As a documentary wedding photographer I encourage potential clients to pose questions if it helps to put them at ease with regards to my overall set up, approach and style. But before that you should get lost in the photographic work.
The photographic work is unambiguous in style. If you have a query then the answer to that too shall be unambiguous. Overall I’m a straight talker and informal to deal with. I prefer to be straight and direct. And if this helps you to make up your mind either way then it should be very helpful to us both.
I class myself as a photographer. A photographer first and foremost. Yes indeed I photograph weddings and in a photojournalistic way. I take a documentary approach to photographing weddings.
Many, not all, but many documentary photographers who shoot weddings have that distinctive style. That’s what makes them stand out from the crowd. They understand the nuances and can articulate clearly what is happening on a wedding day. To tell a story in a coherent and consistent way.
If you are looking for numerous posed or group or look at the camera type images you will not find any on my website whatsoever.
I prioritise a documentary approach. I don’t work in any other style. I’d be rubbish anyway working in another style (though clearly some will offer any style you want, which should raise a flag IMO). So I stick with the candid photojournalistic style.
I’ll photograph your wedding in a natural and candid manner, the day should flow in a natural fashion.
There’s a lot out there claiming to be “Documentary Photographers”. But is this clear in their work from top to bottom?
Not all documentary photographers are created equal. In reality there is only a handful who operate in a complete candid manner.
A handful who are genuinely good. They stamp their unique personality on their work, never making it merely passive.
I see the day in a certain way and this should be clear from the galleries, each day will have it’s own energy and dynamic and tone. Having the freedom to tap into that is what is super important to me. The emphasis is always on pictures, pictures, pictures…
Footnote: Some of these are made up purely for entertainment purposes
What is Reportage / Documentary?
A technique of documentary photo journalism that tells a story entirely through recorded pictures.
Recording an event through careful observation.
Zero posing… (really, none)
Are you insured?
OK, this is a question which is never asked yet it is important that your photographer is insured. Lately photographers are popping up out of the woodwork and charging peanuts while offering everything. They neither have talent, style nor initiative. And probably care little by offering so much.
There are some frightening stories of couples who have had their day compromised by somebody who is out of their depth technically or through basic competence.
The OPW (Office of Public Works) operate the majority if not all of the Heritage sites in this country, many couples like to use a certain site for pictures on their wedding day.
If your Photographer has no insurance he will not be allowed access and rightly so. This is a profession and professionals take their career very seriously. I’m insured with McLoughlin Insurance Group.
Once you have viewed a portfolio and it looks credible and expansive and consistent then do yourself a favor and put your mind at ease by finding out if your photographer / videographer is insured. Your hotel may also want to know, you should definitely want to know.
If you plan on visiting one of the great sites around this country then the OPW will certainly want to know.
So, no set ups?
That’s right, no set ups
No set ups, at all???
Absolutely no set ups, but that’s the easy part. Any clown with a camera can take pictures. Which is clearly evident in the over saturated market right now. What actually is important is how a wedding day is articulated. To tell the story from that day in a coherent fashion.
Seems to be a lot of “you stand here and we’ll all pretend it’s documentary….” While looking like a million other wedding photographers. Must be great craic altogether. And if you want that go for it.
In reality the documentary photographer is thin on the ground. Good documentary photographers.
Do you need to know how much I have set aside cost wise for my wedding pictures?
Each wedding can be radically different. Quite often I will work what I deem is a full day, from morning preparations until the dancing kicks in later that night
I will also get booked for shorter days. Give me an idea of what you envision and how much you have budgeted
While I really love your reportage style, I really would prefer to go with a more traditional style with lots of set up/fun shots too. And perhaps just a few reportage images, can you help?
Then your only option is to go with a photographer dedicated to working in the style of work you want. If that is a trad style then that is what you will be looking for and searching for.
I specialise in a documentary style. A Photojournalistic style
The images can be very subtle the images can be energetic. Capturing a mood. They can be cinematic at times with a hint of humour while remaining natural. When the dust settles, having a consistent and coherent set of images is absolutely rewarding. A mixed of everything is just a mixed bag. A mixed bag of dirt.
I read a blog recently and it said that I have to work closely with my Wedding Photographer, what does this mean?
