ‘why would we care what you wear?’. This guy has his marketing bang on point.

To conclude

Clear communication in all relationships is key

Wear what is in line with your brand

Go for comfort – your career is thirty odd years of shooting – you need clothing that supports and protects your body.

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We hate having our picture taken!

Don’t worry, everyone says that.

I mean that sincerely, the statement may have a slight spin on it. “We’re awkward in front of the camera, we don’t ave any pictures of us up around the house, I always pull this weird half smile psychopath look”…seriously, EVERYONE says it.

Before we delve further, let me introduce myself: my name is Liam Smith and I am considered one London’s best wedding photographers.

For you, that’s a good thing.

That means that every single person you’ve ever seen on my website or social media channels has said the exact same thing. They were in the same position as you, having the same thoughts and the same potential anxieties, but the result is the same, high quality, immersive and emotional imagery. How am I able to consistently deliver photographs that allow you to relive the day?

First and foremost, there’s no posing.

But seriously though Liam, how do you do it?

There is no real secret, once I tell you, it sounds pretty obvious.

It’s because I place so much emphasis on you liking me.

If you like me, feel comfortable around me and trust me, the pictures will be fantastic…

hate having picture taken

The beauty of this is that it rubs off on everyone around you. As soon as I arrive on the day, I say hello, get my cameras out and then crack on. When you then immediately relax (because you know me, and know how I work) then everyone else around you relaxes too. This effect continues throughout the day. When guests see me interacting with you, getting in close to take pictures, they also see that as normal and then immediately trust me to, it’s a wonderful thing.

There’s a really elegant way to explain this. If you have two pianos in the same room and play a note on one, the other piano vibrates the exact same note. The sound travels through the air and effects everything around it, the mood spreads through a room in the exact same way.

The cornerstone of my work is you feeling like I’m there to document the day, not alter, not stage, not pose. If you see my work, see all the laughing, the tears and the sometimes embarrassing moments and then meet me, you know that I’m there to document in an affectionate way. I want to celebrate the individuality of you and your guests, not be lurking, waiting for someone to make a fool of themselves and go ‘ha! Gotcha!’. It’s just not like that.

I’m there to share in the fun, and take pictures.

When you’re relaxed, and trust in my objective, then you relax, and the natural flow of the day takes you away. You largely ignore me, knowing that i’m doing exactly what you hired me to do. If you can’t see me, it’s because you trust that I’m away somewhere else photographing something else really interesting, quirky or funny.

The best compliment I’ve ever received was ‘we forgot you were here/we didn’t realise you were there and took that picture!’.

That tells me that you were comfortable enough in my company to completely ignore me and be completely in the moment – perfect.

So let’s meet, let’s get drinks, let’s do dinner. I’m a real boy! (Pinocchio in Shrek voice!), so if you’ve got any questions just ping me an email or instant message.

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Should I include a wedding album in my package?

This may read as a really odd post, because you would imagine that it makes sense for me running a business to try and sell stuff.

However, as an honest businessman and an award winning wedding photographer, I don’t believe in selling something for the sake of it, or selling things that people don’t need or won’t use.

If I give you all of the useful information, then you can make an informed choice, that is absolutely the best way to be. I hope having read this deep into my website you feel like you can trust me on some level, so here goes, should you order a wedding album up front?

I felt compelled to write this because believe it or not, each year I have albums ordered by clients (and paid for upfront) that are never completed.

There’s the hard honest facts.

This may sound odd, but once the wedding day has passed and you have returned from you honeymoon/mini-moon/weekend away, life carries on. You have new adventures, new ambitions and new goals you want to achieve as a couple. I’m married, and there is a certain new excitement that comes post wedding, and it’s one of looking to the future – this is a good thing. However, making a wedding album takes a concentrated effort, and the reality is as time goes on, it becomes less of a priority.

Some people have children, others move house, it could be anything. Often clients find themselves in a position where the album isn’t a priority, one week drifts into two which becomes six months, before you know it a year has passed.

I love printed pictures, and I definitely think you should print and frame a few as a priority as soon as you have your wedding pictures delivered. The album usually takes about six weeks to print once submitted, design time takes as long as, well, as long as it takes. The hardest first step is for you to select your favourite 150-200 pictures, this is the hardest step because my pictures are all great. Bazinga. But seriously, the online gallery can be anywhere up to 1500 pictures, so this bit takes time and effort. Once you’ve done this bit, it takes me around two weeks to make the first draft – this is hugely dependant on the time of year though, it’s often much quicker, then after that it’s up to you again to tell me any amendments. We send it back and forth until you’re happy to go to print.

