Weddings

Wedding Photographer Toby Lowe’s ten top tips on loving having your photograph taken


Beautiful photographs from your wedding day are something to be treasured, but can be difficult to achieve if you loathe being photographed. Despite elegant clothes, a make-up and hair stylist and a stunning backdrop, awkward poses and rictus smiles can ruin the end result. Experienced wedding photographer Toby Lowe has generously shared his ten top tips to couples on how to put the demons to rest and model up before the camera.

  1. Forget the glossy magazine front covers and celebrity social media. Toby explains: ‘Hating being photographed is a common problem which is growing as more people are taking photos and sharing them to often unpleasant peer review. People really need to relax and remember a photograph is a time capsule of your life, not a photo shopped advert, but a true record of your wedding day. Obviously you want the photographs to bring out the best of you but it should be of you, not a touched up fantasy.’
  2. Getting those best photos of you, means you and the photographer getting to know each other as good photographs are based on trust. ‘Rather than just looking through a photographer’s website to see if you like their style, spend time with them at the booking stage,’ advises Toby. ‘Ideally this would mean meeting up but if distance is a problem, then skyping or facetime is a good idea. You will be spending up to 14 hours with the photographer on your wedding day so a personal relationship is key.’
  3. Talk to your photographer honestly about what makes you nervous about being photographed. Toby says, ‘A lot of people have a feature they hate, whether a double chin, crooked teeth or their nose. Often that hatred is not based on fact, rather an unkind remark that has stuck or the merciless teasing of a sibling, but if your photographer knows how you feel they can shoot from angles you feel more comfortable with and will not be trying to persuade you to do things you suspect highlight your flaw.’
  4. A very important point is to remember to breath. ‘If people are feeling tense, they start holding their breath and become stiff and that really shows in photographs particularly the ones of just the bride and groom,’ explains Toby. ‘I ask couples to take 3. They close their eyes, breath in slowly to the count of 1, 2, 3, hold the breath, then open their eyes as they expel the breath. That takes the tension away and is when I get a really great relaxed shot. I really recommend couples practice breathing in this way before the wedding day.’
  5. Another thing for couples to practice beforehand is how to pose in a way that looks natural and is also flattering. Toby provides some simply followed instruction on this, ‘Don’t stand with your legs apart like a guardsman, instead put one foot ahead of the other and about 5cm apart, creating an L shape. Then lean forward on the front foot. This means you lean into the camera so you are engaging with it and this focuses attention on your eyes. And don’t get confused with the catwalk strut where the model leans back, that’s designed to focus attention on the clothes and the attention should be on you.’
  6. Arms and wrists should also not hang straight down. Instead Toby suggests, ‘Arms and wrists crooked at a light angle always look more comfortable, that’s why celebrities on the red carpet often have one hand on a hip. You can use props likes glasses of champagne, but the best thing is if the couple are touching each other, but only lightly. This is a tender and passionate occasion and that’s what should be caught in the photos. No grabbing!’
  7. Remember hands too are a big part of pulling off a natural pose. ‘Hands tell us so much of how someone is feeling and you don’t want you wedding photographs to show you with tightly clenched hands,’ laughs Toby. ‘I also don’t like the holding a football pose. Hands should always look as if they are holding feathers. I also remind grooms that pockets are there for a purpose and they can always stick their thumbs in them. Brides have bouquets to hold onto which makes it easier but the best thing a bride and groom can do is hold hands.’
  8. Forget the big smiles. ‘I don’t know who thought of the instruction ‘Say cheese!’ but they are responsible for more bad photos than anything else,’ groans Toby. ‘Unless you are the type of person who looks in the mirror every day with a big grin, you just look totally unnatural and forced. Hopefully couples are feeling happy on their wedding day and they don’t need to play to the camera, that smile comes from the inside and will show in the photos. People are always saying the Mona Lisa isn’t smiling, but I think she looks perfectly happy.’
  9. A good way of practicing all these poses is having an engagement shoot with the photographer prior to the wedding. Toby says, ‘It gives the photographer a chance to pass on tips in a very unpressurised and unhurried environment when they are not worrying about other things. Hopefully as well, they will love the engagement photos, that will build rapport and also mean they feel more confident about having their photo taken on their wedding day.’
  10. However, do bear in mind an accurate record of your wedding day includes the other people attending. This also goes back to the important point of being honest with your photographer. ‘Families are very complicated,’ sighs Toby ‘but if there are some difficult relationships it’s best for if the photographer knows. I had one wedding where the groom and his father hadn’t spoken for some time, so an intimate man to man shot of them was not appropriate. Particularly in these times of so much divorce, there can be hard feelings and people who don’t want to be forced to stand next to a former partner.’ Ending on a happier note though, Toby recalls, ‘I’m divorced but get on well with my first wife and her new husband, so they came to my wedding to my beautiful wife Sylvia. It was very funny when people asked them how they knew us.’

