I often get asked what equipment I use for my wedding photography. Up until mid 2019, I was using mirrorless cameras with a micro four thirds sensor from Olympus and Lumix. Whilst the image quality was very good and clients loved my work, I felt I was lacking something.
I've recently upgraded to full frame cameras which is what you got back in 35mm film days and now use a Canon 5D MKIV and a Canon EOS RP mirrorless camera. I've also added a Canon 7D MKII and although not full frame, still produces high quality images which at the end of the day is what you're paying for.
I use the RP for my personal stuff as I'm not lugging heavy kit around when I just want to go for a walk or for travelling. The RP is like a downsized EOS 6D MKII but with the advantage of being a lot lighter. I use either a Sigma 35mm Art Series lens for my street photography or when I'm travelling, I use a Sigma 18-300mm Contemporary lens, not a full frame lens but will fit on the RP with the included adapter.
These two lenses are from Sigma's Global Vision lens series, which include Art, Contemporary and Sport models and all produce outstanding image quality. Sigma are a world leader in lens technology.
If all else failed, I could use this combination to shoot an entire wedding and this kit will always be in my bag at a wedding as a back up.
For my wedding work, I use the 5D MKIV and the 7D MKII as they both have two card slots and I always save my images to both. On the 5D IV will be my Sigma 24-70mm Art Series lens - one of Sigma's Global Vision lens series with outstanding image quality and a fast aperture for making the main subject pop out of the background. This will cover from wide angle, group shots through to head and shoulder portraits.
On the 7D II will be my Sigma 50-100mm Art series lens also with a fast aperture to make the main subject pop out of the background and also part of Sigma's Global Vision lens series. This gives a 35mm view of 100-160mm, perfect for tight head and shoulder shots, the speeches, candid shots or if I happen to be stuck at the back of the venue as I often have been.
Also in my kit bag will be a Sigma 10-20mm EX lens with a fast aperture and a 35mm equivalent of 16-32. This is perfect for low, sweeping shots of the venue and larger group shots. The EX line of lenses are among Sigma's best glass for outstanding image quality.
The above mentioned lenses also eliminate the need for flash as they are outstanding low light performers. I don't usually use flash as it spoils the ambience and the ambient light anyway.
However, I will use flash for the evening reception and usually off camera and I have two Canon Speedlites and off camera triggers for a more flattering light. Some Celebrants require that flash isn't used during the ceremony as it can be distracting so please be aware of this.
The 5D IV, RP and 7D II are weather sealed and all the Sigma lenses are splash and dust resistant. So if it's raining or you're having a winter or beach wedding, you can be assured that I can carry on shooting when your friend or friend of a friend with the cheap camera/lens will be running for cover.
If my images have a blurry background or if I cut heads off, its done for artistic reasons to either make the main subject pop out of the background or to emphasise a particular detail - see images below to demonstrate this.
As you can see, I have an extensive range of equipment including several batteries and memory cards. Something to consider when asking your friend or friend of a friend who just happens to own a camera.
Please don't book my services just based on the equipment I use or my prices, choose me because you love my work and from the moment we meet, we'll get on like a house on fire and I'll do my best to shoot your wedding in a style of your choice.
Ignore the advice from certain online bride magazines to choose a photographer only if they use a certain brand of camera/lens - usually Canon or Nikon and full format cameras!
There is no such thing as full format, there's full frame, x1.6 crop, which is what I use, x1.3 crop, x1.5 crop, x2 crop, half frame and medium format.
Full frame is what you got back in the days of 35mm film cameras. The crop factor means the focal length of the lens is extended by what ever the crop factor happens to be. Think of medium format and you're looking at the likes of Hasselblad, Phase One and Bronica to name just three brands.
Calling all engaged couples! If you're having a winter wedding (December to February) then I have a very special offer. Book and pay your 25% booking fee and then get 15% off any of my main wedding photography collections - saving up to £255.00, contact me for a full price list. This is an on going offer but may be withdrawn without notice.