There you go, honesty at it’s finest.

I would much rather you spend your money on prints that will actually make your life that little bit more lovely. And if that means spending a few pennies at a framers rather than giving it to me, then so be it. Printing pictures is so important, they make a house a home, so it doesn’t matter how you do it, whether it’s a book or wall mounted frames, just get it done!

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The long term value of wedding photographs

The long term value of photographs

It was in a discussion with my dad only a few days ago that a thought hit me. We were discussing a set of plate photographs that he owns and they depict an old building in the east of England. The plates also contained portraits of the well to do family that inhabited said building, as well a the lords and ladies of the day playing cricket on the lawn, anyone for Tiffen?

Before we delve any deeper, and if you have just landed on this page, hello! My I’m Liam Smith and I am a photographer, welcome to my site!

It occurred to me that at no stage would anyone consider the future of those photographs. They expose the plate, develop the picture, produce a print a few weeks later. The negative is stored away, forgotten about in an archive and unearthed one hundred years later. That’s right boys and girls, these plates are genuine antiques. No one considers the future potential of a photograph at the point of taking it. Images and video are something of a commodity, an item that is taken for granted. When was the last time you read a news article that didn’t have an accompanying picture?

It will be interesting to see how photography evolves over my lifetime as the world moves towards video. Faster internet connections and processing power means that video will no doubt usurp photographs in certain arenas, but will photo frames of family moments be recorded in the same fashion? Will we end up in a Harry Potter type scenario, where, although presented as a still image, there is an element of movement to it – admittedly that would be cool.

There is a commodification of the photograph that has taken place. Combined with the rapacity for consumption of media, is the medium doomed to become mere content? This is why I’ve always struggled with fashion photography as a genre, it’s nature is to be consumed and discarded, much like the clothes it depicts, maybe I should enter this field and apply a new way of thinking to it, to challenge myself and the entire genre? Tempting.

It’s also why I struggle to comprehend the necessity to create posed images purely for social media. It’s not uncommon to find wedding blogs and wedding magazine recommending that you include in your contract a 24hr turnaround of certain images ‘for the gram’, this turns my stomach. Creating mere content lessens the value. The images enter the same stream of content as all other mundane posts and advertisements. If your wedding photographs are viewed on the same platform that you look at holiday snaps, or post hundreds of pictures of a family pet, does that not lessen their significance? I think wedding photographs are worth more than that, they should be printed and enjoyed in your home. They are for your legacy, not solely for the public’s consumption, to be scrolled past…I feel an essay coming on.

Pictures that show real stuff, real emotions, will always be more valuable in the long run.

friends hugging

This thought process is probably prompted as well by a particular family photograph that sits on my parents mantelpiece. It is of my father and his siblings, two of which, are sadly no longer with us. There is only one print of it, and it has pride of place in my parents house. Not for general public consumption, it is a marker of the times we have loved, and the people we have loved. There’s a great deal of value in keeping certain aspects of life private.

Then again, I do of course post pictures on social media. Hello mr hypocrite. What to do? Go against the grain and say none of my work can be seen online? And forbid people from posting it? That could be a fun angle, single handedly championing the photographs legacy, you cannot post it online, and it only exists in print form, all digital copies will be deleted! I bet that would certainly increase the level of care we took of our photographs if that were the case!

Where is this article going? I don’t actually know. I’m going to round it off by saying make sure you get a picture with your close family and friends, even if they are more leaning towards the formal elements of wedding photography. Life goes on, people move away from you, some even pass on, you never know, in sixty years time, it may be the most cherished photograph you have.

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Confetti – history and tips for the best photographs

A guide to awesome confetti pictures

bride and groom confetti ceremonyWho loves a history lesson? Oooh me! Me!

Even better, a history of words! “Yeah”, said everyone, followed by rapturous applause.

Confetti – what’s that all about then? Before I begin, check out my work; I am based in London.

It breaks down like this. Have you ever been to a wedding and seen sugar coated almonds? They’re related to confetti in name only. Both of them trace their name back to the Latin word concifere, which basically translates to ‘compose, confect or make’. Now then, the word confit is used to describe the nuts we referred to earlier – this is also used in French, confit or comfit, normally duck…aaaaaand i’m hungry. The singular in Italian is confetto, confetti for plural. Concifere, comfit, confetto, confetti – that reads like a fun poem.

The edible confetti – sugared almonds, fennel and caraway seeds are expensive (or were expensive in them there olden days), and so were reserved for the wealthy.

