Group Shots

 

Most people that know me or book me for their wedding know I am not a huge fan of the dreaded group shots, in fact it is one of the first things I say to couples who I meet at wedding fairs. I am a documentary and reportage wedding photographer and when I am shooting group shots this takes me away from what I am good at doing which is documenting your day in my natural and creative style. Fortunately most people that book me do so for that very reason.

Almost everyone who has booked me for their wedding has a tale to tell about a wedding they went to and all the guests had to hang around for hours while the photographer took endless group shots. It’s not fun for the bride and groom and its not fun for the guests and the majority of the group shots will not even see the light of day.

 

However, on saying this I also realise that for most people weddings are the only time the entire family gets together and I also know that mum and dad or your nan will want a nice family photo for the mantle piece, so it is important that I get a balance between producing an amazing story of your day, creating some incredible fine art portraits of you both and ensuring your nan and granddad have a lovely photo, so here are some of my tips to ensure we get everything we need on the big day.

 

  • Send me over a list of the “must have” group shots you would like on the day, try and keep to no more than 5-6 as this can still take up to 30 mins or so depending on how cooperative your guests are. Do not assume I have a set list of family shots, I do not know if your mum and dad are still together or if you like your step mum, I do not know if your aunty is hugely important in your life or not.

 

 

  • Give me enough time, I normally like to get these in the bag fairly sharpish after the ceremony, so before your brother has really started drinking or your nan has gone to the loo. There is normally time after the ceremony and before you sit down for dinner for this, I like to do the everybody shot first and after this we can run through the “must haves.”

 

 

  • Its good to have some helpers on hand, best man and ushers are great for this as they will know most of your family members and also let people know in advance if they will be needed for any group shots and also roughly what time these will happen.

 

 

There, not so painful really, and even with my group shots I like to get a bit of life and energy into them, here are a few of my favourites.

 

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Winter Weddings

I love photographing winter weddings, in fact this year I have had more weddings in December than I did in August, but they can be a little trickier to plan and when it comes to photography there are a few obvious issues that you do need to bear in mind, so my next blog post is how to get the best out of your winter wedding.

The Venue

It sounds obvious – but choose your venue carefully. There are some fantastic venues that I work at regularly that work really well for winter weddings such as Stubton Hall, Stoke Rochford Hall and Kelham Hall. They all have great outdoor space but also there is is also plenty of interesting indoor areas should the weather be too awful to shoot outdoors.

Ideally you should visit your venue at around the same time of year as you will be getting married and make sure you look around the whole venue, are there indoor places for photographs if the weather prevents you getting outside?

Be Prepared

Please don’t be that bride shivering in a strapless dress in the middle of winter. Embrace the season! Having a winter wedding opens up a whole new world of jackets, boleros, shrugs and shawls. Umbrellas are an essential addition, they make great props and I have been producing some really beautiful images recently using umbrellas to create a really romantic silhouette with my bride and groom.

Photography

Winter weddings are a completely different beast to photograph than a summer event. Less light, bad weather, dark venues can all be tricky situations to deal with. I have the experience, technical knowledge and equipment to ensure that I can create imaginative, creative and beautiful imagery in any conditions. Portable studio flash units are essential and my trusty redhead lights ensure that I always have reliable and professional light sources that enable me to work in any conditions and produce the WOW images that my clients love.

The Photographs

This brings us on quite neatly to the photographs. Ok, you might get lucky and have a glorious winter’s day with crisp clear skies and not a hint of rain. Perfect. Or it might tip it down all day. You have to have some realistic expectations of what images you can achieve. If you’ve got your heart set on a massive group shot of all the guests but your venue doesn’t have anywhere to accommodate this indoors, you’ll have to accept that this might not happen if the weather is against you. I have rarely had a wedding where the weather has been against me all day, maybe once or twice, but let’s not mention those ones, so even on bad days there is normally a break in the weather to get some essential outdoor shots, so I may come running up to you at some point and grab you both and insist it is time to get outdoors for some photos

The Timeline

I know I keep banging on about light but it’s pretty fundamental to photography and this is why your timeline is quite important. In summer, when it’s staying light well into the evening you don’t have to worry about the light running out. No such luxury in those winter months when the sun can be setting before 4 p.m, so if you have a 3pm ceremony we will not have any daylight at all. Time to get the lighting equipment out.

And Finally….just go with it

You’ve chosen a winter wedding – so you know it will be cold if nothing else. Don’t be that bride who refuses to take a step outside in case her hair gets a little ruffled in the wind or the underside of her dress gets a little dirty and damp. Honestly, by the end of the night no-one will care how clean or otherwise your dress is but I promise, when you get your images back you’ll be so pleased you trusted me and braved the elements.

 

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite winter weddings.

 

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Why Have a Wedding Album?

I firmly believe that all my clients should invest in a wedding album. We are now the most photographed generation ever and according to a survey by Samsung it is estimated that 630 million photos are taken each year, however, only 23% of these will ever be committed to a print or an album, that is almost 500 million photos taken annually that will be lost on obsolete or damaged hard drives never to be seen again. There is also a very real fear that we could lose so much vital information that tells future generations how we live our lives, personal photos of holidays, Christmas, birthdays and family gatherings are all recorded digitally and uploaded to social media, in 50 years’ time will we even have this technology anymore?

