Guest Blog: Professional Photographs

  04 Jul 2018

Why should you hire a professional photographer?

By Neale James 

(Please note: Neale James is one of our recommended photographers.)

Couple walking down the drive - Neale James Photography

“But why do I need a professional photographer for my wedding?” Good question and the short answer is, maybe you don’t? Though I’d like to expand, because that one is based on the fact you can remember everything that happened with a photographic memory that won’t fade at all with the years.

“Ah, but Neale, I didn’t suggest we wouldn’t have anybody photograph it, I was thinking more about the necessity to pay someone?” Okay, next level. Again, maybe you don’t need that pro? Though I’m going to expand once more and ask you a couple of questions in response.

Groom speechless looking at his bride - photo by Neale James

Say you have a good friend who is studying to complete their private pilot’s license. Not completely out of the question if you think about your wider circle of friends. It’s all very impressive that he or she can fly in straight lines between destination A and B in the UK and perhaps they’ve already started flying solo. But would you trust that same friend to pilot your 300 tonne 747 to Orlando this Summer? It’s a plane right? Equal amount of wings. Granted a few more engines, but the theory is the same. What could possibly go wrong?


Now, your best mate had a fancy camera for Christmas. It’s a great camera, so it must take great pictures right? Being a friend with a fancy camera, makes him or her a friend with a fancy camera, not a travelled or seasoned professional wedding photographer. Going back to the jetliner example, you’re hiring a professional photographer, because they have, well, flying hours. They know their subject, they can read a wedding, sense when things are about to happen and that’s vital when it comes to one of these never to be repeated life events.

LOVE letters - Neale James Photography

There’s a great difference between taking a picture and making a picture. You can take a hundred, maybe even a thousand pictures on burst mode, but do you see what’s really happening, or is just guess work hoping that something will stick? With wedding photography, you’re making images that have compositional facets, are lit well and record emotion. And whilst that may sound like arty nonsense, it’s 100% true.

Bride and groom - ceremony in the Archers Hall - photo by Neale James

Let’s take a winter wedding for example. The light is low come early to late afternoon and you’ve been asked as a photographer by the registrar or priest not to use flash during the ceremony. It upsets the guests, takes their eye off the important subject of the day the celebrant argues. What to do? How will those viewing the photographs possibly see what’s happening without a healthy explosion of flash? Those years of photographing with little more than your inherent ability and programmed knowledge to know how light works without the aid of a flash guns comes to the fore. And THAT’S the reason for hiring a professional. If you can read a wedding, you’ll be able to document this precious story so much better.

So my first bit of advice is to go find someone who knows weddings. Who lives and breathes them all year round.

Guests photographed through the connect 4 - photo by Neale James

Let’s put all this into perspective with photographing at Ufton Court. The barn for instance is a super space. It’s a barn that dates back umpteen years, so it wasn’t made to be a wedding venue originally of course. That’s why the windows are narrow. Knowing this, even during winter I find myself able to photograph ceremonies and speeches without flash making for much more three dimensional pictures. Pictures that have depth that haven’t been flattened.

Photo of a winter wedding in the barn - by Neale James

The gardens are expansive, perfect for a short portrait session and family pictures. If you’re looking for a large group shot of everyone, depending on where the light is I can shoot down from the wall into the garden, or if there’s rain, the Minstrel’s Gallery becomes my photographic friend. Ufton Court is surrounded by lush and mature grounds/countryside and knowing where the sun sets at a given time is important.

But equally the little nooks and crannies of the building at large are fascinating. The priest hole particularly interests me and I’ve shot many an artistic portrait in this small historically significant room. I work mainly however as a documentary styled photographer where I am reacting to the day more than fabricating it. It’s still comforting to know how best I can interact with guests and where the light gifts me most in each corner of the house or barn and grounds around.

Couple in the oratory - photo by Neale James

Hopefully my words have helped a little with why investing in professionals makes a difference. As a side note, I’m looking forward to my maiden flight on the massive Airbus A380 soon. I am hoping my good friend David with his recently acquired Cessa rating will not be sitting in the left seat of the cockpit that day.  🙂

Wedding guests laughing and happy - photo by Neale James

All photos are taken by Neale James of weddings at Ufton Court.

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