Do I Need Two Wedding Photographers?

Should I hire a second photographer?

My answer? Straight yes, here’s why:

I go into detail in this post of course, but ultimately, you can’t be in two places at once. 

When I’m taking pictures like this:

best speech photography

It’s awesome knowing you have a quality second photographer backing you up, getting shots like this:

wedding guest crying during speeches

The Groom/Bride Prep

First and foremost, you can’t physically be in two places at once. The wedding is about both partners and therefore both should have equal attention and equal weight in the story of the day. It’s amazing to look back at the photographs of the other partner in the morning as it’s the one part of the day that you will have no exposure to whatsoever.

Everyone experiences the build up to the ceremony differently and is often full of amazingly intimate moments between close friends and family removed from the gaze of all of the wedding guests. Groom prep, like bridal prep, often happens in a familiar space, such as the family home. Being a familiar environment makes people relax and are arguably more susceptible to physically being in tune with the emotion of the day.

bridesmaids react to seeing bridegroom on way to wedding

The Ceremony

Again, the physical location. If you’re getting married in a church, it’s not uncommon for the authority running the service to ask us photographers not to move. This means you’re severely limited in terms of shooting different angles. With a second photographer, this is no longer an issue.

When the bride enters the church, one photographer can shoot up the aisle looking at the bride, the other can shoot down the aisle, capturing the back of the bride as she enters and also the grooms reaction to seeing her. The next big win is during the vows and ring exchange.

If I am in the choir stalls and can’t move, then I can only see one persons face and then the back of the other. The second photographer will have a clear view looking down the aisle of these events and can either come in close, or zoom in from afar to capture both expressions, because it’s a partnership, and no one is more important than the other.

The Reception

Having a wedding with 120+ plus guests? I would always recommend having a second photographer. Why? Shooting documentary style images takes skill and patience, running around a wedding trying to capture everyone won’t yield good photographs.

With this in mind, it also means that you can’t one hundred percent guarantee that you will take a photograph of every single guest. Some people hide, i’m not kidding, some guests have actively kept an eye on me to avoid being in any images. This is the nature of documentary wedding photography, you can’t be everywhere at once, and you can’t guarantee that all kids will be involved in a ‘moment’.

Having a second wedding photographer doubles your chances. Typically the second photographer is also tasked with photographing the guests and details as a hire priority. Acknowledging that they are there in a support role, to capture things that the primary photographer can’t. It’s a team game, working together to produce the best product and service it the idea.

The Speeches

Guest reactions. This is what second photographers were born to capture! It makes sense that the couple and their nearest and dearest are most likely to have the greatest reaction to the speeches. Having one photographer trained in on those key interactions, looking for the killer shot whilst the other photographs the guests is a perfect combo. It again gives us access to different angles and compositions and tells a more compelling story.

two wedding photographersguest crying

Is your second photographer a pro, or a new starter? 

I saw this post on a wedding forum which compelled me to write this post.

It’s really easy to forget that certain details are not obvious to clients, and details like this are potentially significant.

Here’s what the user wrote:

“A second shooter is NOT a second professional. If they were, they would have their own business and not be working a 10 hr day for measly pay. We do not hire “seasoned” professional photographers to shoot with us. They are newbies, people who want to get their feet wet, and people who want to learn how to shoot weddings without mistakes looming over their head. You should not count on the second shooter providing more than 10% of your images, and while there are of course instances where this is not the case, the overwhelming majority of the time the pro will only pull maybe one shot per sequence of events to complete the “story”.”

“I think it’s rather sad how so many people are so focused on there being two shooters they don’t realise it’s not two pro’s they are hiring. When you book your photographer make sure to ask things like how many images they usually turn over. If you are booking a second shooter, ask how long they’ve been working, a sample of their work, and ask how many of the seconds’ shots you usually receive.”

When the writer states ‘we do not hire seasoned professionals’, it’s unclear if they are referring to their own business practices, or a collective ‘we’ in the wedding photography industry.

Either way, the point they make is worth addressing.

In my own business, Liam Smith Photography, I only hire seasoned professionals to work with me.

If I’ve shot your wedding and you’ve seen moustachio’d JD, my wonderfully colourful Romanian chum big M, or the magnificently bearded Lee, then these lads are all veterans of the wedding photography game, which is why I hire them.

