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Q: What do we do if it rains on my wedding day?
A: Party indoors, and tell the story of your day!
If you have a doorway, you can make stunning bridal and couple portraits (it’s raining outside)
If you have your friends and family surrounding you, you can have a blast.
Some of my most favourite images have been taken on days that it’s raining. They’re full of chaos as people dash from building to building dodging the rain. Priests, nuns and guests have to huddle together in small spaces, in connects us on a human level, a very basic one where no one wants to get wet. It breaks down boundaries, you start to joke and jest with the people who are all of a sudden pressed up against you. Rain brings laughter and a sense of togetherness, all chipping in to make the bride and grooms day run a bit smoother.
My job as a London wedding photographer is to tell the story of the day, with that in mind I make no attempt to hide the fact that it’s raining. Living in the UK, it’s not uncommon for August to be scattered with showers, the usual great British summer gags get the annual airing. I photograph what’s happening in front of me and don’t try to change it.
Couple portraits can be taken indoors, as can group pictures, there is genuinely nothing to worry about. The most pragmatic thing we can do is to make a wet weather plan. Visiting the venue before the wedding is beneficial for this reason alone, knowing where plan B will take place puts everyone’s mind at ease on the day. Started to rain? Oh well, let’s head inside to where we discussed. Easy!
The light that comes on a rainy day is soft and even as it becomes diffused by the clouds, it looks amazing. In my career I’ve only ever had one day that was a complete wash out – I mean relentless, all day rain – so the odds are in your favour of fifteen minutes of a break in the weather to head outside for any pictures you would like to take, either group pictures or couple portraits. Some of the best light I’ve ever seen has occurred just after it has stopped raining.
The clouds are still angry and grey, but the light cuts through them, casting light of a biblical nature, the beams cutting through the clouds, the light cutting through the darkness. The contrast is beautiful, and makes for really cool pictures.
#1. I’m game for getting wet!
One thing to bear in mind is that I don’t mind if I get wet, if you’re game to head outside then so am I! Embrace it. Jump in puddles, huddle close together under a singe umbrella. As long as you’re warm and happy, the rain can be incredibly romantic.
#2. Hot chocolate and marshmallows!
Think of all the amazing things you love to do in the wintertime, basically snuggle in front of a fire, so why not do that. Plenty of tea, coffee and blankets will keep everybody happy.
Once the cold sets in then it can feel cold and ‘orrible. If everyone is plenty warm enough and has a cup of something warm they’ll be reet. Hot chocolate is a cool idea, why not ask your caterers to provide that and source a fire pit – hot chocolate and marshmallows will keep everyone warm and entertained.
#3. Plan ahead
Keep an eye on the forecast on the build up to the wedding, if it looks like it will rain, consider asking everyone to bring colourful umbrellas, or supply them yourself. They will add a wonderful contrast to the scene.
Flexibility and communication is key at all weddings, but particularly if the weather is all over the shop. The timetable will move and shift as we dodge showers and we may need a few helpers to round up guests if we’re shooting indoors. I mention this as typically when we’re outside I can holla at everyone and call out names. If we’re inside and maybe in a separate room, we’ll need a runner to make it work to maximum efficiency.
#4. Have no expectations – seriously
It’s well documented in mindfulness teachings that we only feel disappointed when our expectations are not met. If you generate an image of a beautiful sunny day and it rains, then reality won’t meet your expectations and you’ll feel let down. Focus on the people around you.
Everyone has travelled from far and wide to celebrate a connection you share with another person, that’s a beautiful thing. I’ve been to extraordinarily expensive weddings and I’ve been to low key elopements, whatever the scenario the key part of the day has always been the people. The people make the event, they bring the laughter and the tears, they bring the singing and dancing, they bring the event to life.
Be cool, the suppliers all know what they’re doing, all that’s left is to enjoy it. Make sure you do, weddings are a bloody riot. Tell everyone how much you love them. Hug everybody. Kiss your partner. Kick off your shoes, bring the ravers spirit to life, it’s the best party you’ll ever have, don’t miss it!
Chances are this is the first time you have needed to book a photographer and as such, you will have plenty of questions – this is good, I encourage as many questions as possible.
