Christchurch wedding photographer - How to take photos with an iPhone part III

how to take photos with an iPhone How to take photos with an iPhone part III, is the third installment on how to take better photos with an iPhone or any smart phone for that matter. Read the previous two posts at these links:

How to take photos with an iPhone part I

How to take photos with an iPhone part II

In this post we are going to talk about apps and post-processing your images.

1. Apps

If you were like me, the first time you purchased an iPhone you probably didn't even know what an app was. Only yesterday a friend of mine asked me that very question - 'what's an app?'

An app is a piece of software that does a specific task, which runs on your phone. App is short for application - as in software application. If you go to the App store with Apple, you'll find more apps than you can poke a stick at.

Once you've taken a photo, nine times out of ten, you'll need to run that photo through some post-processing. On a smart phone this is done with an app. A photo app turns your smart phone into your very own portable digital dark room, which when you think about it, is pretty amazing really.

2. Which App?

Given the huge number of apps out there for photographers, it can feel pretty daunting trying to decide which app is right for you. Popular apps include:

Instagram (50,000,000 downloads so far); HipstamaticCamera+, Adobe Photoshop Express and VSCO.

My advice with apps is this - purchase one app, learn it, then master it, then add another app to your iPhone.

Only by slowing down and really learning one app, will you begin to produce iPhone photos with a consistent visual aesthetic.

3. App Traps

Apps have some traps that you should watch out for.

Instagram - I use Instagram a lot, but there is one thing I really don't like about it. You can't process an image in Instagram and just save it on your photo roll. Whatever the reason, each time you process an image with Instagram, it will automatically be uploaded to your Instagram feed online. Unless I've missed something really obvious over the past two years, there is no way around this. The flip side is, you can make your Instagram feed private. Just go to your Instagram account online and dig through the Preferences.

Hipstamatic - This app is like using film. You select the film type you want, the lens you want and then you take your photo. The app actually processes the photo based on your preferences and spits out the final image. Unlike other apps where you take the photo, then process with an app, Hipstamatic is the reverse. This means you can end up with a lot of photos with a look and feel, that you may not like. And which you can't really change.

Another trap with apps, is ensuring that you are shooting at the highest image size possible. Always check this when you download a new app. Just go into the app settings and make sure you have selected the highest possible setting you can for image size.

Check back later in the week for Part IV How to take photos with an iPhone.


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.

Read more hot tips at the following link:

Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tips Archive

Christchurch wedding photographer - How to take photos with an iPhone

how to take photos with an iPhoneHow to take photos with an iPhone is inspired by a stranger I bumped into a couple of weeks ago while standing on the outside deck of Mueller Hut in Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park. To say their phone photography technique was sloppy, was an under statement. In this post I want to get back to the basics when it comes to taking photos with your iPhone, Nexus, Samsung, insert your smart phone name here.

Part 1: Know the Limitations of your iPhone

Smart phones as camera have some serious limitations in terms of speed, controls and quality. Understanding these basics will help you on the road to better iPhone photos.

1. Keep the iPhone lens clean

Nothing gets grubbier faster than the lens on an iPhone. Before you take photos, do a quick check to see if it is clean.

2. Turn the screen brightness up

If you are taking photos in the middle of the day in blazing sun, you'll barely be able to see the image on the screen of your iPhone. Turn the screen brightness to the highest setting. It sucks the battery power, but at least you can see what you are photographing.

3. Hold it steady!

This is the number one mistake that people make. To get good results, you have to hold your phone steady. Even more so when you are shooting in the low light typical of sunrise and sunset. Ditto for when shooting indoors. Just trust me on this folks - that tiny iPhone sensor needs all the help it can get.

For vertical shots, I hold my thumb against the left side of the iPhone and my fingers wrap around the right side of the phone. I then use my right hand to release the shutter. More on that in a minute.

For horizontal shots, use both hands! One on either side of your iPhone. You can then frame the photo, hold it steady and use a finger from your left hand to release the shutter.

4. Shutter release and lag

Unlike other cameras, the iPhone takes a photo when you take your finger off the shutter release button. This took me ages to master, in part because I've spent years depressing a button to take a photo. To make matters worse, there is a lag between when you release the shutter and when the photo is actually taken. Coming from using high end Nikon cameras that take a photo the instant I depress the button, the lag on my iPhone feels like an eternity.

The only way to master this is to practice taking photos and to learn how long the actual lag is. In time, you will become better at getting the photos you want, when you want.

5. Focus

To focus your iPhone, open the Camera app. Touch anywhere on the screen and you'll see a square appear before you. This is your focus control. It is also linked to the camera's exposure metering, but we'll get to that in my next post.

And if you want to see some inspiring iPhone photography, check out these photos I produced at the end of my year long stay in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Check back Friday for Part 2: How to take photos with your iPhone.


Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #5 Meeting the 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 MyWed, 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.

Why you should meet your 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 the Meeting

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 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

Why I Love Being a Christchurch Wedding Photographer

christchurch wedding photographerChristchurch wedding photographer - I never planned on being one. Ever. I remember studying for my Diploma in Photographic Imaging at CPIT in Christchurch, meeting our wedding photography tutor Tony Stewart and rolling my eyes at the idea of having to photograph a 'fake' wedding for our class assessment. Looking back now, I can't believe I had such a clueless perspective on wedding photography.

