Dumbleton Hall Styled Shoot

Dumbleton Hall Hotel has always been in our top five wedding venues in the Cotswolds. From it’s grand driveway with flocks of sheep to the lake guarded by black swans, the Hotel sits in vast grounds outside Evesham. Perfect for a weekend getaway or afternoon tea, the venue hosts weddings on weekend and have recent erected a wooden gazebo. With the ever expanding wedding scene, we popped down to borrow the venue for half a day and create a beautiful styled shoot.

Our models were long term friends, from back when Jon used to shoot fashion and portraits in 2012. James, our male lead now is an editor for the biggest photography magazine and websites in the UK, which just goes to show how hard work truly does pay off. Helen has been featured in countless billboards and bridal work in the past, so they were both a perfect fit for our theme. Hair and makeup was wonderfully applied by the talented Rebekah Deponeo.

With inclement weather, we stayed mainly indoors, only briefly popping outside for some pictures on the parkway steps and wild flower garden. On our way back to the main hotel however, it completely chucked it down, almost raining the event off. We had a spare change of clothing for afterwards, and proceeded for a more informal evening wear attire.

Using a combination of earthy brown tones, reflections, Rembrandt lighting and flash techniques, we carved our signature classic style into each photograph. From classic lightning knowledge to experience in posing, we captured beautiful images for all to share.

Canon Wedding Photography Kit

We were recently honoured by the UK's largest Canon camera dedicated magazine. They reached out to use to ask for our input to feature in their monthly "My Kit" section. As self confessed Canon gear heads since starting in the trade, we said sure. Beneath is a run down of the article from the magazine, which was published in August 2018 UK wide. All of our Canon wedding photography kit is supported by a giant Manfrotto roller 70 bag.


About us

There’s something about photography that has combined all my passions in life together. Starting young I thought I’d be an artist, with great grades up until A level. Then I did my degree in music, thinking I’d be a super successful session musician. Coming out of uni and into a full time job in a local printing lab kicked me in the direction of photography and the wonders of film photography. I was developing hundreds of rolls of film a week, seeing all the gorgeous colours and little tricks that professional photographers could employ to get the most out of these film stocks.

My boss in the lab gave me a little Canon 350d and told me “there’s a family coming in tomorrow who want a studio session, learn how to use this by tomorrow”. I can safely say my gift of the chat got me through that first nervous photoshoot, and it’s results propelled me on towards shooting more photos. I started to shoot model pictures of my friends, attending local modelling socials to network and expand my portfolio and technique catalog.

Starting shooting weddings

It was only a year or so later that someone in store asked me to shoot their wedding, at £200 I thought I was rolling in the money. The year after I shot 5, then 20 the next year and has continued upwards ever since. I love being able to make someone comfortable in front of a camera and myself, we all know how intimidating someone pointing a big camera at you can be, especially on something as nerve-wrecking as a wedding day.

It’s not all about the kit, it’s about how you come across as a brand. You are the walking embodiment of your company, they don’t pay you for your camera and how much your last lens was. They pay you because they like your style, how you work with couples and how you are to talk to and respond with.Most of the time I’ll shoot wide open at f1.4, and always take the extra time to shoot details like flowers, rings and table layouts.

What do I do?

I’m a wedding and maternity photographer from Birmingham, UK. I’ve grown up around arts and crafts thanks to my parents, one who was a music teacher and the other a landscape photographer. I started my photography career as a print technician in a lab, and slowly started buying kit and reading up on techniques and shooting model pictures of friends. My first wedding was 5 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I love to shoot light and airy images with lots of fun, candid qualities and creativeness. There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping someone on the biggest day of their life, and them thanking you for the effort put in. I’ve been shooting with Canon since 2011 and with film since 2006.You can find us on most social media @specialdayuk.


Kit Rundown:

Top left: 3 Legged Thing Vyv (https://www.3leggedthing.com)

I love the little compact tripod. I’ve been using it for pretty much anything static, from top down views to underslung so I can shoot from ground height for best angles. The lightweight nature of its construction lets me put it in the bag alongside the lenses and I don’t notice the difference.

Top row: Yongnuo 560 mk III, YN 565EX TTL flash (http://www.yongnuo.eu)

Flash is essential for the working photographer, and having a diverse range of flashes available to get the job done really helps you pull off those epic shots. I use a pair of manual firing cameras and a trigger to get off camera light, as well as always keeping a TTL version with me if I need a boost of power on camera for those darker wedding receptions.

