Reportage wedding photography – or is it?


Reportage or, to give it another name, photo-journalistic wedding photography – or is it ?  In other words, is that beautiful natural looking image of that really special moment truly “reportage photography”, or has it been created ? And does it matter ?

To me, for an image to be truly “reportage”, it has to be taken without any interference, staging or direction on the part of the photographer and the best “reportage” images are the ones that are simply that. Images where the photographer has used his or her skill, intuition and experience to be in exactly the right place so that he or she can press that shutter button at exactly the right time, capturing that never to be repeated fleeting moment in time as it happens.

Most of my clients say they want a few “formal” or “traditional” wedding images together with lots of “informal”, “natural”, “reportage” or “photo-journalistic” images. ( To me, these last four words all refer to the same style of image).

Taking lots of “natural” photos during the day shouldn’t pose a problem, but what if the client says “can I have a photo like that “reportage” one on your website ?”

It’s not unreasonable for them to expect you to provide images very similar to those you have on your website or in your portfolio. In other words, if we are offering our services as a professional wedding photographer, we need to be able to provide some consistency and give our clients what they ask for.

The problem is, by it’s very nature, a “reportage” style of image hasn’t been influenced in any way by the photographer who took it. The moment has simply been allowed to “happen”. It is a fleeting moment in time that will never be repeated. How can we provide what our clients want, how can we provide that “consistency”, when these moments happen purely  by chance ?

Early in my career I went to a training session held by someone I consider one of the best wedding photographers in the world. He showed a series of fabulous “reportage” style images of beautiful “moments” then asked a question.

“How many times do you think I have managed to get each of these images at a real wedding ?” His answer was – once in twenty years!!  He had been photographing weddings for 20 years and every photo was a “one off”, a never repeated fleeting moment in time.

So budding wedding photographers out there, how can you provide every client with the “reportage” images they want ? Telling your clients that you can only get an image that’s on your website and they really like once every 20 years isn’t going to get you very far.

For the Bride and Groom, how can you feel confident the photographer can provide what you are looking for when he or she can only get a particular image once every 20 years !!

The answer? The photographer needs to know how to create the right conditions for that moment to happen in a way that looks completely natural.

Sounds easy enough in theory, but takes a bit of thought and planning to put it into practice.

I want to take you back to what I think a truly “reportage” style image is. No interference on the part of the photographer. What a photographer has to do, in order to be able to  consistently provide what their clients are looking for, is learn how to “interfere”, “stage”, “direct”, in other words create the right conditions for that moment to occur naturally without interfering excessively in the normal flow of the day and without the subjects realising he is doing it.

What I believe you get then is an image that, whilst not truly “reportage” or “photo-journalistic” in the strictest sense, looks to all the world as if it is. When done well it looks completely natural, like a reportage style image of a beautiful fleeting moment in time. Let me explain by way of example.

I am going to use 6 images all taken from the same wedding which I think is better for showing consistency than using images from different weddings. The Bride was very specific about the images she wanted (I like it when my clients know exactly what they want). These are 6 images where the right conditions were influenced or created by me in order to get the “reportage” style of images my client requested.

I will never “guarantee 100%” to get a particular image because there are times when it’s impossible to create the situation you are looking for. Some things are completely beyond the photographer’s control. But I will always try my very best and on this occasion I managed to create all 6 requested images and they all made it into the wedding album.

Wedding photographer for Gosfield Hall wedding venue in Essex
The Father of the Bride sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time. Happening naturally, or was the moment created?

The first was an image of her Dad seeing her in her wedding dress for the first time. Now you could just hope Dad will walk in at a time when you happen to be ready to take the image. It might happen once every 20 years if you’re lucky.  Alternatively you can take control and create the circumstances where Dad waits outside the door until you have his Daughter in place ready for him, with you positioned behind her. Why am I behind her? Well every photo has to tell a story. If I just photographed Dad walking through the door I might get that wonderful expression on his face, but no one will know what he’s looking at!

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall wedding venue in Essex
The Bride and her party leave down the staircase and past the wedding cake on their way to the church. Happening naturally, or was it managed?

The next image the Bride requested was one of her and her Bridesmaids walking down the main staircase on her way to the church. I had literally just finished shooting the Bridal portraits ( completely different lens and camera settings ) and they were very keen to get going, so whilst the shot itself is easy enough, I had to take control otherwise I would have missed it. I made them pause for a chat and organised them all, got myself into position, then let them walk down the stairs and timed the shot perfectly.

Wedding Photography for Gosfield Hall wedding venue in Essex
The Groom watches his Bride walk down the aisle towards him. reportage, or were the Vicar and the Groom “primed”?

Next we have an image of the Groom watching her walking down the aisle. Well, what do you have to arrange here? Make sure you have spoken with the officiant. She will then prompt the Groom to look round at just the right moment. Again, you don’t want an image of just his face as you won’t know what he’s looking at. You need the bride in the image to tell the story and the co-operation of the officiant.

wedding photography for Gosfield Hall wedding venue in Essex
The Bride looks to camera during her first dance surrounded by her friends and family – a truly “reportage” image, or was this moment “created”?

The next 2 “reportage” style of images requested were “First Dance” images. The Bride specifically requested one of her with her Groom, surrounded by their guests partying, whilst they held their First Dance in the middle of them with just her looking at the camera. Very specific this one and I will admit to having a little bit of luck on my side. How did I “create” this one ? I prompted the DJ so that he would call all the guests onto the dance floor at the appropriate time (they also wanted some photos of their First Dance when dancing on their own so timing was important). I had a small ladder strategically placed to give me some height to see over guests and, when everything looked right, I called the Bride’s name out loud so that she would look towards me. Fortunately luck was on my side and the guests started dancing as soon as they got on the dance floor.

wedding photography for Gosfield Hall wedding venue in Essex
Focus on the hands during the Bride and Groom’s first dance – or is it really their first dance ?