This means that a wedding planner assumes that all wedding photographers are the same. All brides are the same and all grooms are the same and all venues are the same and all wedding days are the same.
In the time I have worked as a wedding photographer I have been lucky to work with so many different types of people. And photographed weddings all over Ireland. From people from all parts of the globe.
The one thing these couples all have had in common is that they trusted me. They had the confidence in me to do my job in that candid manner
In fact it is true that my approach allows the couple to focus on other aspects of their big day safe in the knowledge that I need MINIMAL information and little contact with the couple before their wedding.
I’ll just photograph your wedding in my own way, which is something I have done consistently.
Should you need to know more about your photographer then ask him or her and not a wedding planner. They just have a blog post to fill, take it lightly.
If I put together a list of images I want on the day, would that be OK?
Short answer: No.
My style is to move fast and to work fast. Working from a list of set images completely misses the mark of my photographic approach and philosophy. From experience, those who ask this have not nailed down what they want or expect from their photographer.
Knowing what to expect from your photographer should make the day plain sailing. It is not by numbers or functional. Nor is it a formal approach but something much more expressive and dynamic. If I had to work from the dreaded “list” I think I may go mad.
What’s worse is when I’m told what pictures I should take. If you need to tell me what pictures to take then just get a friend and instruct them to snap your wedding. But be warned, getting the friend to snap the wedding usually ends in disappointment.
I don’t see many family pictures on your website, do you still get some family shots? I don’t want the day slowed down and I don’t want to stand around for two hours, but I do want some family shots and bridal party shots.
Yes. Getting family shots/bridal party shots is all part of the day too but with me there is no messing about. It may take a little bit of bullying to get it done swiftly.
Lets face it, nobody likes doing this so if they must be done then swiftly is the only way and let’s keep it to the minimum
Get the families together and we’ll get them done without much pain and certainly with no time wasting. Less than ten minutes. Five minutes, quicker if possible
On the rare occasion that I’m asked to shoot more groups, what happens is that the time ebbs away because nobody wants to get organised
This in turn leaves little time for shooting guests during drinks reception and just getting a feel for that part of the day.
Every now and then I may get highjacked to take a lot of family groups..
And when this does happen there is quite often no time for reception photographs, what happens then? I get asked “any more pictures from the reception? Nope. Edit is final regardless.
The emphasis is on creating images and building a story of the day, but if you require a certain shot you must tell me. No point complaining down the line for a shot I didn’t take, or shots I never take.
If you want a certain picture in particular please tell me. I have to draw the line at a limited number of groups done within a couple of minutes.
Why would anybody want to waste an hour or so setting up posed group photographs?
I feel odd even thinking about family / non family / pointless groups.
Anybody can take group shots. Anybody.
What about a picture of the entire wedding party? Like, with everybody in it? Do you do that?
Ah… no. Again, this is just an antiquated concept and something that doesn’t fit my my way of working. Once a photographer starts barking at people to get some [chaotic] organisation then it upsets the pattern of the day.
Everybody will be well aware that there’s a photographer about, and this goes against the grain of working candidly.
My Fiancé is concerned about the photographs, he hates to pose, and just does not like this whatsoever. We both certainly don’t want an approach that may make us feel rather uncomfortable.
If you want to see me for a consultation we can look though a wealth of portfolio work and I will show you how each wedding can have its own unique set of images. For me it can only be that way. You’ll be excited at how I get results through pure 100% observation
I can’t stress this enough, I simply follow the movements of the day and capture your wedding images like that.
Of course if you hang out of a chandelier for some bizarre reason I’ll probably take the photograph. But to make up something that did not happen is certainly not my thing.
Ya, but like my friend says….
I have to stop you there….
I love the Vintage style do you do some of this?
Dead in the water
And what about themed weddings?
If you are having a themed wedding then doesn’t it make sense to allow a documentary photographer shoot your wedding? And if your wedding is based on a theme then a having that day documented by a photographer who will specialise in documentary photography is surely the correct road to go on.
I’m getting married in a restaurant, short day, humanist / civil ceremony, how does that float your boat?
Call me now!
Hey, do you want thousands of [fake] Instagram followers?
I’m not that needy but thanks for asking
I heard you won an award for some of your photographs and would love to use an award winning photographer for my wedding given I’m so shallow.
You mean a small ugly plinth like thing made out of glass and wood that tells me I am the bestest at some photo thing?