Middle row left: Sigma macro 105mm 2.8 (https://www.sigma-imaging-uk.com)

Until they release an Art series, this older version (but still amazing in image quality for the price) stays in the bag. I only get it out for a couple of shots, such as wedding rings and super close wedding dress details, but it pays dividends and adds value to your brand being able to get those types of shots.

Middle row: Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art & Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lenses (https://www.sigma-imaging-uk.com)

I don’t think I could get the quality of image I desire without these brilliant lenses. Hugely sharp wide open and perfect in all lighting conditions, I sit the 35mm on my main camera for most of the day before pulling out the 85mm for some portrait shots. The bokeh is glorious and the focus is snappy, even for such big prime lenses.

Bottom row left: Canon 17-40 L (https://www.canon.co.uk/)

You need to have the ability to back up and get a wider shot, even in a small room. Rarely implemented but could never leave the house without, this wide lens has saved my bacon on many occasions where 200 guests want a group shot in a room the size of my shed.

Bottom row middle: Canon 6D (https://www.canon.co.uk/)

This has been my main shooting camera for a few years now, and I keep it in good working condition with regular checkups and maintenance. A super simple button and menu layout, it’s a wonderful full frame, low light king with an amazing battery life and responsiveness. I have a crop camera as a backup incase this fails, but after hundreds of thousands of shots, this thing has never failed on me once.

Bottom row right: Pentax 645

Picked up as “parts and not working”, you can really find a good steal on eBay nowadays. We use this medium format camera during portrait sessions. It’s certainly an expensive and time consuming extra to the bag, but wows every couple who see it and increases the brand value to be able to offer something a little different to just digital files.

Bottom bottom row: Holdfast MoneyMake dual strap (https://holdfastgear.com)

I got this imported from America to replace my bizarre collection of over shoulder and over neck camera straps that were strangling me on my wedding shoots. Handmade from leather, these straps form to your body and keep the weight of your multiple cameras from hurting any one point on your body. I can now happily carry round two 1kg cameras for 12 hours straight without feeling any pressure on my back or neck.

If you would like to book your own wedding day with Special Day Photography, please contact us. We travel all throughout the UK but are based in Cheltenham. If you have a wedding in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff or Oxford please get in touch. We specialise in lifestyle wedding photography, with nothing too staged or forced. We'd love to catch up with you over a coffee to discuss any plans you may have.

What We Shoot During The Off Season

Weddings are great. They fill up our summers and let us shoot in fresh air, in spectacular locations and bring joy to hundreds of people. Once the season has wrapped up in early Autumn, we only typically shoot a handful of weddings between then and mid-spring the next year. This is our booking and preparation stage, where you'll find us at wedding fayres or upgrading our site. We do however, need to keep our photography skills sharp throughout the year, so when we start back at the first wedding of the season we're still as fresh as we were the year before. I've decided to put a few pictures in here of what I've been up to since the end of the 2016 season - just to give you a flavour of what an off season wedding photographer does when brides aren't in front of our camera.


My parents live on the end of the earth, after relocating a few years ago from Bristol, UK. It takes a good 6-9 hours to reach, but just a few steps outside the backdoor produces spectacular cliffscapes and blue water. These were shot at the beginning of December 2016, despite the cold weather it was still brilliantly warm. I use the same photographic process to shoot landscapes as I do with couples at a wedding, as well as applying film emulation colours to make it look like it was shot on a roll film camera.


Model Portfolios

I've been shooting model portfolio images since before weddings, with my first model shoot in 2011. I love to be able to keep my skills sharp and practice flattering and interesting lighting. The lighting techniques I use to give great light for models is the same as what I'd use for bridal portraits. The techniques and physics behind how light affects an object will always remain the same from one picture to the next, so these are more of a gentle reminder to myself on how to interact with people and how to edit skin to a high calibre.


Running photography workshops

Keeping on the model theme, I run portfolio building days in London. These are a great opportunity for starting or semi-pro photographers to book a group of high end models, and shoot with the highest end camera and lighting kit available. I run and manage these, helping the students get the most out of their images, with help on lighting direction, power and settings. I've always wanted to get into the educational sphere in later life and this is my first foray into the world of helping others. I want to be able to run wedding portfolio days too, to help other local photographers with their passion and update their websites without the constraints of a wedding day.