Finding a wedding photographer can be difficult. Admittedly there are thousands of us, but photographs are incredibly personal. I encourage you to look through your old family photographs of when you were a child or from when your parents were married. The same feelings you get from these images will be transferred to your photographs a hundred years from now when the next generations look at them and say ‘oh wow, Nan and Grampa were so stylish!’ – or just laugh at everyone’s haircuts.
Hug or handshake? I’m Liam, it’s nice to meet you.
Being new to this wedding game, you’ll likely want to know how it all goes down, what to expect and when. In this post I wanted to put together a timeline of sorts so you know what to expect right the way through from first enquiry to ordering a wedding album.
I aim to respond to all enquiries within 48 hours. If you haven’t heard from me, firstly check your spam box (enter your mobile number on the contact form to mitigate this) and if there’s still no message then I may be off in the wilderness somewhere. It’s quite common for me to take holidays that are in places with no phone signal or WiFi in order to escape from technology. I love modern life, but I also love getting back in touch with the world around me.
If I’m not available for your date I’ll send over a few other websites from wedding photographers who I know and trust for your delectation. I always check if they’re free for your date before sending so you’re not stuck in an enquiry loop!
I make a point of meeting every couple where possible face to face. This is really important. You may love my work, but in order for the whole process to work, you need to like me. Documentary photography in the real world is a very different animal, you don’t know anyone and are a casual observer. Weddings are different. They are intimate occasions and even though I don’t direct you, you need to feel comfortable in my presence and relax enough to let the real you come through.
Beer, tea, whiskey, coffee? All at once if it’s that kind of gig…
I like to get to know people, it helps me understand the vibe of the day and allows you to get to know and be relaxed around me. This underpins the whole process, you need to like me in order to trust me, and trust is everything.
Want to book? We’re a team now – Let’s do this.
I ask for £400 for your deposit and that you fill in my booking form. It’s really simple, names, addresses that sort of thing. Once that’s returned you are officially booked in, stamped, carved in stone, signed, sealed, delivered i’m yours for the day.
I’ve written lots of articles over the years with various tips and tricks that will no doubt help in the planning process. More than likely I’ll have mentioned most of them during our meeting, at least this you you will have them in writing and can refer to them at your leisure. They are mostly things to consider and how they can impact the timeline and or efficiency of the day. For example hiding when you exit the ceremony stops a receiving line forming for efficiency, but a receiving line ensures you get lots of pictures hugging and greeting your guests – once you have the info, you can then plan the best day possible.
During the build up
Send me any questions you may have, even if they’re not photography related. I’ve seen so many weddings that if I can’t give you a direct answer based upon lived experience, I will at least be able to point you in the right direction.
One month before the wedding
The remainder of the balance becomes due in this period, let me know when that’s been settled and I’ll confirm receipt.
Next I’ll need a list of any group photographs you would like as well as an agenda for the day. Be as detailed as possible with your group shot list, first and last names. The most efficient way to structure them is in family groups biggest to smallest, I can help with re-ordering for max efficiency.
The week of the wedding
I’ll send an email or give you call double checking that nothing has changed and that addresses, locations are all still correct and run through the plan one last time so it’s fresh in the mind.
On the wedding day
I’ll be there! That’s always a good start.
I aim to get to the first location earlier than we originally agreed for my own piece of mind so don’t be alarmed if I’m half an hour early. Traffic jams and cancelled trains have all featured in the past but I’ve equally never been late. I always go for the safe than sorry mantra and turn up earlier than needed.
For most of the day you won’t notice me. Even in small rooms with few people I’ll blend into the background, people often tell me they forget i’m there which is the highest compliment, not forgetting that i’m over six foot so I think that’s pretty good going.
Chances are we will need to be flexible on the timings, some things can run over, other things can take less time than you expect. Throw the weather into the mix and things can get interesting. I love rainy weddings, but that’s another story.
I’ll be moving in and out of the crowds documenting the day as it happens in front of me. I’ll make myself known again when it’s time for family photographs and couple portraits so I can take control of that and then blend into the scenery again afterwards – but in a cool way, like Batman would.
Later on I’ll be dancing with everyone else and getting into the swing of things photographing people on the dance-floor, if i’m not driving I’ll of course share a drink with all my new found pals and chums.
