Wednesday, 29 December 2010

I'm Covering the Wedding of a Long Lost School Friend Today

Today sees me cover the wedding of a long lost friend who until very recently, i hadn't seen since i left school.

I had attended school with Manda from the age of 4 until i left at 16 and we were always friendly throughout our time in education. As is often the case, we lost touch post GCEs as i went to work and she went off to college and beyond.

Through the power of Facebook, she got in touch just over a year ago and when she and Mick set the date for their wedding i was really honoured to be asked to be the photographer for their special day.

So I am driving up to Northamptonshire to cover their big day at Kilworth Hall today. I'm really excited about being a part of their wedding day and meeting their families at this special time of year.

Congratulations guys!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer: A Warning REVISITED

This is the follow on from a post I made at the end of the summer concerning avoiding the potential pit falls of employing the "wrong" photographer for your wedding.

As the festive season sees the announcement of many engagements, and the commencement of the planning of so many weddings, I thought it would be a good idea to go over this again. In the excitement, many things can be overlooked, leading to couples having a lifetime of regret long after their wedding day, and there's no going back!


Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event and you only get one opportunity to get it right. However, long after the dress has been cleaned and put away for safe keeping, the food, music and venue are a long-distant hazy memory, the only thing you will have to look back on it with are your wedding photographs.


I, for one, have heard so many stories of "buyers regret" long after a wedding but with some thought, research and care most of the problems I hear can be avoided. You wouldn't take a chance on your venue or your dress, so I find it amazing how many couples risk everything on a whim, or to save a couple of hundred pounds, on the only lasting memory they will have to show their children and grandchildren.

Professional Wedding Photography is very much a specialist career that has unfortunately been "cheapened" by the proliferation of folks picking up a digital camera and thinking of making a few quid on a weekend. Every time I take a look around it seems there are another 20 newcomers trying to make a go of it, mostly to the detriment to the long term good of the profession and, of course, to their clients.

Most lack basic training and know-how. It's one thing being able to take a few good snaps of the family holiday and at parties, but its a completely different thing photographing a wedding with integrity, style and professionalism. I remember when I first started how the days seemed to race along at a 1000 mph but, fortunately, I had good training behind me and I was well versed in how a wedding day might pan out before I started my own business 15 years ago. I've always considered that my clients deserved the very best professionalism, service and images I could produce and, even after covering nearly 800 weddings, this ethos is still firmly engrained into my way of working.

Weddings throw up all sorts of potential problems. A wedding photographer has to work at a time and location or locations set by the couple, has no control over the weather conditions which, as December has just shown us, throws up all sorts of logistical and snow problems. Despite all of this a professional wedding photographer will usually excel and produce photographs way above anything else a friend or family member with a camera could dream of.


I hear it all the time from photographers and brides. What I am talking about are the excuses and moans about not being able to produce good images because it was "TOO COLD", "TOO WET", "TOO WINDY", "IT WAS DARK","IT WAS IN THE WINTER YOU KNOW" or "WE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME" etc etc ...

OK, shooting in less than ideal weather, at colder times of the year and when daylight is at a premium, can make life tough for a wedding photographer. However, surely one of the main reasons a couple hire a "professional wedding photographer" is that they assume their chosen one is able to produce images way and above those that will be produced by their uncle, mate, or colleague with a camera who "like to snap a few shots".

Peter Prior Photography; Art VIsage,Peter Prior Photography; Art VIsage,English Wine Centre,English Wine Centre,Alfriston,Alfriston

In my opinion, if a professional can't cope with the hurdles that nature may throw his/her way, they shouldn't be thinking of taking a client's hard earned wedding budget money in the first place.

Time and time again I hear wedding photography horror stories and the post-wedding regrets that they didn't find the money for a decent wedding photographer. However, many couples are still taking a huge risk and booking someone from the ranks of the Saturday Cowboys who are often working uninsured for cash in hand, with little idea of how to shoot a wedding to a decent standard regardless of the situations they may find themselves in.

More than once in the past year, I have had a tearful bride call to see if I am available to cover her wedding at short notice because the "photographer" they booked has left them high and dry because he/she has to go to work!

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

I feel this is wrong with both my profession and clients suffering. Personally I would like to see some sort of licensing of photographers or some kind of "Corgi Standard" to protect consumers and the industry for the long term, but this seems a long way off.