I'd like to say that I keep myself busy, but in reality only 10% of the off season involves picking up a camera. The rest is admin, paper filing and double/triple checking notes for the next seasons weddings. When you start to deal with 30 or more weddings a year all through the country, filing is an essential part of office life. I've also been experimenting with shooting rolls of film in creative ways, using my dads old Nikon.

Capturing Pro Audio At Weddings

If you're booking a videographer for your special day, you need someone who knows how to capture wedding videography audio. On-camera microphones do a bad job at capturing clear audio. External equipment is needed to make sure every part of the speeches and ceremony are free of background noise. We will walk you through just one of the few setups that we employ at each wedding when filming. These behind the scenes shots are from a New Years Eve Wedding at the beautiful Pittville Pump Rooms in Cheltenham. For this wedding we were using a Canon C100 Mk II with 24-105mm f4 lens. The microphones are Tascam DR-10c.


Our video camera has external ports (pictured at the right hand end of the top handle) to take professional level audio microphones, such as the mic attached to the front in the furry covering.Whilst this is a great ability, we only use the on camera audio as a tool to sync up external microphones in editing. The on camera audio is so directional, anyone talking to the left or right won't be as loud as those in front. You are also subjected to any ambience and background noise near your subject.

Tascam DR-10c pocket microphones


These are our microphones of choice, called lapel mics, or lav mics. You would have seen these on TV shows for interviews and maybe on stage performances. A small clip attaches to a shirt collar and the mic positioned close to a speakers mouth. Background noise is effectively eliminated. The Tascam DR-10C is no larger than a matchbox and will record to the inbuilt storage. These units can run for hours at a time and are kept on the person who has been mic'ed up in a pocket or on a belt. All we need to do is sync this unit to our camera at the start of recording and we can get perfect audio for the subject. We use three of these units on various people throughout the wedding, including the officiant, groom and even father of the bride.


In post production, we can hop between the audio recordings of these little units to make sure that the person speaking has the lead in the wedding film. The units have two audio level tracks recording simultaneously, one louder than the other, meaning we can even get clean audio from the bride without micing her up, just by taking one of the audio streams from the groom.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wedding videography audio. We'll upload another blog in the future detailing how we capture room noise, PA desks and live musicians.

Why Our Pictures Looks Like Film Shots

Wedding film Photography has gone through a lot of changes over the past decade or two. Back when my dad was shooting in the 80s, it was all film. You had to choose before you took the shot your ideal film stock. A certain brand of film that would give you the best look, colour and grain for your project. It sounds like digital has come along to save the day. With its infinite adjustability before each shot, you get your perfect shot in one take. So with digital being so great, why do we make our shots look like they're taken on film cameras?

I started shooting weddings on film.

My very first wedding was by assisting another photographer (who we eventually shot his own wedding for), and was bold enough to try shooting film right from the off. Whilst Bertie was the lead photographer and got the important shots on digital, I had the ability to try out some film shots. Loading the camera with Ektar 100, a fine grain shot used for outdoors situations, and shot using a newly bought Nikon camera. I was absolutely smitten by the colour rendition of the hues in the scene, and decided right there that everything I shoot should be film-looking in the future.

A groom looks at a reception book whilst the bride smiles.

A groom looks at a reception book whilst the bride smiles.

I worked in a printing lab.

My first job outside of university was working in a high street printing lab. At the time film was slowly dying in popularity and cheap DSLR were becoming popular. In my first year developed 100 rolls of film a day. Just two years later, only 5 a week. I have developed thousands of films, all the different stocks available. Each time I put the films through the computer for scanning, I saw how the film stocks varied the colour tones, and which ones would be most suitable for certain conditions. It was this love affair with film that pushed me to love film photography even more. It also helped that I was given free developing and processing whilst there, so I could experiment with my own bought films and cameras.

Hasselblad 500CM Medium Format Camera for wedding film photography

Hasselblad 500CM Medium Format Camera for wedding film photography

The images are timeless.

With the way we edit our photos, you could put a print of ours next to a wedding shot from 25 years ago, the all film era, and you would have a hard time telling the difference. Everything down to the grain and colour luminosity are all taken into consideration. This gives the pictures a truly timeless feel. Gone are the days of gimmicky photography styles, selective colour and Photoshop effects. We concentrate on making the images look classic, clear and crisp. We love to shoot hybrid too, bringing a spare film camera along to weddings.

