Today I wanted to talk about cheap, budget, affordable and free wedding photography. Over 350 people a month search for these terms in Google, not counting those that include their location, and I see many photographers on facebook offering budget prices, so it’s out there.
It’s time for a little honesty.

If you’re looking at this article, it may be that you’re considering booking a photographer at the budget end of the market. I don’t want to put you off this, especially if the budget is all you can afford, but I did want to dispel some myths around what you will and won’t receive.

How much is cheap? How much is budget?

The average amount of money a couple spends on photography is around £1000-£1200. So, what amount of money should be defined as “cheap” or “budget”, when looking at wedding photography?

If we could go back in time we’d have spent more money on a more experienced photographer

Average prices can be quite different depending on where you are in the UK, but as an average across England, photographers offering a full day of wedding photography for less than £750 would be “budget” photographers and less than £500 would be “cheap”.

These prices might reduce to half that in some areas UK and double in others.

Free is obviously no money at all (so we can’t disagree on that) but “affordable” is usually just a more dressed up word for “cheap”.

So now we know what we’re all talking about.

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What might go wrong then?

In my experience, I’d say the experience from free, cheap and budget photographer is more likely to suffer from some or all of these problems:

  • Poor quality photography; I’ve seen photographs that are out of focus, severely cropped in, extremely dark or bright, consisting of incorrect colours, badly straightened, lit ineffectively and generally not very well thought out. At best they might be quite uninteresting and not really capture any of the feel of your day. I’ll talk about this a bit more below since it’s the key point.
  • Poor quality albums; There are some very cheap album manufacturers on the market. The print quality is usually OK-ish, but the album can be put together poorly and may break apart or become dog-eared quite quickly. The design might also be old fashioned and dull.
  • Poor customer service; Photographers may not listen to your desires, answer your emails or, in extreme cases, might even miss your booking from their calendar or not turn up. I’ve seen all of these cases.
  • Disinterested photographers; Your photographer might really just be in it for the money and do the very least they can get away with in order to deliver what’s been paid for.
  • Not a real business; Your photographer may not be paying tax (which you might not care about) but they also might not be insured, not have backup equipment, not be taking backup copies of the photographs and so on.

You might be lucky though, but you might not … so this is my key point:

As price increases, overall risk of a poor experience and poor photography decreases

That doesn’t mean that a cheap photographer can’t produce some better work than a more expensive photographer, but on the whole you get what you pay for. More on this later.

Tell me more about photography quality?

I mentioned I would discuss possibly issues with photography quality in a little more detail since you may be willing to accept the other elements of an offering, like poor customer service, as long as the photos are OK.

I’d like to start with a discussion I had with a groom a few years back. He contacted me about fixing photographs taken by his wedding photographer which they were not happy with.

I’ll not include his name, but the words are directly copied from my email communication with him.

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I’d like to highlight a very important parts of this exchange:

  • The couple themselves realised the photography wasn’t up to standard. Considering they are not photographers, the photos were bad enough that anyone would spot the problems.
  • Having a look through some of them, I could see that the photographer didn’t have even a basic command of their camera. Focus was completely off in some photos and the brightness (exposure) was significantly off too. I corrected them as much as I could, but once the shutter is pressed, there’s only so much you can do to improve the quality. If the focus is off, it will always be off. If the shot is too bright, you can’t darken it much. If the shot if too dark, brightening it will introduce grain. I would say that, of the 100, only maybe 20 were “acceptable”.
  • The groom highlighted they wished they had spent more money on a more exprienced photographer.

On this particular wedding, there were also two photographers and they were using completely different cameras with different amounts of flash. This created a completely different look to the photos and colours were nearly impossible to match.

A few good photos on a website isn’t enough to determine the quality of a photographer because everyone gets lucky occasionally and you can build a portfolio out of those lucky shots

The groom was clearly sad that the photographers hadn’t managed to produce much which was usable from their wedding day and I was seriously concerned that I might not be able to do much, but I did what I could and gave them some extra work for free since I felt sad for them.

Poor quality post production

However, there are two parts to photography; taking the photo, and post production. It may be though that the photography isn’t too bad, but there is little or no work done on the photographs after. Professional photographers in the £1000+ a day bracket will usually spent 1 to 3 days finishing the photographs to ensure they are all they can be. I spend more time than anyone else I know because I realise the tiny details can really make a photograph.

