10 essential wedding photos.

Your wedding is a special occasion. The whole day has been planned around the choices you have made over months or even years. Everything from the venues and flowers to the food, favours and finishing details have been carefully chosen to create an expression of your personality and to celebrate your commitment together.

However, whatever your theme may be, when it comes to wedding photography there are certain photos that every bride and groom should want to see in their wedding collection. A list that showcases the peppering of personal touches you’ve added from start to finish to make the whole experience individual to you - and your family and friends.

helen & dan - for web-1-17.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-36.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-23.jpg

My list of 10 must have wedding photos.

1. Getting Ready.

2. Wedding Dress.

3. The Aisle & First Look.

4. The First kiss.

5. Ceremony Exit / Confetti.

6. Bridal Party Antics.

7. Rings.

8. Bouquet.

8. The Cake.

9. First Dance

10. Couple Portraits.

helen & dan - for web-1-30.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-11.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-26.jpg

For me everything beyond this list boils down to reportage photography, that is to say: capturing the wider events and interactions of the day in as relaxed and unobtrusive way as possible. Whether it be your guests mingling, your close family sharing a quiet tear, an outburst of laughter or even the speeches.

That’s not to say the elements that aren’t on this list won’t be creative or impressive and similarly I’m not saying that the moments on the list won’t be candid. Finding an interesting way of capturing every part of the day is always the focus (and the challenge) for any wedding photographer and for me that resides somewhere between moments being candid and approaching them creatively.

This list simply highlights what I consider the must-have shots to be from a wedding, regardless of photographic style or creative approach.

What does your must-have list look like?

helen & dan - for web-1-8.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-16.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-44.jpg

 

Getting my first published photoshoot.

The value of a stylised photoshoot.

As a wedding photographer there is nothing as fantastic as someone choosing you to document their wedding. You’re invited to share a significant part of their lives together with the trust and freedom to capture those moments with your individual eye and creative flair.

But there is a lot of other work that goes into being a photographer, and being a creative at heart, in order to keep developing and building that client base and demonstrating why you are worth considering and that you can be given that trust.

Collaborative work with other industry suppliers is a big part of that for me. It’s not a formal networking activity or a sterile business meeting by any means. Instead it’s an experience of working with people who fiercely love what they do, genuinely care about their craft and who want to produce ideas that push the best practise of the industry. Above all, they want to excel their own work to continually offer exciting services to their clients.

 
YWMWM-tjp.jpg
 

Being part of that process of displaying originality and best practise across the industry with passionate suppliers is inspiring. But it’s not without its challenges. The industry is understandably saturated with images, case studies, style guides and testimonials displaying the work of local and national professionals of all levels.

So investing the time and resources to achieve images that offer something new and refreshing is no easy task and as suppliers we have to put our own trust in each other to bring those ideas into realisation. But when things come together and a collaboration gets into full swing, well, the results can be incredible.

Producing a unique and stylistically focused shoot is an absolute delight and sharing that process with local suppliers is deeply rewarding.

For my first published shoot I had the privilege of being part of a fantastic team of local suppliers from the West Midlands working on a photoshoot at The Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham. The shoot was uniquely styled under a minimal and textural theme to create a contemporary collection of images centred around a custom made wedding arch commissioned by talented florist Pollen Floral Joy.

YWMWM-tjp.jpg
YWMWM-tjp.jpg

The full details of the creative process of the shoot will follow in a behind the scenes blog but the experience of sharing that process with local suppliers was an absolute delight and deeply rewarding. The attention to detail, the creative direction and the energy on the day was superb. The final images from the shoot were a testament to the work involved across the whole team.

Following the shoot the images were selected by Your West Midlands Wedding Magazine’s for their February/March issue as a stylised feature. I provided a selection of 30 images showcasing every element from the shoot and each supplier. Surprisingly they included pretty much every image and presented the project as a three page feature which was fantastic to find out as the images say everything for the shoot!

It’s a humble pat on the back for how my practise and my style is refining.

