In a brand new blog segment I will be interviewing who I consider to be the very finest Wedding Suppliers in Dorset about all aspects of their business.
This gives you a great chance to get to know the person behind the business as I firmly believe that having a great connection with your wedding suppliers is vital.
Tom Wishart of One Thousand Words Photography joins me for today for a chat about his business and all things photography.
One Thousands Words work exclusively as a 2-man team consisting of long time friends Tom and Murray.
Chat chat chatting away!
Whenever we’ve worked together which has been quite a few times your couples always seem to be pretty fun-loving, quirky and fairly relaxed.
Is this true across the board with your wedding clients or just a coincidence?
Are these the type of couples you tend to try and work with?
It’s true that a large number of our brides and grooms are naturally fun loving people, this isn’t always the case and is rarely consistent throughout a wedding day.
We do try to work with brides that match our style of shooting and relaxed personalities, as we are the only supplier that is with them for their entire day we have to get on with them really well.
Even the most fun loving bride and groom can present a challenge on a wedding morning with the accompanying stress and nerves.
The way we work with couples helps to minimise this throughout the preparation process.
This does mean that by the time that the ceremony and reception come around they are indeed fun loving and relaxed.
You and Murray have been in the wedding photography game quite some time now.
Has that ability to help couples relax on the big day through the prep work improved over time. Or is it a skill you’ve always had?
We certainly have, photographers much older than us say things like “oh that’s what you kids are doing nowadays then” when we tell them how long we have been shooting weddings for they go very quiet!
Helping couples relax before and during their wedding day is an important skill we have always had to some level.
Over the years we have (and currently) refined and improved upon.
I think this aligns perfectly with something that I really strongly believe in.
That in order to be the very best in your area you have to be more than a “photographer”, for example.
Yes, you’ve been booked to shoot the day but your role in the day and the planning should be so much more than that.
Would you agree?
Absolutely, good wedding photography is much more than a mere photo shoot, in the same way that a wedding day is much more than a mere party.
You can supply the most stunning wedding photographs in the world but if the way in which you created and supplied them is lacking you are doing the bride and groom a great disservice.
I think we have talked about this before, that the service and experience you provide are just as important as the product you are supplying.
I do sometimes find the attitude of some wedding suppliers a little perplexing.
When I’m working with them on the day and it just feels as if they’re there for the pay cheque.
Leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth, particularly if you know that the couple will have made a good investment in their services.
The product should be good but the service they provide should always match or exceed that.
Anyway, rant over.
Yep, we have experienced that acerbic tang too many times, which leaves us wondering “If only the bride and groom knew, would they have booked them in the first place?”
I think that sometimes wedding supplier/ planing priorities and inconsistencies can influence the quality of suppliers services on the day.
We have worked weddings where a photo booth or band have been booked last minute or by a guest as a surprise and found their attitude and service a real negative to an otherwise really positive day.
We will only work as a team of two wedding photographers because there are so many really strong reasons to do so, both for us and for our clients. Some of the time it isn’t something a couple has considered, a little thinking soon changes that! We touch on some of the main points here: https://www.onethousandwords.co.uk/need-two-wedding-photographers/
In a nutshell working as a team of two photographers means that we are able to provide the highest quality, natural, unobtrusive wedding photography available.
It enables us to work very creatively without time limits and provide insurance single shooters cannot.
I should point out that this is significantly different from the “Photographer and second shooter” services offered elsewhere as Murray and I work together (more than) full time, synchronously so at weddings.
So because you’ve worked together so many times and are officially a team this works differently to someone bring in a second shooter?
Yes, the differences are quite significant (especially when it comes to our service on the day), yet difficult to describe.
Murray and I work together all the time and are good friends outside of work.
This means at weddings we are shooting intuitively as team as opposed to a ‘lead’ and ‘second photographer’. This is the unfortunate case where two photographers are hired that spend relatively little time together, one photographer will direct (or not in some cases!) and both will have particularly individual shooting styles and attitudes to their work.
