Category Archives: Weddings

Day 196 – If at first you don’t succeed…

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Day 196 – Sep 29th

Two wheels in the rain is rarely fun. When cycling you either get soaked in lycra, but it dries fairly quickly, or you put on a waterproof jacket and sweat a lot and don’t end up much drier for it. On the motorbike you can wear fully waterproof gear and generally get to your destination quite dry, as there is little risk of you over heating.

Today I was on the motorbike, and today it rained. A lot.

The downside to waterproof motorbike gear is that eventually, after enough rain, water will slowly begin to get through, and it can take forever to dry it afterwards. The one thing I regret is not doing something about my motorbike boots, as I purchased these based on their waterproof description, and they have leaked since day one. It has been almost 12 months now, and I am not sure I’d get much help even if I did complain. Still, they’ve seen plenty of wear, and I’ll probably look at replacing them soon anyway.

Being Friday I was looking forward to getting home and putting my feet up for the evening with a film and a beer or two, but sadly I had to go out again in the evening before I could sit down and relax. I had arranged a meeting with a friend to discuss their wedding next year and thankfully didn’t have to drive too far to get there. It was to be a first for me though, this was the second time I had sat down with this groom to discuss his wedding. The first marriage sadly didn’t work out, but he was keen to have me back to talk meet his lovely new fiancé and talk about the plans for their big day. The venue looks lovely and it sounds like it is going to be a wonderful day. After a quieter few years since we got married, moved house and had both the girls, it is nice to see the calendar filling up a bit for next year.

Right, now where’s that beer?

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Day 184 – A day in the life of a wedding photographer

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Day 184 – Sep 17th

A lot of people probably have the idea that the life of a wedding photographer is a glamorous and easy one, they just turn up on the morning, take some photos for a couple of hours after bossing everyone around, charge a small fortune and go home. If only it was really like that.

My wedding preparations have started well in advance of the day, meeting the couple to discuss the details of the day, sometimes at the wedding venue, and continue for many weeks after it, editing photos and putting albums together. The price may seem expensive, but when you consider the cost of the equipment I need, the cost of travelling brides house > church > reception venue > home (and don’t forget the meetings with the couple too), buying software, running my website, the cost of the albums, new memory cards and batteries, and then finally making a profit on top, its not quite the money pit people imagine.

On the actual day itself, I often begin with an early start, filling the car up with all my gear once I’m showered and dressed. I have to be pretty strict on leaving the house to ensure I meet the bride on time, as I’ll be starting with the bride and bridesmaids hair and make up photos and can’t miss the bride getting hers done if she’s first. This is generally a fairly relaxed part of the day, with an opportunity to get some lovely shots for the album. 

The stress really begins as soon as the bride is getting ready to leave for the church. I need to be hot footing it over to the church myself well in advance to meet the groom and speak to the vicar about what I’m allowed and not allowed to photograph during to service. Each vicar can have very different views about what is acceptable, some of them are really cool about it and will pretty much let you shoot anything, some of them don’t mind too much  providing you don’t move around, and to the rest… well, you’re pretty much just the devil to them, and they’d just rather you weren’t in there at all, you bloody nuisance!

I’ll need to capture shots of guests arriving at the church, the groom waiting anxiously inside, orders of service being handed out, bridesmaids arriving… then finally it’s time, the brides car has arrived… at this point you hope that you’ve made it to the toilet recently, because the next few hours are going to be chaos, there’s no time for toilet breaks or looking at mobile phones or snacks, as no-one wants to be waiting around for an absent photographer, the service is happening whether I’m ready or not, and if I miss a shot, well, there’s no going back and reshooting it, you have to deal with the consequences. As the bride gets out of the car and heads down the aisle, experience will tell me where I need to be and when so that I can capture everything I need to, for the next hour or so.

Throughout the service there are random moments to grab, people hugging, touching, looks between two people, but essentially there are also a number of key shots that I must grab, the ring exchange, the first kiss, the signing of the register, walking back down the aisle and being in the wrong place will simply mean missing the shot!

After the service there will be a number of photos outside of the church to take, the couple, their parents, the bridesmaids etc, but first you have to remember to let the church empty as there are a lot of people inside waiting to get out, and they will ALL want to speak to the couple. I always give it a few minutes so that people aren’t butting in when I try to take my shots. This part is tricky and needs some direction as people tend to wander around like lost sheep. Once the essential shots are done, I am often the first to leave for the reception venue (my car is often parked tactically so I can get out quickly!) so I can be ready and waiting for the couple to arrive and capture them in the back of the car, and as they get out of it. If they are taking a while to arrive once I am there I will head into the reception room with a few spare minutes to capture some detail shots of the tables, the cake, and decorations.

