I work alone. There are a lot of two-photographer teams in wedding photography – usually a professional photographer working with his/her (untrained) spouse or with a photography student. This may give more coverage, but it won’t necessarily give better coverage, in my opinion. Apart from any issues of image quality, one lone photographer is more discreet. I’ve seen videographer duos crashing around weddings, seriously detracting from the vibe of the day. You and your guests will find it easier to relax and enjoy yourselves without the intrusion of lenses on all sides. If your photographer is good and understands the nature of reportage/photojournalism, you will hardly notice him, yet you will get plenty of stunning images of both the scenes that you remember and the ones you never saw. I shoot digitally using fast professional prime lenses on the whole. Whenever possible I use the available light to retain the atmosphere of the event rather than blasting it to kingdom come with flash, and using silent, mirrorless Sony A9 cameras, allows me to work this way – often shooting a whole wedding without using a flashgun. I am after ‘atmosphere’ and being as unobtrusive as possible. Neither do I turn the couple shots into fashion shoots. I favour quiet, classic images of a couple who have just made their commitment to each other, shot quickly in the best light available. If group shots are wanted, I recommend keeping these to a minimum – just some of the immediate families only. I often only get asked to do two or three as couples hire me for the reportage photography instead. A list and an usher as ‘shepherd’ are very useful. If there are particular people that you want photographed (or even people that you don’t!), then it is good to have these pointed out. But these groups always take longer than you imagine, so it does mean less time for the natural photos and means that as a couple you stand around rather than enjoying mixing with your friends. More about any group shots here...
A completely honest answer?………yes, it can. The idea of the documentary/photojournalistic approach is to create a narrative of the day. To do this well, means having the freedom to roam, to seek out angles and capture moments. This is seriously compromised by a videographer (and worse, two or three of them) blocking views and locations with big tripods and their gimmicky sliders. I cannot stress this enough – the best photography will come from when there is no videographer or two there as well! Particularly during the ceremony when a videographer grabs best position (and sometimes there is just one perfect angle) while I am shooting the reportage of the bride arriving, etc. In the past few years I have shot several weddings for filmmakers, with no videographer, they understood the impact it has upon the photography. They also understand the dubious ‘documentary’ qualities of many videographers.
Every full package gets a usb stick, in a presentation box, with a minimum of 400 high resolution images from your wedding, in both colour and B&W. These have all been individually processed to a high standard (not just straight from the camera, which does not get the best from digital files) and are ready to print from. I provide a printed license with these, asserting your right to use and print from these files for your personal use, as big or as small or as often as you like. These images will also be posted to an online gallery for you to view and for friends and family to order prints from. Your album is designed using a selection from these images. The number of images in the album depends on the album selected and the final layout. What’s enough images? Enough to tell the story of the day. It could be just 80, or 150 or more. Really the key thing is not the quantity of images but the quality. As one groom said to me, it’s irrelevant how many images you get, it’s whether they are any good? I do, however, include in the album packages what I think should be enough pages/spreads to tell the story, based on twelve years’ experience of shooting weddings. My standard album has a generous 40 pages and 100+ images. Be warned that the 20-page albums of 50 images that many photographers offer will probably need to be added to – so much so that the base package price may no longer seem so cheap. With me, there is no hard after-selling, and no need to come to a viewing to see your images projected on a wall. You can select your images online at your leisure, at a password protected gallery which is usually ready to view soon after you are back from your honeymoon, if not before. (In fact, I’ve had many couples who do their selections before their honeymoon is over!) Have a look at the gallery, tell me what you like and what you don’t, and the design can start. Pages can be added to albums (at £50 per 2-page spread), but this is rarely required as the albums offer plenty of flexibility for adding images to the pages included in the package. A pdf of the overall page layout can be sent to you for approval before the album construction begins. A subsequent version, if changes are needed, is included in the price. Beyond that there may be a small design charge for any significant further alterations of £75 per version.
Every image is shot in colour and therefore there is always both a colour and a B&W version of each image on the usb stick. In the days of film I would shoot with two cameras ( still do, even three sometimes ), one loaded with B&W film and one with colour. Digital was liberating in that it allows me to shoot with both in colour and then do B&W conversions on the computer during the processing stage. Frankly the quality of the resulting B&W far surpasses B&W film. And I love B&W film. B&W is my first love. Left to myself I would say I shoot 70:30% in favour of B&W, which is how the majority of clients prefer. For me it is more timeless, more flattering and can get past many problems such as poor or dull light (it is the UK) and nasty artificial mixed light that even digital camera sensors struggle with. Not every wedding is bathed in the golden evening sun, where certainly colour comes into it’s own. B&W also reflects the history of photojournalism/documentary photography, giving a more ‘authentic’ fly-on-the-wall look. Even on a bright day the tonal range of B&W can look stunning. But then colour can beat B&W in many situations too, often simply in it’s vividness. I’ve shot many weddings solely in B&W but I can do the same with colour, just let me know your preference and we can discuss the pros and cons for each individual wedding.
