Category Archives: Sussex wedding photographer

James and Katie’s West Sussex Wedding

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James and Katie’s West Sussex Wedding


A West Sussex Wedding with an Eco Twist

James and Katie got married in Shipley, near Horsham in West Sussex, in late summer. This West Sussex wedding was a combination of a traditional church service and a marquee on the Knepp Castle Estate. Knepp castle is an interesting venue.  It is a 3,500 acre estate which is slowly being returned to a wild state after generations of dairy and arable farming. They have introduced longhorn cattle, tamworth pigs and well as exmoor ponies and the locally occurring roe deer and rabbits. The animals are all left behave as they would in the wild. Some such as the cattle and pigs are periodically harvested for meat. The aim is to produce a sustainable and economically viable landscape which is at the forefront of environmental conservation.

Shipley itself is known for being where the BBC Series Jonathan Creek was filmed. Luckily no dastardly crimes were discovered on the wedding day!

James and his party were resplendent in Scottish attire as befitted his familial roots. Katie Looked beautiful in a low backed wedding dress with her bridesmaids looking elegant in dark blue. James and Katie travelled in a beautiful classic Rolls Royce whilst the guests were ferried from the church via a vintage bus.

The wedding reception was bathed in September sunshine, and I was able to take some great photos against the beautiful backdrop of the Knepp Castle Estate and the day was rounded off with some traditional Ceilidh dancing as befitted the Scottish theme.




Also posted in Advice for Clients, West Sussex Wedding Photographer

George and Leah’s Wedding, Upwaltham Barns.



George and Leah got married right in the middle of last summer’s heatwave at Upwaltham Barns, right in the heart of the beautiful South Downs. I know how hard it can be to shoot in very hot weather, so my camera bag was weighed down as much by water bottles as it was by lenses. I liberally applied sunblock as well, as it is very easy to get burnt to a crisp without even realising it on days like this as I have learnt to my cost in the past. There is nothing worse than shooting groups, you start to feel that you are getting burnt, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Upwaltham Barns Wedding

I was particularly lucky at this wedding that I got an opportunity to shoot with George and Leah as the evening light  drew in and we got some really beautiful shots. One of the biggest challenges for a wedding photographer is dealing with available light, whether it is a gloomy Saxon church or shooting groups in the middle of the day. I have my tricks and things I’ve picked up over the years that help make the best of any situation, but a photographer has no greater ally than good light, and no light is better than the golden sunshine of a summer’s evening.

Upwa;ltham Barns Wedding






Ihave worked at Upwaltham Barns many times

Also posted in Brighton wedding photographer, Chichester photographer, Chichester portrait photographer, Chichester wedding photographer, Wedding Photographer Chichester, west sussex

How to Conquer Wedding Day Stress

Wedding Day StressWeddings are a big deal. That doesn’t mean that your day has to be overwhelmed by wedding day stress. Here are some simple tips to help you enjoy your wedding day to its maximum.

You are not alone.

I get nervous at the beginning of a wedding day. I worry about what could go wrong, what the weather will be like, or a guest straying into the shot at a never to be repeated moment. I worry because I want things to be perfect and you wedding photos to be the best they can be. I’m sure the caterers get nervous, the florist worries and the vicar prays he won’t fluff his sermon. Your wedding photographer, florist and event managers are probably just as emotionally invested as you are that the day goes well, so don’t think the responsibility rests just on your shoulders.  We all care about this stuff as much as you do.

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

Try to share the load of organisation with your wedding professionals and your friends and family. The more things that you delegate the easier your day becomes. Remember friends and family members love to be involved and are often flattered to be asked, so take advantage of this and everyone benefits.

Take time for yourself

Weddings can often seem like a never ending stream of people to say hello to and keep happy. Make sure your take five minutes here and there for yourself. Perhaps five minutes on your own before the ceremony or a short stop in the wedding car on the way back from the church.  A quiet moment to pause and appreciate the day can give you that all important inner calm that will stop your day going by in a blur.

Remember you can’t control everything.