“Shoot & Burn” photographers capture your wedding, get home, put them all on a disk and send them off. You are then left to choose the more flattering ones without blinks and literally no work is done to improve the photos. It’s not a great service.

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It starts with incorrect assumptions

People believe they know more about photography and the photography market than they really do and they don’t see how this allows cheaper photographers to thrive.

Here are the most common assumptions.

The market must be regulated?

People believe that anyone who says they are a professional photographer can in fact do their job, but there is no regulation in this industry so anyone can say they are a professional.

“You must have a good camera as your photos are fantastic”

This is like saying “You must have a good set of knives and pans as that meal was amazing”.

The general public is convinced that a good camera makes a good photographer. This is totally incorrect. Good quality wedding photographers could produce fantastic work on a camera phone (although they might not print that large before showing artifacts). Just believe me on this.

I can judge quality from their website

A few good photos on a website isn’t enough to determine the quality of a photographer because everyone gets lucky occasionally and you can build a portfolio out of those lucky shots and I know some photographers do.

“You get what you pay for” is an incorrect statement

We’d all like to think that “you get what you pay for” isn’t really the case when we don’t want to spend on something, but on average it is true. More expensive hotels are nicer. More expensive TV’s produce a better picture. More expensive cars are more luxurious, faster and safer. The examples are everywhere.

However, as humans we convince ourselves that people charging more are not more effective. Instinctively we know it’s true, but try to convince ourselves “it’ll be OK” because, at heart, most of us are optimists about our lives.

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So what to do then?

Well, firstly, I would strongly advise against going cheaper than you need to with your wedding photography. Typically, 10-20% of your budget should be for photography and ideally I wouldn’t go with less than £500 for the day. It’s at that price level I hear the most stories about.

If you can’t increase your budget, you can still choose how to spend it…

So, another option is to find a more experienced photographer who will cover a smaller part of your day since at least your ceremony and reception will be correctly captured.

… but most important is making sure you check your photographer out properly.

How to check your photographer

I’ve already mentioned that a website (or facebook page) with a few photos on is not an indicator of quality or consistency. So what do you need to be asking?

  • Your photographer should have Professional Indemnity and Personal Liability insurance.
  • Your photographer should have a full set of backup equipment – camera, lenses and flash guns.
  • Your photographer should backup the photos to other drives or computers when they’re at home. Ideally they’ll have two card in their camera at a wedding too, to backup while they’re photographing.
  • Ask how long the photographer been in business for themselves, not as assistants. After 2-3 years, they likely have enough experience to avoid the common errors.
  • Ask to see several full weddings. “Full” should be defined as “at least 100 photographs from each wedding which shows all sections of the day”. I’d also ensure you see them printed or zoomed on a large monitor so you can check for grain and accuracy of focus (that the photos are sharp on the subject).
  • Throughout a meeting, your photographer should be talking about other weddings they’ve done and experienced.
  • Do your own research on the company on Google and look through as many weddings as possible on their facebook or website.
  • Ensure you have a valid address (home or business) and active phone number, ideally a land line.
  • I would also see at least 3 photographers. One should be above your budget, so you can see what quality could be like if you spent more or took a smaller part of the day.

Most importantly, if something feels wrong, don’t book.

However, it’s very hard to check out someones work and business if you’re not in the industry and know what to check for. If you have a friend who is a photographer, ask them what they think maybe?

Before you go, read my in depth article about wedding photography prices.

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FAQ

Isn’t every photographer cheap at some point?

Yes. It’s a good observation. Pretty much everyone starts cheap and works their way up. However, most truly professional wedding photographers tend to assist while they are learning so they start at a certain level of market, where they know they’re capable of producing results.

What’s the risk of an issue with our cheaper photographer?

It’s impossible to say without me literally assessing them for you. However, the more you spend, the lower the overall risk.

I’m not that bothered about photography so why should I care?

A good question. I can’t promise you it’ll matter to you in time; only you know that. However, please be honest with yourself and whether you’d be disappointed if you didn’t get what you expect.

What’s the worst that can happen, realistically?

You literally could receive no usable photographs. That is unlikely, but it’s been known to happen.

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  1. Rob Dodsworth robdodsworth.co.uk
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    Great post Phil. I was asked to “fix” some photos last year. Even if I had permission from that photographer to edit his work, I couldn’t have improved them much. They were soft, underexposed and extremely noisy. I really felt for the couple. There’s some really sound advice here for the Bride and Groom to be!

