Nine Ways to Pull of Wedding and Engagement Photography in Central London

Anyone who speaks to me and hears my accent knows I’m not a native Londoner.  But London has now been my home for most of my adult life, and for most of that, I’ve been making a living as a professional photographer here.  I have years of experience shooting on these streets, and I’m never bored of it.  I think I’m actually more in Love with London then the first day I step foot here.

London can be a tricky place to photograph in for professional purposes.  Everything from Wedding, to Engagement Sessions to Portraits, needs a slightly special “London Approach”.


1. Know your Private and Public property

To be fair, if you don’t know what is your public and private property, you’ll be told very quickly by an over-eager security guard.  This isn’t as much of a problem for engagement sessions when your clients are wearing “normal clothing” but more of an issue for wedding day or shoots involving any time of clothes that look wedding related.

The more “stuff” your shoot involves, the more likely you are to be asked to move on.  Flashes, soft boxes, reflectors, and props all make you stand out more from the normal joe or jane out on the streets taking photos.  Carefully consider what you’ll actually need and figure out ways that you can minimise the size of what you’re taking.

Generally most pavements (or footpaths) are fair game, however some cross private property that are given “public access”.  So you might not be aware that you’ve accidentally popped onto private property.

Expect that when your clients put on “wedding day outfits” the likelihood of being spoken to be a security guard increases.  Most all security guards I’ve encountered have been polite and nice to me and the clients.

If you’re under any doubt about your location, get what you need quickly just incase you’re asked to move on.  If you’re not sure where you want to shoot, scout your locations in advance and make notes about how you’d like to shoot that location.  If you’re using lighting, set it up in advance.  Brief your clients before you get to the location about what you’d like them to do.  The more prep you can do in advance helps you get the shot quickly and be able to move on, just incase someone does speak to you.

Royal Parks, such as Hyde Park, Regents Park, St. James’s Park all require photography permits. The photography permit does have a fee, but can be easily obtained from the Royal Parks Office.  Apply for this permission sooner rather than later, as they would like this to be at least 8 weeks before the shoot day.

Don’t assume that just because a hotel that your clients are getting married in may be next to a Royal Park that you automatically have permission to shoot in this park.  The fines for wedding shoots in Royal Parks are high, and don’t assume that the hotel will sort this for you.

If you’re looking for me to tell you exactly what is and what isn’t private property in Central London, I’m not going to do that.  Mostly because I don’t want that liability sitting on my shoulders.  However, the more you move quickly and keep things low key, the less problems you’ll have.

2. Shoot at Sunrise

I often find myself out of bed at 4 in the morning and catching a taxi to meet photography clients in central London.  Every time the alarm goes off, I question myself on why I keep suggesting this in the first place.  But then I’m met with the gorgeous morning light and empty London streets, and I forget the pain of puling myself out of bed so early.

When I suggest sunrise shoots, some clients naturally aren’t interested.  But those clients who are keen to use the famous London landmarks as backdrops are more likely to be willing to get up early.

Places like Tower Bridge are empty at sunrise, but completely jam packed the rest of the day.  The streets around the Houses of Parliament are also considerably easier to work in at Sunrise.

3. Keep your equipment on you at all times

When you’re shooting on the street, it’s very easy to get distracted with making sure that you get “the shot”.  It only takes a second for someone to walk by and grab your bag. Every London photographer knows someone who’s had their gear nicked from the street.

Invest in a rucksack or camera bag that doesn’t look your “normal” camera bag.  A clever theif will be able to recognise a camera bag right away and make it even more of a enticing target.  My personal favourite is the Kelly Moore bags and the Fig Bags.

Keep your camera bag on your back at all times, nothing ends a shoot quicker than lack of any camera equipment.

4. Know your temporary art exhibits, structures and street art

London has a whole host of incredible, unusual and fairly temporary backdrops to use for photography.  Keeping up to date with local events, following London street art blogs and instagram accounts can keep you up to date on what’s going on where. Street art tends to congregate in the same areas. East London, in particular Brick Lane and Shoreditch, are always safe bets when looking for interesting street art backdrops.  Columbia Road is a favourite of mine, it has a great mix of colourful shop fronts and houses and street art on the side streets.

My personal favourite are large scale art projects and sculptures, as well as temporary architecture, like the Serpentine Summer Pavilion.   These make for incredible and unique backdrops that are only available for short time.