To invest in my photography is to invest in preserving your memories and your stories which is why I only use the best quality albums and frames available worldwide. This ensures that my work will be archived and future generations will be able to enjoy them and see you on your wedding day or see themselves as a new born baby.

I recently found an old suitcase stacked full with old photos from my childhood and teenage years and this brought back so many memories,; an old family photo we had taken in the 70s, a wedding photo from my mum and dad’s wedding and a photo of my mum as a young girl amongst others. If these photos had been taken on a mobile phone as so many family photos are today there is no chance they would have been around now.

So preserve and protect your memories and do not just rely on digital packages, have the best quality products you can from me and you know that you grandchildren will be laughing at your wedding photos in 75 years time. 

 

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Best Man Speech

The next topic I am going to talk about is the best man speech and I have heard a wide variety of these ranging from the well prepared and seriously funny  to wildly inappropriate. Here are a few pointers to ensure the best man speech goes as well as it can.

  1. Bullet point the whole thing

Choose the top 10 things you really want to say. Include a mix of funny anecdotes and stories, when the groom met the bride, comments on the day so far and anything else you want to add from school to questionable fashion choices, family, a round-up of people to thank and, of course, a few surprises…

  1. Tell stories about the groom

But keep it clean! Your best man speech jokes don’t want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. You and the boys might find it funny, but the bride and the rest of the guests will be expecting you to keep a lid on anything X-rated. I have personally heard a couple of shockers in recent years and stories of sexual misadventures are for stag night and not the wedding day. Instead, tell stories of the groom’s character and times you’ve had together. You can allude to wild behaviour pre-relationship, although it’ll be best for everyone if you keep it mild. Think of the grandparents!

  1. Include the bride

Working in a story about how the groom met the bride or how happy she makes your best friend, will always go down well with the crowd. Commenting on how great the bride looks, is quite traditional and a nice point to consider, too.

  1. Keep it short and light hearted

Best man speech jokes are great, but don’t put pressure on yourself to be a stand-up comedian and stick to around 15-20, not like my brother who gave a 45 minute speech at a wedding and had to be literally dragged off.. So try and give just over a minute for each 10 points and you’ll have it spot on.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use props

If you’re feeling nervous, props are great for something to hold and talk about. Maybe a funny retro photo of the groom that you can include on each table too. I think some of the funniest speeches I have seen have included hilarious photos of the groom with terrible fashion sense or great photos from childhood, in particularly a great groom photo as a little baby having a bath, this one had the roof off. These work so much better than projectors – which can be fiddly to set up and can lead to your speech not going to plan!

  1. Raise a glass

The best way to finish is to toast the newlyweds. Then you’re done and can enjoy the rest of the party!

 

 

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Father of the Bride Speech

This is one of the big moments from any wedding day and whether this is the first speech you have ever done or if you are an old hand at this a bit of advice never goes amiss, every dad wants their speech to be memorable and having witnessed many over the years here are my tips on how to get it spot on.

1                Share childhood stories, funny stories of tantrums past and those difficult                 teenage years will bring smiles all around. Say how proud you are of the woman she has now grown into.

2      Talk about son in law. A funny story about when you first met or when you realised he was the “one.”

3       Stories about love from your own experience.

4       Add in funny moments, a humorous anecdote will warm up the audience and hopefully get a laugh too, but keep it clean. Your daughter will expect some embarrassing stories about her childhood, but do not leave her mortified, that is the job of the best man.

5        Make the grooms family feel welcome. This a great opportunity to let the in laws know how much you value them and will be spending time with them in the future.

6        Keep an eye on time, there are three speeches to get through, 10 minutes is plenty.

7        Add personal touches or props. Is there an old doll or teddy the bride could not do without when younger?

8        Follow tradition and round up your speech by asking everyone to stand and toast the bride and groom. Then smile, breath, and clap – you’ve done it, time to hand over to the groom.

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Kathryn and Matt. 6 June 2015. Hilton Hotel, Lincoln.

Kathryn and Matt where married on a beautifully sunny day in June at a small church in Cherry Willingham, then off to Kathryn’s parents house next door for a lovely marquee  reception. Very relaxed and a pleasant afternoon.

The evening party was held at Hilton Hotel in Brayford, Lincoln and was a formal black tie affair, very posh. A lovely wedding a great to be able to capture their special day.

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Lizi and Duane. Navenby Village Hall. 16 may 2015.

Lizi and Duane had one of my favourite weddings of the year, when we met for the first time I knew we would be good for each other. The theme for their wedding was a festival vibe, which is right up my street really. The ceremony was in a rather nondescript  church in Lincoln and then off to Navenby Village Hall, it must be said a ordinary building surrounded by football pitches. This was perfect for them as it created a blank slate for them to style and create their wedding in their own unique way.

A fantastic atmosphere all day and all night with a great photobooth, very effective portraits in the fields and some amazing cigar shots at night.

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