Try not to worry about things you can’t control. I have photographed weddings in all weathers and rarely has the day been spoiled by a spot of rain or a chilly wind. Weddings are robust occasions and you’ll be surprised by your guests determination to have a good time. Couples often worry about family disharmony, especially if their parents have separated. I have shot dozens of weddings where the bride or groom’s parents have divorced, and there has never been a problem. The people that love you will find a way to call a truce when they now how important the day is to you.

The more you plan, the more stress free the day is.

Having a well worked out schedule can take a lot of the stress out of the wedding day. It might seem counter intuitive, but a well organised day feels more relaxed. Knowing what you are doing and when  is essential. Make sure all your wedding professionals tell you how long things will take , and make sure they are the kind of professional that is honest enough to tell you when things aren’t possible. At the sketchier end of the market suppliers will tell you anything to get your business, and then let you down on the big day. Make sure you have experienced professionals who know how everything works.

Remember your main objective.

As I have said to a lot of nervous brides as they get ready, as long as you finish the day married, the day has been a success. Nothing else really matters that much. So don’t let wedding day stress spoil your day. Enjoy the first day of the rest of your life with the person that you love.







Also posted in Advice for Clients, Chichester photographer, Chichester wedding photographer, wedding photographer, Wedding Photographer Chichester, Wedding photographer reportage photojournalist brighton chichester., Wedding Photographer Sussex, wedding photography

Wedding Photography Styles Explained

Wedding Photography in Bosham

You’ve chosen your date, booked your venue and started shopping for dresses. Now you’re looking for a wedding photographer. There are a lot of styles of wedding photography out there, and while people in the industry might know these styles inside out they be confusing for couples.  Remember as well that not only are you picking a style of photography, but different types of wedding photography can make different demands on your time on your wedding day.

When picking the style of photography you want at your wedding your choice boils down to three things. What style of images you want, how long you want to spend with a photographer on your wedding day, and most importantly of all your own personality and comfort in front of the camera.

There are plenty of different photography buzzwords out there. Vintage, editorial, artistic or contemporary are just a few. Perhaps more confusingly they are used by different photographers in different ways. Ultimately it is up to couples to ask plenty of questions and do plenty of research before picking a photographer, and to rely on seeing full set of photos from completed weddings Do  not  rely on the  best five or six shots from several weddings to make a choice.

Wedding photography styles are a compromise between producing fantastic work and keeping to a timetable. A photographer might produce brilliant photos, but if he takes too long to produce them you probably won’t enjoy the experience.

Traditional (or Posed) Wedding Photography

Upwaltham Barns 2

A lot of people think of traditional wedding photography as endless stuffy group photos where everyone looks stiff as a board. Worse still, the different collections of people seem to go on forever. I think there is a fashion to be down on traditional wedding photography, but the actual working framework is still the same for most wedding photographers. The photographs may be more stylish but the actual experience on the day for the bride and groom is very similar.

There is always a trade off between the type of work a photographer does and the time it takes to shoot it. More formal posed photographs will take longer to set up and achieve. Any photographer who produces artistic posed work will need a certain amount of time to produce his best work. It is important that you find out how much time he will need, and work out how it will fit into your day. There are photographers who spend a couple of hours on formal shots. Make sure you are happy with giving over that amount of time on your wedding day. If you are not that comfortable in front of the camera you may find this type of photography more difficult. A good photographer should be able to help you and put you at your ease but for many individuals it can still seem a bit daunting.

Reportage Wedding Photography (Wedding Photojournalism)

Wedding Photography

If traditional is all about posed photographs, then reportage wedding photography is the opposite. It relies on capturing moments as they happen, and is more like a fly on the wall documentary. This form of wedding photography means that the photographer spends most of his time in the background, and so has become increasingly popular with couples. Weddings are also increasingly less formal than they used to be. Documentary wedding photography demands a different skill set from traditional wedding photography so you have to make sure that your photographer has the correct photographic background and can show you full weddings to back this up. Wedding photojournalism is more about a complete set of pictures from the whole day than a set of a dozen highlights. There are photographers out there who will jump on the latest bandwagon to gain business, but still use the same old style they always have. Wedding photojournalism is all about anticipation and being in the right place at the right time. It is not about closely directing people, so it puts many traditional wedding photographers outside of their skill set. There are some less ethical photographers who will use the latest buzzwords to improve their search engine presence, but still shoot the same tired old pictures.