Simple answer, yes! Frankly I am not the kind of wedding photographer who delights in shooting at the same local venues week after week, and for this reason I don’t seek to be on any recommended lists at venues. That’s not to say I don’t have my favourite venues, but as a photojournalist, one of the best aspects of the job is to go to new places and see new people. So yes, I will travel, as I love to work at new venues. Within the UK, I have shot weddings from Cumbria to Devon, from West Wales to Norfolk, North Yorkshire to the Isle of Wight. I do charge for travel past 100 miles in total – the cost is agreed before the wedding day, to cover petrol or train fares. If the venue is far away, the cost of overnight accommodation would be added, usually for the night before to avoid the lottery of traffic jams on this island, and possibly for the night after as well (which often means I will stay at the event longer than usual if wanted, to capture the fireworks maybe or some of the really drunken debauchery!). Usually the extra cost is not significant. For weddings abroad, the costs charged (or paid direct by the client) would include such things as the flights, airport transfers, taxis, accommodation, car rental if needed and meals. But this isn’t as expensive as it may sound, if cheap flights are booked well in advance. I have shot weddings in various parts of France, Mallorca, North Cyprus and Portugal and am very open to further destinations.
Now there’s the real question! What can I say? I could give a speech about how photography is my passion. It’s the sort of thing you read on most wedding photographer websites. But for me, the real buzz is tracking down images … that old cliché of freezing time, catching something that was missed in the chaos and now has been captured by the power of the still image. But it is that! There’s no photography assignment that matters more to the client than a wedding. It’s deeply personal – one of the most significant days in their lives. For the photographer, there’s no second chance, no margin for error. And that’s where experience counts. Hire me if you want someone with twenty years+ of experience as an award-winning professional photographer. Experience seems to be a dirty word in wedding photography it seems these days – but, believe me, it counts. Whatever photography you do. A natural eye combined with experience is the best formula. Hire me if you want a photographer whose work is regularly featured in national newspapers and magazines. But above all, hire me if my photography, my eye, my vision, my way of seeing, hits the mark for you. Look at what I shoot, would this tell the story of your wedding well? Don’t hire me if you want traditional, cheesy, gimmicky, dull, by-the-numbers traditional, ‘we must do this shot for no apparent reason’, images. My aim is to capture honest, classic images of your day. I try to keep both the creation and presentation of the images simple but effective. There’ll be no overt fancy photoshop effects, such as the dreamy, washed out, ‘vintage’ look or prisms, reflections that were never there. There are many other photographers who offer those styles. Whether such ‘looks’ will stand the test of time remains to be seen. (They will not!) My own approach is to let the images in the albums speak for themselves. If they are good, they will, without the need for elaborate extra treatments, and they will continue to look good in years to come. The best thing is to look around and compare different photographers’ styles and experience. Certainly cost is a major factor, especially in the current economic climate, but it won’t be when you are looking at your album of images years in the future and maybe wishing you had chosen differently. Which style best reflects your personality, that of your family and friends, and the wedding day you have planned? My style has many labels – documentary, unobtrusive, informal, reportage, observational or even photojournalism. ‘Wedding photojournalism’ is an overused phrase, often used by photographers who have never worked for any editorial publications. But it does get close to a description of what I do – tell the story of your day. A good wedding photojournalist observes and captures, while keeping direction to a minimum. Above all, he has the ‘eye’ and the ability to respond to changing situations, to adapt and create away from the formulaic. My goal: to raise some smiles and with them some tears, and to enrich your memories of your day.
My standard coverage is from getting ready shots until after the first dance or up to 9pm, whichever comes first. Up to nine hours coverage. I would say that this covers 90% of wedding days. If no getting ready shots are wanted, that opens up more space in the coverage for other, maybe more significant, aspects of the day. Similarly, I don’t run off into the night once the first dance is over, but try to get a flavour of any further partying to finish the coverage off. If extra hours of coverage really are needed – in the past I’ve covered a revue being performed, and a several grooms jamming with their own bands – then these would be charged at £250 an hour/part thereof. As for a meal, I used to request this in the contract and ask that it is provided by your caterers at the same time as your main course. But frankly the number of venues/caterers who got paid but didn’t provide me with a meal….I find most couples do organize a meal for me, during the speeches* but if not, just let me know so I can bring some sandwiches? * This avoids being presented with a meal just as the speeches begin, or finding that the band has eaten it all. There is no need to seat me with your guests.
As part of the paperwork, I ask you to fill in an info sheet outlining the who, what, where and when of the wedding day. If we don’t meet or talk before, we will certainly talk in the week prior to the wedding to discuss the timings and logistics of the day – usually when we have a reasonable idea of the weather forecast. I am happy to help with any questions before this though, as a photographer’s perspective can help with layouts, timings, etc that venues aren’t aware of. Another option is the engagement or pre-wedding shoot. Not everyone wants one of these, or even has the time but they can provide a nice set of relaxed couple shots. If wanted, we would set up a convenient time and location – usually during the week and in spring/summer, a nice sunny evening. (There could be a small travel charge if the location is far away, to cover a train fare or petrol.) The result of this shoot is a selection high-res images for you to keep and print how you like. I can also quote for a book to be created from these images, which may be of use as a guestbook for guests to sign on the wedding day. Similarly I can create one of my large storyboard prints, with multiple images from the shoot, which you can frame and ask guests to sign on the mount.