Blog 2 - robert auckland

What does Wedding Photography really cost?

So exactly what is the average spend on wedding photography ? It is so difficult to tell by browsing through the websites of wedding photographers: some do not mention cost and those that do all have packages that are different making them really tricky to compare. In this post I tried to find out by looking to wedding planners and the few surveys of wedding photography costs. How do you then book a good wedding photographer at a fair price?Click here for the full story


Tetbury Wedding at The Great Tythe Barn - Kate and Ashe

St Peter's Church, Dyrham Park. Then to The GreatTythe Barn Tetbury for a celebration beneath a canopy of blue stars suspended from the amazing half-timbered roof. Click here to see more....

How to work out which of the different styles of wedding photography suits you best. Documentary Wedding Pictures

24 November

This is the beginning of a quick tour around the different styles of wedding photography. Documentary wedding pictures, quirky wedding photography, vintage wedding images , and fine art wedding pictures are all terms used to describe wedding photography. But what do they all mean? I'll try and give an insight into the different styles of wedding photography and show a few photos and and links to each style. But to get the ball rolling..  a brief insight into what documentary wedding photography is all about.  To find out more.........

How to work out which of the different styles of wedding photography suits you best.

Vintage Wedding Pictures.


25 November

Vintage wedding pictures have a slightly retro vibe to them and the wedding pictures in your album will have a distinct feel that they were taken on film. Remember the holiday photo album that you thumbed through as a child? Often those are fond reminiscences and perhaps that is why people have been  looking for this sort of wedding picture for the past couple of years. Vintage wedding photos are not the crinkled, heavy sepia toned images of yesteryear, though; they have been subtly brought up to date. Below is an example of a vintage wedding  image. The sun drenched long grasses in the background complement the lovely lace and veil of the vintage dress. The key here is, I think, to keep the vintage feel of the image very subtle. If it is overdone, it never works so well( and this does happen, so be careful).

 Vintage wedding pictures are usually created after the event. Photographers spend a lot of time (sometimes 2 days !) after your wedding adjusting the colour, cropping and lots of other things to get your photos looking amazing. Processing on the Mac or PC is an art form in itself and it is a skilled business(though not as skilled as taking the images). Your photos can be given a slightly retro feel. In many ways this is perhaps a response to an era of  digital photographs which can look a little bit clean, clinical and characterless if you spend a lot of time looking at them (especially on a wall). If you are someone with vinyl records, or who likes  soft, smooth tones of radio voices as a background to your day, then vintage wedding pictures might just be a great thing to consider. 


Why an engagement shoot is such a good idea.

23rd November

How nice would it be to have that peace of mind that your photos from your wedding day would turn out looking amazing and reflecting you in just the way you had imagined? ... Have you every thought of an engagement shoot?

An engagement shoot is such an excellent way to see if the photographer is a good fit for you . Your photographer could well be present for every minute of your day. Documentary photographers usually only spend a small amount of time posing couple photos, but we are there observing ALL the time. It is so essential that you feel happy and relaxed and that you get on well with the photographer you choose. If you can find a photographer who is similar to you: think clothes,aspirations,parental background, school  then you will get someone who will take wedding pictures you will really appreciate for  the rest of your life. This is the only way to take photos which look natural, because you naturally feel at ease in each others company. After engagement shoots we all walk away feeling great about working together and actually looking forward to taking photos on the day!( and if thats not the case then, and this does happen occasionally, then that's fine, there is very little harm done)

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Are you relaxed and at ease whenever someone points a camera at you? Most people have at least a few nerves about being infront of a camera, this is perfectly natural. An engagement shoot is the no 1 best ever way to quickly and easily dispel any nerves. When people see how great they can look in the engagement photos, they really do relax and actually look forward to the couple photos that they have taken on the day. 

Communication  is the key to getting wedding pictures that truly reflect your wedding. It is so easy to communicate what you like and want more of to your photographer when you have a set of engagement pictures of yourself to talk about. Most people see their imperfections more starkly than photographers do. Nobody has ever mentioned it to me but I'm aware that have a slight double chin - this is so easy to minimise by shooting from slightly above!  If you share your perceived flaws with  your photographer, it is often very simple to look out for these on the day.

