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Recent Testimonials

I'm working on updating my website and wanted to share some of my best Testimonials from 2010 with you before we move on to 2011:

"Have I mentioned I bloody LOVE them??? Good. I LOVE THEM!!! You are so talented. Thank you so much. You worked so hard, and we really appreciate it! We'll be recommending you to everyone we know."
Beth Gorman

"We just wanted to send a quick e-mail now to say that we're absolutely bloody delighted with these photos. You've captured some fabulous moments and brought an amazing day back to life for us. Thanks."
Dave Gorman

"We just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for the amazing photographs.... We’ve been looking at them all weekend and absolutely love them. You’ve done an amazing job and everyone we’ve spoken to has commented on not only what a massively talented photographer you are but also what a lovely guy you were and how unobtrusive you were through the day! We didn’t even notice you most of the time (in the nicest possible way!) yet you have some incredible shots. The church photo’s are stunning, I cannot tell you how much we love them. It was also brilliant that you stayed right until the end of the night, some of the party photo’s bring back instant memories of the day so thank you for putting the hours in!"
Peter & Kayla

"We just got back today - wonderful time, but completely exhausted - just had to look at the photos before we give in to the tiredness... and they are absolutely fantastic!! Thank you so much! You've captured so many of those tiny special moments which I had forgotten about, but which are just wonderful to see again! We love the ones of the little ones (Samuel and Mia), all the family shots of everyone enjoying themselves - and the photos of the church are amazing too - the sky looks amazing!!"

Caroline & Darren

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Rob & Alanna's Wedding - Farnham Baptist Church & Alton House Hotel

Rob & Alanna's wedding was my last of the season and despite the oncoming winter and the obvious chill in the air, the weather was gorgeous and bright. Rob & Alanna are members of the same church as Penny & Al whose wedding I photographed a few years ago. Alanna's been suffering from M.E. but you wouldn't have guessed it on the day as she was a picture of warmth, elegance, energy and joy. Rob & Alanna's wedding service was slightly longer than most that I cover which was a real treat. Often the ceremony is over in a flash and the additional time made it feel poignant yet relaxed.

My thanks as always to the couple, they were both brilliant people and Rob is the most organised groom I've worked with to date. He's a manager by day and his attention to detail was impressive to say the least! A particular note of credit to Rob & Alanna's magician Will McDermid. He was brilliant and his manner impeccable. Anyway, on to the pictures. As always, here are some of my favourites:





















































































































































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Windsor Great Park - Autumn















































































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Lisa & Luke's Wedding - Guildford, Surrey

Lisa & Luke's wedding was a lovely low-key affair that occured last Friday at Guildford Registry Office. It was the smallest wedding I'm covering this year and by far and away the wettest. It was a really intimate day with less than 30 guests and despite the weather everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. Lisa & Luke's friends and family had real game as well - nothing but unbridled positivity about the photographs despite being such a wet day - they were impressively unfazed by it all.

Just to give you an idea of how wet it really was - I came inside after shooting pictures at the castle and my fingers had gone all pruney. Like when you spend too long in the bath. Also, despite using rain covers, one of my Canon 5D Mark II's started misbehaving due to moisture. Folks, it was a deluge! Nonetheless I think we got some good images, particularly as we braved the rain at Guildford Castle. These are some of my personal favourites.























































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Peter & Kayla - All Saints, Binfield & Stirrups Country House Hotel

The first thing I did after arriving at Kayla's folks house on the morning of her wedding was to detach their curtain pole from the wall. Oops. In my defence, I did test it, it felt perfectly secure and everyone assured me it'd be fine to hang the dress from. Double oops. Luckily we got the one hiccough out of the way first thing and the rest of the day was superb. My apologies to Kayla's parents for the curtain pole incident, thank you for taking such wanton destruction so graciously! Hopefully the wedding images will pay my penance.

The day was gorgeous weather wise - one of the best this year and it was unseasonably warm for much of the day. Kayla and Pete are an absolutely lovely couple and their guests really knew how to party. A special shout out to the chap in the waistcoat who was busting the most incredible dancefloor moves all night. You sir, have my respect.





































































































































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Debbie & Graeme - St Nicolas, Cranleigh & Wildwood Country Club

Debbie and Graeme were married at St. Nicolas church in Cranleigh with a wedding reception following at Wildwood Golf and Country Club in Alfold. I have a particular history with Cranleigh, and this church in particular, because as a boy I went to school in the village and sang as a chorister in the church. I hadn't been back since, and I was surprised at how beautiful the church is. Clearly as a young teenager I wasn't paying nearly enough attention. It's a perfect setting. The church hadn't changed and it was good to see the Rector hadn't either. Rev'd Canon Nigel Nicholson was still there, and as far as I could tell, hadn't aged a day. Things were quite strict during the service so angles were somewhat limited. This is always a bit of a shame as I place a real importance on discretion yet it's not entirely in-understandable given the very distracting approach I've seen from some photographers.

