My First Wedding

"I'm a kid at heart which is why I've always loved photographing children, but I also liked being in the thick of it with my camera, when there was a party going on.  So it was in 2010 when I was trying to get my name out there that I decided to put up a display of work in the local library when a lady from the pharmacy popped in and asked if I did Weddings as her daughter was getting married! With excitement I said Yes and of course I'd be free on the 24th July (even though it was the day after my own anniversary!)

It was only later that I screamed OH GOD what have I done!!  I'm going to need more equipment - another camera, memory cards, flash guns, batteries, an assistant to carry all this gear and a New Hat!

July 24th 2010, the date was in the diary and so it all began ... Victoria and David were a lovely couple, always laughing and joking around together, very down to earth when discussing their Big Day.  I'd meet at their homes, chat about their plans, visit the venues, invite them for a fun pre-shoot in my studio and generally keep in touch each month as things progressed to the Big Day. The week before, I'd religiously keep checking my equipment, select my outfit, clean my car, print out 'the photo list', check out the parking and attend the rehearsal.

24th JULY 2010!

Think I was up at 5 pacing the floor, double checking I'd got everything and making sandwiches and more coffee! With hair, make-up, fizz, bacon butties, nervous giggles and dad reciting his speech over, it was time for the Ceremony, which was beautiful and nerve-racking at the same time, although no one is allowed to see your 'butterflies' as they have their own emotions going on and it's your job as the excitement builds, to keep a steady head and capture 'those' moments.  I remember being ready with my camera thinking how lovely Vicki looked as she walked down the aisle with her dad, brimming from ear to ear ready to marry the man of her dreams when I had to hide the horror on my face when I saw ' great uncle Bob' with a bigger and better camera and lens than me standing behind them In My Shot!!

Anyway, I quickly got over that, the ceremony progressed with lots of lovely moments taking place to include that one when all eyes are on the Best Man and the laughter breaks the silence!  I'd quietly move around the church hoping non of the doors or floor boards would creek, they probably did but by now I think my heart was pounding louder! It can be very exciting being part of such an occasion but also terrifying, so nerves of steel and a good sense of self awareness helps.

Once outside EVERYONE can breathe a sigh of relief, make some noise, have a giggle, express their good wishes with lots of hugs and kisses before the confetti is thrown or in this case, to the brides delight, shoved down the jacket of the groom! ha ha

Off they went as Mr and Mrs into the sunset and as we waved the lovely 'Baby Austin' away, I remember thinking how gorgeous the flowers and the bridesmaids dresses looked and all seemed to coordinate in colour with the plum of the car .... when what I should have been thinking was why wasn't I in my car, driving in front of the bride and groom ready to greet them in  the reception car park on their arrival !! ARGHHHHHHHHH  Phew I made it with no speeding fine or blue lights!


The guest list, let's face it no one wants to miss out on a good wedding and a lot of thought is taken when this is put together, so when welcoming your guests with a drink it's lovely when they embrace the moment with lots of smiles, stories and emotion as it might be the only chance they'll get a few minutes with you.  I think it's safe to say I'm an 'emotional type' and I almost cried when the bride had a quiet moment with her lovely Grandpa in law earlier on and now here he was again having a hug and wishing her all the best in life with his Grandson ... sometimes I just pretend I've poked myself in the eyes and hope no one notices!


With the guests on the balcony enjoying drinks in the sunshine it was time for the four of us - Bride and Groom, myself and Gary, the head manager, to jump on our golf buggies and head off down to the bridge.  What a moment, we were like kids, me hanging out pretending I was some sort of stunt woman and Gary thinking he was a formula one driver, with the Groom doing hands free and the Bride laughing and lifting her dress as she showed off her Jimmy Choos!

Just a few quiet moments with them both on the bridge for a few nice shots was all that was needed, as I knew David would appreciate this, being  a little camera shy, before we headed back to do the 'groups'. It's always good to keep an eye on the time and not get carried away with yourself at moments like these as the guests will be getting hungry and the chef is as important too!


The wine flowed, the guests were fed, the room filled with laughter before more tears of joy as dad couldn't resist embarrassing his daughter once again by wearing her veil as the best man rose to the challenge brilliantly whilst still wearing 'Aunty Jeans' cream hat! I love this part of the day, as personally, I admire anyone who agree to having this sort of responsibility in the first place and then being able to pull it off perfectly by standing up in front of a room of 'mostly' strangers, having them on the edge of their seats laughing and crying reminiscing and generally leaving them with a warm feeling about the whole occasion.  JUST BRILLIANT.

It didn't surprise me that the Cake included a Man U supporter and a Cobblers fan on the top tier as Vicki spent many a Saturday down at the Cobblers with her Dad cheering on her team and I know today that she still goes with her eldest son.

