Bride and Groom stand out of vw van sunroof Best Essex Documentary Wedding Photographer


That means I’m free on your date and we’re going to delve a little deeper into how I actually shoot a wedding – the No.1 question I get asked from prospective couples!
I think we’ve all attended a wedding where the photographer is a tad loud, a bit bossy, maybe worse – loudly asking the Bride & Groom to go slower as they walk back down the aisle. This is not me. I am not that photographer. As you’ve probably already read, I’m okay sharing that I’m on the more introverted side of personalities which actually is a super power when it comes to capturing those priceless micro moments during a wedding as I’m constantly trying to blend into the background and stay as unobtrusive as possible. This combined with well over a decade of wedding experience means I’m very intuitive when it comes to looking for action and reaction during key parts of a wedding day and how couples interact not only with each other but family members and friends too.
I may have just heard you sigh with a little relief – it seems the majority of you who are attracted to my style of photography are not big on posing or playing up to a camera – that’s the most common comment I get in the ‘little bit about us’ section! You are definitely not alone!
And so, to hopefully set your minds further at ease, I’ll walk you through what I do and how I capture each part of a wedding day…


The importance of morning prep can get overlooked. It’s so great to have images from this part of the day as it not only involves your closest friends and members of your families but it’s also the part that you two are not together. So, when I deliver your images, you’ll each have an insight into how the day began.
This is where a decision about a second shooter comes in – if you both want your prep covered and you are getting ready in different locations, you’ll need two of us, otherwise, I’ll document whichever of you wants me there (usually the bride, sorry grooms!).
It’s also a bit of a bonding process too, I can work out who’s who pretty quickly, get a feel for the dynamics of your relationships with your closest people, find out any secret surprises anyone has planned (this is often divulged to me on a wedding morning!) but most importantly, you and your wedding party will begin to get used to me being around doing my thing and I’ll be starting to blend in to the background.

Bridesmaids and bride during bridal prep Smeetham Hall Barn, Events under Canvas, The Hare's Field Best Essex Suffolk documentary wedding photographer
Groom wedding prep at Blake Hall, Tuffon Hall, Smeetham Hall Barn, Best Essex Suffolk documentary wedding photographer

Before your wedding, you’ll have filled out my ‘Day in Detail’ questionnaire and I’ll know the names of your bridesmaids, groomsmen, your parents and any other VIP’s. I’ll also know your timings so will have an eta of your dress going on, opening any presents that you might be sharing and if your dad or anyone else is coming for a first look at you in your dress. That way I can be sure to document these bigger moments in-between the little ones.

Best Essex documentary wedding photographer Wedding Prep Down Hall Tuffon Hall
Best Essex documentary wedding photographer wedding prep at Croydon Park Villiers Barn South Farm

If you are getting ready at your venue I’ll also be using this time to capture the decor in the ceremony room and for your wedding breakfast before your guests start to arrive. I’ll also be popping off with your shoes and bouquet to find a lovely frame to capture them in. I usually leave your dress in situ as the majority of venues have carefully considered dress hanging areas, but if not, I’ll ask you if I can move it elsewhere. This is a two man job so I’ll enlist a bridesmaids or your mum to give me a hand.
I also love to do a ‘lay flat’ of your details during prep. This can include your perfume, shoes, veil, jewellery and often an invitation. So, if you’d like me to shoot a lay flat for you, do remember a copy of your invitation if you’d like it included. All of this will be included in the ‘Day in Detail’ questionnaire so you won’t forget!

Bridal shoes, dress, bouquet at Hatfield Place Houchins The Barns at Lodge Farm Best Essex documentary wedding photographer
Essex Best documentary wedding photographer Braxted Park Hedsor House


The main event!
Depending on the logistics, if you added one, my second shooter usually makes it to the ceremony venue/room before I do and they’ll be capturing your guests arriving and all the excitement and nerves. If I’m shooting alone, I’ll try and allow time for this and then I’ll be finding the best position to capture the entrance and of the bride. This is sometimes dictated to me, especially during church ceremonies but I’ll have prompted you to have a conversation with your vicar/priest before hand so you can be made aware of their thoughts and any rules they have for photographers. If there are constraints, I’ll still be able to get you wonderful images of your church ceremony no matter where I’m positioned.
Again, if you’ve opted for a second shooter, they’ll either be with the bride at this point, or waiting outside for their arrival whilst I’m inside capturing the building excitement.
Every aspect of this once in a lifetime moment can be covered.

