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Category Archives: Thoughts and Rambles

Throwing rice and confetti at a wedding at Elsworth church Cambridgeshire


Weddings are crazy events in many ways – when else would you wear a massive dress or full suit and eat a hot three course meal in the middle of the day at often the hottest time of year!


Inevitably over the years we have inherited a number of wedding “hand me downs”  that, frankly, really deserve to be sent back to where they came from two centuries ago. However we do like a bit of tradition in the UK and there are very few weddings, no matter how “different” and “personal” they are trying to be, that manage to completely shake off at least some of the pointless and dated traditions of the past!


So, without further ado here are seven pointless, outdated, silly and ridiculous wedding traditions that we still like to keep!


1) Catching the bouquet – so the idea here is that “all the single ladies” (how I hate it when the DJ plays this tune when the bride is actually throwing the bouquet) are desperate in their lonely plight of singledom and, desperate to find their own happiness, the one that catches the bouquet will be the next to marry. Come on …really! Have you ever seen the unladylike rugby scrum of clammering painted fingernails or seen the results of a jumping stilettoed foot landing on another? I wouldn’t be that keen on proposing to anyone who was competitive enough to catch it anyway!


2) The brides parent’s paying for it all – you must be joking! Have you seen the prices of photographers these days – never mind the rest of it! As the father of two girls I really don’t think that this is a good idea at all – I would want to see some commitment from the bride and groom (of the financial sort) and also from the groom’s parents. More seriously you really do lose all control of your wedding if you aren’t paying for at least some of it yourself.


3) Inviting Extended Family – am I alone in having rather unusual distant relatives that I only see at weddings and funerals? Surely your wedding is about having people around you that you love, care about and get on with and that you can really celebrate with. Surely gone are the days when we have to invite people to your wedding just because you should – it’s not being uncaring, it’s just being realistic.


4) Giving away the bride – Ok, I can see the point of the tradition in this and I would want to walk my daughters down the aisle but the whole idea of either of them being my property to give away is a bit Medieval. Would I want to have the potential groom to ask my permission to marry my daughter? Yes he had better do and I vet the boyfriends like Scotland Yard….no, only joking – I think you have to equip your children as best you can to make the best decisions they can and then support them whatever – gulp!


5) The bride and groom not seeing each other just before the wedding – why?


6) Throwing rice rather than confetti – last time I photographed this the pictures were lovely and the wedding and the couple fantastic but I HATE people throwing rice at me. It hurts, it gets all in my clothes and is spikey, it gets into every nook and cranny of my camera bag and it sticks in your hair. Rice was designed for eating with curry and beer and that’s the only thing it’s good for….I remember one very rainy wedding where the guests threw rice, in the rain, and it all landed on slippery church flag stones – can you imagine the mess!?


7) Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – if you’re worried that the happiness of your marriage is dependant on gathering and wearing some old jumble then just DON’T GO THROUGH WITH IT! It’s on a par with black cats crossing your path, not walking under ladders, not sneezing on Tuesdays and other such hocus pocus clap trap!


I hope all of that was helpful – maybe a bit contentious? Do you agree with me or have you got any traditions you can add – leave a comment and let me know!

Bride being congratulated after her wedding

From an early age we are all conditioned to “smile for the camera”. Just think about it for a moment, most of the time, when anyone points a camera to take a picture the photographer’s subject or victim will freeze with a silly grin on their face. We all do it and there is something deep within us that makes us behave like this. Why don’t we just photograph each other “doing stuff” getting on with our everyday lives and being, well just more normal?!


The whole posing thing or playing up for the camera has become, in many ways, a social phenomena – look at the current selfie culture for example – in many ways this is a sort of backlash against the whole smile and look nice for the camera thing as many of today’s teenagers send grotesque selfies to each other in an attempt to look the most gross and disturbing! In many ways I think this is quite healthy in that at least they are not obsessing about how perfect they look- it’s a sort of visual send up of themselves or a kind of ironic posed picture – portrait satire if you like!


Perhaps we also do it out of a slight fear and concern for the viewer of the image. Subconsiously there is always a concern about what the viewer will see, how they will experience you, what they might do with the picture – do you trust the photographer?