If you are reticent about having your photo taken, wedding photojournalism is probably your best choice. The photography happens without you really realizing and you’ll look your natural best.

Although these two approaches might appear polar opposites, in reality most wedding photographers will offer a blend of these two styles. There are not many wedding photojournalists who don’t shoot at least some formal photographs and traditional wedding photographers will shoot informal pictures as well.  Find out what proportion of each a photographer likes to shoot, and better still ask them what they like to shoot the most – chances are this is what they are best at.

Vintage Wedding Photography

Vintage wedding photography is a style that has been coming into vogue recently, but in lots of ways its a hard one one to quantify. Vintage can mean anything from using old film cameras during some of the wedding to just a different approach to post production to produce ‘vintage’ looking digital files. There are some great photographers out there, but bear in mind that if you are receiving files that are heavily edited in a certain style, you run the risk of your photos looking rather dated a few years later. If I was hiring a vintage style photographer, I personally would want at least some of the wedding shot on film, I’m not a huge fan of faking things. As always ask questions, see examples and make an informed decision.

Editorial Wedding Photography

This wedding genre is inspired by the fashion editorials of glossy magazines, at it’s best it can produce fantastic high-end images. To produce this successfully on a wedding day the photographer needs to be highly organised, and would probably need an assistant to help set up some of the shots in advance, although that would depend on his or her style. Do your research to make sure that the time requirements for this type of shoot fit in with your plans. If you really like this type of photography but don’t want to devote too much time to it on your wedding day, consider booking a separate photo session after the wedding. Often describes as a trash or cherish the dress shoot, a separate photo session might be the best way to get the wedding day you want and the photographs you’ll love without losing a huge chunk of your wedding day. It also means that you and your photographer can pick the ideal time of day for the right light and you have scope for rescheduling if it’s pouring with rain. In many countries, particularly the US, high end wedding photography is evolving towards three shoots: the engagement shoot, the wedding day, and an editorial session. Don’t necessarily think that it all has to be done in one day.

Artistic or Fine Art Wedding Photography

Essentially an evolution of traditional wedding photography, this type of photography offers a contemporary take on the traditional set of posed photographs, although these are both terms that have been somewhat over used by the photographic community, so again do your research. At its best this genre can produce moving romantic images, but some photographers can over use the same poses, so it can feel a bit impersonal. Ask to see lots of shoots and don’t be afraid to input your own ideas at your pre-wedding meeting.



There are lot of styles of photographer out there, but the main thing is to look beyond the catchy buzzwords and look long and hard at portfolios. Ultimately it is the competence of the photographer you are hiring that really matters. Experience, personal service and professionalism are what ensure a consistent standard of photography from wedding to wedding, and the consistency and ability to deal with the different shooting conditions that present themselves throughout a wedding day. Their portfolio should show a good balance of shots from bridal preparations to the first dance. Ask questions about how much time they will need to complete those all important formal and couples shots, and work out how much time you are happy to give. Even with more observational styles, planning and communication before the wedding is vital to get the best results and to get them efficiently. Keep to the guidelines and you are sure to have a memorable wedding day with photos to match.


About my Wedding Photography Style

I work as a Wedding Photographer in Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey.

I predominantly work in the reportage style, but pride myself on being able to produce great formal pictures as well. I talk to couples and try to work with them so they get the right balance of photos they need, so sometimes I shoot hardly any formals while other times I’ll shoot an extra session of couples shots after the wedding breakfast. I’ve always found this to be a good way of breaking up the more formal pictures into manageable chunks of time, and the light is a lot better then anyway. I have had a lot of experience in both weddings and editorial/commercial work which has helped me gain a more flexible style, and to get the perfect balance between great results and the time taken to get them.

You can read more about my wedding packages or check out my portfolio.

Also posted in Advice for Clients, Brighton wedding photographer, Chichester photographer, Chichester wedding photographer, Customer information, Uncategorized, Wedding Photographer Chichester

I need a wedding photographer – but I don’t like having my picture taken!

