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Preview: Russell & Bridget’s Country Wedding in Suffolk

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A few shots from Russell & Bridget’s wedding from last weekend. The weather wasn’t perfect but we got some amazing shots despite the rain!

 

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Preview: Derek & Sarah’s Wedding at Cain Manor, Surrey

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A few shots from Sarah & Derek’s Wedding from the weekend. At one point it was raining buckets but later it really cleared up to give us some wonderful early evening light. Rain can be quite limiting, not only do you not want to get wet, but once the ground is wet it’s difficult to move the wedding dress anywhere without getting a bit mucky! We took advantage of the overhanging areas of this ancient building to provide a bit of shelter for a few outdoor shots and created a silhouette in the doorway. The manor also has a lovely little orchard at the bottom of the garden which worked nicely as a backdrop for our late summer evening shots.

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Writing the Groom’s Speech

I’ve started writing my Groom’s speech in preparation for our wedding in just 5 weeks’ time! I still have a couple of weddings still to shoot before our big day and a certain lad’s weekend to attend so thought I should get cracking before I have to hurriedly jot it down the morning before!

I’ve done some initial research using my go-to tome for weddings, The Debretts Wedding Guide and they’ve outlined some initial points to get me started; these are the main things I’ve considered covering:

Thank the Father of the Bride (or equivalent) for their words

You’ll need to thank the previous speaker. I think you’ll need to wing it with a couple of sentences about what they mention about you or the bride, but generally be grateful for their words and for welcoming you into the family. This is a good way to get the ball rolling on the next part of thanking the parents, unless you consider doing this toast below, which I would do before going further:

Toast to Absent Friends

This is sometimes done by the Father of the Bride (or equivalent) but you may want to speak with them about whether they’re going to do it, as it might be more appropriate for the Groom to do it. You may know a little more about who the absent friends are (depending on how traditional you’ve been in the wedding etiquette). I’m particularly mentioning two very important close family members who can’t be there but also making a general toast to all who couldn’t make it on the day.

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One way of honouring a particular absentee has taken the form of a wedding favour in past weddings I’ve photographed, either as donations to charities or as their favourite beverage (quite a beautiful way to toast somebody, with their own drink – above).

Say thank you to lots of people, particularly:

  • Everyone for coming
  • Parents
  • Best Man & Ushers
  • Bridesmaids
  • Significant people who have helped out with the organisation of the wedding day

A few words should be said to thank everyone for coming to the day. Guests have usually spent a lot of money to come and travelled far to be present. Mentioning money can be seen as a bit of a faux pas, but you can mention how far people have travelled, highlighting those who travelled from foreign countries to those who have walked from round the corner.

Mention both sets of parents, you can talk about your upbringing and for them raising you (you can slip in anecdotes here!) and give out gifts to people in this section. You may wish to mention the Bridal party thank-yous when you talk about them later.

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A few words about my beautiful new wife

Miss this out and you’ll pay for it! If you’re a true romantic this might be easy for you, but if not then try researching romantic quotes from their favourite books, and think long and hard about what you’re going to say. That said, speak from the heart and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Introduce the Best Man

Introducing the best man, whilst keeping it light-hearted, usually involves the Groom damaging his integrity to tell truthful stories about him, whether it’s a tendency to bend the truth or just outright lie. Also take a moment to thank him for everything he’s done for the wedding and for being a fantastic friend to you through the years.

Toast the Bridesmaids

Traditionally, the Groom ends his speech by toasting the Bridesmaids although I’ve also heard plenty of blogs refer this as being something the Best Man does. Perhaps check who is toasting who and adjust speeches accordingly. In any case, definitely thank the Bridesmaids for helping the Bride and compliment how beautiful they all look.

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A few more tips…

  • Don’t have too much to drink beforehand, keep a clear head!
  • Keep it between 8-10 minutes long
  • Start out with “On behalf of my Wife and I…@ as this always gets a cheer!
  • Don’t try and wing it – You can memorise the speech but have notes on hand just in case you loose your place. I have seen people do it ad-hoc but it’s never as good as someone who has prepared something and you don’t risk missing people out.
  • If this is either yours or your bride’s second marriage think carefully about what you say. Include children from previous relationships and thank them for their support and understanding.

