Before we start I want to make something absolutely clear, my advice isn't aimed at getting you to book me, it's a candid and upfront explanation of how I work, what I offer and what enables me to get you the best pictures possible.
It may contravene what you've read elsewhere, but a lot of that information is geared towards 'things you want to hear' rather than things you should hear.
I honestly believe you shouldn't book a photographer who's not exactly right for you, likewise I believe a photographer shouldn't take your money unless they believe you as a couple are right for them. Unless of course both parties (that's you and me) are happy with generic pictures that aren't personal - I don't do generic or impersonal.
So then here's some common questions and some honest answers.
How many pictures do I get?
More pictures equals better value right? Wrong! 700 pictures is great...if they are great pictures. What if 600 of those were distinctly below average, like ones your guests could have taken. More isn't better. Here's the thing though, I'm not saying you won't get lots of pictures, far from it. I am saying it does depend on your day, this is your story, not the story of endless pictures of candles or the backs of peoples heads. You'll get plenty of pictures, all the great ones.
How many hours do you cover?
How many hours is your wedding? I cover them all, yes all of them, as long as there's stuff going on I stay. I think my record is 18 hours in Italy, that was a great party! Oh, and I was there the day before for the pre-party, 12 hours....and then the day after for 16 hours and the closing party the day after that for another 12 hours, 4 days, lots of partying - they were serious party people.
Look, being part of the wedding, telling the story of your wedding - that's what I do. I stay as long as there's stuff to photograph. You won't find a proper documentary wedding photographer who quotes hours - Documentary is the story, the story is over when it's over, you can't limit a story by hours. Your wedding story includes as many hours as it takes to tell that story.
Are two photographers better than one?
Sometimes, yes. Often, no. I know, a lot of photographers state it's better to have two because you get more pictures (see my above point on that), you also apparently get more angles (whatever that means). Here's the thing - if you want a low key approach, then two isn't always better than one, it's potentially twice as intrusive. Look at my weddings, some are photographed with another photographer, most are me, flying solo. Two photographers doesn't always mean more, and more isn't often better. I don't tout two photographers as a better thing, it's a choice, and that choice should be made by your primary photographer in your best interest. Two photographers can be extremely intrusive on your day no matter how low key people say they are. Fear not though, if I do bring along someone else it's for the right reasons, not as a selling point, and it's someone I know works exactly like I do.
where do I cover?
Pretty much anywhere. Most of my weddings are away from home, which is why I limit the number I shoot a year (young family you see). I travel the UK and Europe (yes Ireland that includes you too), I also selectively pick a couple of weddings further afield for the right couples. So, in short, wherever you are it's no problem.
Have you photographed at my venue before?
I travel so far and wide I rarely shoot the same venue more than once. Is it relevant? absolutely not. There is no such thing as needing to be familiar with a venue once you go past the 'keen amateur' status of being a photographer. Any photographer who tells you that you need to pick someone familiar with a venue is an amateur - walk away and find a professional, a proper one.
Can we meet before deciding?
If you're willing to travel then sure thing. Truth be told, 90% of my weddings are booked without meeting people, I think that's people not wanting to miss out the date, and everyone is so busy these days! I'm happy to chat on the phone, over social media or email, even text (do people even text anymore??), skype or whatever is fine too.
how do we book?
Fill in the contact form and we'll go from there. Just so you know I don't hold dates while you decide, it's not fair on people who may be gagging to book me. Dates are secured with a £300 retainer (deposit), once that's paid you're in the "I'm getting great wedding pictures club"
Why don't I pose people or tell them what to do?
Why should I, why would I? The advantage of being a good reportage wedding photographer is that I notice things, an awful lot of things. There's absolutely no need to tell you to smile on your wedding day is there??? I 'could' put you in poses but we both know you'll feel unnatural, awkward - and because of that you'll be stiff and not you. You want your wedding pictures to be you don't you?
That's the beauty of documentary, you get pictures of you at your most relaxed and natural, genuine smiles, no feeling of awkwardness, 100% you not a made up version of you.