After the wedding
With your permission I’ll post a few images to social media, mostly Instagram so follow me here: https://www.instagram.com/liam_smith_photography/ There is no rhyme or reason to this, I have no social media ‘strategy’ and will post things that I think are funny/heartfelt/artistic. I can tag you if you wish, let me know.
Six weeks later
I will aim to have your images ready to go in a lovely box ready for the post office. It is worth noting that in some years it has taken longer than this as the summer months are the busiest period and I can shoot three weddings in a week. The other reason that it takes a little while is because I personally do all of the editing. This is not commonplace, but I take pride in handling the images from start to finish and delivering exactly what I saw and felt on the day through my pictures.
Once you’ve confirmed delivery I’ll send a link to the online gallery containing the same set of images. These can be downloaded and shared and friends and family can buy prints and or albums if they wish. I thoroughly encourage this as too few pictures ever get printed. I am equally guilty of this, but it does deny you the future pleasure of leafing through and album and remembering the old days. I full on curate my family albums, book one took four years, ha.
I love feedback.
I want to be the best possible photographer and deliver consistent quality. I would love it if you could email me with any ideas, thoughts and feelings. Learning is what allows us to grow and I want to be the greatest version of myself and you can help me get there!
That’s my timeline, I hope it has helped in some way.
It’s important to note that I am lovely, for realsies. And with that in mind, you can genuinely ask me anything. Gents this means you too. My job is to make you feel absolutely at ease. If you have a particular hang up, are thinking you could do with some help on what style suit to wear or wondering what colour combinations work, tell me about it and I’ll hook you up, don’t worry, we’re a team now, I’ve got your back.
Getting married in a church? Read this.
Wedding photography. The clue is in the name – wedding.
You would assume then that every wedding that I photograph includes pictures of the actual wedding part, the bit where you get married.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case…
Vicars, priests, celebrants, registrars. The wedding ceremony is their show and they can dictate the rules.
The vast majority are lovely, there are however some who like to make sure the photographer knows their place.
I have been told to stand at the back of the church and hide, I’ve also been told that if anyone hears my camera go off during the ceremony or if I move, then the wedding will be stopped and I’ll be asked to leave.
These rules are fine and I have no problem obeying them. Before I delve deeper, perhaps you should read another one of my insightful articles here: How I Got The Shot – Emotional Father of the Bride Speech.
The problem is, no one ever tells the couple what the rules are and how they could ultimately effect the photographs.
It’s not uncommon for me to tell clients this when we meet (not forgetting at this stage they have booked the venue/church) and they then have to go back to the officiant and find out whether or not pictures are allowed to be taken during the ceremony.
When booking a wedding venue, you can’t assume that the answer will be yes. If the ceremony pictures is a deal breaker for you, then you have to know that sometimes wedding photographers are banned from taking pictures during the wedding ceremony.
There is a secondary issue here and that is where the rules conflict with my style of working.
Many officials will specify “you can take pictures during the giving of the rings and the kiss, that’s it” – the best moments never happen during these orchestrated moments. I’ve had to let amazing photographs go for fear of being ejected form the premises.
Ultimately, you as the couple are the ones who lose out. It breaks my heart to see a moment go by that I can’t capture, but they’re your memories that I’m not allowed to capture.
Check before booking what the rules are of the establishment, get written confirmation if you have to.
Now then, officials also have my sympathy.
Before digital photography there were film cameras. Typically, these things sounded like a barn door closing every time you would take a picture. Film technology got nowhere near digital in terms of the ability to shoot in low light, therefore you needed flash.
Imagine an entire generation of photographers clinking, clunking and flashing during the wedding ceremony and you can see why they might start to get pissed off at us as a collective for creating distractions.
Digital technology hasn’t done much to improve relations.
Whilst we can now shoot silently in near darkness, the problem now is the technology has created potential. Where once shots were impossible in the darkest churches, now they’re no problem. You can move and shoot, get high, get low etc.
This creates a problem, because once you can do something, it then encourages people to try it. This is where I would imagine the conflict occurs. If you’ve been to a wedding this year as a guest, you may have seen this part in action.
I’ve been a guest at three weddings this season and have seen photographers try and get in the pulpit to take pictures, put the camera underneath the hands as rings are exchanged (consider for a second how close you would have to be to do that) and walk across the presbytery/chancel area with no regard for the area in which they are stood.