I have to pay them more of course, but my intention is to provide the client with the best service and the best photographs. There is exactly zero point in sending a newbie to photograph the groom prep whilst I am with the bride. I want images that sit seamlessly alongside mine so when you see the final product and view it as a complete narrative, there shouldn’t be a difference in quality. Maybe slight variations in style, but that’s it.

Because of this, I often end up entirely jealous of some of the images the people I work with take. I edit their pictures too to keep the final product consistent, whilst scrolling through I always find myself admiring their work and saying to myself ‘I wish I’d taken that’.

The whole point of having two photographers is so the second can capture moments whilst the primary is physically in a different place documenting another moment. It’s a team game. I work with these people because I trust them to deliver, and they always do. This often results in me delivering around 1500 images and the percentage split being around 70/30.

As the paying client, it is worth considering what the above poster has said.

How would you feel if you knew that the second photographer you had paid for was a new starter?

If you’ve hired a husband and wife team, or a company who actively advertises themselves as a pair, then you’re golden, consistency across their website and social media platforms should illustrate the level of quality to expect from both wedding photographers.

For me, in all endeavours, everything hinges on trust. If you trust who you’ve hired, then you trust their judgement in who they will hire to shoot with them on the day.

As the client, you should know these key facts about second photographers.

Top level photographers will very often be booked to shoot their own weddings on key dates and therefore won’t be available to second shoot.

In this case, there is no choice but to hire those who are maybe slightly earlier on in their careers. This is true across the industry, in my business however, I wouldn’t work with anyone I couldn’t trust to deliver quality wedding photographs.

When you book your wedding photography package and are hiring a second wedding photographer, it’s worth asking if the second photographer is a regular.

Because we (by ‘we’ collectively in the industry) want to work with the best photographers available, it’s not uncommon to wait until the wedding date is drawing near before confirming who the second photographer will be. As mentioned, top photographers will hold out for their own clients before committing to a second role.

When you meet your wedding photographer, don’t be surprised if they can’t confirm at that exact time who the other photographer on the day will be. It is worth enquiring however, if you can see a wedding which two photographers have shot, this will give you an indication of what to expect from whoever is hired in to help, as of course, it won’t be the primary photographer shooting everything.

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Getting Married In A Church? Here’s What You Need To Know!

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…

church ceremony

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

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.

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Top Tips For Planning Your Wedding And Getting Better Wedding Photographs!

Having photographed well over 100 weddings I’ve pretty much seen it all. Biblical storms, bad-ass dance moves, the vicar getting the sermon oh so horribly wrong. With this experience comes a great deal of opportunity for learning to make your wedding day as efficient as possible.

groom crying

I’m a big believer that your day is exactly that, your day – not for me or anyone to interfere with. It is however incredibly useful when you’ve never planned a wedding or big event before to gather as much info as you can from suppliers in the know.

There is exactly zero chance that you will be able to think of all possible scenarios, which is why it’s a great idea to tap into the collective knowledge of all of your suppliers. Each will have extensive knowledge of weddings and can each offer tips on how to make your day as smooth as possible.

Here’s what I’ve seen over the years that can really help make the whole day a breeze, so hopefully it will help you out.

At Liam Smith Photography, I document moments, I photograph what is happening in front of me, it’s bottling the magic of pure chance. That being said, if I can apply my prior experience and my knowledge of photography in order to create a potentially better moment due to planning rather than interfering, that would be advantageous.

I could argue against myself and say that any instruction I give would be a technical interference and go against the purist mantra, but we can take it too far can’t we.

This article is intended to give you practical tips to ultimately give you a superior product and a bloody awesome wedding day.

If you came to the end of your wedding and found out that an element of it could have been improved but no-one told you, you’d have some choice words for those individuals. It is my job, therefore, to aid you on your journey to fantastic photographs.

Here’s my top tips for getting the most out of your wedding photographs, streamlining your wedding and saving time on the day.

Top Tip One – speech photographs

Consider the height of your flowers and clear the tables

This is a zinger and there’s a good reason it’s my opener. This can aid the atmosphere in the room and will definitely improve the pictures and experience of the speeches.

Consider the height of your flowers.