Don't get me wrong, if you absolutely want a 2 minute portrait that's not a portrait session that's fine, but don't expect it to take up that time you should be spending enjoying yourselves. The biggest regrets people have over their wedding pictures are:
1. We spent too long on staged stuff, we only used 1 of those pictures. We wished we had spent more time with our family and guests
2. We wish we had more pictures of the 'atmosphere', people enjoying our day with us, not avoiding eye contact with a photographer or being herded around for pictures.
Luckily I don't operate like that. Which brings me on to....
documentary - what is it?
Tough one, only tough because everyone is a documentary wedding photographer these days - apparently. Except the majority of people aren't. I know, I know they say they are, they claim to have a non-intrusive approach, a reportage style, to be true moment catchers and memory makers, a lot claim they won't even be recognised as the photographer. The fact is that 90% of people who claim all these things are doing so because it's what clients want to hear, except they have no actual idea about any of it - they're empty words.
Most will turn up and fit in like a hippo at a ballet, they'll have huge cameras with big straps, they couldn't stick out more if they tried. Moments to them are uncle Dave eating crisps, or you walking down the aisle - all very standard from a photography perspective. To add insult to injury there'll be a lot of stopping and starting proceedings, a fair few can you just do that again, can you stand there, can you pretend to laugh. All very non-documentary.
I've been doing this for a very long time, I mix in photographer circles a lot, I teach documentary photography - only 10% of photographers who claim to be documentary photographers actually are. The easiest way to tell is look at their pictures, if they have a number of posed looking images in their portfolio (where couples have clearly been asked to step out for some photos) they aren't what they make out they are. Have a rethink if you want genuine moments, you might be left disappointed.
When can I expect my wedding pictures back?
Who's got kids? Who's tried making a cake with their kids and it's a constant "is it ready yet, when can i eat it, i wish it would hurry up", now we know as adults if you take a cake out of the oven before it's done it'll be a sad flat little thing that you'll have to eat with a spoon. Same applies to pictures - do you want sad, flat pictures? nope you don't. So do what kids should do, go away, think about something else - they'll be ready when they're ready, because they need to be perfect don't they.
For the people who absolutely insist on a 'rough' time - ballpark 6 weeks, often before.
do I offer albums?
Yes I do. The truth is not many people want them these days, we live in a digital age I guess. I do like printed pictures though, so I always have the option. One thing I don't do is 'free albums' because ultimately they aren't free. There's a mark-up applied to albums on top of the cost price, if you plump for a free album package you're paying for it, it just means you're probably not aware you are. That doesn't sit well with me, you pay the price for photography - that's the value of a decent photographer. If you choose to buy an album it should be a choice, not forced on you as a hidden cost. My albums can all be purchased after your wedding, no rush, no pressure and no mark-up - yes that's right, you get them at cost price.
Do I offer prints?
Of course, I much prefer framed prints over albums to be honest, pictures should be on walls if you ask me. Framed prints can be ordered through your online gallery in various sizes and styles, again it's entirely your choice. When I deliver your wedding pictures I'll also send you a discount code for prints if you wish to order any, they are made by Loxley colour (the best lab in the UK) in case you were wondering.
boring questions, because some people may have been told to ask them by the internet:
are you insured?
Yes of course. Mind you I could tell you I am and you wouldn't know any different. I am though.
what kind of equipment do you use?
I use a professional flingelpop dsx-32-f mmu full frame medium format camera with a whizelklopt 85mm polished carbon portrait lens. I have a backup hamerkut 8 x 4 camera with platinum processing also.
I made that up, does it matter really? I know some photographers love telling people what cameras they have, how big and fast and expensive they are, but really, it even bores me to death. All that matters is they work. What REALLY matters from a documentary photographer perspective is they aren't intrusive, not one bit, big 'professional' full frame cameras are intrusive which completely goes against the "I fit in relaxed documentary approach" - mine aren't big ones, they're little ones and they don't intimidate people, they allow me to fit in.