So what are us poor folk to do? Enter J & E Bella and Toulouse Lautrec et voila – in 1894, paper confetti was born. Here’s the advert for it, lovely isn’t it?

toulouse lautrec confetti padvertThis I would dare say, is a win for modern brides, because if roman tradition had continued, you’d still be having wheat cake crumbled over your head.

Well there’s the history lesson over, here’s how to get the best confetti photographs on your day.

Now then – my work is documentary in style, so there is an element of chance. What I like to do, is rig the game in my favour.

How do we do that?

Check you can actually have confetti in the first place.

Some venues have banned confetti outright, check if you are allowed it!

Exit the church/ceremony room and hide!

Why? When the ceremony is over, everyone wants to congratulate and hug you – which is lovely. BUT! This can turn into a receiving line of sorts and it can also mean it takes about half an hour for everyone to exit the building. If you’re running to a schedule, then this time is valuable and you’ll probably feel the knock on effects later.

Exit building, hide to let everyone out, sneak back in. I’ll organise everyone into two rows, you appear at the top and walk down the middle to rapturous applause.

Always go biodegradable

It’s 2019 and I’m a big lover of trees. So much so that I donate a percentage of your fees to a charity that plants trees. It’s time we all took responsibility and make positive changes.
A really cheap and easy way to facilitate this is to use leaves. You can either collect them in autumn, dry them out and crunch the up. Or use stencil cutters to make fun shapes. Environmentally friendly and fun times making it.

Giving it out

Make sure that the confetti is in containers right next to the door. That way, when the bridesmaids and groomsmen exit (who are typically the first ones out behind you) they can pick it up and start handing it out.

How much do we need?

Loads and loads and loads. Often there’s not enough, one hundred guests equals one hundred handfuls. Plus you want the pictures to be at there best, you want to make sure there’s a good cloud of fun coming your way.

Big or small confetti?

It doesn’t really matter to me, but it might to you.
It will go in your hair
It will go down your dress
Does that bother you? If so, bigger is best.

Our venue won’t let us have confetti

Those gits! How could they! Did you tell them about the history!? Unbelievable.

Ok fair enough, most places have there reasons, but they can’t ban our fun.
Go for bubbles instead. How about a sword arch? No? Mexican wave?
I’d recommend you make up for it later, get some confetti canons for the dance floor.

no confetti allowed

Cones or handful?

Cones make it easier to portion out – but be warned, boys are more likely to throw the whole cone. This can be hilarious, I am all for this.
Handful = more accuracy, you might get it dumped on your head, or smushed in your face, but who cares, it’s all fun.

Be in the moment

Weddings are fun and the day does fly by, make sure your brain isn’t somewhere else otherwise you must just miss all the good bits.

WARNING – THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE IN THIS ARTICLE

The only way to increase your chances of having an amazing confetti shot is to stand still. Let me tell you why.

When you walk down the tunnel of guests, they throw the confetti at you. It doesn’t matter how often you say ‘throw it in the air, not at them’, you will still get some people throwing it directly at you. This means you have a high chance of it going in your eyes or mouth. If you outright don’t care, then that’s cool, but if you really wanted a happy smiley confetti shot, then the traditional tunnel isn’t the way to go. You could well end up with a shot of you both flinching – it could be funny, but again, I believe in forewarned is best.

Let’s say you do want to increase your odds of a really happy smiley confetti shot. The best way to do it is at the bottom of say, a set of stairs, where everyone is around you and they throw it in your general direction and it goes everywhere…not directly into your eyeballs and mouth.

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Trust is THE most important thing

I had the most wonderful client conversation last night, it brought to my attention something that I had never considered before, despite the fact that I bang on about trusting your wedding photographer all the time.

Trust works both ways.

Quick Intro: My name is Liam Smith and I am one of the best photographers in London.

The branch of the conversation was started by enquiring how much I would charge to stay if the event ran over schedule. My response to this comes from years of working in the wedding industry and that is ‘they always run over’.

It’s just par for the course. Weather can have an effect, guests may be late in sitting down for the meal and it’s not uncommon for speeches to run much longer than scheduled. Cutting of the cake may have been schedule for 8pm, but it normal happens at about 8.30.

This is not a problem for me. The work that I love to do captures the flow of the day, it’s natural rhythm. If you’re fretting over the schedule and worrying about the time, you’re not in the moment and that’s how it passes you by. My wedding photography is all about capturing those moments, so if i’m mentally not present, i’ll never succeed in capturing them on film.

That being said, what happens if the day is running an hour late?

This is where trust is a major factor.

It is incredibly important that you trust me to deliver quality images. You trust that I have prepared myself for the day, had a good nights rest and planned everything out logistically to make sure the day runs as smoothly as possible. You trust that my equipment is well maintained and you trust that I’m going to show up! It’s easy to forget these factors, but trust is the most important factor when choosing wedding suppliers.