Wedding photographers travel all over the UK and Europe, the chances of you working at the same church in the same year is much slimmer than it would have been previously. This makes it easier to rationalise bad behaviour, and by that i mean taking pictures when you’re not allowed to.
Rationalising it with ‘I’ll never see this vicar again, so what’s the problem?’ – the problem arises when the next photographer arrives the following Saturday. By that time the officiant is so pissed that they clamp down and completely ban pictures during the ceremony.
Ultimately everyone loses. The ceremony is one of the most emotionally charged parts of the day, emotions reach never before experienced heights, the pictures can be amazing.
Couples – check that pictures can be taken and also ask where the photographer is allowed to stand.
Photographers – don’t be an arse, think of the next person.
“What the hell is a pre wedding photographer?” a friend once asked me, obviously outraged by the terminology, the clue I said, is in the name.
For yes, times are a changing and engagement shoot is now often interchangeable with a pre wedding shoot, and where better to have said pre wedding shoot, than in merry old London? Pubs, cafes, Brutalist architecture, Gothic churches…London genuinely has it all.
So why pre wedding photography rather than engagement shoot? To be honest, it’s probably to remove itself from whatever images were conjured by the words engagement shoot. The old school way. With pre wedding photography, the genre is new and fresh, free to define itself as something evolved away from the past. Many couples will have their pre wedding photographs in outfits similar to what you might expect to wear on a wedding day, and that’s the real difference. To be honest, I’m not fussed about what the industry calls it. Shall we take some pictures before the wedding day so we can get to know each other and have a laugh? Yeah? Sweet, let’s do it.
Pre wedding photography is an opportunity to cut loose and create something special. I focus on natural moments during the wedding day and don’t prompt people to laugh, cry or recreate a moment. On the wedding day, the emotive side of photography is paramount. In a pre wedding shoot however, you don’t have the same emotional reaction to an event to pull on, so that’s why it’s time to get creative.
Couples book my pre wedding photography shoots because they often travel to London and the UK and want to create a series of images which celebrate their time here. Clients often travel from the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore and China specifically to take epic pictures in the UK, particularly the lake district and the highlands. Because let’s face it, they are epic landscapes.
Each pre wedding shoot is customised to maximise our time together. I’m not a fan of putting time limits on shoots as they are organic creatures and often take time to reach their peak. These shoots are a collaboration, you need to warm up and get used to me in that context and these things can’t be rushed.
If you book a pre wedding shoot with me, i’ll book out the whole day so it gives me the flexibility to work with you free from time constraints. My favourite drink is Guinness, and we all know, good things come to those who wait.
My top tips for you
This won’t be a ‘turn up and hug’ sort of shoot. We are going to play. And I mean seriously play. These aren’t going to be pictures that your gran wants on the mantle piece, you know the one, where you’re both smiling at the camera. This is an opportunity for us to create something different. It’s much more of a collaboration, we have to work together, sure it’s my vision, but I need you raring to go to make it work.
Tell me what snacks you like
Vegan protein bites? Jaffa Cakes? Mars bars? Whatever it is, we’ll need fuel. Let me know in advance what will keep your blood sugars up and enthusiasm levels high and i’ll make sure we’re stocked up.
Don’t bring shopping bags, backpacks or handbags. They’ll slow you down and you’ll be worried to leave them in a public place incase someone nicks them. You need your head in the game. Bring the bare minimum, phone, wallet keys. Fortunately in London all you really need is a payment card and your house keys as everything is so accessible. You can put them in my bag and then won’t have to worry about them.
We might get dirty
depending on where we choose to shoot, we might lean against walls, lay on the floor or even folly in the fields. Either way, you might get dirty. This will all come out in the planning process, so if you want a high fashion look and will be wearing a white dress, then we won’t plan to have the pre wedding shoot on a hiking trail. If however you want to shoot in a rapeseed field, then we’re going to get covered in yellow pollen. Sounds good to me.
What to wear?
To be honest, there isn’t an answer to this question. This depends hugely on what look you want to achieve from these images. If you want to look cocktail party chic or country walking cool then of course each location will require different clobber. All of these details will be revealed in the planning process. Who knows, you may want to hike up the mountain first and then get changed into super chic suits and dresses. I’m game! I’ll bring the brandy, you know, for warmth.