The engagement photos have so many potential uses - they are more timeless and simpler than wedding photos and so they have more potential uses. How much more fun is it to attend a concert or a party if you have been really looking forward to it? We get excited by hearing our friends and family build up an event and sharing their excitement. The big benefit of an engagement shoot is that you will have a lovely set of images to share with those close to you . A new social media profile image and a few well -timed engagement images will go down so well on social media and really get your friends in the mood for your wedding. What better to go on a save the date card than a lovely image of you both?

Engagement pictures make such perfect gifts. Show your appreciation of all the lovely pressies that you will get by sending a card after your big day - you could use your engagement photos to do this. You might not always be be mad keen to have a photo of yourselves on the mantelpiece - but how much joy could you bring to your parents if they could see an image of you looking happy every day for the rest of their lives. They never throw photos of you away! Relaxed, natural,engagement pictures make perfect Mother's and Father's Day gifts.

I'm always sceptical of being sold add-ons but engagement shoots are usually offered at relatively good value by photographers who want to show you what lovely pictures they can take. You will then hopefully book them for your wedding day! Engagement shoots are     offered by photographers with the purpose of finding couples who are a good fit and making sure that they get used to how it feels to be photographed.  This way they look relaxed and natural on the day. Its about building relationships and getting to know each other - it makes the wedding day so easy and this really shows in the images. 

Here are some kind words from Louise and Leigh after seeing their relaxed, natural engagement pictures

' The best thing about working with Rob was the freedom and flow of the shoot. It was relaxed and informal and about myself and Leigh, exactly what we wanted. Rob is very open to ideas from others and really listened to our ideas. You were so keen on making the shoot about us, little details about us that would mean nothing to one person but everything to mine and Leigh's story. This is a massive positive ! It was perfect practise for the wedding day so I'm not so anxious and that's all thanks to Rob's nature and ability to put people at ease." 

Do get in touch on robauckland2@ gmail.com or  07973 387 364, if you are interested in an engagement shoot, and we can discuss some ideas...

Seeing an Autumn scene through different eyes

Tuesday 22 November

It is so illuminating to to see through the eyes of another. It makes you realise the infinite possibilities for making different images  from exactly the same raw materials. This realisation so  much motivates you to go out and shoot from a different perspective, when you next pick up your camera. Thankyou to Leonora mason and Dave Anderson for the two images below - well done for making some strong images quickly in rather flat light - no mean feat!

The left hand image has a funnel of light which cascades down onto the subject. This leads the eye to the subject and  is a really powerful way to bring the attention of the viewer to your subject . It matters not that the subject is small it can still have great impact, if you can focus the viewers attention upon it! The photo has a great sense of depth, and  the foreground and background are clearly delineated, because of the lighter subject in the distance and also because it is shot on a wider lens. We are so used to seeing real life images 3 dimensions that any photographer who can give a sense of 3 dimensions will create strong images.

           The strength of the right hand image is more to do with the subject  and the story rather than the light. It is more about how the subject feels . Pensive, contemplative, sad ? These emotions come to my mind, but obviously these thoughts will be different for all viewers. The point is that the photo arouses an emotional response in the viewer and this is why the image works.

So what could we do to build on these images, next time we approached a similar situation?

Getting the subject to stand out: In the left hand image buttoning up the black coat would give a solid black figure and this tiny adjustment could  very well help the subject stand out a lot. In the right hand image, its not so simple. Being sure to shoot the before and after images as the subject began and ended their journey down the tree lined path, could help. 