If you sit down in front of them, what can you see, or more importantly what can’t you see? If your tables are round and you have a huge centre piece, you won’t be able to see and therefore interact with at least two of the people on the opposite side of the table. When the speeches start, will they be able to see past the flowers or are they blocking their view?

This is incredibly important across the top table, if your flowers are at an awkward height they will block your face. One, the guests can’t see you and two, the photographer (me :) ) can’t see you either.

Clear the tables of wine bottles.

This again is about height, wine bottles are at the perfect height to intersect the line of a persons face. Speeches are a great opportunity to capture fantastic pictures of multiple people at once. Everyone is sat in a line, shooting down that line allows me to use the speaker as a foreground reference and then focus on the reactions from the guests.

Here’s a real world example so you can see that I’m not being ridiculous.

I felt compelled to write this blog post based upon the experience at this wedding. I asked the head of the catering team to move the wine bottles to one side for the speeches and they said no. That’s up to them, I still think it’s poor form when we’re all on ‘team wedding’, but whaddayagonnado?

speech wedding photographs

We can clearly see that the flowers and wine bottle are blocking parts of the face.

“Hey Liam, why don’t you just move?”

I do shoot multiple angles, but for this shot in particular to work, I need to be close. I also need to be low down so I’m not blocking the guests view. 

Tricks of the trade

Shooting with a longer lens at larger aperture will compress perspective and lessen the intrusion of the flowers etc.

wedding speech

Does it make my point redundant because a skilled practitioner can find a way to solve the problem? No, it doesn’t, because why wouldn’t you make recommendations that can make everyone’s life easier? My job is to get the best possible pictures for my clients, if I can put my knowledge to use to facilitate that then everybody wins.

As a comparison, here’s an image of speeches with low table flowers.

wedding speeches

tears at wedding

Top Tip Two – Ceremony

Are pictures allowed in the ceremony? – where to stand – why you should care.

I’ve met all kinds of wedding officiants. All faiths, creeds and methods. It’s been fascinating.

It is however entirely up to the person conducting the ceremony how it’s going to go down. I think the first look down the aisle pictures are some of the best. Take this young man for example.

emotional groom

Emotions are charged, it’s electric.

To be told on the wedding day that you can’t take pictures during the ceremony is a real bust, missing the emotions and facial expressions of the ceremony is such a shame, but we as bystanders have no comeback and have to do as we are told.

I make this point because I have had officiants change their mind on the day. They simply decide – Non!

I think that’s cruel because they are denying the couple memories. I appreciate that twenty years ago wedding photographers cameras sounded like a barn door and you needed the floodlights from a football ground to light the room, but things are very, very different.

Modern cameras are near enough silent, the brand new series of mirrorless cameras have no moving parts so are in fact absolutely silent. No distractions, no annoying clicking, just happiness all round.

Dear wedding officiants, our cameras are silent and can shoot in the dark, please let us take pictures during the ceremony…

I don’t see why this can’t be resolved so everyone wins. What is important to remember is that (in the UK at least) getting married is not free. If you wish to marry, you have to pay for the paperwork, admin and legal proceedings. This might only be a few hundred quid, but it is still a fee for a service and this makes you clients.

Technically being a paying client means that it’s not one way traffic. If silence is needed to preserve the sanctity of the moment, that’s a different choice and one that everyone should absolutely respect.

I raise this point because officiants rarely cite this as being the reason, they do not say ‘please respect the sanctity of the moment’ they say ‘I don’t want you to be a distraction’. If you want pictures of the ceremony, I don’t see why you couldn’t then enter into a conversation as civilised adults as to how to create in a scenario which pleases both parties.

I don’t want to push an agenda, I simply hate the idea of missing out on quality photographs and treasured memories because of an outdated idea of how photographers work.

Top Tip Three – Confetti – exit the building – then hide!

The most efficient plan for confetti ever.

wedding confetti

When you exit the church/venue the wedding party will typically be right behind you. You turn around upon exiting the building and then everyone will hug, kiss and congratulate. Beautiful.

Next there is a decision to be made.

If you stay in the same position, every guest will then congratulate you as they exit and it can turn into a sort of receiving line. Not a problem, just something to be aware of.

The single most efficient way to allow everyone to exit the building and to get everyone in two lines ready for confetti is if you hide. When you are out of sight, everyone pays attention. If they can see you, they will gravitate towards you.