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There is some confusion in the wedding photography market that unobtrusive wedding photography is a photographer who stands in the corner trying not to be seen and that somehow that will produce results which are ideal.

Sorry… but that’s just creepy! It makes everyone around the photographer uncomfortable! If you’re a photographer doing this, stop it now!

So what does unobtrusive photography really mean then? Well, it really means not to get in the way of the day – not to be stopping it every five minutes while you carefully craft a pose which is just too perfect – ie. it looks unnatural.

How to be unobtrusive at a wedding?

So how can you be unobtrusive and still get natural and fun results? Well, you get involved as much as you possibly can! You talk to the guests, make them realise you’re a normal person and you’re fun too.

In essence, you be a guest, but a guest who happens to take a lot of very very good photographs!

Everyone then stops seeing you as a scary photographer who will take photos that they hate. Instead they’ll be totally natural, showing their real personality rather than wearing a “wedding smile” all day. You want to remember your friends and family how they really are.

Unobtrusive wedding photography examples

Here are a couple of examples from a recent wedding. All of the guests trusted me and were enjoying my company and so were totally relaxed around me.

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SEE MORE

 

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wedding-photography-prices
One of the most confusing aspects of the wedding industry is that prices seem to be all over the place.
But why?

Jump to a section

Price averages

You can spend anything from pretty much zero to £10,000 for a UK wedding photographer – and if you look worldwide you can pay even more! You’ve probably seen some of this already with ads promising high quality coverage both for £395, £995, £1495, £1995 and £2995. Why pay £2995? Or is £395 enough for everyone?

Why do I charge £1695 for the day? Why should you pay the extra over a photographer who charges £1000 or £1500? What more will I deliver compared with the other photographers?

Let’s start with an average though. The accepted norm in the UK wedding industry is to spend 10-15% of your wedding budget on your wedding photographer, or 20% if the quality of your memories are particularly important to you.

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That makes the average spend around the £1200 mark, but that amount is obviously location dependent.

CHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY

What are the typical price brackets?

Let’s ignore albums for a minute and just talk about prices for photography and a disk/USB (I know not all photographers sell the files… but let’s assume they do for the minute).

It seems that anyone “with a good camera” is seen as a potential wedding photographer.

What you will find is that photography mirrors the food industry: for both £2 and £500 you can buy a thing called “a meal”; they are both food, but they are incredibly different. The £2 meal will contain sustenance that your body needs (along with some it doesn’t..), while the £500 meal will be a work of art. The £500 chef knows about aspects of cooking that the £2 cook doesn’t even know exist.

The same is true of wedding photographers. The typical price brackets for a full day of photography are as follows..

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As mentioned, wedding photography prices are also affected by location – you will pay more in London than in a quiet village in Wales, for example.

Why pay more for your photographer?

It’s very human to assume that other peoples jobs don’t require much experience and photography is no exception; it seems that anyone “with a good camera” is seen as a potential wedding photographer.

On the whole, throughout every industry worldwide, you do get what you pay for. Cars, houses, food, holidays and so on all follow the same rule.

 

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The truth is that someone who takes some nice photos of ducks or landscapes or even people is as capable of photographing a wedding as I am at cooking a meal worth £500! Wedding photography requires a very specialised set of skills – people, organisational and photography skills – which are developed over years.

So .. pay more to reduce risk! As you pay more, generally, you reduce the risk of disappointment. It isn’t a 100% correlation, but most of the time it’s true.

  • A free photographer may experience basic problems and you might not receive usable photos.
  • A cheap photographer for £500 will probably produce poor results at some points.
  • A professional photographer for £1000 will likely produce acceptable results in most circumstances.
  • An experienced photographer for £1500 will probably produce a consistent set of photographs with a style.
  • A luxury wedding photographer for £3000 should produce amazing results, no matter.

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Of course, the “for free” photographer may have everything in their favour one day and produce amazing results while the luxury wedding photographer might have an off day and mess up … The chances of these happening are low though. That’s why it’s about risk and not certainty.

Couples usually have little or no experience of professional photography on which to make an assessment about value for money.

Do you really get what you pay for then?

