Who should be attending the bride on the way to the church?

I am not going to make any friends with this particular posting.    But as a couple you really need to know exactly how to achieve the best shots at your wedding – and understand that some stuff is totally outside the control of your photographer.  

With that knowledge you can make decisions beforehand which will affect the look of your wedding photographs – if it is really important to you and if your photography is your priority.  And even though I may think pictures are important it isn’t necessarily the case for everyone.  I understand that  – really I do!  But finding out that things could have looked better by seeing it on your wedding photographs – well, by that time, its just too late.

Last year I photographed two weddings where I felt particuarly frustrated at the shots I couldn’t get.  At the first wedding I didn’t manage to get any shots of the bride arriving at the church door without the car company drivers in attendance. It was a beautiful wedding, lots of emotion and a very pretty church and angelic-looking kids.   An excellent wedding car company, two lovely drivers – but why did they feel the need to take on this ‘role’ at the wedding when there were bridesmaids around who could have done the job perfectly well?  And, sorry to say,  more prettily!

A group of bridesmaids lifting the skirts of the bride’s dress in a lovely procession to the church door is a beautiful moment to capture on camera – it has all the key people you need in there too.  So don’t allow the job to  be done by someone that you’ve only met once or twice – unless you really don’t care. 

At the second wedding the bride walked downstairs to greet her father – his first viewing of his daughter in all her glory – and there in the background the wedding coordinator smiling up at the camera.  Aaagh!  And no matter where I stood during those few moments,  I could not crop out the unnecessary personnel.   So frustrating, as I know that when it comes to your wedding albums, none of those shots will be chosen to go in your final selection.  In fact I don’t even bother putting them in the preview books these days.

As a B&G its up to you both to decide just how much attention you want from your suppliers on the day.  I know of florists who insist on being at the church to instruct on how to hold the bouquet.  Couldn’t that be sorted out at a pre-wedding meeting?   Drivers who insist on the ‘car shot’ with them in it?  Toastmasters who are more interested in the photo for their website than managing the crowds at your wedding.   

Go away, people!  This is an intimate moment – not a marketing opportunity!     

And the really good suppliers – these are the companies and venues that just get on with their jobs and don’t feel the need to dominate.  Their products and services speak loudly for themselves.  In fact, I’ve known businesses lose work because they are so ‘in-your-face’. 

I don’t have a particular gripe against wedding car companies – I have serious doubts about any wedding suppliers other than the photographer, the minister/registrars and possibly,  just possibly, the wedding coordinator at a hotel being present on the photographs in any major way.  I don’t understand why a wedding supplier might consider it to be part of their job description or why they would even want it   (I feel I have failed if I appear on any of the wedding shots when shooting as a team – I want to be invisible!).

So, just to reiterate….decide how much of a role you want your other suppliers to take.  If you have no problem with them appearing on your shots then just go with the flow and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the shots you may have hoped for (Actually it may be that they are such a part of your day that you want shots of them anyhow).

But if you want to avoid this situation and get the pictures you want and that look nicest  – overcome your embarrassment and tell your drivers/florists/cakemaker etc that you want them to keep a low profile!

Hope I haven’t offended anyone here but sometimes you’ve just got to tell it how it is.   My customers don’t see the things that I do until they’re looking at their photos and by then its too late to do anything about it.  Only then do they realise why I risk life and limb by making posts like this!

Article in The Times #2

Another cracking article in The Times On Saturday ‘Vicars to treat wedding guests as their dearly beloved’  (page 24).  The basic message of the piece is that The Church of England are telling its ministers to have a more welcoming and friendly attitude to wedding guests. 

Does this also extend to wedding photographers?

I have recently been at two ceremonies where the ministers, albeit very pleasant, made it abundantly clear that photography was not on their agenda.  The reason given was that it would distract the couple and their guests from the purpose of the occasion.  But the couples involved had booked a photographer, me, specifically to record the occasion.  Photography may not have been on their minister’s agenda – but it was very much on their’s.  After all, they had paid a professional to be there. 