The flip side. I have to be able to trust you too.

This is my career my chosen profession, my life, my legacy. With working together I place a tremendous amount of trust in my clients to respect that. When hiring me for the day, although there are set hours laid out in the contract, there is trust involved insofar as I will be flexible and reasonable to accommodate all unforeseen time additions. AKA, i’m not going to start the invoice clock as soon as my allotted time is up, that’s just not me, it’s not how I want to work.

With that information, comes a great deal of trust being placed in the client. It would be easy for an individual to ask on the wedding day for me to stay an extra forty minutes to capture fireworks/sparkler exit/driving off in cool car pictures, knowing that I had already said I didn’t mind being flexible.

Trust works both ways. When working with me I will be completely candid in my responses. This is my life, every part that you see on my website, word that you read, picture in the gallery, all of it was created by me. I put my heart and soul into this, this is my art – the last thing I want to do is to have it descend into a ‘business’ – watching the clock, invoicing for time run over etc. This may seem like an odd thing to write, as of course, it is a business. What I should do, is clarify my point. Photography is my life, when I retire, I’ll still be taking and making photographs. This is a life long obsession for me, I’m building a legacy on this. I have no desire to hire other people, to shoot other subjects or buy a studio – most business ideals are based around making more money, I just want to be a better photographer and offer better customer service.

So let’s trust each other implicitly, be cool, and have lots of fun at your wedding.

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5 things you didn’t know about me

I have a very niche sense of humour

You may have seen from my website that my work is not like many other wedding photographers. I choose to embrace the person I am, even if that person is slightly ridiculous. I asked my wife to sum me up in a word, she chose silly, I think she’s right. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember, it’s all small stuff. 

I’m an advocate for positive mental health.

Each year I grow a moustache as an outward sign of support in particular for men’s mental health. I believe that everyone should seek counselling, full stop. I mean that, everyone. There is a stigma attached to seeking help that we collectively have to overcome. Life is hard, asking for help through it is not a sign of weakness. Two brains are better than one. How many times have you failed to see the cause of a problem because you were too invested in the details?

In the spirit of positive change I am open about seeking my own help. In late 2017 I sought out and started attending therapy. I found a wonderful woman who is a phenomenologist and a Buddhist, she’s also Brazilian – which is especially helpful as her more firy side really helped when what I was doing was obviously to my own detriment. Her insights from a religious, cultural and all around academic point of view has helped me no end. I feel…lighter. I no longer carry around all of the baggage that was emotionally weighing me down. I’m only at the start of this journey but it has been so beneficial that I now find myself open and ready to receive enlightenment.

I’m scared of heights, but love rock climbing.

Every time i get more than a foot off of the ground i start to get nervous. From the ground i must look ridiculous. Barely thirty centimetres up and I’ve lost all composure and technique. When you reach the top though, there’s not much like it. Being able to look back at what you’ve overcome and feel relief to be at the top is amazing. Hey! I’ve just realised the parity this shares with my therapy! That’s cool. Its also great exercise and forces you to move in a dynamic way. I find the gym to be very boring and ultimately limiting, this engages the body and the mind.

I use sensory deprivation tanks

Very much in line with developing my overall well being this has also been a revelation. Thanks to listening to the Joe Rogan’s podcast and his love for them I decided to check it out. Turns out there’s a centre fifteen minutes away from my house which is a result. The tanks are full of Epsom salts which means you will float. The salts are also really good for your skin, and hair, but you know, I don’t have any. The water, your skin and the air around you all become the same temperature and if you stay completely still you begin to feel like you’re suspended in air, its really cool. The lights are off and there’s no sound, no distractions, no sensations across your skin. You can ask yourself anything and ponder it or lay in the still, calm water and enjoy being cut off from all the usual distractions of day to day life.

I once climbed a mountain in Iceland to get to it’s thermal spring

Iceland is probably now on the down-slope of it’s time in the sun, there was a period where it was the in vogue destination. Extreme cold, whale sushi, northern lights. A darn sight different to London in February. Before it was cool, my wife and I visited this most fantastic of places and I have to say, if you haven’t been, you absolutely should. Three or four days is plenty, pack in as many activities as you can, and make sure you’ve saved up some pennies! One of the biggest tourist attractions in Reykjavik is a place called the blue lagoon. Imagine an open air swimming pool or lido, except you’re surround by snow and ice and the water is forty degrees Celsius. I’m sure it’s a lovely place to visit, but I love original experiences. With a few emails and phone calls i’d found a company that would escort you on a hike to the source of the water that feeds the blue lagoon. It’s a two hour trek and you have to dodge pools of methane, but the experience is truly unique. Our guide (pronounced funnar) was an absolute hero. He jumped in the heated river as well and then said that we had to do the viking challenge, which is to run into the snow, roll around in it and then jump back into the water. All of my nerve endings were activated at once, a buzz like no other. I implore you to go, the ground is alive with volcanic activity and the landscape is so alien. Only a few hours flight, put it at the top of your next holiday list.