Terrifyingly most of us automatically smile. The false happiness and the reassurance to the viewer that we are having a good time, everything is fun  – we also want to appear friendly when the viewer judges us – you’re not going to be there to defend yourself, all the viewer has to go on is your expression. Next time someone takes your photograph just try not smiling- it’s really hard, you have been well and truly brainwashed!


So where did all this static smiling and posing come from? It’s certainly wierd that it’s considered normal and even more wierd when you consider that modern cameras are more than capable of freezing movement, action and everyday events.


I think the answer is two fold:


Firstly, early cameras were incredibly slow. The exposure time, or the amount of time that it took to take the photograph was often several seconds and during that time the subject had to remain absolutely still. Think of those stiff and starchy Victorian photographs – they looked stiff and static because they were – in fact in Victorian times they fitted you into a brace that looked like an instrument of torture to keep you still whilst the photograph was taken. The camera had to be static and mounted on a tripod. As camera technology has progressed we are now able to take an image in a fraction of a second but our psyche is still lagging behind.


Secondly it’s incredibly difficult to take a meaningful “action” photograph. So much so that it can seem a bit odd seeing yourself in a photograph in motion or maybe from a view other than straight on. But we now have the technology to do so – even most phone cameras are capable of freezing action and taking quick images and, in the proliferation of the digital age we are technically liberated from the static shackles of the past.


Yet, subconsciously we are still thinking like Victorians.


We are censoring our memories. Creating a false tableaux each time the shutter is pressed. Lying to our viewers.

Wedding guest dressing up for a photo booth


I love my job and generally go home with a happy little glow of satisfaction in my heart at the end of a wedding day. This is usually accompanied by aching legs, mental fatigue and an almost overwhelming desire to put my feet up! Therefore, if you are going to ask me if I provide a photo booth for the evening then I’m afraid the answer is a resounding “no” for all of the reasons stated above!


I’ve often thought that it’s a bit of a shame not to offer this as a service as I do actually quite like the idea but if I was to be the photographer it would be a bit weird to spend the whole of the wedding day quietly observing and recording to then turn into a crazy photo booth photographer in the evening! There is also the issue of equipment and logistics so, for me at least, it doesn’t really make sense!


Having observed over the last few years quite a large number of photo booths in action I know for a fact that their success often lies in the hands of the person who is running it. Not all of your guests will feel completely at ease acting up and trying to be funny in front of a stranger – especially if they are actually taking the photographs – they can also be quite expensive either with up front costs or with extra print costs so it can make sense to have a go at DIYing it! Obviously it is much cheaper and your guests may well feel much more comfortable running it themselves and the results that you get ie hilarious photographs of everyone letting their hair down, could well be much better than you would get with a pro booth.


So, don’t be daunted by the idea of what on earth to do to get your DIY photo booth show on the road – I’m here to help and guide you!!


1) Beg or borrow a fairly decent camera preferably with a built in flash – an oldish digital SLR would be perfect and you might find that you can borrow one quite easily or they can be bought on Ebay for relatively little money. You will also need a sturdy tripod to mount the camera on and a long cable release – this will allow your guests to take pictures of themselves if they want to although it’s good fun for it to become a bit of a group activity and for everyone to take pictures of each other! Make sure that you have a decent size memory card for the camera and that it’s batteries are fully charged – possibly with spares.

2) You will need some sort of make shift background. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly exotic and could be anything from some old curtians to some printed plastic sheeting – it will need to be a reasonable size though as people will want to have their photographs taken in groups and probably standing up so you will need a fair bit of material. Take some time over this as nothing looks worse than photographs where the background runs out at the edges of the picture. Whatever you choose will need to be hung up as well and most of the time a combination of clothes pegs, gaffer tape, long bean poles and lengths of wood combined with a bit of ingenuity will do the trick.

3) Props. Go to town here, the sillier the better! Again Ebay and borrowing is the best bet.

4) Making it all work. Have everything ready to be put up an assembled by a couple of competent bridesmaids and/or ushers during the meal. Also make sure that they have had a trial run and have set everything up before, made sure that it works and looks good! During the speeches announce that there will be a photo booth and that you would love it if all of your guests would have a go in it at some point over the evening. The designated helpers can encourage people and help people to get the ball rolling in the early part of the evening and then it should fairly much run itself.

5) Afterwards you need to make sure that you safely download and back up the images. You could potentially load up a photo gallery of them so that everyone can see themselves or possibly use the pictures as little cards or gifts – whatever happens keep them safe!