Why leave your wedding photography to chance by hiring a friend or friend of a friend who just happens to own a camera to photograph your special day? Will they have the necessary skills to capture your day in a professional manner, will they have backup equipment etc? I can speak from experience that equipment can fail and if there is no backup then it can be a disaster. I was shooting a wedding last year and one of my (brand new) cameras shut down completely and if I didn't have a backup plan then the day would've been ruined. This is something to consider when booking your wedding photographer and a professional will always have back up equipment, always have had professional training and will leave nothing to chance. You might think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job but just wait until you hire an ameteur. I carry four cameras and six lenses (if you include one fixed lens) to all my weddings plus back up flashguns, spare batteries, memory cards etc., etc. If your friend or friend isn't insured then some venues will just refuse to let them work there. I have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance, venues are now checking policies in some cases. I always have a Plan X! There is always a Plan X.
Your wedding is probably the most important day of your life and you want your photographs to reflect that. For that reason, my advice is to hire a professional photographer to capture your day as it unfolds.
A professional photographer will have had years of experience and not necessarily only in Wedding photography. They will have received training in the art of photography and spent years honing their skills and developing (pun intended) their own unique style. More importantly, they'll be able to work quickly, often under pressure and have people skills. Try prising guests from the bar for that all important group shot and you'll see what I mean.
You might think you'll save a few hundred pounds by asking a friend or a friend of a friend who just happens to own a camera. Will they have the necessary skills to capture your day to the same level of quality as a professional and will they be able to work quickly and under pressure. Wedding photography can be very stressful and if not approached correctly then the results could be disasterous as you only get one chance to get it right. Just like life itself, there is no rewind button.
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an ameteur." (Red Adair - Professional Oil Well Firefighter.)
With the wedding market literally flooded with so called "wedding photographers" I have seen so many disappointed couples whose photographer hasn't lived up to their expectations and had their day ruined by receiving poor quality images or has simply taken the couples money and not turned up on the day! I had exactly that scenario and stepped in to rescue their day with half an hour's notice!
Not everyone who owns a camera is always a photographer, especially a wedding photographer. It's OK having the equipment but knowing to use it is a different matter and crucially can ruin your day.
Photography is all about light and how to use it to good effect, especially artificial light (flash) and knowing how and when to use it. A flashgun can make or break an image, too much and it will be over exposed, too little and it will under exposed. Get it right and you have the perfect shot. Photographers who use professional software can usually rescue an over or under exposed image - but not always! The detail has to be there in the first place.
Anyone can point a camera and press the button but not everyone can get the composition right and that includes posing your subject and getting the light right.
More and more wedding venues are asking to see a photographer's insurance certificate and without one, are not allowed to photograph there - imagine a couples day ruined because of a simple thing like insurance. The photographer wouldn't have a leg to stand on and could be sued and no insurance means they won't have the means to compensate the couple.
So please, when booking your photographer, always ask if they're insured and if in doubt, ask to see proof. It's also a good idea to take out wedding insurance for that reason alone and for peace of mind. I'm covered by Public Liabilty and Professional Indemnity Insurance and any second photographer I use will either have their own or will be covered under mine.
A professional photographer would've spent a lot of time and money on training, professional camera equipment, marketing and advertising etc., and they will have insurance.
The saying goes (and this relates equally to wedding photography) "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."
To get a decent professional wedding photographer, you won't get much change out of £1,000.00 for a full day with images on a USB. Album packages will cost more and the average cost of wedding photography in the UK in 2018 was £1,560.00.
I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Sandra & Eryl Owen (San & Ez), on the 29/6/18 at the Kinmel & Kinspa in Abergele, North Wales. What a lovely couple and I captured some really lovely images ably assisted by my second shooter, Chris Jackson of "Captivating Images" who hopefully will be my permanent second shooter for future weddings. I've updated my galleries with some of the images from the wedding. What a wonderful location too.
Weddings don't just happen. There's a lot of pre planning beforehand, usually several months before the big day. Although having said that, I have done a wedding with just half an hour's notice and literally had to wing it! The photographer on that day just didn't turn up, didn't phone, e mail, or even send a carrier pigeon!
