Frequently Asked Questions (none are silly)
There are many good questions I'm asked time and again. I've listed them below with answers that I hope will better prepare you for conversations I hope we might have. Planning a wedding is a major task and I really try to be one of the simpler pieces of the puzzle - please do ask for further clarification on anything I've tried to cover, and ask any other question that springs to mind. My hope is that booking me to do your photography means you can tick 'pictures' off your list with confidence, knowing that that bit's been taken care of.
Are Documentary wedding photography, wedding reportage and wedding photojournalism the same thing?
I call what I do 'documentary wedding photography' because I don't ask for anyone to pose, to look here, stand there, or make any adjustments to what they're doing. The pictures I take are of life happening and celebrate your day in all it’s wonderful reality. I think Wedding 'Reportage' and 'Photojournalism' are similar attempts by photographers to describe a similar approach. But, to me, 'documentary photography' feels gentler, slower, and more natural.
Portraits and group pictures?
Of course. There are couples who only want natural un-arranged pictures, but most want some portraits and some groups, and that's great and easily done. I don't want to take you away from your guests for portraits for much more than 20 minutes. They’re often best done either before the wedding breakfast or later on before the evening, as the light softens - we could even briefly slip out at both times? And beautiful portraits don't need to involve ‘posing’, it's more about just standing together, and I do the rest.
I’d suggest we do no more than four or five group pictures, otherwise it can become a bit of an exercise and guests’ patience can start to ‘thin’? I’ll make them look lovely, quickly and gently arranging you all. And hopefully you’ll give me an idea of the groups pre-wedding.
And if you want to try for a picture of everyone together I'll happily find a good way to do this that looks great - but do be prepared for somebody to always go missing - having nipped to their car, the bathroom, choosing to stay at the bar, ‘dealing’ with their children elsewhere (....or just hiding?) This picture’s usually best done before the wedding breakfast, and can only take place really near to where your guests are anyway gathered.
Do we meet before the wedding? How much can we consult with you?
I'd love to meet with you before the day, and many couples feel it’s an essential part of choosing a photographer. And I’ve also been to a fair number of ‘rehearsals’ which are a great way to understand you both a little more. But you'll still get a wonderful set of photographs if we only end up meeting for the first time on the day itself. I'm very used to arriving somewhere new, meeting people, and just getting on with finding and quietly taking pictures - in fact I love it, and always get excited about the adventure of it all, the mystery of what I'll find and the pictures I'll make.
If it's not possible to meet with you in person, we can email and phone, or ‘meet’ and talk using Skype, FaceTime etc.. I’ll try and ensure we have as much communication as you need before the day so you can be confident I understand your planning - And it always works out fine.
Can we discus particular things/moments/people/times in the day that are important to us?
Yes, I 'd love to find out what you're planning, and it can be good to know something of the running order of the day. And do tell me about small touches that you've taken time over and would like included in the pictures - I don't want you to be disappointed. Weddings are also usually a bit of a rare 'meeting of the clans', so please say if there’s somebody really important to you who you’ll be looking for in your pictures? I’d like to be your photographer so I’ll do my very best to fit with your expectations and plans. A bit of prep can sometimes be a very good idea, and can help me make a picture narrative of the day and be barely noticed within your wedding.
How many pictures do you produce for us, and how will we receive them?
You'll receive more than 350 high resolution images, as well as a set of low resolution copies that are an easy file size to share by email or through social media. I’ll generally be able to send you many more than 350 edited images from a long wedding day, but from experie can guarantee 350. These will have been edited down from thousands and each photograph is treated with the same care that I'd apply to print a picture in a dark room (which I'm old enough to have done...lots).
You'll receive these within four weeks of your wedding, hopefully within two weeks, but this is dependant on my diary, and in the summer it will more likely be within four than two weeks.
Through the post you'll receive a rather lovely little parcel. It will contain a high quality memory stick which holds both sets of pictures (higher and lower resolution). The parcel also contains fifty small prints, a selection of your pictures to immediately hold and enjoy. I don't think photographs really exist unless they're printed.
Are all the pictures in colour? Can we choose whether we want them in 'black & white'?
The pictures are all initially taken in colour. During the editing some pictures can look much better toned in Black and White, or in Colour, and I'll make the decision which to go for and present the photograph to you in the tone I feel works best. I'll usually have made the choice for good aesthetic reasons - the picture's light might comes through more beautifully in one or the other tone, the colours make the image. After I've sent off pictures I'm sometimes asked whether I could provide a black and white image in colour or vice versa, and if I can I will.
Do you use flash? We don't want the day to be disturbed.
The only time I might use a little flash is late at your evening party, and even then I'll take a lot of pictures using the light sources available.
I also now use small, silent Fujifilm Rangefinder cameras, so I stand out much less, your guests will probably have larger cameras, and there’s also no ‘click’ to disturb the ceremony. They’re also smaller than most cameras your guests will bring! I was using comparatively large Canon equipment but it was heavy and carrying around two or three cameras didn’t exactly allow me to ‘blend in’. Using the Fujifilm system is great and has taken me right back to when I first started as a photojournalist and travelled with small Leica and Nikon film cameras.
What do you wear to weddings?
I usually wear a suit as it's the best way to blend in, but sometimes I might wear a jacket and trousers, I’ll check with you. Please do say if you're having some sort of themed affair and asking your guests to dress in a particular way (it does happen) - you'd probably not want me to be the only person not dressed for a Sixties party, or in black tie?
No travel and accommodation costs - really? What if we asked you to photograph our Lake District or Scottish wedding?