This “reportage” style image is the most “staged” of them all. The Bride had seen an image like it on my website and loved it, so wanted it reproduced for her album. The First Dance is usually held in a room with very little light. This makes it impossible for the camera to focus on the hands alone ( Try it yourself. Your target is going to be moving as well remember ). How do you do it? Well, get in touch and let me know how you think it was done.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall wedding venue in Essex
The Bride and Groom retire at the end of a long day – or is it really the end of the day?

The final requested “reportage” image was one of them retiring for the night. Needless to say, it is a staged photo and was taken earlier in the day. I had gone home long before their party came to an end.

So I provided the images my clients wanted and I’m confident I can create those images at most weddings, rather than once every 20 years!!

Does it matter that these images were “created”, “staged” or “managed” rather than truly “reportage”. I don’t think so. All I did was create the right conditions for them to happen naturally and they all go together with the other images taken of the day to tell the story of their wedding beautifully.


Do I need to hire a wedding photographer ?


Do you really need to hire a professional wedding photographer? 

As a full time wedding photographer who earns his living photographing weddings, you know what the answer will be, right ? Well, here’s the surprise.

No, you don’t need to hire a wedding photographer. In fact, I didn’t when I got married, but more on that later.

Not hiring a wedding photographer will not lead to an “end of the world” event. It will not mean your wedding day will be a disaster. Besides, as a guest pointed out to me at wedding recently, the cameras in modern phones are wonderful and will probably lead to the “wedding photographer” becoming extinct anyway. (I’ll talk about why that ISN’T the case in another blog).

Having established that no unexpected disaster will befall your wedding day if you don’t have a professional wedding photographer, why would you bother to hire one ? Here are my reasons why you should hire a wedding photographer if you can afford it and how they can help your day run smoothly.

We will take it for granted that you have done your research and the photographer you are considering hiring for your day can take amazing pictures that you love. After all, that’s probably the most important consideration. So, other than actually taking photographs, why else should you hire one ? In what other ways could they help your day run smoothly ?

It all comes down to experience. Now I’m in no way knocking anyone starting out in their photography career. We all have to start somewhere and as long as they are truthful with you about their level of experience, there’s nothing to stop you hiring someone who is new to the profession. Chances are, this will be reflected in their pricing and you may strike it lucky and get someone who is amazingly talented for a real bargain price.

The thing is, experience cannot be bought and it’s something that is really difficult to put a price on. The type of real life experience that has been earned by years of photographing weddings, dealing with people and solving wedding day problems.

Over the years I think I must have seen almost everything that can go wrong on a wedding day. Having experience all these things, I have a pretty good idea on how to prevent a drama turning into a crisis!

I can give lots of examples but will just give a couple to illustrate what I mean.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
The Bride sets off in her new wellies.

The couple had identified an area for their “couple” photos. It was a sunken area with a pond and surrounded by beautiful walls and foliage. The day before the wedding it rained heavily all day long. Early on the day of the wedding I went to the area the couple wanted to use and, as you may have guessed, it was flooded. I hunted down the groundsman and we put in a water pump. Then I arranged to buy some wellington boots for the couple. By the time the ceremony was over the excess rainwater had been pumped out and the couple were able to get there without their feet getting soaked. We were able to get the photos they wanted where they wanted.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
The Bride takes off her wellies ready to put on her shoes for her “couple” photos.

The Bride arrived for her ceremony. Unfortunately her guests hadn’t. The guests had travelled from all over the world and were staying at a nearby hotel. A coach was due to collect them from the hotel and take them to the wedding venue. Unfortunately the coach firm got their dates wrong! (not the only time that has happened!) Result. No guests and a Bride about to go into meltdown. Whilst Dad made some phone calls I went to speak to the registrar to see how long we had got (they are often on a tight schedule). I went back to the Bride and put her mind at rest, then got all the Bridesmaids and the Bride to come for a walk with me to a quiet area out of the way. We then had a fabulous time taking photos until the guests had been ferried into the venue and everything was ready to start with a happy and relaxed Bride. The Bride and her parents made a point of thanking me for “saving the day” and preventing the Bride from having a meltdown. Their words, not mine.

Wedding Photography for Suffolk
Dad in the background on his mobile phone trying to arrange transport for the guests.

There is an old saying that goes “You can expect at least three things to go wrong on a wedding day. The trick is fixing things without the Bride finding out”. In my experience, there’s a lot of truth in that.

You can also enlist the help of your photographer at the early planning stages. If experienced, he or she will have a pretty good idea of what will work and what won’t, so you can prevent some problems just by listening to their advice. Think about it, this is probably the first time you’ve planned a wedding. They’ve been involved in hundreds!

So that’s what I mean by “experience” and it’s something you really can’t put a price on. I have met many photographers who think they are being hired just to take photos. I like to think I’m there not just to take photos, but to do all I can to help the day run smoothly and help rectify any unforeseen problems.

Remember I said I didn’t hire a photographer for my wedding? It’s true. My wife and myself decided that we would let a friend take some photos for us. After all, he is a wedding photographer. Trouble is, on the day, we felt bad about him working when he should be having fun. He was a guest after all. So we didn’t get anywhere near as many photos as we would have liked (our fault, not his) and I can honestly say it’s the one regret we have about our day. So learn from my mistake.  When I say to couples, hire a photographer or you may regret it, I’m speaking from experience.