Luckily, the bride's brother in law had my number in his phone and I stepped up to the plate so to speak - I always keep my cameras ready and batteries fully charged up. This story brings me to my first tip:
Something that may seem unimportant but please make sure you have wedding insurance - something I always recommend but don't insist on. The above couple had wedding insurance fortunately and successfully claimed their money back from the original photographer. I can provide you with a wedding insurance enquiry form and no I don't work for the company or benefit from any premium you might take out.
Is the photographer insured? No self respecting photographer will work without insurance and I have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance plus employer liability for any second photographer that I use. In fact, the majority of venues now insist on the photographer being insured and ask for a copy of their certificate. So the first question to ask the photographer before "How much do you charge?" should be "Are you insured?"
Unless your friend or friend of a friend who's doing it as a favour to save you money is in business as a photographer, then chances are they won't have insurance. They could then be refused access to the venue and your day is ruined as you won't have any photographs to remember it by. This is not me scaremongering or fishing for business, it's a cold hard fact. The unexpected could happen and the photographer concerened could end up with a huge legal bill and so could you.
Does the venue have insurance - silly question? You might think so but ask anyway, you just never know.
I have whole blog entries on why you shouldn't choose your photographer based on price alone or on the equipment they use so won't bore you by repeating them here.
To make your day run smoother and to allow you to spend more time with your guests, you'll be asked to provide a list of "must have" photographs. This makes my job easier and (usually) ensures that everyone who needs to be in a particular image is. I can't be held responsible for people not being available or refusing though. Try and limit the number of group shots to no more than 10, again to allow you to spend more time with your guests. I'll always take candid shots and oblige requests from guests for photographs during the day.
Another tip is to have an unplugged wedding - this means that guests will be asked beforehand to put their phones, cameras and tablets away during the ceremony. This is so I can get clear shots of you walking down the aisle and walking out again and that all important exchanging rings and first kiss shot, especially if I'm restricted to the back of the church/ceremony room which isn't unheard of as some celebrants - usually in a church wedding, restrict the movement of photographers.
I have known a photographer who only got the back of the bride's auntie's head as she was in the bride's face filming her walking in on her mobile phone - doesn't make for good images and you only get one chance to get that shot. But at the end of the day, it's your choice.
Always try and make sure there's enough time for photographs after the ceremony and before you sit down to eat. Nothing worse than rushed photographs ending with disappointing images
You can be sure though that I won't leave until I'm sure you have all the shots you require and more. So maybe it's better to go for an all day collection rather than just a few hours to ensure your special day is captured in its entirety.
Always have a plan X! I always have a plan X! Plan X is for that unforseen eventuality that might hit without warning. You'll be basking in the lovely sunshine when suddenly, the heavens open completely unexpectedly even though the forecast was for wall to wall sunshine. Always try and plan where you'll have your photographs taken indoors if the worst happens and it does rain or even if it's a winter wedding and it's blowing a hooley outside.
My two cameras and one of my four lenses are weather sealed so I can carry on shooting in the wet/ freezing cold but sadly I've found that most wedding guests, brides etc., aren't as willing to brave inclement weather.
In these days of austerity, people are always looking to save money and this is especially true when it comes to planning a big event such as a Wedding. So I've put together a list of money saving tips from around the web which may help you save a few pounds on yours. But please remember, if you try and save money on your wedding photography by asking a friend or friend of a friend, you just might live to regret it - see my blog page on the real cost of wedding photography.
1) Get married on a weekday or a Sunday, venues tend to charge less for weekday/Sunday weddings. I'm only available for Saturday and Sunday weddings at the moment but do have some availability for weekday weddings during certain times of the year, typically the week between Christmas and New Year, Easter week, the last week of July and the first week of August. There may be discounts available for mid week weddings during these times - please ask.
2) If you use a professional to make your wedding cake, tell them it's for a birthday because when you say it's for a wedding, the price goes up. Alternatively, ask a friend who has the experience of making cakes.
