Behind the Lens with wedding photographers Summers Photography

03 Jul 2017

Stephanie Cronin of Berkshire-based business Summers Photography lifts the lid on her and her husband, Steve's wonderful world of capturing weddings across the globe

How would you describe your style of photography? 

We have been in the industry for more than 15 years now and have seen so many fads come and go - remember split colour anyone? We are so proud of our style of photography as it hasn't differed too much from our humble beginnings; vibrant colours, true tones - not washed out/over-edited, lively, fun and relaxed. We have also been called modern and yet a hint of traditional, too, but always romantic. Our style fits every wedding; we are storytellers of each special day.

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How did you start out in wedding photography? 

Summers Photography started out in photo-journalism; this is where our storytelling really began. As our confidence and opportunities progressed through managing photo developing stores and working in modern photography studios, our friends and family started to approach us for their weddings. It was such a lovely thing to be asked to do, but we did feel nervous the first few times.Then it catapulted; it grew and grew as our clients recommended us to their friends and we started working regularly in our favourite venues where we are now recommended too.

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Who are your ideal clients? 

Our ideal clients are those couples that appreciate photography and know how important it is in their wedding as it is the only product from your wedding that lasts decades later. They are the couple that have ideas for their wedding and are influenced by Pinterest (but not replicating a Pinterest wedding - make it as unique as you are). They are the couple that come equipped with what they are looking for, but are more than comfortable for us to guide and support them with the planning process. They are so in love, cuddling and kissing is natural to them and they want to laugh and laugh all day.

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Can you choose a picture that encapsulates everything you want to achieve in a wedding photograph? Tell us what it is about this image that you love.

It is extremely difficult to choose just one image, but this would be one of the highest rated. Completely natural and a unique expression from both the bride and groom. That look and tender touch of the groom to the bride is such an intimate moment, even when surrounded by their nearest and dearest. The influx of confetti is just so pretty and visually stunning; you can almost here the shouts and laughter from their guests. Yes, it is definitely a favourite and definitely us.

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Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?  

Fun, vibrancy, joyous, sincere, happy and a tiny bit of traditional. I think that describes our personalities well and I can see all of those traits in our images. It is incredibly important that your personality fits with your photographers as we are with you for so long throughout the day. This then is loosely translated into the photography style. I gather inspiration from so many places; I am such a visual person and can take hundreds of photographs even on a day trip. I love spending time travelling to experience new things, your wedding venue inspires me to try different things, lifestyle magazines are wonderful to flip through on a morning with a coffee and museums - there is nothing better than getting lost in a museum or a new city to give you inspiration. And you, the couple inspire me to capture your relationship.

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How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute? 

Our average booking timeframe is 12 months. Some clients are super organised and plan for a few years and we book up two years in advance. Some other clients manage to plan their wedding fairly quickly and book us with six months to go. We only have a limited amount of weddings per year to give us the best service to our clients, but certainly get in touch to see if we are free; if not we can recommend other photographers that we adore.

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What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?  

Every wedding is totally different and brings its new challenges. The main two elements are lighting and people; lighting is difficult as we can do a recce before the wedding and it could be so different on the day itself. Indoor ceremonies in churches are tricky as most offer artificial light that can be quite dark. Thankfully we have professional camera equipment that is built to work with dark environments so you would never know there was a problem, along with experience in how to balance the settings to get the perfect result; don’t trust entry level cameras as they wouldn't be able to do the job like our cameras would be able to. Let’s face it, if we asked you if you like being photographed, you would most likely say no, but that is our job to put you at ease and enjoy the experience. It is so key to have those group photographs too; we encourage you to choose a few of your bridal party to be 'runners' who know certain members of your friends and family. They will be invaluable to help speed up the group shots, get uncle Bob away from the bar and give you more time to socialise and party.

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What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion? 

