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 Tips Archive

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

Mt Cook - Personal Work

Mt Cook - the perfect place for a quick two night / three day road trip. My Australian friend Kathryn was over and wanted to go and see New Zealand highest peak. I had one condition though - I would only go if we had a clear weather forecast.

Fortunately for us a high settled over the South Island of New Zealand and Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park had a forecast of two days of clear blue skies with light winds. Knowing it doesn't get any better than that, my friend and I packed the car and drove south to Mt Cook via Rakaia (huge trout anyone?), Geraldine (coffee stop), Fairlie (food stop), Lake Tekapo (photo stop), Lake Pukaki (second photo stop), before finally arriving at Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park.

We camped that night at Whitehorse Campground out near the terminal moraine of the Mueller Glacier. Next morning after pancakes we signed the intention book at the Department of Conservation Office, then shouldered our packs and started the 1,000 metre climb up the Mueller track to Mueller Hut. Given we were in the mountains, it was amazingly hot. Thankfully a light northerly wind sprang up mid-morning, helping cool us off a bit.

By mid-afternoon we crossed where the snow line would be in winter, leaving any semblance of vegetation behind us. As we rock hopped the last few hundred metres to Mueller Hut, we were treated with amazing views up the Mueller Glacier to Barron Saddle, a desolate wind swept place where I spent a week of my life back in 1994.

The last time I was at Mueller hut was back in 1995. Back then the hut was a tiny wooden building which could fit about 12-people. Given the huts location, the incredible panoramic views and the fact it is the easiest of the huts to get to in Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, the Department of Conservation decided to replace the hut in 2003. The new hut is more akin to a lodge. It comes complete with a volunteer hut warden, gas cook tops and enough bunk space to sleep 28 people. All up, a pretty cushy place to spend the night.

Given the amazing weather I decided to bivy out for the night. I was rewarded next morning with incredible light over Mt Sefton and the Footstool and of course, Mt Cook off in the distant. Not long after I woke up a cheeky Kea (mountain parrot) turned up. I managed to get one photograph of him before he flew off. All up, an amazing two nights in the wonderland that is Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park.


Mt CookMt Cook

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.


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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.

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


Christchurch Wedding Photographer - Hot Tip #1 The Photos

Hot Tip #1 The Photos

If you are a bride and groom looking for a Christchurch wedding photographer, then I feel for you.

Since returning to Christchurch and starting my wedding photography business, I have learnt that there are more Christchurch wedding photographers than you can poke a stick at. Head over to Google, type in Christchurch wedding photographer and you'll be presented with 192,000 results, with page after page of photographers offering their wedding services. It seems everyone with a camera wants to be a wedding photographer these days.

As a bride it must be daunting just trying to find a photographer whose work you like, who sounds like a decent person and whose services are within your price range.

Given this, I want to offer some tips on what to consider when trying to find your wedding photographer.

Tip 1: It Begins with the Photos

The two questions you have to ask yourself when looking at a wedding photographer's work is this:

1. Do I like their wedding photographs? (no-brainer I know, but bear with me)

2. Are the photos on their website the best shots picked from a variety of weddings or does the photographer show images from a single wedding?

Question 1 is a no-brainer. If you are looking at a photographer's site and you don't like their photography, then keep on searching. Easy.

Don’t ever hire a photographer whose work you don’t like, just because they are cheap. All you will end up with are photos you don’t like.

If you do like the photographer's wedding photos, then it is time to be a bit more critical of what you are looking at.

Wedding portfolios are not created equal

There is a trend with Christchurch wedding photographers of cherry picking the one great photo from each wedding and presenting these as their wedding portfolio. The only problem with this approach is that it doesn't give you a good understanding of how that photographer photographs an entire wedding day.

It is because of this, that I currently have a variety of weddings on display.

Each wedding day story helps show you how I think visually and the type of work I will create for you. This is a far better way of gauging the type of photographs I am likely to produce for you, than just seeing the best shots picked from a variety of different weddings.

