A promotional slideshow for The Grange Bar & Restaurant

I have a very good and long-standing working relationship with The Grange Bar & Restaurant in Wallington, Surrey.

They are a venue that I have enjoyed working with on numerous weddings over the years.

Many of you who are my regular followers will have as a result seen many photos from the resultant weddings.

Anyone who knows Beddington Park will know what I mean when I say that it is a very picturesque park in many places, especially the surrounding area where the Grange is situated.

It has provided me with many great photographic opportunities for those weddings I’ve captured, and it still inspires me to this day with it’s versatility and depth.

I thought that I would put together a small promotional video slideshow to showcase some of those images over the years, and also help the venue inspire it’s next generation of wedding couples to have a look at what The Grange can offer them as the potential home for their special day…

 

My Top 6 Favourite Bridesmaids Photos

When it comes to formal group shots, in general these are never really anyone’s favourite thing to do – that goes for the photographer as well as the wedding party.

They’re a necessity rather than a creative outlet, and their purpose is to document those dearest and most important people who are attending your special day.

Whilst they aren’t generally a creative outlet, that doesn’t mean to say that they can’t be though.

Obviously you could try and be creative with them all in some form or another, however time and logistics at weddings don’t tend to lend themselves in order to do so.

What I try and do is at least work on a fun or more creative composition for three particular groups; The bridesmaids, the groomsmen, and the bridal party.

In this post, I’ll kick off an attempt to create a series of “My Top 6 photos of…” blog posts throughout the year.

We’ll start off with bridesmaid related photos, and I’ll post them here below.

Bridesmaids jumping in the air for a wedding photograph at Woldingham Golf Club Bride and her bridesmaids have a photograph on the sea front at Worthing, West Sussex Bride and her bridesmaids replicate the 'Bridesmaids' film pose at Selsdon Park Hotel Bridesmaids pose with the groom at a wedding at Northbrook Park in Farnham, Surrey Young bridesmaids sit on a wall for a photograph at a wedding at Oaks Park Golf Club, Carshalton Beeches, Surrey Bridesmaids and brides laughing and joking

Sutton Holiday Inn Spring Wedding Fayre – Sunday 8th Feb 2015

In Toto Events presents a Wedding Fayre at the Sutton Holiday Inn, Surrey on Sunday 8th February 2015

Please come and join us at the Wedding Fayre on the 8th Feb!

For all you brides-to-be out there, it’s now that time of year that we call ‘wedding fayre season’!

We shall be attending the In Toto Events Wedding Fayre at The Sutton Holiday Inn (Click here for a map) on Sunday 8th February, from 11am – 3pm.

If you’ve never been to a wedding fayre before, and you’ve still got a few things to tick off on your ‘to-do’ list, then I really do recommend you coming along.

What is the point of a wedding fayre?

A wedding fayre will give you a great opportunity to meet with many wedding suppliers, from florists, cakes, bridal wear, cars all the way through to photographers.

A good wedding fayre will host a whole variety of suppliers and ensure that there isn’t too many of any one genre, which ultimately will give all the brides that walk through the door more choice.  No bride wants to walk into a fayre to see there are 6 photographers and only one bridal wear company – it can happen… some fayres will book tables to duplicate suppliers regardless of their genre as they need to fill exhibitors space.  That might be great for the organiser’s wallet, but it certainly won’t be offering the bride a beneficial experience.

In addition to that, some venues will also use the opportunity to have a room or two fully set-up to showcase how their facilities could look on a given wedding day to help people visualise what they can offer them.

Meeting suppliers in the flesh and not via an online profile page

Now, you may well point out that you can find all the suppliers and venues you ever need at the end of your finger tips with the help of your good friend Google, and you would indeed have a point.

However, the true benefit of a wedding fayre is moving away from the cyber world and providing you with the opportunity to meet the ‘real’ people and their physical products that you might be investing in.

When it comes to your wedding, we’re talking about an extremely important day, not to mention an expensive one – you want to make sure you’re getting things right, and that you’re selecting the right suppliers who you believe will provide you with the best product and the best experience.

This is very difficult to do online, yes companies and suppliers may well have mighty fine all-singing-and-dancing websites and branding that looks amazing, but what are they like as a person, we quite often forget that these people are part of their brand and their product and you can’t easily analyze that through a web page.

