If it wasn’t photographed did it even really happen?
This week, I’ve spoken to Fran from Francesca Hill Photography to find out all of those FAQs about wedding photography.
To me, photos are a way of documenting our lives and creating our own history books. On a day as special (and expensive!) as a wedding day, it seems only natural to make sure that all of those beautiful moments are captured and can be looked back on in years to come. While I’m not hugely sentimental about many objects, photos are something that I treasure.
So what pearls of wisdom can Fran give us?
1) What parts of the wedding are you directly involved in?
Fran: As I’ve now been in the wonderful world of weddings for 6 years both as a photographer and as the organiser of The Big Welsh Wedding Show, I find I’m more confident in giving advice about what to do / what not to do or what looks good and what doesn’t!
I tend to meet with brides when they initially enquire and we’ll sit and have a chat about the style of the wedding, what they’re aiming for and what they want their wedding / photography to look like. I’ll then recommend suppliers who I know can help them achieve their vision and I’m always on email if they have any questions or need help with anything.
Some clients choose to have an engagement shoot which is a fab way to get to know each other and have a little practice in front of the camera before the big day! It’s also a really simple way to have something to decorate the reception room with as lots of couples don’t have nice photos of themselves that they’d want to use for a signing board or as decoration.
I sometimes meet with the couple again just before the wedding to go through timings / the run of the day. My ultimate aim is for my couples to feel like they don’t need to worry about the photography because they’re confident that it’s all in hand!
On the day I’m pretty relaxed but assertive when I need to be ie. when arranging all of the group shots. For the couples’ shots, I’ll take them away from everyone so they can relax and have some time together. This time will often be the first time the couple have had alone together since the ceremony, so I’ll usually stand back and let them have a little moment whilst I photograph at the same time!
I do always say, it’s really important to like your photographer because you actually spend more time with them than anyone else on the day! After the wedding, I’ll usually send over some preview shots before delivering the full wedding 4-6 weeks after.
It seems as though one of the perks of hiring someone who has as much experience as Fran does, is that they will have great links in the industry. Having recommendations for other services to sort out that long list of things to organise for a wedding would be extremely important and useful information. Also, I think engagement shots are a nice idea, if your budget will stretch. Finding non-selfies and non-embarrassing photos to display would be a mission!
2) How far in advance are you normally booked up?
Fran: I’d say most dates are booked around 18 months before the date of the wedding but then you get the last-minute types like me who start looking about 6 months before!
This is what a lot of people have told me in the series so far. 18 months seems pretty standard – and hey if you can book everything 18 months before your wedding date then it seems like that could alleviate a huge amount of stress!
3) Should clients come to you with a direct idea of how they want the photos to look aesthetically, or do you generally suggest locations and styles?
Fran: I would say 90% of the time, couples are happy for me to direct locations / styles because they’ve booked me based on the style they’ve seen on my website and are looking for something similar to that. I’m a big believer that each wedding is unique to the couple and I’ll photograph what I feel is right based on them as a couple and what suits their personality / overall style of the wedding. Sometimes brides will give me Pinterest images of what they like and that’s helpful to know what they’re aiming for but I’m big on managing expectations so I’ll always explain that factors such as light, weather and backdrops will ultimately dictate where’s best to photograph on the day.
I think that when you are investing in a service such as a wedding photographer, you are investing in their skillset. Therefore, I would put my complete trust in them as they’ve had a lot more experience than I have!
With so many factors that play into how a day will turn out, it is hard to imagine that you can predict how the photos will look. If you’re having a wedding in England, then you’ll also have to plan for adverse and unpredictable weather!
4) To you, what makes a wedding unique and memorable?
Fran: Aesthetically, the little details and how they come together as a whole. If a bride has a vision and she’s put the hours into making sure that all the details are stylistically cohesive, the pictures will undoubtedly reflect that, and I’ll remember that wedding for its beauty. On a personal level, if a couple are really lovely people and their wedding party is genuinely happy to be there celebrating with them, the atmosphere on the day is fantastic and an absolute pleasure to be a part of. These weddings always stick out in my mind because they’re just so lovely!
Wedding details are so special and if you have the time, I think it’s so lovely to be able to create little hand-made moments that will just make the day feel more personal. Having a photographer notice and capture these elements will make sure that your creativity goes down in history!
5) Out of any wedding that you’ve attended as a guest or as a photographer, what has been your favourite?
Fran: There are two that spring to mind. The first was in 2016; the couple got married in the middle of the woods and both the bride and groom cried tears of joy throughout the ceremony. The bride then got barefoot and paddled in a nearby river which was amazing for photos! The style was pretty / boho / jam jars filled with flowers, all the little details were stunning, but I mostly remember it because the couple were so happy. The other was last year and was featured on Rock My Wedding. Again, the bride and groom were head over heels in love and didn’t stop smiling all day! The styling of the day was boho themed with most of the decorations hand made by the bride and groom, everything about it was just stunning! So to sum up, I’m a big fan of boho!