Awards are for sport.
Photography awards are effectively useless and while I’ve been offered the chance to “win” or “buy” one I don’t see the point. My clients know how good my work is. An award given to me by nobodies does not excite me whatsoever. I just want to take pictures, and I keep my head down otherwise.
I love your photographs and it is what I want, but can’t make a decision right now for other reasons, can you hold it for a week or so while I sort some other issues out with regards to organising my wedding?
The most sensible thing I can do is only mark a date down when booking fee has been paid. Quite often when a date has been held somebody will come along and they will be eager for the date. This has happened in the past and this leaves me in a dilemma. Booking fee secures date.
I’ll be checking out some Wedding Fairs soon, will you be displaying your work at any?
No wedding fairs for me
I’ve spoken to a few of my friends and they say that Documentary / Reportage Wedding Photography is setting up images because there is no other way to do this, and that is what they got, how can I be sure that I won’t get this?
I’m really not a posey type person and it would make me not want to have a photographer at my wedding.
I can assure that the way I work is 100% natural. If you go through each and every gallery on my website then that should become very, very clear.
Everybody who has come to me for their wedding photography has done so because they dislike this idea of somebody setting up their wedding photographs, they don’t want it and I don’t do it.
One of the outstanding features with the way I work is that the couple always enjoy their reception. Because instead of being in a field striking fake poses they are chatting to their friends and family at their wedding reception.
I really have no idea why a Photographer would drive halfway around the country looking for a field to take pictures in…No, sorry, I do, they just want to waste away your day.
“Oh I loved waiting under a bridge for an hour or so in the cold while the photographer had to set up his lights, tripod and reflectors and stuff, it was so intimate…” said nobody. Ever.
Will you get a photograph of everybody at my wedding?
In my experience it is neither possible nor necessary to capture a picture of every single person or moment at your wedding. My job is to thread a story of the day together in as dynamic a way as I can or as subtle as it may be.
A Bridesmaid decided to vanish once for a period, it is not my place to ask where everybody is, this is not how I work. I was later asked did I have a picture of this bridesmaid at a certain juncture of the day. How could I if she wasn’t there?
During the ceremony a shot can be compromised by a priest for example, (or a videographer, not on purpose and it can be a two way street) especially if a moment is happening in a fast manner.
I’ll pick the spot which will work best given a certain moment yet anything can happen. It still sticks with me when once during the signing a priest felt the need to put his arm and hand down in a manner to obscure me doing my job. I get around this as best as I can.
During drinks reception, it is not a case of just walking in and going clickclickclick and driving every nuts while dong it, it is about getting a feel. And presenting a set of images that sum up that part of the day in a concise a manner as possible
Ideally you should be able to tell the story of a wedding in about seventy to eighty images and often without the obvious things glaring out. I tend to deliver somewhere in the region of 300 to 400 pictures, so that gives more than enough choice.
The hunger to have several hundred pictures for whatever reason must be parked and understanding that your day will be recorded in a concise way is what is most important. Going back to the galleries on my website, each gallery contains a summary of a wedding day and in an atmospheric way.
If you just want to see several hundred faces then I’m sure somebody out there can help you with that but I don’t see the point in producing functional images for the sake of it.
And when it comes to big weddings, 200+ then that adds more pain. I have no appetite for big weddings. And for many reasons. Often there’s a lot of experts, there’s a of folk who want set ups.
I’m unsure which package I should opt for, and to be honest I don’t know if I even want an album or photo book.
I always suggest for a couple to go with the Digital file option, and the Digital file option is my most popular package and has been consistently over the past few years.
If you want a photo book album then that’s something you should decide post wedding, but that is always down to the individual client. Sometimes a couple are happy with this.
I’ll also say this. Imagine your Wedding images presented as digital files are like a set of masters for an album. The songs have been completed by the producer. It is not the final product. He says to the band “Now, make your selection and let me create a great album and one you will be proud off”.
Finally having a nice storybook with a concise set of images will really bring your wedding to life. It’s easy to feel bombarded with several hundred wedding pictures on file, getting down to making a selection form that set is the next step.
The images always take on a new life once set in a cool and well made book.
Can I break down the cost of my Wedding Photography over the course of a few months? I’m getting married in about a year, is this possible?