For couples reading this there are a few things to do and questions to ask when selecting your wedding photographer.

1: Form a short list of wedding photographers from recommendations. Friends, colleagues, venues and other wedding suppliers may be able to help with this.

2: Carefully check the websites of these photographers. Look for dynamic composition, strong expressions, good lighting, variety, and surprisingly sharpness within the images. Be wary of websites that show a high proportion of still life and detail shots.

3: Make sure you see a few complete weddings, preferably as full albums in the flesh. This will enable to see the print quality for yourself.

4: Check the work that has caught your eye, was taken by the photographer him/her self and that the images are from real weddings and not portfolio days, model shoots or taken as a second photographer.

5: Discuss the options available and get the price you will actually end up paying rather than a "starting from price". Post wedding upgrades can really mount up!

6: Check to see if the photographer carries professional insurance, which is for your protection.

7: Don't skimp on price (I know, I would say that) as too often I hear about post wedding regrets. A top photographer will produce a priceless record of your day which should show the full story of your wedding rather than a few happy snaps.

8: If you have any questions, worries or concerns about your photography ALWAYS ask your photographer. A professional will be happy to put your mind at rest.

Peter Prior Photography; Art VIsage

Finally here is an image i took in Scotland on 27th December. I had never been to the venue or Scotland before, hadn't met the couple and the air temperature was -10 degrees! I had to move fast and the contrast with the mist over the loch combined with the bright sunlight far bank made life interesting.

This has received my "Vintage" treatment.


Monday, 27 December 2010

What is "Reportage" Photography?

The wedding industry is full of BUZZ words, themes and trends. Wedding photography is no different.

Over the years the style of photography known as "REPORTAGE" has become more and more misused. When I started out "REPORTAGE" was a distinct style and art form of wedding photography. Those shooting REPORTAGE were exponents of light and composition using these skills to cover weddings with a primarily documentary approach. Most still covered the bride and groom shots and of course knew how to photograph the groups.

Peter Prior

However the thing that differentiated them from the main stream photographers was the fact that they didn't ruin/dominate most of the wedding by taking hours over the pictures.

As I said most of these almost revolutionary REPORTAGE wedding photographers were skilled in the use of light, composition and storytelling within a an image or a set of images; they can even be an unposed "portrait" like this one below.

Drumtochty Castle,Aberdeen,Scotland,Peter Prior,Nikon D300

Bailiffscourt Climping,est Sussex Peter Prior Photography Art Visage

These days the term "REPORTAGE" has been hijacked by magazines, wedding websites and photographers alike and it seems that almost every man and his dog, regardless of their true style are shooting "REPORTAGE". Many are still shooting traditional images and using this buzz word, others really do shoot in a true, skilled documentary style but, in the main, most REPORTAGE photographers are little more than machine-gunners. Its become another bandwagon to jump on.

The advent of digital SLRs has made wedding photography so much more accessible than ever before; in the past having to load and shoot with a medium format camera and produce enough saleable images on just 6 rolls of 12 was a dark art that required real skill and know-how.

Now I can't ever see me wanting to go back to the good old days of Bronicas and Hassleblads; I love my digital SLRs (especially my D3s), but the introduction of these affordable amazing cameras has certainly lowered the standards when it comes to wedding photography.

Peter Prior Photography

In the past, it was expensive to shoot 1000s of images in the hope of getting 50 good ones. These days, once the gear has been purchased, its easy to machine-gun away and, fingers crossed, there will be enough to show the couple. A few days in front of Photoshop making them all black and white can save the day, but this really is an unprofessional attitude.

Slaugham Place,Super Event,Peter Prior Photography

REPORTAGE has become the label for this "natural" style; when its done well, the results are amazing but it seems to me that, in the main, most think of this style as the easy option. They become lazy, sloppy even, giving little or no thought to lighting and flattering their subjects.

Peter Prior,Wadhurst CastleWootton House Hotel,Peter Prior,Nikon D300,SurreyWootton House Hotel,Peter Prior,Nikon D300,Surrey

In my opinion, just because an image is unposed or natural, doesn't mean we shouldn't think about how good or bad it makes our subjects look.

REPORTAGE images don't have to be black and white!