On the whole, throughout every industry worldwide, you do get what you pay for. Cars, houses, food, holidays and so on all follow the same rule. Photography is definitely no exception, but it is unique in that couples usually have little or no experience of professional photography on which to make an assessment about value for money.

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Just like with chefs, photographers have a limit to their natural talent too. Photographers who are more effective will generally float to the top end of the industry because their love for their art will push them to produce more and more of the beautiful work that they get a buzz from.

Bargains can definitely be found, especially if you’re willing to be less exact with your requirements, but photographers who are more expensive will tend to provide a better service and more stunning photographs than a photographer who charges less.

Here are some of the differences that you can expect from a more expensive photographer:

 

  • Generally, be a more competent photographer. This is the most obvious difference. In theory at least, every photograph I produce will be more effective than a cheaper photographers.
  • Use more expensive equipment, such as the highest quality lenses (which can cost up to £2000 each!), cameras and lighting. These do make a difference.
  • Spend more time and be more competent in the post production of photographs, which is where photos can really shine. They could also have a higher quality screen and a colour accuracy tool.
  • Spend more time listening to the couples needs and giving advice.
  • Have more effective admin and business systems.
  • Deliver your wedding using higher quality products.

If a photographer is charging less, it’s very likely that some or all of these elements will be missing.

What matters, and what doesn’t?

In articles, I see much of the advice which is touted tends to lead you to that own photographers business or written by online magazines who don’t really understand wedding photography. This can lead to a confused view of what is important.

So what really matters and why?

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What matters

  • Backup equipment; should something go wrong, your photographer will need backup lenses, camera bodies, flashes, batteries and memory cards in order to continue.
  • Insurance; should something go very wrong, you need the ability to sue your photographer
  • Backup of wedding photos; IT equipment fails at times, so having a camera which backs up the wedding on the day and making sure they have multiple backups at their house is essential. Barely a week goes by without someone on a facebook group saying they’ve lost photos.
  • Passion; people who are passionate about a subject, rather than intent on selling you on something, will tend to do a better job for you.
  • Relaxed and calm persona; wedding photography is a tough business and with so much going on during the day, having a photographer who is confident and relaxed
  • Attention to detail; the most effective photographs are often the ones with the fewest distractions, so a photographer who is detailed oriented will tend to produce photographs which are superior.
  • The style they show; some photographers, in order to gain business, will promise they can replicate someone elses style. In my 10+ years in photography I’ve never found a situation where this is true. Only ever book someone based on the style they show.
  • Ensure they will be the photographer; some photography companies will send other photographers on the day, so ensure you know exactly who you will have on the day

What doesn’t matter

  • If they are a full time photographer; if they’re not, you just need to check they aren’t doing too many weddings which might cause you to be waiting 6 months for the photos, but some of the best photographers I know are part time. The positive that’s never talked about is some of these people do it simply because they love it.
  • Have you worked at X venue; experienced photographers are used to working at different venues and it’s simply not important for them to “know what the lighting is like” at a particular venue, or similar.

What might matter

  • The equipment they use; equipment does matter, but as a non-photographer it’s almost impossible to judge what is right and wrong, so just make sure you’ve chosen someone whose work you like and ensure you’ve seen some large album prints of indoor venues (such as dark churches) to make sure there isn’t too much grain – this might be an indicator of cheap equipment.
  • How long they’ve been photographing weddings; as time goes by, you do learn more. Newer photographers really don’t like this, but it’s simply the truth. The reason this is in the “might” section though is there are some talented photographers who have worked in other fields for year. Typically, I’d choose someone who has been doing weddings for at least 3 years though.
  • Having a second photographer; customers tend to look at second photographers as a bonus – more for less money. However, it’s typical that one photographer will be the more experienced. You will therefore have some photos taken by someone whose work you might not like as much. Unless you particularly need coverage of two locations at the same time, this is a red herring.

How can I find a cheap wedding photographer?

If your wedding photography is in the £1000+ budget, you shouldn’t have too many concerns as long as you see plenty of work and like their style and personality.

However, what do you do if you’re limited to less than £1000?

Top tip: You should seriously consider choosing a more expensive photographer but just booking them for a smaller portion of the day, if they offer that.

Well, you can definitely ask a more expensive photographer if they will do fewer hours at your wedding. Some photographers will do as little as 2 or 3 hours, which could be enough for the ceremony and some photos in a local park, for example.