Next Up: Hot Tip #2 - The Photographer.


Christchurch Wedding Photographer - Photographing the Reception

Since returning to Christchurch to set up my wedding photography business, I've looked at a lot of Christchurch wedding photographer web sites to gain an insight into what type of coverage photographers are offering clients. And do you know what I've noticed?

The majority of Christchurch wedding photographers either finish up shooting prior to the reception or cover just the start of the reception, which typically includes a fake cake cut.

All of which means, you the client, is missing out on photographic coverage that I would argue you should get.

When I first began photographing weddings in Christchurch, I was like the herd. I arrived on-location usually an hour prior to the ceremony, did some pre-ceremony photographs; then covered the ceremony before doing some bride and groom shots; before heading to the reception. At the reception I'd cover some speeches (if they were prior to the meals) and then do a fake cake cut before leaving.

As I photographed more weddings I changed my approach to my match my visual story telling philosophy, which can be described as documentary wedding photography.

Instead of leaving at the start of the reception, I stayed on. I did away with fake cake cuts, I began photographing the first dance, guests' letting off steam during the post-wedding party and the real cake cut.

Staying on to photograph the reception has allowed me to photograph the real moments as they happen. The thing about real moments is this - they can't be scripted, they can't be faked and they can't be planned.

Real moments will happen throughout your reception, so if you hire a photographer who is going to leave before the reception or at the start of the reception, you are missing out on a lot of great photographs of your wedding day.

Hire me and I'll be there to capture those unscripted moments, which every wedding reception has...

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Christchurch Wedding Photographer FAQ - Formal Family Photos

Christchurch wedding photographerAs a Christchurch wedding photographer, one of the questions I'm asked from time-to-time by prospective clients is this: Do I mind if guests take photographs during the wedding?

My answer is two-fold.

I have no problems with guests taking photos during the wedding day, with one exception. The formal family photos.

The formal family photos are the group photos containing a pre-determined list of family and closest friends. The thing about these photos is they are important to get, but on the wedding day no one ever wants to be a part of them.

Now the problem with guests taking photos while I'm taking the formal family photos is the fact that when there is more than one camera present, the people in the photos don't know which camera they should be looking at.

The result?

Formal family photos with people looking in various directions, but not at my camera (remember, I'm the actual wedding photographer here and you get all the formal photos, which you can then share with guests). As a result, the formal family photos can look a bit kooky for the simple fact that people are not all looking at my camera.

There is one other exception that I haven't mentioned...if you have a guest like the young photographer in this video clip. And just so you get the joke in the video, David Bailey is a famous British photographer who has worked for Vogue. And no, I don't use a camera like the old guy wedding photographer...nor do I dress like him.


Need a Christchurch wedding photographer for your wedding day? Contact me by phone - 027 934 9139 - or via email. Thomas.

Events: World Buskers Festival Christchurch

World Buskers Festival ChristchurchOne of the great things about living in Christchurch is the fact it is home to the World Buskers Festival. Yep, that's right - the World Buskers Festival.

I'm not sure why Christchurch has the honour of hosting the festival each year, I'm just glad it does.

Situated two blocks from where I live, the festival is in the northern corner of Hagley Park. The festival runs each year in January and as you'd expect has a pretty amazing number of acts.

Last night, Jane  (the missus) and I watched two shows - Mullet Man, followed by the incredible Camp Chaos circus show (iPhone picture at right). Mullet Man is $2 at the door, while Camp Chaos is a donation after the show. Given how good an act it was, Jane and I chipped in $30 post-performance.

So if you are ever in Christchurch in January, try and time it with the World Buskers Festival - you won't be disappointed.



Wedding Photography and The Bride Unleashed.

Wedding PhotographyThe Sunday-Star Times Sunday Magazine had a cracking article in it by Fairfax reporter, Marika Hill. Titled "The Bride Unleashed", Marika draws a line in the sand and asks:

"Why are weddings white-washed with traditions, hype, expectations - and, all too often debt?"