Wedding Albums – an unnecessary expense ?


Queensberry wedding albums in Colchester
Queensberry wedding album covered in Graphite Contemporary Leather

Wedding Albums. Are they a “must have” momento of your day or an unnecessary expense ? Why would you want to buy one ? And why would you want to read what I have to say on the subject ?

Well I’m not going to tell you what you must have or don’t need. That’s a decision only you can make. But I think that in order to make the decision that’s right for you, you need information. So in this short blog I would like to tell you about my experiences and thoughts on the subject and provide at least some of the information you need.

I’m a wedding photographer who, amongst other things, sells wedding albums. Therefore I can make no claim the being unbiased, but I do believe what I have to say is still worth reading. Why ? Well, unlike some who “blog”, I haven’t undergone any training in the art of blogging or attended any lectures on “sales technique”. Ever. What I have to say hasn’t been carefully formulated using buzz words in order to influence you or encourage you to spend money on something you don’t need or want. What I have to say is based on my real world experience and my love for what I do, and it’s in plain english.

With the rise in popularity of the “digital only” wedding photography package, you might think there is no place for wedding albums anymore. And with so many things to pay for, why would you want to spend money on an expensive book that will sit in a drawer ?

Based on my experience I can say there is a growing demand for wedding albums and the wedding album certainly does still have a place. Perhaps they are becoming “fashionable” once again. Why is that ? Well, my theory is people are realising the shortcomings of only having digital copies of photos. Let me explain.

My family recently celebrated our parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. Everyone, yes everyone, wanted to see their wedding album and all the printed photos taken over the years showing parts of each decade. In essence, our family history in pictures. Now what if our parents had married in the time of the digital revolution, when “digital only” packages were the “in thing”. Imagine 60 years from now and all the family want to see what they looked like on their wedding day. Let’s have a look at the wedding album, shall we. Oh. Wait a minute. They haven’t got one because everything was digital and they couldn’t see the point in buying one!

Queensberry Wedding Albums in Suffolk
A beautiful Queensberry wedding album in Ivory Contemporary Leather with a cover motif.

Now I can’t foretell the future but, having put all their images on Facebook for all the world to see, are they still likely to be able to look at them ? Remember MySpace ? No, not many people do. It no longer exists. Would their photos still be “in the cloud”. Hacking into the websites of these big social media companies appears very popular at the moment so what would be the chances of their account being hacked and all their photos lost ? Who knows. And those USB drives, CDs and computer hard drives they stored copies on stopped working years ago. (read about my experiences with USBs at the end).

Then you might have “compatibility” issues. Jpegs, Tiffs and so on are all readable now. But what about in the future ? Remember VHS and Betamax ? (You do! Now you’re showing your age!).

You might say, when a new form of media comes around, we will update all our photos to it. Well, aside from the cost of doing this ( that means spending the money you saved by not buying that expensive book, remember ) how many will actually get around to doing it. I wonder how many couples who had their ceremony recorded on VHS have had it converted onto DVD discs ? How much did it cost them to do so ? And how long before DVD players are obsolete technology and they need to convert it to the “latest” technology again ?

Those that work in the digital arena say that if you make less than four copies of digital media, it might as well not exist. Data becomes corrupted, especially when making copy after copy of something. The hardware WILL fail at some point. It’s not a question of “if”, just a question of “when”. And when that happens, if you haven’t made a lots of back up copies, your photos will be gone.

I keep six copies of every wedding photograph I take, some on site and some off site. If one of my clients is unfortunate enough to lose their digital photos, I can currently provide them with copies. But I won’t be around for ever. What will happen when I’m no longer here ?

Queensberry wedding albums in Essex
A Queensberry wedding album covered in Tamarillo Contemporary Leather.

I think the reality of the “digital only” package is dawning on people. Digital copies of photos are too easily lost forever.

The thing is we are still able to look at printed photographs that were taken when photography was in it’s infancy. They haven’t become “unreadable” due to advances in technology. No matter what happens to our current technology, you and future generations will still be able to look at a wedding album for many many years to come.

I can’t remember where I saw it now, but I read a simple statement that I believe to be absolutely true. The most photographed generation in history will not have a single photo to look at when they are old.

Think about it. Almost all the current generation carry around cameras in their phones. They are constantly taking “selfies” that are stored “in the cloud”. Well, what’s going to happen to those photos? No one knows for certain but I think it highly unlikely those photos will be accessible in 20, 30, 40, 50 years time. Unless they are printed out.

You might think yes, I agree with that, but it doesn’t apply to me. I only need a digital package without an album because I can print them off myself. Yes you can. But will you? How many say “I must print those photos off tomorrow,  next week, next month, next year……” and never get around to it because “life”, being busy as it is, just gets in the way. How many photos have you got sitting on your phone, or on your computer, or “in the cloud”, waiting to be printed off?

Ok, good to your word, you have printed off a few of your favourite wedding photos. The thing is framed photographs and snapshots can only provide a glimpse of one specific moment in your day. When you browse through the pages of a wedding album you, your friends and your family can enjoy the whole story of your day from beginning to end.

Sadly memories do fade over time, but when you look through a well designed wedding album, all the little nuances of the day can come rushing back. The look on your Dad’s face when he saw you in your wedding dress for the first time. The look on your husband’s face as you walked down the aisle. The reaction to the best man’s speech when he let out those embarrassing little secrets. And I believe looking through a wedding album is always so much more special than skimming through images on a computer screen.


