I’m privileged to know a special guy who is a very creative and professional wedding photographer, so I thought I would have a chat to him to find out about what the work involves.
Steve, how long is a wedding day for the photographer and do you get well fed?
It tends to begin at about 9am and we stay until after the first dance. Food – ha no, once when someone ordered some sandwiches, but we sneak off with a packed lunch when the party eat. It can be a long day! The problem is that venues would charge as a wedding guest if they provided food for us, and that’s an extra burden for the couple.
How frustrating, I bet the food they have is amazing sometimes. What is it like working with the families?
Difficult because we have to find the right balance, we need to remain in authority without stepping on toes. Cheekiness can sometimes get results but they don’t usually listen, so occasionally you just have to shout.
It’s become a tradition for female photographers to be there while the bride gets ready and I know you have recently spent time with a groom and groomsmen before they left for the ceremony. I imagine that was fun?
It was strange, when it’s the girls it’s very special but with guys . . . well there’s nothing to prepare, they just get dressed, maybe fiddle with a tie and buttonhole but that’s it. First they sat around all morning watching footie on television, having a drink and winding each other up. They tend to be quite chilled in church but some panic and it’s my job to try to reassure them, I’m the only point of contact as everyone else is sitting down. Ideally we get some informal shots.
How do you cope when the bride is . . . shall we say . . . no oil painting? Are there ways to make her look good?
Hahaha, yes there are lots of techniques! Shoot from above if they are short – I’m tall! Never use direct flash, bounce it from the ceiling. Make the background really bright, overexposing reduces shadows and makes them look thinner. A shallow depth of field for close up portraits, ring flash will softens feature and. with the larger brides; say with back boobs, you have to look for the best angles. Never shoot profiles of a large nose; they won’t thank you for it.
Have you witnessed any arguments, the wedding fight?
Only families getting tetchy really, but that’s why I leave after the first dance – before they get drunk.
Have you had any really bad venues?
Yes, the back room of a pub decorated like a night club, with neon cocktail bar signs, led lights and lasers shining around a pitch black room. About 30 people, mainly grandparent’s age, and very, very loud club music. It was pretty difficult to get decent photos. Another time there was a hotel with threadbare carpets, buckets in the toilets where the roof leaked, really scabby inside, but nice outside.
Goodness that sounds like a nightmare, Church or civil ceremony, which is best?
Civil ceremonies are easier. Churches have better results but vicars can be difficult saying only one photo inside for instance. Civil ceremonies are good for close up shots, little details like the rings.
What has been your best ever venue?
Wickham church, followed by the Marriott in Meon valley, a stunning hotel and a perfect day.
Any really unusual places?
HMS Warrior, a Victorian battleship in Portsmouth harbour, it was Great Britain’s first iron clad warship. It was small, intimate, lovely.
Steve, do you ever get emotional at weddings?
Nah, apart from annoyance and that has to be hidden!
That must be tough, have you had any major disasters?
My camera stopped working once but I work with my sister and she had a spare.
Anything funny you can remember?
Loads of things yes. On one occasion the groom’s belt needed an extra hole, so his mum tried a skewer, which didn’t work. So then dad decided to use his electric drill – while the groom was wearing the belt!
Thanks Steve, it all sounds fascinating and fun but I don’t think I would have the patience even if the pay is good.
Ah but, what people don’t realise when they are planning the big day, is just how much work we have to do behind the scenes. Correspondence, checking the venue in advance when possible and lots of photo editing afterwards to create their dream albums.