The whole day was very touching. Debbie and Graeme are such a genuine couple and I loved their down to earth nature and friendly approachability. It was good fun from beginning to end. Thanks also to their guests who were hilarious and great to chat too in equal measure. Good times.

For the camera geeks, these images were shot mostly on the 5DII with a few on the 50D using Canon 50mm f/1.4, 135L and 17-40L lenses. As always, here's a selection of my favourites:




































































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The Wedding of Alice & Paul

Paul & Alice got married on a typically rainy August day! The settings were beautiful and when the sun did come out from behind the clouds it made for some really dramatic imagery. The day started at St Mary's Church in Ashampstead before moving on to Mapledurham house for the wedding reception.

Paul has a share in an aerobatic biplane and his friend Simon flew his own aircraft, the stunning Extra 300, for a jaw-dropping aerial display. The weather also relented enough for the lighting and departure of chinese lanterns. This was a real highlight for me as a photographer and something I've been wanting to shoot for a while.






















































































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An Indian Wedding







































































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Paul & Alice - Sneak Peak

A quick preview of my most recent wedding. The rain lashed it down for much of the day but that didn't come between us having an amazing time and getting some great photos, especially when the sun popped out! Here's quick sample to whet your appetite!









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The Wedding of Caroline & Darren

Caroline & Darren were married last weekend at the gorgeous and very historic St Mary's, Oxted. The weather started out gorgeous and got progressively worse as the day went on, but thankfully that didn't interfere much with proceedings. The reception at Alexander House Hotel in Turners Hill was equally lovely. The hotel is set in gorgeous grounds and many thanks to the staff who were especially attentive and helpful! Huge thanks and congratulations to Caroline & Darren for letting me share their day, it was a pleasure to photograph.









































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Prom!

I recently did a shoot for a group of guys and girls going to their college prom. It was so much fun. I'd completely forgotten how much fun can be had as a teenager! That sounds glib and a little trite, but genuinely, these kids know how to have a good time. No absence of laughs with this lot! I was under the impression that they wanted me to shoot their pre-prom gathering in the same way I might shoot the morning of a wedding, but they had more directed portraits in mind, so it was a real opportunity to work outside of my usual sphere.







































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Epson Pano Awards - Bronze

I entered the Epson Pano Awards earlier in the year and the results were recently announced. I wasn't lucky enough to land a winning spot - which would have been nice as an Epson 4880 printer was up for grabs - but I did achieve a bronze award in the Open Competition with this image of Durdle Door.

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Photobooth

The "Photobooth" option in my wedding brochure is probably the option that raises the most discussion and questions. Mostly a simple "what is it?". To that end I thought it was worth taking a moment to talk about how the Photobooth works and what it does. If you ever went to a University ball or have been to a charity party, you'll have come across the usual setup featuring a professional photographer taking staged portraits. You know the drill: white backdrop, a few studio flashlights, a photographer telling you how to pose with your significant other - often a couple of silly shots at the end - an assistant handing out cards and normally a big queue.

The Photobooth I offer takes all the good things about that setup and improves upon it. Firstly, the setup is entirely automated. There is no photographer. I set everything up before the wedding/party/event and then leave it to you to enjoy and have fun with it. We're a retiring bunch us Brits, and few of us are great at posing for the camera or smiling to order. Removing the photographer from the equation helps relax us and our inhibitions tend to go out of the window. Roll on fun photos with natural, happy smiles!

The Photobooth consists of a tripod with a digital SLR camera mounted on top and either one or two studio strobe flashlights on seperate stands nearby. On the ground in front of the camera is a wired foot-release. This takes the form of a small pedal not dissimilar from a guitar pedal. A simple press on the pedal fires the camera. One press equals one shot. The camera is synced with the flashes wirelessly and these fire at the appropriate time. Prior to the event I balance and test the lighting to ensure that throughout the night the Photobooth continues taking well exposed, perfectly focused photos.



The great benefit of this system over the regular, photographer and his assistant approach is the scope to have fun. Aside from returning to the Photobooth occasionally to check that everything is running smoothly, there is no one on the otherside of the camera to put you off or tell you how to pose or act. due to this it tends to work extremely well with people genuinely letting their hair down, especially after a few drinks. The images are recorded to memory card and there is no limit on the number of pictures you can take in an evening. If a memory card fills up, I simply replace it with another one.



