Camera Hannah - Alternative Wedding Photography UK

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Fine Art Albums From Folio

Be it the crackle of a vinyl record or the way leafing the pages of you favourite novel feels, the satisfaction of something tangible and real is not to be forgotten. In an age of viewing photos as pixels on harsh screens it can be easy to forget to create something physical with your images.

I offer digital packages as standard with my wedding photography because I believe that it's the easiest and most convenient way to share images… but my heart belongs to the tangible and skips a beat when I hold a beautifully crafted photo album. So with that in mind, I'd like to introduce Folio's gorgeous fine art books to you.

This is an example of a 12"x12" cotton cover album. They are also available with thoroughly stroke-able leather covers or a printed photo cotton cover. We can talk about which covers and colours you'd like best when the time comes to design the book.

They are available to all my couples past and present, and cost £475.

This includes 30 of your favourite photos from the day in a simple, elegant design and mainland UK postage.

Additional images are available at £25 for every extra 10 photos you'd like included in the album. Smaller duplicate albums are also available, which make awesome gifts.

If your wedding is coming up and you'd like to add a Folio album to your package or if you're reading this and feeling a little guilty that your photos are still sitting on your hard drive gathering cyber dust then just pop me a message and we can get started.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

My Love Affair With Candids

After chatting to a few photographers about guest shots, I decided to write a little insight into how I handle getting those natural photos. I know that some people can find it tough so I hope it's helpful for anyone who's looking to take better candids at a wedding.

First off, I think it's important to point out that candids are a big part of what I do. Probably the biggest.  I literally cannot get enough of them. It might be bordering on a compulsion… so all of this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because for a lot of photographers it isn't a big part of what they're selling so devoting a lot of time and energy to it just isn't as essential as it is to my business.

1) Candids don't have to be perfect.
One of the big challenges with getting candids can be that you have very little control over what you're shooting. The guests might be stood in blinding sunlight or dappled shade or a room that makes bouncing flash a right 'mare or puts your colour balance out of whack. If I'm faced with that I try not to stress too much: I know my couple will appreciate photos of their guests even if the shots aren't technically perfect. They won't see those flaws or they just won't care. Make the best of challenging conditions and don't stress so much that you stop shooting altogether.

 2) Don't be afraid to communicate with guests.
This doesn't mean orchestrating fake candids (because… just… no) but you know that horrible thing when you're shooting people chatting and they look up at the worst moment (bonus points for social awkwardness if they suddenly pop a canapĂ© in their mouth at that very moment) and then they clam up…. don't be afraid to lighten the mood, you want them to be relaxed so you've got a better chance of catching them later rather than them being wary of you and watching out for you. I have been known to joke that I must have left my invisibility cloak in the loo, or just simply smile, chat a little bit about the day, let them know how much you're enjoying it and you're just getting natural photos. Cameras are awkward things, they can make people very nervous, especially guests who don't know you or how you work. Try as you might you'll never be invisible but being friendly and making time to engage with guests can help make them feel at ease and counterbalance awkwardness they might feel if they become aware of your presence.

 3) Don't be afraid to get in amongst the action...
Shooting candids means standing about a mile away with the world's longest, heaviest lens, right? Hell no. I love shooting certain candids on my 35mm, and getting right into the action. The ideal time for this is when the couple leaves the ceremony and their guests start pouring out and flooding them with bear hugs and grins. I tend to shoot from behind the couple to get those reactions, the guests are focussing on the couple and I'm focussing on the guests. It's the perfect time to get happy shots and just let it happen around you. Another time that getting right in there is ideal is when you're one the dance floor and my top tip for getting natural dancing shots is to do some dancing yourself. Get into it, enjoy it, mime along to the lyrics and generally just have a blast - I hardly look through the viewfinder when I'm shooting the dancefloor, and often shoot from above my head.

