The Ins and Outs of Shooting a Wedding Abroad
By Brett Florens
In the past decade or so, there has been a remarkable increase in the amount of destination wedding photography work available. In my opinion, there are a few factors contributing to this increase. Global travel in general has been on the increase for a number of decades – in 1980, it was estimated that 227 million people crossed international borders on airplanes, by the end of 2015, that figure reached 1.2 billion people. Clients getting married abroad are able to search online for their dream destination, and are able to browse for the proposed wedding packages at these destinations at the mere click of a button. In the same manner, they are able to search for service providers that really resonate with them, whether these are photographers, florists, or DJs.
There are still vendors who are not willing to travel, however more and more realize what a golden opportunity this is and are making “Destination Weddings” a specialty. 80% of my work is out of town and I have made destination work a very important part of my business. I have shot in some amazing destinations and had the privilege of seeing parts of the world I would not have the opportunity to see had I not been a destination-wedding photographer. Airfares are relatively reasonable in comparison to the total budget of the wedding, and therefore the cost of flying someone in to do hair and make-up or the photography isn’t as debilitating as the idea would initially seem. When couples compare the cost of getting married in their own hometown for 150 guests, it could very well be the same expense as getting married in a beautiful Tuscan village for around 50 close friends and family, those that are close enough to the couple to go to the trouble and expense of travelling to be with them on their special occasion. At the end of the day, the feeling tends to be that a more intimate wedding in a dream location will be far more memorable and romantic.
When quoting for destination weddings, the clients know that you need to include travel, accommodation and a few other expenses, such as local assistants, car hire, taxi, visas, gear rental and food. You also need to find out about the costs of delivering the final product if the client lives in a different city or country to yourself. I firmly believe in custom-made quotes for my clients as they will know exactly what they are in for and don’t have to do any nebulous calculations themselves. It also avoids any potential for conflict where clients dispute the final expenses.
KEEP IN TOUCH
As a photographer you need to ensure that you reply to emails and queries in good time, make sure you have answered all the clients’ questions with clarity and offer extra knowledge that will help them with their wedding. I believe that if a client likes your work and finds value in your product, your brand and likes you, they will book you. However, being pushy and harassing your client makes you look desperate and clients either see it as annoying, in which case they’ll probably look for another photographer, or they’ll perceive you as weak and may ask for a discount.
Once it’s confirmed that you are the official photographer, email them to say thank you for entrusting you with their photographs. Then, I suggest you befriend your clients on Facebook if you can. This can give you a wealth of knowledge about them, which will help you to prepare for what they will aspire to for their wedding photographs. Look at all aspects of their lives, where they eat, what clothing brands they like to wear, what movies, music and TV programs they like and what they do for a living. This may seem like stalking (and please stay within the parameters of what is socially acceptable research!) – but as we all know, these days most people are happy to share their likes and ideas on Facebook, giving their friends an open-book to their personalities (and vital clues into the aspirations that they would have when it comes to a perfect wedding day, for the photographer that knows how to interpret what he sees and reads!) After you have gathered the information, it will be really easy to create a “mood board” for their engagement, wedding and post-wedding shoots. These you will want to have organised in time for your second meeting. When creating mood boards that I am going to physically present to clients, I create a collage in Photoshop and print them out as A3 (40cmx60cm) size prints. This comes from my experience of fashion and catalogue work. I feel that it perpetuates my brand as a fashion-inspired wedding photographer and gives the client a glimpse of how fashion photographers approach shoots. It also makes my clients understand that I am approaching their wedding uniquely and that I have put in effort to make their wedding photography truly representative of their personalities.
MEETING THE CLIENT
Once the client has agreed on the quote, you need to have your first meeting. It’s preferable to meet face-to-face, but if this is not possible, the alternative is to set up a Skype call when it is most suitable for the client. When choosing a meeting place that is not in your hometown or even if you prefer to meet your local clients at a venue that is not your office/studio/home, it is important to choose a venue that is going to make a great impression. Although it may seem like a safe, easy option, I would stay away from mainstream coffee chains and look for something trendy, classy or luxury corresponding to your clients’ profile. You want to meet them in their comfort zone, not only to relax them, but this will give the impression to your client that you are of a similar mind-set to them. This will facilitate a connection that you can build on.
It is really important to listen to your clients’ vision for their wedding and to take notes during the interview. You will be using this information later to reassure the client that you listened closely to them and that you share their vision for their wedding. It will also give you the information to follow up on and give you a reason to communicate with them after the meeting. Always affirm details that your client has already chosen and offer advice when asked. Often clients look to me as an industry insider and I perpetuate this notion by offering advice and opinions when needed. This information gives me a profile to work with and enable me to bring the contract to a closure.
This meeting is primarily about their wedding and my vision for how I will interpret their relationship and wedding. I would be presenting the mood board ideas and need to make sure that I am spot on with my assessment of their personalities, lifestyle and expectations. If the client is not happy with your interpretation, you need to come to an agreement on what would be more suitable – always within the boundaries of your photographic style – after all, they have booked you for this reason.