Murray and I have developed our style, techniques and services over time, together. We meet all of our clients together, shoot engagement sessions together, consult with our clients together, cover their wedding day together, and work on their images and post wedding service all together.
This tends not to be the case for lone photographers that hire in a second shooter for just the wedding day. Our combined personalities and the obvious “chemistry” between us is all part of the comprehensive service that we provide and our clients love.
Obviously we both have some individual strengths and weaknesses but constantly working together and developing as a team we are much greater than the sum of our parts!
I have heard horror stories where second shooters are hired and their work has been practically unusable.
So, if someone wants 2 photographers for their day and you’re not available what sort of questions should couples be asking their main photographer about the second shooter they are bringing along?
We have heard similar stories and wonder how the “lead” photographers are still working!
To be brutally honest wedding couples would be better looking for another team of two photographers that work together full time.
However, in the unfortunate case that none are available then the amount of time that the two photographers spend together (in and out of work) is really important as is the number of years that they have worked together.
A simple meeting with both photographers will easily establish the chemistry between them.
Some photographers don’t even specify who their second shooters are or use different ones based on availability from a pool of names!
Style-wise I’d recommend that couples ask to see examples of work from both photographers and look for any discernible differences between them, if there are any then move on.
It’s also important to know who will be involved in what stages of the wedding/ service – will they both be at meetings/ consults, will they both be working on the images?
I like the level of controversy here but I can’t say I disagree. Couples shouldn’t be paying a premium rate for a photographer just to pluck a straight from college photographer to come along as a second shooter.
Can I just say that wedding suppliers who don’t have their email addresses on their websites are a nightmare – I’m trying to give them photographs of their work and they are making it hard!
Absolutely, it’s a good idea to note that we are of course referring to a luxury service and I think a lot of the time couples will be unaware (or not as aware as they should be) that this is the case.
That’s fair enough.
You have now opened a can of worms, and you may not like to answer the next question.
What’s the thing that couples do which is an absolute nightmare?
I think it’s a can of worms that wedding couples are often not and should be aware of though?
There hasn’t yet been a nightmare brought to bear by a couple that we couldn’t handle.
As we mentioned before, hiring in just one supplier that provides a sub-par service/attitude can really effect a wedding day.
I guess that revolves back round to a lapse in attention or misdirection in the planning process?
That and forgetting to feed us of course!
Not getting fed is the worst if you’re there all day!
What’s your opinion on couples who make enquiries with companies and then never respond either way?
Ha! Passing out on a wedding day from hunger is not pretty!
That’s a tricky one, obviously it can be frustrating but is easily remedied.
Once a couple enquires the impetus should really be on the supplier to politely achieve a response (either way) from the client.
Wedding planning is no easy process and we have found over the years that couples tend to be incredibly busy.
They may be slightly disorganised or have forgotten to reply in a timely manner – in our experience they actually appreciate organised suppliers following up. It’s a two way process.
Not happened to me yet but I recently had the disappointment of expecting a steak dinner the bride and groom offered to me and the caterers not having one for me.
Bit of first world problem that!
I do feel couples could just spend 12 seconds replying with a “we’ve decided to book someone else or we’re not interested email”
Ha! we’ve had the same thing but when you haven’t eaten for six and a half hours the effects are multiplied!
So asking, the impossible question, what is the best way for a couple to find a wedding photographer?
The question with so many answers – searching online (whilst looking at reviews and testimonials), talking to other quality suppliers and venues, prestigious wedding fairs and of course personal recommendations.
Many of our clients have seen us work at weddings, seen our images and talked to the bride and groom about their experience.
They therefore have a better insight into our service from the off.
As the wedding photography market place is an absolute minefield I would recommend a degree of some in-depth research and once you have a short list then meet with them face to face.
We believe that a suitable wedding photographer should not only should a provide the quality (and style) of images and service a couple is looking for but that they should get along like a house on fire!
