Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #7 Book Early

christchurch wedding photographerChristchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #7 Book Early There is a lot of advice floating around in cyberspace around wedding planning, what you should do and when. Some of it is good and some of it not so good.

Case in point.

I was reading a wedding planning site the other day and it advised that couples should start looking for a wedding photographer six-months out. As a Christchurch wedding photographer and a destination wedding photographer I would say this isn't early enough.


Well, there is only one of me and there is a finite number of weekends over summer. I'm not sure why, but November 2013 is already filling with wedding bookings and only last week I turned away a wedding inquiry for a date in November this year.

If this leaves you wondering when you should book your wedding photographer, I would say as soon as you have decided to get married. So if you have made that decision and your big day is eighteen-months away, find your photographer and book them.

If you've decided to get married and your big day is only a month away, stop reading this - right now! - find your wedding photographer and book them!

If the wedding photographer you want is not available, ask them for a recommendation. If I'm already booked, I always recommend another Christchurch wedding photographer who I know and trust. Ditto for destination weddings in places like Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

The earliest I have ever booked a wedding was Jenny and Justin's Thailand destination wedding in beautiful Koh Mak Island. Jenny contacted me some thirteen-months out and booked me the following week. The latest I have booked a wedding was one-week out.

The couple - Isabelle and Andreas - I actually met on the beach while photographing Jenny and Justin's wedding. Turns out they had eloped from Europe to Thailand for their wedding. That random encounter led to me photographing their very private wedding two-weeks later in the heart of Bangkok. It's funny how I meet clients sometimes.

The take home message: if you have decided to get married and you want a wedding photographer, don't delay in finding your photographer and booking them. Wait too long and your wedding photographer may have already taken another booking.

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Christchurch wedding photographer - How to take photos with an iPhone Part II

How to take photos with an iPhone part II, is the second installment on how take better photos with your iPhone or smart phone. Read part one here: How to take photos with an iPhone. In part one we talked about the basics - keeping your lens clean, having the brightness turned up, how to hold your phone steady, dealing with the shutter lag and how to focus the camera. In this post, we are going to talk more about actual photography.

1. The Light

This is a universal truth with photography - nothing will improve your images faster than shooting in good light.

To understand light, you need to become aware of it. To do that, you need to start observing light around you at various times of the day. What's the light outside your window right now? What's the light like in your city after a big storm comes through? If you begin asking yourself these questions, you'll begin to develop an understanding of light and just trust me on this - your photos will improve.

When it comes to taking a photo, ask yourself these questions:

What is the angle of the sun in relation to the subject?

If the sun is behind your subject, they'll be back lit. Is this something you want? If not, you need to add in some flash or move yourself or the subject in relation to the sun.

What is the quality of the light in relation to the subject?

If you are trying to take a portrait of a friend who is standing half in the shade and half in the sun, I can tell you right now, you'll have a hard time getting a good photo. Camera sensors can't deal with such contrast. Ask your subject to move fully into the shade or fully into the sun, to improve your photo.

Though you may not realise it, as a society we are surrounded by photography. When you see photographs, ask yourself this: what is the light in the photo like? What's the light source - artificial or natural? Is the light contrasty or soft and diffuse?

Practice answering these questions and over time, you'll develop a keen sense of light.

how to take photos with an iPhone

2. Colour and Form

Colour and form can have a tremendous impact on a photo. When it comes to form, learn about the rule of thirds. When it comes to colour, learn about colour theory.

If you are thinking these topics are more about design than photography, you are partially correct. Good photographers understand design and create photos accordingly.

Want to create better photos? Learn about design.

3. Photo Content

Before you even take a photo ask yourself this question: is there a clear subject in my photo?

Asking yourself this question prompts you to think about what you are actually taking a photo of, as opposed to just pointing your camera and taking a snap.

