I shot this wedding with a friend of mine who knew the couple, so it was a very relaxed affair. I’ve not shot a wedding at Shiplake College before but as Henley is close to where I live I was very keen to see it. Andrew went off to cover the groom while I started with bridal prep at the Kelly’s house in Caversham. As most of my weddings these days seem to happen miles away it was nice to have a local one for a change!
I always enjoy bridal prep, it’s usually a really relaxed part of the day. It’s also the part of the day where I get to know the bridal party. This was all very relaxed and the kids were beautifully behaved.
Next it was on to Shiplake College, a beautiful venue near Henley ( https://www.shiplake.org.uk/1545/venue-hire) .During term time this is a school of course, but in the holidays it’s a great wedding venue. The Minstrels Gallery is where the ceremony is held. Outside there are fantastic grounds. Here are some of the shots.
When I’m shooting the ceremony I like to get shots of the audience as well as the bride and groom.
After the wedding ceremony…
We were very lucky in that it was a lovely day. At the back of Shiplake College there are some beautiful grounds. I always love this part of the wedding, lots of chances for some candids. In this case the kids in particular really obliged and were extra cute.
That’s all from me on this one! Andrew covered the rest of the day, as I was really only booked for the main part of the day on this occasion. It was a lovely venue, and the beautiful family. Hope I get to go back there for another wedding soon! For my wedding price list please look here…http://www.croshawphotography.com/prices/
In addition to wedding photography I also do the odd family photoshoot when people ask me to! It’s something I’ve done for my own family and friends and it supplements the wedding photography quite nicely, so you will see more of this from me next year. I’d arranged to meet up with Gareth and Natalie again, with their three lovely little people, Jude, Ava and Ella. I chose the time of day very carefully, we wanted to get golden hour for this shoot, and I also kept a close eye on the weather. As Gareth and Natalie don’t live anywhere near me, we arranged a half way point and Natalie found some lovely woodlands for the photo shoot.
As always with young children, getting them to play along was quite a challenge, but by the end we’d gotten some lovely shots that I know they are very pleased with. Here are some of the images, for those interested the cameras used were a Sony A7R3 and Sony A9 and the lenses an 85 1.4 GM and 70-200 2.8 GM.
After about half an hour of any family session you can almost guarantee that the kids will start getting either bored , fed up or hangry! This is what happened on this shoot but luckily Gareth and Natalie came prepared. A few M&Ms later ( and some wet wipes ), the kids looked a lot happier. Moral of the story, for any family photoshoot, bring bribes, food and things for them to do! You will also notice the matching outfits. Making the clothing consistent is quite important. For more hints and tips on family photoshoots check out this article( not by me, but by someone who also got their family photos done by their wedding photographer! )…https://ohlovelyday.com/2013/11/10-tips-preparing-family-photoshoot.html
It’s nice to get published, but it’s not something I aim for. I know a lot of photographers enter competitions and try and get into magazines all the time. I don’t, mainly because I’m too lazy ( apart from on wedding days )! My sole focus is pleasing my clients, if they are happy, that’s what makes my day. My photos have appeared in numerous publications over the years, including Amateur Photographer, Professional Photographer and the Daily Express! The last one is slightly awkward as I’m a bit of a bleeding heart liberal and my parents are Guardian readers! I’ve also appeared in various bridal magazines and on Zambian national telly in a school choir ( that was a very long time ago when I lived in Zambia ). So, that’s the publication thing done with. I’ve not won any awards, but my mum thinks I’m a really good photographer!
I don’t do a lot of engagement sessions for some reason, then when I do happen to do one, I really enjoy it and think to myself, “I should do more of these!”. This photoshoot was quite a special one however, with a really interesting back story, so bear with me! Debi has known me for years ever since she got into modelling at a somewhat later age than most people do! She’s done very well though and has recently been on some of the morning TV fashion shows. I did a shoot for her a few years back for a modelling agency.
She recently decided to look up her family and found out that her mum was still alive and living in Australia. Debi is going to visit her next year along with David and wanted some photos to put into a book for her mother. This was also an engagement shoot as Debi and David are getting married in 2020 . Debi has asked me to capture their wedding day ( I should mention here that Debi is a very good photographer in her own right). Here are just a few of the photos from their engagement photoshoot, taken at South Hill Park in Bracknell.