Efficiency is key in wedding planning. If you are happy for everyone to come out and say hi straight away, that’s totally cool. It’s worth bearing in mind that a wedding of 150 guests can take twenty minutes for everyone to come out and congratulate you. Whilst one doesn’t wish to impact upon the natural expressions of happiness that guests want to display, there is a timeline to stick to.

Once you’re hidden, guests can be given confetti and manoeuvred into position free from distraction. You can then re-appear at the top of the line, ready to walk down it with a blast of colour. Bosh!

Confetti tip two – leave all the confetti by the door.

Having all of the confetti right by the exit means that as soon as the bridal party walk back up the aisle, they can grab is and be ready to hand it out as everyone else exits the church. Simple and effective.

Confetti tip three – hand out drinks after the confetti is done.

I’ve seen people throw champagne by mistake. Not like hurling the glass at the couple, but like a dramatic movie scene where someone throws water in the other persons face. It’s incredibly rare, but why risk it?

Top Tip Four Bridesmaids flowers – considerations

Do they make up part of the decorations?
Are they needed for photographs?

It’s not uncommon for the bridesmaids flowers to be used as either centre pieces, decorations along the top table or to be placed around the cake for added decoration.

What does sometimes happen is the bridesmaids will put them down and then forget about them. If you would like them in the group photographs then remind them to keep hold of them.

This is really useful for when the group photographs start. You would be amazed how often group pictures are held up because flowers have been left in a locked room, in the toilet or simply at the wedding breakfast table.

Top Tip Five – Group photographs – make a list, go big to small and assign an usher

group photographs

Group photographs will run away from you time wise if you don’t have a plan. There’s no reason why you can’t shoot the entire list in twenty minutes. Granted this is also dictated by the number you have to get through (which is why I suggest no more than ten).

The easiest way to manage group photographs is to start with the biggest groups and reduce the numbers. By shooting the largest group first you have everyone’s ear and they will be paying attention. Thus, we can take the picture then immediate address the crowd and tell them who is needed next but also for the rest of the guests not to wonder too far in case they are needed.

Assign an usher – this can save buckets of time. If you have an usher or similar who knows both sides of the family and friends then they can round up the next photograph whilst the photographer is taking the current one. Ushers are told they are ushers, and are of course honoured to be a part of the bridal party, but beyond that they rarely seem to know what they jobs are. Tell the before they are in charge of rounding up.

A top tip for the gents – don’t have anything in your pockets – they can warp the shape of your suit so it doesn’t sit properly and can also look weird in your trousers.

Group pictures are easiest when no one else is around. With smaller groups of people comes less chatting, fewer distractions and increased efficiency! If group photographs are to be taken at the church it’s easiest to send all the guests on to the reception and keep those needed behind.

A question you will absolutely be asked is do you want drinks in the photos? Decide before the day, tell me and I’ll make sure everyone knows.

Top Tip Six – cutting of cake – middle of dance floor (if possible) ((if you want to do it of course…))

The DJ has a microphone – brilliant. He/She (2018) can address the entire room and tell everyone that the cutting of the cake is imminent. If the cake is in the middle of the dance floor, then everyone will be in the exact right place for the first dance. They can also gather around the couple to make it feel more intimate, and ultimately get better wedding photographs

This comment has to be tempered by the reality that the cake will have to be moved. It often sits in the corner of the room and when it’s cut, only a small number of people can get a good view. In the middle of the dance floor means everyone can see the event. Make sure the caterers are happy to move it, you don’t want groomsmen after a few beers having a crack at it. Get the pros in.

Weddings are a collaboration…

Weddings rely on a lot of people, each with their own unique experience of events.

Tap into the knowledge of every supplier you hire – use their experience and go through different scenarios of what they’ve seen play out to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Investing the time before the day can pay dividends and allow you to sail through, enjoying every moment.

Happy planning.

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4 Things You Didn’t Know About Photography That Might Influence Your Planning

This is a case of, you don’t know what you don’t know.

The intention is to arm you with a few extra bits of information that will help when making a decision on when/where to get married. The main purpose for this is that with the glut of wedding blogs and Pinterest inspiration pages on show, it’s important that your suppliers weigh in with their expertise to make sure that you get the end product that you want. If you would like to book me for a wedding shoot, check out Liam Smith Photography for more information!