There's no point hiding behind that flower. At some point I'm going to have to take your photo

There’s no point hiding behind that flower. At some point I’m going to have to take your photo

It may seem surprising, but for many of  the couples I work with, at least one of them will be nervous about having their picture taken. One of my main jobs as a wedding photographer is putting people at their ease, or at least making them a bit less nervous! You can have all the photography skills in the world, but when you’re working with people, especially people who may not of worked with a professional photographer before, interpersonal skills are even more important. Building a good relationship with my clients is essential to building trust, and if the people I working with trust me to do a good job, it will help them to relax.

If you are getting married soon these are my top tips if you are nervous  about being photographed.

Enjoy your Day

The simplest and best tip of all. You’ll love your wedding day and that joy will be written all over your face. Every couple I’ve photographed has had this particular glow about them, a combination of happiness and excitement that photographs really well. Your wedding is not just another day and the photos you receive will reflect that.

Most of the Time you Won’t even Know you’re being Photographed.

Most of the pictures I shoot at a wedding are not posed pictures. Most of the time while I’m taking pictures while you’re doing something else, little things like declaring you wedding vows or walking down the aisle!  A lot of the time you are not even aware of being photographed, so the photos are natural . These photos are also more ‘real’. nervous grooms look nervous, emotional mums cry and children try to take it all in. The fact that I’m telling a story rather than trying to create too many posed images means there’s less onus on the bride and groom to pull a happy face and pose for the camera. It’s a win-win. You get to enjoy your wedding day and get great pictures in the process.


You are Going to Look your Absolute Best.

Remember that this isn’t just another day. Everyone is going to be dressed to the nines, hairdressers and make make up artists are going to polish you to perfection. You are going to look fantastic. On a day when you are going to look so great it isn’t it important to have a record of it? That’s what your photographer is there for.

Your Photographer is there to Help you.

As a wedding photographer, people tell me that they are nervous about being photographed all the time. Many couples will have never hired a professional photographer before, so don’t realise that being photographed by a professional photographer is very different to being photographed by friends or family. A professional photographer will know how to help you look your best and will offer advice and help where needed. Professional photographers tend to use telephoto lenses for portraits too so they’ll be further away which will help you feel more comfortable. I have photographed people of all shapes, ages and sizes, so very little throws me and I have plenty of experience of making all sorts of different people look their best. Unlike an amateur, I’ll be familiar with my local venues and where the best photo opportunities are. I have literally hundreds of weddings under my belt. I am here to help. If you have a side you prefer being photographed from or a feature you’d like minimised just tell me and I’ll oblige. Woken up with a spot or blemish on the big day? That’s what Photoshop is for.

Make sure you get a shoot before your wedding day

Preparation is key. That is why I always like to shoot with my couples before their wedding day. It can be an engagement shoot or a pre-wedding meeting at your venue, but I always like to photograph couples before their wedding day. That’s where I get a sense of how they are in front of the camera, and what I have to do to make you look you best. There is a time for coaching couples how to be photographed and that time is not your wedding day. By arranging a separate date with no time pressure, I can show couples how to stand, what to do with their hands and all the other things that turn an awkward photo into a great one. It also helps couples because by working with me beforehand they can see what I can do to make them look great, so they’ll trust me to do a good job on the day. They’ll relax a little bit more and worry a little less. That in itself makes the pictures better.


With a little planning and a bit of practice there is no reason why even the most photo-phobic bride or groom can’t have brilliant photos of their wedding day. The main thing is to communicate those fears to your photographer so he can help you. There are lots of things he can do to make your experience less stressful, and help you look your best. Remember photographers need great photos for their portfolios as much as you want them for your wedding album, so they’ll always be happy to help.

Also posted in bride portraits, Chichester photographer, Uncategorized Tagged , , , |

Wedding Venue Guide – Upwaltham Barns

Upwaltham Barns is a Sussex wedding venue about 8 miles outside Chichester, on the A285 towards Petworth. It comprises of three main buildings. The East Barn, which is the ceremony venue. The South Barn is  for the wedding breakfast and has an adjoining bar. Jasmine Cottage provides accommodation for the bride and groom to get ready and stay overnight in. This is all set in an absolutely stunning part of the South Downs, and there is access to the surrounding area to provide stunning photos in this beautiful landscape. Most of the weddings I have attended here have been around the 120 mark and it can certainly cope with that number of guests in some style.