 4) And know when to step back
As good as it is getting in amongst it, it helps to know when to stand back and get out your spy-lens of choice. For me it's usually 85mm, 100mm or 135mm and I tend to get these out when guests are seated. You can generally get a good view of most seated guests if you stand to the sides so just before or after the meal or, if you're a candid-addict like me, between courses is the perfect time for this. Be patient and wait for the smiles, keep your ears open for people telling jokes or really engaging in conversation. It's the most satisfying thing when you get a great reaction shot or a grin. I tend to include candids so long as the expression is positive or warmly neutral and I try and work my way around tables methodically trying to capture as many guests as possible. Everyone was invited to the wedding for a reason and everyone is important so I try and challenge myself to get everybody, but it isn't always possible.

5) Be observant and prepared to shoot fast
This ties in with point one about candids not always being perfect. Give yourself the best chance at getting good photos. Speed is vital when you're getting natural shots  and when you're in ultra mega ninja mode you might have to change what you're shooting in a split second. If the lighting is constantly fluctuating, careful use of aperture priority can mean that you can just focus on what is happening in front of you rather than what it happening in your hands. For me, it's better to get a rad shot of someone having a proper tight hug with someone they haven't seen in years than waste any time having to reevaluate the light.

6) Take a break
"I love having my photo taken when I'm eating" said nobody ever. I wouldn't write off taking photos during meal times completely (like I said before, between courses can be an awesome time for candids) but this is ideal break time, for you and for guests. People hate photos of people eating and people hate being photographed eating and you need to eat. Nobody loses. I know it can feel like if you take a break you're missing things, but you need to pick your moments. 

 7. If you think nothing is happening, you're wrong.
There might be a bit of down time but there is always something happening. Their wedding is happening. It happens… you've been busy shooting other stuff, the ceremony was late, the group shots were challenging and then you finally find yourself with time for action shots and there's no action happening, maybe people are waiting for the evening to get started… don't admit defeat. Take a break, have a drink and just people watch. Opportunities for photos will pop up. Don't write off in-between time.

8. Feel the love.  

Candids are awesome. They're the unsung heroes, nestled in amongst the big moments, the detail, the group shots. When I get feedback, people often mention how happy they were looking through and seeing natural moments. They might seem a bit incidental at the time but in an era of selfies, how often are the people you love captured as they are? For me, candids are the wedding. It's those people, that atmosphere, that joke, that moment. A fellow photographer who second shoots with me sometimes pointed out that when I take photos at a wedding I am constantly grinning and that's because I absolutely love what we can do with photographs.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

{Filmmaking} A Very Colourful Pregnancy Announcement

Jade and I have followed each other's work for years. It's so funny in this business… people think it's all exciting shoots and adventure but really... you work from home most of the time. You can go whole days not leaving your screen. So the people you connect with online are a lifeline that make you feel like you have colleagues, those long days in front of your computer. Getting the chance to meet those people face to face and work on something creative is always a pleasure and this was no exception. 

Jade and Adam wanted to create a video to share the happy news of a new arrival on the way. We talked ideas and Jade said she'd always wanted to have a shoot with feathers and we went from there. It was so much fun to fill the wintery woods with colour, and the sun even came out a little bit. Check out the video above and some stills I shot alongside it.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

February Weddings - Basements, Buses and Azerbaijan

2014, let's do this thing! First off I headed to Shoreditch Town Hall and down into a basement bedecked in Mexican garlands, butterflies, paper cranes and filled with music and pizza. Then it was back to London and Islington Town Hall followed by a London bus tour taking us to one of my favourite venues yet, The Peasant in Clerkenwell for gorgeous food, cups of tea and serious shape-pulling (and lunging on the dance floor). And then last but not least I hopped on a plane to Baku in Azerbaijan and found myself immersed in the craziest few days of my career, with henna and traditional dancers and epic food and vodka (so much vodka) and a derelict museum and… so much. It was a great way to kick off another year filled with weddings and love and adventure. 

Here's a few shots to keep you going til I post the full blog posts! 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

"Everyone's a Photographer"

Before I started shooting weddings everyone outside of the industry that I talked to had stories about photographers. "I went to a wedding and the photographer had a megaphone, getting people into group and was shouting things like 'Oi! Ginger'" "They blinded us with flash through the whole ceremony" "They were rude and bossy." "Weddings are just something photographers do to pay the bills." "The photographer acted like they didn't want to be there."  Positive accounts were few and far between. And yet… this was the golden age of wedding photography, according to some.