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What is the golden hour?

In a nutshell the golden hour is the time just after sunrise and just before sunset.

what is the golden hour

What are we looking for?

The reason this light is so coveted is because of the angle of the light. As the sun drops lower on the horizon, the light coming from the sun has to travel through more of the earths atmosphere. As such it becomes more diffuse and therefore softer and more flattering for portraits. Why more flattering? The light lands evenly across the face with no harsh shadows.

Go science!

Those glorious colours in the sky? That’s sunlight hitting all the rubbish that’s in our atmosphere. Space junk, atmospheric junk, all the junk.

During the summer months just before sunset and just after sunrise (this doesn’t really apply in winter, plus it’s cold, no one wants to be outside) the landscape is bathed in a warm orange glow that lasts for about an hour, sometimes longer.

What else is the golden hour good for and is it good for wedding photography?

The golden hour, or magic hour as it’s sometimes known, is a celebration of the light coming at your face! …at a very low angle. If you face the sun, everything you look at will be lit from behind. This is called back-lighting and it’s rather desirable because it firstly creates a halo around the subject, which is golden and looks ace, and secondly, it creates clear delineation between the subject and the background. Lastly, because the light is behind the subject, then the face (if you’re shooting portraits) is in perfect, evenly lit reflected light – no weird shadows, just soft loveliness.

In the space of half an hour you can achieve quite different looks and the only thing that has changed is the sun has set. Golden warmth in the evening sun, followed by a brief window to shoot with any background you choose in perfectly even light. That’s enough then, back we go to the party!

This type of lighting isn’t always desirable as it highlights all flyaway hairs, so if you’re looking for a modern, high fashion look, then you’re better off shooting at midday with clean, sharp shadows.

Golden hour is when to shoot if you’re looking for dreamy, ethereal, fine art type images. Soft colours, pastel tones, fresh linen – those vibes.

This period of time is loved by many, however I’m going to throw a curve-ball as my favourite time overlaps from the fifteen minutes before the sun dips below the horizon to the fifteen minutes after the sun has set. Why you may ask, well i’ll tell ye!

The sun has dropped below the horizon which means there is no direct light landing on your face and creating odd shadows and shapes. The light comes over the curve of the earth and bends, so the scene is still light, but there’s no direct light falling on you, the subject. This period of light doesn’t last very long, but it’s brilliant because you still get a warm glow across the sky but with the added benefit that you can shoot in all directions. This is a big win because typically you want to keep the sun behind the subject, but then that limits how you can frame the shot and you may have a crappy background to contend with. No need to worry about where the best light is and maybe have to compromise on the background, the best light is all around you so you can go all in on background and composition, knowing the light will be perfect.

The other benefit is that because the window of opportunity is so narrow, you can’t physically spend ages taking couple portraits, which is typically what my clients want to avoid at all costs.

There we go, until next time!

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One Whitehall Place wedding

One Whitehall Place Wedding

Back again to London for a wedding of high class.

Champagne, Bow-ties, secret societies…

“What’s he on about secret societies?” – I don’t really know, it had that vibe though. There were men in long coats and hats at the front door telling me I was in the wrong place, they were perfect gents and gave me instructions on where to go. I exited the building, entered through a separate side door, across a hotel foyer, through another door and ended up in the same place. They seemed much more pleased about the route I had taken, it seems the first door I’d used was for members only, despite ending up standing on the exact same piece of marble floor…The walls adorned with portraits of former secretaries and members…the stairs were the perfect angle to walk up without being out of breath at the top, as if the designer had considered men of Churchill’s build and thought how one might navigate said stairs after an afternoon of brandy and cigars. Like Elephants slumping up the stairs I could almost picture them. I arrived on the top floor to find none other than…Churchill’s Bar…see what I mean? Something society like about it.

