Rakaia Country Wedding - Sneak Peek | Cally & Matt's Wedding

Rakaia Country Wedding - Sneak Peek | Cally & Matt's Wedding

I first spoke to Cally and Matt over Skype, as they were working in Western Australia at the time. They were returning to New Zealand to have their wedding at their parent's property down near the Rakaia River, in south Canterbury.

They were having a true DIY wedding, and as a result were only really spending money on the photography. Their brief to me was very clear: they wanted documentary style wedding photographs, with just a few bridal party photos.

DIY weddings are pretty special for me, in part because my wife Jane and I, had a DIY wedding ourselves. There is something really wonderful about family and friends coming together to help set up, then celebrate a couple's weddings. This day was no different. 

When I arrived dad was just finishing mowing the lawn where the ceremony would be and friends were adding the final touches to the reception marquee, they had set up on the lawn.

By the time the reception came around I was due to leave, but when the family invited me to stay for lunch, I couldn't say no. Though I was paid for my services, I did take some extra images of the reception as a way of saying thank you for their hospitality.

[In the fourth photo, Matt isn't blinking - he is choking back tears.]

Wedding Details - Whitebait

Wedding Details - Whitebait One of the great joys of photographing weddings, is finding all the little details that are unique to that wedding. I've written about this previously with wedding cakes.

As for this photo, this was taken while photographing Nicola and Nathan's very cool farm wedding out on the plains of Christchurch. I'm not sure what I love more - the plate of whitebait or the cup cake apron.

Christchurch wedding with Nicola and Nathan.

DIY Wedding

diy weddingDIY Wedding. As a visual story teller, I have been thinking a lot lately about the type of weddings I really, really want to photograph in New Zealand and abroad.

Two types of weddings come to mind - a true DIY wedding and a rustic wedding.

The DIY wedding appeals to me for a couple of reasons:

1. Jane and I had a true DIY wedding.

Yep, we did the DIY thing. From the moment we decided to get married to our actual ceremony, was a mere two-weeks. Friends helped us organise our wedding in record time and it is a day I wish I could experience again. Did I mention it was in another country? (I'll save the rest of that story for another post).

2. DIY weddings bring out the creativity in people

As a visual story teller I am a creative person. And because of this I love being around wedding events with creative elements. DIY weddings tend to be a little bit more about creativity, in part because it helps keep the final wedding bill down. I'm totally into that and I love to photograph it.

So here's the deal, if you are doing a wedding on a budget and are looking for a DIY wedding photographer, drop me a line. I'm keen to photograph one and I'm happy to do a deal in the spirit of your wedding being a true DIY wedding.

And if you are after some cool and hip DIY wedding tips to help keep the wedding spend down and the creative factor high, check out The Top 10 Tips to Throw a DIY Wedding from Green Wedding Shoes.

As for why I want to photograph a rustic or vintage wedding, I'm going to save that for another post.


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.

Read more hot tips at the following link:

Christchurch wedding photographer - Hot Tips Archive.


Christchurch wedding photographer - Family photo albums

Christchurch wedding photographer - Family photo albums When I was growing up, I'd spend every summer and winter holiday up at my aunt and uncle's place in a small coastal town called Old Bar. Located on the northern New South Wales coast, Old Bar is a tiny town perched on the edge of the ocean. The day the school term finished, I'd hop on the night train from Sydney up to Taree, where my uncle Fred would pick me up at 1.00 am in the morning. Next morning my cousin Paul and I would get up before dawn and ride our bikes to the beach and go surfing. We'd surf the dawn session, go home and have some breakfast, then go back to the beach and if conditions were good, go out for another 2 to 3-hour surf session. Sometimes we'd do a late afternoon session if the winds were favourable.

To say I have strong memories of the years' I spent at Sue and Fred's place with my cousins Paul and Yoni, would be a serious understatement. I wouldn't have traded those holidays for anything.

christchurch wedding photographer

Fast forward to 2010.

I'm back in Australia, this time for a funeral. My uncle Peter has passed away after a 7-month battle with cancer. After the funeral, I hop in my rental car (I was living in Bangkok Thailand at the time) and drive 5-hours south to Old Bar. Sue and Fred are still living on the same block of land. I've come to Sue and Fred's place because I need space after Peter's death and I want to spend time in a familiar place with familiar people.

During my stay I come across Sue and Fred's family photo albums. They have a stack of them about four-feet high. Four feet high...

I sit down and start going through them. An hour turns into two and before I know it, I've fallen into a rabbit hole of memories. All because of some photographs my aunt and uncle have taken over the years, printed out and put into a photo album.

As a Christchurch wedding photographer I know some of the photos have a lot to be desired aesthetically, but they have a magic all their own. Looking at those printed photographs links me to times in my life that I can never experience again.

That's the true magic of a printed photograph in a family album.


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.