You mentioned that booking a photographer is a minefield and I absolutely agree.
But can you explain to anyone reading this what the difference will be between a £300 photographer and a £1,500 photographer?
We have had so many couples that have hired photographers between these price ranges that politely tell their photographers they love their images then come to us and ask us to work on them to make them look better!
Here comes the luxury service handbag analogy…
So on a whim you decide to buy a cheap handbag from one of the hawkers at the market, functionally it does the job, but it looks terrible and you aren’t particularly proud of it.
The bag falls apart after two weeks and to add insult to injury you had horrible time buying it from from a scary guy who keeps calling you “Darlin” and winking at you.
He’s not even at the same market when you go looking for a refund.
After time and seeing other people’s handbags you wish you had chosen a better alternative.
You then save up more money, do some research into handbags that best suit you and buy a designer handbag.
The service in the shop is exceptional, you practically skip out with your new purchase.
The bag does the job and so much more, it looks wonderful and you are happy to show it off to all of your friends and family for the lifetime that it lasts.
Obviously this applies to many luxury services but highlights the point that it is not just the product that a couple are buying, it is also the service and the experience.
I suppose if you don’t (and will never) really care much about handbags then a cheap one could be a valid option.
In one sentence, as with most things you get what you pay for.
I like that analogy a lot – I think it makes it crystal clear.
The only difference is with a handbag you get a second chance at getting it right but with a wedding you don’t!
What’s the one thing that you feel like couples can overlook when planning their wedding?
Definitely, it’s a pretty important decision.
I don’t like wedding photography horror stories but have heard enough of them to keep me awake at night!
Another tricky question – thanks Chris!
Wedding couples often overlook the fact that it is uniquely their day and they will be so much happier if it reflects that.
Too often they (quite politely) tailor to the whims of friends and relatives (and even venues) wishes which not only negatively effects the running of their day and their choice of suppliers but adds stress to the planning process and budget.
I remember my mother contributing a substantial amount to my brother’s wedding she then advocated that they hire X and Y suppliers and should do A and B at their wedding.
I had to politely tell her that the decisions should be the couple’s (and involve much better research) and not hers.
I’ve heard too often of family members happily wishing to contribute towards the wedding but it later transpires it’s with the proviso that it is put towards a certain thing which the couple might not even want!
Such provisos are very often not in keeping with the rest of the wedding too.
As I’m speaking to you I should also mention that the reception entertainment is also often overlooked.
It is a incredibly important part of the day that can establish the flow of the rest of the wedding.
If the ice is broken and guests are well entertained, by, I don’t know, lets say….a quality wedding magician such as yourself the positive effects are easily noticeable.
Absolutely, if you’re being given money it should be spent in a way that you and your partner want to spend it.
Ha, I appreciate they very blatant sounding plug for my services but it is pretty much fact.
I’ve been to some weddings before where I’m literally the only thing there for guests during the drinks reception.
As I’m performing to groups I imagine what it would be like if the couple hadn’t have booked me and in cases like that it wouldn’t be pretty viewing – weddings are supposed to be fun!
I’ve been to those weddings with no entertainment – it gets really awkward
2 hours is a long time to spend with people you barely know, right?
We had a wedding once (years and years ago) where a B&G went off back to their hotel for a 4 hour kip leaving guests stood about at a castle wedding venue with no entertainment and little refreshments!
The poor guests were wondering about in the hot sun saying things like “what the hell is going on” and “I just want to go home now!”
Thanks for your time today Tom.
First of all any final tips you’d like to share on anything wedding related and secondly where’s the best place for people to find out all about your business?
Wedding tips… Do your wedding your way, do your research (it is time well spent) and above all have fun doing it.
You can find out more about Murray and myself as one thousand words, our photographs and services on our website www.onethousandwords.co.uk, our Instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/onethousandwords/ and see our Pinterest boards at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/otwweddings/
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