Marika then goes on to dissect the various costs associated with a wedding while providing some suggestions on how you can keep the costs down. Though Marika's tone is cutting, on the whole I agree with what she is saying except for one point - photography.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking - I'm a wedding photographer, of course I'd say that. True, but hear me out.

First up, let's look at Marika's take on 'The Photographer'. Here is what she has to say:

"It is not uncommon for the bride and groom to disappear for a few hours during the reception to craft "spontaneous" poses against red barns, while she holds a parasol and lifts the skirt ever so slightly to reveal the shoes. (Note: parasol can be exchanged for balloons for similar effect of 'happy couple'). So you are effectively paying anywhere from $1000 to more than $5000 to spend a few hours of your wedding day capturing memories in a field. That is two hours of memories you will miss at your actual wedding."

Marika then goes on to to say:

"The other alternative is to ask an amateur-photographer friend to take a nice photo. If one photo was good enough for my grandparents, it's good enough for me.".

Well Marika, as a professional wedding photographer I'd like to offer some counter points just for the sake of a balanced perspective:

1. There are a number of photographers - like my good self - who offer wedding coverage with or without a short (45-minute) portrait session with the bride and groom post ceremony. You don't have to choose a wedding photographer who is going to drag you out into a field for a "few hours". Instead, choose one who really does offer documentary wedding photography.

2. Be aware that when you ask a friend or a keen amateur-photographer to take "a nice photo" you are at risk of getting very little in the way of usable imagery post wedding. Good wedding photography is a lot more than just taking a photo. Good documentary wedding photographers know their equipment inside and out, they know how to document a visual story, they know what they should and shouldn't take photos of and most importantly of all, they have experience actually taking photos at weddings.

3. Once your wedding day is over, the only thing you'll have is your new husband / wife, the memories and your photos. The sentimental value of photos - especially family photos - actually increases with time. The only person who wouldn't believe this is someone who doesn't have any family photos on display in their home.

So when it comes to trimming your wedding day costs, be informed.

If you decide that wedding invitations, wedding day food etc.. is more important than having a photographer to document your day, that's okay. Just don't forget that a good wedding photographer will provide you with a real product after your wedding - your wedding day photographs. Photos have this wonderful ability to take you back to a moment in time that can never happen again.

And when you really think about it, that makes photos and wedding day photos in particular, something pretty special.

I'm back in the Christchurch Wedding Photography Business.

Christchurch wedding with Michelle and Tony.Last year while my wife Jane and I travelled overland from Istanbul Turkey to Shanghai China, I thought a lot about the new direction I wanted my Christchurch wedding photography business to go. Back in Christchurch at year end, I set about making the changes I needed to make. They included:

1. A complete rebranding of my marketing collateral

2. A new web site with a layout that supported my visual story telling capabilities

3. A complete new lineup of pre-set wedding packages

4. Sourcing a new book maker for my wedding day books

5. A complete re-edit of all my wedding work

Plus a hundred other little things that go into getting one's brand just right.

Huge thanks to my new graphic designer, Martine Ribotton. I found Martine's amazing work on display at the end of year show held at CPIT in Christchurch. Martine's strong typography work was just the sort of thing I was looking for, so I didn't hesitate in giving her a call with my branding requirements. While this was her first job out of college, Martine delivered on my requirements and I'd gladly recommend her.

Big thanks too, to my brother-in-law Nick. Nick has nearly a decades experience with web site builds. Long conversations with Nick really helped me ensure that my site content and structure is scalable and future proof, something which is so important in the web space. Thanks bro, couldn't have done it without you.

If you aren't familiar with my work, then make sure you check out my wedding work. As for the person typing these words, read My Story to learn more about me.

If you like my work and are after a Christchurch wedding photographer, then reach out and connect. I'd be happy to have you over for a pot of fresh tea and a chat about your wedding day plans.