FIND A CONTACT
One of the main objectives at this stage, is to find a contact in that particular destination. This person needs to have a thorough knowledge of the area, as well as the logistical ins and outs of the permits perhaps needed for working and shooting. It is possible that you have to “work for them” for the job, as this may be the only legal way around the work-permit issue. This person could also be your assistant for the shoots, which would save you from flying your own assistant to the destination, which might cut into your profit line too much. They can also advise you on a good hotel that would not be too far from the Wedding reception. I suggest that you post on Facebook or Twitter that you are looking for an assistant in that location. Failing that, you’d have to do some scouting on the internet for a suitable individual. Searches would include photography studios or camera clubs.
DO MORE IN THE DESTINATION
When booking your flights for the engagement shoot and then later for the wedding, it is a good idea to arrange additional work, or do a styled shoot whilst you are there to ensure that the cost of the flights are diluted with other business. When arranging a styled shoot, it’s advisable to be in touch with a local modelling agency. They will be able to send you head shots of available models and advise you on make-up artists and hairstylists. You should also source a good florist to make up a bouquet if you are doing a mock wedding shoot. Whether you want to shoot fashion or wedding, it’s the perfect time to contact a designer, preferably even from your own country or home-town. They would love to have photographs of their designs in an exotic location, and would probably be more than willing to lend you few wedding gowns or outfits in exchange for the images. Give yourself a day or two extra to do this work. Keep your communication up with your clients in regards to your flight confirmation, just so they are reassured that all is on track.
VISAS AND PASSPORTS
Do a thorough search to find out whether you will need a visa for the destination with your particular passport. Some countries even require a transit visa when making a connecting flight at their airport. This can be a laborious process, so you need to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Most agencies need to see your plane ticket first, so this should be taken care of already. Obtaining the Visa is never really in doubt, but it is a reassuring feeling to know that you have all of your travel documents sorted out and that your passport is in order and all your ducks are in a row in good time! It’s always advisable to make sure that your passport has more than six months to go before the expiry date. Some countries are very sticky about this, and may refuse your entry. Make sure you apply for a new passport a good month or two before you fly. Sometimes countries suddenly have an overload of passports to process, and the usual five-day turn-around can be seriously delayed.
PACKING YOUR GEAR
I’d recommend that for the big, cumbersome gear such as light stands, studio lights and tripods , you find out where you can hire the equipment. Apart from remote, exotic islands, you can almost always hire photographic gear and this will make your baggage a fair bit lighter and much easier for you to travel with!
I like to pack two days before, not necessarily my clothing, but definitely my camera gear, making sure that all the batteries are fully-charged, memory cards are ready to go, and then I go through the process of packing my camera bags. Every time I fly, I follow the same process, this pretty much ensures success every single time and I have a travel checklist that I created to make sure that I pack everything that I need. I simply print it out, and tick off each item as it is checked and packed. So, to go through the travel checklist, I start off with my main camera body, which would by the Nikon D5, spare batteries and charger. My backup body is the Nikon D750 with batteries and charger. Then, I carry the Nikon 1AW, this I use for behind the scenes or if the bride and groom want to do a “drown the gown” session, which could involve some underwater photography at a later stage, and I take that with me with the charged batteries.
In terms of my lenses, I start off with my 55mm macro lens, it is a very old lens with the aperture ring on the outside, it’s manual focus and it was the first Nikon lens that I ever owned. Then I take the 10.5 mm fisheye lens, the 14-24 mm F2.8, the 24-70mm F2.8, the 85mm F1.4, the 70-200mm F2.8.
I take two Nikon speed lights – at the moment I’m using the SB910s and I take a TTL extension cord with me as well that is the SB29. With that, I pack different coloured gels for the speed lights.
I pack my memory cards, taking 3 XQD Lexar professional cards with me, the 64gig x2933 cards, as well as SD memory for the Nikon D750. I make sure that I take card readers with me, because I need to either back up on-site, or use them for the same-day slide show, or for when we shoot pictures of the guests arriving and then do printing on-site. I take backup hard drives – I use the G-technology hard drives with an all-weather case. This case is really good, especially in bad weather conditions because it’s dust-proof, water-proof, shockproof – all in all, a really good product to have with you.
In terms of lighting, I take two Rotolight LEDs with spare batteries. They take AA batteries, so I make sure that I’ve got enough batteries for that. I also have the Lowel GL1, and my charger that I take with that, and then just a small flashlight that I can use either to illuminate tricky situations or just to look for things in my bag during the reception where there’s not too much light around. For my ambient lighting, I have the Manfrotto tri-grip reflector –it collapses in to a very neat, compact item. I take a prism with me so that I can “play with light” in certain shots. I do this by placing the prism in front of the lens to diffract the light and create interesting images. And finally, I pack the Quadra ELB ranger from Elinchrom with the HS Skyport.
In terms of artificial lighting I really enjoy the portability and light quality of the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra lighting system, I have a Lastolite Octa softbox that fits onto the head and I pack a small handle to hold the head rather than a light stand. The next item of lighting gear is the Lowel GL1 Tungsten balanced LED light. I love the power and control it offers. Other essentials such as batteries and filters usually stay in my bag, make sure that you have them with you too.