Why Book A Wedding Videographer?

As our name says, we primarily focus on photography. Both Scott and I used to work together as a pair of photographers for a wedding, but about a year or so we started to look into videography as well. We noticed there was a need for video work to accompany (and not just accompany, but compliment) the photography work at a date, taking your experience of viewing from just images to films. So why book a wedding videographer?

1. Capture important speeches.

Photography can do a great job in getting your best smile, brilliant light and capturing the glorious experience of the day. Unfortunately, photographs can't capture your words at the altar to each other, the speech from the family and the toasts. Videography comes to save the day, getting perfectly captured audio from the days big moments.


2. Have that cinematic looking feel.

Sometimes its great to feel like you're in a movie. Forget the shaky hands and portrait-orientated video footage from phones, videographers have a handy selection of tools and equipment to steady their cameras out. Using sliders, stabilisers and should rigs taken from the movie industry, we get silky smooth flowing shots, beautifly slow gliding panoramic shots of the venue and sweeping guest clips. There is no experience that even comes close!


3. Most brides recommend it.

We all know photography is one of the most important services to book for your big day, but videography is often overlooked. There are countless online posts about brides regretting not booking a videographer, saying that as the day moves through so fast, you sometimes miss out on the details. The videographer is there to get those shots, filming the guests having a great time and capturing those moments you weren't around to see.


4. We're in the digital age.

As we are in 2016, the entire world loves to share digital content. We can offer a "social media reel", a short 2-3 minute film of the very best bits from the day. No more needing to post out VHS tapes toyour family on the other side of the world. They can relive your day within minutes of sending online instead. Videography is an important step into making your wedding day future proof. Your film is viewable online and can be a secret for just you and your partner. Hopefully you've enjoyed these reasons to why book a wedding videographer.

The Online Gallery - And Why You Will Love It

The Wedding Photography online gallery

In these futuristic days of social media and super fast internet, weddings need to be online. I had a chat with a retired photographer recently. We discussed how the images were given to the wedding couples back in the 80s and 90s. The photographer used to finish the days shooting, then courier the films off to a fast printing lab. They would then send back contact sheets of the negatives. Each image would then be assigned a specific number and code, sent off to the couple and left to them to choose their favourite images. They are then sent back to the photographer, who goes to the printers (again), gets the prints, posts them out and collects the money in exchange. Quite a lengthy process - especially if you're a photographer working 30-40 weddings a season!

Thankfully that's not the process anymore. Imagine an online photo gallery as a corridor in a Library, with rows of locked doors. You're given the key by the photographer that opens just one of these doors, and inside are all your images saved on the internet, in a non physical form. You can pick the ones you like, and take them home with you. You can even give that key to a friend on the other side of the world to access that same room the very same time you're in there, order a prints and have the physical object created and posted out to them. Best of all, it's free and included in every package we offer.

What does it look like?

If you follow this link to our online photo gallery, you can see the "corridor". It's a public page where anyone can go to and see the collections of previous weddings we've done. If you click on nearly any of them (bar one), you'll find you need a password to get to the next step. This is our privacy function - making sure you only show these pictures to people you want to. The password is generated and given at the wedding reception usually, and is something memorable to you as a couple.

This is what the main screen looks like - a list of previous weddings. Each one is locked but you can identify yours from the thumbnails.

This is what the main screen looks like - a list of previous weddings. Each one is locked but you can identify yours from the thumbnails.

Trying to click on one of the pictures will end in a password prompt, stopping any unwanted browsers from seeing your photos.

Trying to click on one of the pictures will end in a password prompt, stopping any unwanted browsers from seeing your photos.

What's beyond the password prompt?

Once the correct passwords entered, you gain full access to the gallery. Every photo that we give you on your customised USB will be on here. You can browse through the images from the day, and click on any to bring them up large on screen. There's a little shopping cart icon above each picture when enlarged which will let you purchase a print of that image. As a couple you may not need this function (after all, you have the images on a USB so can pop into a printing lab and get copies done quickly), but this function is useful for relatives who may want a copy for their own. If you have a great aunt in Canada who couldn't make the wedding, now they can find any picture they like from the day, order a print and have it shipped out directly to them, without needing to hassle you for proofs and ordering. The internet has truly closed the boundaries of distance, making a special event easy and accessible to all.