Following the wedding, I simply offload the pictures, do any minor colour correcting and delete any images with nobody in the frame. Aside from that I don't interfere or filter the images. You get all the pictures in all their (often very funny/very silly) glory. The images are included on DVD and prints can be ordered via my website from just £2 - a preview gallery is available the day after the Wedding. Typically at an evening Wedding reception this equates to 700 or so images. Many people include a dressing up box or offer props and I can always bring this sort of thing along if you'd like to get creative. It tends to be an exceptionally good way of getting a picture of pretty much everyone because given a few minutes, most people can't resist having a go.




So there you have it. A description of the Photobooth and how it works. I'll try and add a 'behind the scenes' picture at some point in the not too distant future showing the simplicity of the setup itself and how little space it needs to work well.

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Surrey Heathland Fire

In the last few days, a fairly sizeable fire has swept across the Surrey heathland covered by the Chobham and Greyspot military Ranges. It's a fairly common occurance, but in the age of social networking, it was pretty easy to stay up to date with where it was and when. As such, I popped down the road earlier this afternoon when I heard it was bad enough and extensive enough to cause the closure of The Maultway.

As much of the fire is currently on military ranges the fire service can't enter to fight the fire directly due to the hazards of unexploded ordanance. As such they are forced to fight the fire from beyond the fences in many places. The fire seems relatively under control at this point, but as you'll see, it's created some dramatic landscapes.









































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Lydia & Nikos' Volcano Wedding - Thursley

Just over a week before our English country wedding in April 2010, a volcano erupted in Iceland, spewing volcanic ash in to the stratosphere. As a result, UK airspace and subsequently most of the European airspace, was closed to all air traffic. As days passed, it looked increasingly likely that my fiancé Nikos’ family would not make it to England from Greece, including his sister Kaliniki, a professional photographer in Athens, who was due to take all our pictures.

So, slightly desperately, I googled “Photographers, Guildford” expecting to have to call a huge list of people in order to find anyone that would be available, let alone someone I was happy to take our photographs.

I spied a name on the google-list that somehow appealed - Tony Hart. I called him without even looking at the pictures and, purely by chance, he was free. We chatted, we shared a few common views on how wedding shots should be taken and we agreed for him to come out and meet us. What serendipity! I then looked at the pictures and found that he was exactly what we were looking for - lots of simple, unposed shots, often in Black and White, which caught the moments of the day perfectly. They were taken candidly, and often without the subject knowing the photographer was there. I think it was fate!

And, happily ever after, the family did make it to the wedding, but I’m so glad we had Tony there, he was a consummate professional and his shots capture all the special moments of a happy day.

Shoes - from Pinet in Bond Street, London. A lucky find in the sales! Dress - Design by Jenny Packham, found in Clifton Brides in Bath. It was the first I picked out and the last I tried on. It was perfectly simple and so elegant. The silk chiffon moved so beautifully. Bridesmaids dresses - I suggested they stayed with my colour scheme of pale and bright pink and pale green but they chose their own dresses. I didn’t see them until the day. They both chose Coast, Daisy in dashing bright pink and Eleanor elegant in long pale pink.

Groom’s suit, shoes, shirt and tie - From Reiss, their cuts really suit Nikos’ build. I was there to give advice but in the end it was Nikos’ choice as to what he wanted to have. Good choice I think! He insisted on wearing stripy socks of blue, yellow, pink and white. Flowers - masterminded by my mother, I only stipulated the colours. She, along with two family friends did all the church displays which were in a soft, English country style. Bouquets, button holes and marquee flowers were done by florist Angela Weaver.

The wedding was held in St Michael and All Angels, Thursley, Surrey. My godfather Reverend Peter Muir conducted the ceremony. We then moved on to an English pub lunch in the Three Horsehoes, also in Thursley. The food was amazing, especially the spit roast beef! - Lydia Mina




















































































































































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Great Fosters Wedding - Ade & Sheila

Ade & Sheila got married recently at Great Fosters in Egham. They're an absolutely gorgeous couple, as you can see, but above all they're just lovely warm people. A hugely fun wedding filled to the brim with good moments.

As for Great Fosters, I'm a massive fan of the venue, both for it's intrinsic beauty and also for the quality of its staff. They seem to have a significant number of those rare individuals who are both consummate professionals and incredibly personable with it. My thanks to Jill and Martin for making my job easier and for being so helpful.







































































































































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What Goes Into A Wedding?

A while back, via Twitter, I came across an extremely contentious blog posting from a bride to be. It was contentious because the bride had asked the very relevant question "why does wedding photography cost so much?". She was asking a perfectly valid question but some, both those within the wedding industry along with some brides and grooms took exception to the tone in which she questioned, what she perceived to be, extravagant pricing. Her blog posting drew hundreds of responses and sadly in the end got quite ugly. I chose not to get involved, and in hindsight I'm glad I didn't.