Then I look further down the list and I see that I need my passport and Visas and I’ve got those. Then there are my credit cards, travel cards, my Nikon professional services card, which is really important to get service abroad with regards to camera gear. If I had to have a situation where a lens went down or a body went down, Nikon professional services are very good at support and backup for photographers who are registered with their NPS (Nikon Professional Service) project.
Next is my cell phone, its charger, and SIM cards if you are changing countries and you do have a SIM card for that country. If you don’t, they are quite easy to buy at the airport when you arrive. Travel adapter – make sure that if you’re going to a country that has a different electricity socket that you have a travel adapter. Also be aware that some countries have different voltages, which might end up damaging equipment – I had one incident where I was charging a battery for a flash and it literally exploded because I was using the wrong voltage – so be very aware about that! Then I take along my HDMI or a VGA adapter from my laptop, this is going to be used for the same-day slideshow. Headphones and my airplane adapter are also packed – I think it’s really important that if you’re traveling a lot, you have good quality sound when you’re listening to the movies or the music on the aeroplane and it’s just part of my checklist.
Then I have a Hoodman loupe, it’s called a Hoodloupe and I use that to look at my LCD in very bright conditions, it gives me a very good opportunity to view the image by magnifying it as well as cutting out any stray light, which enables me to look at the back of my LCD without any influence from available light. And talking about available light, that brings me to Sunglasses – it’s essential when you’re traveling to countries that have a lot of sun to protect your eyes.
My wallet – it is useful to carry a small amount of the local currency with you if you can get this before at a Bureau de change. It’s not always possible, but if you can, it may be of use at the airport if their exchange offices are busy, already closed, or nowhere to be found! Also remember, that the Bureau de Change at the airport tends to take the largest percentage commission. You might need a quick coffee or to pay for transport. For bigger purchases, Visa or Mastercard credit cards are accepted practically anywhere.
Protein bars – it’s important to have some sort of sustenance on the day of the wedding, so I take protein bars in my camera bag, which allow me to relax about sudden pangs of hunger! Also if you are traveling into a foreign country, perhaps the local food might not agree with your stomach, and on the day of the wedding you really need to be focused on the wedding, rather than any potential problems you might have from eating the wrong food.
Finally, I pack my MacBook Air with its charger. What am I packing them in you may ask? I have two favourites at the moment. The first is the Lowepro Protactic 40 AW backpack camera bag. I opt for this camera bag when shooting on the beach, or needing to do a bit of climbing, as it is really easily portable. My next option is the Lowepro roller, it’s the Pro Roller X200AW, and it’s the biggest camera bag that is still within the regulations of the airlines for carry-on baggage. The reason I would take a roller camera bag instead of a backpack, would be if I will be predominantly in hotels and the airport and easily accessible venues, having the roller will be a lot more comfortable than carrying a backpack around with me.
TIMING ON THE DAY
I’m a complete stickler when it comes to good timing, as you may have already gathered! And when you are in a foreign location, it’s even more important to get your timing pre-planned. You’ll need to know how long it takes to catch a taxi or Uber, or how long you need to drive your hired car in order to get to each location. Get information on the traffic on your route at that certain time of day and if you’re driving, it’s definitely advisable to hire a Satnav and in addition to this, give yourself even more time. Being in a foreign city can be a bit daunting when getting from A to B. A timeline that is by and large adhered to on the wedding day, will ensure that everything runs smoothly, and most importantly, it relieves most of the stress on the bridal couple who would like nothing more than to enjoy their special day and have the fondest memories of it. To this end, I think that it is vital to talk about timings early, so that all relevant parties can get on board to ensure a well-run event.
I would imagine that it almost goes without saying that when you are shooting a destination wedding, you ought to be shooting a “Day After” shoot. For one thing, you are in a beautiful location that would be different to the standard wedding venues, and it’s a chance to capture some really extraordinary images. The bride and groom will not likely be rushing off to another location for their honeymoon, so they will be available the following day or so to spend a few hours on a creative shoot. If you are on an island, “drown the gown” sessions are popular. Photograph the beach session first and then progress to the sea! Once the couple are wet and wild, there is no going backwards! I’m also a great fan of underwater sessions. You don’t even need an expensive underwater housing for this. I use the Nikon1AW for this which produces magnificent images. If you are in a Tuscan village for example, use the beauty of the surrounding landscape for some beautiful photographs, or even fun images. Hire a donkey! If you’re near a desert, definitely shoot in the dunes and look at hiring a camel. In the mountains, look into the hiring of a helicopter for an hour and capture some spectacular imagery atop a mountain. The sky is the limit and it is advisable to think about all the options possible before you quote for the wedding, so that you can make the suggestions and add these costs to your quote.
DELIVERY OF THE ALBUM
When it comes to the design of the album use the Pixelu Smart Albums 2 software and I find it to be so user-friendly that I no longer need to outsource the album design, which I had to in the past. It only takes me around an hour or so to create the album that I envisaged when shooting the wedding. Once a template album has already been made, the program is particularly easy to use when creating further albums, for example for each bridesmaid, each groomsman, each set of parents and/or grandparents. Once the album is designed, I send the layout to the client for approval via the Smart Albums web proofing system. It is great for the client to give me their feedback and approve the design. Once approved, I send the document to my preferred printer. In my case, this is Loxely Print. I then ask them to courier the album/s to the client directly, if they are not living in my city. If they are, I do prefer the personal service of delivering the album by hand and sitting with the clients as they look through it for the first time. Having it couriered is second prize. Also here, be aware that some countries charge import duty on these deliveries, so it is also wise to have calculated this cost into the original quote.
