Top tips for amazing party photos

Top tips for amazing party photos

The party is by far my fave part(y) of the day! And not just because I love a good party, but also because by this point, people have generally become used to me taking photos; they have totally relaxed and just want to have a ball. These are all excellent ingredients for naturally fun photos.

I like to get right in to the middle of the dancefloor. Not just to capture the action, but also because I love a packed dancefloor. It’s my happy place and somewhere I am very familiar with!

If you want lots of fun party photos, then you will need to plan for the party to happen. Sometimes wedding parties need a little grease to get going – a great way to set the tone is to play a particular anthem of your friendship group, or a song that you know will get everyone dancing. Play those bangers early on to get everyone on the dancefloor. There is also no harm in playing them twice, once at the beginning of the party and then again at the end of the night – this is something I’ve coined the Wuthering Heights Effect, as it simply cannot be overplayed.

Ideally your dancefloor will be next to your DJ / band and also next to the bar – this will literally put your guests in the heart of the action. When the bar is really far away, the party has a tendency to separate and dilute the fun. If you are planning extra evening entertainment like a photo booth, glitter station, tattoo bar, sweets table, or anything else, make sure to place these right next to the dancefloor too. Again, this is because you don’t want the action to be too spread out.

When you’re liaising with your caterers, make sure to plan your evening food so that it doesn’t clash with when the band is playing. If you have paid for a band, you want your guests to enjoy them with their whole being, rather than tapping a toe whilst shoving a sourdough crust in their mouth. A band will generally play two sets during a party, in which case the ideal time for the evening food is during the band’s break.

Your DJ or band may also suggest that you have smoke and/or lasers to build atmosphere. From a photography perspective these actually completely ruin photos. Lasers will actually damage my cameras and I can’t shoot at the same time as them being used, so if you really want these, please save them for after the photography coverage has finished!

Finally, the biggest attraction is you and your partner. If you want your guests up and dancing, then spend time on the dancefloor! Your guests will want to be where you are (and who wouldn’t want to be, to be fair?!)

Top tips:

  • Plan for the party to happen and try not to let people spread out too much.
  • If you are having an evening buffet and a band, schedule it to come out when the band has a break. If the buffet is served during your band playing then it will kill the party.
  • Try not to have too much entertainment all at once during the party – anything that takes people away from the dancefloor is going to kill the party vibe.
  • If your venue allows it, confetti cannons are BRILLIANT. Especially when kept a surprise.
  • Ensure that both of you dedicate some time on the dancefloor. Your guests will want to be wherever you are, so if you want lots of photos of people dancing, make sure you have a little boogie too. Your guests will be sure to follow.
  • Smoke machines and laser lights are a disaster for photos, definitely not worth the investment!
  • Colourful lighting is fun, makes awesome photos and it can be as simple as strings of fairy lights.

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Top tips for amazing cake cut photos

Top tips for amazing cake cut photos

I flipping LOVE cake. I’ve got a raging sugar addiction, and is there anything more lovely than the spongey goodness that is cake? Cutting a cake (or, if you must, a stack of cheese) can be a good way to punctuate the end of the dinner and the start of the evening party.

Not everyone chooses to cut a cake (or again, if you must, a stack of cheese) at their wedding. I’ve seen some brilliant alternatives, including things like an individual cake/dessert brought out to each table and a nominated person on each table ceremoniously cutting that. Or if you want to cut a cake but add some spice, I’ve seen people cut the cake with a plastic sword, an axe, or just face planting and taking a bite. Do what feels right for you!

If you fancy cutting the cake but worry it may be awkward, fret not. I love shooting the cake cut because it’s a really sentimental, symbolic motion: there’s very often a moment of squealing joy as you push the knife through the sponge. (I often hope that’s just in anticipation of eating cake. That’s what I’d be doing anyway.) Some couples choose to make a thing out of the cake cut by announcing it and having their guests surround them; other couples don’t and will just cut the cake themselves. Both are perfectly acceptable and it’s entirely up to you!

The cake cut is a simple photo for me to take, but it absolutely relies on your cake being in an easy to access position. Very often cakes are assembled in a corner, or against a wall. This works perfectly while the rest of your wedding is taking place, but when it comes to cutting it, you will need some room for both of you to stand next to the cake and for me to be in a position to frame you both and the cake. If you have the option to, it’s worth asking the staff at your wedding venue or your wedding helpers to carefully pull the cake table out away from the corner or wall.

bride and groom cut the wedding cake together as wedding guests clap

Here are some top tips to get the best from your cakey masterpiece:

  • Ask for your cake to be placed in a position where it is easily accessible from all sides. Cakes in corners and squished up against walls lead to flat and lifeless photos.
  • If your cake needs to be against the wall during the meal, ask if it can be bought out on to the dancefloor / further away from the wall to be cut.
  • Photos of couples cutting a cake surrounded by their friends and family are THE BEST. It’s another opportunity for your wedding photos to remind you what your wedding was about – being with the people that you love. Not just following tradition.