Nonetheless the posting raised some legitimate questions and in the wake of that article I've been wanting to write a piece detailing what goes into shooting a wedding day to a professional standard. It's not my intention to further stir what became extremely volatile waters, and with that in mind I thought it was worth letting things calm down a touch before posting an article from the photographers point of view. I'd also like to make clear that this article should not be viewed as a 'response' to that article, but rather 'inspired' by. The original article made some extremely valid points and it clarified to me the understandable view of someone outside the industry looking in. To that end, I hope this article will go some way to explaining what goes into the job. My aim is to make it interesting and enlightening - a behind the scenes if you will.

Initial Consultation

The absolute first stage of booking a wedding is obviously the initial enquiry. Nine times out of ten this comes by way of email via the wedding enquiry form on my website. The form asks the prospective client for some basic contact details and includes a message box that gives them the opportunity to send through any other relevant information such as proposed date and venue. I generally respond to enquiries within the hour. I include a copy of my wedding brochure in PDF format which includes a breakdown of my pricing and options, and of course let the couple know my availability for the date in question.

Tony Hart Wedding Photography - Contact Form Screenshot

At this point, if the client likes my work, options and of course pricing (!) we arrange an initial consultation. It's an entirely obligation and pressure free event. An opportunity for me to get to know prospective clients and their forthcoming wedding and more importantly an opportunity for them to get to know me. It tends to last between 30 minutes and an hour and generally I conduct them in my clients homes. We're all busy people and all the more so with a wedding on the horizon, and I've found that it definately eases the pressure on the bride and groom if I can make the effort by going to them. From time to time an initial consultation doesn't translate into a booked wedding, but this is rare and the risk of a wasted journey is worth it in my eyes. I consider customer service to be a vital tenet of my business approach and I consider making the effort to visit clients for free, no-pressure consultations a big part of that.

The consultation consists of a number of things. First off we go through the shape of the wedding, the details that help flesh it out in my mind. What, where, who, when - that sort of thing. Next up I get the bride and groom to talk to me about which elements of my photographic style drew them to me and their vision for the wedding pictures. Likes/dislikes, particular images that grabbed their eye, all of these questions are important.

By the time we reach the initial consultation the couple have invariably seen my portfolio and generally have a good understanding of my style. Nonetheless this discussion helps me understand what they love and why. It's an important part of how I'll approach the day from a thinking perspective. From time to time I've come across clients who had something quite different in mind from the photojournalism I offer. It's rare, but occassionally there are times when I have to suggest other photographers to a prospective client because their vision and the way I shoot simply don't match. I consider it absolutely crucial that client and photographer see eye-to-eye, both on a personal level, and stylistically and it's important to me that I'm the right fit for my clients.

Tony-Hart.com Wedding Portfolio Screenshot

I always bring a range of albums to my consultations and generally get the couple to flick through them while we chat things over. Its a great way of letting the client see real weddings from beginning to end as well as the actual albums themselves. We wrap up the session with a discussion of the different levels of coverage, presentation options and cover any questions the couple may not have had answered. At the end of consultations, I always ask if the couple would like to go ahead and book but there is never any pressure to decide there and then. It's hugely important that people get a chance to digest what they've heard, consider and have a private chat together.

Booking

If the client then decides to go ahead and book, the contract is signed and a booking fee taken. The date is now deemed to be secure. At the time of booking I only require a commitment to the level of coverage the clients want, and not a decision on albums, photobooks and prints. All my packages include image discs and so it's my firm belief that forcing people into taking albums that at this stage they may not be sure they want or need is simply unfair and pushy. Both PhotoBooks and Jorgensen albums have been popular when booked after a wedding, so I see no need to make these an obligation. At the end of the day, many people choose not to have a traditional wedding album these days so it seems strange to me to make it de riguer by including it as part of a package.

Scouting & Research

Prior to the wedding day I make it my business to see a number of things and talk to a variety of people. First and foremost it's essential that I have a good understanding of the venue and know it well. I always scout out both the wedding venue and the church well ahead of the date and make sure to do so at a time of day similar to the time I expect to be shooting there. As available light is a central part of my photographic style, the direction and quality of light is a big part of my research. Understanding it on location is everything. I always make at least one pre-wedding visit, often returning more than once to view the setting in a variety of ambient light conditions.

Hampton Court House School Wedding Day

I also speak to venue staff and like to get acquainted with whoever will be in charge of events on the day. Wedding co-ordinators and venue managers have a lot to think about and I find it makes life easier for all involved if I can touch base with them and run through any relevant specifics with them. One of the most important conversations I have is with whoever is running the ceremony be they a priest, vicar or registrar. It's my experience that these people are usually hugely helpful, but I like to make sure they're happy with my role and intention as a photographer so there is no chance of misunderstanding.