All in all, Destination Weddings are a great opportunity to broaden your photographic horizon. You may be a little nervous for the first one, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll really relish the chance to be in an environment that challenges your creativity. Your portfolio will start to look beautifully varied and clients will be eager to have a destination experience of their own.
On behalf of the PPANI, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to Brett Florens for contributing to our blog. Brett is an amazing photographer, speaker and educator. I cannot wait until he visits our association again. – Shea Deighan, Honorary Secretary of the PPANI.
Visit Brett’s website at: www.BrettFlorens.com
By Shea Deighan
The PPANI is happy to announce that Tyrone based photographer, Erica Cathers of Erica Irvine Photography has been awarded her licentiateship with the PPANI in wedding photography.
Erica recently became a probationary member of the PPANI and has very quickly obtained her licentiateship qualification.
The route to licentiateship qualification within the PPANI is by submitting twenty digital images. In the case of Erica whose chosen subject was weddings, ten images were from one wedding and ten images were from various others. The PPANI assign a suitable mentor and between the candidate and the mentor, twenty images are decided and tweaked before being put forward for judging.
These images show that Erica is in full control of the medium of wedding photography. Her images show correct camera technique, full control of the lighting and the final production of the finished image.
We the PPANI, expect to see that all of our qualified photographers are in control of the subjects portrayed and in this category – weddings, that they are posed in an attractive manner and good expressions obtained.
As always, a big thanks to our judges, Ciaran & Mike who took the time to judge.
By Shea Deighan
The PPANI is happy to announce that Antrim based photographer, Jayne Harkness of Jayne Harkness Photography has been awarded her licentiateship with the PPANI in wedding photography.
Jayne had been an auxiliary member of the PPANI for a few years and has joined her husband, Ewan in obtaining the Licentiateship qualification.
The route to licentiateship qualification within the PPANI is by submitting twenty digital images. In the case of Jayne whose chosen subject was weddings, ten images were from one wedding and ten images were from various others. Probationary members can take up to one year to become fully qualified. The PPANI assign a suitable mentor and between the candidate and the mentor, twenty images are decided and tweaked before being put forward for judging.
These images show that Jayne is in full control of the medium of wedding photography. Her images show correct camera technique, full control of the lighting and the final production of the finished image.
We the PPANI, expect to see that all of our qualified photographers are in control of the subjects portrayed and in this category – weddings, that they are posed in an attractive manner and good expressions obtained.
As always, a big thanks to our judges, Ciaran & Mike who took the time to judge.
Interviewed By Shea Deighan
Welcome To Let’s Talk With Ciaran O’Neill
Every month, the PPANI blog will bring you a little bit closer to Northern Ireland’s best and brightest photographers. This month, it’s the turn of master photographer, Ciaran O’Neill.
What inspires you take amazing images?
I don’t really think about creating ‘amazing images’. I just try to take better photos today than I did yesterday. Sometimes that means trying something new, sometimes it means tweaking an idea I’ve already tried.
How does today’s PPANI compare with the PPANI that you joined?
I think today’s PPANI is very similar to when I joined. We are still a group of ambitious photographers who see the advantage of getting together for support and continued learning. PPANI’s annual competition still helps to showcase our talented members and encourages us all to work even harder. When I joined the association I heard lots of stories about great social events PPANI used to run. This is something I have always tried to encourage, be it running a non-photography event or simply staying on for a coffee or a drink after our meetings. I have a lot of good friends in the PPANI.
You’ve won numerous awards. What is the most important award you have ever won?
The answer to this probably should be the gold ‘Oscar’ style trophy that I won for UK Photographer of the Year, but actually its something much closer to home. Of all the trophies I’ve picked up the only one that I an emotional attachment to is one for 3rd place in the PPANI album of the year competition back in about 1999. It was my first ever award and it made me realise i could compete against the very best photographers in the country. I’ll never forget that feeling!
What do you prefer to shoot? Weddings or portraits?
I love shooting weddings. I love the mix of emotions, the nervousness, the joy, the romance, the love! Where else do you get that!
What is your favourite photograph that you have ever taken?
I took a great shot last week that I really liked but I think I might take a better one next week! I’m a bit of a kid that way, I take a shot and think its my best one ever – then take another and think that one is the best!!
Over the years, you’ve seen numerous styles of photography come and go. Which is the worst/cheesiest you’ve come across?
I don’t think any style is cheesy but the way some photographers execute it might leave a bit to be desired. New styles are usually created by one really talented photographer who does something no one else has thought of. Then other people get inspired by them, After a while people use this new ‘style’ because they aren’t creative enough to come up with their own ideas. That’s when things get cheesy!
How much fun is it to have Simon work with you? Does it bring an extra layer of competitiveness out in you, especially around award season?
