Saturday, 28 May 2011

A photographers wedding preparations

When presented with a headline figure, many people wonder if their wedding photography is an unaffordable luxury and whether their photographer is "raking it in" with their high charges.

With a full day’s photography and wedding album almost always costing in excess of £1000 it seems a huge fee for a “single days’ work”.

For me however, a wedding is much more than a single days’ work and to demonstrate this I thought I'd take you through my check list for the day before a wedding.

The first task is to check that my kit is clean - this involves.
  • 3 Camera bodies (two used, and one backup).   Clean viewfinder, puff dust from mirror and sensor.  
  • 5 Lenses. Clean front and back elements of each, along with inside and outside of filters, clear dust from mount and exterior, check full extent of zoom and focus mechanisms for smooth travel.  Ensure set to Auto and not manual focus.
Now I have clean kit, I need to make sure that my cameras are set up correctly.   I check that all are:
  • Set to the correct ISO for the expected conditions.
  • Have the right motor drive mode set.
  • Are set to RAW format for the highest possible image quality.
  • Have their internal clocks synchronised (so that images taken across both [or all three] cameras can be imported and displayed "in time order" and the overall order is correct - which helps to tell the story of the day.
  • Have the correct white balance set.
  • Have the correct focussing mode set.
I can then move to my memory cards.    I prefer to use several smaller cards during the course of a wedding - this spreads the already small risk of image loss further should one card become corrupted.     I therefore need to check that every card is formatted and blank, ready to be inserted in seconds into either camera when required.

Next come the camera batteries.   Most weddings pass with one set of batteries per camera being sufficient, but of course I carry multiple backups.    Camera batteries at least, are pretty good at holding a charge but I always check that every battery is fully topped up the day before someone gets married.

Once the camera is ready I prepare the 4 flashes.   I clean the front, battery contacts and hot shoe attachment for each of these, as well as checking full zoom, bounce and rotate movements.  All are checked for use both on camera, and when remotely triggered.      I'll also check and pack my coloured gels which allow me to "create" a sunset in camera even when nature lets me down should the couple wish for this sort of shot:


These flashes run on 4xAA batteries.   I always use NI-MH rechargeables, these have several advantages.   They allow me to shoot faster than non-rechargeable batteries, and unlike normal NI-CAD rechargeables are less susceptible to "memory effect"  and don't discharge themselves whilst stored as quickly.

Each of my batteries is labelled as belonging to one of 16 sets that I carry with me always.   Every set is fully charged the day before a wedding, and goes through a multiple discharge/refresh cycle in my most advanced battery charger each six months which further prolongs their life and ensures that they are always in "tip-top" condition.

My flash triggers consist of rechargeable receivers and a battery based sender.  These are also recharged and checked before leaving for every wedding, and I also ensure I have at least one spare battery for each trigger.

Once this is all packed away safely, I can relax right?   Unfortunately not!

Now comes the car.   I can't risk any mechanical problems en-route to the wedding (even though I always build spare time into my journeys), so off to the garage it is to check:
  • Fuel 
  • Oil Level
  • Water Level
  • Tyre Pressure
Then the sat-nav needs pre-loading with the location of (all of the) venues along with printing out of paper based directions as a backup.    I'll also spend a little time here checking various travel websites for advance notice on any possible disruptions to the next day’s journeys.

Into the boot goes a stepladder (useful if I'm short of space or just need a slightly different perspective on a shot), along with a beautiful pair of white lacy umbrellas (well this is England after all!) and a very pretty clothes hanger (because you don't want a picture of a gorgeous, expensive and unique bridal gown spoiled by me shooting it hanging from a cheap, ugly clothes hanger do you?!).  I also pack the mini photo cards that will direct guests to the online wedding gallery ready to be placed on the tables at the reception.

Daniel Davies Photography - Pre Wedding Shoot

At this stage I'll also pack at least one light stand, a reflector and possibly an easel and any signing frames that the couple want displayed at their reception.  I'll then make sure to have a couple of energy bars and some water available in the car should they be necessary on my long working day.

The expensive camera kit of course is safely locked away ready to be loaded into the car the following morning (just in case the local burglar is reading this!)

Around 10 days before the wedding l will have had a final chat with my brides & grooms, checking that there have been no last minute hitches or changes to the schedule and that I have plenty of contact numbers for the couple and the venues.    These details are printed out and additionally synchronised onto my phone, which is then fully charged and set to vibrate.

