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Victoria Green - wedding photographer based in Tonbridge, Kent

Your Wedding Photography Contract & Covid-19

I couldn’t find anything on Google search advising UK couples on what to look out for with their wedding photography contract in light of Covid-19. Sure, there’s lots of stuff kicking around on horrendous legal disputes between photographers and clients and some killer court cases in the US debating force majeure. But if you’re a bride now and your next step is booking a photographer, what should you be looking out for?

I am a wedding photographer based in Kent, capturing couples across the South East. During lockdown with the lack of shooting, I have spent lots of my time blogging on all topics related to wedding photography to help couples with their wedding planning journey.

In light of Covid-19, most photographers have had to amend their contracts to cover a further extent of eventualities. Many of us hadn’t previously featured ‘global pandemic’ in our possible contingencies. So there will be some new terms included in your wedding contract which you now need to think about and evaluate. These are there to protect you and your photographer which is great. They will probably answer your questions and should make you feel confident in signing the dotted line.

I am not a legal expert – obviously. I am a photographer and a mum and a terrible cook. But I have sought legal advice to get my wedding contract clear and fair for my couples in light of Covid-19 so I hope these tips help.

1/ Deposits / Booking Fees Clarified – Non-refundable?

Many photographers – me included – have changed from using the phraseology ‘deposit’ to the clearer use of ‘booking fee’. For most wedding suppliers, a ‘booking fee’ is reserving a particular service on a particular date. It is generally deemed earnt once the photographer stops advertising and stops taking bookings for that date. This is why the booking fee is generally considered ‘non-refundable’ because this part of the contract has been completed.

Did you notice I used the word ‘generally’ there!? Whilst the deposit is generally considered non-refundable, thanks to Covid this has created lots of questions and grey areas. What if my wedding has to be rescheduled? What if the photographer then can’t make my wedding? If my photographer offers a second photographer and they can’t make it, what happens to my deposit?

These are the questions you should absolutely be asking your photographer before you book with them. Although before covid, my booking fee was non-refundable absolute, I have had to consider these reasonable questions asked by couples and factor this into my contract to be fair and reasonable.

2/ So what if my wedding is rescheduled?

This is where photographers will differ. I know many that will charge an administration fee for rescheduling your wedding. Find this out before you book with them and decide how you feel about it (they will specify it in their contract – find out how much it is. If you love the photographer, maybe it’s a risk worth taking). Many photographers will charge a higher rate for moving from a weekday to a weekend.

I don’t offer an administration fee. Four of my couples have rescheduled three times with me already during the pandemic. But it doesn’t make someone a bad supplier for charging an administration fee. It only does if they don’t make you aware of it!

Okay – so you’ve found out if there is an administration fee or not. You reschedule your date and your back on track. But…….

3/ What happens if my photographer can’t make my rescheduled date?

This is a possibility. I have not been able to capture two of my couples that have booked with me. I was really really upset about it. They had rescheduled and rebooked their new date and I was already booked with another wedding. So the next thing for you to check is – what happens if your photographer can’t make the date.

Most photographers will offer an alternate photographer. In my case, I have an Associate Photographer and Second Photographer.

But, during these times, you can grill your photographer even harder. Actually, I insist you do!!!! A good photographer will be happy to be grilled and will have answers rolling off the tongue. You want that as it shows they have a planned contingency and they are managing you like a professional should.

So, let’s use me as a typical example – with one of my couples, I sadly informed them I couldn’t do their wedding. I put them in touch with my Associate Photographer. They got on like a storm. I kept the booking deposit. The couple were happy with the replacement and taking the stress away. They will pay the remaining balance to my Associate 6 weeks before their big day. My Associate sent a new contract with her details on. Considering it was an unfortunate situation, it all ended very well.

But…let’s grill even harder! Because this is your money and you need to know worst case scenario (well I was that sort of bride anyway!!!) What would have happened if my photographer couldn’t step in and she was booked too?