Visit www.tobylowephotography.co.uk for more information on Toby.

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Amandasig

Groom’s Speech ideas from Hew Belgrave

We loved this wonderful video showing Hew Belgrave giving his eloquent groom’s speech at his recent Polpier wedding to beautiful Donna. As giving a speech at your wedding can be a scary task for some grooms and it is a pity to let nerves cast a shadow over a day of happiness and fun, we asked Hew to share his top tips.

Hew says, ‘I am not a comfortable public speaker, it’s not something I look forward to, so I found the process rather daunting. The key for me was realizing that this was a unique opportunity to say some things to some people that are far too often overlooked. A chance to thank people, appreciate and also openly talk about how much things have meant to me. Rather than focusing on it as a speech, for me, it was an opportunity. I tried my hardest to keep it to 10 minutes, but even a week out from the wedding it was more like 15 and I shortened a few bits to keep it to the point in the final few days.

Here are some key pointers that helped me write it.
1) Start early – I started writing notes on my phone about 3 to 4 months before the wedding. Constantly adding or removing bits as better bits popped up.
2) If it’s an “in” joke or story, make sure it has context so all the guests understand. I mentioned a court visit with my dad as a low point in our relationship and then forgot to include that it was for a speeding misdemeanour on the day.
3) Thank key people in your life.
4) If you struggle to recite the story as it is too funny – definitely use it! Laughing your way through the day is a great look. The laughter will also put you at ease.
5) Be honest and open.
6) Be brave, we Brits are not the best at talking about emotions and really thanking people. Don’t miss this opportunity.
7) Write it down and stick to it.
8) I read the speech into the voice recorder on my phone and listened back to it. Hearing it back made me realise some bits were too long, others too short.
9) Cross check a few key points with your best man to make sure you aren’t heading for duplications on the day

Delivery
1) EVERYONE is on your team. You won’t be battling an uninterested audience.
2) Have written prompts or even the whole thing, with key titles and topics in bold.
3) Don’t worry about stopping to check where you are. You spent time writing this speech, so don’t leave bits out.
4) Really look at people when you are talking directly about them.
5) Take it slow and enjoy it.
6) Don’t have too many beers beforehand! The beer after will be one of the best ever!

Finally
1) You will miss bits.
2) You will rush it a bit.
3) People will laugh.

The last bit of advice is plan the end thoroughly. By the time you get to it, you will see the end coming and that’s when it can fall apart a bit. My closing statement was, “Finally I would like to raise a glass to those who cannot be here with us, either because they aren’t invited or because they are….. dead”. Now I think everyone agrees there are better ways to close it out.

Most of all enjoy it. I did not expect to enjoy it. But I did. Then you can relax, listen to the other speeches and enjoy them.’

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Amandasig

Khalile’s Top Ten Wedding Photography Tips

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Ten years ago, Khalile Siddiqui was running his own photo lab and doing studio work when he decided to become a wedding photographer. ‘Brides kept bursting into floods of tears about their dreadful wedding photos and it was heart breaking, so that, combined with a friend who wanted me to photograph their wedding, made me decide to branch out,’ he remembers. Now after photographing more than 200 weddings, Khalile is sharing his vital advice on what couples should do to make sure their wedding photographs successfully capture their special day.