Entrance of bride at Blake Hall, Stockbrook Manor, Church Best Essex documentary wedding photographer
Best Essex Suffolk documentary wedding photographer Events under Canvas Smeetham Barn

Us photographers carry around a lot of equipment and it only takes a quick glance to know which lenses we’ll be needing to use in any given space. Both myself and my second shooter will have two cameras at all times (sometimes I have three!) with lenses of varying focal length so from one spot we can shoot gorgeous wide images of the entire ceremony, alongside close up details shots of ring exchanges, hands being held, guests wiping tears away. Nothing gets missed. The two of you will have your backs to your guests through the majority of your ceremony so you’ll only see how your loved ones are reacting when I’ve delivered your photos. Imagine all those little gems, otherwise unseen, that make up the story of your wedding day!

Wedding ceremonies at Gaynes Park, Blake Hall, Wilderness Wedding venue, Copdock Hall, Old Brook Barn, Villiers Barn, Granary Estates, The Barns at Lodge Farm Best Essex Suffolk Kent documentary wedding photographer

It might sound weird (actually, it does sound totally weird!) but in my head, photographing weddings is a bit like a dance with no music. No matter the differences in each and every wedding, they all follow a pattern and so I know when to move at which point during a ceremony, I know which lens I want in my hand when the kiss is coming and I know when to watch out for guest reactions. Once you’ve completed all the official bits, I need to be at the furthest end of the aisle to photograph your walk back down, so if your exit route isn’t obvious, I’ll have found out which way you’ll be headed. Meanwhile, my second shooter will have gotten a fab place outside to get the two of you emerging as newlyweds! Many couples opt to do their confetti shot as they walk back down the aisle – planning for this is included in my questionnaire you’ll fill in, and so I’ll be completely prepared for it!

Best Essex documentary wedding photographer Copdock Hall The Compasses at Pattiswick Maidens Barn The Barns at Lodge Farm The Hares Field Houchins


This is the bit that many of you tell me you dread! You’re not comfortable in front of a camera, you’re a bit self conscious and you won’t know how to stand, or where to put your hands or, you’ve never had your photo taken professionally before and you just don’t know what to expect. In over 12 years of photographing weddings, it’s a worry that crops up over and over again, so please, know that you are not alone! I think my style of photography really does attract those who feel this way and, as I can completely empathise, I’ve found a way to make portraits on your wedding day, beautiful yet informal, natural but not ‘posey’ and, dare I say it, actually an enjoyable experience!

I know some of you are SO worried about this bit that you think it may impact negatively on your wedding day, and that’s the last thing anybody wants. For those who are super anxious, you can add a ‘Pre Wedding shoot’ onto your package – you’ll have seen some details on these within my price info but do let me know if you’d like to know more!

So what is it I actually do then during a portrait session?! Lots of my clients book me for my natural, emotive portraiture and this is where being a ‘people watcher’ comes in very handy! It also helps to remember that you will expect to have your photo taken on your wedding day – it’s part of it, so that takes away some of the weirdness! Also, you’ll be high on adrenaline and probably champagne, and, your portrait session will be the first chance the two of you will have to actually catch up and chat about the huge, amazing thing you’ve just done! All of these elements coming together create a very special atmosphere that I fully use to my advantage! I will have already looked around the grounds/or location of your wedding and will have a plan in my head of backdrops and framing for your photos. On the day I’m looking for colour, light and shade, texture, objects to frame you and to shoot through. I’ll even use the weather conditions!