Yes, that is no problem, and it is an approach that many are using.
How long do you shoot for? And will you start at my house?
Yes. I will start at the brides house/parents house/hotel on the morning and finish a little after you both sit for your meal in the evening. Generally 11:30-12:00 until 6:00-6:30. If you would like me to continue until the first dance then lets talk about it.
A wedding day is far more dynamic today
Civil and Humanist weddings now accounting for roughly 50% to 60% of my yearly wedding work, and the times can alter radically. Just let me know what you have in mind.
What if I don’t want you to start at my house on the morning.
No problem, I’ll start where you want me to, and perhaps you may want me to stay a bit later? Perhaps I can offer a better price for opting out of certain parts of the day? Call me.
Can I bring you some photos to show what I like?
Absolutely, as long as each and every one of them are my photographs.
After we sit, would you go from table to table taking pictures of the guests?
The last thing anybody wants is to have a photographer stick a camera in their face while they are eating their soup or eating their Monkfish. This is a time for family and guests to sit eat and chat and to enjoy their evening.
I’m getting married and I love your photographs, but I see you’re based in Cork. Do you travel further afield?
Yes, I have worked all over the country and will indeed travel.
I’ve spoken to another photographer and he’s willing to offer me a full days shoot right up to the dancing, a disc with my photographs and a leather bound album along with two parents albums and even a nice cake for €800, would you be willing to match this?
Sounds like you have a good deal. But it also sounds as if this photographer has little value to his work, perhaps little value on your wedding day and treats the entire business as a joke.
In my experience, this type of offer ends up a disaster and I could not possibly compete with that. Quality before quantity.
Great images will last a lifetime, if you value your wedding day then invest in the photography, I can’t stress that enough.
If you want cake I can bring cake, a small one.
How much do you charge?
How much do you want to spend?
Quite often I’ll get an email, and once I reply then that’s the end of it. I prefer if everyone is up front.
It’s important to be upfront with regards to how much you want to spend.
Also, it is important to research and see what I’m all about. The information on my website could not be more transparent.
And also, there will be occasions where I am unavailable and I will be asked to forward a recommendation, and I will do so if I have an idea of how much you want to spend before I waste another photographers time.
As I have blogged elsewhere on this site, it is important to invest in your photography.
Week in and week out I will hear about stories where a couple were “disappointed” with their photography for whatever reason (I spoke to somebody recently who said he spent €500, and he was disappointed.
If what you are getting for a few hundred quid sounds too good to be true (lots of stuff to mask the lack of quality of the images perhaps) then it probably is. Your wedding photography should be about the pictures first and foremost. If they are consistent, vibrant and sum up the day then they’ll always look cool.
My prices start at €1600 for a seven hour day.
Email for a more detailed price guide.
Love your work but I would like to book you for a shorter period, it’s a midweek wedding, perhaps the ceremony and some shots from the reception later on, so a couple of hours, do you do this?
Email me, let me know what is on your mind, lets chat about it and we’ll work out a deal.
I’d like to make my own storybook with a company I found online. Will I be able to have access to the images to create my own storybook? I won’t need to alter them. You’re finished images are great and I would like to be able to create my own book.
Yes, you’ll have access to your wedding day images and they will be copyright release so you can make your own online story book / photobook and prints. But any manipulation or any other misuse of the images is not allowed
I want to be a wedding photographer so I can make loooaaads of money, can you take me on some of your shoots and give me some tips?
What kind of equipment do you use?
Cameras and Lenses
How long after the wedding will you have my wedding photographs?
Eight to ten weeks. Once the edit is completed I will email right away. It’s a case of don’t contact me I’ll contact you. During a very busy year I can shoot often more than one a week, so patience is the key here.
I saw a picture on your website that I love so was wondering would you re-create that for me?
Since a wedding is not a controlled environment, with different scenarios perhaps coming into play (venue dynamics, weather etc) a specific detailed shot cannot be guaranteed. What you will get is a set of images that tell YOUR story.
Every wedding will be completely different. This is where the magic is.
I know how you work, but can I nudge toward getting pics of certain people like say my grandparents?
Absolutely. Quite often there is somebody very close to the couple getting married and maybe they only might make the ceremony, so indeed, let me know this.