Yes, I do get a laugh working with Simon. Its good support for both of us though and we can bounce ideas around. If one of us finds a new place to take a shot or get a pic we are particularly pleased with we are always showing each other. At awards time there is a little competition but not as much as you might think.
What’s your favourite time of the year to shoot weddings?
Christmas. The decorations, the atmosphere, the low winter sun, the candles, the open fires, the fur wraps.
Christmas!! The cold, the wind, the rain, the short days, I guess you can’t have it all!!
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at a wedding?
Ok its not a funny story but its my favourite wedding story. A couple got engaged but the girl’s parish priest asked her to move to Canada with him to be his housekeeper. She move to Canada. They both married other people but kept in touch by Christmas cards. After about 50 years she mentioned in her annual card that her husband had passed away. He asked her to come back to Ireland and marry him! She did and I had the great pleasure of photographing their wedding.
As a photographer who many other photographers look up to and aspire to become, who do you look up to or aspire to?
I’m going to cheat here and go for three answers for this one, Richard Alvedon, Richard Branson and Casey the Cocker Spaniel. I collect old fashion photography books and I absolutely love Richard Alvedon’s simple style. There is nothing in his images that doesn’t contribute to the image. You can see his influence in so much of today’s fashion photography. While Richard Branson is an outstanding businessman, he always puts two other things in front of making money, his family and having fun. He doesn’t seem to care if this annoys the establishment. You’ve got to love him for that! Lastly, Casey the Cocker Spaniel. Casey was our first dog and when you opened the back door to let him in, he would be so happy he would run around in circles for 5 minutes. Ten minutes later, if you opened the door to let him out he would get so excited he would run around in circles again. Casey lived in the moment and enjoyed life. I try to be like Casey.
As a photographer who learned how to shoot in film days, do you think todays photographers are better or worse for learning in digital?
I don’t think there’s any difference. Photographers are artists, it doesn’t matter what medium they use. Learning the basics on film was slow because you had to get the film processed and printed. This put a lot of people off. The basics are easier to pick up with digital which brings a lot more people into the industry. This is a good thing as out of those people talented, hard working individuals will emerge and produce outstanding work. The others will be glad to continue to produce the basics. This was the same when we shot film except now there might be more of them.
What advice would you give to the next generation of photographers?
Run while you still can! Its too late for the rest of us! Only joking. Photography has been very good to me. It has taken me across Europe to give seminars and to take wedding photos. It has introduced me to amazing people and given me experiences I would never had otherwise. My advice is ‘go for it’. Its not an easy profession to make a living at but the rewards outweigh the downsides.
What’s your favourite piece of equipment?
My favourite piece of kit at the moment is my little Lumix camera. Its not the highest resolution or the best in low light etc, but its small and I bring it everywhere. As the saying goes ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’.
Last but not least, which PPANI member is next to be interviewed?
The PPANI is delighted to be able to bring one of our coolest photographers, Sarah Fyffe to our blog for a special guest appearance. Sarah is a hugely talented photographer from Omagh, Northern Ireland. This is a great read. Thanks again to Sarah for allowing the PPANI to showcase this great blog which first appeared on Sarah’s own site.
Images & Written By Sarah Fyffe
I’ve noticed more and more brides opting for winter weddings. While the increased trend for Winter Weddings can look atmospheric and romantic it is not without its challenges. You’ll need a talented photographer with experience of working in winter light and cold conditions to make you look your best.
Here’s my Top Ten Winter Wedding Style Tips to ensure your Winter Wedding goes as smoothly as possible and you get beautiful photographs no matter what the weather.
1. Wrap up Warm
Dress appropriately. You will never look or feel your best if you are cold. Your posture and body language will be affected. Consider a coat or cardigan to flatter your dress or get creative with a jumper or wrap. It is possible to look stylish AND keep warm!
Your bridesmaids will also thank you for it! Consider long sleevs and a heavier material. Check out these gorgeous, luxurious, deep red velvet bridesmaids dresses by one of my fave local designers Una Rodden.
Consider faux fur capes for yourself and your bridesmaids that they can keep on for the outside photos.
Make a statement with gloves to keep your extremities warm!
2. Get There If You Can
With our recent history of extreme winters it is very important that you book reliable transport that will get you through the ice and snow safely, if necessary. Rule out vintage cars at this time of year especially if you have a long journey.
If possible keep travel to a minimum. If you do have to travel arrange a bus for your bridal party and guests.
3. It’s all about the Light
In my opinion, planning an early ceremony is the one most important elements to ensure you make enough time for some natural light portraits.
Those intimate moments you spend together during your couple shots are incredibly special so make sure you allow time to have these shots in natural light. In Winter we lose the light at around 3’o’clock in the afternoon so it’s important to take this into consideration when planning your winter wedding.
This might mean planning an earlier ceremony time or perhaps considering a First Look, to catch your couple shots ahead of the ceremony.
4. Fake it
At this time of year the flowers you want may be out of season or may be delayed due to bad weather. Consider a brooch bouquet instead of fresh flowers- you’ll have them as a keepsake after the wedding!