I’ve found these websites helpful, particularly the checklist below.

http://www.hitched.co.uk/wedding-speeches/example_groom_speeches_5/

http://www.groomlist.co.uk/magazine/groom-s-speech-duties/grooms-speech-basics

http://www.confetti.co.uk/speeches/grooms-speeches/

 The Groom’s Wedding Speech Checklist

  • Have you practised your speech either in front of the mirror or with an audience?
  • Have you worked out how to use the microphone, if there is one?
  • Have you made sure your speech will appeal to a wide range of people and not offend anyone?
  • Is your speech funny, affectionate and charming without being offensive?
  • Have you included thanks to everyone necessary, particularly your new father-in-law for allowing you to marry his daughter, your parents for their help in organising the day, the best man for his help and the guests for attending and giving you gifts?
  • Have you given a gift to both mothers?
  • Have you complimented your new wife?
  • Have you thanked the best man for his help?
  • Have you timed your speech and made sure it’s about 5 – 8 minutes long and no longer?
  • Have you written your speech down on handy cue cards (if you think you might go blank on the day)?
  • Have you remembered to end your speech with a toast to the bridesmaids?

From – http://www.confetti.co.uk/organising-planning/checklist-for-grooms-wedding-speech/

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Christopher & Victoria’s Hollywood themed wedding at Russets Country House

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A Hollywood themed wedding held at Russets Country House in Sussex. Not the best weather for early spring but the daffodils were out and the venue works really well for indoor photos too (above). The venue was decorated by the amazing Stella Rose flowers who also supplied Vicki’s beautiful bouquet and the button holes.

The ceremony was in a quiet, intimate room and afterwards we went out onto the lawn for some confetti and a few photos. The reception is held in a modern bar area, which has the cellar lit up underneath the staircase as you walk win, a really prominent feature which makes for excellent photos. They also had TWO wedding cakes, one traditional tiered cake and one pork pie and cheese cake!

Vicki & Chris had a film themed table plan with DVD covers of their favourite films on the tables including some of my favourites; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Hot Fuzz, Mary Poppins & The Dark Knight. They also had a casino in the evening, which they supplied ‘fun’ money for in envelopes with money quotes from films on the back. I.e. ‘Show me the Money’ – Jerry Maguire.

I lit the first dance with three separate strobe lights this time, which worked quite well and created nice side lighting as well as some backlighting too. A backlighting technique was also used for the staircase shot, using two lights to light their whole bodies (each strobe was on a step above the other).

Check out the full gallery here or scroll through my favourites below!

 

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20 questions to ask your wedding photographer

Wedding Magazine recently published an article on 20 questions to ask your wedding photographer. I decided to respond to this directly, both with answers to the questions as well as some pointers and other helpful tips and things to consider.

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  1. What style of work does your photographer specialise in?

I specialise in shooting a mixture of reportage and editorial photography, but I’m happy for you to take a creative lead when you want to, and we’ll work together to create images you’ll love that will make you smile for years to come. I don’t mind lining up the family for some more formal shots too and will capture all the details of your big day whilst you spend time with your guests and loved ones. Everything is very informal and I won’t order you around or pose you like a supermodel. You just do your own thing and enjoy each other’s company; it’s important for me that you feel relaxed and happy in your photographs and everything feels natural.

I think this question should be found out by the client first off, by looking at the work on the website and making your own judgement. If you don’t like their style, then don’t ask them to imitate somebody else, as it probably won’t work!

  1. What qualifications do they have?

Qualifications are helpful to find out whether someone has really been trained in photography, but don’t take it for granted. Some people work on the basis of starting out as photography assistants and work their way up, getting first hand experience, which is of equal, if not greater value than studying at a college or university!

I have a BA (Hons) award in Editorial Photography from University of Brighton as well as a foundation degree in Art & Design. I started studying photography back in 2003 at college and completed my photography A level. I also have over 6 years of experience in weddings and have been photographing on a professional basis since 2007.

  1. Will the person you meet at the initial consultation be the person taking your pictures on the day?

Some photographers work as a brand, and offer discounted rates for sending out less experienced photographers, or work as a studio with a few other photographers all under one company.

I don’t work in this way. I meet all my clients and I’m present at every wedding that I’m booked for. I sometimes I provide an assistant/second photographer as well.

