Bridal Diaries – Choosing your wedding photographer

Lisa GrovesLatest News, Paper and Knots (Bridal Diary), Personal, Weddings

Paper and Knots

Another new week and another week closer to our wedding day! Last Friday saw the exact half way mark in planning – it was exactly 5 months since Chris proposed and exactly 5 months to the wedding day. Now we’ve passed that point, it’s all starting to feel very real and, if the last 5 months are anything to go by, it’s only going to feel like 5 minutes until the big day arrives!

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So, I’ve talked about the proposal and the ring but haven’t yet gone into any details on our plans for the main event. We decided to keep the venue name quiet as, being a stationer, I’m all about the paper being the big reveal for guests – plus it’s quite nice having our own little secrets and plans. When we started planning, the venue was at the top of our to-do list, especially as we knew we only had a matter of months and wanted to get married on a Saturday in a peak month. Timing is everything with venues – the price of your special somewhere will vary widely depending on the month and day of the week that you want to get hitched, with  May-September being the peak months and Saturdays being the most popular (and therefore expensive) day. We were lucky enough to find a vacant Saturday in September this year – we considered different dates due to budget but decided it was high on our priorities list, so stuck with what we really wanted here.

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After we looked into venues, my next priority was photography, and I say ‘I’ because this was a subject where our opinions differed. This was something I wanted to spend a lot of time thinking about and commit more of our budget on this, whilst Chris was happy to make a saving and go with the best deal we could find. I really wanted Chris to understand where I was coming from on this point as I felt so strongly about it (I even offered to halve my dress budget if it meant having a photographer that I truly admired and would completely trust to capture all those important moments!).

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I believe that every photographer sees something different to the next and the ways in which they choose to capture that moment or detail can portray the same event in very different lights. I wanted someone that would capture our story in the same way I would see it, their imagery to reflect my memories as well as capturing the parts I don’t see. Being a creative means that the smallest of details are equally as important as the big things, in fact I often appreciate them more. I want my photographer to notice these things too as on the day itself I’ll be too busy running around and spending my time with my brand new husband, family and wonderful friends, to direct the photographer about what details to capture – I’ll need them to just know.

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When discussing the matter with Chris, I explained the various styles of wedding photography to also discover what he wanted.  Happily we were on the same page – we both wanted a relaxed and natural style, capturing moments as they happen rather than ‘making them happen’.  Gradually Chris began to understand where I was coming from and even his often very ‘black and white’ way of seeing things (well, he is a lawyer) saw that it was important to book someone that understood our needs, rather than just the cheapest!

And finally the overall look of the photography.  For me it’s all about light, natural light. I even ruled out wedding venues for being too dark. I want beams of light streaming through the windows, glistening down on us and the various rooms. This automatically lends itself to the style of photography I like but it still takes talent to capture it right. I’ve come across some photographers where (in my opinion) the light has over-powered the image and all those details I talk about have been lost in the shot. I love colour, depth of colour and so I don’t want this to be bleached out – my Instagram is probably a good example of how I work light with colour. With all these points in mind and after a lot of research, I decided that the ‘fine art’ style of photography would suit our wedding best. I love that fine art photography has a softness that feels very romantic, with beautiful bright light, that captures nature and it surroundings at their best.

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So you can see I’ve thought about this quite a bit! Once the style had been settled on, then came choosing the photographer.  As it happens, I am very lucky as I know so many talented photographers through various photoshoots and weddings I’ve done through Paperknots. Actually this was also something of a hindrance as I found it quite difficult to narrow down to just the one! When choosing a photographer, of course their photography skills are the most important aspect but I also believe that getting to know (and like!) your photographer can make a huge difference, after all they are going to be around you for quite a lot of the time on your special day.

When we finally decided on our wedding photographer – the very talented Emma Pilkington – I arranged an engagement shoot, so that we could experience her talents first hand and get to spend some time together with her ahead of the wedding. Chris was a little apprehensive about the shoot (as was I) but we both said we were so glad we did it. We met Emma in Llantwit Major in South Wales (Chris is originally from Wales) and headed straight to the beach, the sun was almost shining (that never happens when we visit) so we didn’t want to waste a moment. We walked along the rocks, non-stop giggled, piggy-backed, snuggled under a blanket and even dipped our little tootsies into the freezing cold sea – but I don’t need to talk about that too much as these wonderful pictures speak a thousand words :) Of course we then went for coffee and cakes in a cute nearby cafe to warm up and dry out!

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With all my bridal diary posts I want to try and make them as useful as possible to any future bride & grooms. I’m no expert on photography so thought I’d ask Emma a few questions, which might help with potential queries you have:

1. Tell us about yourself and how would you define your style?
I am a fashion and wedding photographer, currently living in Cardiff with my boyfriend. With a background in fashion and fine art, I have developed a personal wedding style. I love natural light, simplicity, the little details and ethereal locations. My experience working in fashion has given me the knowledge needed to photograph people in their best light, in the most natural, honest and beautiful way that I can. I have an unobtrusive style, which enables me to capture the special moments when they happen without getting in the way or staging them. However, I can confidently direct you when needed, to ensure we get the best photographs from your day.


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2. What’s the difference between shooting on film and digital?
It often comes down to speed and reliability at weddings. I love the tactile and timeless quality of film, and I often like to include some couple portraits and detail shots of the day shot in this way, as the unmistakable look of film photography is so appealing, particularly at fine art style weddings. However, I choose to shoot about 90% of a wedding day digitally, because this way of working allows me to be the most creative, and shoot a lot more images. A major disadvantage of film is the inability to capture a clean image in low light. Digital cameras offer much higher film speeds which allow for better images in tricky situations – such as inside a church or at the evening reception. Working digitally allows me to spend more time taking photographs, with quicker response times to all situations, without the worry of constantly needing to change film or spending longer getting the camera settings completely right – often missing out on that tear quickly brushed away, or the look of complete admiration between the bride and groom. These kind of moments are what I don’t want to miss and are the main reason I choose digital, and know the time and place for some select and precious film photographs. e-shoot blog e-shoot blog

3. What are the benefits of having engagement shoots?
Engagement shoots are such a nice way to practice having your photograph taken together professionally for the first time, without the pressure of it being on your wedding day! My couples say they really cherish having these images that are just about them, without the worry of needing to get back to friends and family, and the often tight schedule of a wedding. Your wedding day will fly by, but during an e-shoot you have the time to relax and just enjoy each others company – whilst getting some beautiful images that will always make you smile! Also these images are great to use for save the date cards, wedding itineraries etc!


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4. Is there anything that couples should pre-plan for their photos ahead of the wedding?
I will always help you with posing and guidance to make you feel comfortable when having your wedding photos taken, so you don’t really need to worry too much about preparing anything. However, it is always nice to see a pinterest board of your wedding plans so that I can get a good idea about the whole feel of the day you’re planning, and if there’s any particular poses or photography ideas you’d like to share, it’s great to see these too.  It’s also a good idea to think about what time of day you’d like your couple portraits – midday sun can be very harsh, and the dreamiest light is during the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset. The most important thing is to relax, enjoy your day, and forget about the camera following you around!

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Thanks for taking the time to help us with those points Emma – we so pleased with our engagement shoot pictures and can’t wait until they are the ‘real thing’!

If you’d like to know any more about Emma and her work please visit her website at

Lots of love and smiles!

Lisa xx