  1. To find a photographer, ask friends for recommendations, explore websites and wedding fairs, but most importantly speak to the photographer. If meeting is not possible, then facetime or skype. Khalile explains, ‘As well as liking the photographer’s style, you must feel 100% comfortable with them. They will be in close proximity for a lot of your wedding day, often in intimate situations, so you must like them. ‘Khalile-Siddiqui13
  2. Check that they use correct protocol and procedure. A sign of that is whether they are not just a member but have a Licentiate (Licence) Associateship or Fellowship of a professional body. Khalile is a Licentiate of The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers which means the quality of his work has been approved by other professionals. Likewise, a photographer who has entered and won awards is showing both pride in their work and that they are good at it. The South West Wedding Award, which Khalile has won three times, has independent judges rather than an easily manipulated Facebook liking system.
  3. Check that the photographer has public liability and professional indemnity insurance. Khalile’s insurance means that should a couple’s wedding photographs be of bad quality they are entitled to have another wedding day paid for. Happily, he has never had a claim against him. ‘I understand that this is the most important day of their lives and the photos are sacred,’ said Khalile. ‘When my wife was due to give birth to our son Quais, I reassured the couple whose wedding I was doing I would be with them even if she went into labour. After all, they booked me before the pregnancy happened. Luckily the two dates didn’t overlap.’Khalile-Siddiqui15
  4. Check how the photographer safeguards your images. Khalile uses two memory cards simultaneously on the day and downloads the images to duel hard drives immediately after a wedding.
  5. Check whether the photographer does their own editing, as Khalile does. Some photographers farm out the images for editing which can result in poorer quality. Do remember though that the photographer can only do so much with editing, this may be an occasion when a professional makeup is a good idea. Khalile’s wife Tamsyn, as well as taking photographs on the wedding day too, is a makeup artist and she freshens up the bride’s makeup and subtly change it as the lighting changes. What looks good in the sunlight, is not the same as what looks good under the disco lights.Khalile-Siddiqui16
  6. Have a meeting with your photographer about a month before the wedding and make it at the venue if the photographer has not seen it. Khalile says, ‘This is when I am part wedding planner as well as photographer. We discuss the timing of the day, for example I am not a fan of photos of brides in their curlers, so that’s when I gather together the groom and his mates for a photo shoot, then I can be with the bride for the finishing touches, such as putting on the dress. I also suggest a visit to the local beach between the wedding breakfast and evening reception. It’s often a down time and it gives the couple a breather, as well as atmospheric photos.’
  7. Make lists of your family and friends and what groups you would like them photographed in – no one wants to find that a random plus one is star of the wedding photos while a much loved relative is missed out. Khalile says, ‘The shortest group list I’ve had was the bride and groom with her parents and his parents, but most of the time couples have many more people they want featured. I also like to know people’s names, it’s much friendlier on the day to be asking for Shelia rather than the mother-of-the-bride.‘Khalile-Siddiqui12
  8. Khalile also suggests setting out a photo booth style setting. He explains ‘I provide studio lights and the couple can provide fun props like photo frames, feather boas and glasses which are cheap on ebay and it really helps even the most camera shy guest relax. A bit of mischief, it’s fun and quirky.’
  9. But do not go too quirky in the style of the photographs. Khalile advises, ‘Go for a timeless style, not one where people can say ooooh I remember when everyone had their wedding photographs done in that way. For example, there was a fashion for black and white wedding photos with the balloons coloured. It looks dated now and also it’s not helpful in 40 years when your grandchildren are asking what colour the bridesmaid dresses were and you can’t remember because your photographer only supplied you photos that have been through filters or are black & white.’Polpier-and-Penpol-6.8-56-edit
  10. Make sure the photographer gets some photographs to you soon after the day. ‘I like to send a link to the couple of their wedding blog on our website a couple of days after their wedding day,’ says Khalile. ‘It reassures them that the job has been well done and they can go away and relax knowing when they return the full batch will be waiting for them to enjoy.’Khalile-Siddiqui20

You can view Khalile’s contact details on www.weddingphotographyincornwall.co.uk.

Amandasig

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