Finally, I'll remove my suit from its dry cleaning bag, check my shirt is neatly pressed and lay out the remaining clothing for the day, before shining my shoes.

As you've seen the day before a wedding is busy and a vital part of my professional service.   Missing any one of the steps can result in missed shots (or worse) and weddings are a one-time only experience.   I love the adrenaline of being in this situation, but adrenaline is quickly replaced by fear if I don't feel prepared, and that's not a pleasant sensation.

Make sure that your wedding photographer demonstrates the same level of care about your wedding photographs – you deserve nothing less!


Friday, 27 May 2011

Luiza Marries Jonathan in the Tower Bridge Sunshine

I had the immense privilege to be chosen to capture Luiza's Wedding to Jonathan last Saturday.   We all had a fabulous day together (well I did and Jon & Luiza seemed to be having an amazing time from start to end).     I'm still working on their images, but here are a few of my early favourites from their big day.

Final Preparations
Luiza was already beautiful, so I only had a few moments in which to capture the final touches that made her such a sensational bride.

Proud FatherDad here looks so incredibly proud as he gives his daughter away at the front of the church.

"You may kiss the bride"
"You may kiss the bride".

Model Shoot
Time for a quick "model shoot" around the beautiful St. Katherines Dock.  We'd already been here together for our pre-wedding shoot, so we were able to make the most of the short break in Luiza & Jon's other commitments.

The Bridge open, right on Schedule
Perfect timing for us as the bridge lifts in the background.

Time to cool off
It's just as well it was a scorching hot day as Luiza & Jon cool off a little.

What more could a bride want?
What a lucky bride!

A few more of the day's top images are also available via my Facebook page, why not pop over there and take a look!


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Will & Sophie "Own" Broomfield Park(!)

Last Monday saw me out and about again, this time in Broomfield Park, Palmers Green.

I was with Will & Sophie, a lovely couple who's wedding I'm really looking forward to later this summer.

A pre-wedding shoot like this is really important to me, primarily as it allows me to continue to build a relationship with my clients. By the time of their wedding I hope I'll feel less like a stranger and more like a friend - and that the concept of a professional photo shoot is less daunting than it might have been previously.

A shoot like this also gives Will and Sophie a chance to feed back to me how they feel about being in front of the camera, and some guidance as to which types of photograph they like best, and want for their wedding day.

Here's some of my favourites from last week's shoot:






A few more of the day's top images are also available via my Facebook page.

Will and Sophie have been presented with a full gallery of around 50 images and then will have the pleasant task of choosing their top 10 pictures. From these I will produce a unique, complimentary 16x16 canvas, in one of three designs - all of which you can only get from Daniel Davies Photography. To see more information on these wonderful canvasses, click here.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Another thank you :-), this time for my event's coverage

I never get tired of recieving letters of thanks, and recently had the pleasure of opening this letter from a client who had invited me to cover their businesses 10th Anniversary celebrations:

Corporate Headshot

“I'd like to thank Dan for the excellent work he did during our recent 10 year celebrations held at our practice.

He arrived well before the first guest had come and was efficiently unobtrousive in setting up all his equipment.

He used his considerable expertise to take portrait shots of my staff and I, as well as 'action' shots of many of our guests during the event.

The images were delivered in a suitable format promptly and were of fantastic quality.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Daniel Davies Photography to my friends and colleagues

Kind regards

Deven Lakhani"

The day was great and Deven certainly got full value for his time, we managed to squeeze in some corporate headshots, like the one at the top of this article (isn't Deven a handsome chap!), and some product shots as well as covering the event itself.

Event Coverage

Product Shots

I love giving exceptional value to my clients!


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Laughing in Richmond Park - my latest pre-wedding shoot.

Last Saturday, and another of my recent sequence of pre-wedding shots saw me in beautiful Richmond Park for a shoot with Dawn and Rob.

Spending time with these two made it impossible not to see the connection they have - one that became even more obvious when seeing how often each got the other to dissolve in fits of giggles!

Have a look at a selection of my early favourite images below:







A few more of the day's top images are also available via my Facebook page.

Rob & Dawn will shortly be presented with a full gallery of around 50 images and then will have the pleasant task of choosing their top 10 images. From these I will produce a unique, complimentary 16x16 canvas, in one of three designs - all of which you can only get from Daniel Davies Photography. To see more information on these wonderful canvasses, click here.