As a relatively early career wedding photographer having this added exposure for the shoot was incredibly fortunate. I’ve given a lot of attention to my craft and how I shoot in a number of ways. Now, both the maturity of the concepts I’m developing has grown massively and the projects i’m invited onto are also increasingly ambitious. On a personal level this printed feature was a note to stop and take a humble pat on the back for those changes and how my style is refining. Of course, it also gave the satisfaction of having given a greater purpose to the images and more importantly recognition to the work of everyone involved.

 
YWMWM-tjp.jpg
 

This is by no means the pinnacle of things to come. The hard work, the crafting of new ideas and the collaborations will undoubtedly continue and I hope to be able to blog again in the future about other features and showcased images.

This blog is simply a reflection on the experience of taking something from concept to being published. An experience which has only reiterated the importance of trust within our industry. The trust amongst fellow suppliers, the trust of clients and also our own sense of certainty and ambition - our inner-trust to pursue our journey and to project our ideas into the world.

For me, the achievement of seeing those images in print is a small nod to the enjoyment I have for making images being something that people can invest in and trust. And that feels awesome!

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of the magazine it is on sale until April at several high street stores and also available online as an e-magazine via www.yourwestmidlands.wedding

Full list of suppliers: Pollen Floral Joy, Helena Shakespeare MUA, Nicola Honey Artistry, Emilia’s Cakes Coventry, TDR Bridal Halesowen, Louise Blakemore.

12 essential questions to ask a wedding photographer

The task of choosing your wedding suppliers is an exciting part of planning your wedding and the first step in the process of bringing your ideas to life. But it’s not without its challenges and some decisions will be harder to make and which wedding photographer to book is one such decision.

So how do you feel confident that the photographer you are looking at is right for you?

The following questions are intended to help you feel both prepared and confident to find out the information you need before making the choice of who to book.

 
helen & dan - for web-1-36.jpg
 

1) Are you available on our wedding date?

It may seem obvious but it’s probably one of the first questions you should ask, if the photographer isn’t free on the date of your wedding (and presuming you can’t change it) it’ll save you a lot of time asking many of the other questions before finding out.

2) Can I see previous examples of your work?

In most situations it’s probably safe to say that if you’re at the point of wanting to ask questions you have already viewed their images - and like them. However, if you haven’t or you’re at a wedding show for example meeting several new suppliers then seeing their previous work is crucial. Look at their style, the types of shots they take and if they are consistent. Ask questions about the shots you like too, it will give you an insight into their process and how they may approach your own wedding photos.

3) How will I receive my final images?

You’re happy with the standard of work you will receive but in what form will you get your final images? There are various packages out there covering online galleries, usb devices, prints and albums. Photographers will have different preferences about what they want to offer their clients so make sure you’re fully aware what you will be getting. Ask about what’s customisable, what materials and finishes are available and what papers you can choose for prints. It is also a good opportunity to find out if the photographer will do all the designing themselves.

4) Can I make special requests?

Special requests could take various forms. Everyone will have a certain expectation of the coverage they will recieve on the day but are there any images you really want captured? Talking about any specific images that matter to you is a great starting point for chatting with a photographer that will also allow you to gage how you get on, how accommodating they are and that they are generally interested and excited about shooting your wedding. Of course, special requests don’t just have to be specific photos on the day, they could be additional features to your package such as extra prints or an album. All professional photographers should be happy to tailor things to you.

helen & dan - for web-1-44.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-45.jpg

5) How long will you stay for on the day?

Weddings are long days full of lots of smaller special moments from morning preparations with your bridesmaids and groomsmen to the parents seeing the bride in her dress for the first time as well as the essential elements such as the ceremony itself. Having a general understanding of how timings will run on the day is really useful for knowing the times you will need your photographer and checking what coverage they offer in their packages. Some photographers will detail a specific time or event that they will stay until, 9pm or until the first dance for example. If you want them to stay longer an additional fee may be added, it may even be on a cost per hour basis. Other photographers (such as myself) won’t apply any time limits and will stay into the after party or until they are happy they have got all the shots they wanted for you. In either case it’s worth making sure you know what to expect so you’re confident all the things you want will be captured.