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Top tips for amazing first dance photos

Top tips for amazing first dance photos

First dances come in all shapes, sizes and forms – and wonderfully so. There are no rules around what a first dance should be like, and as such I’ve seen epic dances that are professionally choreographed to the full track, those that are a couple of shuffle steps to the first bar, and everything in between. You do whatever you want to do, boo.

Not everyone has a first dance and that’s also absolutely fine. They can feel very awkward, but it’s worth noting that they do serve well to mark the start of the party. If you’re not game for any kind of first dance some other ideas I’ve seen that work just as well are:

  • A first group dance from everyone in the wedding party (all the wedding helpers dance with you and your partner to the first song). This takes the pressure off you feeling like your guests are only watching you.
  • Your wedding band / DJ invites everyone to dance with you and your partner after the first two bars of music. This works best when you and partner pre-arrange for a few couples to eagerly join the dance floor when asked and take the pressure off you.
  • First ceilidh / organised dance for all your guests – this is a great way to get everyone dancing and mark the start of a party.

Feel free to invite your children and/or pets to dance with you – again, if you don’t feel wild about the first dance then they will take the attention away from you. A brilliant way to take the attention off you during the first dance is to have your wedding helpers release some confetti cannons during your dance. Firstly, this looks really cool; secondly the injection of glee makes your guests look art the confetti and not you; thirdly, it makes them want to get in on the action and jump on the dance floor.

When it comes to choosing music, feel free to choose a song that you both love regardless of the genre. I’ve seen first dances to electronica, pounding techno, heavy rock, guilty pleasure pop, soulful house, classic garage and everything in between. When choosing your first dance song, choose a song you love regardless of genre. You connecting with the music that is playing will be so much better for creating an awesome first dance, than dancing to a song you feel you ‘should’ choose, but don’t really care for.

However you choose to punctuate the start of the party at your wedding, I will generally need about 10 minutes to set up some lights before it happens. I want to make sure that however you do your first dance, the lighting is magical AF! I’ll liaise with your DJ and/or band to ensure that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet and ready to rock when you are.

Because the first dance is essentially the start of the party, I highly recommend for you to plan for the dance floor bangers to be played immediately following your first dance. The busiest times on the dance floor at a wedding are generally immediately after the first dance, then there’s a lull when the evening food is served, and it picks up again towards the end when people realise there’s only a couple of hours of dancing left.

Top tips:

  • Choose a first dance song that you both connect with as a couple, regardless of its genre.
  • If you are feeling nervous build in ways to take the pressure off yourself
  • Plan for the DJ / band to play the party bangers immediately after the first dance to keep people dancing

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First Dance Wedding Photos

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Top tips for an Amazing Wedding Speech and Photos to Match

Top tips for an Amazing Wedding Speech and Photos to Match

I’m very pleased to say that I get to see all sorts of speeches and toasts at weddings and each and every one is great. It’s an occupational hazard that I very much enjoy! In the last year I have also seen lots of speeches from brides, bridesmaids and mothers – I’m a big fan of women speaking at weddings, so long may that continue!

mother of the bride is given the microphone to give a wedding speech at fun wedding

It’s very natural to feel nervous about public speaking – it’s one of the most commonly listed fears. The best advice I have ever been given was to learn the first paragraph of your speech by heart and then read the rest from cue cards. The first paragraph will be the hardest, then you’ll naturally find a rhythm and deliver a cracker.

Speeches are most commonly delivered from wherever the speaker is sat in the room. Most people will simply stand wherever they have been sitting for their meal, and deliver their speech from that position – it’s less nerve-wracking this way than walking up in front of 100 guests.

Groom delivers wedding speech from top table and reads from a giant piece of paper

When I photograph the speeches my aim is to document all of the emotions of the speech, so I’ll take some photos of whoever is speaking and then also get the reaction from your guests. I’ve found that the best way for me to do this is kneeling on the floor, so don’t be surprised if you see me wearing knee pads and crawling around!

Groom wipes tear from eye as bride gives wedding speech

If you have a particularly busy top table then I may need to move some of the larger items to one side so that I have a clear shot of you and your partner. I will always try to take photos through the regular items on the table (like glasses etc) as these can add interest to the image, but large opaque items can be tricky to navigate.

Bride scrunches up face laughing a best mans wedding speech

Top tips

  • If you are delivering a speech it’s perfectly normal to use cue cards or a phone to remind you of the words. If you do this make sure that you look up and engage with your audience every now and again. Your eyes looking at your audience as you speak makes the best photo!
  • If you are using a piece of paper to read your speech (again, totally acceptable and very common!) try not to hold it in front of your own face, or in front of your partner face.
  • Keep breathing! It sounds obvious but it’s very common to hold your breath with the nerves of delivering a speech. Just the act of taking a few deep breaths will slow your heart rate down and relax you.
  • SMILE. Again just the process of pushing your face in to a smile will actually relax you. Plus, I’ll get a lovely photo of you smiling while delivering your speech! Double bonus.

