Capture every moment: Sam and Steve Documentary Style Wedding Photography

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Dedicated to capturing every precious moment, Sam and Steve have a very particular style of photography.  This husband and wife team are all about natural, candid and unposed photos. They want to give their couples something extra special- the behind the scenes, the raw emotion and even moments they might have missed!

They do this by blending into your wedding to give an observational style of photography, also known as documentary wedding photography. The result is fun, unique and full of emotion, we adore it. We sat down with the lovely Steve to find out more about what they have to offer.

First of all, tell us a bit about yourselves and your business…

“We are Samantha (Sam) and Steve Vaughan and have been professional wedding photographers for 7 years. We are based in Bicester, North Oxfordshire. I have a science background and spent several years in scientific equipment sales. I’m very much the technical guru of the team! Sam however is artistic and has a flair for capturing special moments. We mostly only photograph weddings but Sam also offers ‘day in the life’ family photography. We always work together as a team of two and we shoot between 30 and 45 weddings every year, all over the UK.”

You are specialist documentary-style wedding photographers, can you tell us a bit more about this style of photography?

“Sure! Documentary photography, also known as reportage or candid photography, is all about telling the story of the wedding. We want to capture the real magic and portray the people and the emotions in a very honest and true way. We do this by intervening as little possible. We don’t boss guests around or tell couples what to do, we just capture the day as it happens. We believe that it is the couple’s day and the priority should be that they enjoy every moment of it. Our job is to simply capture the memories for them.

We kick off by shooting all the excitement and giddiness when the bride and groom are getting ready and stay to capture every beautiful and candid moment throughout the day, from the ceremony, to the speeches, to the first dance and the reception. We will always stay until at least an hour after the first dance, at the very minimum. I’d say about 95% of the photographs we take are totally un-staged or set up by us- our couples usually say their favourite photos are the ones they didn’t know we had taken! But of course, we will take a few group photos and some bride and groom portraits, as everyone likes to have these. We try to get that part done as quickly and efficiently as we can though, so everyone can go back to having a great time!”

What is your process when working with a couple?

“We believe it’s important for a bride and groom to be comfortable with their photographers, so we always try and meet the couples who are serious about booking us. After all, your photographer – Sam in our case – will be with the bride as she gets dressed! It’s important we feel that the bride and groom click with us.

About 50% of our bookings come from wedding fairs and we do of course get a chance to meet the couple then. For the website, directory or phone enquiries, we follow these up with an email describing how we work and with examples of real weddings we have photographed. We suggest meeting at a convenient location, usually a pub, where we can show our sample albums and answer any questions. If couples want to book us, we then ask for a £250 booking fee, which comes off the final balance. If we don’t hear back from the couple, we don’t hassle them, but we free the date up for other couples 7 days after our meeting.”

Wedding guests

“Although we are documentary wedding photographers, we do offer couples an engagement or pre-wedding shoot, at no extra cost. About 50% of our couples take us up on this. We see this as a chance to get to know each other better and also to catch up regarding the plans for the big day. It takes about an hour, is not heavily posed and normally takes place at a local park, country estate, or something similar.

About a week before the wedding, we schedule a Skype or FaceTime call to run through the final details. For example, where the bride and groom are getting ready, in case we need to take two cars.”

“On the day, Sam will go to the bridal prep location, whilst I meet up with the guys. We rendezvous at the ceremony location and then work independently throughout the day. We always dress as a guest would and use small mirror-less cameras made by Fuji. We are often mistaken for guests. We stop photographing during the wedding breakfast, when we eat ourselves and back up images as needed. We then resume our documentary photography all the way until at least one hour after the first dance. But- we often stay longer, as the partying is my favourite part of the day! We always check with the bride and groom before leaving, as well as thanking parents, wedding planners, etc.”

Prices start from?

“We dislike the term package as we believe every wedding is different and the bride and groom should have what they want, not what we want to give them! However, our base price is £1295. This is for all day coverage by both of us, with around 450 images provided in both high res and social media format, within 4 to 6 weeks- depending on the time of year. We provide the images via a secure password protected Shootproof hosting site and high quality USB key in a three-fold picture frame folio.

We do strongly recommend couples have an album. In years to come they will not always know where their USB key is, but they will know where the album is! Most of our couples have an album and we only supply true fold flat fine art wedding album by professional album manufacturers such as Sim Imaging and Folio Albums. Prices start from £350. We can also offer a large range of printed images on canvas, mounted frame, metal, etc.”

What’s your favourite part of the job?

“We love to hear about couples wedding plans and never forget that, whilst it may be our 40th wedding of the year, for the couple its the most important day of their lives so far. We also love to see the reaction of the bride and groom when they open their fine art album for the first time! On the day Sam’s favourite part is bridal preparations, whilst I love to get amongst the party and dancing – although I can’t dance!”

Bride and Groom first dance

What would be your top tip to brides and grooms planning their big day?

“As a general point, remember it is your day and you should have the day you want, not what suppliers and relatives think you should! On the day, try and enjoy it. Spend quality time together, the time will fly past!
From a photography point of view, we would give the following tips:
Firstly, decide on the style you want, not just if they fit the budget. We are documentary, but there also also great photographers who work in a more traditional way, or fine art, contemporary and others styles. Do your research and shortlist 5 photographers who offer the style you want.
Secondly, always ask to see the photographer’s work from a real wedding. Some will show you images from a staged photo shoot, using models, where they have no time pressures and can control the location and lighting. Most real weddings are not like that!
Also, beware of special offers, discounts and enticing deals. If the deal is seemingly too good to be true, it probably is!
Finally, try and resist the temptation to ask a friend or relative with ‘a nice camera’ to take your wedding photos. Although you may save money, chances are they will not enjoy the day, and you will be disappointed in the results. Wedding photography is a specialist job; we have photographed over 200 weddings and we still learn new things at every wedding.”
Bride getting ready

Find out more about Sam and Steve or get in touch, here!

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