If your photo doesn't have a clear subject, then it doesn't matter what is happening with the light, colour and form of your photo. If however you do have a clear subject in your photo and you have good light, colour and form, then you are well on your way to creating a better photo.

how to take photos with an iPhone

4. Technique is Beyond the Tools

If iPhone photography did one thing, it was to dis-spell the photography myth that you need the latest and greatest camera to create great photos.

So folks listen up - a camera is a tool. All it does is record light on a light sensitive medium. That's it.

If you are taking bad photos on your iPhone, you'll be taking bad photos on a $10,000 Nikon D4. Don't ever be one of those photographers that blames their tools for lousy photos or incorrectly thinks they need a better camera to take better photos. It's a rabbit hole you don't want to fall down.

For more iPhone inspired photography, check out these photos I created in Kathmandu Nepal with my iPhone.

Check back next week for Part 3 How to take photos with your iPhone.


Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #6 Photojournalistic wedding photography

Photojournalistic wedding photography is wedding photography created by a photographer who captures real moments as they happen, without engaging or directing the subject in the photo. It is also known as documentary wedding photography, candid wedding photography and real wedding photography. If you are looking for a wedding photographer who creates photojournalistic wedding photography, then there are some things you should consider when looking at a photographer's work:

1. The percentage of 'posed' versus 'candid' photos

The Wedding Photojournalist Association, of which I'm a member, clearly stipulates that WPJA photographers can have no more than 40% of images on their web site from these two categories:

Portrait and camera-aware subjects, which are photographer controlled situations, with subjects performing for or looking at the camera;

Details photos, such as flowers, cakes, rings etc..

This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it is pretty normal for true wedding photojournalists to create some bride and groom portraiture as part of the wedding day. Ditto for taking some detail photos. Both of these things help create the story of the wedding day. These photos link the other 60% of the photos, which are the real moments captured throughout the wedding day.

Take these three photos I created at Katie and Tim's Thailand wedding.

photojournalistic wedding photography
photojournalistic wedding photography

Posed or candid?

I hope you said candid! Tim and Katie giving alms to a group of monks is a photojournalistic wedding photo. I captured this moment as it happened, without any direction or interaction from myself.


Posed or candid?

This one is harder. It could have been set up by me or I could have seen Katie's four sisters lined up, positioned myself for this photo and taken it.

It was the latter. I saw this photo and took it, without any direction or interaction from myself.

photojournalistic wedding photography
photojournalistic wedding photography

Posed or candid?

This photo is candid by design. I set this photo up, so it specifically looked like the guys are sharing a 'real' moment with each other.

Like many wedding couples, Katie and Tim wanted some group shots of their friends. While I always get a shot of each group looking at the camera, there was an incredible energy to this wedding and I really wanted to show that in my group photos too. To get the guys laughing and joking, I simply asked them to look at each other. It's such a ridiculous thing to do, that they all started cracking up. And that's when I captured this photo.

Though the guys are having a 'real' moment with each other, it is a set up photo. This is not a photojournalistic wedding photo.

2. Wedding photographers that insist on an hour or more for bride and groom photos

Here's the scenario: you've found yourself a Christchurch wedding photographer and you believe they create photojournalistic wedding photography. You meet with them and they insist that you must put aside at least an hour between the ceremony and the reception for photos of you, your husband and the bridal party.

Here's the rub.

In my mind, if you are meeting with a wedding photographer and they really do shoot in a photojournalistic wedding photography style, then such a person won’t be insisting on an hour of your wedding day for posed photos.

Now this is just my opinion, but think about it.

Why would a wedding photojournalist insist on an hour or more of your day to set up photos of you both, when the photographer in question, is marketing themselves as creating 'candid', 'documentary', or photojournalistic wedding photography?

For the record, if you contact me about being your wedding photographer, I will always recommend that we do 15-20 minutes of bride and groom portraits between the ceremony and the reception. These photos are important as there is really no other time in the day when I can create some environmental portraits of just the bride and groom. And whether you realise it or not, these are the photos that some members of your family will inevitably want.