#1. Time of Year

This sounds super obvious I know, but take note. The time of year you choose to get married will affect your photographs. In spring the light is much cooler and often looks more blue, in summer, shadows are much harsher due to direct sunlight and guests often wear sunglasses.

In autumn, the leaves are reds and oranges and in winter, the sun sets at 4 pm. Factor in how these things will effect your vision for the day. Remember to visit your venue at the time of year when you plan to get married.

In summer, trees are full and look incredibly grand with their verdant green leaves. That same tree in winter could look pretty sad with it’s branches bare.

Don’t get sold on brochures and other photographers ‘ real weddings’, keep your head in the game and be as sure as you can be. I say this because of the vineyards I’ve photographed weddings at. When they are in full bloom they look amazing, when they are harvested, the vines look appalling. Don’t get caught out by the changes of the seasons and the changes in the landscape.

#2. Mixed Lighting – Warm and Cold

Here’s an example of a cake next to a window. The light inside the room is your everyday tungsten 60w lightbulb, the light outside is of your course your everyday sun, does that have a wattage just for lols? What are we looking at – the daylight is blue and the light inside the room is yellow. When you mix the two, this is the result. Is it a major issue? Not really, but worthy of note, knowledge is power right. More on this below.

#3. Coloured Light Bulbs

Some venues are particularly bad at lighting their spaces. You can take the most amazing barn and fill it with coloured light bulbs to make it look fancy, but then if you stand underneath those bulbs when you get married, all of a sudden your skin is purple.

If it was a single factor, it can be adjusted in Photoshop. The problem comes when the background or surrounding areas are lit with different lighting sources, either daylight, or regular yellow bulbs. When you shift the colours to correct one, the colours of the others are thrown out and look a bit weird. If you can choose, stick to white lights, it looks much better in the pictures

#4. DJ Lights

That awkward moment where you ask the DJ if they can turn their mega expensive laser setup off…
Sorry guys, but they cast really weird shapes onto faces and bodies. Especially wedding dresses. It’s a pure white canvas and everything stands out on it.

Red dots may seem like a cool idea if your theme is polka-dots, but in reality, they just look like spots all over your face. N.B – when the party kicks off, go crazy for lasers. Putt all the lights on you want. This is only really relevant if you want soft, emotional first dance pictures.

After that, the colours and shapes can be quite cool. This point only came to me when I remembered a wedding from many years ago where the uncle was doing the DJ’ing. He has an amazing rig, loads of lights, all the gadgets.

Only problem was, he turned them all on at once. What was a lovely slow dance full of tears ended up needing a lot of editing to get rid of the massive hearts, stars and red dots on the couples faces. First dance, stick with white spotlights, after that, go nuts.

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Annual Events To Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Date

London is a fantastic city to get married in. Rich in history and diverse in architecture, you can walk a hundred metres and go from new world glass and steel to old world french limestone and stained glass. London has it all in abundance.

When choosing your wedding date, it’s important to consider that this bustling city has events happening all the time. This year saw a few London wedding dates coincide with other major events that made getting around on the day tricky. It wasn’t a major headache for me, i’m one person with a rucksack, when you have over a hundred guests and are moving from one location to another, an oversight in planning could lead to you losing an hour of your day in traffic, no one wants that.

Here, I’ve considered the big events that take place in London so you can cross reference when they are happening and decide if it will be a factor when choosing your ideal wedding date.:

Annual Events in London:

#1. April – The London Marathon

Every April, thousands of people gather at the start line of the London marathon to run 26.2 miles around the capital. Typically to raise money for charity, applause, others race each other as if running that far wasn’t enough. I photographed the marathon for a charity a few years back, some ran it in costumes and fainted, others obviously hadn’t trained, it was carnage, but a lot of fun.

What you need to know is that it starts in Blackheath and ends on The Mall. I used to live in Blackheath and they shut ALL OF THE ROADS. This is true for the majority of central London. It’s not just the route that gets shut, it’s all of the surrounding areas too for safety and security. Check what date it’s happening and don’t get caught out!

#2. May – The FA Cup Final

Two teams kick a ball until one team is victorious, this happens endlessly throughout the year across multiple divisions of football and culminates in north west London in May.

