A day in the life of a wedding photographer

“A wedding photographer doesn’t just show up for a few hours then go home.” We spoke to professional wedding photographer Simon James about how critical it is to hire a professional wedding photographer for your wedding day, and how much passion goes into every single day in the life of a wedding photographer.


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“Some couples can’t see initially that there is so much value there” (in the photographer’s service).” The artistic ability to capture, to see and feel things before they happen and to know exactly what to capture comes with experience and passion. A piece of paper may be $2.50, but if you want art to put into an album page, that’s more like $125.” But once you see that magic and the quality, it’s well worth it.

Simon has more than 25 years experience shooting weddings all over the world, as well as doing seminars for other photographers all over Australia.

“Great wedding photographs don’t just miraculously occur. The photographs you see in portfolios take skill, preparation, artistic flair and meticulous attention to detail.”

“I started in fashion photography, but there were so many people involved in the taking of a single photograph. There was just no creative outlet there. One of the models asked if I could shoot their wedding, and I said yes, but I never had before. I got halfway through that wedding and realised how much fun it was. (I thought) ‘I get to tell the story!’. And ever since then I’ve seen myself as a storyteller.”

“There is so much joy in what I do. I still enjoy that 26 years later. There’s a couple. They’re in love and they’re getting married. The most important part is the ceremony, and then the party afterward. I always say to my couples, what I do on the day is so insignificant. But the day after, what I have done is super critical. I’m invisible on your wedding day unless necessary. I dress as a guest. I blend in, I don’t impact the couples wedding day unless I need to. But I capture those critical moments, and it’s beautiful. The amount of work that goes into a wedding begins from the enquiry. Whether it’s from a referral or from the Easy Weddings website, they have invested some time,  so then you’re probably spending half an hour in that communication before you are booking a time in my diary. Then you’re spending an hour or so with the couple, showing them finished works, the album, learning about their day, taking notes. ”

“The amount of work that goes into a wedding begins from the enquiry. Whether it’s from a referral or from the Easy Weddings website, they have invested some time,  so then you’re probably spending half an hour in that communication before you are booking a time in my diary. Then you’re spending another hour or so with the couple (before they have booked your service)”

“The question I always ask my couples is to describe their perfect wedding day in three words. An ‘elegant, graceful and beautiful’ wedding is very different from a ‘minimalistic, edgy, crazy’ wedding. So that gives me some hints about the dress, the car and the day.

Then I follow up with a thank you and provide the couple a written quote. I follow up again a week later and either they book me or not. If they do, we fill out a contract and catch up with them again, learn even more about their day, take notes and then I touch base with them periodically leading up to the wedding. Some book me three months out, some book 12-18 months out.”

The booking period used to be really consistent. Now you can look forward to your diary and it’s very different to what it used to be. Couples will come to me with three months to go and ask to book me. I’ll say, haven’t you booked anyone yet? And they will respond ‘we haven’t got anything booked yet!’. Things are changing. A wedding used to be the start of a relationship. Now the wedding is: ‘we already live together, we’ve got a fur baby and we’re renovating a house’ so it’s all together. It’s less for everyone else and more for the couple now. ”

Things are changing. A wedding used to be the start of a relationship. Now the wedding is: ‘we already live together, we’ve got a fur baby and we’re renovating a house’ so it’s all together. (A wedding is) less for everyone else and more for the couple now. “

“If the wedding is on the Saturday, by the Saturday night, I’ve sent 5-10 images straight through to their phone. I love that level of service. By the Wednesday after their wedding, the images are online for the couple to view, and by Friday, I’ve already designed the album, while the story is still fresh in my mind. From a timing perspective, a wedding day is now a lot shorter for a photographer. Generally, I don’t stay for the entire reception, as people tend to be eating and drinking and don’t look their best. I get a feel for it, get the best shots at the start of the reception. After I go home, even if I am going out or busy that night, I go home, I upload the images and they are backed up onto a hard drive, and then they are uploaded to the cloud.”

“If the wedding is on the Saturday, by the Saturday night, I’ve sent 5-10 images straight through to their phone. I love that level of service.”

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