  1. Do they shoot digitally or on film?

Most wedding photographers these days shoot digitally. It’s worth asking this and tying it in with questions 15 & 17. If a photographer shoots film, then they may also provide you with the negatives afterwards, but that’s not always the case. Digital photographers almost always provide digital files now as a standard, but there’s nothing to stop photographers from scanning their negatives and providing digital versions too.

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  1. Do they offer a pre-wedding shoot?

This is a nice opportunity to get some great photos of you both before the wedding. You can feel more relaxed in your casual clothing (or feel free to put on black tie and look dynamite) and it can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. It’s not essential to have, so not all clients go for it but it can help you particularly if you’re nervous about having your photo taken.

  1. Have they taken photographs at your chosen wedding venue before?

It’s not essential for a photographer to have shot your venue before, but it can help. They’ll be more familiar with where to get the best shots, but this can be done by meeting them at the venue and discussing options with them. I’d recommend that if you want someone who has photographed the venue before, type your venue into Google images or ask your venue if they have any recommended suppliers!

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  1. Are they available to show you any testimonials and photographs from other recent weddings?

Check out the testimonial pages of their website! Most photographers also update their website with recent weddings too. This is one question where it might help to do more research before you actually meet with the photographer. The only downside of their own website, is they control the content, so it can be falsified if the photographer wants to big themselves up. I think most professionals provide testimonials as standard on their website, but if you’re looking for something a bit more genuine, have a look at their Facebook page and check out their reviews. This is trust worthier as it has to be entered into Facebook by the client.

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  1. Do they offer black and white as well as colour photography?

This reminds me of question 1. Again, have a look at their portfolio to see what they provide perhaps before you meet them. I provide a general mix of colour and black and white but I’m flexible after the wedding. If someone wants me to re-edit a picture into black and white/colour then I’m happy to do so.

  1. Do they offer different photography packages for you to choose from?

Most photographers will either give you a quote or ask you to choose from 2-4 price options. I mainly provide a bespoke service with 3 sample price options for some clients to choose from if they prefer. I just ask people to send an email to Philip@pbweddingphotography.com with the following information:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Your wedding date & location(s)
  • How many hours photography you would require (It’s helpful to know what time your ceremony is and when you are planning to do the first dance)
  • Whether you would like a Graphistudio® book album
  • Any other extras that you would like, such as an Engagement Shootor Photo Booth

I can then offer them the best price I can on what they want for their perfect day.

  1. How long will they stay?

This is a great question. Most photographers either offer an hourly rate, or a price option with a set amount of hours (i.e. 6, 8 or 10 hours of photography). What’s important to find out from your photographer is when they’ll start and when they’ll finish. I ask clients to tell me what they want covered and what times the ceremony, reception, breakfast and first dance are likely to be happening, then I can judge how long I think they’ll need.

I also provide an hour for free if they overrun. This really helps clients who are unsure or get delayed at the wedding, so it’s reassuring for them that I’m not going to bolt as soon as their official time is up. Ask your photographer what happens when their time is up and what overtime rates are too.

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  1. Do they charge for transport?

Most photographers work within an area of the country and so don’t charge their clients for travel. I work within a 50-mile radius of Brighton where I’m based, and then charge 50p per mile after that (one way). I also charge for accommodation if the wedding is more than a 3-hour drive away, but I discuss and negotiate this with clients if it’s needed and am happy to be flexible. Obviously with destination weddings it’s slightly different, and you should expect to cover the photographers flights, transfers and accommodation where necessary. Ask for a quote from your photographer for travel and get something in writing so you know what you’re paying for.

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  1. Will they require refreshments?

Yes! Please do make sure your photographer is fed and watered if they’re working a long day. It’s a constant amount of work and very hard to do without hydration! I generally ask for one meal to be provided during the wedding breakfast and just help myself to tap water from the bar when I need to.

  1. Will they offer a discount for a weekday wedding?

Most photographers will offer a discount for a weekday wedding, but don’t presume that they will! It’s still the same amount of work as a weekend wedding. Put it this way, it’s not like photographers are charging a premium for working on Saturdays in the first place; it’s their normal wedding rate because their normal weddings are on weekends. The wedding industry is based around us working weekends, not on weekdays! I DO offer a discount to people who have a mid week wedding (Monday-Thursday) but these days are the days that I meet clients, edit weddings, catch up on my correspondence and do other freelance photography jobs as well!