6) Do you offer a pre-wedding photoshoot?

This may not be a high priority for some couples but it’s definitely something worth discussing with a photographer. Pre-wedding shoots (aka engagement shoots) are a fantastic way of getting to know your photographer more, experiencing what it’s like to work with them as well as having the opportunity to have more fantastic images of your engagement to treasure. A pre-wedding shoot may already be included in the packages your photographer offers or they may be a separate item you can book. There may even be an offer if you have a shoot and go on to book them for your wedding or vice versa.

7) Is a deposit required to book you and when is the final fee due to be paid?

Getting to the formal side of booking a photographer is knowing how much it will cost to book them for your date and when you need to pay the remaining balance by. The deposit will be a percentage of the total package fee and usually needs to be accompanied by a signed wedding contract.

8) Are there any additional costs?

It’s always worth asking if there are any extra costs connected with the package you are booking. Such costs may come from: booking a second shooter (if you want one), adding extra prints or usb’s to your package or for requesting the photographer to stay later than detailed in their packages. If your wedding is out of the area where the photographer is based they may also apply a cost for travel and accommodation.

helen & dan - for web-1-8.jpg
helen & dan - for web-1-9.jpg

9) Have you shot at our venues before? If not, will you visit them beforehand?

It is not essential that the photographer you book has shot at your venues before, although that may give you some comfort that they are familiar with the location and how things will run across the day. The venue may even have examples of their work in sample albums or be using them in their own promotional materials. However, if they haven’t shot there before it shouldn’t be a point for concern, chat to them and ask if they will visit beforehand to do a recce. For the majority of photographers this will be common practise to visit any venues prior to the wedding anyway.

10) What information do you need from me before the wedding?

With all the questions that may spring to mind to understand the photographers role and what to expect from them it’s equally important that you feel confident with what is needed from you. Typically this will be completing a wedding contract at the point of booking but nearer the time of the wedding providing a breakdown of all the timings and suppliers for your wedding day will be essential for your photographer planning their approach so everything can run smoothly. They may have their own wedding schedule they’ll ask you to complete and return to them. Asking what you’ll need to do along the process is good for making sure you feel well informed and also establishes that open dialogue between the two of you.

 
helen & dan - for web-1-26.jpg
 

11) Do you have backup equipment?

This may sound like a cheeky question to ask for some prospective couples but knowing what backup measures are in place for the things that can go wrong isn’t something you should avoid when talking with a photographer. And you don’t have to be technically minded to ask this by any means, just having a general understanding of what they do to cover any potential problems such as a failed camera or corrupt memory card is important for you to know. How they convey this to you should help reassure you that they are professional in their practise.

12) Questions to ask yourself!

  • Do I feel a good rapport with this photographer?

  • Do I like their images and their style?

  • Has this photographer listened to what I’ve said and been happy to share the information I need?

  • Would I feel happy to ask more questions if I needed to?

H&D web B&W-1.jpg

Why does a wedding photographer carry so many lenses?

The equipment a wedding photographer carries is as much a part of their approach to taking photos as their individual style. Often a photographer will have multiple lenses with them when out shooting, whether it's on location for a pre-wedding photoshoot or at one of the venues on your big day.

But why? How does having multiple lenses impact on the photos and is it really necessary? Will you see the benefit of it in your final collection of photos?

In my very first blog post '10 reasons why you should choose a professional wedding photographer' I spoke about the trust you should feel in booking a professional photographer both in terms of their stylistic and creative vision but also their technical ability to deal with the different situations that feature throughout your special day. Lenses are integral to realising both of these, they can open up creative possibilities in different scenarios and are often the key to getting those signature shots that stop you flicking through and take the time to appreciate them.

I generally use four lenses when shooting a wedding and I'll use them at different points during the day. These are divided into prime, zoom and macro lenses.

lensblogimages-3 copy.jpg

I love prime lenses, especially for bridal work. The sharpness and image quality is fantastic and they also allow me to create those dreamy blurred out backgrounds in photos giving that cinematic feel to the images. This makes them perfect for bridal preparation shots and portraits of the bride and groom together. 