Bride gives wedding speech and laughs, standing in front of juke box at greenwich yacht club

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Funny and Relaxed Wedding Speech Photos

Want to see tips for getting amazing wedding photos? Check out these blog posts:

 

And if you want to know where these photos were taken, here are links to venues (in order):

Stockport Town Hall

Greenwich Yacht Club

The Gypsy Queen Pub

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Top Tips for Amazing Wedding Portrait Photos

Top Tips for Amazing Wedding Portrait Photos

How I Photograph Your Wedding Portraits

And all my top tips for amazing photos

It’s always nice to have at least one photo of you and your beau on the day that you get married – and yes, this applies to you who hates having their photo taken. It’s perfectly natural to not enjoy having a camera thrust in your face, and I totally empathise! However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get a photo of you two in love that you both adore – and here’s how.

relaxed fun wedding photographer

Relaxed and Informal Wedding Photography

I’m a super informal and relaxed wedding photographer, so my couple portraits tend to be exactly that: informal and relaxed wedding photographs! When it comes to your wedding portrait photos, I am completely led by what you both want as a couple. We’ll chat together before the wedding and talk about how comfortable you feel and what you want from your photos. I can guarantee that you won’t be forced in to doing any cheesey or awkward poses!

Two brides stand silhouetted in a beam of sunlight in a barrel store for a cotswolds vineyard.

Generally speaking I capture the couple portrait by taking you away from your guests for 15 to 20 minutes, getting you to stand in some beautiful light, in a pretty location and asking you to focus on each other. I absolutely encourage – in fact, it’s almost compulsory – chatting and laughing during this time. Most often it’s pretty much the only time you will spend alone together on your wedding day, and it can be nice to take a step away from all the action and just be together, so enjoy it.

Don’t worry if think you’re going to be really aware of the camera; if this is the case then I have lots of techniques that I can use to help you feel relaxed. I’m very used to working with couples that don’t enjoy having their photo taken, and I can give you as much direction as you feel that you need.

The Best Time For Your Wedding Portrait Photos

When you’re factoring photos into your timings, the season that you get married in is crucial to your decision. Like all photos, a great portrait photograph absolutely relies on beautiful light. In the summer the best light for portrait photos is late afternoon all the way through to sunset. During this period, the sun is low in the sky and beaming out lovely diffused golden light. As well as being gorgeous, this light is SUPER FLATTERING. The very worst time to do portraits in the summer is at midday, when the sun is directly overhead and giving out very harsh bright light (the kind that makes you squint). This kind of light will bring out eye bags and harsh lines, not to mention induce some serious midday sun-sweating.

For summer weddings, if it’s possible when planning your wedding day timeline, it’s best to allocate 15-20 minutes for your portraits anytime after 3pm. You may also want to think about allocating another 10 minutes after your meal so that you can take advantage of a beautiful sunset – this is the “golden hour” that you hear photographers wang on about so much. (You’ll understand why when you see photos of it!)

For winter weddings, I advise the opposite! The sun is low in the sky all day due to the time of year, and even at midday the light is minimal – so all the portrait photos and group pictures should be taken as close to midday as possible – the further away from midday your photos are taken, the less light there will be available.

bride-and-groom-embrace-and-laugh-in-front-of-vintage-green-bus-in-central-london

Having said all this as your friendly neighbourhood wedding photographer, my style is that of documentary wedding photography, so I’m very used to dealing with all kinds of light conditions; the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m also totally confident using flash to add in additional light where it’s required.

The Best Location For Your Wedding Portraits

When it comes to choosing locations for your portrait session, I am very much led by how the day flows, as well as what the weather decides to do on the day of your wedding. For this reason, a visit to your venue before your wedding day is unnecessary: the weather and available light, which will have the biggest impact on the choice of location for your portraits, generally isn’t something that can be accurately predicted weeks in advance. 

Also, don’t worry about collecting a Pinterest board of ideas for me to replicate. I’ll already be brimming with ideas and inspiration from just being at your wedding and seeing how you interact with each other. Your wedding photos are primarily about you as a couple and how you two vibe together, which can’t be faked or squished into a pre-made box. To copy another photographer’s posing created for an entirely different couple won’t do your couple portrait justice.