It would certainly be preferable to have a smaller coverage of the day with good photographs compared with photographs which have serious errors. (And yes, it happens – I’ve been asked to try to correct the files!)

Secondly, you need to do your homework and that means visiting your preferred photographers. There are two things that every photographer should have and they are professional (PI & PL) insurance and backup equipment (camera body, lenses and flash). I would also want my photographer to backup my photos to at least one other hard disk too.

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It’s also important to check the quality of their photography equipment so I’d want to see some printed photos at least A4 size in dark locations, like inside churches. Sometimes newer photographers don’t even know that their equipment isn’t capable of producing acceptable results.

Past that, choose someone who seems honest, dependable … and fun!

If you want to know more about what the risks might be, read my article on cheap wedding photography.

What are the prices of wedding albums?

Albums, like photographers, are available at different price points for good reason.

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Queensberry, who I use, are the “rolls royce” of the wedding album industry. You can expect a Queensberry album to be at the very minimum £400-£500, with most reasonably sized albums costing £700 or more. A cheaper GraphiStudio or Folio album might be a few hundred pounds less, like for like.

There are also album manufacturers who are cheaper still.

As with wedding photography, the price reflects the quality and it is possible, with a cheaper product, the album won’t stand the test of time quite so well.

To finish…

I hope this article has lifted the lid off the confusing wedding photography pricing system, as well as given you something to work from. Whoever you choose, do your research and compare them with others of similar quality.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!

Good luck with your search and I hope you have a fantastic wedding day!


Quick Questions & Answers

What is the average cost of wedding photography?

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Around £1000-£1500 for a full day, without an album. Many spend more though, and many spend less.

How should I price wedding photography?

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Typically, spend between 10-15% of your wedding budget on wedding photography, or 20% if photography is particularly important to you.

Why does wedding photography cost so much?

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It’s hard to explain in just a few lines, but the costs of equipment are huge (over ten thousand pounds worth of kit is in most photographers bags) and quality training is expensive too. We also have to pay for sample albums, websites, advertising, credit card systems, customer management systems and so on.

Most of all though, wedding photographers spend between 20 and 50 hours on an single wedding in conversations with couples, the photography itself, post production and sending out the final files.

A magazine or blog said I shouldn’t pay more than “£750” for photography. Is that right?

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Well, it’s up to you. However, magazines and blogs are produced by journalists who don’t really know about photography. It would be like me saying “you shouldn’t pay more than £1.50 for a wedding magazine” when in reality I don’t know anything at all about what quality of magazine that will get me. £750 really is the minimum I would ideally pay for a full day photography, not the maximum.

Are wedding photographers rich if they get paid so much for a days work?

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Sadly not… It’s not a single days work to finish a wedding – it usually takes 3 to 5 days total.

Should I negotiate with my preferred wedding photographer?

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If your preferred photographer is more expensive, it’s likely for good reason – and I bet you’re not the only one to prefer them. Some photographers may negotiate but photographers who are in demand generally won’t do. In reality, you’re likely to have to decide to pay their rate, or choose someone else.

Why are some wedding photographers more expensive?

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More expensive photographers are like more expensive meals – more consistent, higher quality, more artistic, more skilled, produced with better equipment and delivered on better materials. They are likely to notice details that a cheaper photographer wouldn’t even consider, so in theory every photograph should be a bit better.

Should I care about the quality of my wedding photography?

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Well, I can’t answer that for you, but rather than assuming a cheaper photographer can do the job, think about how you would feel is you didn’t receive the quality you would like. That may give you an answer to your question.

Should I get my friend to photograph my wedding?

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The answer is almost always “no”, unless you have no choice. Firstly, if your friend is not a wedding photographer, the fact that they have a nice camera and take some nice photos is virtually meaningless. Just the speed of a wedding is enough to trip up very experienced photographers. They will likely be confused about what’s coming next and you will likely miss sections of the day.

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  1. Rob
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    Great post, bet that took a little time 🙂 – but IMO 2 camera man shoots (an assistant) in my view are vital – holding off camera flash, detailing, and getting another angle – you can’t be in 2 places at once!

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Winter weddings demystified!

In the deep of winter in the UK the night time settles in pretty early – usually around 4pm by December time. So, if you’re planning a winter wedding, what do you need to be aware of in order to get the best from your day and what ideas might help you along the way?

