How do you keep Wedding Day memories fresh and sharp – with amazing Wedding Pictures, and to this end, I met up with Lynette Matthews of Lynette Matthews Photography.
Lynette was born in Norwich and grew up around the beautiful city of Cambridge. She has always been a lover of performance arts and took a job-based at Pine Lake near Carnforth, Lancashire. (That’s what brought Lynette up north.)
It was here she met her own hubby, Jason. And consequently, allowed her romantic side to choose Carnforth over Spain when her entertainer contract came up for renewal.
After moving to Southport, her home for the last decade, Lynette started at Edge Hill University. Here she studied Television Production Management as her dream was to become a TV presenter. However, fantasy and reality did not match. Thankfully, Lynette found more satisfaction from being behind the lens rather than in front of it.
She is obsessed with cake, Disney, and taking wedding photos.
Lynette says her dream photo shoot would be a wedding at a Disney resort. “Just pay for my flights and I will do the shoot for free; that’s how perfect it would be!”
How did you become a Wedding Photographer?
There are two reasons.
Reason Number One
As part of my degree, I had to create a business plan, so I chose photography as it was something I had dabbled in and because I had some prior knowledge. Furthermore, I loved the idea of using my special-effects make-up skills (also from my degree) and combining that to create dramatic images. However, as I neared the end of my course, a friend
asked…persuaded me to be the photographer at her wedding.
Now, this brings in my second reason for becoming a Wedding Photographer, and probably the most important one.
Reason Number Two
I had seen the sadness and disappointment from bad wedding pictures when a friend had received awful photos from her photographer. Lots of shots with guests, including the bridal party, with eyes closed; strange facial expressions; blurred shots…you name what you don’t want to see, and that’s what they got. She was crushed.
So, when my friend asked me to shoot her wedding, I knew that it was a BIG responsibility and I wanted to make us both proud. And I did! And now I am hooked!
Did you do get any training?
Yes, at my university there were little bits of photography but mostly film work. However, that helps me when setting up a shot and being able to tell a story within a picture.
Once I had decided to do this as a job, I made sure I covered the basics with an Introduction to Photography followed by an Advanced Photography course in Manchester.
Further to this, I completed several general photography courses and a special Wedding Photography Course run by a lovely chap down south.
Some of my most helpful training came from Johnny Draper (amazing wedding photographer) courses. Here I learnt many useful skills but one of the most useful was learning how to work with low-light which can be a lifesaver.
What different styles of photography are there?
There are three main types, and these are my descriptions of them, other photographers’ opinions may vary.
To begin with, these photos are like fine art. The images have lots of depth of focus, so you get pictures that have a sharp focus on people and objects in the foreground set against a blurred background. However, this style also includes the very glossy, fashionista style pictures. For example, think along the lines of wedding shoots for Hello! The pictures are very staged but more relaxed than the Classic/Traditional style below.
Moving on to this slightly controversial style. The controversy comes from the split in this style. There’s Option One where the photographer does not interfere with proceedings; there are no group or posed shots and the photographs produced are mainly black and white. Or there is Option Two, where the photographer avoids interaction for about 80% of the day, and then uses the other 20% to organise the group and posed pictures.
Finally, this style will be familiar to those of you who have looked through a grandparents’ wedding album. Everyone is posed, usually in a line, around important items: the venue, the car, the cake.
However, every wedding will have some of each style, but each photographer will define themselves by a certain style that they will focus on during the day.
I am more of a documentary style photographer, the second type, as I do like to interact with guests and the couple in order to get those more intimate, dramatic, close-ups.
More recently, I have found this becoming more of a challenge to do as people are becoming very camera aware, mostly due to smartphones.
As I wander in and out of guests and set-up a shot, people become aware of my presence and I get pictures with guests looking like meercats, rabbits-in-headlights, or Instagram models complete with fish-pout.
Also, as an aside to this, some guests make it their mission to follow me around and photo-bomb the shots I have set up. And at first this is funny, and I can get some really fun shots.
However, by the 20th shot of the same person photo-bombing every candid shot or a beautiful moment between the newly wedded couple, it can become very trying, especially when you can lose the impact of such a beautiful moment. I am being paid to make an exquisite visual record of a couple’s day, not just their one friend…so don’t be that person! (Laughs)
How should couples choose a photographer?
Very important – choose a photographer style that suits your style. Does the way the photographer work match your personality and complement the day you have planned? For example:
- If you are having a rustic, barn-style wedding with a live band then Documentary/Reportage is probably a good choice. They allow for more relaxed pictures whereas Modern and Classic are quite controlled and don’t match the relaxed rustic wedding feel.
- However, if you are a flashy, image aware couple who really want to show off your clothes or venue, then Modern/Contemporary would be a great choice.
Next important thing to consider is budget. Remember, your wedding day will probably be a bit of a blur so put the money into items that are going to last: photos, video, and rings.
The average UK cost for a wedding photographer is £1000. With me, that covers:
- our first consultation
- day of photo taking
- contact emails
- 15 matted images presented in a linen box (see below)
- a USB with all the pictures from the wedding
And probably the most important thing, make sure you get on with your photographer. In fact, having that connection will help you feel more relaxed and help you get better pictures.
My best pictures come from weddings where I am referred to as one of the family.
How do you get to know what a couple wants?