There is no substitute for meeting people face to face, you will soon pick up a vibe as to whether they are someone that you want to entrust carrying out a role on your big day. You can also thoroughly vet the quality of their products through the physical form of touch rather than make judgements remotely from photos – trust me, this is such an important thing that I really do advise all couples to do with most if not all of their suppliers if possible.

Plan ahead – 4 useful tips!

Make sure that you plan ahead – as with any supplier that you still need to hire, have a think about what questions you might like to ask them – write them down and take it with you to the fayre.  That way you can then ask them when you’re talking to them directly, it will not only satisfy your concerns but also potentially save you time in having to meet up with the supplier again in the future.

Take a bag with you, there will be a lot of printed literature and business cards on display from all the suppliers, this will allow you to take home the ones that you’re interested in without losing them on your way around the venue!

Special offers – some suppliers will run a special offer for any brides that book there and then on the day, it might be a discount and or possibly includes a freebie of some kind.  If you’re happy with the supplier and their products and feel that you want to book them, then you can do so there and then and take advantage of their special offer!

Another good tip is that if you are heading to a specific wedding fayre, have a look around to see if there are any other fayres also going on in the area – you could possibly combine the two and visit both one after the other, which will give you a further measuring stick to compare the venues and suppliers.

Join us at our next fayre

Don’t forget, we’ll be at the In Toto Events wedding fayre at The Sutton Holiday Inn on Sunday 8th Feb from 11am – 3pm – why not come along and meet the wonderful local suppliers that I personally know very well?

In Toto Events generally run their fayres so that there is only one supplier of each genre, so you won’t be faced with the prospect of looking at 5-6 of the same type of suppliers and you’ll enjoy the excellent variation.

It’s also FREE Entry – so what’s there to lose?

Hopefully see you on the 8th Feb!

The evolution of the Wedding Album

Wedding albums just like cameras have evolved vastly from the old days.

The digital age heralded the end of film, and that change has not only revolutionised the wedding photogtapher’s job, but also the images that are now captured and the way that they are then used afterwards.

The Traditional Wedding Album

A traditional styled wedding albumOriginally the photographer’s responsibility was to capture formal portraits of the bride and groom after their wedding ceremony, as well as the important family and bridal party group shots.

After that, they would have then headed back to the lab to develop the prints, put together a traditional matted album for their clients (you know the ones with tracing paper divides!), and would then return to the wedding reception that same evening to hand it over to the newlyweds.

They would also of course try and sell additional prints to the rest of the congregation in a bid to increase their earnings.

Oh how things have changed…  Weddings are now captured from the bride getting ready in the morning all the way up to the first dance, if not beyond!

Today’s Contemporary Wedding Albums

A look at an inside double page spread of a digital albumThe old fashioned ‘formal’ only style of shooting has been surpassed, with wedding photographers now having to provide a wide array of skills such as photojournalism (natural documentation), fashion photography (lifestyle images), and commercial photography (details of the dress/shoes/flowers) on top of the original portraiture.

Such evolution in the approach of the photography means that weddings are now ‘documented’ as a visual story, rather than just a handful of formally posed portraits.

Naturally, as the end product has changed (ie the photos; their style and their quantity) the role of the wedding album has had to move with the times as well.

Today’s albums now boast more pages, and are far less formal, and come in all different shapes, sizes and finishes.

Their strongest point, is that their layouts are far more flexible and that they use their images to literally illustrate the day as a visual story – hence why the modern album is often dubbed ‘the storybook’.

The choices are literally endless, and seem to grow by the day… there’s always some new product or style being released by the album suppliers.  Whilst this can be a nightmare for the photographer having to re-invest in new samples each time new products launch, it’s good news for the brides and grooms out there as they literally have so many different products to choose from that they are bound to find one that fits to their tastes and requirements.

The only one thing that I do question, is that with albums constantly changing and evolving, it almost becomes like fashion.  Whilst this super cool looking album product might be looking mighty swanky now in 2014, will it be just as cool in twenty years time?  I suspect not!

