Wedding Receptions | My perspective

I'm starting to like receptions more and more. I find it is when true character and personality comes out, not only from the bride and groom, but their whole 'ensemble' of family and friends! As a documentary photographer, I love capturing these special moments during the reception. I can't wait to show you Steph and Matt's reception from last weekend soon. My base coverage only includes the first little bit of the reception and my higher collections include coverage up to the first dance. As the majority of clients choose to add on hours so I can be there to photograph the speeches and dancing anyway, I am thinking about making it available in all packages. Therefore I will be there for the bridal preparation, until the first few songs of dancing, hopefully when all the guests get up and party on the dance floor. I feel sometimes that it is hypocritical of me to call myself a documentary photographer, and then leave just before the party really gets started!

So starting 1 November 2010, I will be releasing a new pricing structure. If you really really don't need full day coverage for your wedding and the date is relatively soon, we can look at a la carte options. However, after years of developing my style, I feel that this is the right direction for me to take, knowing that I can fully document the majority of your beautiful wedding day.

This is also a plus for destination weddings, where you won't have to worry too much about hourly rates. You can relax and know that I am there for your day.

Therefore there will three collections you can choose from, all of them including a gorgeous flush mount album. The high resolution files are available to purchase in conjunction with any of the collections if you desire. Unfortunately I do not just offer coverage and the high resolution files without any professional product. I don't want your wedding images to end up on a disk in a sock drawer without being printed and ten years down the track, hey presto...you cannot read the files because, I don't know, the computers of the future don't have disk drives, or are unable to read JPEGs...but this is all another blog post lol...

As I have mentioned before, I am not a 'pure' photojournalist but there is a strong emphasis for me on not setting up shots, making portraits look as natural as possible (stay back cheese!), keeping group portraits to a minimum, and photographing what actually happens, without me interfering.

I am not an extrovert and many people have commented that I am rather quiet (although still friendly of course) on a wedding day. This is because I do not want to intrude or to create a situation where people are really aware of the camera. My absolute favourite shots are the ones where I have got my timing absolutely perfect (or I got really lucky! ha) and moments have occurred that you just couldn't set up, no matter how hard you tried.

I do get odd looks from guests at times. I think there is a stereotype of a wedding photographer in people's heads. We are supposed to be bossy and loud and annoying! Well I'm none of those things, although I'm sure that works for some people! Sometimes I even get comments....'Shouldn't you be doing it like this? Why are you shooting into the sun?? Where is your flash??? (in broad daylight)'.  I don't take any of this personally as I know that the clients who hired me want a natural documentary coverage and that is what I focus on.

I was at a wedding recently where the bride and groom had contracted me to leave after the bridal entrance. They wanted to do the cake cutting before I left, so the MC got up and announced that because I had to leave, the cake cutting was going to be brought forward so it could be captured professionally. Nothing wrong with that? Well, it was like a dagger through my heart. Why should they change their schedule of the night to appease me and my leaving time?

I realise that these clients had only paid for me to stay until a certain time and it was not my fault, but it felt awful and it was that moment I realised things needed to change.

There are a few times during the reception where not much happens - food gets served, people eat...I don't photograph people eating. It is not a good look, trust me!! Sometimes I used to get a wee bit bored, or feel like I should be doing something, but in no way did I want to intrude on people eating their entrées. But if I had full coverage, I wouldn't have to worry about having a break when I needed to (how quickly can you go to the bathroom?); I could sit down and look through my shots, download them onto my laptop for safe keeping...oh and have a quick drink and bite to eat.

Then I could be all refreshed ready for speeches and their reactions, candid images of the guests enjoying themselves and mingling, and of course the REAL cake cutting and dancing! Regarding meals, the absolute majority of wedding photographers covering the reception require a meal (as do other vendors of course!). We have been working for a long time by the time mains come around! Please please please ask your venue to feed your photographer during the service of the mains (after the bridal table of course). Most of the time we get fed after all the plates have been cleared...and of course, this is exactly the time we need to start shooting again as speeches usually start happening! If we can eat just after the bridal table, that means we will be finished and raring to go by the time the plates are being cleared. It makes sense but few venues see the logic...

Please note that these ramblings are my own opinion and other photographers work differently to me. Everyone works in their own way...this is just what I have found out about myself and my style.

These following images are from Chris and Leah's wedding in April (fabbo reception at Caversham House):

PS. If I stay late into the reception, I may or may not end up getting some cake ;)