The pathway is a neat symmetrical scene and both photographers have noticed this( perhaps subliminally) and placed their subjects centrally so the symmetry is undisturbed.Imagine the subject on the left or right, it doesn't really work.      The left hand image has more of  a feeling of texture in the leaves and this looks great. My first step in processing these images would be to try boosting contrast to enhance the texture( it might work). Next I would increase the tint slider towards yellow to enhance the Autumn shades already present in the images. The best way to enhance the texture would be using a brush (the size of the small figure) to dodge/lighten random parts of the tree foliage. This last technique can transform and add interest to areas of texture. Here is a link to a great You Tube by Serge Ramelli where I learned this technique.     The last thing to do would be to  play with the hue and saturation of the green channel to get a bold green that looked natural.  I really hope these ideas have ben useful , do leave your comments and thoughts below.... 

How to book a wedding photographer - How do you know what sort of photography you really love?

Tuesday 22 November

Would you be happy if you headed out to a Michelin starred restaurant and they served you up a Sunday Lunch? Of course not. Photographers are similar to restaurants. There is a massive spectrum of different styles of photography, just as there are all sorts of different styles of food. Quite a lot of people, enjoy a well made Sunday Lunch, with quality ingredients more than a Michelin starred menu, if they are truly honest with themselves. Finding a wedding photographer, whose photos will remind you of your day in a style that you love, is all about first working out exactly what style YOU like. Its not about what your parents like (although it makes sense to take this into account) and its certainly not about getting swayed by a shrewd  photographer who is good at selling themselves to people who aren't really clear on what they want.

'I don't take lots of photos myself and I can't explain what I want in words, But I do know what I love when I see it!" Well in that case you had better do just that. Seeing lots of different styles of photo is the way to work out for certain what you like. Fearless photographers is a great place to start. Here you can see the worlds finest wedding photographers work. Do visit the site here and get a flavour for the wide variety of different styles available. You can then explore the sites of the photographers you love.


OK , so you know that you like the work of photographers x,y, and z on Fearless. You can call them up. Definitely a possibility. However, often the worlds best are booked 2 years ahead and  live on the other side of the world. So what was the point of looking at their work? The point is, you now have a crystal clear idea of exactly what you like and you can set about finding just that style of photographer.  How do you search for someone in the UK who will take wedding pictures that you are over the moon with..... keep an eye out for my next post and I will give you some pointers...

Dyrham Park Workshop - Fruits of Our Labours!

What a great time we had last weekend at 2 workshops 'Creating the Light of the 17th Century at Dyrham Park, Wiltshire. Leonora Masons image below works so well. It really makes the most of the dull light we had during the afternoon workshop. Leonora has excluded  the sky from this image. When it is a totally overcast cloudy sky it often registers as white and empty in your images and just excluding the sky is the best thing to do. Whats worse is that your eye tends to be drawn to the big, white empty sky at the top of your image rather than to your subject. Here Leonora has a lovely pensive subject with black lead in lines drawing you to the girl, in pensive mood. As well as this she has made the most of the remaining green leaves. All I could do to improve the image, perhaps just a little was to crop out the black door, possibly putting a little more emphasis on the girl. I also warmed up the colours to make them slight l autumnal, by moving the colour cast slider, slightly more toward yellow. If I had been working in Photoshop or Lightroom, I would have tried to selectively enhance both the Hue, and Saturation of the green slider. A lot of playing here could further enhance what is already a very strong image. I will try and post one more image from the day, during the next week. 2 reminders: Do send me three images by email- I have emailed and commented on the 10 or some images you have sent in so far and 2. Do email to register your interest in a 2hour course. I will draw a line under the Dyrham course on this Sunday eve. thank you all for being such a lovely bunch to spend time with and please do comment below!

Wedding photos that are filled with emotion

This sort of unposed totally natural wedding picture is what makes my job worthwhile. The Gran's so much appreciate a nice chat and a hand to hold. Next to eyes the hands seem to convey lots of emotion in the way they fall. I am always watching hands - they alone can make a picture great!

The tender moments are so often missed at weddings. Here was a nice smile and a chat which I photographed unnoticed(I think!).

Escape to the country garden

Kids always make great wedding photos. Can you remember how it felt when you were surrounded by adults talking all afternoon? There is no better feeling than breaking free and running into the garden. Often wedding locations have a host of hidden paths, ponds and secret little gardens and follies to explore. These 2 were captured as the literally burst free from the crowded drinks reception and headed fro the pond on a warm afternoon. I hope this picture makes it into the wedding album - these sort of wedding photos that tell the story and show the environment need to be printed large to  make good sense.