Upwaltham Barns 2Upwaltham Barns

The great thing about venues like this is they really make the logistics of your wedding much simpler. The bride is able to get ready there, and there is no travelling between the church and the reception venue. That means that you and your guests get a relaxed day. You do not have to worry about about whether they can park near the church or what the traffic will be like on the way to the reception.

Catering is done in house by Nibbles2Nosh.  I’ve personally found the food is always excellent and the staff have always looked after me. Something that always really appreciated by us hard working photographers!

Upwaltham Barns _MG_0323Cla

I’ve always liked the feel of the venue, they always give a really personal service to every couple, and it never feels like anyone is just another client, which is some achievement when you think how many weddings a venue like this will do in a year. Upwaltham Barns have maintained consistent and very high standards for  as long as I have been photographing there.

Upwaltham Barns Website


I work as a full time Wedding Photographer in the West Sussex area, I also shoot Portrait Photography and Commercial Photography

Happy Shooting!




Also posted in Chichester photographer, Chichester wedding photographer, wedding photographer, Wedding Photographer Sussex, wedding photography, Wedding Venues

Jos and Sam’s London Engagement Shoot.

Portrait Photographed on the South Bank

I met up with Jos and Sam on the South Bank where they had got engaged a few months earlier. Sam was a bit worried about being photographed on her wedding day so an engagement shoot portrait was a great opportunity to put her at her ease. The area was very crowded, so I must admit it felt a little as if I throwing them in at the deep end. It can certainly be quite intimidating to have your portrait made with so many people around. One advantage of shooting in a big city is that even though it is often swarming with people, everyone pretty much ignores you, so in lots of ways it’s easier to work here than you might imagine.  I am originally a Londoner myself and quite familiar with the area (I used to work on the tourist boats here when I was at college) so we soon found some great spots to take pictures.

As a wedding photographer , it’s always great to spend time with clients, chat with them and get to know them a bit better. I think it really help the whole creative process if you build  a bit of trust, and develop an understanding. As wedding professionals we can easily forget how daunting a wedding day can be, and that’s not made any easier by having a stranger take pictures of you while you are getting ready, or repeating your vows. So getting to know my clients first is a must for me, and I think generally it really helps them. Posing for photographs is definitely something you can improve with a little guided practise, and is always something I recommend.

I think we spent a couple of hours wandering around. My wife and children had decided to take advantage of the trip to go and see a show in the Festival Hall, so I was in no rush. There are lots of little areas around here that seem to change quite regularly, so there’s always something new to find as a back drop.


Enagagement Portrait

I was really happy with pictures I had when I got home. I though they really showed the strength of their relationship and were full of character and fun. I was amazed that I manage to avoid having an errant tourist in the background. From the look of the pictures you would have though we were there at 6 o’clock in the morning, but it just goes to show you can find space anywhere if you look hard enough.

Pre Wedding Photography


I work a wedding photographer in west sussex and hampshire. I also shoot portrait photography and commercial work. In my spare time I am currently experimenting with large format film photography.

Also posted in Chichester portrait photographer, wedding photographer

Why Prime Lenses Help You Take Better Photos.

photography by Tobias Key

Havana, Cuba. Shot in the mid 90’s with Fuji Provia 100 film.

In the 70’s and 80’s if you bought an SLR camera chances are it would come with a 50mm prime lens mounted on it. When you buy a camera these days, chances are it will come with a zoom lens. Zooms offer the convenience of  having the equivalent of a bagful of prime lenses in one optic. So why then would anyone shoot with a prime lens? Let me tell you a short tale of an adventure I had in my early days with a camera.