Finally I always plan transport in considerable detail. This is particularly important for weddings where the ceremony and reception are taking place in seperate locations. If I am covering a brides preparations on one side of town, have to get to church on the other side of town and then onto a venue at a third location, timing can be critical. It's essential that I know the way and know where I can get quickly parked. It may sound obvious, but in the modern era of GPS and turn by turn directions, it's all to easy to forget to do these basic bits of preparation. I always make sure I know the way from A to B from memory, so if the sat nav decides not to play ball then it's not the end of the world. If the route involves places that can be severely affected by traffic congestion, I work out a route B. Come the wedding day, I carry plenty of cash so in a worst case scenario of a breakdown or a flat tyre I can always take a cab. This level of preparation helps to make sure that on the day I can focus on picture taking and not be distracted by trying to figure out how to be in the right place at the right time.

Pre-Wedding Meeting

About two to three weeks prior to the wedding date I arrange a pre-wedding meeting with the bride and groom. Like the initial consultation, this is usually conducted at the clients home. It is an opportunity to remember each other - it can be a long time between booking and the actual wedding - and to go over the forthcoming day. By this stage, schedules tend to be set, the wedding party is generally confirmed and the details much firmer in everyones mind. We go through all the specifics and nuances of the wedding day and confirm when the formals will take place and who will feature in each group. I take away a confirmed schedule and a confirmed list of formals, the bride and groom take away peace of mind.

The Day Before

In the week leading up to the wedding I keep a close eye on the weather outlook. Generally this only translates into minor adjustments in my mental approach to the day, but it does allow for forethought and contingency planning if torrential rain or other extreme weather conditions are on the cards. I also check to see what time sunset will be on the day of the wedding and where West is in relation to the venue. The day before, I check a variety of weather forecasts and make final decisions regarding where I intend to shoot the formal groups in the event of Plan A (where the weather does what I expect) and Plan B (when it doesn't).

Wedding Photography Relevant iPhone Apps

The day before the wedding I double check my clothes (suit trousers, belt, shirt) make sure they're ironed and crease-free and polish my shoes. I print backup Google map directions to and from all of the relevant locations, label them, and pop them in the car glove box. I check my iPhone has all the key contact details and then charge the battery overnight. I transfer all the formal shot details, including names and roles within the wedding party, along with any other useful details onto pocket sized index cards, hole-punch the corner and then fasten them together with a piece of twine. I've found this low-tech solution to be the most effective method of quickly prompting my memory during the process of shooting the formals. The hole punch/twine solution works better than a staple as it allows me to permanently 'turn the page' without the stack of cards wanting to snap back to where it was. If neccessary I pop out and make sure I have a full tank of fuel.

Next up, I take my three camera bodies (two primary, one backup) and clean all of the sensors using Visible Dust sensor brushes. I then shoot some test shots to confirm that there are no dust spots present on the sensor. I then clean my lenses so they are dust and smudge free using a blower, lens brush and microfibre cloth. Once this is done, I run all my memory cards through the cameras, formatting them and putting them into a flash card wallet. On all cameras I double check a number of options including RAW format, autofocus custom functions and the user definable presets. I load two clean cards into my primary cameras, confirm they're empty and then move the menu screen so it's not, due to last use, resting on the 'format card' option. I then check my speedlite batteries to confirm they've plenty of juice. Finally I remove all batteries from the cameras, put them on to charge and make sure I have the right straps on the right bodies.

Tony Hart's Wedding Photography Equipment

At this point I tend to go and eat dinner and switch off for a few hours. I find there's a lot of tension prior to a wedding day and it's worth taking the time to try and relax. I tend to watch some rugby or play a little XBox, but above all, I try not to think about the wedding for a bit. At about 9 I come back to the office, take the batteries off the charger, load them into the cameras, stick the spares into my Think Tank roller bag and the load the case up with all my bodies and lenses. I open up my lighting case and make sure everything is present and correct. I rarely use studio lights, but they do get used for some formal shots and they always get taken along. Everything is then zipped and locked and placed in the lobby ready for the morning along with other essentials like tripods and shoes. I like to get an early night prior to a wedding so at this point it's off to bed for a good sleep.

The Wedding Day!

On the day itself I wake up early, long before I have to be anywhere. I have as big a breakfast as I can manage. I'm not a big morning eater, but weddings are long events so experience has taught me that it's best to fuel up. After dressing, I head to the lobby, unzip my Think Tank bag and check two things in particular - that I have charged batteries and empty memory cards in my cameras and plenty of spares of each sitting ready in the bag. As mentioned, this was all checked the night before, but I like to check again - it gives me peace of mind.

The camera bag, the lighting roller case, tripods, power reels, a waterproof jacket and plenty of water is loaded into the boot of the car. Personal stuff like wallet and phone are collected and the formal index cards parked in my right pocket. At this point I do a final mental check, the sat nav is loaded and it's off to the first port of call.