To be fair I guess you could argue that will be the case for most if not all albums, that everything does date in some shape or form over long periods of time.  Although if you adopted the old adage of keeping your album simple, clean, elegant in design and features your album will definitely have a better chance of not dating unlike specific materials and effects which will.

The Future of the Wedding Album?

So what does the future hold long term for albums?  Who knows…  Whilst digital photography is now widespread, and technologies always further evolving in how we can display our media, we are no longer just tied to the form of print.

Could print die out, will it be fully replaced by some fancy new media beyond screens and projections?

Whilst that may well be possible in the far future, I still think that just like today, the age of the internet has proven that whilst we can read/view media on devices at our finger tips whenever we wish, quite often people still prefer to read/view things via a hard copy.

Originally the boom of the internet initially heralded a potential death warrant to newspapers and magazines, they all feared for their longetivity in the print format, and were predicting that ‘online’ media would replace printed articles/publications.

They were wrong, what they had underestimated was how people engaged with that media and that they enjoyed the physical experience of holding, touching and feeling that item whilst they consumed the content. This is something that is not the same when you’re reading from an electronical device.

I hope that remains the same for photography in the long term, not just for albums, but for all forms of it’s print – that is it’s heritage and I hope that never changes.

 

How do I choose the right Wedding Photographer?

How do I choose the right wedding photographer?


Recently I have seen a lot of postings on social media platforms where people are advertising their services as a wedding photographer.

There appears to have been a large surge in recent months of people trying their hand at offering photography services.

I have absolutely no issues with competition, but where I do have concerns is with people misleading others and then couples ending up disappointed with the results.  That isn’t good for the couple, and it’s not good for the wedding photography profession either.

As a result, I thought that I would write a blog post as an educational article, in a bid that it might help some people avoid making a decision that they might regret with hiring the wrong photographer for them.

I’m not writing this post to suggest that people should use my services, my aim is to create awareness and help people select the right type of photographer that will fulfil their requirements.

I’ve broken my advice down into specific areas as follows below… which hopefully should help you to answer your question of “How do I choose the right wedding photographer?”

 

Styles of Photography

Firstly, photography like art is subjective.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, and this is most certainly true.  So one photographer’s style might be one person’s love and yet to another it could repulse!  Finding the right style of photography for your own taste might well vary from what your friends and family like and advise.  Only you will know what floats your boat, and or what doesn’t.

There are two main categories that the majority of wedding photographers fall into; Reportage, and Traditional.

Reportage is where the photographer plays a subtle role, floating in and around the background photographing natural and un-staged pictures, documenting everything as the day unfolds.

Traditional is where the photographer plays an active role in orchestrating formal portraits and photographs of people, groups and posed shots of the couple.

Some photographers might only specialise in one of these areas, others will offer a mixture of the two, so this is an area that you should really consider first to help you decide what type of style of photography you want to represent your wedding day before looking for your photographer.  Or similarly when you are choosing your photographer, ask them about their typical schedule for a wedding and how they shoot it, are they hands-on or do they only record natural shots as some might refuse to shoot any formals.

 

Experience

This is something that you should always ask your photographer – how long have they been shooting weddings?  How many weddings do they shoot in a year on average?

Is this their full time profession, and or are they a part timer – if they are part time, why are they part time?

The more weddings they’ve shot would suggest that they have been successful and built a solid reputation.  A wedding is something that is meant to be be the happiest day of the couple’s lives – if a photographer did a bad job, their reputation would suffer considerable damage.

As with all walks of life, experience is an important factor, it means that the photographer has most likely worked in many different venues, conditions, time frames and with various different backgrounds of people, and as a result is equipped well to deal with most situations that can arise at a wedding.

 

Certification

In general photography as a trade is unmonitored, there is no industry standard organisation to police it or those who practise in it.

This means that it is easy for anyone to pose or promote themselves as a professional.  This is something that has become even easier in recent years, with digital SLR cameras more affordable, and anyone able to create a website using accessible template designs – many are trying their arm in the profession despite not having the the necessary skills or training to fulfil the service to a high standard.

It makes it all the more harder for the couple to find the correct photographer, as they have to sift through a forever growing market, many of which is fraught with such people that are not qualified to deliver the quality of photography that they desire.  Sadly many don’t know what to look for and or to ask, and as a result select the wrong photographer and end up disappointed and upset with their photographs.