  1. Are they happy to work alongside a videographer?

I’ve not met photographers who are unhappy to? All videographers I’ve worked with have a mutual respect with photographers and we are happy to work around each other and help each other get the right shots. We communicate with each other and make sure we know what each of us is planning to do so that we don’t get in each other’s way.

  1. How many pictures will you receive?

Great Question! Once the day is over, I will process and edit all the photographs taken and reduce them to between 300 – 1000 photographs depending on the amount of hours I am booked for. The amount of photos tends to work out at around 50-75 photographs per hour that I am booked for. I will then edit the photographs, tweaking the colours and contrast, cropping images for optimal composition, convert some photographs to black and white and reorder the images to best tell the story of your wedding chronologically and visually.

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  1. Who will own the copyright?

This isn’t really the best way of asking this question. A better way would be to ask, what copyright restrictions are there on the images? Can we print them ourselves? Can we copy them and send them to friends and family?

The photographer is the copyright owner, unless you buy the rights to the photographs. The client is usually given a license for the photographs and my version of this is very relaxed. I try to make it so that the client can do ‘whatever they wish to’ with the images, they can print them, share them with friends, upload them to social media etc.… As long as they’re not being used for commercial use. The best example is if they want them to be published in a magazine, or give images to a wedding vendor. This is usually fine with me (and great for my publicity!) but they need permission from me to do so and some magazines may be charged for using the images, as this is a separate license fee to the one the client has paid for when they hired the photographer. The best thing to do is to refer them to your photographer who can take care of things at their end.

Here’s an excerpt from my contract: “The digital files remain the copyright and property of photographer. All images received from me are for the client’s personal use only. The client is able to print and distribute files to friends and family and can also put them on social media websites (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, My Space & Pinterest). The images are not to be sold, or have any commercial use by anyone without written permission from me. A credit must also be given to me in all circumstances of publication.”

In summary, the images are for personal and domestic use only.

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  1. How will the final set of photographs be presented?

I present the images on a digital disc that the client can use at home with their PC. I also offer to produce a wedding book to display their favourite photographs in. My Graphistudio® 60 page A4 or A3 book albums are printed on high-quality photographic paper with minimalist panoramic image layouts designed by me, and approved by you before they’re printed. Available with a dust-jacket hardback or leather bound cover personalized with your names and the wedding date. Smaller parent book copies of albums are also available.

What I love about these books is that they are made with photographic prints, so you can see all the detail on the page that you would otherwise lose on a computer screen or tablet. The images flow together on the page to tell the story of your day, and the book makes it easy to flick through the images at your own leisure.

  1. Are they insured against mishaps?

Again this is a very good question. Also ask, what happens if you’re sick, or unable to attend for some reason? What happens if things go wrong or your equipment breaks? A professional should at least have a spare camera in case something goes wrong. We can’t insure ourselves for every eventuality and a lot of things are beyond reasonable control. I do have public liability, professional indemnity insurance and all my equipment is insured too. I have spare equipment and a contingency plan if I’m not able to attend the wedding (this has never happened, nor do I have any intention of it happening).

  1. When will you need to pay?

Most photographers ask for a booking fee or deposit to secure the wedding date. Then they’ll invoice or request funds around the time of the wedding. Some may have payment plans to help you spread the cost or to help them manage their finances. I just ask for a deposit fee and then invoice the rest of the amount 1 week before the wedding. Clients can either pay before or after the wedding day; I just don’t send the photographs until it’s been fully paid for. It’s like ordering products online; you don’t receive any goods until you’ve paid for the product in full.

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  1. When will you see your pictures?

I always try and have a little race with my client’s honeymoon and deliver the images before they get back! Officially, I ask for 4 weeks to turn around a wedding, but I usually deliver within two weeks, as I don’t like keeping people waiting. I have heard of couples waiting months after their wedding for their photos; so do ask if you want a fast turn around time. Ask them why it would take longer than what you consider reasonable. There might be a lot more editing that goes into the photos than you think.

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What happens if things go wrong?