The Dance Off

The first dance was by Take That and it always makes me smile when I see the relief on the faces of Brides and Grooms when this is over but more so when guests (including myself) start tapping their feet, itching to get on the dance floor and get the party started!

I think the best compliment you can get as a wedding photographer is (not only that they love the results of your work) but to be told they didn't notice you were there after a few hours, as you'd blended in so well with the guests. It's lovely to hear this when you're striving to make sure you're getting the shots you want, without disrupting any part of the day. To know that I'd just just made those around feel comfortable when I'd been clicking away was wonderful and then to be asked to stay and party ... well that was the icing on the cake, as they say! And as tempting as it was on this occasion I had to decline and have some self discipline and get these memory cards home safe n sound!'

It truly was 'THE GREATEST DAY'
































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Doing what I love ...

I've always had a passion for people and capturing every moment.  I think this stems from my dad, he was a lively chatty man who loved being in the thick of it and lived life to the full meeting some great people along the way then always coming home and documenting it in stories and photographs! We've been told we were very similar!!

My career hasn't always been in photography but mostly working with people has.  I think the two go hand in hand.  It was only when my children were small and I enjoyed taking photographs of them that I decided to join a Nationwide company photographing school children.  I loved this job, I mastered the art of making children laugh by throwing a toy frog on my head, ensuring they all relaxed in my company to get the image the parents wished for in the short amount of time I had.  The work was fast paced and you had to adapt quickly but there was never a dull moment!

For months my friends would say 'you have an eye for this why don't you go it alone...especially as someone has asked you to do their wedding!' But I worked with some great people and my loyalty was with them, plus I never felt 100 % confident.

Until one day I just woke up and thought that's it I'm going to do it and have never looked back!

My first wedding came and went and I survived (although it felt like I was having a nervous breakdown at the time!), I had fantastic feedback and was told my 'photos showed emotion and personality' and that I was 'professional but at the same time relaxing to be around'.

And so as my confidence grew more Wedding bookings were made together with an investment in a garden studio for Portraits and Family Shoots and also somewhere to work in.. Livebythelens Photography was formed.

I am forever grateful to my friends who encouraged me to take this leap and the couple who had faith in me to make their Wedding Day Special.  Since then I have met and photographed some amazing people, who still tell me they have my photos all over their homes and others who's profile photos are still working well for them .. which gives me a warm glow inside that I did the right thing and I'm doing what I love!


When first impressions count - swipe right!


'In this fast paced, dare I say swipe to the left, swipe to the right society, it seems to me that you only get 2/3 seconds to make an impression on somebody from that tiny little image alongside your profile, so I feel it's important that you get it right first time and make that image work for you.  I'm sure it's a daunting enough process going on a dating site in the first place, never mind then having to come up with some exciting blurb about yourself followed by a fab photo!


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying everyone who's on a dating site should give me a call today ad book a slot, although that would be nice, but really I want you to take a look at what you're offering, what does your profile say about you? Is this the real you? Is it going to attract the person you'd like it to?

So alongside your photo, is your profile, where you'd be writing three or more sentences I'm guessing to sum up your personality, what you like doing, your status at home and at work and all these you would have given careful thought and time to ensure what you say feels right to you.  It can be an ongoing expensive process paying out for dating subscriptions, new outfits, transport and then going halves on meals out!


Be yourself ...If you're happiest in jeans and a t shirt then show that, if you're a shirt and tie kind of guy and that makes you feel good then wear that as your confidence will show when you have your photograph taken.  I want to capture the 'real you', feeling relaxed and having a good time, so our photoshoots are more about 'hanging out together' and having a laugh rather than posing and making you feel awkward posing for a 'formal shoot'.

I find if you engage with others then they respond well and enjoy talking about themselves, share stories, laugh and then this brings the best out of people so when they see the camera they don't look horrified, they'll just think oh here's Helen with her camera again!

Online dating can be a very positive experience as I have witnessed myself - from photographing a couple of my bride and grooms weddings who'd met online and never thought this day would come and have never looked back as still blissfully happy today!

I have also recently photographed a lady who's presence on the dating site shot up hugely once her new profile photo was uploaded.  She responded by saying how excited she felt from such positive feedback from her photo and once again had faith. It was a great boost to her confidence and all this from spending a morning together in the park - this lady had a great zest for life, was kind, caring and this (I thought) didn't reflect in her previous images so was what I wanted to capture from our time together.

For online dating, I think Natural Shots reflecting The Real You will benefit you more, showing that if you prefer the quieter life, reading, visiting coffee shops or museums then this could reflect in your photos or if you're more 'outdoorsy' and happier throwing leaves in the air or hugging trees, then that's what we need to capture!

Most of all just be yourself and leave the rest to the photographer!'