5. Baby it’s cold outside
To save time and avoid you and your guests freezing, forget about greeting your guests outside the ceremony. If you really want a line up this can be organised just before dinner in the warmth of your venue.
6. Shoot the Group
Plan group shots before hand with your photographer and keep them to a minimum to avoid freezing your relations and friends! They’ll thank you for it.
7. Warm Feet
During your outdoor shoot avoid getting your heels stuck in the grass by changing into a pair of boots or Uggs. This will be far more practical and no one will notice them underneath your dress. Think of the comfort and warmth!
Consider having your ceremony and reception at the one venue incase of bad weather. It’s also sensible to choose a venue with an amazing well-lit space inside for photos, in case snow, rain or ice forces you indoors.
Winter lighting is cooler than warm Summer light. Create a glow by using a little under-eye highlighter and some blusher. Try warm, glowing hues and remember to moisturize to keep skin from drying out in the cold. Bring lip stick with you to refresh your makeup during the photo shoot.
10. Smile on the Inside
Don’t look cold, smile on the inside, you just got married!! If it helps carry a flask of hot chocolate or something stronger for the photo shoot. Pocket warmers are great to avoid ‘blue’ hands and don’t forget the best source of heat will be to cuddle your groom!!
I hope this helps if you are planning your winter wedding.
Thanks again to Sarah for this guest post on the PPANI blog. For further information, give Sarah a call at her studio or visit her website at SarahFyffe.ie
Keep an eye on the PPANI blog for more great blogs. If you are interested in producing a guest blog for the PPANI, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviewed By Steven Neeson
Welcome To Let’s Talk With Shea Deighan
Every month, the PPANI blog will bring you a little bit closer to Northern Ireland’s best and brightest photographers. This month, it’s the turn of Derry wedding photographer, Shea Deighan.
Hi Shea, welcome to the monthly PPANI interview.
That’s right. Thanks very much to Audrey Kelly for nominating me.
What made you decide that you wanted to be a photographer?
For my 30th birthday, I was given a camera as a gift. Even though I have a degree in Media Production which focused in photography, I hadn’t picked up a camera in years.
My sister owns a Montessori School in Cavan and she asked me to do the annual school photographs when someone else let her down.
I rented some equipment and loved doing the photos. The children were 2 & 3 and were so funny. Driving home, I thought this is something I should have been doing for years. A little while after that, I quit my job and built my website. Soon after, I began taking bookings.
What’s a normal day like for you?
When I’m not at a wedding or doing studio sessions, I usually find myself in front of my computer at my office. The glamorous side of photography! I really wish I could spend more time behind the camera but I love working on my images too even though it feels like my eyes might fall out from staring at a screen all day. Since I’ve become a council member of the Professional Photographers Association of Northern Ireland, I’m finding myself doing lots of work for the PPANI too.
What’s it like being a member of council?
It has it’s up and downs. The PPANI is a fantastic organisation. I really do love being a part of it. Since I’ve been on council, we’ve had to deal with one or two issues but mostly the experience has been a positive one. Our president, Marie Allen is doing a great job and we have a good group of council members. I highly recommend that any other member who hasn’t been on council before make themselves available next year or the year after. It might give them a little more perspective.
What’s the best or favourite photograph you have ever taken?
There is an image of a little boy I photographed at my studio a couple of years ago and I keep saying I’ll never take another better. The little man was about two years old and wasn’t being very cooperative during the shoot, in fact he was doing a great job of ignoring me. I shouted, hi Mr! He immediately spun around and I clicked and ended up with a great shot which is on display at my studio.
My own favourite image is a shot of The Band Perry who are a big country music group in America which I took at a concert in Dublin last year. I love it. It was shot with a Fuji X100s which is a cool little camera.
Do you photograph concerts too?
Not really. I’ve taken a little point and shoot camera to a couple of small shows and once managed to sneak my proper camera into a big concert. I don’t recommend doing that as depending on the venue, they may confiscate your camera.
I sneaked my wedding camera into a Taylor Swift concert earlier in the year. After shooting, for about a minute I got a tap on the shoulder by arena staff who warned me if I was caught using it once more, I’d be asked to leave.
I put the camera away until the last few songs and tried again. I was miles away from the stage but managed to get a few nice shots. My local paper saw one on my Twitter feed and asked if could they publish it. Think they were more interested in Taylor Swift than me.
What gear to you use?
I’m a Canon shooter. I currently shoot of a 5D mk iii. It’s funny because I often get asked if I’m a Canon or Nikon guy. I’ve never owned a Nikon. Think you tend to stick with what you start with as you spend so much on glass. For lighting, I use Elinchrom. Love the quality of the light and it’s so reliable. I use Elinchrom strobes in the studio and have a smaller battery set for location and weddings.
What is your favourite part of being a photographer?
Handing over a finished product to my customer is the highlight for me. Whether it is something that will be hung on their walls for generations or a wedding album which will be treasured forever, the moment of joy and excitement that is shown is fantastic.
And least favourite?
Airbrushing. I know some photographers who love doing it, it’s like colouring in for them but I hate it.
What’s the least best thing that has ever happened at a wedding?