On Wednesday evening a local wedding venue, Clandon Park, was hit by a major fire. It’s a really tragic story, and my heart goes out to everyone who works there, regular visistors to the park, the owners and or course, anyone who has their wedding booked there. I can’t imagine the horror of finding out that this has happened to your dream location, perhaps even there are some bookings there this weekend. You’d probably have to postpone the wedding or find an alternative venue FAST! What a horrendous amount of agonising stress. I haven’t seen any real disasters at a wedding. But I’ve seen some close calls, Wedding flowers being delivered late, jewellery going missing at the last minute and I was once at a wedding that was delayed because a guest got a flat tyre so they waited for them to arrive. I’ve never seen anything like this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0DmtmmFEVo Thankfully, nothing has ever really gone wrong for my business, or at any wedding I’ve attended, YET! But what can you do if this sort of thing happens to you? Where do you start? I don’t begin to have all the answers, but from a photographer’s point of view, here are a few of my fail safes in case disaster strikes.

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Insurance The Debretts Wedding Guide bought this to my attention initially and I couldn’t believe that I’d never thought of it until we decided to get married. Wedding Insurance cost us below £50 and covered us for over £50’000 (no where near our wedding budget) but it covered cancellation of the wedding and failure of any supplier. It’s always given me peace of mind that if anything was to happen to our venue or if one of our suppliers was unable to deliver, that we had a safety net to cover us.

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Also, as a photographer, I have my equipment insured separately so that if anything happens to that I’m covered. I also have public liability and professional indemnity insurance, which I’ve never used, and don’t ever intend to. I work with so many machines (cameras, computers, cars etc…) that something is bound to break at some point or not work properly. Hopefully, it won’t be an issue; I have spare cameras, flashes and lenses so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But if anything did ever happen, I know I’m covered. Contracts I don’t think anyone really likes contracts. Maybe lawyers. Or bankers. But I have one for my clients, and I’ve appreciated having them with our caterers, our venue and our photographer amongst others. The agreement helps protect me as a customer and as a business man. It also outlines what would happen if there was a cancellation by either party and what due process would be. It’s not the funnest bit about getting married, but it’s essential to know where you stand in agreements with buisnesses or friends alike and always better to have things in writing.

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Finally, back up your files! I can’t say this enough! I have about four external hardrives (soon to upgraded to six) totalling 9TB of storage space – That’s 9’000’000’000’000 bytes of information! And I’m running out of space. But that’s partly because each harddrive is backed up by another. So if one fails, I have a spare and so I know these files are safe. I also use a cloud back up system called BackBlaze, which backs up everything I can’t live without (that includes both professional and personal files). Finally, I also have my website, which stores my most recent work on so if sdomething does go wrong anywhere, I try to have 2 other options where I could retrieve files from. What would happen if my house burnt down? Or my computer was stolen? Some things just can’t be avoided, but putting in preventative measures will hopefully mean that, IF, something were to go wrong, then it’s really not going to be as bad as it COULD have been.

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The final photograph of the evening

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I like to finish each wedding with a final photo, a way to sign off and complete the story of the day. Sometimes this is just a simple shot of a sunset or the venue lit up at night but other times it’s a chance for me to flex some creative muscle and shoot a less traditional wedding photo of the Bride & Groom. I usually get a bit more time to plan the shot than my regular work and so I like to experiment with off-camera flash where I can and set up a shot a bit more carefully.

Here are a few of my favourites and how they were created.

Above: One flash used in a white umbrella as a soft light to the left of the couple – ISO 1600 1/80 f2.8

Below: Two flashes, at 45 degrees to the left and right. One flash has a 1/2 CTO gel on to warm it up a bit. – ISO 2000 1/160 f5.6

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Above: Going out with a bang! One flash set off manually toward the end of the exposure to the right of the couple. ISO 400 13 seconds f18

Below: A silhouete created by using just the ambient light along this cloister garden at Lancing College. ISO 1600 1/25 f2.8

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Above: The Barbican Centre has a wondefully lit garden in their wedding venue. This is just lit with all their wonderful lights! ISO 2500 1/8 f2.8

Below: One flash to the top left to illuminate the couple in front of Eastbourne Grand Hotel – ISO 2500 1/80 f2.8

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Above: The final curtain! This is taken inside Worthing Dome Cinema between screenings. There are two flashes, one either side. – ISO 2000 1/60 f3.5

Below: I had tried some flash behind the couple to illuminate them, but actually preferred this no flash shot, lit with the overhead lights. – ISO 2500 1/50 f2.8

 

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