I keep the session short for two reasons:

One, I'm a wedding photojournalist and these shots will only form part of the wedding day coverage.

Two, I completely understand that there are couple's who don't want to spend ages with a photographer creating photos on one of the most important days of their lives.

If you are after a New Zealand wedding photographer that creates photojournalistic wedding photography, then please view my wedding portfolio. Thomas.

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Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #5 Meeting the Photographer

Christchurch wedding photographer - it's probably a keyword string you never want to see again. After spending hours scouring Google and professional photographer sites like WPJA and NZIPP, you've finally shortlisted two or three Christchurch wedding photographers for your big day. You love their photographic work, they sound like decent people from their web sites and as far as you can tell, their wedding photography prices are in your ballpark.

All of which means one thing, it's time to meet your potential photographer.

There is one very good reason why you want to do this - you need to make sure you gel with them

It sounds like common sense, I know, but I can't stress enough how important it is that you get on with your photographer at a basic level. Whoever you end up choosing is going to be spending a significant amount of time in and around you, the groom, the bridal party, family and guests on your wedding day. You need to make sure that you feel comfortable with the photographer you choose and meeting them is the best way to gauge this.

If you can't do a face-to-face meeting, then a phone call is the next best thing. For most of my destination weddings, I initially spoke with potential clients on the phone, only meeting them the day before the actual event. A phone call is harder for both parties, but when distance is an issue, it's the only way to go.

Before you meet your Christchurch wedding photographer, there are a couple of things you should do:

1. Make sure you are familiar with the wedding photographer's work

I know...stating the obvious. However, I once had a meeting with a potential client and it became quickly apparent that they had confused my wedding photography work with another photographer's work. So it can happen.

2. If you have questions floating around in your head, get them down on a piece of paper.

It's easy to get absorbed in conversation when you are meeting a photographer, so doing this simple steps means you don't forget to ask anything.

During your meeting a good wedding photographer will:

1. Listen to your wedding day plans

2. Provide input into how they see the photography working based on what you've requested

3. Explain how their packages work and how they can be customised to give you exactly what you want within your budget

4. Explain how and when you will receive your photos

5. Explain the book design process, your role in it and time frames

6. Provide you with a copy of wedding photography contract and answer any questions you may have about it

7. Explain how you can book their services

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Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #4 The Contract

Whether you are looking for a Christchurch wedding photographer like myself or a photographer further afield, when it comes time to book a photographer's services, it is imperative that you are presented with a contract. There are a number of reasons why you should expect a contract from your chosen photographer. These include:

1. Terms of Reference

A good wedding photography contract will state the obligations of both parties and the terms and conditions of doing business in easy to read English.

2. Photographer and Client Protection

A good wedding photography contract will be written fairly and provide protection to both parties.

3. Dispute Resolution

If there is a dispute between your good self and your Christchurch wedding photographer, the contract is the first place to look as it sets out the terms and conditions of doing business. This is a key reason for having a contract in place - it sets out the ground rules for both parties. If you have a dispute with a photographer and there isn't a contract in place, then you will have a hard time trying to find agreement on what was / wasn't agreed too.

4. Professionalism

With just about everyone calling themselves a photographer these days, it's easy to forget that photography is actually a true profession for many people. A profession in which some people have invested years' in developing their craft and honing their business skills. Bottom line: if you are a dealing with a professional photographer, you should be provided with a contract the moment you tell your photographer you want to book their services.

If you aren't presented with a contract along with an estimate or an invoice at the time of making your booking, I would be wary. Entering any business transaction without a contract in place is a slippery slope.

Generally speaking, most New Zealand photographers use the terms and conditions provided by either the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers or the Advertising and Illustrative Photographers Association.