I photographed a wedding in Belfast a couple of years ago. The couple wanted to go around the touristy spots for their bridal photos. At the time, I didn’t know Belfast that well so I grabbed my cameras and got a lift with the bride and groom in the front seat of their classic car that was hired for the day. The journey lasted about thirty seconds before there was a loud noise from the car. The steering wheel had broken. The car could drive forwards and backwards but couldn’t make a turn. The driver was a bit shocked as were the bride and groom.
We all jumped out of the car and left the driver with his broken car as he called for help in the busy rush hour traffic. We ended up doing the photos at City Hall, which turned out to be really pretty. On the walk back to the venue, I spotted a bus stopped in traffic and asked if I could get the bride and groom in for a quick snap. The bus lady obliged and in the end, it turned out well and we got some great shots. I still have the bus shot on display at my studio.
What made you join the PPANI?
Being brutally honest, I joined to try to become a better photographer. I didn’t know a lot about the organisation and thought that the training and seminars which are included would be good value.
After being in the organisation for a couple of years or so, I feel the benefits of membership are huge. There are loads of great reasons to be a part of the PPANI but I’d say that networking is probably the best thing about being a member. I’ve met lots of other photographers within the organisation who really inspire me and to be able to chat to them off and on is a great help and really keeps you on your toes. The best photographers in Northern Ireland are members of the PPANI and some of the greatest are Derry photographers.
Finally, who’s next?
Ciaran O’Neill. Really looking forward to his interview. I can’t wait, as I know that he’s one of the best photographers in Northern Ireland and of course, one of the coolest!
Behind The Scenes Images & Written By Shea Deighan
Slideshow Images By Glenn Norwood
The November PPANI seminar was hosted at the Armagh City Hotel with a fashion shoot at Armagh Jail.
The PPANI members were joined by an amazing fourteen non members for the day and everyone was treated to a brilliant seminar by Northern Ireland’s top photographer, Glenn Norwood. Glenn’s model for the day was the beautiful, Melissa.
Glenn’s work is amazing. When I learned he was doing a seminar with the PPANI, I immediately booked my place. – Peter
Glenn showcased his impressive range of skills to everyone and spent much of his time demonstrating his many off camera flash skills using a range of impressive lighting gear and setups. Glenn turned the Armagh Jail into an impressive photography studio and demonstrated to everyone what it takes to be a master of light.
It really was kinda cool! – Catherine
After the fashion shoot and a fantastic lunch together, the delegates spent the afternoon being amazed by Glenn’s fantastic photoshop skills as he made some of the images taken at the jail come to life. Glenn has kindly made some of these images available to the PPANI in the above slideshow.
Great day. Big thanks to Glenn. – Sam
The PPANI would like to thank Magdalena HG [hair and styling] ; Melissa Elliot [model and makeup artist] ; Jessica Brandt [designer] ; Mariam Koczarian [styling] ; Ian Pedlow [Assistant] and of course would like to express our deepest gratitude to Glenn for his amazing contribution to the seminar and look forward to working with him again.
By Shea Deighan
The latest PPANI meeting was hosted by RA Calvert processing lab in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Ronnie and his team covered many aspects of their business, workflow and explained in depth the processes and lengths they go to, to make our images beautiful.
As qualified professional photographers, we go to great lengths to ensure that our customers receive an amazing final product. Labs like Ronnie’s is the final step in the long process it takes to create an amazing image which our customers can hang on their wall or display in their wedding album.
Ronnie showed off some of his amazing print products and albums to the PPANI members in attendance. The quality was fantastic and got everyone who wasn’t currently using Ronnie’s services to think again about their lab provider.
The most interesting aspect of the visit was the workflow Ronnie’s team goes through when they receive an order from their clients. Every image is meticulously checked for quality, colour, consistency and when necessary, an adjustment is made. Ronnie’s labs boasts the finest equipment available and any image he produces is sure to be perfectly produced.
Many PPANI photographers trust Ronnie and his team to produce their fantastic images and after this visit, I’m sure many more will too.
Written By Shea Deighan
Images By Shea Deighan & Ewan Harkness
The Ulster Wedding Show is one of Northern Ireland’s top wedding shows and has some of the finest wedding exhibitors Northern Ireland has to offer. Hosted by Ulster Weddings at the SSE Arena over two days, it’s one of the biggest and busiest shows of the year.
The PPANI was well represented as members, Ciaran O’Neill, Graham Crichton, Ewan Harkness, Shea Deighan, Sam McDermott & Annette Burke exhibited some of their amazing images and albums to the excited visitors who travelled from all over Ireland.
Brides and grooms to be were out in force and photography was one of the main areas of attraction. The quality of the work showcased by these members was outstanding and is fitting of the title: Northern Ireland’s best and brightest.
We loved visiting the Ulster Wedding Show. We came here to book our photographer and were so glad that the photographer we wanted was available. We booked Annette Burke of 4Ever Photos at the show and to learn that Annette is a member of the PPANI is such a big bonus. We can’t wait! – Sarah & Rob
We booked Graham Crichton. We were so impressed with his stand and the quality of his work. – Elaine & Peter
We booked Ewan Harkness who was recommended by another PPANI member at the show. It was great learning about the PPANI. – Rebecca & John
Interviewed By Shea Deighan
Welcome To Let’s Talk
Every month, the PPANI blog will bring you a little bit closer to Northern Ireland’s best and brightest photographers.