Brighton,Royal Pavilion,Peter Prior Photography

As a result of the miss use of the term, REPORTAGE has become a label for cheap and cheerful wedding photography, which is a shame as it can cause confusion for our clients. Personally I prefer to avoid labels to describe my style. I just refer to myself as a "wedding photographer".

(These images were taken over the last couple of years by the way)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Karen and i just wanted to wish all of our clients, friends and fellow wedding suppliers and colleagues a very Happy Christmas!

Our office is now shut until 3rd January but if you need to get in touch, please feel free to send an email to . We will be checking the messages from time to time.

We have two big weddings to look forward to on 29th and 31st December but apart from these are really looking forward to spending time with our family, enjoying the festive season.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Sussex Weddings: Julie and Stephen's Wedding in Eastbourne: First Wedding with the Nikon D3s

Julie and Stephen's intimate wedding was organised at very short notice and took place at Eastbourne Town Hall. They took their vowels in front of just 5 guests after as the severe weather prevented others from making it down to the south coast.

The Town Hall in Eastbourne is a stunning building and always offers amazing photographic possibilities with its architecture and grand staircase.

Having my Nikon D3s on a wedding for the first time, really meant i could go to town and capture some great images without having to worry about the lack of light present.

I don't normally get too excited about camera gear but i have to say that the D3s certainly enables me to take my wedding photography to a completely different level in the way that it helps me to capture images that quite simply wouldn't be possible.

Anyway, back to to the wedding.

After the ceremony we made our way to the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne where the guests enjoyed champagne in the Presidential Suite before a candlelit dinner in the private Gallery.

Here are few images from the day all shot on my Nikon D3s with the stunning 24-70 2.8 lens. I shot from 400 to 3200iso with most of the images being taken at 1600+ and as you can see the results are astounding.

1600 iso at f2.8








2000 iso at f2.8


3200 iso at f2.8


I can't wait to when i have to use higher iso settings at Wednesday's wedding in West Sussex. Tests have shown images shot as high as 12800 iso to be superb.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Photography Training: Winter Weddings Webinar (part 2)

For those who enjoyed/survived part 1 of my Webinar about Winter Weddings, here is Part 2.

If you have any questions about anything discussed, please feel free to send me an email to

We were running a special rate for my workshop on 3rd March 2010 and if you quote this blog or the Webinar, we will be happy to honour the offer price.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Photography Training: Winter Weddings Webinar (Part 1)

A few weeks ago i was honoured to be asked to give a Webinar for fellow professional photographers about my approach to covering winter weddings by my good friend Oz who runs the SF Photo School. Please excuse the cold.

Part 2 will be live tomorrow.

If you have any questions after listening to this, please feel free to send me an email to

We were offering a great deal for my 3rd March Workshop by quoting this Webinar. If you mention this blog post we will be happy to honour this special rate.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas Weddings

I love covering weddings around Christmas time!

There is always a special atmosphere at this time of year that gives a wedding a big lift. The colours, the people and of course the chill in the air.

Art Visage

As ever, December has probably been the busiest month of the year for us. Apart from the 6 weddings booked, i have had half a dozen location portrait shoots, a stack of print orders to process as well as a commercial shoot next week to fit in.

Today sees the first of my 5 weddings in the next fortnight; an intimate wedding in Eastbourne which will be the perfect way to debut my shiny new Nikon D3s. Exciting stuff!

To be honest, i don't usually get too hung up on camera equipment, but early tests have opened my eyes to a whole new world potentially with the amazing low light capabilities of this camera. I will be having to re-calibrate my brain to think about the stunning results that can be achieved when shooting at 12800iso!

After the madness of the next couple of weeks, i will be posting any thoughts i have together with a few images.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Not for the Feint Hearted: Photos of Yours Truly

Being a professional "people photographer" has many advantages. A major one as far as i am concerned is that i rarely get to ruin pictures by appearing in them!

However, i do feel that being the other side of the lens and in the firing line is good way to appreciate how clients might feel when in the "hot seat" so i recently agreed for my good friend and very talented photographer Nicky Thomas to capture a few images of me.

To say i felt uncomfortable at the prospect was an understatement, but i have to say she quickly put me at ease and produced some lovely images that even made me look OK!

Thanks Nicky.

Here are a couple of my personal favourites.