Top Tips for your Wedding Portrait Photos

  • Ask your wedding helpers to keep your guests enjoying the wedding while you sneak away for your photos – if you are already not keen on having your photo taken then having your couple portraits taken in front of an audience is going to make you feel like you’re in front of a firing squad.
  • Allocate at least 15 minutes for couple photos- even if you hate the idea. These will be the photos that you will want to print out. The more relaxed you are for them, the better they will be.
  • In the summer try to make some time in your wedding day to have your couple photos taken in the afternoon (ideally after 3pm).
  • In the winter try to take advantage of the daylight and arrange some time for your couple photos to be taken as close to midday as possible.

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Top Tips for Amazing Confetti Photos

Top Tips for Amazing Confetti Photos

I LOVE CONFETTI! There’s one simple rule here: MORE IS MORE. There is no such thing as too much confetti. However, you will need to check with your venue if they have any rules on it. Even if they don’t have any restrictions, it’s always best to opt for biodegradable confetti – for the planet maaaaaaan! (The planet, and David.) Now, I’ve really thought about this because I love it so so much, so prepare for the ultimate guide to wedding confetti by a true confetti connoisseur:

bride and groom walk through evening colourful confetti tunnel at voewood house wedding

What is the Best Kind of Wedding Confetti?

The best kind of confetti is brightly coloured and fairly large in size. This ensures that you will have photos showing your brightly coloured confetti slowly fluttering down around you and your beau. Generally the larger the confetti piece, the slower it will fall through the air, so it needs to be approximately 2cm diameter.

Confetti that works really well:

  • Brightly coloured tissue paper
  • Flower petals of mixed size and various colours

Things that don’t work well:

  • Rice (looks shit and bloats pigeons, no one likes a bloated pigeon)
  • Lavender
  • Tiny broken up dried flower pieces in a dark colour
  • Bubbles (if you’re dead set on bubbles, get a a few bubble machines to create LOADS)

How Much Wedding Confetti Will You Need?

When you’re ordering your confetti, order enough confetti for each guest to grab a really big handful. If you are buying your confetti in volume and thinking HOW MUCH CONFETTI DO I NEED?!??!!, then a good guideline is 2 litres of confetti for every 10 guests.

A side view of a hand holding brightly coloured wedding confetti. Image by Parrot and Pineapple

Most of all – you do not need to put your confetti in little cones or bags. Get a nice basket or bucket, drop it all in and then get your wedding squad to walk up and down the confetti tunnel asking your guests to take a handful. Cones and bags are an added expense, you may have to spend a lot of time before the wedding filling them and they also really confuse your guests when it comes to throwing (more people than you can imagine just panic and throw the bag / cone, which is MUCH less photogenic lemme tell you. Also, you end up with loads of confetti still in cones / bags – it’s useless there. You want it all in the air raining down on you!)

wedding guests gather round a woman distributing confetti from a box at a wedding. Image by Parrot and Pineapple

 

Consider a Confetti Canon

The best confetti throwing technique is simply just having a handful of confetti and throwing it over arm (like shooting a hoop in basketball or netball) so it rains down on to you and your wedded beau as you skip through the tunnel. As a confetti specialist, I can say that height is absolutely key to a confetti blizzard. If you want a really next level confetti experience, then I can highly recommend investing in some confetti canons. They are BRILLIANT. 

If your confetti is in cones or bags people tend to throw directly from the cone or open bag, which often becomes airborne too! (Again, as a confetti specialist I can confidently say that no one wants a confetti cone thrown at their face on their wedding day.) The best case scenario is that all your guests hold on to their confetti cone or bag when throwing, but even then the confetti doesn’t get the same height and velocity as when it’s just handheld. Trust me, I’ve really thought about the physics behind this. Don’t even consider confetti cones or bags. 

The Best Time for Confetti

Organising the confetti shot is one of only two parts of the day where I will step up and direct your guests. The confetti moment is best done immediately after the ceremony, before you’ve had a chance for all your guests to greet you after the service. After you have been pronounced married and walked out of your ceremony you should both try to step in to a side room, or anywhere away from the crowd. Not only is it nice to spend that time together as just the two of you – you just got MARRIED! – but it also allows your guests to filter out of the ceremony, and for me to organise them in two lines prepped and ready to go. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes to organise depending on how many guests you have – the more guests you have, the longer they take to organise.

After Your Confetti Moment

Once your confetti moment is done you should allow for some time to mingle with your guests. Your guests will be immensely happy for you and they can’t wait to hug you and tell you how amazing you are. You should make some space for that love and well wishing, I recommend to make space for about 30 minutes AFTER the confetti tunnel (depending on the number of guests you have, 30ish minutes is good for approx 100 guests to tell you how awesome you are). 

My Favourite Confetti Suppliers

Shropshire Petals – Naturally grown range of dried petals

Your Confetti – Pick and mix paper confetti in bright colours, circles and hearts

And not forgetting the grow your own option! Lots of couples will task their green fingered friends and family with growing and drying rose petals to make your own confetti. 

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