The next step is group shots and these can really eat into your time if you’re not careful, especially if there isn’t much of a gap between arriving at the venue and everyone sitting down to eat, but once everyone is sat down ready for food, it is a chance for me to slow down and relax for a little while, rest my feet which will be feeling tender by this point, and hopefully grab a bite to eat myself. Most of the time the couple will think to feed me, and this is massively appreciated, as it can be a really long day, 12 hours almost without a break is not unusual. Even when I am sat down I will be reviewing the shots I have taken!

Traditionally speeches will follow either the main course or dessert, and I’ll need to get a good spot, but without blocking the view of people behind me. Typically at least one of these shots will end up in the album, so I need to get a good one of everyone talking.

The cake cutting is often next, although some wait for the evening guests to arrive, but mostly it happens soon after the speeches. Some venues often request a mock cutting of the cake for the sake of a photo, but I rarely do this as I prefer the natural expressions and focus of a couple actually cutting into the most expensive cake they have ever paid for!

The last event I will often stay to capture is the first dance, it can often be resented by the groom (us men aren’t natural dancers!), sometimes even the bride as well, but usually most couples embrace it for what it is… the start of the evenings celebrations and time to party! I need to utilise my lighting skills by using my flash guns, sometimes aiming them at the ceiling, sometimes placing them around the room and firing them remotely, but at least one, sometimes two of these images will always go in the album, these are essential. Its not uncommon for the first dance to end up running late, but my promise is to stay until its done, and so thats what I do. If it is going in the album, then I need to be there to capture it! I certainly don’t want to be remembered as the photographer who couldn’t be bothered to wait.

Todays wedding did run over a bit, but it was a fun day, a very relaxed couple and a lovely family. After getting home later than expected, I decided to treat myself to a glass of red wine or two! Finally, I can put my feet up and relax!

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Sunday started with a bit of urgency as we’d had another bad night with Olivia and were all very tired. Yet again she’d woken up with a temperature very close to 40ºc and covered in snot! It was all we could do to clean her up and cool her down. The temptation is to take drastic measure to cool her, but this isn’t necessarily the best idea. We gave her the magic elixir of calpol and removed her top layer of clothing. This seemed to help and whilst she was still warm when I put her back down, at least the thermometer showed her body temperature was starting to go down.

We were due to meet our friends at the local garden centre, as just like last year they had some real reindeers for the children to see. We picked up Olivia’s cousin along the way and it was a lovely morning out and a chance for the parents to catch up over a hot chocolate and a bite in the garden centre cafe once we’d seen the reindeers. There was no rush as lunch was already sorted for us courtesy of the in-laws, and after we’d spent a couple of hours there, it was time to head home so that I could get ready for the evenings event, the wedding celebrations of a friend of mine. I’d been asked to take a few photos, although I wasn’t quite clear on what would be happening, and wasn’t expecting to see another photographer there. As it was n asian wedding, the actual registry had been done the day before, and this was an evening of celebration, but I didn’t know what was supposed to be happening, and so it wasn’t an ideal situation for me, as I like to be prepared for weddings, and certainly don’t want to feel like I am in competition with another photographer, which was what this was starting to feel like. Whilst I do sometimes shoot with a second photographer, which is usually my friend Phil, we always work to compliment each other and try not to duplicate each others shots. If I am shooting with someone I don’t know, I would meet them first to discuss the day and what each of us is expected to do. Finding out on the night that a second person was also taking photos meant I was on a back foot from the start, this person clearly knew what was going on and seemed to know a lot of the people already. In the end, I did my best, I got a few good shots, and I saw that the other person had also been busy, so I am sure that most angles had been covered. It was fun, but I was certainly glad to be heading home that night though, thats for sure!

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Its been a little while since I’ve been a guest at a wedding as I usually tend to photograph them rather than relax. Today was the wedding of our friends Mike and Liz and thankfully the photography was already sorted so I could kick back and completely relax. Our only consideration was that the couple had requested no children, which is a much more common theme these days, as couples are spending so much money on their big day and don’t want everything to go as perfectly as possible. Kids can tend to be unpredictable, running up and down the church aisle, and sometimes even stroppy when it comes to group photos (there’s always one!), but I guess the big factor is that as weddings become more and more expensive, the seats become limited and a child, as nice as it would be to have them there, is taking up a seat that another friend or family member could have. I know with our wedding, we had a very limited number of seats available for the meal and a huge list of people that we wanted to invite that we just didn’t have the room for, and you have to be fairly brutal in your selection process. Some people, as much as you’d love them there, are never going to get an invite as you just don’t have any seats left! Yes, there is the consideration that some may be offended by not being invited, but when your seats are full, they’re full, and everyone thats there has to be there for a reason. We were both very grateful to be invited to this wedding for the day, and it was lovely to be a part of their ceremony, watching them start the journey of building their future together. I was especially grateful that Clare was feeling a bit better today, enough to be able to join me. I wasn’t concerned about going alone, as I had a lot of friends going, but the fact was I really wanted my wife there, as primarily I didn’t want her missing out as well as the fact that I can tend to get a bit sentimental at weddings and its nice to have her there when I think back to how magical our big day was.

