A couple of weeks ago, I went on an eshoot with the ever-so lovely Dorset Wedding Photographer - Courtenay Photographic for a 'behind the scenes' report. I believe that before I tell you someone is good, I should see them work so now I feel very happy to give Courtenay a double thumbs-up.
I'm really happy to bring you this week's Supplier's Speech so you can hear from the man himself. And if the behind the scenes report, this beautiful image, this feature and gorgeous images don't convince you that this man is a little bit of a wizard behind the lens, then keep your eyes peeled for a fabulous shoot that's coming your way in a few weeks time when Courtenay attempts the impossible - to make me look good!
But for now, I give you this week's speaker - Courtenay Hitchcock...
Tell me a little bit about your business...
I've been photographing people for longer than I am going to admit but I've been a professional wedding photographer for ten years, some 500+ weddings now I think. I live in Dorset with my wife and four children (yes, I know four!) and that's where you'll find my studio. I work most frequently through the southern half of England but go wherever my clients want me to go (a Scottish castle, a Welsh manor house and a great wedding in the USA are all in this year's diary).
I'm strictly a wedding photojournalist which means I'm the exact opposite of a bossy line-'em-up photographer. I work without an assistant, without lots of equipment (I don't use a flash, I'm a natural light photographer), I dress to your dress code (if you're wearing black tie, I'll be in mine too) and I've often been mistaken for a guest. I blend into your day, I'm there when I'm needed, I disappear when I'm not.
What's so great about working in the wedding industry?
I work closely with people on the one of the most exciting, emotional, special days of their lives doing something I am utterly passionate about. What's not to love?
In your opinion, what are the most important questions a bride should ask when they're booking their photographer?
First an foremost, ask yourself do you love the images that you're seeing? Are they making you smile/laugh/feel emotional? Secondly, do you like the photographer? You're going to be spending a lot of time with them.
I wrote a blog post recently with all the essential points to consider so please take a look at How to find YOUR wedding photographer.
Have you got any great wedding tips you'd like to share?
Plan your wedding for yourselves - and then enjoy it. Take your time, plan it well, exactly the way you want it, not the way that your friends, family or relatives expect it to be. There are no 'rules' to follow. Whatever you want is totally possible and purely down to your imagination and enthusiasm. When the day comes around, it's too late to worry so just enjoy. If it pours with rain, you want to look back and laugh at the fun time you had, not how the weather ruined your day.
A relaxed couple. If you're having fun, your guests will too. Plan the day you want and then enjoy the day you have. On the day, the little things don't matter - once you're there, there's nothing you can do to change it, no-one will ever know and it won't really spoil anything. Just laugh and get on with it! And don't forget the details - make them unique and the wedding becomes about you, taking on your personality.
Have you seen anything really unusual or unique at a wedding recently?
Every wedding is unique - they all have their own rhythm and character. The most unique are those where the bride and groom have really taken the time to personalise the elements. There was the couple who re-created classic love story movie posters for their table numbers, the bride from Tobago in full sari and henna marrying her English groom in tails in a village church, the couple who married on a river boat, had a cruise and then came back for bangers and mash.
We're very lucky that the majority of our couples really go the extra mile to put their personal stamp and imagination into their wedding.
I talk it through closely with the Bride & Groom so that I know exactly what they're expecting - this will usually happen on the eShoot (a standard part of our wedding service) where I get to know them closely to really understand them as a couple. I always talk to the celebrant so that I know the rules of photography beforehand. I visit all venues, talk to all the other suppliers involved and of course I make sure all my equipment is packed and ready to go. Oh, and I ask my wife to set my Sat Nav because I break it when I do it.
What are some of your favourite wedding memories?
Crikey. Far too many! So many moments from hundreds of weddings. Probably the most awesome was an e-mail after a wedding from a lady in Australia - a friend of a friend of a friend has shown her my blog as one of the pictures of the bride looked just like her. She was very excited - the bride turned out to be her sister who she hadn't spoken to for 25 years! It was a great story and fabulous to put them back in touch.
Personality and uniqueness. Thankfully we’re all moving away from uniform by-the-rules weddings, and couples are starting to really create their own days. It might be a barn dance in a field, Georgian Dancing in a Castle, or a bunting-draped village hall. It doesn’t matter, anything different is good.
In terms of the ceremony itself, I hope we’re about to see a relaxing of the wedding rules and allowing the couples to marry wherever they want to marry, opening up a realm of possibility.
In terms of photography, we’ve recently professional stills cameras that create HD video, but can see that 3D may well be on the horizon. But, best of all, we're seeing the trends return to excellent photography - simple, stylish, talented. Phew!
If you could give brides just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Enjoy. Enjoy enjoy enjoy. If you're stressing, you're doing it wrong.
If you'd like to find out more about Courtenay then visit his website, follow him on Twitter or find him on Facebook and of course, keep an eye on my blog for more gorgeous images from Courtenay's camera.