Outside of central London, so the impact not as widely felt as the marathon, but worth considering all the same. I would also hasten to add that you could be getting married anywhere in the country and the effects of the FA Cup final be felt. I’ve seen many (admittedly male) guests be completely locked into their phones during the wedding reception as they either watch the game or keep up to date with the text updates.

#3. July – Wimbledon Tennis

Wimbledon, it’s a real place, quite a nice place actually, I thoroughly recommend it as a destination for an afternoons jaunt. The tennis takes place in July and the town itself is rammed with tennis lovers and tourists alike. The surrounding hotels will all be booked up and expect the roads to be bumper to bumper.

There are a few wedding venues in close proximity to the all England club and i’m sure they are more than used to dealing with the increase of people during the two weeks that the tournament is held, but still, worth thinking about if you’re getting married in south west London.

#4. July – Pride Parade

Similar to the marathon, expect road closures throughout central London and the transport system to be much busier than normal on a weekend (when it’s bloody busy anyway). Could add some awesome colour to you shots if you plan it right though!

#5. August – Notting hill carnival

I can’t say I’ve ever been to the carnival, but it seems to be a mega deal and I’m sure plenty of the streets in the surrounding areas are closed for security purposes. Again, worth noting the date as August is high time for weddings and all the surrounding hotels and Airbnb type accommodation may well be booked up. You don’t want your guests having to travel miles and miles after a hard nights partying. This could actually be a blessing in disguise. The carnival takes place over the entire weekend, so you could get married on the Saturday and then hit the carnival on the Sunday with all your guests and keep the party going!

Weekly Events

Is your local football team having a home game?

Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Fulham? All big teams with a substantial following. Premier league teams typically have bigger stadiums too so the amount of fans on the streets and using the public transport system will be increased significantly on match days.

Every other year June-July

The World Cup

The European Cup

If the premier league every weekend or the fa cup final wasn’t enough, every other year we have a major international football tournament taking place. This doesn’t happen in the UK every year, but whenever the national team is involved, eyes start to wonder towards screens.

Even if England aren’t playing gents can’t help themselves and I can guarantee someone will be watching the game on their phone rather than being present at the wedding. You can’t stop it, it may even be an integral part of your day, who knows you may love football and positively encourage it. Put it up on a big screen during the wedding breakfast? Or have an unplugged wedding? Your choice, but just remember that it’s going on in these months.

Planned Rail Works

This is much more of a short notice deal as it’s often difficult to get exact dates of when new works start. All you can really do is plan around ongoing works and always assume that they will run over the original schedule. A few weekends in 2018 Euston station was shut.

I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t have to get into London over those three weekends, but I can imagine that caused plenty of upsets for professionals and tourists alike. Have a look on the national rail site or the government transport site to check out planned closures on the national railway lines and improvement works that might be happening on the underground.

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Military Wedding Photographer, London

sword arch at wedding kiss

Military weddings are fantastic occasions. The formality, the traditions, the regalia. Everything is polished to the highest sheen, the groomsmen and guard are drilled on their duties, the whole day runs effortlessly well.

I love the fanfare and sense of occasion and celebration that comes from having everyone in uniform. Throw some bagpipes and ceremonial swords into the mix and you have a true atmosphere of celebration.

On this beautiful September day I was fortunate enough to find myself in green park in central London. A stones throw from the royal residences and some of the most prime real estate i the world, it goes without saying that green park in London is kept in phenomenal condition even with the endless amounts of tourists taking an amble through it in their way to Buckingham Palace and the Mall.

A genuinely brilliant moment to be a part of was the taxi ride from the church to the reception venue. We drove down the mall in a black cab. For those of you who’ve never been to London and seen a black cab, the windows are pretty big and give passengers a near panoramic view of their surroundings. Of course if we can see out, then passers by can see in.

With an obvious bride in the car people began waving, cheering and chanting and the whole journey felt really rather regal. Tourists of all backgrounds and ethnicities turned away from the palace to congratulate the newlyweds. I do love that about photographing weddings in London, members of the public appear from all directions to congratulate the bride and groom.