I then found out that it is in fact home to the National Liberal Club, it is private members only, but has both men and women as members, which is good to hear. Progressive ideas are most welcome in modern Britain, lets keep moving forward, discussing ideas freely and moving towards a better, inclusive future for absolutely everyone. Well then, what better location to host this wedding of two delightful gentlemen, celebrating their union at the capitals home of liberalism. Supposedly members would finish their evenings in the late 1800’s by jumping in the Thames, this evening didn’t end in quite the same fashion, but some rad shapes were certainly thrown on the dance floor. I’ve always had difficulties with the labels of ‘gay wedding’ or ‘same sex marriage’, love is love, a wedding is a wedding, to make a distinction based upon gender I don’t agree with. Weddings/unions/marriages, whatever you want to call them are celebrations of the connection that two people have, as a progressive society we should strive to normalise the language of ‘a couple’ being all inclusive. It would be amazing if we could evolve as a society and develop a way of looking at love in the same way that the Greeks did. Love has subtleties and nuances that we may never fully understand, one person can love one person, one person can love themselves and many people all at the same time. Love is a good thing, let’s keep trying to spread it.

I didn’t expect all of this to flow out of me when I started writing. I think that seeing the connection that these two share, coming from different cultural backgrounds and finding each other at opposite ends of the earth has enlightened me on some level. Man, Woman, non-binary, gender fluid – love is love, it should be embraced and celebrated by all. The world is a tough place to be sometimes and if you’ve found someone who you can navigate it with and find happiness, then you should have a party, and tell the whole world about it. :)

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Check out some more weddings.

Hall Place, Horniman Museum, Hill Gardens and Pergola, Blackheath, Greenwich

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Destination Wedding – Barcelona

Destination Wedding – Barcelona

Barcelona conjures images of the magnificent Sagrada Di Familia, Casa Batllo and to many probably the Bernabau Football stadium. On the edges of this most wonderful Catalonian city lies a beautiful town called Sitges, and that dear readers, is where this tale unfolds.

Destination wedding photography is often seen as a mark of prestige for some reason, I don’t know why, I’m just as happy travelling to other countries as I am working at the venue next to my house, it’s the people who make the event. Destination wedding posts on other blogs always seem to be filled with couple portraits and not much else. We went to Barcelona to party, and that’s what we did.

When all the guests tell you this is going to be the wedding of the year, it sets a level of expectation. Post wedding, I don’t think they could have over-hyped it, this day was epic. Laughs, tears, men in dresses, it had it all. Weddings are deeply personal celebrations, they are an opportunity to open your relationship up and show it to all of your friends and family, it shows them how you live, and how you love. These guys live life how it’s supposed to be done, big hearts, big emotions, honesty and joy. Celebrate like it’s the last time, every time. Tell people you love them and how much they mean to you, often. Make meaningful connections with those around you and surround yourself with positivity and light. I learnt a lot from being here, these journeys are about the couple of course, but there’s always opportunities to find out about who you are along the way. Seeing unbridled joy like this reminds me that I take life too seriously a lot of the time, missing out on experiences in my own life because I was too scared to say yes. It’s wonderful that my work affords me that opportunity.

Seeing emotions like this also makes me think about my future family. Emotional dads never fail to make me cry, it’s almost as if I’ve got a daughter of my own out there somewhere in the Ether, waiting for Jen and I to find her…

It’s no secret that the number of couples choosing to get married in the UK is on the decline. A shift away from religious ceremonies makes sense in this day and age, but I don’t see a decline in the desire to share the joy of union, all I see is the financial burden it can place on couples. If you’re thinking of getting married and wondering how to do it without ruining your finances, check out this wedding for your blue print (fun fact, blue print comes from an alternative photographic process called a Cyanotype – look them up, they’re cool). Getting married in a registry office can save you plenty of paper, and no it doesn’t detract from the special nature of the ceremony. Find a beautiful location where you can host a party – it doesn’t have to be a “wedding venue”, you can hook up gas for cooking and all the other bits you need dead easy. Bring in your own furniture – these guys found all the chairs on Gumtree and covered them with blankets, easy. Hire a quality caterer. Hire a quality DJ. Bring your own drink. Party. Hard. Don’t be put off by thinking you need to find specific things for elderly guests to do, they were young once and also love partying. Shaving a message into your chest hair is optional, but is definitely a genius idea.

destination wedding photography venue barcelona sitgessitges mountains barcelonablack and white landscape imagesred flower orange wallgroom puts on bowtie in mirrorbride hugs flower girlsbride in quiet contemplationwhole family laughingminster hypes up crowdbride dances down the aisle in beautiful dressbride groom and minister laughingwedding minister makes bride laughbride smiles during wedding ceremonybride and groom hug guestsbride and groom laughinggroom hugs father in lawbride cries whilst hugging fatherfather of bride crying during speechbride and groom laughing in Sitges hillsdestination wedding sitgesfather of bride cups bumbride laughing during gameswedding day gamesbest mans speechbest mans speech leaves bride and groom laughingbride and groom party in fancy dressgroom and wedding guests party in fancy dressbride and wedding guests party in fancy dresswedding guests party in fancy dresswedding guests party in fancy dresswedding guests party in fancy dressguest shaves message into chest hair

I’ve written a blog post on all the destination wedding photography faq’s I’ve received over the years, hopefully it helps with your planning!

