Category Archives: wedding planning

Destination wedding photography FAQ

Destination wedding photography is probably the easiest thing to write about because it is pure adventure. It is a buzz like no other. I have had so many funny moments happen to me whilst shooting destination weddings and I’m pleased to say that whilst on these adventures, I have made some amazing friends. Contact me at Liam Smith Photography for any questions about bookings!

When in a foreign land there is a warmth that can be felt by all guests and family. I’ve never been to a destination wedding and not felt it. Everyone welcomes you into their culture with the warmest of embraces and I immediately feel like one of the family. You eat together, drink together, sing together. It’s magical.

New people, new places, new culture. Most importantly, new food! I remember when I went to Croatia and the bridesmaids took me on a food journey through the local town. Being so close to Italy had penetrated the food culture and I had was eating two slices of pizza and gelato at the same time, I could not get it in my face fast enough.

These events pick you up and take you with them, typically the majority of guests have travelled to the location and there is an air of pulling the wedding together as a community. Everyone is chipping in to run to the shops for last minute ribbon – but wait, who’s got the rental car! I’ve seen it all, the singer lose her voice in the dry heat, the parents pane delayed, sudden downpour in the hottest part of the world. It’s a whirlind, and it’s so bloody exciting.

One of my favourite tales as a destination wedding photographer was when I landed at the airport with the groom and his two best men. We sauntered up to the rental car office, exchanging witticisms and discussing plans of the epic event about to unfold. Then we hear the words, ‘there’s been a mistake – I am so sorry’. Fast forward twenty minutes and I am laying on top of a crate of schleur in the back of a van with no windows…and no air conditioning. This turned into one of the best trips of my life. We had one day to get to the venue, when there’s no choice, you do whats needed. We had a five hour drive ahead of us, keep calm and carry on.

No one should ever lie on top of schleur (does that even still exist?) but why was it so good you ask? Well i’ll tell you. To break up the trip we decided we’d go on an epic food bender which would start in a local town known for it’s pastry. Cue the custard tarts. Holy Maholy (Nagy – photography gags) I’ve never eaten anything like it. We went all in on jams, pastries, pizzas, coffees and cakes. My food horizons widened and sufficiently satiated, I slept on that schleur with glee and woke up just as we arrived on a balmy summers evening.

So how does it work, who books what?

I do not charge additional fees for my services or for travel time. I ask that you book my flights and transfers and pay for sustinance for the duration of my stay. I arrive two days before the wedding to familiarise myself with the surroundings and get used to a new time zone if we are further afield. If you are planning a destination wedding in the US or Australia, arriving a day earlier than usual may be needed to factor in the extra travel time and associated fatigue. In all honesty, putting together a package that covers all eventualities is near enough impossible without specific details. Please do get in touch to arrange a call or meeting and we can get the ball rolling.

Before taking the decision on who to book as your destination wedding photographer, please take plenty of time to scroll through my wedding photography blog and portfolio page to get an idea of my style. If you are based in the UK, let’s meet up for a drink to discuss plans and see if you think I would be a good fit for your day. If you are based abroad, we can always arrange a skype call so you can see my face.

I often get asked about my kit and wether transporting it is safe. I keep that bag clutched to me like winnie the pooh with a jar of honey. I will never check my cameras in, even if super hard cases do exist, bags still get lost. Imagine if they went missing! Forget that, I would have a heart attack.

A few answers to frequently asked questions.

You will only need to fly me out to the destination, unless of course you hire a second photographer through me as well. I do not have a team or an assistant.
If you are having a wedding that also has pre-wedding festivities ceremonies, I’m more than happy to come even earlier than usual to photograph those too. Get in touch and I can put together a custom qoute for you.

Hey Liam, why don’t we simply hire a photographer who lives in the country that we are getting married?
Honestly, I hope you are on my site because you want me, Liam Smith, to photograph your wedding (My name is actually Liam Bailey-Smith these days, I changed it when I got married cos i’m a cool, modern man).

All photographers are different and see the world differently, which is why photography is such an exciting medium to work in. From a practical point of view language barrier could be an issue, if you’re unable to meet the photographer before booking or booking a package deal then you have no idea who will turn up on the day. Secondly if we are in the same country, it’s much easier for us to meet in the first instance (so you know if you like me), and then I can physically deliver your photographs.

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what is documentary, photojournalism and candid photography?

What is documentary, photojournalism and candid wedding photography?

wedding photojournalism

Let’s get the basics covered. You’ve read buzzwords on all of the blogs, glossy magazines and 100 different wedding photographers websites. But what the hell is documentary, reportage or photojournalism when it comes to wedding photography?