If you’re planning your own winter wedding, get in touch to discuss how I can help with your photography or to ask any questions about your day. I cover wedding throughout the UK and worldwide. I have covered many winter weddings and am very experienced at using lighting to the best effect.

CHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY

Q: Why have a winter wedding?

If winter weddings are more difficult to organise because of lack of daylight, why have a wedding at winter? Well, the top reasons I’ve heard are:

  • We love a honeymoon destinations which has the best weather during the UK winter (such as the Caribbean, the Maldives or Thailand).
  • We love winter! The snow, the crisp, fresh morning and the Christmas feel.
  • Our preferred venue is already booked during the summer.
  • Our venue will be cheaper at Christmas.

So, you’ve decided you’re going to get married in winter. What extra preparations do you need to take?

1. What time for your winter wedding?

Since it’s likely to be dark by 4-5pm, you need to allow enough time for everything to happen. Too often couples get married around 2pm at a church and then have to travel to a venue and there’s no light left to take advantage of it.

Photography is obviously closest to my heart, so you should choose a photographer who can take well lit shots of the two of you indoors… and outdoors.

If you are getting married at the venue, I’d get married no later than 1.30. If you are getting married at a church and moving on, I’d get married no later than 1, or earlier if it takes a long time to travel to the venue.

Your photographer will usually need around an hour and a half minimum before you sit down at the venue to take all of the photographs necessary. If you are travelling, remember that everyone does not drive at the same speed and wedding cars often travel significantly slower.

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If you are going to get married after sunset and your venue will be dark, make sure your photographer can show a wedding where they have covered this before, especially if they will be at the back of the ceremony room. Re-lighting an entire ceremony room is not for the inexperienced!

2. Which winter wedding venue?

In the winter the weather is not usually much worse than the British summertime, although it will be colder. However, you are more likely to have snow, rain, sleet or even fog. Selecting the right wedding venue for your winter wedding will be essential.

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Your guests won’t want to be outside for long periods, so make sure the indoors will be an effective space. If you have very poor weather, it might be necessary to take photographs indoors, so consider where a shot of everyone will be taken and where your couple photos will work.

Also, if the weather is very snowy, how easy will your guests find it to attend the various locations during the day? Think about the roads they will have to travel on.

Finally, you need to make sure the wedding looks right. There’s little point in choosing bright colour which will not fit with the Christmas decorations at the venue. Dark colours tend to work best.

If you are to be married just before Christmas, you will often find that your venue will have decorated the venue for you which will save you money and give you a theme to begin with.

Make sure you speak to them about the decorations they will be using to ensure that you don’t clash.

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3. Which winter wedding dress and outfit?

If you’re getting married in late November through to early February you can guarantee it’ll be cold – it may even not make it past zero degrees! That means you and your bidesmaids will need to consider how warm you’ll be outdoors for long periods when you’re thanking guests outside the church maybe, or when photographs are being taken.

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Your winter wedding dress should have a shawl which you can add when necessary. Also consider your wedding shoes carefully because it may be slippy or wet underfoot. Or cheat and bring some boots to wear under your dress! Just make sure your dress will reach the floor…

4. What about winter wedding photography?

Photography is obviously closest to my heart. You should choose a photographer who can take well lit shots of the two of you indoors, outdoors and be able to take well lit group photographs indoors of groups, in case the weather isn’t suitable for outdoor photography, or there isn’t enough light during the day.

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This will be essential. You should make sure they are capable of using “off camera flash” which will produce the best results.

5. Where to go for a winter honeymoon?

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You’re lucky. Many of the most beautiful places in the world have the best weather during the UK winter. For your winter honeymoon, consider places like Mexico and the Caribbean, Mauritus, The Maldives and Africa, Zanzibar, Vietnam and Thailand, all of which are incredible at this time of year.

If you want to go further, take a look at Australia, New Zealand and South America too.

Finally…  get in touch to discuss how I can help with your photography. I am based in the North West of England but cover weddings worldwide.

CHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Reportage (or candid or documentary or photojournalistic) wedding photography is a branch of photography where the photographer captures a story in a single image or set of photographs. It has roots in editorial news photography and has been popular in weddings since the 70’s. The reason for the attraction in couples is that, done well, the photographer can capture the most meaningful moments in a persons life and the personalities of everyone around them.