The service was in a lovely church in Birminghams Jewellery quarter with the wedding party moving on afterwards to Moxhull Hall Hotel for the meal and evening reception. Even with all the weddings I’ve photographed, I have never been to this particular hotel before, although I had heard its name mentioned many times, and it didn’t disappoint. The hotel looked amazing, the grounds were a wedding photographers dream and the food was spectacular, on top of which there was plenty of it. All too frequently fancy hotels present fancy schmancy food which tends to leave the majority of the plate empty and yeah yeah I get the whole quality over quantity thing, but when its got to 5pm and you’ve only had a piece of toast all day, you certainly don’t want a half empty plate of posh food making you wish you’d stopped off for a McDonalds on the journey over from the church.

It was a wonderful day, spent with a lot of friends, knowing that Olivia was happy being looked after by Clare’s parents. It meant that we couldn’t stay over at this lovely hotel, but at least we didn’t have to rush back early. The evening featured a live band, and even a burger stand, as well as plenty of wine on the tables to keep everyone happy. We went home feeling like we’d had a great day that will be remembered by everyone for a long time to come!

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Todays post really can’t be a long one, its getting late again, its been a really full day and I need to get to bed. I am in serious need of some sleep! I am committed though, and won’t let a day pass without filling in this blog, its what I promised myself I would do. I have managed it through being in other countries, the birth of my daughter, the death of my aunt, being out on a stag do, not having a computer or camera handy, and so far haven’t missed a single day!

I didn’t even have a photo for today until I started typing, but a good old black and white selfie has saved the day! I quite like it personally, it has a dramatic feel to it!

I woke up this morning feeling much better for a good nights sleep, and ready to face the day, although I didn’t have to face cycling just yet. I still had the minibus and was able to drive into work, leaving a little earlier to avoid too many rush hour traffic issues. I had started my Clean 9 programme again this morning, the last one went really well, but it had been a few months, and after a summer of bbq’s, mid-week beers and nowhere near enough exercise I needed to give my body a bit of a cleanse and a boost. It felt good, and my body will thank me for it at the end of the course. At the end of the day I jumped on my bike, now the bus was back at work, and cycled home. The weather forecast for the end of September is looking like it might be warm and dry, so hopefully some comfortable cycling although I will need to get kitted up for the wet weather again soon!

This evening was the first of our team business presentations at head office, and I was taking a couple of friends with me who didn’t drive, but wanted to see the presentation. A few of us in the team were a little nervous as we were getting up to talk at some point, but it went fine, everyone did really well. I must take this opportunity to thank my wife for being so patient and understanding when I am out doing things like this, I will make up for it!

Now it is time to get to bed! Night all!

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Friday was the wedding of my friend Ross and his beautiful fiancée Amy, and I was very grateful to have been asked to photograph it. The night before I had gone through the usual routine of making sure all my memory cards were clean and all my batteries were charged, as well as checking that all my kit was where I needed it to be. What I hadn’t expected after going to bed was to be replacing “sleep” with “being sick all night”. With the last thing I ate being the pizza loaded with meat, I can only put it down to that! I think I actually spent longer in the bathroom than I did in bed, and it was far from what I needed the night before a wedding! On the morning I was feeling as you’d expect, a little bit like a train had hit me, but with little choice, I had to battle on and so loaded up the car with my gear. The morning went well, with the preparations all being very relaxed, and everyone being fully understanding of my weak and feeble state today. With only a couple of showers here and there, the majority of the day was dry and pleasant and everything went without a hitch. I was given a meal and was very grateful for a bit of food by the time we all sat down to eat. I felt like the longest wedding day ever, but I still enjoyed it and had no intention of missing it, and eventually my time had come to head home. There wasn’t a huge amount of time between arriving home and being tucked up, and I was asleep almost straight away. I have never needed a good nights sleep quite like I did last night!