Now I am a church-goer myself – not quite so much recently – but certainly in the past few years when the children were small I have attended church ……er…. religiously.  I did this because I believe in a great many of the values that go hand in hand with religion and I wanted those values to be reinforced, by someone other than me, in my children.   Alongside that, the fact is that there is a good grounding in geography, politics and history to be had too.  Not bothered about which particular brand – I was more interested in how welcoming a particular church was. In these times, when a large percentage of the population don’t see any point in making it legal, it occurs to me that a little positive marketing might be the thing required to promote marriage as A Good Thing.  And crucial in most marketing campaigns is good imagery. 

So why are the clergy, particularly CofE, so ANTI wedding photographers?  And photographing from the front of the church?  I know that you might have had some idiot photographers using flash at inappropriate moments, or moving around during the ceremony instead of staying put (we don’t do that!) but surely, with a few ground rules in place, this can be sorted out?  One of my favourite churches is All Hallows in Bispham where they issue the bride and groom with paperwork to be passed on to the photographer, stating the church’s wishes.   In return, provided you are a professional photographer, you can more or less photograph anything.  Catholic churches seem to be pretty easy-going whereas Scientology churches are particularly twitchy when it comes to photography.  Asian ceremonies are chaotic, with the official photographer being only one of a multitude of people clicking away!  I don’t really understand why some ceremonies are different to others – presumably they all believe in promoting marriage?

Those moments when the vows are being said, when the emotion of the moment results in a little tear shed, when there is humour as it gets to the bit about  ‘if anyone here present….’  well, those are the bits that really sell the idea of getting married!   If you don’t allow photography, and I’m talking about from the front of the church rather than from the back, you won’t get any of those special moments recorded.

So why haven’t some ministers/vicars/reverends caught onto this yet?   If you use fabulous imagery you’ll sell the idea of marriage in a church to someone who might have gone down a different path!  Then they are on your database for life!  And you can encourage them to stay within the church for christenings, Mums and Toddlers, funerals …. and blimey, they might even start attending your Sunday services too!

I’d also like to put in a particular mention for two local churches who have ‘letting’ ministers (and who also do a very good sermon too!)  – St. Cuthbert’s in Lytham with Andrew Clitherow and The White Church in Fairhaven with David Phillips.  Two lovely vicars – two very popular churches.  With good reason.

PS. ‘Letting’ ministers?  When our youngest was little (or more little than he is now) he used to call us ‘unletting’ parents.  It’s stuck!

A Recommendation is a Lovely Thing!

We photographed Sarah and Curtis’s wedding last Friday at St. Cuthbert’s, Lytham followed by afternoon tea at Victory Hall next door.  Then afterwards, everyone piled into a  big coach and headed over to The Stirk House Hotel beyond Clitheroe for a wonderful dinner. 

We don’t often get invited to stay for dinner but this time we did – the Caddy family are so hospitable and caring.  And they run Stirk House which bodes well for visitors, doesn’t it?

Anyhow, the utterly adorable Annie Caddy telephoned me on Sunday and popped over with a table arrangement which she had ear-marked for me and a lovely thankyou card.  Here are some pictures – the fabulous arrangement is by Margaret Mason.   Hope you don’t mind Annie, but I’ve put a picture of your words here because they were so sweet. 

And if you’ve looked at previous weddings on here you’ll know just how much I love spring flowers – tulips and daffodils and grape hyacinths.  And best of all Lily of The Valley – such a beautiful smell.  And I love white flowers too!  And many of the flowers from my own white wedding bouquet all those years ago were in Sarah’s own arrangements.

The food was amazing too – the best, repeat The Best, chocolate tart I have ever tasted.  Sublime! 

Thankyou to the Caddys and The Robbs and The Kays – what a fantastic family you are!