We’ll stop at each location and I’ll just guide you on how to stand and let you chat! The majority of the time, I’ll just snap away but occasionally I may direct you to look at me, or each other but always, always I encourage you to interact with each other – don’t be afraid to move the positions of your hands or arms – sometimes the loveliest, intimate looking photos are created by the simple brush of an arm, or sweeping a lock of hair away from a face! They are human behaviours and thats what make the images come across as so very natural! I do also have a plethora of word association games I can get you to play if you are still feeling those nerves. They work as a bit of a distraction and create spontaneous moments that are pure magic! Don’t forget, if you’ve booked a full days coverage, I’ll also have my second shooter with me – she’ll be getting her own shots of you from a completely different angle or view point, so you’ll be getting two very different shots from each location we stop at!

I try to keep portraits to a maximum of 30 minutes (depending on the location of your wedding) so you can get back to the party asap! Depending on the time of year, I’d also look to do a second, shorter portrait session in the evening, during golden hour (the hour prior to sunset) as evening light in the right conditions can be completely ethereal and is the very best light of the day. Evening portraits tend to look very different from the first set as not only the light will have changed, but you’ll be much more relaxed, full of glorious food and the speeches under your belt too! As before, I’ll have already checked the position of the setting sun and scouted out the best locations to take full advantage of that light that money can’t buy!

Best Essex Suffolk Herts documentary wedding photographer Blake Hall Tuffon Hall South Farm
Bride and Groom portraits at Blake Hall, South Farm, The Barns at Lodge Farm, the White Hart Great Yeldham Essex Herts Suffolk Best documentary wedding photographer
Best Essex Suffolk Herts documentary wedding photographer The Barns at Lodge Farm Blake Hall South Farm Henham Weddings


Ugh, the dreaded group line ups – the bit that is notorious for eating into your drinks reception! Fear not! That won’t happen if I’m photographing your wedding! As part of my ‘day in detail’ questionnaire, I’ll have already asked you for full details of who you want to include in your group shots. Obviously, this is your day and so if you do want to spend your drinks reception having loads of group shots, we’ll absolutely do that, but from years of experience, my clients are more about enjoying the atmosphere they’ve created and less about lots of structured photos. To keep this part of the day to a minimum, you need to know that each group takes around 5 minutes to set up (picture any wedding you’ve been to – the drinks are flowing, guests are mingling or taking in the surroundings and some serious rounding up needs to be done to find those stragglers!) so best to keep it to a solid 5 different shots. Usually on the list are

Newlyweds with Bridesmaids, Best Man, Ushers. (and all variants of)

Newlyweds with partner one’s immediate family (and all variants of)

Newlyweds with partner two’s immediate family (and all variants of)

Newlweds with partner one’s close friends

Newlyweds with partner two’s close friends

By ‘variant’s of’, I mean the same group of people but I can very quickly pop individuals in and out.. To speed things up I’ll ask you to nominate one or two people to help round your guests up – usually a Best Man and Bridesmaid as chances are between them, they’ll know who’s who. Also it’s a pretty good idea for one of them to be loud if you think your guests might get a bit unruly and will need cajoling!! My second shooter will give a list of names to your nominated helpers for the next group, so they’ll be waiting in the wings and ready to go once I’m done with the group I’m photographing. It’s a smooth operation and we know how to get the job done as quickly as possible!

You’ll also be wanting these photos to be gorgeous and natural, full of lovely little interactions and laughs and that’s what you’ll get! I do take several frames of each shot and start with the more formal ones where everyone is looking at the camera (parents and grandparents will be wanting these ones!) but then, I have several tried and tested methods of getting everyone to laugh and focus on each other rather than the camera – sometimes it’ll even be an inside joke that I’ve picked up on during the day but often I find people like to do their own thing and so I’ll just role with it ! Like your portraits, my aim is to get these shots done as enjoyably and quickly as I can so that you can all get back to your wedding! Here’s a few traditional group shots with a little fun twist….!