Lastly, if you ever have a question about a wedding photography contract you are presented with, do take the time to ask your photographer your question. All wedding photographers who provide a contract with an estimate or invoice should be able to clearly explain any of the terms included in their contractual paperwork.

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Christchurch Wedding Photographer - Hot Tip #3 Pricing

This post is the last in three tips geared to help you find a Christchurch wedding photographer. The first post - Hot Tips #1 The Photos - was about what to look for when viewing a photographer's work. The second post - Hot Tips #2 The Photographer - was about how to gauge a photographer's personality from their web site and why this even matters. In this last post, I'll touch on wedding photography pricing and some things you may not have thought about.

You are Christchurch based and you've found yourself a Christchurch wedding photographer using Google. You like their wedding photography work and you've asked to see more than just their best of photos. You've read their About Me page and on the whole, they sound like a pretty decent person. The next thing to consider is their price.

With pricing there are three absolutes.

One, every bride and groom has a budget for photography.

Two, every wedding photographer has a minimum price that they charge, which they believe they can make a living from.

Three, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Pay too little for a Christchurch wedding photographer and you may be disappointed by the results.

Christchurch wedding photographers fall into two camps with pricing. Some show all their packages online and some show their starting price. The reason some photographers don't show their packages online is they don't want other photographers - their competition - copying the packages they have on offer. Personally, I couldn't care less if another photographer lacks the business sense to work out their own pricing. What I'm interested in, is providing you - my potential client - with the information you need. Which is why my Christchurch wedding pricing is listed on my website.

When you click through to the photographer's pricing page, hopefully you won't reel back in shock at the prices their services start at. If the photographer's wedding prices are way out of your budget, then it's probably time to move onto wedding photographer number two. If the photographer's wedding prices are in the ball park of your budget, then it's a good time to drop them a line and arrange a time for a meeting.

If the photographer's wedding prices are a little out of your budget, but you just love their work and you know in your heart they are the photographer for you, then it may be time to consider your overall wedding budget and the decisions you've made about where your money is going. It may seem like a great idea to spend thousands on a wedding dress, but remember you only wear it once. Your photos on the other hand are one of the few tangible things you have after your wedding day apart from a new husband / wife (and maybe a hangover).

I'm a wedding photographer, so of course I'd say this - spend a little more on your wedding photography than other areas of your wedding budget. Because when it is all over, all you'll have to remind yourself of one of the most important days in your life is the photos.


Christchurch Wedding Photographer - Hot Tip #2 The Photographer

As a Christchurch wedding photographer I wanted to provide couple's looking for a wedding photographer with some every day tips to make finding a photographer just a little bit easier. Hot Tip #1 - The Photos is all about what you should look for when viewing a prospective photographer's website. Hot Tip #2 - The Photographer follows on from this.

After determining whether you like a photographer's body of work, I believe the next most important thing to evaluate with your potential photographer is their personality.

The reason for this is simple. Your photographer - particularly if they shoot in a documentary style like myself - will spend a lot of time in and around the bride, groom and immediate family on the wedding day. Whoever you hire as your photographer has to be a person that you feel relaxed being around. Plain and simple.

To gauge a photographer's personality from their website, the first place you should go to is their About Me or Bio page. Whether written in the first person or the third person, this page will speak volumes about the photographer in question.

We've all read the stock standard About Me page. You know it two lines in. It is from the cookie cutter school of About Me pages. A photographer has to write something about themselves and cobbles together a couple of paragraphs, without really taking the opportunity to tell you what really makes them tick.

Good About Me pages have an energy all their own. Not only do they reflect the photographer's passion for life and what they do, the good one's will provide glimpses into the photographer's own life and personality.

A truly great About Me page will clearly reflect the photographer's personality, to the point you feel like you know them in some way.

So if you like a photographer's work and their About Me page treads the fine line of being interesting and insightful, then there is one more thing you need to check before getting in touch with them - their prices.

Check back Monday for Hot Tip #3: Pricing