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Pembroke Lodge wedding photography

Pembroke lodge wedding photography – Richmond Park, London

“We are looking for a venue with the best view in London, surrounded by parkland, with wild deer running around. We also love Georgian Mansions and! We love Wisteria draped all over the front of the building, you know, in that quintessentially English cottage garden kind of way”. Oh snap, I’ve got the perfect place…

pembroke lodge wedding photography

Right, less rambling, here’s some things that are worth you knowing.

The sun stays on the courtyard (is it a courtyard?) all day and when it sets the entire building is bathed in the most romantic orange glow. Not only that but it means you have a huge window of opportunity for couple portraits, either take some during the cocktail hour, or wait until in-between courses and head out during sunset. What does that look like Liam, you paint such glorious pictures with words but sometimes we need images! Ok, ok, calm down, I’ve got a picture here look:

pembroke lodge wedding photography

Apparently it’s the Thames Valley and Surrey you’re looking out on, I’m no Geographer so i’ll take their word for that one.

Pembroke Lodge is the only licensed venue within Richmond Park don’t you know, so if you want to get married in your park, this is your only option. They have been running events, parties and weddings for over fifty years, so you’re in safe hands.

Where’s the ceremony held?

Good question. You can of course get married somewhere else and have Pembroke Lodge as your reception venue, or, you have the choice of two lovely suites to stage your celebrations. Your choices are the Russel suite and the Belvedere suite. Belvedere being an excellent name for your first born…daughter, twist! Or maybe a very regal dog, like an Irish wolfhound. Although I’d probably call it Hank.

Pembroke Lodge Wedding Photography

Here’s something they will never tell you in the brochure. The floor to ceiling windows that allow access into the ceremony and wedding breakfast room open from the bottom. Why is this important? Because, when your friends get drunk, someone will crawl underneath it, and that’s really funny.

Wedding photography is all about capturing moments, real moments, not staging or interfering. It’s the difference between photographs of you that you recognise and simply running through a pose sheet, I want to capture you, who you are as individuals. Everyone loves differently, some people are really affectionate, others are much more reserved, putting you in poses that are uncomfortable for you will just end up looking exactly that – uncomfortable. You do you, and I’ll photograph that, because that’s real and real is awesome.

Pembroke Lodge – Richmond Wedding Venue

What else is rad about Richmond Park? There’s genuine incentive for your guests to arrive early to walk around the grounds and see the Deer. Having access to an abundance of green space and wildlife so close to central is pretty cool. If you live in London and want to pay homage to the city in which you live, but also don’t want a city wedding, Pembroke Lodge is definitely worth a visit. Country home vibes but stones throw from town.

HEADS UP: The front of the house looks amazing when the Wisteria is in bloom. BUT it only typically blooms once per year in late spring, May/June time. It’s really easy to forget that because when you see it, it looks incredible, and then you may think ‘hey, let’s get married in August’, but by then, the purple flowers will have gone. Yes I have one in my own garden, I love gardening these days.

ANOTHER HEADS UP: last time I was at Pembroke Lodge, they had a sound limiter. What’s that you say? It’s a device equipped with a microphone the monitors the sound levels, if it gets too loud, then it shuts off the electricity. I’m guessing this is to do with environmental health laws, the surrounding area which is residential, and maybe disturbance of wildlife. If you are wanting to rave it up, this may impose on your disco plans.

Getting Married at Pembroke Lodge, in Richmond Park? Let’s get a brew, the milky bars are on me.

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Let’s check out some more!

You’ve got links to Jewish Wedding Photography, a Asian Wedding Photography and Wedding at One Whitehall Place

 

 

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Getting married under a Pagoda? Here’s some thoughts

Getting married under a pagoda? Here’s some thoughts. By the way, hello from Liam Smith Photography!

This occurred to me the other day whilst walking around the grounds at a wedding venue in the Northamptonshire countryside. The already beautiful barn has added an outdoor area to hold your ceremony which not only means you can have more guests, but you can also get married in the great outdoors! Well…under a canopy, but that’s the law in the UK.

Anyway, pagodas.

This applies to all wedding venues I’ve seen by the way.