Ask them! ???? (Laughs) I encourage my clients to come to my shop for their consultation. I get them to talk about themselves: what are they about; how do they envisage their day; any pictures they really want?
90% of couples have answers to all of this and more, whereas about 10% of couples need a bit of guidance and are happy to take suggestions.
How do you help the couple look relaxed in their wedding pictures?
Well, if a couple books my full day package, then I give them a complimentary engagement shoot. This often helps them feel less daunted about having their pictures taken.
Furthermore, on the day, I often take the couple to one side, so they can have a catch-up. As they walk and talk, I get some shots and they get used to the sound of the camera. Very often they forget the camera is there and I get some beautiful close-up natural shots.
For more posed shots of the couple, I get them to look at and focus on each other. This tends to end up with them smiling and chatting and kissing in a natural rather than forced pose way.
“I joke that by the time the shoot has finished that they’ll be sick of the sight of each other as I tend to ask them to look at each other A LOT.”
However, if it is a very shy couple, I will position them and ask them random questions about each other and about the day. As they focus on answering the questions, I can get shots of them looking more relaxed.
What is really hard, is when I am pushed for time and have to create a relaxed environment as well as get the job done all against the clock. This is especially difficult when it comes to group shots and people wander. So, a quick tip to help your photographer is to make sure you plan time to do those group photos. ????
How long do you typically spend at a wedding?
I, personally, have two packages that seem to have a 50/50 split in popularity.
First, there’s the half day package where I arrive in time to take pictures of the couple getting ready, usually bridal prep, and I stay until the speeches. That’s about six hours.
Second, there’s the full day package where I stay until the first dance, usually about ten hours. Obviously, it depends on the couple and how they have planned their day, but that’s how my wedding photography days usually pan out.
How do you work with those guests who either see themselves as the unofficial photographer or centre of attention and get in the way or want to pick your brains about photography?
“You must be light-hearted. It’s not my day, it’s about the couple and I have a job to do.”
For those eager to learn more about photography, I’ll chat when I have a moment, but often excuse myself politely when I see a great image forming or it’s time to do the posed shots.
And those guests who seem to get into every picture or think they are taking the official wedding shots? Again, it’s about going with the flow of the day. Those guests are there to have a good time. Therefore, if I am heavy handed, I could ruin the atmosphere and I wouldn’t be able to get the best pictures anyway.
I take my pictures and present them to the couple.
I have to say though, this is where digital photography comes into its own as it would be a very different and more expensive story if I were shooting on film.
How do you present the finished product to your couple?
I take between 800 and 2000 shots on the day. When editing I delete all those shots where people have their eyes shut or the image isn’t clean.
From the remainder, I choose 15 to print as matted images. These are pictures printed on very thick card, so they can be propped up on mantelpieces and shelves.
The fifteen are presented in a lovely linen box along with a copy of all the edited shots on a USB, so the couple has full choice on what they want to keep, print, or delete.
What has been your most memorable wedding?
After two years, this wedding still stands out. A woman called Jenny called and asked if I could photograph her wedding. She gave me a date but not the year. I thought she meant the next year, and I was saying yes, that’s fine when she clarified that she meant this year. In two weeks’ time to be precise! And at the busiest time of the year!
“I already had four weddings that week and Jenny’s wedding was on my day off, but she sounded so lovely, so I said yes.”
Jenny was pregnant and that was one of the main reasons the wedding was planned in a hurry. The wedding ceremony was at Wrexham Registry Office and the reception at her parents’ farm which was neighboured by a horse farm.
I was there for a half day booking and as my time drew to a close, I noticed that there weren’t many photos of the couple. I mentioned this to them and asked if we could use her parents’ house as a backdrop away from the guests. Outside would have been amazing, but the weather was against us.
Jenny disappeared and returned wearing wellies. They led me through the house, through the back garden and into a stable filled with horses and foals! I was so excited!
“They stood in the stable and let the horses walk around them as I took pictures.”
They were such a laid back and wonderful couple. The whole wedding, but those pictures in particular, truly reflected their personalities.
That and the foals made me very happy, and that the most memorable wedding…so far.
What challenges do you envisage for shooting at a Celebrant led wedding where the venue could be outside, or the couple get married at night?
For the Celebrant, I worry about their ability to be heard. Large venues or outdoor weddings can result in voices being lost so microphones are a must. That’s my Television Production degree voice.
As a photographer, the weather and location can play a huge part in what photos are possible. Some venues are very particular about which suppliers they will work with, therefore a couple will have to check that when they are booking.
On the day, it would be important for me to know the venue; the schedule; and what the couple’s expectations are. With this info, I can plan for the day and get those all-important memorable shots.
Are there any wedding photography trends that you like or that you are glad to have seen the back of?
Oh, yeah. There was a trend where the whole wedding party would be photographed looking like they were running away from something. It was the photographer’s job to photoshop in a T-Rex or similar into the shot.
But I didn’t mind that compared to the faux-intimate-candid-camera picture. This was where the couple would pose in a “supposedly” sexually intimate position and be “caught” by the photographer.
Though I try hard to avoid trends as they don’t last. You don’t want to look at your wedding photos in five, ten, fifteen years’ time and question what you were all doing or worse still think you all look daft.
“I am there to capture your story, your day, and those moments which remind you about all the best bits of each other.”
Three Top Tips for choosing a Wedding Photographer:
- What style of picture do you want?
- What’s your budget?
- Make sure you like your photographer as a person.