What ten plus years as a pro photographer teaches you about perfect wedding pictures.
By Tythe favourites Binky Nixon & Sally Forder.
Interview by Jade Beer.
Binky: Be true to yourself with the style of wedding you go for – that’s ultimately what delivers the best shots. Our job as photographers is to read the room and reflect what we see and feel there. Sally and I both need to be able to take an amazing picture but first and foremost we need to have great people skills – to recognise how nervous people are, how much direction they may need, how much encouragement. If all else fails, we’ve got plenty of terrible jokes.
Sally: Not everyone is wild and energetic, some people like to be calm and muted. It’s our job to recognise that and ensure it is present in the images. If someone is feeling uncomfortable, my natural instinct is to make them feel better. We get really nervous in front of a camera and on film, so we understand. That’s the huge irony of it, we put people through our idea of hell every day. It’s the biggest compliment if someone says I feel like I’ve known you all my life. If they trust us, they will let themselves go a little bit and forget about the camera – that’s when we learn much more about them.
Binky: Developing common ground with someone from the very beginning is important. We love a bit of make-up chat over a coffee. Before you know it, you’re chatting about regular day stuff. Problems only ever really stem from a place of being nervous or insecure, so we have to address that. We have to remind people that this is something we do every week.
Sally: And we wouldn’t suggest they do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves.
Binky: We don’t do zoom consultations. It’s one thing we both absolutely hate. People can come to the studio but so much of our business is referrals. Phone chats are always good too. Weddings offer so many great photo opportunities, but I really like the part of the day when the couple are getting ready. I like to have that time with people in the morning but my favourite part of the day without a doubt is the confetti moment. It’s a fast fun shot.
Sally: I love the second song when everyone is allowed to join in. Everyone’s dancing and throwing themselves around, they’ve had a couple of drinks. The room feels electric and I love capturing that feeling. Sometimes I cry.
Binky: There can be points of a wedding day that are really important but not always that easy to photograph. Like when the couple enter the reception, and someone will announce ‘please be upstanding for . . .’ It doesn’t always translate well into a still image. But at Tythe, it’s a great shot to get when they have the banqueting tables in the barn, the couple walk down the middle so it’s a clear shot. The building frames them beautifully.
Sally: We love shooting at Tythe, it’s right up there as one of our favourites. The staff are the absolute loveliest, such wonderful people to work with. I went so often when all the cancelled Covid weddings were being reschedule – I started to think, shall I buy property near here? Sometimes people feel they must book the prime summer months to guarantee a good day. But absolutely not, Tythe is geared up for all year round. The barn has a very cosy vibe to it in Autumn/Winter.
Binky: It’s such a great versatile space and you’re never far from everything so it keeps people close together which can be very hard to come by at some venues. Tythe has nailed that with the layout of the barns, the gardens and the farmhouse. I love using the backdrop of the big barn doors, but we will go wherever the light is best.
Sally: Timings are very easy to manage at Tythe because if you’re taking a small group for a shot, you don’t have to walk them away for miles, losing the energy from the party. You don’t have to go five minutes across a field to get a great shot. Around the farmhouse there are lots of lovely pockets of shade to utilise too.
Binky: Every wedding has a different dynamic but the emotional part is the connection between people and that’s not something we ever feel immune to.
Sally: Kids always make for great photos, even if they’re being naughty, that’s sometimes better.
Binky: Or when a dad sees his daughter and he’s happy to let go and sob or when the couple go off for their shots and it’s the first point in the day when they’ve had time away from everyone. Those lovely moments of touch and interaction. When people wholeheartedly hug, the shots just fall into the camera. When people are too prescriptive about how they want their shots to look, that’s when it loses its authenticity.
Sally: We always try to avoid anything looking too contrived. We are both daddy’s girls and so whenever we see that connection between a father and his daughter, we both break down. We can relate to it so much. But there are so many things we get involved in beyond taking the pictures. I’ve been a seamstress when the mother in law burnt a hole in the bridesmaid’s dress. I’ve been a cobbler, a make-up artist when the real one never showed up. Once, I had to go to M&S and buy the groom some trousers when he forgot his.
Binky: I’m often a taxi which is always really embarrassing when your car is filthy with discarded banana skins on the backseats and then you’re being asked to take the ushers to the church. I’ve taped women’s boobs into dresses, pushed vintage cars out of ditches when someone thought it would be a good idea to take the scenic route.
Sally: It’s because we’re willing to do it, we could just watch people burn but ultimately it will only make our lives harder if we let them struggle. They’re not going to be in a good mood, they’re going to be stressed. As good as we are, we can’t take pictures of people who are moody and make it look like they’re having the best day of their life. I have to do those things to get what I want.
Binky: Tensions run high in the build-up to a wedding and sometimes we will get a call before the wedding to tell us someone has had a fall out with an auntie. It’s great when people look to you to help solve their problems. But if you put great suppliers in place, you are limiting the likelihood of problems. A great venue will always have your back. Family dramas are often beyond our control, but we will always step up and help where we can. One thing to remember is not to follow photography trends too much. You’re making an investment in your pictures and you want them to have longevity. You don’t want to look at them in ten years and wonder why you chose to put a really trendy wash all over the images. It was great then but now it looks terrible. Another tip is to keep your make-up pretty close to what you would normally do, then add ten per cent to it. And get a professional to do it for you.
Sally: It’s not great when you see a bride thinking ‘Oh God, this is not me.’ They feel overwhelmed and if a really bridal look is not for you, then don’t do it.
Binky: It often happens with hair. A woman who always wears it down suddenly feels to be bridal she has to put it up. Banish thoughts of what a bride should look like. Go with you! Ask yourself, can I emotionally cope with whatever I’m planning and if the answer is no, don’t do it.
Sally: And if you don’t like people very much, don’t invite ninety of them to your wedding!
For more from Binky and Sally head over to the website.