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.

Here comes the bride // Hedingham Castle

One photographer and two different angles at Hedingham Castle

 The bride (Emma) walking down the aisle with her mum.

The bride (Emma) walking down the aisle with her mum.

 Bride and groom see each other for the first time.

Bride and groom see each other for the first time.

These images are from a recent wedding that took place at Hedingham Castle, Essex. I visited the venue a week before the wedding, just to introduce myself to the wedding coordinator that would be there on the day and to get a feel for the place.

The ceremony room is a candlelit Banqueting Hall, with a gallery running along three sides. As soon as I see the gallery I knew I had to take advantage of the raised angle and unique view of the ceremony, all guests on the day would be seated below, and no one would have the access that would be kindly granted to me.

As a documentary wedding photographer, I prefer to work alone; it allows me to concentrate on what I have to do and help me remain discreet. The only slight disadvantage to being on my own is doing it all myself. In this case, running ahead of the wedding party, scrambling up the spiral staircases, and very quickly set up the tripod and camera. I think this was probably the first time I'd used the tripod in around 6 or 7 years.

I went for a wide angle view to take in the full wedding party, the grand Banquetting Hall, and the room-dominating Norman arch. I used a slow enough shutter speed to create some motion blur, to get a sense of the excitement of getting married. In this case, I think freezing this moment would not have created the same effect. To complement this image, I placed myself in front of the fireplace to capture the beautiful bride and her mother walking down the aisle; both images were captured pretty much at the same time and work well on their own and together.