4/ What happens if there is no resolution in re-booking after all proposed attempts?

There are a few reasons there might not be a resolution. The photographer can’t make the revised date and doesn’t have an alternative person to offer. You might not be bothered about meeting / chatting to an alternative photographer and want to research a new photographer independently. The second photographer initially offered may not be available. 

This is where you need to see what your photographer has put in place in your contract so you know your position. Many photographers will stipulate, if there has been a reasonable effort to provide a replacement, then the booking deposit is kept by the photographer. 

Personally, if someone has given me ample notice, I haven’t been able to make their alternative date suggestions, if my second photographer isn’t available – I offer 50% of the booking deposit back to my couples. I am a softie but I feel it’s reasonable if they have given me a few options to keep me. 

I view the 50% I have kept as my holding the date and not booking business (as a loss really) and the administration of drafting contracts, conversations and time spent. It would be reasonable to take the full booking fee and technically, I believe I would be entitled. But I feel (and this is very personal), it is so rubbish for couples having to rebook and replan and so devastating for them, it’s my way of showing I am meeting them half way. Trying to keep goodwill.

5/ What if I have to cancel my wedding?

It’s a bit more clearcut if you have to cancel your wedding. Most photographers will stipulate in their contract – as I do – that 100% of the booking fee must be paid.

My top tip for good relations with your photographer (and its something that I stipulate in my contract for clarity) is that ‘reasonable attempt’ needs to be made to let me know in advance and to where possible, offer a short list of dates rather than just one. I think during these times, trying to keep communication open and transparent is key. My bride the other day whats apped me for her date this year and shared she’s been thinking of rescheduling and has a couple of other dates in mind. Having great relationships with your suppliers (and the key is choosing as wisely as you can at the start by asking the right questions) ensures as much as possible, if you encounter pickles along the way – an amicable resolution can be met.

Final Thoughts…

I really hope this has given you some food for thought on what to ask your photographer before booking so you can book with confidence. If there’s anything I haven’t answered, feel free to mention in the comments below. I will endeavour to get back to you with a response – or at least advise how I do things in my business.

This link from the Gov website is super useful for in-depth reading on wedding suppliers and terms of refunds, you might want to look at. The Competiton and Markets Authority (CMA) have provided guidance good suppliers should be following on how to operate during covid-19.

And of course, you can message me if you’re interested in me being your photographer. I would love to hear from you 🙂.

Have fun booking!

Victoria xx

Click here free for The Ultimate Wedding Photography Guide for Camera Shy Couples
Engagement shoot with couple holding each other standing in front of water fountain at Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells in Kent

Should I bother with an engagement shoot?

Lots of couples openly ask me, “Should I bother with an engagement shoot?” I’m going to share with you both the pros and cons so you can decide if it’s something you’d like to bother with 😊.

My name is Victoria Green and I am a documentary wedding photographer based in Kent with over 8 years experience. As well as being a professional photographer, I publish my observations on wedding photography to help give couples practical advice.

The Pros

1/ For some camera shy couples, it can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

If you feel a little bit shy or feel nervous about how you’ll be directed on your wedding day, an engagement shoot can be the perfect way to ease you in. My couples that are anxious about being photographed, are surprised that they enjoy themselves and they don’t feel bossed around or embarrassed in anyway. That’s because, if you’re going for a natural storytelling (or documentary) photographer like myself – you will be getting on with your own business and your photographer will be snapping away. You look comfortable and you look natural which means you look your best. 

However, there is a balance. And a really good documentary photographer won’t just be passive and disappear and let you go completely off on your merry way. They’ll advise on the lighting opportunities, the best backdrop possibilities and they’ll gently and kindly art direct you. 

The ‘little nuggets’ (as I call them) of practical advice you pick up on your engagement shoot, you naturally find yourself doing on your wedding day.

2/ Get to know your photographer better.