One thing that you can do is ask your photographer if they are part of a photographic organisation, possibly such as the SWPP, BIPP and or the RPS – all of which are fully recognised societies/institutes.  Whilst this is still not a qualification, it again would suggest that they are dedicated to their profession and keen to stay in touch with their peers and current trends from investing in an annual membership.

 

Portfolio

This is the main selling point of any photographer, it’s a body and collection of their work.  This should showcase their style, their ability, and also their creativity.

What you should be looking for here is a nice variety of different weddings to back-up their experience.

You should always ask and seek confirmation from the photographer that firstly the photos within the portfolio are their own, and another question worth asking is to check that they are of ‘real’ weddings – and not mock or themed photo shoots posing as weddings or models as brides?  The reason I mention this is that whilst there is of course nothing wrong with a photographer conducting wedding themed photo shoots, it is more so that photo shoots are so far removed from a real wedding; you don’t have the luxury of time to perfect everything, more like only say 20-60 minutes to capture all the formal photographs which contrasts greatly in comparison to a 4-8 hour photo shoot!

Real weddings are pressure, there are tight timelines, you’ll also most likely be shooting in undesirable lighting conditions due to the time of day and it means working fast and on your feet – you have to get great results and all from within tight time frames.  The other thing with photo shoots is that they do use models who know how to stand, pose and work the camera – a real life couple will not, and that’s where your photographer’s skill and experience will be required to gain the best results.

If there is not a great deal of variation within a portfolio or showcasing various different elements of weddings, why not ask the photographer if they can provide you with a full example of a couple of their weddings they’ve photographed so that you can get a real understanding and insight into what they will capture and the format they look to follow.

 

Images

What is the deal with images?  Do you receive images on disc, or are you given a number of physical prints and or an album product containing a specific number of shots?

If you get a disc, does that mean you receive all of the edited images or only a selection?  Are they high resolution files granted with a license to reproduce?  Ensure that the high resolution images do not feature watermarks through them!

Do you get full colour and black and white images?  Is this supplied as a selection by the photographer, or do you get each and every image in both formats for the ultimate choice?

All these things can vary from photographer to photographer, so it’s well worth asking and don’t presume that you will get ALL the images and or granted a license to reproduce – such privileges if not granted as standard will cost you more should you want them included…

 

Albums

Some photographers will offer different packages that might feature an album, and others might only offer what we call a ‘disc-only’ package (this means exactly what it says, a disc containing images).

There are many different types of albums out there on the market, varying from the more traditional matted pages through to the more contemporary digital albums.  These can all vary in specifications and page counts, all of which means that prices will vary accordingly.

It’s always advisable to view sample albums when you meet with a photographer, firstly as it’s another opportunity to vet their work, and secondly it also allows you to study the quality of their album products in depth.  When you’re buying an album from a professional photographer, they should be providing you with a trade-only based album product that is printed and produced by professional album suppliers.  The quality of these should be far superior to anything that you will see on the general consumer market, these should be professionally printed to the highest standard which is maximising the quality of the photography.

If you are investing in your photographs, you really should make sure that they are printed and or that your album product is of a professional quality.  It is crazy to invest money in having top quality images taken to then have them reproduced into an inferior product that will not do them any justice… it is counter productive.

It’s also worth asking the photographer about their album process, are you allowed to chose the photos that go in your album or do they chose for you?  Again this can vary from photographer to photographer, so well worth asking before you book!

 

Personality

In my honest opinion, I believe that this is an area that is quite often overlooked when people choose their photographer.  Yes, the style, ability and creativity are all important ingredients for your selection, but do not underestimate the influence of your photographer’s personality, whether that be a positive or negative thing!

This is your special day, it is meant to be a celebration, and ultimately a wedding is in simple terms, one big party!  You want to enjoy your day, and the whole vibe should be exactly that, fun and enjoyable.

You should bear this in mind when you come to choosing your photographer, yes they might take great photos, but will you feel comfortable with them on the day, are they a happy and positive person that will help you to enjoy your day or are they someone that lacks people skills and of whom might irritate and dampen spirits?