The zoom lens, often the most recognisable due to its size, is an invaluable piece of kit for capturing those candid, natural shots of your guests talking and laughing unaware they are being photographed due to being able to frame them from a distance. It's also equally useful during the ceremony for capturing a greater shot variation of the bride and groom, especially when exchanging rings, and for capturing people's reactions: the father of the bride holding back a tear or grandma smiling in the background.

Last but not least is the macro lens. This incredible lens allows me to take close up photos of objects, predominantly the wedding rings where things can get really creative. But it is also great to capture details during the wedding morning too: embroidery on the wedding dress, patterns on the heels, bridal jewellery or the grooms cuff links for example. It also doubles up as a brilliant portrait lens.

 
Bridal portrait taken using a prime lens.

Bridal portrait taken using a prime lens.

 
 
Rings on top of the wedding cake, shot using a macro lens.

Rings on top of the wedding cake, shot using a macro lens.

 
 
Candid portrait captured using a zoom lens.

Candid portrait captured using a zoom lens.

 
 
Pocket watch detail shot taken using a macro lens.

Pocket watch detail shot taken using a macro lens.

 

Utilising a selection of lenses such as this across two camera bodies allows your photographer to be versatile and reactive to the events taking place as well as being able to pull off those showcase shots that speckle your collection with creativity and originality.

What is an engagement photoshoot and why should we have one?

An engagement shoot: what is it and do I need it? Is it just another suggested 'extra' that means adding additional expense to the already bulging list of wedding costs? Perhaps you've heard of friends or family having a pre-wedding shoot and maybe some confusion crept in between the different names. Are engagement shoots and pre-wedding shoots the same thing? 

This post is intended to clear the confusion between names, explore why a pre-wedding shoot is so invaluable and reassure you that it's not going to break the bank.

 
n&r4blog-2.jpg
 

Engagement shoots VS Pre-wedding shoots.

Are they the same thing - I would say yes, they are the same. Through my experience of the UK wedding industry and our wedding traditions the terms are interchangeable and whether it is a photographer or a couple talking about it - engagement shoots and pre-wedding shoots are the same thing. Often location based and informal in style they are a photoshoot experience that usually takes place anywhere from six weeks to six months before the wedding.

However, looking more widely across the wedding industry towards international markets there are clear distinctions between the two. In the sense of taking the opportunity to have photos taken together prior to the wedding they are the same, however the nature of the two shoots becomes very different. The engagement shoot is the more informal relaxed experience we know and love here in the UK.  Whereas the pre-wedding shoot is a much more glamorous affair where the couple have additional photos taken together in their wedding dress and formalwear before the wedding. Yes, culturally it may sound strange to us but it's a huge emerging market overseas. Pre-wedding shoots are typically (and understandably) more expensive than the traditional engagement shoot and are often seen as more of a prestige event with luxurious backdrops, props and even cars. 

For the purposes of the rest of this post - I'll be treating engagement shoots and pre-wedding shoots as the same thing. That's how I know it and how my clients know it. So now we know the terms, let's talk about why an engagement shoot is so invaluable as part of your wedding story.

 
n&r4blog-1.jpg
 

Price VS Value.

First off, booking one. Here I want to stress that this isn't an attempt to reel in prospective brides and grooms into paying additional fees on top of their wedding photography - all my packages include a pre-wedding shoot. I want my packages to include them because as a photographer I recognise the value in them with my clients: the relationship it allows me to build with them, the trust and ease of taking photos together and creating that overall sense of an experience they have with me as their photographer. As it's outside of the timings and pressure of the big day I also get to see a different side to them, talk with them more and generally get to know them better all whilst capturing a great set of images that will complement their wedding photos.

I include an engagement shoot in all my packages but not all photographers do. If the package you want doesn't include one, dont worry! Even if you're photographer doesn't include them you can usually book one for less than £200. Some photographers also offer a deal if you book them for your wedding day after having an engagement shoot with them. In either case the value of that ongoing contact, client experience and the photographic journey before and during your wedding day definitely outweighs the cost of the shoot in the first place.

 
n&r4blog-7.jpg
 

Get use to being infront of the camera

This is one of the biggest areas where I see the value in having an engagement shoot, and honestly what made me include one in all my packages.