My engagement shoots are extremely informal so lots of chatting and often end in tea and cake! It gives you a huge opportunity to visually show your photographer what you like and don’t like about being photographed. Or maybe it’s just personal things (I hate my side profile, for example. No-one else will see it but it’s personal to me and I don’t like photographs that get my side).

But let’s not over egg this either. Yes, it gives a big opportunity to chat and share with your photographer and get to know them better. But my couples who are camera shy and decide not to have a pre-shoot still have ample time to chat to me, share any concerns and feel they know me pretty well.

It’s just an ADDITIONAL opportunity. And it can really help and provide reassurance to some couples to feel a wee bit more relaxed.

3/ Lots of couples love the time together and thoroughly enjoy it.

Most of my couples are a little bit nervous when they first meet me for their engagement shoot. They don’t know what to expect as its feel weird being the centre of attention. To date, I have never had a couple who have not enjoyed the experience. It is better to get those nerves of the unexpected done and out the way and then it’s one less thing to worry about on your wedding day. 

Most couples love getting ‘dulled up’ and end up having lots of fun. What’s not to enjoy? We go to your favourite local beauty spot, go for a lovely walk, I don’t get you to do anything you’re not comfortable with. You can see my couples look giggly, happy, loved up and relaxed. It is a lovely way to mark your engagement as part of the wedding planning journey. Many couples love sharing those pictures with their family and friends.

4/ You can incorporate your photos as fantastic personalised stationary on your wedding day.

There are fantastic ways to incorporate your engagement photographs into your wedding stationary. I have seen my engagement pics used on my couples’ wedding invites, save the dates, menus and table plan. It adds a real personalised touch!

The Cons

1/ The Expense

For some couples, it’s simply an extra expense to the wedding budget. It isn’t an essential but a nice to have. 

2/ It could feel like an unnecessary extra trauma if you’re very shy or dread having your picture taken!

Not everyone who is camera shy / doesn’t like their picture being taken, will want to go through the ordeal twice with two photo shoots. And that’s fair enough. A good, understanding photographer will understand this and there should be zero pressure. There are lots of things a photographer can incorporate into your pre-meeting / the wedding itself, to make you feel more comfortable. Look for a photographer that is patient and understanding. I passionately believe only comfortable couples look comfortable and get the resulting best pictures. The focus should all be around what makes YOU happy.

3/ There might be a personal reason why you don’t feel it is necessary. 

Couples who have been engaged a very long time, have children or been married before sometimes feel less inclined to mark their engagement with a pre-shoot. That’s perfectly fine! Everyone is different how much fuss they’d like made.

I hope that’s given you a balanced view on the pros and cons on whether you should bother with an engagement shoot.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and it’s been helpful, I’d really appreciate a comment in the below box. If you have any questions about whether to bother with an engagement shoot, do feel free to message me. Or pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Do what’s best for you and enjoy!

Victoria xxx

Click here free for The Ultimate Wedding Photography Guide for Camera Shy Couples

Message me to book a chat. Text or WhatsApp on 07824159618. Email me at victoria@victoriagreenphotography.com

bride shares a loving embrace with a friend just after her wedding ceremony at Lewes Register Office

6 Reasons To Choose Documentary Wedding Photography

There are some very good reasons why you may want to consider documentary wedding photography as your style of choice. However, these are all reliant on what type of bride or groom you are.

Stop reading if you:

✔️Are looking to be centre of attention.

✔️Want to feel like a celebrity for the day.

✔️Want to feel the heat of an artificial light on your cheeks.

✔️Love the idea of being paparazzied for the day.

There’s nothing wrong with this whatsoever. But, it’s probably not the right style for you 🙂

Keep reading if:

✔️You’re someone who is maybe a bit camera shy or feels a bit awkward in front of the camera. 

✔️You don’t mind having your picture taken but you want the photography to not dominate your day and you want to focus on the wedding itself.

✔️You love the idea of all the details of your day and emotions being captured.

✔️You’d like your wedding pics to be a reflection of what actually happened and what things looked like (as opposed to something being artificially created or staged).

