I’ve read a lot of real wedding features since getting engaged and the one piece of advice I see over and over again is this: invest in a good photographer and make room in your budget for a videographer. Couples often profess it’s the best decision they made and encourage anyone sitting on the fence to do the same, and it’s easy to understand why. Having your wedding captured in both capacities gives you a very special opportunity to go back in time and relive those events and experience the emotions all over again. But does paying an extra £500 for your photographer really make a difference to how you recall those memories? And is a wedding video really worth it when you’re unlikely to watch it more than once a year? It’s a topic that incites a lot of debate (and we’d love to see your thoughts and opinions in the comments box below), but ultimately it comes down to personal choice and budget. You might not be fussed about fine art photography and you might hate the thought of watching yourself on film, and that is fine. But if you are sitting on the fence, I advise you along with so many others on this blog to do as much research as possible - regret is the very worst!
My best advice to couples looking for a photographer is don’t hang around. As soon as you’ve set a date, start researching as the best get snapped up quickly. For us, this was 16 months before the wedding (keen?...me?) but it ensured we got the photographer we wanted and it was one more thing ticked off the list.
Destination Wedding Photography
The first time I came across Lelia Scarfiotti’s work is a moment I won’t forget. I was looking at destination wedding features online and was so spellbound by the images on the page that I changed my homepage to her blog. I just couldn’t get enough. Her style was unlike any I'd seen before and I was completely captivated. The atmosphere she manages to create is so magical it’s like stepping into a romantic dream. It’s embarrassing how much I love her work and I could waffle on for ages, but instead, I’ll let her images do the talking...
Wedding Photography Fear
I’d be lying if I said the style I was looking for wasn’t largely influenced by our photographer, but I knew I didn’t want anything traditional. I do not photograph well, and strangely, I never look the way I think I look in real life - which of course in my mind is like Penelope Cruz/Eva Mendez/any Brazilian supermodel. My parents have captured my misfortune well over the years and their house may as well be an exhibition space documenting the spectacularly bad facial expressions I tend to pull. My graduation photo - the second most important picture ever to be taken in life - is naturally the worst. I decided to get it airbrushed as I couldn’t bear yet another moronic looking photo being displayed on my parents’ mantelpiece, and this was a big mistake. When the picture arrived I was barely recognisable. I have quite distinct facial features - two ‘beauty spots’ (aka ‘moles’ but that’s an evil word which we don’t like to use) - and an awful lot of freckles. The airbrushing completely wiped them out and the end result was BAD. So based on a lifetime of photo woes and the fact I’m probably not going to look like Penelope Cruz on my wedding day, line-ups and posed photos are strictly forbidden.
Photography styles for the awkward (aka ‘reportage’)
After a bit of research, I learned that ‘reportage’ wedding photography might be my saviour. Based on the principles of photojournalism, this style of photography aims to provide a narrative of the day without you and your guests noticing. Photographers follow you around in an unobtrusive way to capture intimate moments and raw emotions to tell the story of your day. So if formal wedding shots give you the fear and you're more into the side profile, this is probably the style for you.
Fine Art photography - what’s it all about?
These elusive words came up a lot during my search and initially I had no idea what they meant. Photographers specialising in this kind of style usually have a background in fashion or portrait photography. It’s all about dramatic lighting, creating a mood and producing shots with an ethereal, romantic and beautiful quality. This style is usually quite classic with a soft, natural and relaxed feel. Expect to see plenty of magazine-worthy shots of all the important details from bridal accessories to table decoration.
How to get the photographer of your dreams (without selling your possessions on eBay)
Taking elements from both these styles seemed like a perfect mix to me, and although I’d already set my heart on Lelia, this is how I based my search. Oliver on the other hand just wanted to spend as little money as possible, which ended up creating a three-week impasse. I’d allocated a healthy amount for photography and accounted for the rest of our expenses, but Oliver couldn’t justify the costs. The problem was, he hadn’t done any research, he had no idea about the amount of time photographers spend in post-production and he just assumed that everything would be cheaper in Italy, which of course it wasn’t. So I told him to do some research and he came back with this suggestion. (PLEASE NOTE: I’ve not included this for comedy value - this was a GENUINE suggestion). I giggled for a while thinking he’d sent it as a joke but when I realised he hadn’t, I was dumbstruck with fear. What on earth about this did he think was good, professional even? Did he seriously want our wedding pictures to look this way? Did he even want our wedding to look nice? This small incident raised several uncomfortable questions (does my fiancé even know me at all?) but confirmed very clearly in my mind that under no circumstances could I ever relinquish control to him ever again. In the end, I can’t really remember how I managed to persuade him. I obviously used every piece of emotional collateral (I cried, I used the legacy argument, I had private but deliberately loud conversations with my mother telling her how disappointed I was) which all eventually worked, but ultimately, I think/hope he realised how important it was to me and that there were other things we could do without.