Sunday, 12 December 2010

Sussex Weddings: Louisa and James' Wedding at Ashdown Park Hotel

At one point Louisa and James must have wondered if anyone would make their wedding.

After a week of heavy snow, freezing temperatures and ice bound roads, it was going to be an adventure just to make it to the stunning Ashdown Park Hotel. It was a huge relief to wake up early to the sound of rain, which cleared the roads, making the trip up the A22 an easy drive.

The hotel itself was still a "Winter Wonderland" but as ever the superb staff had everything in hand to ensure a great day for Louisa and James and their guests. Its always nice to work on recommendation: i had been recommended by James' brother Dan and his wife Claire, who's wedding i photographed in Winchester a couple of years ago.

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Louisa arrived in a 4x4 just in case and following an emotional ceremony, everyone enjoyed the dramatic interior of the chapel under a huge Christmas tree.

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Unfortunately, the heavy rains returned preventing us going outside but despite this i still managed to create some beautiful images.

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

This image was taken in the evening, after the meal with the only light source being the chandelier above Louisa.

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Peter Prior Photography; Ashdown Park Hotel

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

March Workshop Exciting News: Special Offer from SWPM

Just thought i would remind folks about my forthcoming Wedding Photography Workshop on 3rd March 2011.

As well as the massive early booking discount that i am offering, i am very excited to announce that South West Photo Mounts are offering a great deal for anyone booking in December. To see the details please click here.

There are a very limited number of spaces at what promises to be a fascinating day. I am going to share my marketing and pricing secrets as well giving letting you in on the ways i have developed my style and brand as well as how i shoot in less than ideal situations.

I will also share the thought process of how is approach and cover a wedding and have a full sample album for delegates to see and hold in the flesh.

For further information click on this link or give me call on 01323 740741. Alternatively, send me an email to .

Once the spaces have gone they are gone.

Peter Prior Photography,Newick Park Hotel

Friday, 3 December 2010

Winter Weddings Revisited.

The annual UK panic when sub zero temperatures hit our shores is upon us once again. It seems that each year we are caught out despite the fact that other countries seem to take in their stride and keep going as if nothing was happening.

Our country faces a "road grit shortage", the "wrong kind of snow", " leaves on the rails" and this year we are told that abandoned cars are causing road gritting delays. The government has spoken about a review in December: well if they haven't noticed its December now and i would have thought the review should have been held in the summer when we had time to act.....

Anyway, despite the world seemingly coming to an end, wedding photographers have to get on with things, whilst our schools are shut, deliveries don't get through and trains stop running.


This is where professionalism and passion for your job kicks in.

Tomorrow, i have what should be a stunning wedding at one of my favourite venues Ashdown Park Hotel, up in Ashdown Forest. A thaw and rain is predicted but what if the ice remains? How will i ensure i make it for my clients?

Well yesterday, along with a number of neighbours, we dug ourselves out of our road to the main route on the edge of the village and then moved a car as close to the main route (which is clear as i type) as possible. We worked for 4 hours in freezing weather and a foot of snow and ice!

Regardless if the forecast i will leave 2 hours earlier than normally required for my 35 minute drive to give myself as much time as possible to ensure a stress free journey.

My cameras have all been checked and cleaned once again, extra batteries charged and everything is 100% ready for almost any eventuality.

Hopefully all i have to worry about is that the main road is passable tomorrow mid-morning and that the couple and their guests can make it!

As someone who has photographed in excess of 750 weddings throughout the UK in all sorts of conditions over a 14 year career, i am well aware of the usual winter pitfalls. for example, misting lenses, ice, the cold, wind and rain, and working indoors in next to no light, so with care tomorrow's wedding should be a good one as the people seem lovely and the couple have come by strong recommendation from the best man.

My recent Webinar showed what can be achieved in trying conditions. Personally i love the challenges that winter weddings throw up and especially the low but often dramatic lighting situations.

At my March Seminar, which is also going to be held at Ashdown Park Hotel, i will explain my methods for working in less that ideal conditions as well as demonstrating at a live shoot inside.

Going back tomorrow's wedding, if the roads were guaranteed to be passable, a snow filled landscape at the stunning venue would be perfect for some dramatic images so fingers crossed!


Peter Prior Photography,Art Visage,Loseley Park