Just to clear up one thing before we begin. Documentary, Photo journalism, Reportage are all the same thing (it’s just a matter of how posh and arty you want to sound!) 

My name is Victoria Green and I have been a photographer capturing couples in Kent and the South East for over 8 years. I personally like to use the word ‘Natural Storytelling’ to describe my style (documentary) because I find it a bit clearer, a wee bit magical-sounding and self-explanatory but everyone to their own…

So why should you choose documentary wedding photography?

1/ Every detail is captured.

In a nutshell, documentary photography is all about capturing all the details, all the emotions, all the wedding guests and all the moments as they unfold. 

When you get your wedding pictures, it will then feel like you have a total memory of everything that happened on the day.

When my parents got married, the only choice of photography was traditional shots which was were all staged formal group pictures. A documentary photographer will happily still cover these shots (and most couples from my experience would like some formal group shots covered). But, we cover the whole shibang as well. For instance, all the lovely little details – your dress, your shoes, the jewellery, the cake, the wedding favours, the decorations and the table layouts. The big emotions – when a dad claps first eyes on the bride or when the groom turns and sees his bride walking up the aisle. BUT also the smaller emotions too. For example – a wedding guest drying a tear during a wedding speech, a little bridesmaid yawning at the vicar’s sermon or a cousin laughing his bottom off during the reception.

2/ All the raw emotions are captured.

Documentary photography tells your story exactly as it happened. Capturing these raw emotions is a GENUINE and TRUTHFUL recount of your day. Because of this, my couples tell me they look back on their photographs as cherished MEMORIES of what everything FELT on the day.

Nothing is off bounds for the documentary photographer – we cover all the emotions. All the highs and lows. Because your wedding wasn’t a set on a magazine cover. Your photos will therefore be a TOTAL REFLECTION of what happened. Because real weddings are made up of a dynamic range of emotions.

3/ If you’re camera shy or feel a bit awkward being centre of attention.

Documentary photography is perfect for camera shy couples. Or simply if you’re not a fan or feel a wee bit awkward. A good professional photographer will help put you at ease and make you feel comfortable in front of the camera. So you won’t be forced, as I call it, into ‘lock jaw’ like Wallace & Gromit.

Instead, the pressure is off. You can relax and rest in the knowledge beautiful pictures are being taken without you consciously trying to look beautiful.

Most people look better and at their best when they are being photographed ‘naturally’ – i.e. not posing or they weren’t aware the photographer was there.

This is why I go for ‘walk and talk’ pictures at almost every wedding. I am at a distance, the couple has no posing instructions. They simply chat after the ceremony with a beautiful backdrop and I expertly capture it. Done. 

4/ You and your guests won’t be bothered / bullied by the photographer.

I was once a guest at a wedding during a heat wave in Kent. The photographer made all of us sit with empty glasses while he spent forever and a day getting people to pose on steps. There was every combination imaginable. Everyone was slagging off the photographer and moaning about him!

Most of the time – with the exception of the formal group shots – your guests can simply enjoy the wedding day and everything you’ve planned for them.

Lots of people don’t like having their picture taken and they silently dread wedding photographs! Therefore, having a documentary wedding photographer, gives your guests the space to enjoy your day.

A good professional photographer will offer some gentle art direction. They will also judge the mood and if it’s a good time to do it.

5/ You get to see things you didn’t know happened!

As documentary photographers are stealth walking ninjas – we are everywhere and anywhere. We get to capture things you weren’t aware of at the time. You may have not been physically there. So these photos will make up the complete story so you’re now in the know. Or alternatively, you might not have been aware your photographer was capturing it (we have amazing skills to blend into the background!) It is often these little moments that convey in a photograph, the sheer happiness of the day.

6/ Capturing the most comfortable, best looking version of you.

I believe passionately that comfortable, happy, relaxed people look like themselves. Furthermore, they look their best. Most people (excluding models) look better when they don’t know their picture is being taken or when they aren’t being asked to pose.