Queensberry wedding albums in Ipswich
The Queensberry “Musee” wedding album. The height of luxury.

As for sitting in a drawer, in years to come you will be glad you have it. It can come out on special occasions such as your wedding anniversary and it will become a family heirloom, passed on to future generations. When you buy a wedding album, you are contributing to your family history.

But you offer “digital only” packages, don’t you ? I hear you say. Yes, but I do it for a reason. A good analogy is to think about buying a second hand car. You’re unlikely to buy it until you have taken it for a test drive and are happy with the results. I think you can apply that reasoning to buying a wedding album. I don’t expect you to buy a wedding album until after you have seen your wedding photographs and are happy with them.

Times are definately changing again. Couples are once more realising the true value of a professionally designed and produced wedding album. Show how important your wedding photographs are to you and please, invest in a quality wedding album.

Talking of USB drives and the reliability of digital storage, I had been supplying my clients with a personalised USB in a presentation tin as I felt it looked a lot better than just handing over a USB stick on it’s own, which is small and easily lost. Unfortunately, some clients have been reporting problems with their USB saying their computers cannot “read” them after only a short period of time. These personalised USBs have no “brand” on them, so I can only think the company supplying these products to me are using the cheapest USBs they can find. I have of course been happy to correct the problem by providing a new “branded” USB with their images on and nowadays, whilst I will still source a personalised presentation box to put the USB in, I no longer use any USBs that are not made by a well known and respected manufacturer. It does go to show that you really cannot rely on USBs and other digital storage media. As I said earlier in this blog, it’s not a question of “if” the device will fail. The failure is inevitable, it’s just a question of “when”.

Gifting of wedding photography for charity.


As someone who has gifted their services in the past, I have been asked by a few wedding suppliers about the process and about my experiences.

The two most popular questions have been “how do you get involved?” and “what was it like?”, so I thought if I were to write a short blog entry on the subject it might be of benefit to other suppliers.

I guess the first thing you need to know is “how do you get involved?”.

There are two organisations which I have some experience of. These are “Gift of a Wedding” and “The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation”, both of which are registered charities.

They offer to help arrange service providers for couples who wish to get married or are yet to hold a wedding ceremony and one of them is terminally ill. That short sentence perhaps deserves a little more explanation.

The most obvious condition to these organisations helping out is that at least one of the couple must be terminally ill. Where that is the case, as I understand it, they will help a couple who wish to get married and want a “wedding ceremony” with all that entails. They will also help a couple who are “legally married” (for example they may have had the simplest of ceremonies in a registry office with just 2 witnesses) and they would now like to celebrate and have a full “wedding ceremony”.

Note in both instances, they have not yet held a “wedding ceremony”. This rules out couples wanting “vow renewal ceremonies” and the like. I know this to be the case because my wife and myself have helped with a vow renewal recently for someone who was terminally ill. We initially pointed them towards the charities and they were told they did not “qualify” as they had already celebrated a “wedding ceremony” in the past.

To get involved with Gift of a Wedding I simply “followed” them on FaceBook. When they are in need of services for someone, they “post” the date and location and ask for volunteers who are free on that date. They will then carry out some enquiries to verify you are genuine and able to provide the services you have offered. I’m sure they do more “behind the scenes” as it were, but the end result is I get an appointment to go and see the couple to discus their requirements for their day.

To get involved with the Wedding Wishing Well Foundation you currently (at the time of writing) make a donation of at least £10, which puts you on their list of suppliers for a year. I’m sure they run some “checks” to make sure you are genuine, then you wait for an opportunity to be of service.

The above is only based on my own experience and things may have changed so, if you would like to know more about volunteering for either of these two charities, I suggest you contact them directly. Here are details of the links to their websites:-

It is worth pointing out at this stage that these charities require absolute discretion on your part.

You must keep all the details you are given secret and you are not allowed to use your involvement in the wedding of any particular couple for advertising purposes. So for the photographers among you, you must not use the images you take for any advertising or portfolio building purposes. That is why there are no photographs on this blog entry.

Should you choose to photograph a wedding for either of these charities, you do so purly out of kindness and a desire to help with no strings attached. Your “reward” for your efforts is “the feel good factor” of having helped a couple who are in genuine need at what for them is a very difficult time.

The next question is “what was it like?”.

I answer that question with another question. What do you mean exactly by “what was it like?”. Then we get to the real question. How do you deal with photographing a couple where you know at least one of them will be terminally ill. To be brutally honest, one of them is likely to die very soon.

Again, I can only speak from personal experience. Over the years I have found myself having to deal with people in that most unfortunate of situations, people who know their life is very limited, on more occasions than I want to remember. I believe that, if you have a heart, you cannot help but be affected emotionally by the circumstances they find themselves in.

As a wedding photographer, I know how important any wedding day is.

The photographs you take of the day will help others remember that day for many years to come and that responsibility brings it’s own pressures on you to perform. So, imagine for a moment if you will, one of the couple is unlikely to be around for much longer. I’ll repeat that. One of the couple whose wedding day you are offering to photograph, is unlikely to be alive for much longer. The photographs you take on that day are probably some of the very last photographs to be taken of that person………. ever.

These are the photographs that their spouse and the rest of their family really will treasure for a very long time afterwards. Do you think that brings with it any pressure to perform? You bet it does.

So why would you want to do it? Why put that pressure on yourself for absolutely no financial reward?