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen photos at The Reid Rooms, Houchins, The House Meadow, The Long Barn, Apton Hall, Wilderness Wedding venue Best Essex Kent documentary wedding photographer


Once your wedding breakfast is on its way, we’ll make ourselves scarce. Nobody wants to be photographed while they eat – it’s completely off putting and your guests won’t thank us for it! We’ll use this time to take a break too, get a much needed drink and a bite to eat. Also I like to have a look through the shots that we’ve captured so far, change memory cards and batteries, back up to my laptop and then start to have a think about evening portrait locations and dance floor lighting set ups. We won’t be too far away though and I’ll keep checking in to see when champagne is being poured for the start of your speeches.

Like the ceremony, we’ll be using at least two cameras with a variety of focal lengths. If you have booked a second shooter, I can focus on the top table action getting lots of lovely wide shots to include everyone’s reactions simultaneously and also single out individuals for lovely close up’s during particularly emotional parts. Its helpful to know before hand if there are going to be any surprises during this bit, so I’ll have had a quiet word with anyone doing speeches to find this out so we are prepared for it, as this is something I can’t ask you! My assistant will meanwhile, be working the room and capturing all of your lovely guests as things unfold.

I often shoot speeches crouched down as I’m very aware that your guests behind me want a good view – not one of the back of my head – also if you have a videographer, we’ll have discussed how and where I might position myself as I want them to get the best shots too. This does mean though that if you’ve got tall table decorations or floral displays directly in front of you I might ask if I can move them temporarily – it’s so important I can see your faces! The smaller decor, candles and fairy lights can create wonderful framing though so I’ll be leaving that alone!

Speeches can provide some of the most emotive shots of the day, not just from the two of you, but from everyone in the room!

Best Essex documentary wedding photographer Speeches at Houchins Hatfield Place
Best Essex documentary wedding photographer Speeches at Houchins The Hares Field Villiers Barn Maidens Barn Blake Hall The Barns at Lodge Farm
Bride and Groom on dance floor at Stockbrook Manor & Fennes Essex documentary wedding photographer


I love to get shots of your guests on the dance floor and most of the time they cannot wait to join you! So do consider including at least 20 minutes of dance floor coverage after your first dance! There’ll be a burst of crazy dancing before most people want a pit stop and don’t forget, you’ll also be serving evening food too, so there’ll be a definite ebb and flow of dance floor activities! That means its the best time for us to finish off our coverage with your guests busting out their best moves – so, top tip – if you are planning a play list, get some big dance floor fillers out straight away, songs you know your guests won’t be able to resist!

I’ll have checked out your dance floor area prior to your first dance and will have spoken to your band/DJ to find out their plans – particularly any lighting set up they might be doing. There’s nothing worse than a first dance starting and the lights immediately change, or a smoke machine gets turned on and I’ve not been told about it! We leave nothing to chance! If there’s room to do it safely, I might set up external flash(es) on your dance floor for a little fill light. Usually I put these at the same end as the band/DJ so I’ll also have made sure they’re okay with this. If there’s no room to do it safely, it won’t be happening. Regardless of this, you’ll get a mix of what we call ‘clean’ shots of the dance floor, which are just lit by a flash bounced off of the ceiling and ‘drag’ shots, which are longer exposures used to create lots of awesome movement and colour from whatever lights are being used on the dance floor.

There’s nothing you need to do at this point except let loose and dance the night away!
Often I just slip away at the end of my coverage as you’ll more than likely be mid dance or mid chat and I won’t want to disrupt the flow of your evening. I’ll have sent you info on what happens next – you’ll be hearing from me just 2 or 3 days later with a preview gallery of images from across the day and details of your delivery window for you full gallery.

wedding guests on dance floors at Maidens Barn, Houchins, the Barns at Lodge Farm, The Hare's Field, Villiers Barn, StockBrook Manor, Hedingham Castle, Tuffon Hall, Blake Hall

I hope you’ve ticked off at least some of the questions you might have had! If not and you still have a few, or would like to book a chat over the phone/Facetime, do get right back to me! Or, if you are ready to move to the next step and secure your date, that’s amazing too, I can get you a booking form over to start the ball rolling! Do consider that us wedding suppliers get booked up months, often years in advance, particularly those prime summer dates, there’s no such thing as ‘too early’!
Talk to you very soon…..