I hope that’s given you some reassurance and good reasons to choose documentary wedding photography as your preferred style.

Now you need to choose the right documentary photographer, you might also find this blog useful “How to choose the right documentary photographer”.

If you’d like to chat to see if we would be a good fit, then I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message to arrange a chat.

Found this blog helpful? I would love to hear in the comments below. Thank you 😁

Victoria is featured on Hitched, Wedding Planner & Bridebook.

Good-luck! Victoria xx

Click here free for The Ultimate Wedding Photography Guide for Camera Shy Couples
Victoria Green - wedding photographer based in Tonbridge, Kent

8 Wedding Photography Details You Haven’t Thought About

Incorporating these 8 wedding photography details into your planning will make your final pictures better. Some, a good professional photographer will have down to a tee (but it’s good to be aware of). And others you can decide for yourself and direct your photographer at your pre-meeting….

My name is Victoria Green and I am a featured wedding photographer with over 9 years experience shooting weddings across the South East.

1/ ** Interesting Fact **

The most awkward physical thing I observe shooting weddings:

People don’t know where to put their arms &

what to do with their hands.

A group of men altogether for a group shot, always put their hands in front of their crutch! I can only imagine it’s a natural psychological engrained thing in them to protect themselves. But it looks weird in pictures.

A good photographer will be used to this and encourage chaps to put their hands behind their back. The benefit of this is that it also bridges the gap between bodies so your group shots don’t have people with awkward spaces between them.

groom with ushers at Cuddington Church in Buckinghamshire

In another example, I encouraged these chaps to hold a lovely glass tankard, part of the vintage theme of the wedding. They instantly looked more relaxed having their picture taken as it didn’t feel so formal and stiff.

groom with best men at vintage wedding in Bromely, Kent

My gorgeous shy groom below, felt more comfortable in the couple portrait shots with a champagne glass in his hand as he had something to hold. And the pictures look more natural thanks to it. It’s a very subtle thing but it made a difference.

Lots of grooms benefit in group shots by holding the bride’s bouquet. It gets them closer to the bride which works well and again, it sorts the awkward stray limp arm!

Other times this rule goes out the window and it works for some chaps to have their arm by their side – it all depends how comfortable you feel with your picture being taken. This picture is a lovely candid shot – the father of the groom is happy holding his tankard and the chaps are all doing casual things which works because they are comfortable.

father of the bride with wedding guests at Smarden countryside village in Kent

2/ Take your phone out of your pocket.

Everyone puts their phone in their pockets these days. It creates a weird bump one side which can spoil the silhouette of your body in pictures. It’s even worse when chaps put their wallet on the other side. The clown big side trousers look doesn’t work for anyone!

Make a plan for the both of you on who is looking after anything essential you may need. It’s your wedding day – a nominated person should do all the carrying!

3/ Watch out for that Sainsbury’s bag!

Wedding guests purchase these gorgeous little dinky designer purses. They look amazing. They match outfits. But they quickly discover they hold diddly squat in them! And they end up having a spare bag for all sorts of other knick knacks they might need. 

Your photographer should be seriously on it and will spot funny stray carrier bags / any bags other than cute accessories that attempt to make their way cunningly into your group shots.

Guests with kids, of course are the worst offenders. I have been one. You have several contingency bags for things to keep them amused, spare clothes, etc and you end up lugging them around with you all day.

My two worst offending cases – I have spotted a Sainsbury’s Bag for Life right next to the couple during a ceremony (whoever put it there!?). And even worse, I had to delicately manage an Auntie who was holding her Waitrose carrier bag in a group shot!

a big cross over sainsburys bag of life appearing in your photos!
You would be amazed how many times the Bag for Life attempts to creep into group wedding shots! Your wedding pro will be on it! Choose someone who you can tell has an eye for detail.

4/ Everyone wears sunglasses on a hot day.

Does this bother you in your group photographs?

