'It's a privilege to be asked to document the happiest day of a couple's lives'

Capturing that special day

By Paul Jones

Wedding photography is fun, and it should always be fun. It’s a privilege to be asked to document the happiest day of a couple’s lives through their wedding photos. As their chosen wedding photographer they are placing their trust in me to capture all the joys and emotions of their special day. It’s said that if you have a job that you really love doing then it’s never really a job, more of a passion. If you’re having fun on the big day then the couple is having fun too, which makes for much more relaxed photos, so that’s my motto, keep it fun!

Even though we’re having fun there is a serious side to the business. A lot of preparation and planning will take place before the wedding day itself. This is vital, as there are no second chances, it’s not like we can do the shoot again, so a wedding photographer must be able to get it right first-time. I always say to a bride and groom that once they have chosen their wedding suppliers they should sit back, relax, and soak up the atmosphere of their day. I ensure that they get as much time to spend mingling with their guests as possible, and keep the time allotted for the formal shots to a minimum, usually no more than 45 minutes. After that almost all of the photos I would take are candid documentary style, capturing all those special moments.

Blair and Caoimhe Clinton on their wedding day

Professional wedding photographers are booked up early. I would usually get an enquiry from a couple 18-24 months before their date. I would travel to meet with them, show them some examples of my albums and work, and agree on a price that suits their budget. First impressions last and if a couple like my personality they will book me. When a couple like their photographer they will be much more relaxed when getting their photos taken, ultimately leading to better photos. I’ll meet with the couple again about six weeks before their big day and make a note of places, times, names of the bridesmaids and bestmen, and all of the other details that I should know of ahead of the wedding day itself. If I haven’t shot at a particular location previously I will visit it the week beforehand and scout out for nice locations to get really great images. It’s good to have the homework done on a venue as it saves so much time on the wedding day itself.

The day prior to a wedding I will prepare all of the equipment, charge batteries, format cards, pack camera bags and do a checklist of all that will be needed. Then I get to bed early so I’m fully rested for a great day ahead.

On the morning of the wedding, I’d arrive at the bride’s house at about 9.30am. The bridal prep is always fun when the bride to be is surrounded by her close family and bridesmaids getting the hairs and makeup done. It’s an exciting time. I’ll take some details shots also, of the wedding dress, shoes, earrings, perfumes and all the other bits and bobs.

Conor and Aine Matthews

One of my favourite photos is when the Father of the Bride sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time, it’s always an emotional moment. If possible I’ll get to the groom’s house to get some photos of him getting ready, after all, it’s the only part of the day that the bride won’t see. Then it’s off to the church for the ceremony.

At the church, I will always try to get as many shots of the guests as well as the ceremony itself as there’s so much emotion happening, especially when Dad is walking his daughter down the aisle towards a usually anxious and nervous awaiting goom. The ceremonies are wonderful, with the lighting of the candles, the placing of rings on the fingers, and of course the all-important first kiss. All of these photos are very important however it’s important also to be respectful during the ceremony and not be a distraction, marriage is a serious sacrament and there are times during the ceremony when it’s not really appropriate to take photos as all experienced wedding photographers know.

After the ceremony is a good time to take some family photos on the steps of the altar. This can often be the best time to do this as when we get to the reception venue it can be hard to gather everyone together. Now it’s time for the newlyweds and their bridal party to get their formal wedding photos done. We’d travel to the location we’ve chosen for this and spend about 45 mins getting some really nice photos.

Photographer Paul Jones…’No two weddings are the same, each one is unique and special in its own way’

I personally think this is just enough time to allocate for this as we can get some great photos and still get to the venue in plenty of time to allow the happy couple mingle with their guests who are congratulating them. I’ve yet to meet a couple who would rather spend more time taking photos than being with their guests so 45 mins for the formal photos is more than enough in my book.

Then it’s on to the venue, getting really nice photos of the happy couple arriving to a welcome glass of champagne, mingling with their guests, entering the reception room, the speeches, and of course the first dances. During the meal reception, I often do a guest signing frame where I print out an image taken earlier in the day and put it in a frame where all the guests at the wedding write their best wishes on. It’s a lasting memento that the couple will always treasure. I’ll also take as many guest photos as possible, then it’s time for that all important first dance.

It’s normally around 10 pm when the first dances take place and it may seem like a long day on paper, but in reality, it flies by. I never notice the time slipping by when taking wedding photos. At this stage, I may already have taken over 1500 images but I would never leave without taking a stunning night-shot of the couple before I leave. It’s a great opportunity to thank the couple for a great day and for their custom. Then it’s time for home.

When I get home and unpack the car I back up all the photos of the day securely which is really important, especially when doing back-to-back wedding days. It usually takes six weeks or so to edit the photos (about 25 hours per wedding) and prepare the draft version of the wedding album. I’ll then meet with the couple again and show them their photos for the first time and their wedding album layout.

It’s only when they are 100% satisfied with the design of the album that it gets created and printed. So that’s really it in a nutshell, no two weddings are the same, each one is unique and special in its own way which is another reason that being a wedding photographer is one of the best jobs ever!

Check out www.meathphotos.ie or contact Paul on 085 7808115 / info@meathphotos.ie

**There’s still time to pic up our fabulous 32-page WEDDINGS supplement with loads more great stories in this week’s paper!

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