If I'm running my automated PhotoBooth then I tend to head to the venue first and set this up if at all possible. It takes a while to prepare and if there is the opportunity to get this done in the morning before I am due elsewhere it's a half hour saved that pays dividends. On the way to the first location, generally either the church or wherever the bride is getting prepared I tend to listen to something energising on the iPod. I'm a big fan of film scores so that's often a favourite. At this point it's about getting your game face on and being in the right frame of mind. The preparation is done and it's a matter of being switched on and mentally sharp.

The wedding itself doesn't require half as much explanation as you might imagine. It's a matter of keeping the observational side of the brain working, 'seeing as the camera sees' and keeping an eye on the schedule so you're in the right place at the right time. I arrive to the ceremony location early and, prior to the arrival of anyone else, I'll walk around the church for a bit. I've already done my research for good shooting spots, but based on the prevailing light and expected position of bride and groom I now make some final loose plans about where I hope to be during which element of the marriage ceremony. I describe these plans as loose because you have to be prepared to go with the flow. Things change and not everything can be preplanned. When the unexpected occurs you have to react quickly and being too set on a certain course of events can cause the mind to freeze.

During the service itself I pay as much attention to the person conducting the wedding as anything else. The unintentional cues this person gives are integral to how I move around a wedding. Being unobtrusive is a major part of the way I shoot and so economising movement in a quiet church or ceremony room is very important.

Corinne walked down the aisle by Father

The formals typically take place at some point between the end of the ceremony and the wedding breakfast and, from my point of view, are the most structured part of the day. I limit formals to eight distinct groups. This is so that the formals don't become unwieldy and overtake the day. It's my view that if a bride and groom desire more formals, they should be considering a more traditional photographic approach entirely. By limiting the formals to eight groups, it gives time to do each one properly rather than having to rush through at a pace that doesn't do the images justice. Pageboys and flowergirls, not to mention adults, can be flighty things at weddings so I allocate five minutes to each shot to ensure that sufficient time is available. Typically each group takes no more than 3 minutes, but by doing things this way we acheive a great result without compromising a genuinely photojournalistic approach. During this period of the wedding I ask the best man and ushers to assist me in rounding up the relevant people and aim to work firmly and speedily. Guests rarely want to stand around being directed and so efficiency is crucial. Done well, the formal groups should be completed accurately and quickly.

If a PhotoBooth is in use at the reception I return to this every half hour or so to make sure it's still running smoothly and doesn't need a new memory card. I obviously stop for lunch, but try and eat reasonably quickly. As a photojournalist it's my job to shoot things as they happen and moments don't wait. During receptions I sometimes spend 5 or 10 minutes in one great, well appointed position, waiting for the right moment to occur to make the shot. Observation is everything.

Tony Hart Photobooth at Corinne & Felipe's Wedding

None of my wedding packages include a time limit so I tend to work through until the close of the wedding celebrations, typically at midnight or sometimes even later. By this stage I'm invariably knackered, but it's also one of the most enjoyable periods of the wedding from a photographic point of view. The light is always challenging by this point, but the timetable is loose and the opportunity to 'find' or 'make' shots is considerable. It's a very creative period and less pressurised than earlier parts of the day. It's a real chance to relax and enjoy the job.

Once everything winds down, I pack my gear, making a point of putting everything back in it's proper place and taking special care to file my memory cards. I load the car, say my goodbyes to the bride and groom and drive home.

No matter how tired I am, when I arrive, I download the memory cards to my computer and duplicate the files to an external disc. At this point I copy the files into Lightroom and set it to render previews. Once this operation - which takes some time, is underway - I'm happy to hit the hay safe in the knowledge that the precious files are safely in three places - the external disc, my Mac's internal disc and my Drobo which houses my Lightroom library. They are of course also still on the original memory cards. These are not wiped until the wedding has been fully edited and backed up. By this stage it's commonly 3 am.

Editing

The next morning, if I haven't already, I'm pretty keen to review the images from the wedding day. The first stage of editing is to simply bin the chaff. Most photographers refer to this as culling. Some images are immediately binned due to inaccurate focus, close eyed 'blinks', or the odd inadvertent shot of the ground. This first run through is about selecting the rejects. I shoot upwards of 2000 images at a standard wedding and culling the junk is the first stage. This usually brings the image count down by 15-20% or so.

An example of image selection in Lightroom

Next, I use Lightroom's 'Pick' functionality to flag a loose initial selection. This tends to be larger than the final selection, generally as with two very similar good frames I will select both initially and make a final call on which is the better at a later stage. At this stage I've normally reduced the selection down to somewhere between 300-500 images. I then take an enforced break. 2000+ photos is a lot to look through and after a while you end up going a little photo numb. After a certain point I lose track of what's a great image and what's merely a good image and by taking a break it gives the eyes time to recover and resets my judgement.