I’ve seen men get up from inside bars to come out and shake hands. I’ve seen an entire al fresco dining area get to its feet to applaud. I’ve seen scores of construction workers line the scaffolding and sing. It is a celebration for the whole community, and i love that its so spontaneous, every member in he community can share in someone elses happiness. That’s a beautiful thing.

I’m all for a laid back wedding, some of the best weddings I’ve ever been to (given that I’m a top wedding photographer in London!) have been laid back to the point of being horizontal (after the tequilas of course), and that’s what makes my job so fantastic, the contrasts. One week you could be on a farm in Cornwall, the next in a manor house in Bucks. There is something special about photographing a military wedding in London.

The colour, the sense of place. It is really, really cool. There’s a connection to the history of London, like breathing life into a black and white photograph. Maybe its because as a young lad the only exposure I ever had to anyone in military regalia was watching parades at a distance, or being confused as to why guards stand perfectly still outside of the palace.

It is probably equally fascinating to me that it comes with such a significant sense of tradition. I cant recall having any traditions at home, maybe Dad watching Fiddler on the roof at Christmas, but that’s not exactly on par with hundreds of years of military traditions, haha, although, it would be funny if i tried to claim that it was. Who am I kidding, its because you get to cut a cake with a sword.

The weather in London has been staggeringly brilliant this year, 2018 has seen crisp, clear autumnal skies and colours in the trees challenging the american mid west in their beauty. With that has come the most beautiful light. In the mornings and evenings it sings. The clarity, the colour, the softness. Magical. Here’s a collection of images from a 2018 military wedding in London that highlight just how fantastic an idea it is to get married in September.

kiss on the cheekwedding taxi

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Be Vulnerable

Emotion is what drives my work. Happy faces, big hugs, gesturing hands and faces. I love all of it. All of the micro expressions, the hand holding, the roll of the eyes, the nose nuzzle. Big or small, emotions are what drive my work at Liam Smith Photography.

In order for the whole thing to work, for the day to flow and for your pictures to be the absolute best they can be, you need to be vulnerable. It’s why I hark on about meeting before the wedding so you know who I am and feel comfortable in my presence.

If you can’t relax around me, you’ll see it in the pictures, guaranteed. I know you will be looking through my portfolio looking for a documentary wedding photographer, someone who captures moments rather than posed pictures, and that’s me, for sure, but it has to be noted one can only photograph what is in front of them. If part of you thinks I’m a lunatic, then the process breaks down.

My work is never about making anyone look foolish, or creating an image that laughs at a person. The fun I aim to capture is about individuals sharing joy and laughter. There always comes a time in documentary wedding photography where something will happen and you have to make a judgement call, is it funny, or would it cause embarrassment in the future. I’ve had a few drunken moments occur in front of me that fit the latter category, I like laughing with the guests, not at them.

Possibly the most vulnerable part of the day is during couple portraits, this again emphasis why it’s important to meet beforehand, if you know me and trust me, then we can make beautiful pictures. IN front of your friends and family during the ceremony, you don’t really notice me, all eyes are on the bride, but during couple pictures, it’s just us three.

This is where the being vulnerable bit really comes into play.

I can photograph what happens in front of me. If a moment occurs, I’ll back myself every time to photograph it. I am lightning on the draw – I love westerns – and I know my gear so well that I can operate it without looking, no problemo. The ingredient that always has to be present is being vulnerable.

Being open to experiencing the day for what it really is and truly letting the emotion of the day wash over you. I love people and by extension, I love the people I photograph. I mean that sincerely, if we are working together then I emotionally invest in your day, it’s how I connect with my surroundings and tap into the feelings in the room. It’s what lets me identify moments before they happen.

With that in mind, it’s my intention to capture you in a way that tells your truth. I put you in flattering light with a cool background in calm surroundings and then let the truth unfold. This is where you come in. You have to bring it. Bring the love, bring the lust, bring the joy, bring the happy tears.

Whatever it is you’re feeling, bring that, and let it come out for the world to see. I believe that my pictures are beautiful because they show people how they really are, and there’s beauty in that. I don’t buy into retouching skin or using tools to shrink bums, what people do, how they interact and ultimately how they love is what is beautiful.

Never let anyone else tell you otherwise, the beauty lies within your truth. Show that, and you’ll have the most magnificent set of photographs that you will be cherished within your family for generations to come.

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