From my own experience, I would say that you need to be comfortable showing affection with each other to make it work. Your photographer will help you with posing and stuff like that. My second tip would be to consider the outfits you wear for the shoot. Think about printing some of these images out and putting them on the wall. Would you do that if you are wearing the same outfit you go to the shops in? My third tip would be to treat it as practice for your wedding. On your wedding say you will be the centre of attention, this will help you get used to having a camera pointed at you. Check out Sam and Craig’s wedding here…http://www.croshawphotography.com/summer-wedding-at-antsy-hall/
They did an engagement shoot with me before the wedding and they both said it really helped them relax in front of the camera on the wedding day.
Wedding photography is a serious business, but also often a hilariously funny one( see articles like this for examples https://www.womansworld.com/posts/funny-wedding-pictures-101706). As a wedding photographer a sense of empathy is one of my core strengths. I need to be able to spot the fun bits and take part. I also need to know when to stop shooting and when to actually leave the room or merge into the background more.
Some fun bits
As an example of a fun moment, at this wedding one of the bridesmaids was leaning out of the window looking for her other half. The whole bridal party were laughing their heads off and one of them said “You have to shoot that”. So I did.
This bridal prep session was one of the
longest I’ve ever shot so it’s not surprise there were some other
funny moments. When Ali put on her makeup mask, there was a lot of
laughter, so I tried to capture both sides of it.
I love delivering a few silly images, it offsets the really serious, emotional moments very well. Like this guy blowing bubbles for his kids.
Often it’s at the speeches that special moments occur. This dubious looking doll surfaced during the best man’s speech. It was mildly amusing during the speech, it was much funnier when the little bridemaids decided to take it for a walk around the room. Slightly risque but I knew the couple would see the humour in it.
The other side of the coin is when
there is genuine emotion on show, and of course this happens a lot at
weddings. As a documentary wedding photographer these are the
moments I live for. An example is this shot of the two girls below,
who had just finished their speeches. The room was going nuts as
they had both done amazingly well for such young people. It was a
truly lovely moment and of course I captured it.
But the fun stuff is just as important, I want people to laugh and cry when they see their wedding pictures! If you are interested in my wedding photography packages please contact me via this page http://www.croshawphotography.com/contact/
And therefore every one requires a different approach to the wedding photography and 100% of my care and attention. I can’t just rock up to the venue and do what I did last week. While most weddings do follow a vaguely similar timeline in the UK, there are a large number of other things that differ wildly from wedding to wedding.
Obviously this is one of the key differences and different venues can require different approaches to the wedding photography. For example, Coombe Abbey is a very large venue with lovely grounds.
Group shots at a venue like this ( Coombe Abbey )are fairly straightforward, but they may be hosting multiple weddings. Therefore you need to engage with the master of ceremonies to avoid conflicts of timings. A smaller venue may need a completely different approach. I photographed a 50th wedding anniversary last year where there was no easy place to do the big group shots. So instead I photographed everyone going into the meal, one small group at a time. It worked really well and I made sure everyone at the wedding was caught on camera, which is one of the main points of the formals.
I love themed weddings and I’ve photographed a fair few now! The theme can be quite subtle, as at Caroline and John’s wedding. They were both avid gamers so it was important to get some of the little details in the photos.
These are not award winning shots. They won’t make it into my portfolio. However, they are important to the couple and they come from me talking to the couple and getting to know them before the wedding. Had I not done that, I may have missed some of these details. Wedding photography is all about the client and what they want, not what the photographer wants in their portfolio.
More themed stuff…
Coco’s wedding to Joe in Brighton had a much more overt theme. It would have been hard to miss this one!
Obviously it was an Alice in Wonderland theme ( I hope you got that on your own! ). The trick here was the tone of the editing. It’s much warmer than I normally go for, but I knew from talking to to Coco that was what appealed to her. She was delighted, and she noticed the way I’d toned the images. This was her response to seeing the images..
“So Perfect! Exactly what I wanted all warm and twinkly! Thank you so much!”
Documentary vs Candid
Another difference between weddings is how they are photographed. I am primarily a documentary wedding photographer, but I will do posed group shots. I understand that these are important even though I’d prefer to skip them entirely!
Knowing which approach to take, and sometimes I have to do both, comes from getting to know the couple before hand. Even when you do that, there are surprises on the day so you have to be flexible with your attitude and know your gear. At the end of the last wedding, long after the group shots had been done, I was asked to do this shot.
This was at the end of a long day, in the dark, and it was raining. However, I was happy to do it and I’m sure the couple love it ( I did need to know how to use my flash for this of course ).