A rather long time ago when I had just left college for the second time, I had the opportunity to spend a month in Cuba with my then girlfriend (now wife) who had been sent to work out there. Being young and easily swayed by the lure of the latest gadget I swapped my trusty Canon T90 for a bright and shiny Canon Eos 5. (The Eos 5 being a film camera not to be confused with the much later 5d). I also got rid of my collection of a about 4 prime lenses and replaced them with a standard zoom, and just a 50mm. Now as all you camera geeks know,  nothing beats that first rush of enthusiasm you get when you stroll out into the world with a new camera in your hand. I strode into Havana with my shiny new camera and a plentiful supply of  bulk rolled Provia 100 slide film ready to capture the the magic of this famous city.

I shot happily for a few days until the unthinkable happened. My zoom lens broke. Now of all the countries to suffer a  lens failure, Cuba is probably up there with the worst because of the American trade embargo. There were no modern cameras in the shops, just the odd Russian Zenit or Fed. So resigning myself to the fact that nothing could be done, I strode, slightly crest fallen, with just my lowly 50mm lens, back out on to the streets. Then a strange thing happened. My pictures got better.

I found that instead of limiting me, having only one prime was a liberating experience. In a few days I had developed a sense of knowing what the camera would frame before I moved it to my eye, I moved around more searching for shots instead of wondering whether I should swap lenses or zoom in or out. Because I had fewer choices I made more deliberate pictures and had a much better idea of what I was looking for. I shot smarter, more deliberate photographs. I would shoot for about 6 hours a day, walking everywhere shooting about a roll of film a day. 36 exposures a day seemed a lot then, but seems an almost laughably small number now when compared to what most people shoot digitally!

The trip was something of an epiphany for me. Instead of always wondering what an image would look like with a different lens on the camera, I was forced to really understand one focal length inside and out. That is the strength of the prime lens.

Selecting a focal length should be an aesthetic choice based on how you want to represent what’s in the frame in terms of spatial relationships and depth of field. In short, pick a focal length, pick an aperture and stand in the right place! Zoom lenses encourage you to be too static, to zoom in and out when you should be walking forwards and backwards. I carry zoom lenses with me on shoots, but usually only use them in situations where I can’t move around as I wish. Church ceremonies where I have to stand at the back of the congregation being an obvious example. I shoot with primes most of the time, picking the focal length that will give me the look I want and shooting at apertures that are beyond even the fastest zoom.

The Main Advantages of Prime Lenses

Wedding Photography in Bosham

Shot on a 50mm 1.4 in very low light. If I had used a zoom I would have had to use flash, which would have totally changed the lighting, or not got the shot. The wide aperture lets me separate the couple from the background, so it seems they are oblivious of what’s going on around them. The choice of lens goes a long way to making the shot

1. They let in more light.

Zooms might be flexible, but most consumer zooms go no wider f3.5 and are often stop at f5.6 at the long end. Very expensive professional zooms are usually f2.8. There are affordable prime lenses that go to f1.8 or even f1.4. In laymen’s terms that means that a prime lens could let in 16x more light than a consumer zoom at the long end.  That’s the difference between shooting at 400 iso and 6400 iso! If you like to shoot in low light, buying at least one prime lens is essential.

2.  Better quality.

A subject that many would debate nowadays, but not in terms of cost. A £200-£400 prime lens will certainly equal, if not better a £1500 pro zoom in terms of sharpness. It really is no contest when it comes to distortion, most zooms will have at least some distortion at the far ends of their range, as they have to compromise optical quality to get a few mm extra zoom range. Prime lenses don’t have to make any such compromises. A prime lens is like a shark, it can only do one thing but it can do it very well.

3. More Aesthetic Options.

If you like shallow focus and  great bokeh a prime is certainly the way to go. Most zooms stop at f2.8 –  things don’t really get interesting until f2! Once you have composed the image, the look of your photos is controlled by 3 main things. Aperture selection, focus point and  lens choice. Using primes gives you more apertures to choose from and makes lens choice more deliberate, you don’t zoom between a 24, 35 or a 50, you tend to make a conscious choice and stick to it. You’ll settle more firmly on certain focal lengths and know them inside out. You’ll be able to see a 24mm or 50mm picture before you’ve even put the camera to your eye.

