Wedding photographers in Bristol, Bath
& the South of England
We work as professional wedding photographers throughout the UK and abroad, but as we are based in the South of England between the cities of Bath and Bristol, many of our wedding bookings come from this area. Working as a wedding photographer in and around the World heritage City of Bath is a delight. Bath is a stunning Georgian city with a unique heritage. There are some superb venues and from a wedding photography perspective we are absolutely spoilt for choice with pre-wedding and engagement shoot locations and dedicated marriage venues. We’re privileged enough to have our wedding photographs published on the Bath Abbey website,
as well as working as a preferred wedding photographer at the Folly Farm venue at Stowey near Bristol.
We also have our photographs featured in National Trust Wedding venues. We're members of the select ISPWP (Inmternational Society of Professional Wedding Photographers). Please enjoy our little site - galleries of complete wedding shoots from real weddings (not staged model shoots) can be seen on our blog along with creative highlights and some more information about us.
There are numerous other wedding and reception venues around Bristol and Bath which we’ve come to enjoy working at. When we work as a wedding photographer in Bristol some of the venues we've worked at are; Wedding Photographer Coombe Lodge in Blagdon,
wedding photographer Orchardleigh House near Frome, photographed weddings at Priston Mill, wedding photographer Bath Abbey, wedding photographer Bath Guildhall, photographed couples getting married at Bath Priory, wedding photography at St. Marys Church in Bath, wedding photographer at the West Barn and Tythe Barn at Bradford-on-Avon, wedding photographer Wick Farm Barn near Bath, boutique hotel Bristol, wedding photographer Grittleton House near Chippenham,
photographed wedding at Prior Park in Bath, getting married at Prior Park in Bath, wedding photographer warminster, wedding photographs Heaven's Gate Warminster, wedding photographer church Monkton Coombe near Bath,
Cadbury House, Briatol:
wedding photographer Folly Farm near Pensford Bristol, Aztec Hotel in Bristol - wedding
wedding photographer Keynsham Bristol, wedding photographer Leigh Court Bristol,
wedding photographers Trowbridge, wedding photographer Bradford on Avon,
Further afield towards Gloucestershire, the countryside opens out and offers some delightful country house and estate wedding locations. wedding photographer the Barn at Berkeley.
Towards Chippenham lays the small village of Grittleton. Grittleton House is actually a private school which offers itself as a delightful wedding venue. Amusingly described as “Hogwarts” by a guest a wedding we photographed there recently, Grittleton House itself is kept in amazing condition for a listed building. The architecture is stunning and the grounds are really well kept, providing a gorgeous back drop for any wedding party. We were even fortunate enough to photograph a wedding at Grittleton House in the snow – a truly ‘white wedding’!
The exciting world of a wedding photographer Whilst chatting with friends I’m often asked about what it’s like to work as a wedding photographer. They suggest an amusing life of fun and endless partying, indulging myself by “taking a few photos” and making pots of money into the deal. The reality is of course very different. As so often is the case with ‘outside’ perceptions of any vocational job - the glitter and footlights are just that.
Choosing to step away from ‘the norm’ and work for myself was the first big step on the journey. After spending four years at university studying and practicing Fine Art Painting & Photography, I was thoroughly disappointed -the classic path of heading straight for a London MA course was of little interest to me at the time - I was in a rush to get out and get involved in the world! Fortunately thanks to careful planning and an uncompromising vision for what
I could bleat on about how I ‘identified gaps in the market’ and ‘catered to my clients needs’ when setting out my stall initially. This would of course be true, but the real reason is far more personal and creatively driven. I have a need to visually record things around me. That coupled with being a secret eternal romantic, really quite nosey and completely obsessed with photography, set me up quite well.
That is essentially what drives Élan Images today – it’s like having a mini nuclear reactor core at the heart of everything we do. I’ve come to learn this can be infectious too, which is fantastic for the people I work with and the clients who choose us to photograph their wedding day.
Success as a wedding photographer, however you may define it, is far more than just an ability to manipulate the latest camera kit. Influences in image making for wedding photography come not only from the clients we take time to get to know (did I mention I’m nosey), but from what we bring to the party – an obsession with painting and fine art, pop culture, music, landscape, a fascination with people.
For me it’s first and foremost about the creative process involved in the capturing of the image – making a still picture which evokes the moment. This gives me a real ‘hit’. Weddings in particular present a photographic challenge like no other, one which we take very seriously indeed at Élan. Photographing a wedding day brings together a huge range of skills and abilities, from the nuts and bolts of running a business; office admin, website development, sales and marketing, accounting and so on. To the purely technical and creative side; the cameras, lenses, lighting, influences, trends and style.