Where am I going with this article? I guess I’m saying that you can’t be lazy as a wedding photographer, either before the wedding or on the day. You need to get to know and understand what the clients want, even if they don’t know themselves. On the day, you need to be tireless and flexible and really know your gear, because you just don’t know when you’ll have to go out in a snowstorm for some last minute couple shots! If you want to book me for your unique wedding, please contact me here: http://www.croshawphotography.com/contact/
When you book me to photograph your
wedding there is one quite important decision to make. Do you book a
second shooter? A second shooter is a photographer there to assist
the main photographer. This could be just carrying stuff, holding
lights or taking pictures. Below I will outline the pros and cons of
the second shooter as I see them.
1.You will get more photos of your day from different angles. It is impossible for me to be in two places at once. A second photographer can get shots I simply can’t. For example, during the ceremony when the bride walks in I’ll be up near the groom getting shots like this one.
The second photographer can be at the
back getting shots like this.
2.Groom prep is much easier with a
second shooter. I can shoot both Bridal Prep and Groom Prep on my
own and have done so many times. However, it’s much easier to do
this with two photographers for obvious reasons.
3.A good second shooter is a handy
backup in case of a serious problem for the primary. This has never
happened to me, but I know of people it has happened to. Most of us
will photograph a wedding no matter how ill we are. But if something
drastic does happen on the day, the second shooter is a living,
breathing backup who can take over in an emergency.
4.You can get a subtly different style
of photos from the second shooter that really adds another dimension
to the book or album you end up with.
1.They can get in the way and be a
distraction. I mostly use the same bunch of second shooters if at
all possible, as I know they won’t need babysitting. Occasionally I
need to work with someone new though. Most of the time it’s fine,
but there have been times when the need to assist/babysit a second
shooter has been a distraction for me.
2.Editing is harder unless they are
using the same system. This isn’t a problem for the client, but it
does add an extra layer of difficulty for me. Most second shooters
use Canon or Nikon, I don’t. This can lead to issues getting their
photos to look just like mine.
3.Cost. It costs more to have a second
Overall, I would recommend having a
second shooter if you can afford it. With my current pricing
packages ( link ), it is only an extra £100.
I get asked this a fair bit by clients so I thought a blog post was in order! I think of myself as a reportage/documentary photographer, but what does this actually mean? Traditional wedding photography was basically a collection of group shots and then some staged shots with the happy couple. This was back when we were all shooting on film, and my own wedding photos follow this pattern. Now that digital photography is firmly established couples expect more, and the era of candid/documentary photography is very much upon us ( I think this is a good thing ). Simply put, documentary wedding photography is unposed, follow the day, shoot what happens photography. This is a documentary wedding photo…
They had no idea they were being photographed, it was a candid moment at the reception between the bride and her father. This is a posed photo by comparison…
There is nothing wrong with this ( they loved it ), but it is a posed photo. There are various degrees of documentary wedding photography. Some photographers are 100% documentary, nothing is posed. They turn up and they document the day looking for awesome moments. There is a lot of skill that goes into this, from choosing the right backgrounds to being able to use flash in a non invasive way. It’s not just turning up, putting the camera into burst mode and then firing away. Then there are people like me, who are 90% documentary/reportage but we will do posed/group shots. I believe they are important, as a record of the day. It’s impossible to guarantee that you will capture everyone on the day, so the group/posed shots are a kind of safety net, to capture those people who have evaded you otherwise during the day. This is a good example of a shot that is 50% candid and 50% posed….
I love the confetti shots, its not a candid shot because I set it up, but there is a large element of chaos in the confetti run which means its a nice mix of the two genres ( in my opinion ).
So which should you go for? Well, that’s up to you of course. I do find that couples who want a whole load of group shots come to regret it on the day and often abandon the idea when they realise what a stress it places on the whole timeline. If you are going to go for group shots allow 10 minutes for each one. That may seem a lot, but once you factor in the missing relative who has disappeared off the toilet just when you need them most, it starts to make sense. When couples see the final shots its always the candids they prefer, but don’t discount the group shots, there are an important record of who was there on the day, and you can always opt for a mix of the two.
I thought this might be interesting for anyone interested in becoming a wedding photographer, and for my clients, to see what goes into a typical wedding. I’ll put in rough timings but of course the timings of a wedding vary wildly so these are just typically average times.
8-10PM the day before.
The day actually starts the night before. I’ll often have to leave pretty early as some of my weddings are 2-3 hours drive away. I also need to leave 1-2 hours spare for things like flat tyres/breakdowns/bad traffic on the way. There are no good excuses for arriving late to photograph a wedding ( other than death! ). So the night before I’ll spend a couple of hours going through the plan for the day, checking equipment and packing it all up so that I can leave quickly in the morning. I’ll also make sure everything is charged up, memory cards are cleared down and lenses are clean. Then I’ll attempt to get a reasonably early night!