First up is the multi award winning Audrey Kelly. Audrey has been with the PPANI for over four years and currently serves as Vice President of the PPANI.
Audrey is ridiculously talented and is one of the brightest lights within the PPANI. On with the interview.
Hi Audrey, what inspires you to take amazing images?
Ha ha. Amazing? Thank you Shea. A few things inspire my style. The most inspiration though, would be from my love for art and the need to bring this across in my work.
I aim to create individual, unique pieces of art as apposed to seeing my work as simply just a photograph. My clients can hang my work on their wall like a painting and proudly say that it is them.
I often say, it’s like something you could buy in a shop but instead of just some random scene or subject – the subject is you or someone more meaningful. Whether that be a wedding couple, a newborn shoot or a portrait.
What made you get involved in the PPANI?
Being a photographer can be a little lonely. I had always heard about the PPANI but never felt I was good enough to join. I had thought initially that it would be a great way to network with other photographers in Northern Ireland and the competitions would be something to aim towards and make me grow as a photographer.
The PPANI has given me so much more than what I originally expected . Not only has my confidence grown as a photographer but I have also gained some great friends who I know I can rely upon if needed.
What is your favourite photograph that you have ever taken?
Haha. I think everyone will know this. My favourite photograph to date is the one I created for myself. It’s the one of Chloe, my daughter.
As photographers we are always creating everyone else’s story. This one is my story and was and still is something that is very close to me at this moment as I’m feeling the emotions of my little girl growing up and moving on.
My proudest moment in my career for not just myself but also Chloe was when this image won at the 2015 PPANI Awards. I couldn’t help but get a little emotional – this image has also inspired me to create more pieces for myself which I would encourage all photographers to do.
Some photographers say that they see the world differently, and that they have a different perspective on life. What is your perspective on the world and on life?
In my photography world, I have a few rules and things I visualize. With every wedding or portrait I like to pretend that I’m skipping forward thirty years and what I want to create is something that will stand that test of time. I’ll imagine their grandchildren picking up the wedding album and hope that they can feel exactly what it felt like. I like images to be true to the day and how it was, with also a little push at times to add taste of art, but you know what I mean.
Can you describe that moment when you knew that photography was something you just had to do?
Photography was never something I had to do. I actually went down the route of film and video first and I’ve always had an eye for something different. My trade as a graphic designer brought in an art element. I think I could say that the moment came when I got a few very amateur photographs framed, finished and given as presents to some family members. Seeing their reactions and how it made me feel at that time, I thrive on that humbled feeling yet to this day.
What advice would you give to the next generation of Northern Ireland’s professional photographers?
My advice would be to research what others are doing but only so you know to do something different. Use this as a reference to try to be your own individual self and also to keep your images timeless. Ha ha.
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on while on a shoot?
The funniest thing that I can think of and probably because its most recent was when I continuously kept calling to my groom, Enda, by the name of Glenda, all day and just couldn’t get it right. It got a few laughs that day for sure and probably also the ongoing being peed on by all the little newborn men.
What’s your favourite piece of equipment and why?
I’ve quickly fallen in love with my 105mm macro lens since purchasing it last year.
What are some of your favourite things about being a photographer?
I think we are all in photography for the same reasons, but I would say the best thing for me is back to that feeling again, and being able to do something I love every day.
It never feels like work, well except for culling, ha ha. There is not many can say they are in a job they love to get up to do in the morning and that to me is one of the most important things in life.
Last but not least, which PPANI member do you nominate for the next interview?
I nominate Shea Deighan. Ha ha.
Thanks to Audrey for doing the interview.
To see some more of Audrey’s amazing work, visit her PPANI portfolio page.
Written By Shea Deighan
Four award winning photographers.
30 minutes to shoot. 30 minutes to edit. No pressure.
Welcome to the first blog post of the PPANI. This blog is aimed at you, the public to give you a little insight into the lives of our PPANI members and what it’s like to be one of Northern Ireland’s best and brightest professional photographers.
2015 PPANI Champagne Shoot Out
Todays subject is the annual PPANI Champagne Shoot Out. This year, the Antrim Castle Gardens & Clotworthy House hosted the event. Four award winning photographers from the 2015 PPANI awards battled it out for a bottle of bubbly. This is a popular day for members and it was a chance to let our hair down near the end of a very busy wedding season.
Award Winning Photographers
The format of the competition is as follows:
Each participating photographer has 30 minutes to shoot with the same model bride and groom in the presence of the PPANI members in attendance. The other three photographers are kept in another location so they don’t know what is going on. After the shoot, the participating photographer has another 30 minutes to prepare three edited images for display at the end of the day to all of the other members in attendance.
When each shoot is over and after seeing all of the edited images from each participating photographer in a slide show, the other PPANI members in attendance are asked to choose their favourite in a secret vote.
And The Winner Is
Jay Doherty! Jay won the shootout with the most votes. Congratulations Jay and to Chris, Audrey and Catherine for taking part. Here are some highlights of the day and of course the presentation images from each participating photographer.