I can tell you why I do it. Because I believe in “giving something back”. Giving something to those in society who are having to deal with a situation that must be so heart breaking and so desperately sad. They use the word “devastated” far too often nowadays on tv and it’s meaning has been diminished thereby, but it’s use is appropriate in these circumstances. The family that are going to be left behind will be devastated.

There’s not much I’m any good at, but here I can make a difference. I can provide the family with photographs they really will treasure forever. That’s my reward and why I would encourage anyone who feels able, to help when asked.

As for the “practicalities”, I would advise the following based on my own experience. The couple are two people in love, just the same as any other couple. After making allowances for any physical limitations they might have, whether due to the illness or the medication, treat them just the same.

It’s their wedding day you’re helping to plan!!.

They know the situation they find themselves in. It may well be “the elephant in the room” and you don’t know whether to mention it or not. Personally, I wouldn’t mention it until they do.

Find out what photographs they would like, just the same as with any other couple. You need to know how the illness will impact on your ability to get the photographs they want to have. If they want to talk about it, fine. If they don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine too because I have found the charities to be very helpful in that regard. They can advise in general terms on any issues that will affect how you plan the photography. For example, the limitations that are likely to be imposed on the couple by the illness itself or by any medication being taken.

Make it clear to the couple that, on the day itself, you will be guided by them.

Then be exactly that, guided by them, just as you would with any other couple but with one extra factor in the mix. You should have been able to get a rough idea of the limitations being imposed on the couple by the illness and/or medication, but you won’t know exactly what effect any medication is having on them. So be patient, listen to what they say and be guided by what they tell you. It may well be that the medication makes them tired much more quickly. Believe me, they can go “downhill” very quickly. If they need to rest, STOP. Remember, the day is about them, not about you or your photography.

Photographing a wedding when someone is terminally ill is very much the same as photographing any other wedding.

There is just one more thing that you need to take into consideration, that’s all. So treat the couple with just that little bit more sensitivity, patience and understanding. It can be very rewarding.

And remember, have fun with them. It’s their wedding day, after all !!

I would just like to add a word of caution for those of us who are prepared to offer our services free of charge. Whilst the majority of people are honest, not all of them are. Unfortunately society does contain an element who seek to take advantage of the trusting and kind nature of others. For me personally, helping through these charities just makes me feel the couple I am helping are genuine. Just saying.

A Celebrant Led Wedding – or a day in the life of a wedding celebrant.


I give full credit for this Blog to my wife. I want to share it because I think it shows just how much we both care about what we do for our couples, and how much fun we have along the way. It was a fabulous garden wedding for two truly lovely people and being able to spend time with couples like these guys is the reason why we love what we do.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex.
Anna & Kenny are showered with confetti as they walk back down the aisle.

A day in the life of a Wedding Celebrant by Michelle Taylor

It’s not all about just turning up on a wedding day, standing at the front and speaking, there is so much more to it and this is what this short blog is all about.

I met with Anna and Kenny on a not so warm day at her mum’s house just outside of Colchester in May 2016. They were living in London but had a vision, to celebrate their love in front of family and friends at a fantastic laid back ceremony in the grounds of the bride’s family home. Neither were religious so a church ceremony was not on the agenda, but they also knew they wanted something much more personal than a routine registry office ceremony.

We discussed all sorts over tea and biscuits at the kitchen table, and what became instantly clear was this was to be a ceremony and a wedding day full of love and laughter and a whole lot of FUN!

A silent disco was booked to follow a Scottish Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) for the after dinner celebrations and they had already started to stockpile the wine and beers for the party.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
Michelle and Kenny enjoy a spot of Ceilidh dancing.

By the end of that first meeting, I KNEW we were meant to work together, and I was delighted that they felt the same too. We parted ways that day agreeing that their ceremony would include a Handfasting and Quaich (Scottish Loving Cup) ceremony to celebrate their shared Celtic ancestry. They had fun selecting just the right drop of Scotch with which to fill the Quaich over the intervening months.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
The Bride and Groom enjoy a wee dram from the Quaich, which had been filled by Kenny’s Dad.

A fabulous Scottish Handfasting poem was chosen to be read by the Groom’s dad in his wonderful lilting accent as they tied the knot and their personal vows to each other were to be crafted before the big day.

I was given permission to gently take the proverbial out of the fact that all 3 of us were huge rugby fans, and between us represented 3 of the 4 home nations…As an ardent England fan (the dominant side in recent years) they just knew I was going to mention this fact, once or twice and were totally at ease with my sense of humour and knew I would be bringing the added fun to their celebration.

Booking fee paid and questionnaire provided, we agreed to meet regularly, whenever they returned to Essex, so we could discuss the evolving ceremony and keep tabs on the changing seasons in the garden.

The icing on the cake was being able to recommend my husband as their Wedding photographer, and being able to work with him, and share an amazing day.

Anna and Kenny were just so easy to work with; they readily shared their love story with me and allowed me to put my twist on the telling of it. Together we created something that we knew would bring giggles and tears in equal measure as their family and friends went on the journey with us.

They had met at a party friends had held to welcome Kenny back from a tour of Afghanistan and bonded over Apple Crumble vodka shots. They fell in love quite quickly and knew they had each found their own soul mate, someone they could dance around the kitchen with, argue with, laugh with and love with. It all came so easily to them both. Kenny had even thoughtfully made Anna an engagement ring in his man cave over the course of a few nights before presenting it to her on St David’s day in a kitchen festooned with inflatable leeks, daffodils and a red toy dragon!