6AM: Leave home
I leave early in order to get to the venue an hour before bridal prep begins. Generally this will be 9-10am in the morning. Bridal prep can start very early if there is a large bridal party in need of hair and makeup. This varies massively between weddings, I’ve shot weddings where bridal prep has been an hour, to 5 hours for one wedding this year. I always like to arrive at the venue early to have a look around. Even if I’ve been there before, things can change ( i.e. building work ), so I don’t want any nasty surprises later in the day when I don’t have much time.
Also by this time I’ll have had a large breakfast. I usually find a Toby Carvery near the venue so that I can have a big feed before I get to work. The rationale behind this is that very often I’ll not get the chance to eat before 5pm. Even if I’m being fed at the wedding breakfast I’ll be the last one to eat, and during the day I don’t want to stop to eat lunch in case I miss an important moment. Those moments are bread and butter for documentary wedding photographers, it’s what we live for!). I also like to arrive at least an hour early as sometimes parking can be a problem if the bridal prep venue is in a city.
For a documentary wedding photographer this is an important part of the story of the day. This is one of my favourite parts of the wedding, as everyone is excited, there is usually a good bit of banter flying around and it’s a relatively calm part of the day for me. I get to ease into the wedding and everyone gets used to me being around. I usually have a bit of a chat with them all before even getting the camera out, I don’t want them to feel like they have paparazzi in the room by running in and immediately starting to shoot stuff. Every bridal prep is different, I often see letters from the groom and other family members being read by the bride, although not often with the effect it had on Ali!
OK so things start getting hectic now. I’ll leave bridal prep and go and meet the groom at the ceremony. Usually this involves getting in the car and driving somewhere. In the meantime, my second shooter will have been capturing groom prep. If I don’t have a second shooter I’ll leave bridal prep a bit earlier to go and do it. The grooms party generally don’t want a huge amount of time spent with them by the wedding photographer anyway. I then meet the people officiating the ceremony and establish what the ground rules are. I will have asked the couple to do this anyway, but on the day I need to double check if there is anywhere I need to stand. I’ll then shoot some candid shots of guests arriving, capture the bride arriving, and then get in position inside the room or church where the ceremony is going to be.
If the ceremony is in the same venue as bridal prep it makes it easier to get shots like the one above of Ali and her son going to the ceremony, but I will have asked for a timeline ahead of the wedding so I’ll know wether this is possible.
1.30PM THE WEDDING CEREMONY
This is the sweaty palms ( did you think I was going to say something else? ) time for me, and for everyone else to be honest. We are all hoping everything goes smoothly. I’m nervous because there are shots coming up I absolutely have to get right. My camera will be on silent shooting mode at this point so I don’t disturb the ceremony, I’m trying to be as unobtrusive as possible for this bit, in fact sometimes I won’t be allowed to take photos at all, and that’s fine, I’ll go along with the rules set by whoever is running the ceremony. I’ll have established at this point if there will be confetti afterwards, and instructed the ushers not to let anyone throw any until I’m ready. Then I go about documenting the ceremony and capturing all those moments that occur.
This is where we need our fancy, expensive gear and this is why you need a professional wedding photographer ( well, its not all about the gear ). Ceremony rooms are often very dark, and iphones and cheap cameras just won’t cut it in these situations. You are often not allowed to use flash, and if you did, then it would look terrible unless you really know how to balance your flash with the ambient light. Or there will be a very stark difference between the light outside and inside, like with the photo above this one where Ali is arriving with her son in bright sunlight and then about to enter a much darker room. I can meter for that, a phone camera can also but its much harder to get right and you don’t have very long to do it.
2.30PM After the Wedding Ceremony
Everyone breathes a sigh of relief assuming all went well. I’ll be happy that I’ve got my shots, but I can’t relax, as some of the best moments of the day happen at this point, as everyone goes to congratulate the happy couple. I need to document those moments and not get trapped in the Church behind a long queue of people trying to get out and find the nearest toilet because they went to the pub for a sneaky pint before the ceremony!
2.45 PM – CONFETTI!!
I must admit, I love confetti shots, although they can be very tricky to shoot, as the camera must focus on the faces rather than all that distracting confetti. This is one of the few parts of the day when I will make myself heard and organise things. If you don’t do that then people will throw it randomly at random times and you will end up picking it up off the floor and attempting to reshoot it ( yes, that has happened to me, but only once!!).