3) Make your own wedding favours, when I got married, we got some netting and ribbon from a local haberdashery shop, cut it into squares and filled them with sugared almonds and tied a bow around them, the options are only limited to your imagination.
4) Buy or make your own place name cards, you'll save a fortune.
5) Have your wedding and reception at the same venue - unless you absolutely want to get married in church.
6) Take your time planning the whole thing - for example, having a longer engagement gives you time to pay for things earlier before the price goes up. I typically increase my prices in April and usually in line with inflation.
7) Get married out of season. Venues tend to charge less at off peak times.
8) Find a venue that allows you to use your own DJ/entertainment/venue dresser etc.
9) Go for the buffet option rather than a 3 course meal. A friend of mine had his reception at a local venue and served up bacon baps - with a vegetarian option of course and it went down a storm with the guests. Or why not have afternoon tea instead, salmon and cucumber sandwiches, mmmm!
One couple I know who were on a really tight budget asked the guests to pay for their own meals. That wedding was put together within a couple of months as the bride was pregnant and wanted to get married before the baby was born so she would have the same surname as the baby and the guests fully understood and obliged.
10) Use sparkling wine instead of champagne for the toast - personally I prefer sparkling wine and can't stand the taste of champagne.
11) Consider doing your own flowers or ask a friend who is crafty enough, buy your flowers wholesale and make your own button holes and bouquet, they don't necessarily have to match and it makes your wedding that little bit different.
12) If you want to buy your flowers, go for paper or silk ones, at least they won't wilt and die if it's too hot.
13) Get items second hand - "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" certainly rings true and you'll save a fortune. Some brides I know have used the likes of Ebay to buy wedding things from, dresses, suits, table decorations etc.
14) If your wedding is in the summer, instead of wearing a "wedding dress", just go for the casual look, go for summer dresses for the bride and bridesmaids - I photographed such a wedding and it was so laid back and informal, even the groom was casual - see the first image below.
15) If friends and family offer to help, let them - take them up on their offers in exchange for wedding gifts.
These are just a few tips but there are lots more out there. But please, please remember that photography prices may seem high but there's a reason for that. It's not just about turning up on the day, pressing a button and delivering your images.
Your friend or friend of a friend will probably hand you a basic USB with images straight out of the camera without any editing and you could end up with images you'll be disappointed with - see the second image below.
A professional photographer will have years of experience, I've been photographing weddings professionally since 2008 and for 20 years before that just learning the trade whilst holding down a full time job so have lots of experience. They will have spent a lot of time and money on training courses, honing their skills. They will make sure that the lighting is right and where necessary, light the scene with a professional flashgun which could be off camera to give more flattering light to enhance the final image.
They will usually shoot in RAW (think of a RAW file as a digital negative) and will spend the next 2-3 weeks after the wedding editing the images with professional software to ensure high quality photographs. This is standard industry practice plus the photographer may also have 2 or 3 other weddings to edit as well, not just yours. The photographer will never give you the RAW files so don't ask, you won't be able to view them without the correct software anyway.
People do move, they will blink and the photographer will go through every image, deleting those that don't make the final cut to make sure they tell the story of the day from getting ready right up to the first dance. They may take over 1000 images on the day but you may only end up with 800 final ones on your USB.
For many wedding photographers, it's a full time job, usually self employed and they will have other outlays, insurance, updating kit, making sure they can pay the mortgage, rent, bills, holiday pay, sick pay etc.
Most photographers will only shoot one or two weddings a week so have to make sure they have enough to meet their day to day living costs, pay their own national insurance and tax including any VAT where appropriate.
As much as I hate having to say this, needs must:
To secure your wedding date a non refundable booking fee of 25% of the total needs to be paid. This is deducted from the final balance.
As choosing your photographer is a massive choice, I do hold your date for 7 days after your consultation/upon receiving your booking form to give you a chance to talk it over etc.
After 7 days, if the booking fee hasn't been paid, the date will be made available to others.
All emergency service personnel (Police, Fire and Ambulance) will automatically get 15% off any of my wedding collections irrespective of any ongoing offers or promotions. This is an ongoing offer.