Key skills in documentary wedding photography

A photographer using reportage usually has unique skills – most notably an ability to be unobtrusive without being particularly noticed, even when close to the people being photographed. Regularly the couples I work for say they hardly noticed me through parts of the day. Truly great reportage wedding photography is about story telling. Stories can be captured in a single image or across a set of photographs. Generally, it’s very important that the moment is just right – half a second later or earlier and the story can be gone.

Beautiful, fun reportage photography in weddings

Weddings present an extra challenge to reportage photographers: wedding photographs still have to be beautiful and the people have to look their best. In order to achieve this, the photographer must be very careful about where they stand to find the best light and how much of the background they include. However, reportage is about real stories and honest personality, so photographers have the ability to be witty and capture moments which would not sit well in a traditional wedding photography setting. This gives each wedding something unique and fresh; “Who are these wedding guests and how can I capture that?” is something I find myself asking at every wedding.

A few reportage samples

Take a look through some of my documentary photography. If you are interested in this style, please get in touch. asian-weddingasian-wedding-photography-reportage-style reportage-photographs emotion-wedding-photography-reportagebeautiful-wedding-moments personality-at-weddings reportage-photography-wedding-speeches fun-documentary-wedding-photography mirror-based-photojournalistic-wedding-photoreportage-dancing-at-wedding documentary-wedding-photography reportage-wedding-photography photojournalistic-wedding-photos brides-mother-documentary-wedding-photos

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  1. Neil Bowler neilbowler.com
    Reply

    Great post Phil and very informative.

    Love your mono conversion’s too.

  2. Gary Derbridge gdphotographer.co.uk
    Reply

    Very interesting post Phil!

  3. Reply

    reportage wedding photography when done well is an amazing way to document a wedding day. The real moments and emotions of the day captured.

  4. Reply

    I agree with Steven, for me good reportage wedding photography should tell the story of the day from bridal preparations to dancing, ideally showing no awareness of the camera.

  5. phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk
    Reply

    Then I think we all agree 🙂

  6. Rob Bird Photography rbportfolio.co.uk
    Reply

    Very well described and good use of imagery to explain. I may share with a few clients if you don’t mind!

    • phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

      Thank you 🙂 Of course. As long as you point them to this article that would be fine 🙂

  7. Nasser Gazi nassergazi.com
    Reply

    Very well-written. Thanks for posting. I can see you writing a book on the subject 🙂

  8. Reply

    Some great images, the best thing about some of these is the angles they were taken at. A good mix of emotions captured, keep up the good work 🙂

  9. Reply

    Some great images, the best thing about some of these is the angles they were taken at. A good mix of emotions captured, keep up the good work 🙂

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The typical stereotype of a warm summer wedding from 50 years ago is how many people envision their wedding day. However, does the evidence support this? Or are we avoiding times of the year which might suit a wedding better?

The weather in the UK is changeable at best. We all know this. However, there are clear trends and the years don’t change that much for each other, even though it sometimes feels like it!

Day to day you can’t guarantee the weather, but what do the weather trends show and how might that affect when you choose to get married? If you long for a warm sunny Thailand in November for honeymoon, does that mean a late October wedding is a bad idea? Should you have the wedding in August and then wait? Or is August more likely to rain than the rest of the year? And what about prices for venue hire – they definitely do change throughout the year!

Watch this video for a quick introduction…

It’s important to realise that throughout the year there are pros and cons. If you want snow or an outdoor lit photograph with the venue in the background, it’s not going to happen over the summer. Conversely, if you want to party hard into the night in a marquee with the sides up with the warm air flowing in, that won’t happen in the winter.

The autumn months, such as September and October) are particularly interesting to many couples these days since the flowers will still be out and it will be warm without being roasting, but the venue might charge you a little less than in August.

So.. onto the details of each of the key elements of weather; temperature, number of hours of sunshine and … the dreaded rainfall!

All data is taken as averages from 1971 to 2000.

uk-temperature

Temperature

These are the maximum temperatures of every month in the UK. Looks at how significant the change is from winter to summer – not that we need any reminding of this.

As you would expect, May to September are warm, with April and October being nice too. Even November and March are often pleasant.

If you are considering a wedding in December, January or February you may have to consider how cold yourselves and your guests might be, especially elderly relatives, so take that into account with your wedding venue choice and clothing choices. I’ve had brides on snowy days take a pair of walking boots, which can really make it easier to move from place to place when doing couple photographs.