We all take photos everyday, whether on a mobile device or professionally, yet many of us don't actually like having our own photo taken and no matter how many filters we flick through or times we re-take the image we still feel that we don't look right, we criticise our smile or convince ourselves the image just doesn't look good. It's an outlook people openly admit during photoshoots: either not liking having their photo taken or feeling they just don't look good in photos anyway.

The engagement shoot is a fantastic way to explore this with your photographer: they can help you to relax and actually enjoy the process of having your photos taken. A change in attitude that will carry through to the wedding day where you'll feel much more at ease.

Of course, it's not always about overcoming a heavily critical mindset, more often than not it's simply about shaking off the nerves of being infront of the camera in the first place. My biggest tip is that you don't have to act any differently to camera - just be yourselves! You shouldn't expect to be constantly staring into the camera and smiling until your cheeks start to ache. Laugh, chat, joke around, do whatever you want that expresses your personality as a couple.

 
n&r4blog-6.jpg
 

Get to know each other

You may be thinking - we're getting married of course we know each other. But taking photographs together is a really important part of your identity as a couple and creates memories that strengthen your bond together. Plus you'd be surprised how many times people say 'I never knew we could look so great in photos'. But realistically, how often do you really have the opportunity to take time out just to take photos of each other - and let's be honest most of us aren't typically extroverted with this custom to begin with.

It's a fun, relaxed yet personal experience and creates a huge foundation for your wedding day where you can just settle into being beside each other without thinking you have to act or pose dramatically because you're in your dress and suit. It helps you to relax and feel comfortable within your immediate space on the day when so much is happening all around you.

Just as importantly here is the opportunity to get to know your photographer more: their thought process, their creative eye, how they build the images with you. It saturates a huge amount of wedding blogs but you really will spend the day together and having the opportunity to experience how your photographer shoots and how they collaborate with the two of you is invaluable. It builds up the relationship, the enjoyment of shooting and your trust in their judgment when they talk through an idea for a photo that prior to the shoot you would have thought - what!? 

 
n&r4blog-3.jpg
 

A chance to play, explore and enjoy

A pre-wedding shoot is a fantastic opportunity to go somewhere or try something completely different to what you have planned for your wedding day. You might want to go somewhere more remote and off the beaten track or doing something urban in the middle of a busy city. You may want to hold the shoot at a lake where you guys dive in or add a striking use of colour with smoke bombs. The possibilities really are endless and the freedom to do something totally different is a great opportunity to explore whether its something crazy or somewhere alternative.

Of course you may wish to incorporate elements of your wedding into the shoot, whether it be the particular style you have chosen or colour coordinating your outfits to incorporate the key colour of your wedding theme. It may be the case that you want to have your pre-wedding shoot at a certain time of the year or during a particular season - either to match your wedding or to achieve a different set of images altogether.

Photos with a purpose

Leading on from choosing the location and style of your pre-wedding shoot you may want to take the opportunity to capture particular photos to use for a more functional purpose, such as a creative shot to use for your save the date cards or a showcase shot you want printing on a bigger scale for a wedding signing frame.

Not everyone chooses to have these elements of course but nonetheless it's worth considering the images you want so that you can shoot with a purpose to give your wedding planning some personal touches.

 
n&r4blog-9.jpg
 

An event in itself

Of course, the perfect reason to have a pre-wedding shoot is the simple fact that you are getting married and that deserves celebrating, so celebrate it every way you can! A photoshoot for just the two of you will mark that special moment in your lives when you got engaged and will capture the emotions and the excitement you were both feeling at that time. It will form the start of an ongoing history of memories and images that will build and grow during the whole experience of your wedding and as you continue married life together. So make a celebratory toast right from the start and include a pre-wedding shoot in your wedding journey, get to know your photographer and above all feel confident about your photos.