I bloody love photographing Jewish weddings.
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!
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 :)
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
It’s awesome knowing you have a quality second photographer backing you up, getting shots like this:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the full highlights from the wedding, enjoy!