For my Summer weddings, I specifically ask this level of detail in our pre-meeting. I have friends that are quite upset all their group pics have everyone with sunglasses so they aren’t as recognisable.

Some couples don’t care. It’s a personal choice.

If you would prefer group shots without people wearing sunglasses – I personally do and usually recommend it – that can easily be managed by your photographer.  I never photograph group shots in harsh sun and I photograph with the sun in front of me so it’s my problem not people squinting looking weird. So no one to date has ever had an issue with my asking to remove their sunglasses.

Decide what your view is and tell your photographer.

5/ ** Top Tip Coming Up **

Manage your confetti shot so it is the last shot in your formal group shot list.

If you’re doing it at the church and then going to the reception for group shots this doesn’t matter as the confetti will have fallen off by then. But if you have your confetti shot and directly go to group shots….your guests could look like they have severe dandruff!

Of course a photographer can retouch lots of micro confetti particles. But they might not / might miss one / why not go for the easier option!?

6/ Chaps should have their buttons undone for formal photographs if they are wearing waistcoats. 

I am not saying this as I am an old you-know-wotsit and entrenched in tradition. I am saying it because it is so much more flattering when you have your arms behind your back to not have a gape where your waistcoat is being stretched. Even slim jims look better when there is less constriction on clothing. Trust me – there is nothing worse than a group of guys looking like their clothes don’t fit and they are about to burst! Not the cool suave look you were hoping for with your wedding photos….

7/ ** KEY INSIGHT **

People go nutty nuts with their mobile phones when the bride walks down the aisle.

This is one for you to consider and manage. I am seeing more and more couples ask guests to not take photos with their mobiles at the start of the ceremony. Why? Because the best photographer in the world at the end of the aisle, will not get a beautiful pic of the bride walking down the aisle if everyone on the end stretches out their arms holding a tablet / mobile phone. It can potentially ruin this key moment.

If you don’t mind and you want everyone to have that freedom – then that’s a choice.

If like a lot of couples you want this captured professionally then you can:

A/

Ask the celebrant, registrar or vicar to announce directly before the ceremony begins that the couple have asked you don’t take photos and there is a professional doing it.

Usually they will also say, “There will be a time after the photographer has taken pictures of the couple fake signing the register, that you can then go up and take a picture”.

B/

More couples are putting a notice in their order of service or posters in frames in front of the ceremony room asking guests to please refrain from mobile phone pics.

Unplugged wedding poster
Source: The Wedding Play Book

For inspiration and ideas on communicating to your guests an ‘unplugged wedding’, this blog from The Wedding Play Book is really helpful – click here.

Equally, if you go to Google images or pinterest and type ‘unplugged wedding signs’ there’s lots of different messages in different styles for inspiration. 

8/ Don’t plan in your itinerary any form of eating during the speeches.

Thankfully, all my couples that planned for dessert during the speeches have been convinced by my persuading them, that this is detrimental to their wedding photographs.

Speech photos are some of my favourite. You can’t beat taking pictures of people absolutely laughing their heads of. And then there’s sometimes tear jerking moments, big bear hugs – speeches cover all the emotions to guarantee beautiful candid, natural wedding photographs. But if Auntie Maud has her chops full of Eton mess or strawberry cheesecake, you’d wish she had not been laughing! Your pictures will never be good with fragments of food around people’s mouths or worse off, big puffy hamster cheeks. What a waste of such an incredible moment.

No matter what the venue says about timings, control and manage your itinerary so there is no eating during speeches. 

I’ve saved the best tip until last! I promise you’ll thank me for it.

Let’s leave this look to the hamsters!

I hope you’ve found these tips useful. Some might seem a bit minor but each of them really makes a difference to the quality of your wedding photographs. And you should have the best.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, feel free to let me know your feedback in the comments below.

Victoria is featured on Hitched, Wedding Planner & Bridebook.

Victoria xx

Click here free for The Ultimate Wedding Photography Guide for Camera Shy Couples