I've seen plenty of things in certain photography groups that have hacked me off in my time but for some reason what I saw recently was the final straw. "More stay at home mums will get DSLRs for Christmas and think they're a photographer" read the post. Followed by others ranting about this perceived influx. It was almost Daily Mail-esque in its scare mongering: "They're coming to take your jobs". 

It's not just that though, we hear these things all the time from photographers, complaining about so called "Weekend Warriors" (people who run a photography business on the side of a day job), self-taught photographers, anything new and different. According to these photographers the industry has gone to the dogs. They look back on the good old days... when photography was for the elite and equipment was out of reach. The golden age. 

Well I say: balls to the golden age. Things are better now. 

I dare say that if you look down on that person who got a camera for Christmas and is totally excited and can't wait to play and doesn't care if that shot is perfect because it's better than anything they've taken before… if you look at them and roll your eyes and wince… if you really can't relate to how they feel… that excitement... then maybe you're not in the right business anyway, maybe you need to rekindle that feeling in your own work. Because if you don't understand that feeling, if you're taking technically great photos but you don't look at them and think "I love doing this" then you are that photographer at that wedding who doesn't want to be there. How is your business ever going to survive in the face of talented, passionate people rising up in the business and how can you blame anyone except yourself? Has the industry gone to the dogs or has a passion for the job becoming an absolute essential for success… because it's no longer a position that people settle for but something that people aspire to. 

Now, I'm not saying that we aren't facing challenges in the industry. The value of photography is something that I wish we could all just sit down and have a chat about. I want to give that awesome photographer that I see undervaluing their work my best mum-face (and as many can confirm, my mum-face is pretty damn good) and I'd like to charge more myself. I'm not saying things are perfect, however this myth that it's no longer possible to make a living as a wedding photographer and that other people with cameras are your enemy is total nonsense. If you're threatened by other people's creativity it's possible that you're not nurturing or appreciating your own enough. It's your responsibility to make yourself better, not the duty of others to perform worse than you.

The best photographers these days know that embracing other people, including newbies, in the industry is so much more gratifying than being that person who tears down other people's work with childish insults thinly veiled as "critique". I'm lucky to be part of groups that are supportive, positive places to be. Not only does it make being a sole trader feel a little less isolating but it means that there is help there when you need it, there are people to share bookings that you can't take on with and to share with you in return. Having someone's back is always better than looking for opportunities to stab them in it. A good support network means a bigger shared knowledge and a better business as a result. Yes, the industry is crowded however I believe this means that, rather than doing it by the book, shooting a wedding your own way and following your own voice is not only possible these days but essential to running a successful business. And isn't that so much more exciting for wedding photography as a whole? 

So really now, can we all just please stop this hysteria? Getting all het up about the accessibility of DSLRs is as daft as a sculptor saying there's no living to be made because clay is so cheap. The real threat isn't their camera, it's your own attitude. 

Here's to all those people out there will say "I was at this wedding once and the photographer was bloody awesome", "That photographer felt like one of the family", "Wedding photographers are really passionate about what they do".

Yeah... balls to the golden age. 

Sunday, 29 December 2013


The round-up post. Every year it almost never happens. I start it about five times and scrap it, bargain with myself and decide not to do it. It's a bigger task than ever this year, with my biggest year, moving my total weddings shot into triple figures. If it's possible I love my job more now than ever before. 

I've continued to feel the awesome support of my friends in the industry. Those photographers who bend over backwards to help each other, my awesome second shooters, the people who inspire me when things are getting stressful. 

I continued to enjoy seeing my work published on blogs, in magazines and even in a book.

And the weddings… So many amazing people, places and opportunities. Celebrations up and down the country: yurts, palaces, pubs, village halls, gardens, beaches, woodland, churches… even a camel farm.

And the kind of photos I love best merged into one big compilation… hugging and dancing shots for the win!

Next year is shaping up to be pretty damn wonderful. With weddings all over Europe and in some of my favourite parts of the UK I'm almost all booked up - but I have some spaces available so get in touch soon if you'd like me to shoot your day.

2013 was also, most importantly, the year that our family became complete:

So yes… 2013 has been a biggie!

So, before I start waffling on and bore you… I wish each and every one of you a totally kickass new year.