Out of all your wedding suppliers, the photographer is the one person that will share most of your wedding day with you more than anyone else!  You must therefore in my opinion, select someone that you can see both of you building a rapport with, someone that makes you feel at ease, and ultimately someone that will get the best out of you!

 

Insurance

Do ensure that you check if your photographer is insured; for both public liability and also professional indemnity.  You want peace of mind knowing that they are covered in case granny trips over their tripod and breaks her arm (a happy thought I know!) and or in the worst possible case their memory cards corrupt and they lose all your images, they at least have insurance to compensate for any disastrous and unforeseen events.

Hopefully none of these will ever happen, but it is just common sense and responsibility for any professional to have these measures of cover in place.

 

Pricing

Everyone has a budget of some kind.  Some might have a larger budget for their photography than others.  Ultimately it will vary in regards to how much they value their photographs.

Certain people treasure their photographs and the memories that they provide them, they are a timeless documentation of their lives at a certain period of time.  Others don’t share the same level of value for photographs and might see them more as purely a record that needs to be recorded for purpose rather than for treasuring.

This means that some people will be willing to invest more for their photography than others due to their perception of importance.  There is no right or wrong, it boils down to your personal outlook and what you value.

In general, like most things in life, you get what you pay for as the old saying goes.  Just be aware with the market currently saturated there are many people out there claiming to be a photographer who are not qualified to produce professional results.  If you see someone promoting themselves for peanuts in comparison to most other photographers in the profession, just be aware that their pricing will reflect their quality of photography – if you are happy with this, then there is not a problem and I certainly have no qualms as I say as people have different values and requirements, that is their prerogative

All I will say is if you pay the price for a hamburger, don’t expect to be given a steak!

 

Testimonials

This is like the ‘feedback’ facility in eBay, this gives you a real insight into what couples have said and thought about the photographer and their work.

If viewing testimonials on a photographer’s website ask them to clarify that the they are 100% genuine, as unless they use a third party facility/website for their testimonials, there is a chance that they might not be authentic.  It’s also is worth checking out their social media pages for client interaction and reaction to photo and blog posts to gauge how their work is perceived and accepted by couples and clientele.

 

Other things to ask and consider

If there will be children at your wedding does the photographer hold a CRB check?  In this day and age, it’s always reassuring to know that the photographer is CRB approved.

What research does your photographer do ahead of your wedding?  Do they conduct a consultation meeting with the couple in advance of the wedding day to discuss timings and formalities?  Maybe they visit the wedding venue(s) before the big day to familiarise themselves with the photographic opportunities within so that come the day they know where they will conduct the formal photographs and not leave anything to chance?  If they don’t, why don’t they?

What happens in the case of illness?  Do they have someone that they can call upon in their absence should the worst case scenario occur and they’re struck down by illness?

Do they carry back-up equipment in case of electronic/mechanical failure?  Any true professional will bring a spare of each piece of equipment from camera bodies, lenses through to flash guns in the event that if something might break, they can then still continue their job without interruption.

 

Conclusion

If you truly cherish your photographs, I cannot stress highly enough following all the points that I have highlighted, this will give you a good understanding of what you should be asking and looking for when shortlisting your choice for a photographer.

Don’t try and save money or cut corners on your photography if it means a lot to you.  You get what you pay for, and if something looks incredibly cheap there is most likely a good reason why it is!  If you truly want top quality or decent photography, you have to invest in it, otherwise you are gambling with your pictures and memories, and if you ask yourself would you be upset if someone made a complete mess of your photos, and the answer is ‘Yes’ I strongly suggest that you don’t cut corners.

Don’t gamble with your wedding photos, you only get one chance to do it properly, so make sure that you are entrusting the right person/people.

Your photographs are the only thing alongside the wedding dress that will probably still be standing in 20 years after your wedding, the wedding car a distant memory, the flowers long dead, the cake eaten, the favours binned.  For that reason, if you want to invest in your memories, make sure you invest your budget so that it will provide you with the longest serving service/product that will live on forever and future generations = your photographs.

 

I hope that you have found this article helpful, and that is helped you to answer that daunting question of “How do I choose the right wedding photographer?”!

If you have any further questions, and or would like to know more about me and Everlasting Moments Photography then please don’t hesitate to ask or take a look at our portfolio.