Native vs UK based photographer
The one big surprise since planning our wedding has been the cost of wedding services in Italy. During our three-week impasse, I did look into English photographers to compare prices but with the extra accommodation and travel costs, it became too expensive. We were also keen to have a photographer who spoke Italian and English due to the nationality of our guests and the other suppliers.
If you’re getting married in Italy, book Lelia Scarfiotti. Put simply, there is no other photographer that shoots the way that she does and if the images on this page haven’t stolen your heart or captivated you in some way, I’ll be damned. If Lelia isn’t within financial reach, another upcoming and talented photographer (who also speaks great English) is Monica Leggio. If you’re not getting married in Italy, the choice is limitless. Two photographers whose work really struck a chord with me were Claudia Rose Carter and Modern Vintage Weddings. Lelia will also be taking some pictures of us next year to coincide with my hair and makeup trial. Initially, I thought engagement sessions were something smug couples did to annoy all their single friends, but if you’re anything like me and you’re camera shy/tend to pull odd facial expressions, it’s worth doing. If anything, it’s a good chance to get to know your photographer and you’ll be much more at ease on the wedding day (so I’m told).
Having a wedding video has been a subconscious priority of mine since the age of about six. This is when I first remember watching a video of my Auntie and Uncle’s wedding and being sad because my parents didn’t have one. They had plenty of pictures of their wedding day but they weren’t enough, at least not in comparison to my Auntie and Uncle’s video. I wanted to see how nervous my Mum was, I wanted to watch her get ready and walk down the aisle in her dress. I wanted to hear my parents exchange vows and dance for the first time as husband and wife. Photos couldn’t convey these moments or my parent's emotions in the same way the video could. So it was this factor that initially sparked my desire. But the one thing that really highlighted the importance of video more than anything else was our Engagement Party. We decided to host a formal bash as we couldn’t host everyone in Italy, so my bridesmaid wrote and recited this epic poem, my Father gave a speech and I made a surprise video for my fiancé. At the time this all happened I was so full of emotion that everything went by in a blink, and there’s nothing more I wish for now than to go back in time to hear the speeches and watch everyone’s reactions. I just wish someone has been filming it so we could relive it all again.
Our search for a videographer
I really thought I’d enjoy looking for a videographer but the process was far more challenging than I expected. Like most things, Oliver initially saw this as another wedding expense we didn’t really need, but after an evening of watching home movies and realising how much he loved watching them/himself, he changed his mind. With that hurdle crossed, I started looking for videographers in Italy to try and keep the costs down but nothing was setting my heart alight. I didn’t want our video to look like a blockbuster movie trailer, I wasn’t interested in drones and I certainly wasn’t prepared to prance around in a field like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music for artistic effect. I wanted our video to provide a narrative of our day in chronological order (not jump around as many trailers do). We were after something very soft, candid and natural, almost like a home movie but filmed and edited professionally. This is the kind of video I’d want to watch again and again. So I turned to the UK in the hope I’d eventually come across something that ticked the boxes, and just as I began to lose hope, I found Barry Best from Worldly Nomads. For me, the key to a good wedding video is all in the edit, and Barry’s films are edited in such a way that makes me feel affection for the couples. He also delivered exactly what we were after: a short trailer, a longer feature film and separate chapters of the ceremony, speeches and first dance, all for a killer price. I encourage anyone looking for a videographer to check out his website. I’m signing off with one of the most moving wedding films I’ve seen (by Barry) and if it doesn’t warm your heart or bring you close to tears, I don’t know what will. If you have any questions or opinions on the whole photo/video debate, don’t forget to share them below!