Escape to the country garden

Leave a tender moment alone

Family matters. Weddings are a great time to let those around you know this.

My only advice for photographers trying to cover a wedding as a photojournalist  is to leave those moments to unfold and not to interfere with them or try to restate the inevitable moments you don't quite capture. Its so easy to think a picture would look better, if you could tidy up something in the foreground, for example. But interfering too much means you miss the real, natural expressions of which there are so many at weddings. It also means your ideas become the focus of attention rather than the people at the wedding and their emotions. 

How to make movement trails in photos

Its not too tricky to get lovely trails behind people moving in the dark. So here we go , I will try and explain what to do and how to get those cool movement trails !

First of all go into your cameras flash menu and set 'Rear curtain Sync". This fires the flash right at the end of the exposure so the trail of motion is behind the flash frozen subject.

A good way to understand how the image is made is to think of it as two images superimposed onto of each other: a blurred image exposed by the available disco light and another sharp image frozen by the harsh flash light. Balancing the flash and available ambient light images is the key; too much flash and it can look harsh, too much ambient and you just have a blur.

First of all forget the flash and try exposing to get an underexposed ambient image. Set the camera on manual. The camera settings are usually 1/8th second at f5.6, ISO 1600 if you are shooting in dark disco lighting. Now you have a blurred ambient light image. Check on the camera back that it is underexposed (by around 2 stops, if possible). Now set your flash up to TTL(aka iTTL or ETTL). Take a photo and check flash exposure. Usually the TTL system overexposes the flash. You will probably need to dial in some underexposure on your TTL flash. Half a stop to one stop of flash underexposure usually does the trick. Once your camera is set up like this with manual ambient exposure and undexposed TTL flash you don't need to adjust settings again and can snap away! This last key part is the bit that nobody ever mentions in You Tube videos and on the web: if you want long ambient light trails then you should move the camera during exposure - just the opposite of what we are all told when taking photos. Good luck!

If the explanation seems complicated just try shooting at 1/8th at f5.6 ISO 1600 and underexpose TTL flash by -1stop.

Weddings so often remind us of our own day

I'm sure that for every wedding at least 10 of those couples who are attending are  remembering back to their own special day. I'm not sure if these two were doing this, but it is certainly a nice, tender wedding moment captured. A photojournalistic style of wedding photography can say so much more about the interactions between the people on the day than group photos alone. 

When you got married a while back being at a wedding so often reminds you of your wedding. I wonder if that was the case here? Conveying the story behind the wedding picture always my aim.

Guyers House Wedding, Corsham

This is my favourite photo of the 2700 wedding pictures I took at Guyers House for Vicki and Dave. There is so much going on. The family doing limbo dancing in the foreground. The 2 guys having a heart to heart in the background and the mums also deep in conversation right at the back table. The gestures and expressions really show the relationships between the couples in the image.  All these interactions dappled in bold  disco colours. This forms the final part of  a reportage of the wedding day and is a nice fun, natural wedding picture to end the sequence of photos which tell the story of the  day.

In limbo

Relaxed and Natural Wedding Pictures

Vicki and Dave, Guyers House Wedding Photography, Corsham.

Relaxed and natural black and white wedding pictures are something I have always loved. They can't really be stage managed. A little gentle direction, lots of different ideas and some laughter and they always seem to come. The gardens at Guyers House made the perfect backdrop for these  images.   Guardian photographer Jane Bown is a master of this style of relaxed black and white portraiture and inspired me throughout her career.


Head to head

Ring of Fire

I know it sounds like a Johnny Cash song, but here the ring of Fire is the name of the technique used to make this image. A thin glass ring held infant of the lens cascades light from all directions into the lens and creates  a sharp centre surrounded my a ring of fuzziness. I love to try out new ideas for wedding pictures. This was shot at Vicki and Dave's wedding reception on a beautiful, sunny Autumnal day in the gardens of Guyers House, Corsham. The warm evening light has helped make an image I am really happy with (a rare event!). Click here if you want to find out more about the Ring of Fire technique pioneered by the immensely talented Sam Hurd.