Two months after starting our wedding photography class I handed in my final 20-wedding photos for the class assessment. In my mind, wedding photography was done and dusted. I was never going to point a lens at a bride and groom again, let alone become a Christchurch wedding photographer!

At year end I graduated. Not long afterwards Tony sat me down and convinced me to come along and see what photographing a wedding was really all about. I was reluctant, but what did I have to lose?

As they say, the rest is history. Six years on, I am more than happy being a Christchurch wedding photographer. And here's why...

1. Weddings are amazing events

No two weddings are ever the same. The bride and groom are always different; the guests are always different; the locations are different; the decorations are different and more often than not, the ceremonies are different. This makes weddings a visual smorgasbord to photograph and I love the visual variety it provides me.

2. Being chosen as the photographer

I'm always humbled when a bride and groom choose me out of all the other wedding photographers out there. It's a big responsibility and it comes with serious karma.

3. Capturing wedding day stories

Weddings are stories unfolding before my eyes. Being tasked with capturing those stories is amazing.

4. Witnessing a celebration

For me a wedding is really a celebration of two people's lives coming together. Being able to witness that is pretty special.

5. Meeting wonderful people

You meet some amazing people as a wedding photographer, doing some really interesting things with their lives. Even today, I still have some past wedding clients who I stay in touch with.

6. Choking up

Yeah, it's happened. I've choked back tears at a wedding.

7. Spending time with the bride

I never realised this until I began photographing weddings, but as the photographer you often get these quite moments with the bride that no one else gets on the wedding day.

8. I became a better photographer

Technically speaking, photographing weddings can be tough. You can go from being inside a church which is really dark (like ISO 3200 dark), to bright, mottled outside light in the space of 90-seconds. Being able to deal with that on the fly and still capture good photos, is a learned skill.

9. I became a better business person

Running my own wedding photography business taught me to stay true to the type of wedding photography work I like to create and that my brand is me. The sooner I realised these two things, the easier my life became.

10. Creating memories

When all is said and done, I'm in the business of creating memories. Wedding photos forever connect a bride and groom to one of the biggest days in their lives. Knowing I created those photos is a great feeling.


Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tip #4 The Contract

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.

Top Four Reasons For A Contract

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.

The 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.

Ask Questions

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.


Christchurch wedding photographer - Personal work

Though I'm a Christchurch wedding photographer, I photograph a lot more things than just Christchurch weddings. The reason is simple: I love creating photographs and continually practicing my craft. It is how I grow as a photographer.

Taking the time to create personal work is as simple as hitting the road with friends for a couple of days'. Trips away from Christchurch provide me with new visual surroundings and there is no greater feeling as a photographer than seeing new things to photograph.

The photos in this post came from a two day trip earlier in summer. Our friend Kathryn was over from Australia and we wanted to show her some of the sites outside of Christchurch. With a good weather forecast we headed north, stopping in at Hanmer Springs for some mini-golf and a soak in the hot pools. Afterwards we drove the back way to Gore Bay, picking up some fresh pears and apples along the way. Next day dawned bright and blue, so we headed an hour north to Kaikoura for some site-seeing and surfing, before returning to our amazing bach at Gore Bay.

Speaking of which, I think Gore Bay is my new favourite place in the South Island. Just two-hours north of Christchurch, Gore Bay has that laid back Kiwi feel to it, that I just love about New Zealand. It is the type of place where I'd love to photograph a wedding. So if you are looking for a Christchurch wedding photographer to photograph a Gore Bay wedding, then drop me a line.

Expect to see more of my personal work in the weeks and months to come.


christchurch wedding photographerChristchurch wedding photographerChristchurch wedding photographer

Christchurch Wedding Photographer - Hot Tip #3 Pricing

This post is the last in three tips geared to help you find a Christchurch wedding photographer.

Read the other posts here:

Hot Tips #1 The Photos - was about what to look for when viewing a photographer's work.

Hot Tips #2 The Photographer - was about how to gauge a photographer's personality from their web site and why this even matters.

Hot Tip #3 Pricing

In this last post, I'll touch on wedding photography pricing and some things you may not have thought about.

Here is the scenario: you are Christchurch based and you have found a Christchurch wedding photographer.

You love their wedding photography work.

You have read their About Me page and they sound like a decent person.

Now what about their wedding package pricing?

Wedding Photography Pricing Absolutes

  1. Every bride and groom has a budget for their wedding photography

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

  3. 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 Packages and Pricing

Photographers have two views on showing their wedding photography pricing - some do and some don’t.

I do and you can find it right here - Christchurch wedding pricing

I list my pricing because I don’t want to waste your time. It is a bit like when you go into a shop - if you see something and you are interested in purchasing it, you want to see the price. Why should you have to ask?

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 contact them for availability.

Choices, Choice, Choices

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

This is the second post on how to find a Christchurch wedding photographer.

Read the other posts here:

Hot Tip #1 The Photos - was about what to look for when viewing a photographer’s work

Hot Tip #3 Pricing - wedding photography pricing and what you may not have thought of

Hot Tip #2 The Photographer

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.

To gauge a photographer's personality from their website, the first place you should go to is their About Me 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.

Next Up: Hot Tip #3: Pricing