Post-Processing

Once this initial selection is done, I start working on the job of post-processing the images within Lightroom. At the most basic level every image is individually adjusted for colour and white balance, black and white conversions are done, excessive noise is managed, sharpening is applied, the image is selectively dodged and burned, minor imperfections removed and the image is cropped if neccessary. 90% of this work is done within Lightroom, but every now and again an image needs further work and this is then exported to Photoshop for additional processing.

Formal shots are left to the end as these require a slightly different approach and often require more work due to the presence of 'blinks' in larger groups. With a formal of more than ten people, no matter how many frames you take, it's often the case that someone somewhere is looking the wrong way or blinking. The solution is generally not difficult and involves cloning the offending set of eyes out and replacing them with the same set from another frame where the owner has their eyes open. With milliseconds between frames it is very easy to make it entirely imperceptible and always appeals to my slightly childish side because I can make the person open and close their eyes by simply toggling the visibilty of the eye layer in Photoshop!

Editing a wedding photo in Adobe Lightroom

Once all the images are processed a final set of editing is done. I run through all the edited images and where neccessary reject images that don't make the grade or are near-duplicates of others. I then look through all the unselected pictures to check there are no gems that have been missed, if there are, they are added and processed.

At this point I have the final selection ready, edited and processed. The photographs are generally pretty much fine in chronological order, but in seeking to tell the story of the wedding day it's normally worth rearranging a few images - often detail shots - to heighten the narrative sense. Once this is done, a final run through is done to confirm that the images flow well and they are then named and numbered. The editing and post-processing of a wedding typically takes me about three days. At this point, the final edit (in both RAW and JPEG format) is backed up to archive DVD, the rejected frames deleted and the entire wedding, including unflagged photos is archived on the Drobo. The unflagged frames are kept for two years and then deleted.

Web Previews, Albums & Prints

The final wedding edit is then exported from Lightroom and uploaded into Slideshow Pro Director, the software which runs the slideshow galleries on my website. The flash slideshow is prepared and embeded into a new webpage constructed in Adobe Dreamweaver and this too is then uploaded to my site.

Slideshow Pro Director dynamically drives albums on my website.

Via a Lightroom plugin, I build a second gallery, with identical content, setup to allow clients to purchase prints directly from me. The folder containing the two galleries is then password protected and a link added to my client area page. Everything is double checked and I then send the bride and groom an email telling them their photos are ready and available online.

Adobe Dreamweaver is used to edit gallery pages.

The next stage is to prepare the Slideshow DVD and Digital Negative Discs that I include with all of my packages. These two discs contain all the edited pictures and if the couple have selected the PhotoBooth option, all the PhotoBooth images as well. The Slideshow DVD is set to the music of the clients choice and is playable on a regular home DVD player. It's a great way for people to look through their pictures with family and friends. The Digital Negative Disc is akin to being handed the negatives in the days of film photography and consists of all the finished pictures, in full resolution, ready for printing or reproduction. These are prepared, the DVD discs printed with the wedding details and then packaged in a bespoke case.

My wedding albums are sourced from Jorgensen of Australia

Finally, if the bride and groom have chosen album or print options these are designed/prepared and sent to the printers. I do all album design and firmly believe that it's part of my job as the creator of the images to present them in the best way possible. Once the albums have been designed, they are sent to the relevant printing/finishing companies for final assembly. I always have albums delivered to me rather than direct to the client so that I can quality check the final product before passing it on to the couple.



At this point I would consider a wedding pretty much complete. It's been a long journey from initial consultation to album delivery but the time spent in preparation and planning, not to mention the attention to detail throughout, all has a part to play in ensuring a first class end result.

This article has spilled to a much greater length than I intended. I originally envisaged a simple look at the mechanics of being a professional wedding photographer, however, in discussing the process of shooting a wedding from beginning to end it's become rather detailed. Hopefully it still achieves it's original aim of looking at what goes into a wedding and challenging the oft held, rarely voiced, assumption that a wedding photographer only works on the wedding day. Above all, I hope it's been an interesting read. Well done for making it this far!

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Jorgensen Wedding Albums

I source my wedding albums from Jorgensen of Australia and they really do produce a quite phenomenal product. I love the classic, unfussy style of these albums - they really let the pictures speak for themselves. The silver page corners, deep bevel of the core mattboard and the book bound spine all add up to a product that shows its quality through a meticulous attention to detail. I've recently received a new album through and, as the bride is away until the end of the week, I thought I'd take the opportunity to photograph the album itself.

Jorgensen album wrapped in protective cloth

Jorgensen album in presentation box.

Jorgensen Album removed from presentation box.

Cloth removed

A typical spread.

Note the beveled mattboard pages.