The grid manipulates and moves itself around to fit the variety of portrait and landscapes taken on the day.

The grid manipulates and moves itself around to fit the variety of portrait and landscapes taken on the day.

Clicking the shopping cart icon on any picture will give you a list of available print sizes.

Clicking the shopping cart icon on any picture will give you a list of available print sizes.

What other advantages does it have?

There is a function we can enable, which will let you download all the images to your device. This will let you create copies of your images even if you have lost or misplaced your USB. Of course, if you'd prefer we can disable the online gallery if we were to shoot your wedding day. It's just a great option to have. The images stay on the gallery for between one and two years after the wedding date - so you have plenty of time to access and re-download your images if need be.

If you would like to book your own wedding day with Special Day Photography, please contact us. We travel all throughout the UK but are based in Cheltenham. If you have a wedding in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff or Oxford please get in touch. We specialise in lifestyle wedding photography, with nothing too staged or forced. We'd love to catch up with you over a coffee to discuss any plans you may have.

Copyright vs Reproduction Licence, Explained

So this isn't the most interesting or glamorous blog post. There's not too many videos or pictures I could put in to spice this post up. It is however, an oft-asked question, one which we believe is so important to differentiate the distinction between copyright and reproduction licence that we needed to make a blog post all about it. So to make things more interesting, I'll splice in some behind the scenes shots of us at work, completely unrelated to legal information, but at least they look nice. So here we go - what is copyright vs reproduction licence? Why do you give us one not the other, when another wedding company says we can have the copyright?

1. Copyright

Copyright, at least in the UK, is automatically generated when an artist creates a piece of Intellectual Property (IP). When a singer thinks up a song, or an artist draws a picture, they automatically own that copyright. Photographers create their IP when they press the button to take the picture. The copyright is a legal shield covering your work, that if someone tries to pinch your work, claim it as their own or make money off it, you can step in and say "wait a minute, I own the copyright, it's my picture and you can't do that!" You wouldn't like it if you, an architect, had just built an awe-inspiring building and then a stranger walks up and claims its theirs, takes all the publicity and credit for it.


2. Reproduction Licence

This is where we start to delve into the deep depths of UK Law. A Reproduction licence is a licence which I, the owner of the Intellectual Property can give to another person, so they can use my IP for some things. Typically in photography, you would give a licence to a media outlet. They can use your images for their site, and in return you'd either get paid, credited or other services in trade.

Reproduction Licences can vary, some can let you copy, share and print the images but not sell them yourself - some will let a newspaper use your images for a certain period of time (like 3 months) on their website before having to take it down. All reproduction licences are customisable and there is no set rule for whats included in them, you adjust them as you see fit to best suit the licensee. A reproduction Licence does not transfer the copyright of the image to another party.


3. Why do you give a Reproduction Licence for Wedding Images?

At wedding fayres we can overhear other photographers tell the couples "you get full copyright on your images". "That wedding photographer over there offers the copyright, can you do the same?". We have to answer with a no, but back it up with you recieve the full reproduction licence to print, share and own the images indefinitely. So why have we such a firm stance on not giving the copyright away? Let's assume these scenarios:

You are a hollywood A-lister, and you hire me and I give you the copyright. Once I've given you the images, I can no longer legally say I took or own the images. Every picture and their legal ownership has been given to you. I can't promote my business with your pictures. I can't say I've shot your wedding and you can now sell my images to media outlets for big bucks. A little mean, no?

I take photographs for your wedding, and you get the copyright. You then take my images and set up a photography wedding service. Using my pictures for promotion you get loads of bookings. The people you book think that they will receive images of the quality displayed in our images.

By giving the reproduction licence to the couple, we grant them permission to print off what they need. You can also share them online and post them to family and friends. It's a small distinction but one which can have a very big impact to a creative business that survives solely on the integrity of their Intellectual Property. We promise we're not trying to stiff you and give you a vicious licence. You have free and unlimited use to the pictures, after all it's your big day! We just need to protect our work under the ever-complex UK laws.

If you would like to book your own wedding day with Special Day Photography, please contact us. We travel all throughout the UK but are based in Cheltenham. If you have a wedding in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff or Oxford please get in touch. We specialise in lifestyle wedding photography, with nothing too staged or forced. We'd love to catch up with you over a coffee to discuss any plans you may have.