Photography is such an important element of your wedding day, so it is incredibly important to be well informed. All of our clients are briefed with key information about wedding photography and sent FAQs to help; but these are the top three most important questions:

  1. What happens if you are ill and cannot make the wedding? Sadly, this is something we hear time and time again, but we have several plans in place - as we are a husband and wife team, chances are only one of us will be ill, so the other would still be able to attend. A replacement for the other photographer would be organised in the form of our associate team who are trained in the Summers Photography style of photography. If they are not available, then we would rely on several of our photographic professional societies that we pay to be a part of. It also pays to have wonderful friends that are wedding photographers too.
  2. What is your wet weather policy? It is so difficult to be able to predict the weather, one minute it is glorious blue skies, the next thunderstorms. Thankfully, it is highly unlikely that it will rain constantly without a short break in the weather, so we would utilise that time to go outdoors for groups or portraits. We really do encourage our parties to go outdoors and brave the weather for a few moments and then get back in doors as you are in such wonderful locations it would be ideal to capture these in your photographs. Expect your photographer to bring umbrellas - we have 10 clear and white brollies - and also poor weather lighting. We bring studio lights with us to use when photographing groups indoors to give them a light and airy feel, bringing the outdoors indoors.  
  3. How long after the wedding do I receive the photographs and how many? As we edit and prepare each wedding to the highest standard, expect to receive your photographs four weeks after the wedding. We will email you the link to view your images and get your USB prepared to post to you. If you are having an album package then we will guide you through the selection and design process too. Depending on your coverage, most clients will receive upwards of 500 images for a full day's wedding. 

What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’ – can you give us an example of yours? 

I don’t think group shots are controversial in the slightest. Modern blogs and magazines have bad-mouthed formal group shots for years now and it really should stop. Sadly, family and friends won’t be here forever and all we have left after they are gone is photographs. Where they are not great is the over fussy and majorly formal groups that take hours to set up... we are not about that. We call them informal gatherings and group the people that we need together for the images. We have members of the family on each side that can bring organisation in terms of gathering the groups. We recommend no more than seven groups which would take about 45 minutes to gather, photograph and move onto the next group. Please do have group photographs on your day; you will be glad you did later on in life.

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In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment? 

It is really nice to see more luxe trends starting to come through now from the vintage shabby chic that we have had for so long. It is a lovely change and nice to see that both options are being catered for now. I have a personal obsession with geo cakes, seriously gorgeous for luxe weddings.

What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses. 

That wedding photographers just turn up at the wedding, snap a few pictures and send them to the client the next day. That is just so mis-informed. The reality is that photographers are your backbone on the day - we communicate with all parties from the church or registrants, the reception venue, the kitchen staff, the evening entertainment to see if things are going to time and how we can adapt photography to fit that. We go through an extensive planning process with our clients throughout the time of their engagement; if they have any questions, we are there to answer them. A month before the wedding we work through a specific timeline to see where we can do what photographs, what is the most important element for their wedding photography, which group images they are looking for and any further important information - it seems a lot - but this makes for a smooth-running day and incredible images.

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What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why? 

It is not possible to just choose one favourite wedding. I have three top favourites:

  1. A military wedding that was ultra formal in the army chapel - it looked like a royal wedding. But after the church service, we headed to the most beautiful open marquee in the rolling Berkshire countryside - it was magical.
  2. A London city wedding at the majestic Middle Temple Church where the Magna Carta was signed, the Da Vinci Code filmed and the history of the Knights Templar. It was so atmospheric, moving, goosebumps everywhere when this huge oak door was pulled open and the bride appeared to walk down the aisle. The choir was singing Aniron from Enya’s track in the Lord of the Rings and I had to pinch myself - it was like being in a film.  
  3. A super glam wedding at Froyle Park in Hampshire. This was for the people element - recognising guests from weddings I have photographed before, hearing the news of previous clients that they had had a new baby, guests coming up to us saying what a great job we did. But the best part was the pre-party partying going on around the tables after the starter had been cleared away... 150 people dancing before their dinner was a sight to behold. It certainly was an amazing party.

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Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment? 

Everything is important at a wedding to bring the whole day together. We all want beautiful flowers and a showstopping cake, but a few days later, the flowers and cake have all been enjoyed. Photography is the one element that lasts for decades and can be relived and enjoyed forever. 

Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?

My childhood was full of fashion wheels and paint brushes. I still have a soft spot for interior design that has came in handy for our new home alongside fashion design. Being at London Fashion Week was a dream come true for the eight-year-old in me making up outfits, and the photographer side too. An amazing experience. 

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www.summers-photography.co.uk