Behind the Lens with Hertfordshire photographer, Becky Harley
30 Jan 2018
Exuding passion in all aspects of her work, Becky Harley is a wedding photographer based in Hertfordshire who covers the south east of England and beyond
How would you describe your style of photography?
Bright, natural and relaxed. I’m quite a relaxed person and I like to bring this to my wedding photography. I don’t like to do anything too posed, and I’d much rather capture my couples having a lovely giggle and a cuddle together than looking at my camera or staring off moodily into the distance.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I have always been behind the camera, ever since I was tiny (my parents have an album of photos I took on a disposable camera aged four at Disneyland). Then when I got married I realised how much I LOVE weddings. I wasn’t happy in my job in London, so I decided to take the leap and turn my passion into my career - and here I am.
Who are your ideal clients?
I love working with relaxed couples who want to throw an awesome party for their friends and family - much like me when I was planning my wedding with my husband Pete. My couples usually don’t want anything too formal on the day, and just want some lovely natural photographs which show them at their happiest.
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.
This is my favourite image that I took last year. I love it because it feels so joyful – that’s what I want to capture on your wedding day – the joy and laughter in all the moments that happen throughout the day – from the very start and getting ready, through to the end of the evening. A confetti shot is one of my favourites on the day because it’s so much fun, and such an exciting part of the day, when the newlyweds make their way out of the ceremony as a married couple.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
I take my inspiration from the love that my couples share. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, and the reason that everyone is there to celebrate together - and that’s what I want to capture. My style is very relaxed, and I love getting to know my couples before the big day, to ensure they’re relaxed too. I love it when this shows through in my images.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
It depends on the time of year and the day of the week. My Saturdays get booked up a long way in advance, and it’s not unusual for me to book a wedding taking place in two years time – and sometimes more.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
A wedding in the rain can be a challenge, but I have lots of tips to make it work. A very dark room can also be tricky, but frequent use of the camera flash can add light to dark places and create a natural feel.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
Plan ahead for the group photographs. I usually recommend planning around eight formal group photographs, and allocating a responsible groomsman or usher to help shepherd family and friends who are needed for photos. I always ask for people’s names, but I don’t know what people look like so it can be tricky to know when I have everyone who is needed for a photo. If it’s possible to do so, also give those who will be needed for group photographs a heads up before the day, so they know roughly when we’ll need them so we don’t have to chase them around the venue to get them in the picture.
What are the 3 most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- Do you have insurance? This is really important. I have Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance.
- Do you work alone or with a second photographer? My packages cover my time on your wedding day, but many of my couples choose to book a second photographer at their wedding for an additional cost. You get more images and coverage of your day from a different perspective.
- How many photos will we get? It’s important to know what you’ll get after your big day. My couples typically receive between 400 and 500 edited high-resolution images of their day – usually more if they book a second photographer.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’?
I think formal group photos are an important record of the day, but I don’t typically do the big ‘staged’ group shots, or edit t-rexes into the background of the wedding party running, but I’m happy to work to any requests that my couples have. I like to capture the moments inbetween the group shots, especially of my couples and their close friends and those in the bridal party, when everyone’s smiling and laughing together and not looking at the camera.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
I love weddings that have the couple's personalities well and truly stamped across the day. Dry hire venues, be it warehouses, marquees or halls provide an amazing blank canvas and I’m always really interested to see how my couples transform their space to reflect themselves. In terms of specific trends, I love a wedding cake made of cheese (we had one for our wedding).
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
A photographer won’t give you all the images that they take on the wedding day. Typically, I take between 3,000 and 5,000 images on any one day, and having all of those would be overwhelming. Many of these will be test shots, or me shooting through moments in order to provide the best from a set (you don’t want all 30 of the pictures I took of Uncle Bob laughing – I’ll just deliver the best one). Your images are curated to give you the best collection of images that will tell the story of your day.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
I captured a Star Wars themed wedding in early 2016, which was great fun. It was very elegant and not cheesy at all. I loved the nods to the theme that the couple added to their wedding day – they left the ceremony to the Star Wars theme, had lightsabers on the dancefloor, and a ‘double take’ cake – the front was a beautiful four tier wedding cake, the back had scenes from Star Wars on the back, made of icing.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
Speaking from experience, your wedding day flies past so quickly so It’s important to capture the moments from the day as it rushes past, and your photographs will be there to enjoy for the years, and generations, to come. Not only that, but it’s my job to capture all the effort and thought you put into crafting the perfect day together. All those hours you spent making favours or putting the finishing touches to the seating plan – they all come together on your wedding day – so it’s important to have the details captured for you to remember in years to come too.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
That’s such a hard question. I used to be involved with my university radio station, so in another life I’d quite like to present or produce a radio show. Or maybe work behind the scenes on film or TV sets.