Wedding venues lay out the chairs on the lawn, and they look fab, aisle all pristine, a fresh emerald carpet of grass, adorned with flower petals, gorgeous.

You have to get married under a solid canopy, that’s the law in the UK.

But what happens is, you end up in the pagoda as a couple, with the next closest people being the two registrars (there’s always two) and me. All of us relative strangers, and we are the closest to you at a very significant moment. Your nearest and dearest are sat down on the lawn, about ten feet away, probably more.

Throw a wedding video person in there too and you’re outnumbered 2:1.

My question is, why does this happen?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have some chairs under the pagoda too so you can have your crew within touching distance, in the moment, feeling it with you. Then have the rows of guests right up close to the structure as well to make it a much more intimate affair, even though it’s outdoors?

Weddings are incredibly intimate events, but sometimes the ceremony can feel like a spectator sport. Guests cut off from the action. The best weddings I’ve ever been too are where guests are in the mix, up close and personal, living it with you. Its much more intense and feels more connected to those around you.

There is a venue where the pagoda is on the other side of a moat. I forget the name. Whilst it looks great in pictures, it feels cut off from your guests. People are what make events. Weddings aren’t just about the couple, they are a celebration of all of your most intimate relationships. A celebration of everyone who has supported you on your journey. Having them surround you as you celebrate your love for one another seems logical.

Question why the venue has set up the chairs, question what the registrar says. Unless its law, it can be changed.

You are paying customers. Getting married isn’t free, even if you go to the registry office and nothing else, there is still a fee involved.

I’m not inciting anarchy, only to not be afraid to challenge the norms. If you’re paying for it, make sure it delivers on what you really want, even if it is a formal event.

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Sculpture Gallery Wedding Photos, Woburn

“I’m originally from Milton Keynes”

*silence*

“ahh yes, the place with all the roundabouts…”

Let’s call this blog post and ode to Wedding Photography in Milton Keynes and the possibilities of a beautiful wedding within the town with a reputation for being little more than a commuter village with roundabouts and concrete cows.

Yes, I was born in Milton Keynes, yes, I grew up there. Is it as dull as it’s reputation? I think not, maybe i’m biased, but if you’ll indulge me, there are in fact many a lovely place in and around Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes is actually quite cool. We have Woburn, Willen lake, Bletchley park, Bradwell Abbey, Stony Stratford, like canals? got loads of them. See, it’s all going on, “what about gullivers land and center parcs” – quiet, no one needs to know about them…

Let’s start where we intend to begin (that sounded more Shakespearean in my head), Woburn. Now Liam, Woburn is technically in Bedfordshire, how ever will you convince us if you can’t get your geography right?

Well, i’m going to claim it as the majority of Woburn has an MK postcode, MK17 to be exact, so blah! 

Woburn has history. It appears in the Domesday book in 1086 (I’ve been calling it the doomsday book, why didn’t anyone ever correct me? this reminds me of the time i was saying ‘a-dajj’ with a sort of french accent, instead of ‘addage’, i guess that’s a testament to how polite people in MK are? can i claim that one? yes i’m going to). Like much of the UK in the middle ages, there seemed to be a great mis-use of fire, and like London, Woburn was hit by many fires throughout it’s history. Reading by the lamplight? clothes soaked in paraffin? grandma soaked in paraffin? who knows, either way, it’s been burnt down and rebuilt a few times. The jewel in it’s crown today and what it is probably most widely known for is of course Woburn abbey and Woburn safari park, and that’s where this gig goes down.

Starting off at St.Mary’s parish church and heading off up the hill, past the Deer and on to the sculpture gallery.

One thing about wedding photography that I’ve always loved is how moments just happen in front of you. It’s probably why I’ve always struggled with the idea of winning awards for my photography, because the moment is there, you just have to be paying attention. In the same way that a dream comes to you, an aesthetically pleasing moment appears in the exact same way. It is not in your control, you have no influence over it and even poetically enough, if you try too hard to hold on to it, it will escape you. You have to embrace it, stay calm, move fluidly with it and allow it to run it’s course, snatch at it and it disappears, like an icicle melting in your palm, the perfection of it exists only for a second. This wedding was full of these moments, somehow bold and subtle at the same time. The twisting of fingers, such a simple gesture that communicates so much. Apprehension, nerves, joyful anticipation. 

It’s amazing to watch people do what they do. There’s no need to interfere, the beauty is all around. And if you were in any doubt over whether or not to have a confetti canon, scroll to the end, it will probably help you make up your mind.

Want to see another wedding at woburn? Click here

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Asian wedding photographer

Asian wedding photographer 

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.