4.Lighter Weight

Professional zooms are heavy. Much heavier than two equivalent prime lenses. If you are like me and can spend 8-9 hours shooting a job that weight can add up. Fatigue has an impact on creativity, and if you are doing something like weddings how long you can stay shooting without taking a break, and how tired you get has an impact on how successful your shots will be.  Reportage photography is to a certain extent a numbers game. You have to be able to work hard for long periods and be there when something amazing happens. Saving weight helps reduce fatigue and helps you work for longer and with more enthusiasm, it can also spare you from back and shoulder pain or even chronic problems brought on by carrying heavy equipment around the neck or shoulders for extended periods of time.

5. Mobility

Photographers who either use primes or cut their teeth on primes tend to move around more. You pick the lens you want to use (effectively deciding the look of a shot) and then move around to compose the image. Even with a zoom the process should be the same, select the focal length on the zoom ring then compose the shot by moving.  Except for most photographers it doesn’t happen like that. If I watch inexperienced photographers shoot, more often than not the zoom does the work that the legs should be doing, the classic example at weddings would be shooting a group of friends on the widest setting of a zoom. The people on the edge of the frame won’t thank you when they see their picture!  An important part of photography is developing and maintaining habitual skills. Primes help beginners learn the importance of being mobile, of not making the mistake of composing by zooming when you don’t have to, and by repetition ingraining that skill.

Of course there are some people that will say that you can do most of the above with a good zoom.

They will say the problem is personal discipline rather than equipment choice, and to an extent I agree with them. One thing I always try to avoid is solving technique or visualisation problems by spending money on something new. But to the same extent, the equipment we buy and how we use it will lead us down certain paths and ingrains habits that are hard to get rid of later on. Learning to be a photographer out in the field is about making good technique second nature so you do not make mistakes when the photograph of a lifetime presents itself. It’s like learning a musical instrument, the camera must be used almost without thinking and much of what you do must become instinct, a mode of expression rather than a machine to operate. My primary reason for recommending primes is they help beginners develop certain habits that will benefit them later on, so that if they choose to use zooms a the progress they are more likely to use them correctly. I also feel that technology and the focus on it can muddy the waters, people take photos not cameras, and simple no nonsense equipment will help anyone realise that they and not their camera are the prime mover in the creative process.

So grab a prime lens, get out there and make some fantastic work!

I’d love to know what lenses you love to use – so let me know in the comments section below.






Also posted in advice for new photographers, Uncategorized

Print What You Want to Keep. Preserve your Visual Legacy




When I travelled in the late 90’s I shot a lot of slides which I had scanned to Gold CD’s (what was supposed to be the archival gold standard of the time). Last week I found the CD’s in a box whilst I was looking for some old prints and decided to have a look at my old work. I put the CD in my laptop, it whirred to life and opened perfectly. The CD ran flawlessly despite being 16 years old, I found the scanned files and tried to open one up.

That’s when the trouble started.

Photo CD (PCD) files are an obsolete format. They won’t open in Photoshop. They won’t open in Capture One. They won’t open in explorer. I hunted around the web and found a freeware program that converted the PCD files into jpegs and the day was saved.  But think about this, Kodak Photo CD was defunct in 2004. 10 years later no standard program on your PC will read those files. Imagine that was your wedding. Would you want your pictures to be unreadable by your 10th anniversary?

Most families have wedding albums or prints  from their parents  wedding, my family still has photos from my grandparents wedding in the 40’s that their great grand children have seen.  Those of use in middle age have seen cassette tapes, then floppy disks, then zip disks disappear. CD’s are on their last legs. If you want to see your precious pictures in 10, 25 or 50 years time you cannot rely on computer media to keep your images safe.

There is only one thing you can do.

Print your photos. The only way you can ensure that future generations can see pictures of you is to put them print them onto paper. It really is that simple.  A portrait session or a wedding is not finished until you have a photograph or a picture in you hand. So print your pictures and preserve your memories. Don’t be left with an unreadable disk or obsolete files as your family’s visual legacy.



Saying Goodbye to Friends

Photography by Tobias Key

The happy couple say goodbye to their friends as they prepare to leave the church.