Yes. I really do believe in keeping things simple. I love to travel for weddings and am very used to turning up in the morning to join a wedding day wherever you are - and meeting you all, (gratefully accepting a coffee) and just getting on with pictures for you. I did this for years as a press photographer/photojournalist, usually with little or no notice (my wife and family much prefer me photographing weddings as they tend to be on the family diary some time in advance), and I've always loved the adventure of a new place, meeting new people and gently embedding myself into a new photographic challenge. And as weddings are usually (but not always) arranged sometime in advance, I have time to plan how to get to you and book somewhere to stay the night before if it’s needed.
Can your current standard price (£900) decrease if we don't need you there for the whole day, or if we're having a smaller, more discreet wedding?
I've tried to make my standard price sufficiently low to fit all requests for photographic wedding coverage. For the quality of service and pictures I'll provide for you I hope the price feels reasonable - whether you'd like me from dawn until well after dusk (mostly a metaphor, but I have started truly early, lured by the chance of making a really complete day's story for a lovely couple), for a more measured period of time, or to photograph a smaller more private celebration. My background is from press photography, photojournalism and documentary photography, and I'm used to long days (and sometimes weeks). I also know the photographic benefits that only come from being really wonderfully embedded within a story for a good long time.
Deposit, payment and contract?
Once you've booked a date I then email you my contract, and I hope you find it’s written in plain English - there’s no legal protection gained from jargon. This acts as protection and guarantee for us both. Do ask anything about the contract if you need to. If you're happy, you email (or write!) back saying you accept it, and paying a £200 deposit secures my services. The remaining £700 is payable no less than 12 weeks before your wedding. I’ll of course confirm receipt of all payments.
Do we need to feed you?
I always bring food and drink to keep myself going and see this as a bit of a basic professional responsibility - I’m very used to living from my car. At some weddings, despite my protestations, I have been fed. This can of course be nice. But although lovely and civilised it isn’t ideal for a documentary photographer who doesn’t want to miss things!
Although I leave you and guests to enjoy your meal without being photographed, there are often many other things going you’ll be glad I haven’t missed - the kitchen in full swing, beautifully arranged food and drink, delivered to tables, or children running amok out of adult sight.…or I may use the time to find spots to suggest portraits later as the light fades. Having said all this, I won’t say no to a cold drink and the odd canapé, they’ll doubtless look very good, and it is a long day!
What happens if for some reason you can't come?
This has never happened in any type of photographic job I've done, let alone a wedding. I seem to be built with a fairly strong constitution (and also be quite lucky...given a few drinks I could bore you with some photographic survival stories, but it's best not to get me started). But in this unlikely situation I could find a photographer friend more than capable of replacing me. We watch each other's backs.
Our 'vicar' doesn't seem to like photographers, what should we do?
Wedding venues and registry offices are used to a photographer moving quietly around finding pictures. But if you're being married in a religious building it's quite common to encounter a slightly different attitude. My dad was a Church of England vicar (and later a Bishop) and could tell some fairly terrible stories about photographers treating marriage ceremonies as it they’d been organised purely for them, so I can understand their ‘caution’. I've met both ends of the spectrum; From being told graciously but very firmly that my place is no more than a step inside the West doors, to a wonderful Dorset country vicar, who after a quick chat judged I could be trusted and invited me to move around freely so as to do my best work for the couple. I loved his explanation that he hoped the pictures would support the couple's marriage.
If you’re marrying in a religious ceremony, the week before the wedding I’ll always make a call to whoever's presiding to introduce myself and try and assure them of my good practice and respect. And there can be room for a bit of negotiation. Of course to place me at the back during the ceremony, and of course that would be your choice and fin
Do you work alone?
Yes mainly, I do prefer to work alone and always have done. There have been weddings where because of the photographic requirements I've co-opted a colleague and we've jointly photographed the day, but I much prefer to work alone as I don’t think a wedding should be over-populated by photographers. You may also have asked a videographer to your wedding so that would be two, or even three of us for a start. I want your wedding photographs to show your wedding not being disturbed, and the more camera people there, the more risk there is that guests won't feel relaxed - it's your day, not mine..
The General Data Protection Regulations, otherwise known as GDPR.
You've probably heard of GDPR, and we all now click endlessly on website permission buttons. GDPR effects documentary wedding photography in two ways. It requires me to handle your written data responsibly, which I do, please see my policy GDPR Compliance. It also considers photographs as data. Due to the candid nature of documentary wedding photography, this potentially presents interesting questions. GDPR is new law and, in terms of photographs, we'll really only know what the regulations mean as the law is tested over time. The regulations suggest we have rights about photographs taken of us and can say if we don’t want them them shown publicly, but nobody currently knows how far this stretches. My wedding documentary photography contract asks your permission for me to share some images from your wedding on social media and to use some pictures to publicise my work. You’ll hopefully see this as routine, but legally you can't give consent on behalf of your guests. My experience has been that we all now kind of accept our social media and online world and I’ve not yet had any take down’ requests in any ‘public’ photography that I’ve done and digitally shared. If any of your guests raise questions concerning their GDPR image rights with you, or with me, before, during, or after the day, I’ll comply with anything asked of me.
Do get in touch where you need to. Wedding days are unique and personal so there may be many other questions you need to ask - I'll help wherever I can. I'd love to find out what you've planned, and a chat may assist you in deciding whether you want me along for the day. Although I'd love to join you I'll quite understand if you decide on someone else.
Email me at email@example.com, or just use the button below to hop over to the contact page where you can find my number.