Ninja mode

 Vickie and Lee struggle with the rings at Pontlands Park, Chelmsford.

Vickie and Lee struggle with the rings at Pontlands Park, Chelmsford.

When it's time to get married the only direction I give my couples is to ignore me during the ceremony. I don't care if I faint, fall, or spontaneously combust, pretend I'm not there. Please give your attention to each other, the officials on the day and enjoy the moment.
During the ceremony, I do my best to be discreet and go unnoticed. To do this I find out about any photographic restrictions, I avoid using flash, and I engage full ninja mode. I must do pretty well, after the ceremony at a recent wedding one of the registrars asked who the official photographer was  "It's me, the guy with the camera standing next to you" ;).
Restrictions will vary from registrar to registrar; everyone has different views, and that's cool. Sometimes I meet someone very strict, and I'm only allowed to take photos at certain moments, but that's never been an issue for me. 
Introducing myself before the ceremony, to say hello, and to find out about any restrictions goes a long way. When I meet a strict registrar I charm them as quickly as I can ;) and ask a few questions. I usually find they may have had a bad experience with a previous photographer. Once I assure them I'm not going to use flash or be a nuisance everything usually's okay, and they forget I'm there.

Formals on your wedding day

 The bride (Gemma) and her nan, looking happy and very proud. 

The bride (Gemma) and her nan, looking happy and very proud. 

As a documentary wedding photographer, I'm not looking to take over your day or stage photos; my approach is to allow your day to unfold as you've planned, or may not have planned. I like to keep my influence to a minimum, but I'm also aware of how important formals can be to some families. I do photograph group shots, but only the ones that are important to my couples. Before your wedding day, I'll ask you to send me over a list of group shots that you require, some couples want a few, and some don't want any. Either way, I'm happy. This photo was taken in Waltham Abbey church and features the lovely bride with her nan.

Mother and Son

 Mother and son moment, Redbridge Register Office.

Mother and son moment, Redbridge Register Office.

I've known Aqeel for a few years, we initially met on Twitter but the first time we met in person was on the day of his wedding. It was kind of weird but in a good way. I honestly felt as if I'd known him for a lot longer, as a real person and not just an avatar on the Internet. So it's a bit of a shame and a regret for me that I never met up with Aqeel before. I think we could have had fun collaborating on projects, learning about each others craft (Aqeel is a talented video & film director), or maybe just messing around with drones and stuff. The messing around with drones and stuff is the more likely ;)

The essential images or 'must haves' to capture at a wedding for me aren't the usual first kiss shot or a picture of the wedding rings or any other expected shot. The important images for me are the in-between moments, the natural displays of affection, the fleeting moments.

This image was taken shortly after the I do's. As the guests began greeting the happy couple, I kept my eye on Aqeel's mum and positioned myself ready to capture any embrace that would happen. I was almost sure this was going to be a moment to capture, as I knew how close they are and how proud mum was of her son on the day. So when I tell my couples I don't have any 'must haves' to capture, I actually do, they are just different and more important to me than the usual wedding day images.

I bet you look good on the dance floor

 The groomsmen, fresh after necking shots.

The groomsmen, fresh after necking shots.

I'm not blessed with any great rhythm, so the dance floor is not my usual hangout when at a party. If I am on the dance floor, I feel far more comfortable with a camera in hand, and I can go into my little invisible world and concentrate on documenting others having a great time. Here the fellas have had plenty to drink by now and are fresh from necking shots at the bar. What I love about this image is the contrast in expressions, especially the guy looking a little worse for wear. 

When shooting people and especially weddings, I prefer to use a wide-angle lens which means I have to get up close to fill the frame. What this does is help create an immersive image, one that you can feel part of. This same look and feel can't be achieved using a big zoom lens and shooting from a distance. Getting amongst it and being involved is a must. By this stage of the day, everyone is so used to having me around I can be up close and go unnoticed at the same time.  This approach will enable me to create and capture images that are more about the feelings of the day and not just pretty pictures. For me, that's the most important part of documenting, capturing how a moment felt.

Mother and Daughter

 Mother & Daughter in the bridal suite at The Fennes, Braintree. 

Mother & Daughter in the bridal suite at The Fennes, Braintree. 

The calm before the storm, also known as bridal prep time! I love the time I spend with the bridal party on the morning of a wedding. It's an excellent chance to get to know people close to the bride and for those to get used to having me hanging around. Not everyone wants photography during this part of the day, but most of my brides do, so if it's not for you, then it's not a problem. I love this image of Emma and her mum. This image was captured mid-morning during my time with the bridal party. Emma was pretty much ready, minus the dress and shoes, and she was looking fantastic. Her mum was like every other mum on the morning of her daughter's wedding, happy, emotional and immensely proud. A beautiful moment.