My wedding is being held during winter, I have heard from many that the fact it gets dark early will pose a problem for the pictures, what are your thoughts on this?
Not an issue. Especially if a couple have really gotten an understanding of how I work. I suppose traditionally there was that issue due to the nature of the wedding photographer who needs to set up images and consume time in doing so.
I love shooting winter weddings. It’s a season that has its own magic, low light is wonderful light. And certainly is not an easy time of the year to photography, in fact it can be quite a challenge. Yet quite often given certain circumstances I prefer it.
I’m getting married, but remember, I have a budget.
What is it?
In the unlikely event that you may not be able to photograph our wedding, what happens then?
This question has been posed many times over the years and the consensus seems to be that some couples would prefer to find their own alternative.
Your booking fee and any further payments will be returned if I can’t make.
I can always recommend an alternative and have somebody available to step in for me in the unlikely even of me not being able to turn up on the day do to an accident for example. All angles must be covered. In over fifteen years I have never missed a shoot. And don’t intend to.
We’re getting married at such a venue, we’re concerned that you may not have been there before, we’d prefer to see some images in your portfolio from the venue.
Again, I’ll refer to the expansive nature of my website and portfolio. I’m not going to suddenly freeze when working a new reception venue. In fact I thrive working at a new unexplored venue and love the familiarity of visiting a venue I’ve worked at on numerous occasions, it’s the very nature of my work.
A new venue is exciting to me and while I am based in Cork and would mainly work the Cork / Kerry / Limerick area I’ve traveled well and have had some fantastic shoots at venues I’d never been to previously.
Plus I’ve taken so many great images in pubs across the country while on wedding shoots, it doesn’t get more atmospheric then a dark, low lit pub.
I’ve travelled and had the chance to work in the following and always produced places great images
Lisloughrey in Mayo
10 Ormond Quay in Dublin
Coolbawn Quay Tipperary
Lough Rynn in Leitrim
Ballintaggart House in Dingle
Faithlegg in Waterford
Kinnetty Castle in Offaly
Mount Wolseley in Carlow
The Vetigo Suite, atop of the City Hall in Cork City
Brandon in Wexford
Solis Lough Eske in Donegal
Beaufield Mews in Dublin
Castle Oliver in Co. Limerick
Tannery Restaurant in Waterford
Hook Lighthouse in Wexford
Cliff Townhouse in Dublin
Bellinter House in Navan
Borris House in Carlow
Cashel House in Connemara
Raheen House in Clonmel
The Royal in Valentia Island
Speckled Door in Kinsale
Jacobs Restaurant in Cork City
And I have also photographed at exclusive venues that hold weddings in a generally one off manner or quite rarely.
It does not matter if it’s a new venue, a tiny registrar office or a large dynamic hall or someone’s house.
Let each day bring what it will with whatever venue, it’s the people who make the day, everything else acts as a backdrop
Do you offer traditional style albums?
Generally I don’t offer traditional albums.
If you really want one I can contact a supplier as I have done one a couple of very rare occasions, this supplier will create the entire piece for you including all layout and design.
Do I have a sample? No sample. Are they expensive? Very.
The weather may be bad and with heavy rain, do you have a contingency plan for pictures?
Yes, to get on with the job of taking pictures.
Will you require props?
Do you do Engagement shoots?
Mmmmmm… maybe, let me know what you have in mind.
What about trash the dress?
Dead in the water
If I want a Photo Book or album, can I include some pictures that a friend took?
Oh lord no.
Do you work with a second photographer on the day?
I work alone and cover what angles I need to cover by myself. Now, if you do require a second shooter to cover either Bridal prep / Groom prep that that can be arranged, contact me regarding a cost for this.
Do you charge mileage as a hidden extra?
No extra charge for mileage but willing to accept any money you want to throw at me.
As a documentary photographer, do you like working with videographers?
Yes, err sometimes… most of them are great people to work with. If you are getting a Documentary Wedding Photographer then a Videographer who will compliment this is ideal.
I’ve worked with one or two who prefer to stare at their mobile phones while their camera is simply pointed in one direction.
I’ve also worked with some of the best out there, if you require more advice then I’d be delighted to offer it.
Some of the images on your website look like they have been set up, but if you’re a photojournalist why do you do this?
