How I make sure I don't ruin your wedding photography!

20th November 2015
I was prompted to write this article after seeing a distressed bride complaining about their wedding photographer on It was so sad to hear how distraught she was, so I thought I'd explain some of the things I do to avoid ruining your wedding and put your mind at rest...

I speak with the client
It makes your skin crawl when a photographer asks a wedding couple to do something silly when they want something more traditional. Similarly a client who wants something a little more fun or even crazy might be bored with a traditional approach.

A lovely traditional wedding photograph...

Something a little more leftfield...!

I meet every client before they hire me. I want to know what style you do and don't like and what you've seen before that you'd like to try. I want to know what's most important to you about your wedding photographs and who the most important people are in your wedding party.

When I know what you want it helps things go so much more smoothly and quickly on the big day as everyone understands what's happening.

Scout the location
I always check out the wedding venue a week or two before the wedding. Even if I've been there before, I still do it - after all a tree may have been chopped down or perhaps there's building work going on.

Ideally I like to bring the bride and groom along with me when I scout a venue because we get to bounce ideas off each other. Knowing where and when your romantic photographs and group photographs are going to be taken speeds along the process on the wedding day so you can get on with enjoying yourself.

I'll reveal some of the fun things I do with the group photographs so they won't be a long, dull and tedious process. I make it interactive, enjoyable and quick. Mostly by losing every last shred of dignity I have!

I create a plan A, B and C.

Plan A is if it's sunny and there's harsh light that will create nasty shadows and squinting if I don't position people correctly. I tend to photograph people in the shade and ideally under the shade of a tree with the sunshine twinkling through the back of the leaves.

Plan B is for a cloudy day. When it's cloudy I have more options because there are no harsh shadows and if I face people towards where the sun would be they won't be squinting - in fact their eyes will sparkle beautifully.

Plan C is for rain. I'm looking for undercover archways and winding stairways so I can photograph large groups of people while keeping them sheltered from the rain. I also bring a step ladder so I can see everyone in the group - even the shy ones lurking at the back.

How I visualise photographs before I've created them
When I'm on my scouting mission I'm looking for very specific things that will help me create the best photographs possible. Firstly I want to see where the light is coming from. Great lighting is the cornerstone of a beautiful photograph. Window light is always stunning. I'm looking for trees that will provide shade and if they have over hanging branches to frame the photograph then that's even better.

I look for things that will create depth to the photographs. Something as simple as a winding pathway or a fence that leads your eye into the photograph will give the image a three dimensional feel.
Textured backgrounds work really well too.

I've asked couples to stand next to a rusty old gate or even a porta-cabin because the texture and lines work well in photography. It can raise an eyebrow or two at times. However, we've often discussed the idea in our scouting mission anyway so it's rare I'm looked at like I'm completely bonkers!

That rusty old gate....

Mobile phone portfolio
On my mobile I store all the types of photographs the client said they liked, along with photographs of the best locations at the venue. On the wedding day I then match the poses, styles and ideas along with the locations and BOOM we've got great images quickly and easily. The bride and groom are relaxed because they know what's happening and this leads to better expressions. Not to mention I feel more relaxed so I can concentrate on being wonderfully charming and hilarious to coax out those happy expressions even more! Well, OK, maybe just mildly amusing...

I love life
I'm not sure how else to explain this X-factor part of the photographic process. I like people and the beauty that's all around us. I mentioned that rusty old gate earlier. But it's not just a rusty old gate, it's a collage of texture and colour. Anything can look beautiful in the right light and with the right composition.
As a wedding photographer I get to see families laughing and crying together - it's a privilege and a pleasure.

Do I see arguments and faces red with frustration and panic before a wedding? Sure do. But that sometimes means the photographs later will be even more special. That tension was just simmering emotion that hasn't had a chance to turn into happiness, relief and tears of joy later in the day. I'll be waiting for them.

When you love life you see the beauty in it. Similarly, if you're a sour-faced misery then you'll struggle to create great wedding photographs.

We've all heard stories about the wedding photographer who shouted at the kids to get out of the way, or the one who got angry because half the guests were taking photographs over their shoulder. Don't worry, I'm not precious and I'm only a small chap, so not scary at all.

If you've ever watched The Dog Whisperer then you'll know he recommends being 'calm, assertive' around dogs. Well, as the wedding whisperer I'd tweak that to 'Calm, easy-going, assertive'. You don't want a tyrant for a photographer, but you don't want a wet fish either. I'm aiming for a cross between Harry Hill and the Dalai Lama!

I look at a lot of great wedding photographs
The more you look at great wedding photographs the more you train your brain to see them. Just like an interior designer can quickly see how you could transform your home, my little peepers have been trained to see the beauty in a scene and then compose my photograph to help the viewer see the beauty I saw.

I'm like Dr Seuss
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not!”
Dr. Seuss

I love that quote from the classic children's book. It just seems to sum up the solution to most of life's troubles. Care. It's great having a job that I care about so much. Being excited to go to 'work' is a wonderful feeling.

As a chronic people-pleaser nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing my client's faces when they see their wedding photographs for the first time. My innate need to make people happy isn't always great (you can tie yourself in knots), but it does drive me on to create photographs that are the very best I can do. The horrendous fear of showing a couple wedding photographs that they're not happy with is more than enough to ensure I give my heart and soul every single time.

You'll love your wedding photographs - I guarantee it
I always recommend couples get written guarantees from their wedding vendors. My wedding agreement has a line in it that simply says "If you're not happy with your photographs or the service you receive then you can ask for all your money back". That's it. No wiggle room, no excuses... ...nothing.

I think that's the most important point of all. If a photographer is prepared to give a guarantee like this then they're clearly confident in their photography skills and their ability to offer an efficient and friendly service, no matter what.

Ultimately it's all about trust, and a signed guarantee is the best way of building it.

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