The whole wedding photography process often starts long before I ever meet a client. It’s the sudden rise in hits to the website or the chatter between guests and friends in the days and weeks following a wedding shoot.
Online Wedding Galleries
’ve only started using fairly recently to showcase our work and allow couples to share their wedding photographs instantly with their friends (as soon as our post production is complete, of course). We were aware this could also be a double edged sword, as it’s an open book for comments on individual photographs from all and sundry. I’m delighted to say that it’s all been more than positive though. We create online galleries on the Élan Images blog for all of our clients.
Other Inspirational Wedding Photographers
We love photographing wedding and enjoy the work of many of the worlds greatest portrait and wedding photographers. In 2012 these included; Jeff Newsom, Max Wagner, Angelica Glass, Annie Lebowitz, Ron Antonelli,
The pre-wedding / engagement photo shoot
We offer a complimentary shoot for all couples who book their wedding photography with us (for weddings of 8+ hours). We think it’s a great opportunity to get to know one another properly before the wedding day, and we find it gives our clients a level of confidence in our abilities. We know they have booked us at this point, but for many people it will be the first time they have experienced being on the ‘subject end’ of a photographers lens.
Wherever possible we try and use this shoot to get some really relaxed, intimate and creative photographs. We can really focus on them together whilst they’re alone and before the hustle and bustle of the wedding day. Some of the best engagement sessions we’ve shot have been in locations which mean something to the couple – be that in the bars and shops of Bath or Bristol, sitting in the fields around Priston Mill, or walking along the woodland paths of Westonbirt Arboretum.
Sometimes great photographic opportunities come about by chance – in this instance we were driving back from an engagement shoot when we stopped at the grand gates at the rear entrance to Badminton House. The sun was setting and the sky looked amazing, so we jumped out of the car with the couple and snatched a couple of lovely images before we lost the light. On another occasion in the city of Bath, we photographed the bride to be inside a shoe shop – on an impulse after noticing she couldn’t take her eyes off the shop as we passed by on our way to the next shot location. We aim to shoot anywhere between 6 and 20 photographs during an engagement session and it normally lasts about an hour or two, plus the time we take to visit the locations prior to meeting up with the client to ensure we know what we’re aiming for during the shoot and what the ambient lighting conditions will likely be .
Before the wedding
Following an initial meeting with a new client, ideally and where possible, this takes place at the venue and can take anywhere between 30 minutes and several hours – depending entirely on the client, their questions and how complex their wedding day and intentions for their photography are. This first meeting is pretty informal, and often couples do not yet have the information about their day fixed in stone. What may come as a surprise to some people is that we’re also ‘interviewing’ the client at this point. The key thing for us is to understand what makes them tick, what they’re all about, why, how and when they got together, and generally who’s involved in their world. As well of course as what they’re planning for their big day. This gives us a good picture of how to approach their wedding photography. We’re also making a decision on whether or not we’re the right match for them. Although their wedding lasts only a single day, this is really important. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re on the lookout for ‘bridezillas’ (…experience tells us you only find out about that on their wedding day!), but just for people with whom we may not completely ‘gel’ – if it doesn’t feel right at this initial meeting and we can’t put our finger on why, then it’s probably not a shoot which we’ll enjoy and be able to make the best of for them. Make no mistake though, we’re professional photographers, and we pride ourselves in an ability to capture with creativity anyone in any situation – that’s our job and our passion. Maybe we’re a bit picky by doing this, but we feel that it’s important for us to enjoy our work as this comes across in the final wedding photographs.
Photographing a wedding day
The wedding day itself is our bread and butter. Although we spend far more time working on the wedding photographs after the day, this is the one and only opportunity to capture them. It’s the greatest challenge and without doubt the most enjoyable part of the job.
Being in the right place at the right time doesn’t often happen by accident. The plan we make with our clients tells us roughly what to expect and when, so we know roughly where we should be.
The military adage “no plan survives contact with the enemy” is amusingly just as true when it comes to photographing a wedding, but perhaps “no plan survives contact with the guests” would be more apt. The best laid wedding plans are only ever just that – plans. It’s rare to find a couple who have thoroughly briefed their guests as to the finer details of their day. When we meet up with our clients, we help them understand what to expect based on our experience and ideas of how to deal with potential issues before they arise.