Hair and make up
Ask yourself what it is you want from this shoot. If it’s mad pictures that are all out crazy creative, then turn up as you are. We will be on the floor, potentially on grass, maybe jumping around, so it’ll be a waste of money. If however, you want glam and chic, then I recommend you have your hair and make up done on the morning of the shoot. Or as my favourite home girls say, ‘get your hair did’.
We may as well go all out. You have invested your time and money in this shoot, you definitely want these pictures, so let’s get the maximum from it.
Secondly, if you’re feeling a million bucks, then chances are it will flow through you, show itself in a happy face and bring joy and positivity. I’m more than happy to recommend hair and make up artists if you’re travelling from abroad and need contacts. Or even if you live in London or the UK and need a hook up, let me know.
Hey Liam, what if it rains that day?
We can either run around in the rain, or reschedule for when the days are looking a bit brighter. Such is the joy of a pre wedding shoot, we have flexibility.
If you want to schedule a shoot outside of London or somewhere that might cause accessibility issues, such as Snowden, the lake district, remote parts of Scotland etc. than do not fear, I can drive us. Email me with your thoughts and ideas and we’ll get plotting!
Locations in London
Some location suggestions for the best pre wedding photography in London (that aren’t super cliché and boring) include:
- Kew Garden
- Hill gardens and pergola
- Richmond park
- Greenwich park
Farming, not really synonymous with Milton Keynes. Sure we have concrete cows (i’d love to rebrand Milton Keynes to get rid of that one, they’re so crappy) but beyond that, most people think of roundabouts. If you say to someone, as a Milton Keynes wedding photographer, that is the immediate response ‘oh the place with all the roundabouts, yeah i drove through there once’ or ‘yeah I’ve been to the shopping centre’ (in it’s defence, the shopping centre is quite handy).
I’m sure it was the longest in Europe at one stage, maybe that was a load of rubbish made up in the seventies to encourage people to move there. If it is, then it worked. Milton Keynes is now thriving, in fact the expansion has happened so fast that the roads tell the story of a town that grew without adequate infrastructure in place.
Moving back to MK after ten years away has made that abundantly clear, a place where you could breeze through town in my youth has now gone the way of all other major cities in the UK, at 4.30, you don’t want to be on the roads. This may seem like a moan, but it’s actually a sign that MK is on the up. Redevelopment, investment, new businesses setting up headquarters, another twenty years and it will be a major player in Britain’s economic portfolio. Well that’s enough of that advert for MK, where was I. Oh yeah, farming.
The beauty of MK lies in the fact that you can have all the amenities you need within a twenty minute drive, but then also have the joy of driving for twenty minutes in the opposite direction, and find yourself in the countryside. I live in a wee little village called Yardley. I can be at MK central station in fifteen minutes, or I can open my front door, walk two hundred metres and be in a field full of sheep. It’s amazing. I often run around the fields (exercise, not just a a maniac) with Kites only a few metres over my head, it’s food for the soul to be in touch with nature.
Upon first reaching the farm, I was greeted by a terrifying sign, beware of the dog. Now i’m not scared of dogs, but I don’t inherently trust them in the same way other people seem to. Dogs are tribal, they look after their own pack. Being on a farm I’m expecting to see a beast of a dog bound up to me and bark bark bark until i’m deaf in one ear.
You’ll see from the pictures however, that this guy is far too interested in snoozing than patrolling. It turns out in fact, that the sign was merely a comedic jab at the dogs expense. So notorious is he for failing to be roused from his slumber when strangers appear, it seemed fitting to put up the sign for sarcastic purposes only. Not only did I love the dog, but I also knew that any person who takes sarcasm so seriously would also be my best friend, turns out i was right, this family was awesome.
Tipi parties are a fantastic idea if you’ve got the land to put them up on. When I got married the venue took up half of the budget. Being able to cut that right down would have been a major win. For anyone looking for a wedding venue, have a look at your local farmland and ask around if any of the fields are up for grabs, it could save you big bucks in the long run and you’re not at the whim of the local councils ‘keep the nose down’ laws, party on Garth!
If you’re interested in seeing more wedding photography from milton keynes check out the links below!