3PM – Drinks Reception
The day doesn’t always follow this pattern, but often there is a time after the ceremony to relax and have a drink and a snack. When I first started doing weddings the bride and groom would often want the group shots right after the ceremony. Experience has taught me to avoid this scenario for two reasons. Firstly, everyone is much happier about an hour later having been fed and watered after a potentially long ceremony, secondly, the light is generally a lot kinder later in the afternoon.
There is a sweet spot to doing the group shots/formals, leave it too long and everyone will be too much into party mode to want to bother, but do it too soon and they will be desperate to get to the bar…! So, I usually shoot candid shots for a bit then start to organise the formal/group shots. I’m not really a formal/group shot photographer, I’d be happier to just shoot candidly throughout the day, but I do recognise their importance and if the couple wants these shots then I will do them to the best of my ability.
4.45 PM – Wedding Breakfast – the entrance!
At this point everyone goes into where the meal is being held and sits down, then they stand up again as the bride and groom enter the room. This can be a really tricky shot to get, as people will tend to get in your way, but its often also a great moment. Once they are seated, the meal begins and at this point I down tools for an hour and feed myself, or get fed if the couple have arranged for a meal for me.
By this point I’ll have been on the go for 9 hours on average, sometimes longer, so I will need a break. You do start to feel a bit weary at this point, and everyone else is getting quite merry usually but as the photographer you need to stay sober and stay alert. I generally don’t take photos aside from the bride and groom entering the room and the speeches, as people eating doesn’t make for a great shot, but I will photograph the room, the decorations and the food.
6PM – The Speeches!
Hopefully I’ll have managed to grab something to eat by this point, as otherwise energy levels will be flagging! Speeches are a lot of fun, and if I have a second shooter here it is a real advantage, as I normally ask them to get the reactions of the audience while I focus ( literally ) on the speakers. Although many people go with the traditional set up, I’ve seen all sorts of variations, from brides rapping, to videos by the couple’s parents. The rules are there to be broken, the only one I’d suggest sticking to is, don’t let them go on for too long!
8PM:Cake cutting and first dance
These two normally go hand in hand, although of course, that rule can also be broken. For the cake cutting I’ll normally need to pick my spot carefully, and then get my shot done and let everyone go nuts with their mobiles. The first dance can be the hardest part of the day to capture properly, so I’ll have scoped out the room before hand and planned how best to do this. Sometimes I’ll set up lights in corners of the rooms, being careful to keep them out of the way as I don’t want running kids tripping over them ( I don’t want to test out my public liability insurance thank you! ). Sometimes I’ll just stick a flash on top of the camera and bounce it off the ceiling if it’s white.
I usually also find this is the part of the day my second shooters really struggle to get great images, these are the hardest shots to get right. The main reason for this is quality of light, which is generally quite poor by this time of day, and then the DJ may be using coloured lights ( red is the worst ). Sometimes you can’t use flash, in which case I’ll have constant lights I can set up.
After I’ve captured the first dance, I then wait around for other people to come on to the dance floor, as I like to get shots of the guests having fun. Sometimes this can mean waiting quite a long time, as people in the UK tend to need a few drinks before getting stuck into the dancing! Even though I’ll be really tired, hot and sweaty by this point, this is one of my favourite times as you often get some of the most unscripted shots of the day here, and being a candid wedding photographer is my whole reason for doing this.
10-11PM – Drive Home and then backup photos
So I may be going back to a hotel if I’m more than a couple of hours drive away, or I may be going home, but either way, the first thing I do when I get back is to back up the photos. This will take a couple of hours to do properly, and I may have had time to partly do this during the day, but it is my number one priority. There are plenty of horror stories on the internet of wedding photographers losing photos. I never take risks with this part, no matter how tired I am.
The next day I’ll move my backups to a different physical location and will also back up files to the cloud or dropbox. It’s not so bad, I’ll usually freshen up, grab a beer and look through the photos while I do this, then finally get to bed around 1-2AM.
It will then take another day to edit the photos, get the album designed and tweak it to the couple’s taste. On average I’d say it takes 30-40 hours effort for each wedding.
Conclusion and useful links
So there you go, my typical wedding day! I hope you found the article interesting! If you are looking for wedding suppliers for your wedding I’d start with a site like https://www.hitched.co.uk/, although I’d also recommend reaching out to your friends for recommendations. Nothing beats a good referral when it comes wedding suppliers!