We make our plan for our photography too. A detailed shot list of any formal photographs which a client may like us to take, along with possible locations and the all-important wet-weather plan, just in case the heavens open and we have to sweep seamlessly in to ‘plan B’. We also plan for any specific lighting and equipment considerations as well as a thorough briefing for any assistants who may be working with us on the wedding day. We print out hard copies of all routes to and from churches, reception venues and couples homes, and make alternative route plans – just in case.
To ‘do formals’ or not to ‘do formals’
Our clients usually have a good idea of whether they would like any ‘formal’ photographs, how many, and which family and friends they would like in them. No matter how modern and free-spirited the couple, it’s often an expectation by older generations (parents & grandparents), who assume there will be ‘formals’, as there have been from generation to generation. Couple are often then implicitly obliged to put time aside during their day for this to take place.
Our client leads on this. We never assume they want formal groups or portraits, but if they do it usually falls in to one of three categories; just a couple, enough to fill about 40 minutes, or way, way too many! The couples who are looking for a large number of formals need our help and guidance to bring the number to a level which doesn’t compromise the creativity or professionalism of their final pictures, or worst of all, upset their guests. The wide availability and use of compact digital cameras often gives couples the impression that all that’s required is to “point and shoot”, in order to get a shot. This isn't quite the case.
Experience tells us where we need to be to achieve a photo. There is no ‘normal’ anymore. Each and every wedding we photograph is different, and although many follow a defined or traditional pattern, we go the extra mile to search out what makes each one unique. The day often starts with us photographing the bridal preparations – sometimes at their home, sometimes at a room in the venue or at a local hotel. This can be a delightfully relaxed and enjoyable time, or it can be the polar opposite! As well as photographing the bride and bridesmaids enjoying their time helping each other get ready, it’s our opportunity to capture the details before they’re whisked away; the wedding dress, shoes, flowers, engagement ring, gifts
After the wedding
The time spent after we’ve photographed the wedding day itself can last anything between two and five days, depending on the length and complexity of the original shoot. This is what we refer to as our ‘post production’ phase. To an extent, this is where the hard work begins. We start with a sift through the original image files. From an eight to ten hour shoot this normally produces somewhere between 1000 and 4000 images (photographed between the two of us), and we need to sort the wheat from the chaff. I like to do this first ‘sift’ myself and it usually takes me a full day, resulting in about 600 photographs on the shortlist. The next ‘sorting’ is done together with my Assistant Photographer. One pair of eyes is good, but it’s really important that we both have an opportunity to analyse which images show the narrative of the day and express our creativity, as we intended them to when we took them. Photographs selected for the final cut are then ready for professional retouching (usually around 300-400). I do this myself by hand, adjusting the white balance, colour, saturation, contrast, and any other effects which are needed to finish each image. This usually takes between 1 and 3 days.
Following the wedding day and after a disk has been sent out to the client, the wedding album process can begin for clients who have either pre-chosen or would now like an album to showcase their wedding photographs. We use a range of album companies including some of the best and most beautiful in the world. Jorgensen and Loxley are two of our favourites. We offer an enormous range of pricing options with our albums, ranging from around £200 to £2,000.
This enables us to cater for every budget. After our clients have selected the images they’d like in their album, we design and layout initial proofs ourselves (many don’t). Nothing is outsourced. We offer our clients as many proofs and amendments of their wedding album layouts as they would like, but we find that three sets of revisions is usually more than enough. Managing this process from initial photography to completed album enables us to enjoy full creative control and reflect a couples memory of their wedding day as closely as possible. After all we were the ones standing next to our couples for most of their day. Personally speaking I couldn’t hand this end process to anyone else.
The technical stuff
This section is really for those tecchies out there who are interested in the camera equipment and photographic post production techniques we use within our wedding photography. Our kit list can be found here. It changes regularly as we stay up to date with the latest professional equipment, camera bodies and lenses. On the whole the camera equipment doesn’t change dramatically – we take three pro Nikon bodies on a wedding shoot, along with a full set of pro lenses [14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 105mm macro, 50mm prime, plus a x2 teleconvertor and a range of Hoya filters], Manfrotto tripod, light stands, 4 sets of PocketWizard remote flash triggers and Nikon speedlight (flash) units. Post production is handled using Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Lightroom, Indesign, Dreamweaver …we use bespoke actions which we’ve created to finish some of the photographs - all are retouched by hand, by us.
Final wedding photographs
So to finally get to the stage where we can hand our clients a beautiful set of wedding photographs, it has taken two people around 5 days, involved £30,000 plus of professional photographic equipment, involved logistic and creative planning and of course, a whole lot of love!