Like in any industry, buzzwords come and go. Rewind about five years and everyone was a fine art photographer. Jose Villa exploded onto the scene and took over the world. Using medium format cameras and film his soft dreamy colour palette and stunning craft of pictures dominated the industry.

Using film means no chance to check your exposure as you go. Images must be taken slowly, with a greater emphasis on staging a photograph to make it perfect. The grain coupled with shallow depth of field produced stunning images, and a trend was born.

In complete contrast to this, my work is much more heavily weighted to the documentary style, so let me explain what I mean by this.

Photojournalism, documentary, reportage…

…all fancy words to explain the same thing. We wait for the moments to happen, then bam, take the picture.

No asking you to pretend to put your makeup on again or to pretend laugh.

If it didn’t happen, then it’s not real.

Giving you something real to look back upon is the entire point. Another word that has slipped into the wedding lexicon is ‘candid’. Candids of guests might be the best way to explain the style. Heads thrown back in laughter, tears rolling down cheeks and trousers being split on the dance floor. If that’s what you call candid, then that’s what I do.

documentary wedding photographer

A definition of reportage photography in the context of weddings would be something along the lines of “taking ace pictures of guests being themselves without interfering, staging or manipulating a moment”. The term photojournalist derives from news photography, sending journalists out into the world to capture whats there and not to interfere in any way shape or form. The strict emphasis on pure documentation has been taken to new heights with the invention of Photoshop. All images that Reuters use for example are straight out of the camera, no adjustments for colour or cropping, the purest form of documentary. I am not quite so strict, a little bit of cropping here and there can be a good thing, whilst a purist at heart, there’s no harm in making a good shot, great.

A distinction needs to be made however as photojournalism can sound a bit like a soulless news style coverage of a wedding. 

It is a means of telling the story of your wedding without interfering. 

Everything that you see on my site actually happened, you should be able to look back on your wedding photographs and re-live the emotion that occurred at that time. It should ignite something within, it should take you away. I want you to look at photographs that tell the story of who you are, otherwise you will look back on the images and only remember ‘this is the shot where the photographer told us to do that’, and where’s the meaning in that?

Telling the story of your day

There are a few photographers who go all out documentary, just pure storytelling, no group photographs or couple portraits. However I have to confess that I like the couple photos too.

When I first meet clients, there will always be a discussion around ‘we don’t have any nice pictures together’.

This is an important part of the mixture between delivering what I believe captures the narrative of the day, but also listening to the client and delivering what you want.

Everyone deserves to look fabulous on their wedding day and having a selection of images that you can print and display in your home is an important part of the whole process. The time with just the couple enables you to relax and let it all sink in, its about 20 minutes and well worth it in my view.

What makes me different?

Here is a selection of images which redefine traditional wedding moments. I shoot for narrative, so my couples can look back on their images and relive the moments. I don’t shoot to win awards or to get featured on blogs, my passion is the story. 

first look weddingwedding photographer ryeWedding Photographer BedfordshireWedding Photographer Bedfordshire

wedding photographer

An important distinction to make between candid photography and just taking pictures and hoping that they make sense, is context. Without context a seemingly great image can fall apart. Piecing the story together, bit by bit to build the whole picture is what a great story. The best feedback is when clients tell me they laughed, cried and re-lived the moments upon seeing the pictures. This tells me that I have achieved everything I set out to do. Producing images of your nearest and dearest being themselves and tying together all of the beautiful emotions of a wedding day into a neat package.

Wedding Photographer Bedfordshire

Do you shoot details?

Yes absolutely. This is often what makes a second photographer really useful. Whilst I am shooting the in between moments the second can nip around and take stills of the subtle details which help pull the whole story together.

beautiful wedding flowers

Being unobtrusive and shooting candids can be difficult. It takes some bravado and skill to get close to people and take their picture without them knowing. This is where my genuine love for what I do and love for people comes in. When shooting with a smile and affection, guests immediately warm to you and open up. Blending in with the guests and loving what you do is essential to capturing awesome pictures.

guest laughing dancing

Do you take group pictures or is it all documentary?

Yes, I do take group pictures. I understand that whilst I want to deliver an artistic interpretation of your day, you also have certain photographs that you may really want. I recommend that you keep the number of group pictures between four and six. This can be coordinated with the groomsmen to ensure optimal efficiency. If you have a longer list of group photographs that you absolutely must have then I recommend hiring a second photographer. In order to deliver my best work I need to be in the crowd, in the mix capturing moments, the second photographer can undertake the majority of the group pictures leaving me to get in the mix!

Wedding Photographer Bedfordshire

If you would like to discuss your day in more detail then please do get in touch. Or alternatively head on to the documentary wedding photography homepage to navigate through the rest of the site or have a look through my wedding photography portfolio


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