Often when I photograph a wedding I will include a photo of the bride, although this time I decided to feature a portrait of my friend Ross, the groom as I quite like how this portrait of him turned out.

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A really unfortunate start to today, needing energy and focus for todays wedding, but was for some reason awake at 5:30am and unable to get back to sleep. Maybe something to do with the heat overnight, very warm and stuffy even with the bedroom windows open, but it could also be something to do with all the chinese I’d eaten and beer I’d drunk last night, after detoxing for a week and a half.

Still today was the day my friends Gareth and Donna got married, I was doing the photos, and tired or not, I needed to be up, showered and ready to get out of the house! The weather was on our side today, and the sun was shining down. Which does take a lot of pressure off the day. The day itself went well, although there wasn’t a huge amount of time for photos, but I did my best given the time available, and everyone seemed to have a good time. My legs and feet were very tired by the end of it, and I was glad to get home and rest them finally.

Weddings can be great days, but they can be long and demanding, and worst of all, I’ve missed my little girl today. She was in bed long before I got home. Extra cuddles needed tomorrow!

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Its late, and the weekend is now over, but I still have this to finish as I don’t think I’ll have much free time on Monday! So why am I up typing so late? Well its pretty much been a full on day since I got up, where I left the house early to meet my friend for a run around the reservoir. It was a slightly shorter run than usual, for him because a recent back injury was starting to hurt, but for me because I was literally running out of time before todays main feature, the wedding I was due to photograph. It was the sister of an old school friend of mine, a girl I have known for… oh my, 24 years… where does the time go? There was just time for a quick shower, before ironing my shirt and throwing my stuff in the car. I arrived in plenty of time, which I always like to do so that I can relax into the day a bit and run through a mental checklist of things to do, rather than rushing and being on the back foot all day. The wedding preparations went well, and the forecast for rain seemed to be disappearing by the minute as there was nothing but blue sky and sunshine with the odd white fluffy cloud outside the window. The ceremony and rest of the afternoon went very smoothly, and the rather brief 30 second few spots of rain did little to affect anyones mood as they were over before most people even noticed, and the blue sky and sunshine was soon back out. Todays photo was the lovely flower girl at the wedding, and although a little shy at the start of the day, soon warmed to having the camera pointing at her! After the band started and the first dance was done, it was time for me to head home and see the wife and spend a little time watching the British Grand Prix recorded from this afternoon, and then suddenly, its time for bed. What a day!

Day 299/365

“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”

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After treating myself to a couple of beers last night, I spent most of today feeling exhausted. We had a lovely start to the day when more family came to visit, Gary and Margarita brought their little baby daughter over, who was absolutely gorgeous with her dark hair and dark eyes, and they brought some beautiful gifts with them for Olivia. We had a spot of lunch and a lovely catch up, as we don’t see them very often and a few hours disappeared in a flash! With no plans for the rest of the day, I made the most of a quiet couple of hours and put my feet up for a bit. As evening started to set in, I remembered I still needed to pick up more loft boards from B&Q, and picked up a few bits for dinner while I was out. I stopped off and grabbed this photo before I headed home, this cinema has been here for years, with a variety of different company names over its doors, and it never seems busy, yet it never closes down! Glad i’m home again now, the weather has turned again, much like it did last night, strong gales and pouring rain after a reasonably calm day. Still, after cooking what I think may have been one of my best chilli’s, its time to put my feet up again with a glass of rioja, and a good film with the wife!

Day 250/365

“Weddings are important because they celebrate life and possibility.”

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It was a really pleasant surprise when an old childhood friend caught up with me and asked me to photograph her wedding, I met up with the couple and discussed the days details and knew that this would be a lovely, relaxed day. I also knew that it would be after our baby’s due date, but figured that our new baby should be at least 2-4 weeks old, we simply had no idea she would be just 2 days old when the wedding rolled around. Still, I couldn’t let them down, and I was lucky enough to have the parents visiting the wife and baby while I was out today, to offer any help, and of course cuddle the baby, so I knew the wife wouldn’t be on her own! The wedding was lovely, and I wish all vicars were that easy going! The weather had threatened showers at some point, although the only shower came when everyone was sat down inside eating, which really didn’t make any difference to us. It was a great day until I got home and realised I had got a suitcase from the bride full of her and her grooms clothes, so getting home at a decent time was of no benefit when I had to drive all the way home

Baby slept fairly well all last night, although has slept all day today, so who knows what sort of night we’re going to have tonight! Just wanted to thank everyone who reads this for their messages of support, we have been totally overwhelmed and have not been able to reply to everyone individually. Thanks to you all though!

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