Ring of fire

Shades of Grey

This photo of the folds of a beautifully simple wedding dress reminds me of 1950's black and white movie images . As a documentary photographer the detail of the dress really matters to me. Candice and Mike's wedding was down in Devon at Stourton at a lovely spot: Chaffeymore Grange. For black and white movie inspiration you can't beat best movies by farr


Shades of Grey

A warm white gift

 Some rather special flowers from Rebel Rebel http://www.rebelrebel.co.uk. They were nestled away in a corner by a wood burner at Candy and Mike's wedding. Chaffeymore Grange, Bourton, Dorset. Spending time in the same room as gorgeous flowers like these definitely lifts the spirit!


Warm white flowers

Laura and Dan

Do click the expand arrows on the bottom right - the slideshow looks great full screen.

Laura and Dan's engagement was so worth getting up early for! We spent a  Sunday morning  and after a bit of time to chat and relax we made some lovely images. Apple green was part of their wedding theme and we found loads of gorgeous green back drops to echo this. The trees of Corsham Court, Corsham, Wiltshire, UK were also stars of the show. We planned this shoot together on Pinterest in the week before. The ideas shared here help me understand exactly what Laura and dan wanted from their engagement photos and I really hope they are just what they wanted!

Helping Hand!

I am always grateful for a helping hand. This lady couldnt do enough to help get me to the church on time! The power of helping in a small and seemingly insignificant way never fails to amaze me. Giving away your change in a shop or spotting someone looking lost and pointing them in the right direction can really boost your day click here for more ideas


Helping hand

Thanks Dad!

A glance of appreciation for just a little bit of help. Know doubt he has already helped in so many other ways and her expression says just this. Documentary photography captures so many of these small positive acts.

Thanks Dad!

Taking inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright

Bringing the outside in was something the architect Frank Lloyd- Wright did famously well - click the link to see Fallingwater -an amazing building which inspired me when I visited Pittsburgh. If you can bring the outside in with your wedding reception decor it will always look spot on! Heres a fine example of Lloyd and Katherines wedding where they did exactly this! Subtle green lights on the indoor ivy mirrored the beautiful Henry Hoare  landscape outside.


Time check!

We all know brides like to keep grooms waiting. But it can be a cruel wait. Ushers are there to lghten the mood. Lloyd Boyd waiting for Katherine at The National Trust's Temple of Apollo, Stourhead.


An unusual location with a magical feel

From the outside The Temple of Apollo at Stourhead  is a little like a mini St Pauls Cathedral. This is a view from the inside looking upward, light pouring in from every side. What an unusual,but totally amazing location for a wedding ceremony!

view of ceiling in temple of apollo

Temple of Apollo, Stourhead

Shadows fall on a sun dappled temple enhancing the glorious amber hues of the stone. Can you think of a finer wedding ceremony location?It has to be one of my favourite backdrops; a little bit like a mini St Paul's with a mysterious feel. It's a long walk up a hill into the wilderness for you and your guests, but my the view over the lake is so worth it! My last wedding there was Katherine and Lloyds and I am so looking forward to the next!

Temple of Apollo, Stourhead

An unsung wedding hero!

Flower arrangers so often never get to see the joy that their flowers bring. I met this lady at the Temple of Apollo at The National Trust's Stourhead. She had just spruced up a statue who greets you on the way in to the Temple - an awe-inspiring wedding location!


Kate and Ashe engagement shoot

This one was quite an adventure! A really steep hill climb out of Dyrham. We climbed so high we almost got into the clouds. Stopping for some breaks, sun-dappled, beneath some lovely trees.  Kate is a serious cat lady and we then detoured for a  cuddle with her cats before venturing out into orchard in the setting sun. Penney Ellis from photo-sensitive helped hugely throughout with lighting and lots of good ideas.

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