Ceremony written, we worked out on interim visits and at the practice the day before, just how long the ceremony would take, how long the processional music needed to be, where we would stand and where their guests would be seated. I was able to reassure a stressed out bride that all would be well, and gave them both my usual pre ceremony pep talk, including the need for a decent nights sleep and plenty of hydration on the big day.
It dawned, bright and beautiful, the hottest day of the summer (we thought at the time…so far…it was after all only June …But it in fact turned out to be the hottest day of the summer full stop!)

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
The hottest day of the year!

We had a hoot! Yes it was a very warm day, and at one point the groom was making full use of my fan to cool himself down,

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
Michelle does her best to cool things down a bit.

but the guests were treated to more giggles than you could shake a stick at and my husband and I were able to enjoy one of the best weddings of the year, working in partnership and helping a fabulous couple celebrate their big day. We even got roped into the dancing and didn’t actually manage to get away until nearly 11 o’clock that night ourselves…long after even his clocking off time! It was a quintessentially English balmy summers night as we packed up to leave, with the biggest grins on our faces.

The feedback has been amazing from Anna and Kenny and their guests, I even booked another couple for their wedding celebration who came running up to me straight after the ceremony and told me to drop everything I WAS required to attend their big day, they had never laughed so much at a wedding ceremony and didn’t know they could have something so personal written just for them.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex

So as you can see, it’s about putting your heart and soul into each client, it is about discussing individual requirements, being open and accommodating. It’s about meetings, for me, as many as each client requires. I don’t set limits, never have, never will. You’ll always get me at the end of a phone or by texts/ email.
It’s about the writing, the practicing and ultimately the final delivery of your carefully crafted script. AND it’s about the love, the love that brought them to this point and that love which will sustain them from that day forward.
This is why you chose a celebrant, and why it’s important to choose the right one for you.

Must Have Wedding Photos – Part Three


Must have wedding photos part three, the wedding breakfast and evening.

Usually the first photos to get arranged after your wedding ceremony are the dreaded group photos. Lets face it, all your guests want to do is get a drink, have something to eat and chat with the other guests. No one enjoys standing around waiting to have their photo taken. But chances are that having all your family and friends together in the same place at the same time is a very rare event, so you want to make the most of it.

I always advise making a list in consultation with your photographer and visiting the venue to identify locations for your photos before the big day comes along. This saves such a lot of time and saves your guests having to stand around waiting too long. You need a plan A for good weather and a plan B for bad weather. If you prepare properly and if your photographer is able to be assertive in a polite and friendly way, you will get the group photos you want done much more quickly than leaving it all to chance on the day.

If you don’t want your group photos to be all “stiff and starchy” a full of “forced” smiles, use a photographer who is good with people and not afraid to talk to them. I usually find a good old “three cherries for the happy couple. Hip Hip…” works wonders for loosening people up in front of the camera.

Wedding Photography for Gosfield Hall in Essex
Three cheers for the happy couple. Hip hip….

And when it comes to the smaller groups, you can have as much fun as you like. Let your imagination run riot and have some fun!!

Wedding Photography for Essex.
Have some fun with your group photos

After your group photos, think about the type of photos you would like of just the two of you together. Perhaps the two of you going for a stroll around the grounds.

Wedding photography at Dedham Vale Vineyard Essex
The newlyweds go for a stroll in the grounds.

Or something that makes the most of the location.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
Making the most of the location at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.

Maybe a more formal one, what I call a photo for Mum and Dad to put above their fire place.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk
Something a little more formal.

Maybe something a bit more romantic.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
Something more romantic.

Something to show off your wedding dress.

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex
Showing off the wedding dress

Or maybe you want to be more creative and come up with something a bit more original.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
Something a little more creative.

Or something that really takes advantage of the architecture or quirkiness of your venue.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
Servant’s bells hanging in the corridor serve as a reminder of days gone by.

Talk things through with your photographer. If they are good at their job, they will be able to take the style of photos that you want so you can remember your day, your way.

Usually, when you have finished you photos, it’s time to catch up with your guests before moving on to your Wedding breakfast. Talk through what you would like with your photographer. You don’t have to settle for all “boring” straight on photos.

Wedding Photography ay Gosfield Hall in Essex
Not all photos have to be “straight on”.

Putting a bit of an angle on the photo can make it look much more dynamic and interesting.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
Angles can make photos look much more interesting and dynamic.

And when people are making their speeches, that’s the perfect time for your photographer to take photos of your guest’s reactions. Terrific natural smiles and laughter ( providing your speeches are funny, of course ).

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex
The speeches are a great time to get natural photos of the guests smiling.

When the wedding breakfast draws to a close, that’s when your photographer will start preparing for your “First Dance”. A special part of the day not to be missed.

Wedding Photography for Colchester Essex.
The Bride and Groom enjoy their First Dance.


When it comes to your First Dance, you will find that the lighting is different for every venue. Some venues have their own quite unique way of doing things.

Wedding Photography at Milsoms Kesgrave.
Some venues have their own special lighting effects.

Some venues just leave the DJ to sort out their own lighting.

Wedding Photography at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk.
Coloured disco lighting.

It might just be worth asking your photographer how he does things. If you want to maintain the “ambience” or feel of your venue, you don’t really want a photographer who simply lights up everything with lots of flash.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
Maintaining the ambient light during a First Dance.

Perhaps something a bit more romantic on the dance floor.

Wedding Photography for Colchester Essex
First Dance with a romantic feel – focus on the hands.