If it looks like its set up it isn’t, and there are times when a very good image should look like it has been set up, a good image can give the feel of a film still. What I record with my lens is the actions of the couple, their friends and family and the chemistry and energy of their day.
It ain’t my day, it’s the couples day so I won’t be bossing and expecting them to do anything whatsoever except have a great day.
Sometimes a great photograph may look as if it is set up when in fact it was captured naturally, it’s all about good framing, quick thinking, confidence, and a well grasped sense of composition. Sometimes you must see the image before you find it.
Outside family / bridal shots everything is captured candidly and naturally. Anecdotal evidence tells me and visual evidence definitely suggests that many “reportage” photographers actually set up their candid shots, or perhaps find a few “candid” shots as a token.
And I hear this all the time, and if you have a good look you will see the same. Reportage is a dirty word used by nearly all wedding photographers who need to read up on what the word means.
Reportage wedding photography is a style, not a marketing gimmick, but unfortunately marketing gimmick is what it is become for many. In general there are very few genuine documentary wedding photographers out there
When a couple know what they are looking for when it comes to a photographer they should have a firm idea of what that wedding photographer will provide for them, but only if they have done their groundwork.
If they decide on a consultation with me they are quickly excited by the potential in my photographic wedding work and the commitment I bring to each set of wedding pictures and each couples day.
It’s a buzz word to be “unique”, we all use it, yet when a couple see me enthuse over my work they get the bigger picture. It gives them a thrill at the prospect of how their own photographs will turn out.
Each wedding has to be taken on its own merits, to coin a John Giles football phrase. By taking each wedding on its own merits you will get something that will be unique.
Look at the images on my website, there are stories everywhere, the atmosphere is palpable, the mood and tone is effortless to feel. Think of your own Wedding day and the excitement and detail crossed with moments both dynamic and subtle to be captured.
The photographic work on my website will give you an idea of the potential of what I can do, just the potential. No gimmicks, no orders, no posing and certainly no nonsense. If you have an idea of what a strong image is then we’re half way there.
I work for couples who understand what a good image is, they are the people who don’t want the generic nonsense that has flooded the market but they do want a record of their day that captures the celebration of the event. There is so much to be said about that, but if you get a kick out of my pictures then make contact and lets talk about it.
But before you make contact looking for a price guide look at the galleries, and look at them over and over again, the more you see them the more you will enjoy the quality, the balance and the consistency in the work.
If you can’t feel the magic and don’t like my relaxed and natural approach then I am not for you. Not all “reportage” photographers are the same, many set up their photographs or just use the word reportage as a marketing tool. I don’t.
The images on my website galleries will tell you that. A set of wedding images should look as striking as a set of film stills, with the director (in this case the photographer) recording what he sees and reflecting that in the images.
There is a good chance that you have been searching and searching for a photographer who will give you what you envision. What you have in your mind. And what you have in your mind is perhaps a day that will not be spoilt by a photographer who needs to bring your wedding day to a standstill every ten minutes.
Neither do you want to settle for the run of the mill generic wedding photographer.
A wedding day is too short to be remembered for the wrong reasons. Looking at a photograph should bring back a memory of what is happening in that photograph. That is why a good photographer is so important on your wedding day. And specifically a documentary wedding photographer.
But why do so many photographers set up these generic shots which have become a lazy standard?
As I said previously, genuine documentary photographers who shoot weddings are thin on the ground, but all have their own take and style on the medium and all are very exciting.
The market is flooded with the run of the mill typical wedding photographer who make claims to be documentary, most people who come to me tell me clearly that what they have seen is certainly not documentary / reportage.
Sometimes you have to keep going to find the good stuff. To actually find what you are looking for. If you’re reading this and you have come this far and find yourself agreeing with much of it then I’d love to hear from you.
Now, if you don’t get it after all that then there is nothing I can do for, nor would I want to. But one thing I do know is that if you have come to this point then nearly 100% of the time it’s “I love it, this is for me!”
Rest of the time it’s front page right to the contact form, and generally a one liner email, which is no way to book a photographer.
Are you that Philip Bourke of the RED FM radio station?
So, how do we go about booking?
A booking fee secures the date. Once that fee is paid then no other enquiry for that date will be entertained.
The booking fee secures your wedding date.
Booking fee is a non returnable payment.
All images and text © Philip Bourke Photography 2023