 

6. Get Some Distance

It can be difficult to use some of the famous London landmarks and locations, especially when the landmark is so big.   It can be hard to get the whole “experience of a place” in one frame.  Places like Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Barbican, are all easier to photograph from a distance.  So it’s well worth finding little spots that overlook the landmark rather than being right on top of them.  A bit of distance can give you some scale as well.

8. Keep an eye out for pretty back streets 

This is especially helpful for wedding shoots.  Sure the main road is busy, but there may be side residential roads that are nice and quiet.  Google street view is extremely helpful here, as well as doing a site visit or going for a walk about before you start shooting.

Don’t rely on other photographers to tell you what’s a good backdrop and what isn’t.  What may inspire one photographer will bore another.

9. Head out on the weekend 

One of my favourite places to shoot in London is the City of London and the area around Bank Station.  This area during the week, particularly a weekday evening, is completely rammed with commuters and city workers, but on the weekend it’s very quiet.  Here you get the best mix of historical and modern architecture and some very empty back streets.  Knowing what locations are quiet on the weekends and what locations are super busy can save you a world a trouble when trying to

 


 

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Winter Wedding at Froyle Park {Katie & James}

It was freezing cold the day that Katie and James got married.

Poor weather is to be expected  with winter weddings, that’s part of the deal.  But if you plan for it and expect it, then it doesn’t hinder the party at all.  In fact it can help it quite a lot.  All of your guests all snuggled in one room, ready to celebrate and drink away the winter blues.  As I’m sure you can guess, the venue for winter weddings maters quite a lot.  You want to make sure you have loads of space for all of your guests to relax and Katie and James decided to have their wedding reception at the fantastic Froyle Park.

With Winter weddings, light and space are most important, and Froyle park had loads of both.  Even for large weddings, there was plenty of warm indoor space for the guests to mingle about.  There was large windows throughout and so the whole space felt airy, light and open.  It also has loads of historic charm being a country estate to add to the backdrop.  So there was cold weather outside but a party on the inside.

Katie and James, Thank you so much for having myself and my second shooter Marianne along for the day.  You both, and your friends and family were so fantastic to photograph and meet.


These photos are incredible, you have managed to capture some really intimate moments and so much joy. It is so lovely to go through these photos and see how much everyone was enjoying themselves.

We loved having you guys there on the day, lots of our friends have commented on how fun and professional you were. We couldn’t recommend you more highly and will continue to do so!
You really are amazing at what you do so once again THANK YOU” 

(more…)

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ISPWP Award Win for Howard and Hannah’s First Dance

I was very excited to see that I won an award from the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers from for my first dance shot from Hannah and Howards Wedding at Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight.  This is my third award from this worldwide organisation and it’s always very thrilling to have this feedback from them.

Initially Howard and Hannah were going to do their first dance inside the white marquee, but I asked them if it was possible to do it out on the lawn under the festoon lighting.  I’m so glad they agreed dance outside.  I feel like that change made the photo extra special.

To see more of Hannah and Howards wedding, check out their blog post here.

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Toby and Abby’s St. Micheals Mount Engagement Session

A few weeks ago, I headed down to Cornwall to meet up with Toby and Abby for their engagement session.

Now Toby and Abby don’t actually live in Cornwall, but they love that area and love to travel down and spend time there as much possible.  They are especially in love with St. Michael’s Mount.  And who wouldn’t be?  It sit’s magically on the Cornish coast line, with it’s causeway appearing and disappearing with the tides.

Thank you Toby and Abby for being such amazing people and such awesome subjects to photograph.  It was so awesome to be able to spend the day with you both and now I’m even more excited for your wedding this summer!

 

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Sarah and Kenton’s London Engagement Photo Session

Sarah and Kenton love to travel. They’ll keep an eye out for good deals on plane tickets then just fly to a new city or a favourite place just for the weekend. Just a few weeks ago, they jumped on a plane to London for the weekend, for the sole purpose of finding Kenton’s wedding suit, seeing some friends and their engagement photo session.

I met up with Sarah and Kenton close to Tower Bridge, and from there we headed along the river, up past Borough Market and Millennium Bridge, to the London Eye and then to the park next to the Houses of Parliament for a Picnic.  I love that meeting new people, showing them some of my favourite spots in London and taking their photos is my job.

Sarah and Kenton are getting married in New York soon, and just from talking to them for a few hours, I can just tell their wedding is going to be amazing.  Congratulations on your engagement and your wedding, here’s to the rest of their lives is going to be filled with impromptu trips around the world!

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