You might like to have some photos taken after your guests have joined you on the dance floor .

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride and Groom are joined on the dance floor by their guests.

Or perhaps you are going to have a “Father Daughter” dance as well.

Wedding photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
Father Daughter dance at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, why not finish off with a special photo. You could have a night time shot taken outside your venue.

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex.
A rather special night time photo.

Or, if you are having a fireworks display, make the most of it with a photographer who knows how to photograph fireworks to your liking.

Wedding Photography at Hintlesham Golf Club in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom watch the fireworks display at the end of the wedding day.

Perhaps say it with sparklers!!

Wedding Photography for Colchester Essex.
Saying it with sparklers!

Maybe a photo of you walking off into the distance knowing that an exciting journey called “life” lies ahead of you both.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom walk off to face the future together as newlyweds.

Or simply have a photo of the two of you retiring at the end of the day.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride and groom retire at the end of an exhausting but terrific day.

Whatever you choose to do for your special day, I advise you choose a photographer who is a good “fit” for you both. Who understands what you are looking for. Who is prepared to take some time to get to know you. Be prepared to work with that photographer. Be creative. You don’t have to have the same old photos that everyone else has. You are only going to live this day once, so make the most of it and have some fun with your photography.

This is part three. Don’t forget to check out parts one and two for more ideas.

Must Have Wedding Photos – Part Two


Must have wedding photos part Two, the ceremony.

For the second part of this 3 part blog on ideas for Must Have Wedding Photos I am going to concentrate on The Wedding Ceremony and immediately afterwards. Not all the ideas may seem appropriate to your day as all weddings are unique, but I think it’s always better to have too many ideas than too few. It might be best to agree with your photographer which ones suite your day beforehand, otherwise your wedding day could turn into a “photo shoot”.

So, you arrive at your ceremony venue

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride arrives in her chosen wedding transport.

in your chosen wedding transport

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride alights from her wedding transport.

get out and thank your driver

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride thanks her chauffeur.

then make your way with your wedding party

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride with her wedding party approach the church.

to the entrance where friends and family are eagerly awaiting your arrival.

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
Friends and family greet the Bride on her arrival.

You enter your wedding venue

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The Bride and her Father enter the Church.

As you walk down the aisle, your Groom can’t resist the temptation to turn and look. He sees you for the first time that day and the look on his face say it all.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex,
The Groom watches his beautiful Bride walk up the aisle.

From this point on, the photographs your photographer is able to capture will depend to a large degree not just on their ability and equipment, but also on the Priest / Vicar / Registrar and how much “freedom” they allow your photographer during the ceremony. I will always do my very best to attend any rehearsal you may have so that I can build up a bit of a rapport with the officiant ( I have found this does help as they can see for themselves that I will treat the ceremony with respect and I am no longer a complete stranger to them on the wedding day ).

But even if the officiant is strict, there are certain Must Have photos your photographer should be able to capture. The placing of the wedding rings on the finger, both for the Bride’s

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor.
The Groom places the wedding ring on his Bride’s finger.

and for the Groom’s.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The Bride places her Groom’s wedding ring on his finger.

The exchanging of vows

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom exchange their vows.

the First Kiss

Wedding Photography for Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom’s first kiss.

the blessing of your union

Wedding Photography for orwell View Barns in Suffolk.
The Blessing of the newly weds.


the odd amazing but unexpected moment,

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom “High Five”.

the signing of the register with your bridal bouquet on display

Wedding Photography at All Manor Of Events in Suffolk.
Signing the register doesn’t have to be too serious. We all know it’s not a real one!

and with your witnesses

Wedding Photography for Maison Talbooth in Essex.
The Bride and Groom with their witnesses.

before you leave the ceremony as partners for life.

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The newly weds leave at the end of their wedding ceremony.

Then it’s time for the confetti to fly

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
The confetti flies for the newlyweds.

before departing and making your way to your wedding reception venue for your wedding breakfast.

Wedding Photography at Orwell View Barns in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom get on board their transport to make their way to their wedding breakfast.

Don’t forget this is part two. Take a look at parts one and three for more ideas.

Must Have Wedding Photos – Part One


Must have wedding photos part one, the preparations.

This Blog, the first of 3 on the subject, is intended for couples who want ideas on what images to ask their wedding photographer for so they are able to tell the whole story of their day. Budding wedding photographers who want ideas for what they should be photographing will also find it useful.

No two weddings are ever the same and not all the photos mentioned will be taken at every wedding, but it helps to have some ideas of what to photograph.

Why 3 Blogs? Because I divide a wedding day into 3 parts. Getting ready, the ceremony and the wedding breakfast / evening celebrations.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
The wedding dress hanging in the bridal suite at Gosfield Hall in Essex.

The wedding might not be until the afternoon but there is lots to do, and to photograph, in the morning. Perhaps some photos showing all the excitement of you and your bridesmaids as you have your hair and make up done while sipping champagne.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride has her make up done in the bridal suite at Gosfield Hall in Essex.

Maybe your wedding dress on it’s hanger or, even better still, the moment you put it on.

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The Mother of the Bride helps her daughter into her dress at Houchins Farm in Essex.

All the little details like your jewellery and perfume.

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The perfume and jewellery on a wedding day.

The shoes bought especially for the day.

Wedding Photography at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk.
The shoes bought especially for the day.

What about the confetti sitting there in a basket ready to be taken to the ceremony? The bridesmaids dresses all on hangers specially made for the occasion. Maybe there’s an exchange of gifts with happy surprised faces all around. All photos that, when put together, tell the whole story of your day.