Large pages give space for your pictures to breath.

Protective rear pages.

Imprinted with the Jorgensen logo.

Another typical page spread.

Soft natural leather cover and perfectly aligned pages.

Metal page corners keep the album fingerprint free.

Another angle showing the Jorgensen's metal page corners.

A book bound spine, rebuilt by hand to accept the large number of pages.

Pro bound album with an elegant rounded spine

The complete album, a meticulous, beautiful keepsake of your wedding day.

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Win Your 2011 Wedding Photography

If you're planning your wedding for 2011 you should enter this competition. The winner will receive my flagship wedding coverage package along with all the usual consultations and advice entirely free of charge. Simply answer the question below - the solution is hidden within my albums over at www.tony-hart.com - to be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win. Three runners-up will also receive prizes. (Terms & Conditions Apply)


Prizes:
One Grand Prize Winner will receive:
• Premier Wedding Coverage - Complete photographic coverage of your wedding day, starting with the Brides preparations all the way through until the end of the evening celebrations. No time constraints on the coverage.

• Editing & Post-Production - The day's best images are selected and individually produced to further enhance them. Although I do not specify a certain number of images, this typically translates into a final selection of well over 200 photographs.

• Online Web Gallery - A password protected web gallery is made available on my website to allow you to view your images in the comfort and convenience of your home. Additionally print purchases can be made from within the gallery if you wish.

• Slideshow DVD & Digital Negative DVD - Provided together in a presentation box, these two DVD's include all of the edited images from your wedding day. The slideshow DVD allows you to view your images set to music on either TV or computer while the Digital Negative DVD includes full-resolution copies of your images ready for printing or other media along with an unlimited-use license allowing you complete freedom to reproduce your images however you see fit.

Three runners-up will receive:

• A framed, signed 12x8 print (or equivalent) of the image of their choice drawn from the 'Other Subjects' section of www.tony-hart.com

How To Enter:

Q: An image of the chapel and quad of Keble College, Oxford University is hidden within my website at www.tony-hart.com Which image number, in which album is it?

1. Visit www.tony-hart.com and search the site until you've found the image referenced in the question above. Note the image number within the album and the name of the album it resides within.

2. Using the contact form at www.tony-hart.com fill in your details, selecting 'Competition' as the area of enquiry and including the words '2011 Wedding Competition' in the message box followed by your answer. Remember to include both the image number and the album in which you found the picture. Submit the form.

3. Correct entries will be notified via email and entered into a prize draw to be held in September 2010.


Eligibility:
i. The competition is only open to residents of the United Kingdom planning to get married within the UK. Non-UK residents or weddings planned for overseas are not eligible.
ii. The competition is only open to weddings planned for 2011. Weddings occurring outside this timeframe are not eligible.
iii. Only participants are eligible to win, prizes are non-transferable.

Terms and Conditions:
i. To be considered valid, winning entries must meet the following conditions:
- Entry must be made via the contact form located at: http://www.tony-hart.com/contact.html
- Entry must include both phone number and email address
- Area of Enquiry field must be 'Competition'
- Message field must begin '2011 Wedding Competition' and state picture number and relevant album correctly
ii. Image order is subject to change as the portfolio changes. Correct entries will therefore only be recognised as such if the image number given is correct at the time of entry.
iii. The competition shall be open to entries between 1pm GMT Monday 1st February 2010 and 1pm GMT Monday 20th September 2010. Entries outside of this window will not be considered.
iv. No cash alternative shall be offered. Prizes are as stated.
v. One entry per person.
vi. Tony Hart makes no guarantee that he will be available on wedding dates. To this end, winners are subject to availability. In the event of a competition winners wedding date falling on a date that Tony Hart is unavailable the winner will be offered a consolation pre-wedding engagement session and another winner drawn at random until a wedding date is chosen on which Tony Hart is available.
vii. For weddings located more than 25 miles from GU15 1EH the winning participant will be liable for an additional travel fee charged at 40p per mile based on AA routings.
viii. When a wedding is located more than 100 miles from GU15 1EH the winning participant will be charged for reasonable overnight accomodation near the wedding venue.
ix. Winning participants are bound by the conditions of Tony Hart's standard contract as listed under the headings: Cancellation, Images, Copyright and Expenses.
x. Winning participants may add further options to their prize, however these are chargeable in line with Tony Hart's standard pricing.
xi. Once the entry date, as detailed in clause ii, has elapsed, correct entries will be collated and then a prize draw held. Correct entries will be transferred to paper, deposited into a hat and drawn at random. The first entry drawn will be the Grand Prize Winner. Two further entries shall be drawn and these shall be awarded runners-up prizes. In the event of a wedding date being unavailable, further draws will be made, as detailed in clause iv, until an available date is drawn. Winners will be notified by 1st October 2010.

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