I love the boho theme too… although I’d be worried about getting my wedding dress in a river! Maybe if it was a short, 50s style one! True happiness will definitely shine through in photos and I think that that is part of the magic of having a wedding photographer be able to capture those candid moments.
6) How long would it take for you to process the photos that you’ve taken and return them to the couple? Do you go through and delete some and keep others or edit them?
Fran: I try and deliver in 4 weeks but during wedding season it’s usually 6 weeks. I am ridiculously perfectionistic with what I deliver so I go through the whole collection several times and cull 3000 images down to about 800 for the final cut.
A perfectionist is what you want in anyone that you hire! Although I am an incredibly impatient person, it’s worth the wait. Plus, after 6 weeks, the post-wedding buzz might have worn out a bit and so being sent 800 photos would reignite the excitement from the day!
7) Do you think that everyone needs a photographer and why do you think a photographer is such a worthy investment?
Fran: I think the need for a photographer is directly proportionate to how much you’re putting into the wedding. If you’re putting a lot of time, money and effort into the wedding and you want to be able to look back and remember all the things you spent months choosing then a professional photographer is a must. Of all the things you spend money on as part of the wedding planning process, the photography is the only tangible thing you’ll have at the end of it so it makes sense to choose wisely. Yes, your Uncle Bob might have a DSLR and your mate from Uni might be a budding photographer, but you can’t put a price on experience and the technical ability of wedding photographers who know how to work in any given lighting situation.
There is definitely a misconception of the effort, skill, knowledge, equipment and fitness that goes into being a wedding photographer. It isn’t just one day’s work, it is the hours of editing, cost of equipment, website hosting and so much more that makes up this job role. It’s so easy for us to rely on the fact that our iPhone has a great camera that we forget that not everyone can take a good photo just because they have a good camera.
8) What is your favourite part of a wedding day to photograph?
Fran: The little details and the couples’ shots. When I meet clients who tell me they’re not interested in having their dress, shoes, flowers etc photographed, I think, I’m probably not the photographer for you. The clients that book me tend to be those who want it all captured so they can look back and remember the day as a whole.
I love photographing all the pretty things, particularly shoes! I love the couples’ shots as well as this is the only part of the day where I can control where and how I photograph and by that I mean I can choose the best light / backdrop and go wild with my creativity!
Each to their own, but I am definitely someone who admires an attention to detail. It will allow you to look back on the day in every aspect, not just the key moments of cutting the cake, first dance and other stereotypical moments.
9) How do destination weddings work logistically?
Fran: If a UK based bride is getting married abroad, choosing a photographer in a foreign country can be a daunting prospect. Language barriers / not being able to meet them before the wedding or chase them for the photographs afterwards, it’s a sensible choice to just take a UK photographer with you! When I’m photographing a wedding abroad, I’ll usually meet with the bride and discuss locations / best ways to travel before giving a quote. I’d usually set aside a four day period for a destination wedding which means I’ll fly out at least two days before and fly home the day after. It can be quite difficult trying to figure out the travel arrangements, particularly as my geography is shocking but as I’ve done it a few times, I’ve learned the hard way where the pitfalls are and how to avoid them!
The prospect of a destination wedding alone seems daunting to me, never mind finding a photographer abroad. As more of the budget would go on the location and accommodation, the guest list might be smaller, which leaves room to spend money on flying your chosen photographer out. It definitely is something that you’d have to consider when dreaming about getting married on a tropical beach!
10) As part of the ‘something old, something new’ wedding rhyme, have you heard the last line “and a silver sixpence in your shoes” and what do you think of it?
Fran: I think it’s a lovely idea. I’m known for leaning towards the untraditional but some traditions, particularly ones like these, have such a lovely sentiment behind them and anything that makes the bride feel extra special on the day is great.
Overall, I think that if you are sentimental, then hiring a wedding photographer can give you a whole heap of memories to look back on. You won’t have to worry about people getting good photos because you know that you’ll have someone on hand to capture them all!
Thanks to Fran!
A huge thank you to Fran for giving this lovely interview about her trade. Hopefully this has guided you all in the benefits of hiring a wedding photographer. Fran is an International Documentary Wedding Photographer with a reputation for producing creative and natural looking images. She recently won Creative Wedding Photographer of the Year 2018 at WWA and ‘Wedding Photographer Of The Year 2019) at the GWA so you’d be in safe hands.
With love and wedding wishes,