Details Are Important…

Do you take pictures of details? Yes.

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

beautiful wedding flowers

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

However…

Details are important too.

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

That is why, I do photograph details as well.

winter wedding flowers

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

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

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

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

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

farm wedding

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What Are Wedding Door Games?

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

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

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

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

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

So what can you expect?

Eating things – things is deliberately ambiguous

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

Physical exertion

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

Embarassment

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

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

Peanut butter on cling film

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

wedding door games

Blindfolded make up

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

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

Eat the hot-dog pressup

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

wedding door games

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

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

wedding door games

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How To Select A Photographer For Your Jewish Wedding!

I bloody love photographing Jewish weddings.

jewish wedding photographer london

My wedding photography focuses on emotions and interactions between people and the joy of my job is that it exposes me to different cultures and traditions that I would otherwise have absolutely no access to. At every single Jewish wedding I have photographed, the guests, friends and family have all been so incredibly kind, loving and expressive, and that’s exactly why I love them. The big hugs, the tears and the rapturous laughter, it all comes together in a mega mix whirlwind kind of way which picks you up and takes you along with it. In the case of the bride and groom and the Hora, it quite literally picks you up!

jewish wedding photographer london

I love working with people and families who aren’t afraid to express their emotions and show outwardly just how much they love and care for each other. Saying this, some of the most heartfelt shots I’ve ever taken contain members of the family who aren’t usually expressive and I catch them in that once in a lifetime, never again repeated moment where they shed a tear, hug like there’s no tomorrow, or hold hands like it was the first time – it’s usually the Dad’s :)

jewish wedding

I come from a catholic family on one side and a protestant family on the other. Yes, how very romeo and Juliet of my parents. Whilst both are interesting in their own way and have set ways of marrying two people, in comparison, the wedding ceremonies are near enough the same. One of the best bits of being a wedding photographer is that you’re not limited to the types of wedding that you can photograph. With this comes exposure to all sorts of faiths, creeds and ideas of what a wedding celebration is. With Jewish weddings, I have to say, my favourite part is the Hora. Smashing the glass is cool, but there’s nothing quite like like picking up the bride and groom and parading them around the dance floor, even better when the chairs don’t have arms to hold on to!

jewish wedding photographer

I love these traditions because they are inclusive and outwardly celebratory. When everyone has had a few drinks it’s an amazingly inclusive way to celebrate. The bride and groom are lifted up above the gathered crowd where everyone can see them. All of the guests will know either the bride or groom and be able to share in the moment with them. The best bit though, is that because it is undoubtedly funny, everyone can share in the moment together, turning to the people who may be strangers on either side of you and sharing a laugh. It brings people together, and I’m all for that.

Are you planning a Jewish wedding in London? If so, have a look through the website and the blog to get an idea of who I am and how I work. If you think I would be a good fit to capture the laughter, tears and massive hugs expected on your wedding day then send me an email or Whatsapp message, or give me a call and we can arrange a time and place to drink tea and eat something tasty.

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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.

Bonus Fun:

You can use this very handy tool to see exactly where the sun will be on any day of the year. You can even see the arc that the sun will take so you know where it will be at particular points during your wedding day, how cool is that!?

In this example, you can see that if you want to catch the sunrise over the great pyramids, you’ll need to be up at 5.07 AM. Why the pyramids? I’m listening to alot of obscure podcasts at the minute, i’ll tell you when we meet. Until then, plug in your wedding date, find the venue and you can see where the sun will be at any point during the day

https://www.suncalc.org/#/29.9792,31.1341,16/2019.05.08/13:44/1/3

#2. Mixed Lighting – Warm and Cold

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.

Here’s a barn wedding, it’s lit by daylight in the background, but the couple are stood underneath a purple light…for some reason…

purple lights at wedding venue

If you use Photoshop to correct the purple and create ‘technically’ accurate skin tones, then it throws the background light, which is yellow daylight, into green weirdness.green lights at wedding venue

So you have to correct that manually…colour corrected purple lights at wedding venue

Or make it black and white…black and whtie lights at wedding venue

This is more of a consideration for me than it is you, but venues don’t often listen to me, they think i’m spoiling their fun. If you mention that you’d like the colour lights turned off, then we all win :)

#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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