Your photographer should be able to cope with any temperature and will hopefully not keep you outdoors for too long if it’s too hot or too cold!

hours-of-sunshine

Sunshine

These are the number of hours of sunshine of every month in the UK, which correlates with the amount of hours of light per day too.

Again, there are no surprises. March through to October have over 100 hours, with July and May topping the list. If you are having your wedding between November and February, you should expect short days – it can easily be pretty much dark by 4pm in the dead of winter.

With a winter wedding, you should ideally not have your wedding too late in the day – marriage at lunchtime is ideal.

A professional photographer will deal with any situation you throw at them, but if you have something specific in mind, do consider the available light as we’re not magicians!

uk-rainfall

Rainfall

These are the number of mm of rainfall and the number of days there was more than 1mm of rainfall for every month in the UK.

This may come as something of a surprise. The number of days with more than 1mm of rain is fairly constant across the year, with the minimum at 9 days and maximum at 13 days.

What this means is that you should always make some plans for rain: where can I take photographs and where can my guests enjoy themselves? Make sure your venue has a great indoor space.

What I’ve learned over 100+ weddings is that it rarely rains all day so you’ll probably be able to go outside for photographs at some point.

Planning a winter wedding?

Take a look at my top tips for a winter wedding!

CHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY

Conclusion

Over the last few years, the summers have been relatively mixed. April, May, September and October have often been better months in terms of rainfall than the classically warm summer months of July and August.

Give that rainfall is equally possible throughout the year, you should prepare for any weather. However, it doesn’t have to spoil your day and you should have a happy smile …. because you just got married!

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It’s one of lifes eternal questions. Riots have broken out in some cities as both sides clash with certainty that they know the only true answer. People have been injured too, with some attending their wedding with broken bones – but they stuck to their guns.

(please note that exaggeration can sometimes be found in journalism and, as such, you may find it difficult to substantiate the previous claim).

So how can you make the right decision for you?

Don’t they just take a couple of pictures?

Let’s look at the issues surrounding the question.

Most people expect “taking a few pictures” to be a fairly simple and non-demanding process, but the truth couldn’t be further from that view. Wedding photography is a tough, stressful and fairly physical job, with plenty of running around, bending or kneeling down and time management to ensure that everything is completed on time and to the quality expected by the client.

In addition, to deal with all of the elements of lighting, composition, movement and pressing the shutter at just the right moment requires a surprising level of constant concentration. That’s to say nothing of keeping the camera as still as possible throughout too.

Hungry photographers make bad workers!

If your wedding photographer is attending your wedding for more than 4-5 hours, the chances are that they will be hungry and tired. Different individuals react differently to hunger. Some will notice a sudden drop in their mood and ability to concentrate. Some will gradually decline. Some will start to shake. Everyone has a reaction of some kind to hunger, and it’s generally not a positive one.

So, hungry photographers are bad.

A Hungry Wedding Photographer

A Hungry Wedding Photographer

Whose responsibility is it then?

Everyone can easily agree that a hungry photographer isn’t a good thing. However, no one has clear responsibility for the issue.

Etiquette and politeness might suggest that the wedding party provide some kind of meal for the photographer, but nothing more than that is available to make a decision from. So, it’s basically down to your own personality and conscience. Do you want to provide for them, or not?

Photographers are very used to not having meals provided for them though – it’s by no means a certainty that the photographer will be fed on your wedding day.

There is another way!

Before making a final decision though, consider whether the photographer must have the same expensive meal as your guests. They may be very happy with a simple pasta meal, or some sandwiches. This could provide you with an option to keep (spiraling!) costs down.

Another option is to ask the venue if they can provide a meal cheaper, or even free, to the photographer, since they are staff for the day. Different catering companies deal with this differently and you might just be surprised.

So what’s the most important thing to do?

Most important is that you discuss it with your chosen photographer. Some require a meal to be provided. If that’s the case, you need to know. If you decide you are or are not providing food for them, they need to know in order to provide for themselves if necessary.

Finally, if I am providing a meal, should I sit my photographer with the wedding party?

Generally speaking, no, it would be better if the photographer could sit apart from your guests. Your key responsibility is to ensure your guests enjoy your day with you.

Wedding photography by phildweddingphotography.co.uk
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