The pretty flower girl, eyes wide open staring at your wedding dress whilst imagining herself a princess for the day. And the page boy has never looked smarter in his new suit.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The pretty flower girl admires the beautiful bride at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.

Perhaps if your Mum or Dad is giving you away, a photo of the look on their faces when they see you in your dress for the first time. A special moment and a look that is never to be repeated.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
A tearful Dad sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time at Gosfield Hall in Essex.

Then, with your hair and make up done to perfection and your wedding dress looking just right, a few portrait photos before setting off.

Wedding photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The beautiful Bride peeks from behind her wedding bouquet.

Travelling between venues? You make your way down the stairs to where your wedding transport awaits with your bridesmaids in tow.

Wedding photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The bridal party make their way down the stairs.

If you’ve booked some special wedding transport to take you to the ceremony, don’t forget to get if photographed.

Wedding photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
A photo of you with your transport is a must.

Don’t forget the Groom. It’s his day too! Chances are he will have been given his “To Do” list and heaven help him if he forgets anything. And he might be wearing a special gift bough for the day!

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
The Groom wears a very special gift.

And he might like a photo or two with his party.

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex.
The Groom with his Best Man and Ushers decide on a Reservoir Dogs style photo.

Parents’ siblings or other family members nearby? Then perhaps a few family photos before you leave to walk down the aisle.

The list of possibilities is almost endless. Let your imagination run riot and be creative!!

Don’t forget this is only part one. Take a look at parts two and three for more suggestions.


Wedding Celebrants – What are they then?


Wedding Celebrants, or to give them their full name, Independent Wedding and Family Celebrants. What do they do and what are they like for photographers to work with?

A Celebrant is an independently trained person, not affiliated to any church or faith and not necessarily humanists (the two are often confused). They just believe people should have the right to celebrate their special day in a unique way. They offer an alternative to the ceremonies performed by Registrars and in Churches and I have seen them describe what they offer as a real alternative to the run of the mill and the mundane.

Every ceremony is bespoke, unique and designed around the couple involved incorporating their beliefs and their personalities. They can be held almost anywhere and I have photographed Celebrant led Weddings in bluebell woods, on farms, in back gardens, beside a lake at sunset, in a zoo, on a boat and other various venues.

Personally I love photographing Celebrant led Weddings because they are all different and the couples involved, because they want something different from the norm and something that reflects their personalities, always seem to be up for a lot of fun with a capital F when it comes to their photography.

Most celebrants will hold a rehearsal before the wedding day. To all photographers reading this, I strongly recommend you attend the rehearsal. It will give you a chance to “break the ice” with the celebrant and you will be able to see what type of ceremony the couple are having. Like I said earlier, they are all different incorporating many different rituals, and you will want to know where to be and when to be there for the best shots.

Celebrants tend to stand to one side when they are conducting a ceremony and they often have the couple facing their guests. Some will have important parts to play during the ceremony and sometimes there is a “ring warming” where the wedding rings are passed around the guests. Little things that make the guests feel part of the ceremony rather than just mere observers.

Wedding celebrants tend to be great to work with. They are normally less formal than other officiants and quite relaxed about how the photographer works and the level of “freedom” they will grant you. I have yet to receive the “stand there and do not move” instruction that many of us wedding photographers will be familiar with. In my experience they will work with you to give you the best possible chance to get some really good images for your clients but be sensible and don’t try to “take advantage” of their easy going nature or you could find yourself feeling rather embarrassed.

Celebrant led wedding.
The look on the Celebrant’s face says it all.

I recently attended a Celebrant led Wedding as a guest. I took my camera along as old habits die hard! I could not believe the antics of the wedding photographer. Leaping around like a woman possessed, the ceremony had to be stopped three times because the photographer was physically standing in the way!! A word of warning, she hadn’t attended the rehearsal the day before and didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. Needless to say, she ended up feeling very embarrassed embedded in the balloons. Please, don’t be one of those “professional” photographers. You give us all a bad name.

Celebrant led wedding.
Guests come forward to untangle the embarrassed photographer.

So, I’m starting a Blog !!

Wedding Photography
A night time photo of the Bride and Groom at the beautiful Gosfield Hall in Essex.

So after all these years working as a wedding photographer, I’m finally starting a blog!!

Why didn’t I do it before? Well, I’m hopeless at website stuff (except photography!), not a lover of “social media” and I guess a little fear of the “unknown”. At this point in time I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to writing a Blog.

So why the change of heart after all this time? Well, I don’t know if anyone will want to read what I have to say but I do feel that my accumulated knowledge and experience is worth sharing, if only to help some people avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years. I also would like others to share in some of the fun I’ve had photographing weddings, and maybe laugh at some of the things that haven’t gone exactly to plan.

I’ve been taking photographs for over 30 years and, as we approach the end of 2017, have spent the last 8 earning my living full time as a wedding photographer.

In the coming months as winter draws in I intend to share my experiences of both the good parts and the not quite so good parts of being a wedding photographer. There will be some articles offering couples friendly advice about things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer, some articles aimed towards those considering starting a career in wedding photography and some stories about real wedding days showing why I love what I do.

As I said earlier, I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to writing a Blog so a disclaimer might be in order! I have no intention of offending anyone and accept that not everyone will agree with everything I say. What I write will be totally truthful and based on my own personal “real life” experiences. Others will have different life experiences and may disagree with me and I will respect their opinions as I hope they respect mine.