Back in August we asked for photographers who wanted to take part in our life of a wedding photographer series, and the start of a new year and the start of this new series. Today we find out a bit more about Cornwall based wedding photographer, Christian Michael Photography and what a typical week consists of.
It’s hard to describe a typical day week in our lives, as every week is different, we strive to deliver something unique to each of our clients. We shoot around 65-80 weddings a year, and have done for the past three years, although this seems a huge amount considering the amount of portrait and commercial jobs we do, we are blessed to both be able to commit to the business as a full time career option for both of us.
This is taken from the week of 6th December – 13th December 2014
Saturday 6th December 2014
05:30: Time to wake up, ensure everything is ready for today’s wedding in Polhawn Fort – a stunning venue located on the coast in Cornwall, we are fortunate enough to shoot at this venue often, it’s somewhere we know and love and always strive to do something a bit different at. Christian is shooting todays wedding solo, so it’s time for a double check all the equipment, make sure everything is as it should be and set off out the door at 8:30am.
Today’s wedding is a one photographer job, meaning Sam will be working around the children in the office. Weekends are peak enquiry and booking time for us, so it’s always handy to have somebody in there as much as possible. It’s a great time to catch up on social media too as many people are off work, we usually do sponsored post on Facebook to ensure more traffic to the page.
10:00: Arrive at the venue, say a quick hello to the venue staff and other supplies, being fortunate enough to shoot as much as we do always feels like catching up with old friends. From here on in, the day is captured as it happens, with little direction from Christian, the service runs wonderfully and we are blessed with some rare December sunshine.
After the service, we always like to make sure the couple have a chance to relax and mingle with their guests, when they look relaxed and are soaking up the emotions of becoming husband and wife, we use this time to capture some more romantic images of the two of them. As mentioned before Polhawn Fort is right on the coast, so on this occasion we take a stroll to the private cove and make the most of the dwindling light.
Chris stays with the couple now through out the day, capturing just a few formal photos and keeping the style very relaxed and light, the day is blessed with a beautiful sunset and it would be a shame not to make the most of it.
22:30: It’s time to leave the newly weds, after documenting the day from start to finish, our work here is done and it’s time to make the two hour journey home.
Sunday 7th December
05:30am: Wake up, another large cup of coffee and start to download the images from yesterdays wedding. Once downloaded, the images are then backed up onto another drive, then another and then stored in the “cloud”. You can never be too paranoid when it comes to somebodies wedding photographs!
09:00am: We try and keep Sunday to ourselves, as a young family it’s important we have time with the children, especially this time of year, so we take a trip into St Ives to visit Father Christmas and donate a portrait voucher to their raffle which is raising money for a very important charity. Imogen (5) thinks it’s super cool that Mummy & Daddy know Father Christmas and writes about this in her homework book to tell all her friends at school tomorrow!
19:00: All three children are in bed and asleep – satisfied with their visit to see Father Christmas! It’s time for us to go into the office and set a work plan for the week ahead. Upon arrival we have a rather frantic phone call from a gentleman whose niece is to be married the following day but their photographer has let them down at the last minute, we phone him back and arrange for Christian to shoot this for them.
Monday 8th December:
05:30: We wake up, have a very large coffee, take the dog for a walk and start to get our three children up and ready. Imogen is taken to school – a 30 minute drive away, but very much worth it for such a brilliant school. After the school run Chris drives straight up to Trevenna for today’s last minute wedding.
07:30: Sam arrives in the office to work on any emails that came in through the night – we have a lot of international clients from Japan, New Zealand and America whom work on very different time frames, this time is crucial as often we are able to catch these clients for a chat before they head off to bed.
09:00: Christian is enroute to Trevenna, and takes this important Monday morning drive time to liase with a commercial client whilst in the car – thank goodness cars have bluetooth! Another commercial job successfully booked for January – hoorah!
10:30: Arrival time for Christian, although each wedding follows the same pattern in our way of style, each and every couple is individual and we are there to tell that unique story. Today is our first official same sex wedding – we’ve shot many civil partnerships, but this is our first wedding.
Both brides looked stunning and the day flowed in a very traditional way. Trevenna is a very unique venue made up of various barns and buildings, it had been eloquently decorated and looked exquisite. We were able to capture some beautiful pictures of the Brides together.
22:30: Work here is done, and again, time to start the drive back home.
Tuesday 9th December:
05:30: Another early morning wake up and a full days in the office editing. Shooting as many weddings as we do means early starts and late nights – and lots of coffee!!
09:00: Imogen is at school today and our 2 year old Elliott has a morning at nursery, leaving just the 18 month old Amelie at home. She as always has a long nap in the morning so gives us time to catch up with one another and start on the days work.
09:30: Download the cards from yesterdays wedding, following the same procedure as Sunday. Select out one or two images to show both Saturday & Monday’s couples a one shot preview. We require around 90 hours to complete a wedding from start to finish – as well as being paranoid about our image security, we are also perfectionists when it comes to the editing procedure.
11:00: Receive a phone call from Imogen’s school who ask us to document their Christmas performances, the first one is at 18:00 this evening, Sam agrees. We were hired in October to do their school photos, so it’s lovely to see the children again. For now, it’s time to start preparations for this afternoons newborn shoot.
13:00: 4 day old baby Charlie arrives in the studio, he is a little unsettled, but we don’t apply time frames to our newborn and children photography, we truly understand children and know they don’t always want to play ball. Like our wedding photography, we like to keep our portrait and newborn photography very natural and relaxed, we don’t do silly poses, we capture them as newborns, looking cute, squishy and occasionally a little bit grumpy.
15:00: Newborn photo session complete it’s onto collect Imogen from school and take her to her gymnastics
club – where she is awarded with new badge and certificate!
17:30 Sam arrives at school and discuss with Headteacher what he is looking for from tonights photography, we agree an action plan and Sam starts work. Imogen is also a little budding photographer and it is agreed she is to take some photographs too. Sam uses two Canon 5d mk 3’s with an array of L series lenses, and Imogen uses her Canon EOS M to capture the moments.
20:00 Children all asleep, time for both of us to catch up on the day. Chris has completed a wedding and is currently in the process up uploading it to our proofing site, we both tackle the inbox and book a few last minute portrait sessions for Christmas. We finalise our press release and send this out to local news reporters
regarding our recent award of “Wedding Photographer of the Year” and keep our fingers crossed that it is published.
We continue work until 01:00, importing the next wedding to be edited starting the selection process of the images we think really tell the story of that day.
Wednesday 10th December 2014
05:30 Another early start and you’ve guessed it – another large mug of coffee! This is followed by the usual early morning madness you would expect in a house with 3 children, 4 cats and a puppy dog!
09:00: Prepare for this mornings client meeting, make sure the studio is tidy. We moved into a house with far too many rooms last Summer so we can run our business from home. It works brilliantly around the children, but it does mean the children tend to leave their “stamp” on the studio. We set up the wedding albums and stream some of 2014’s best bits through apple TV.
10:30: Meet with clients – Sam’s Mum arrives to take the younger two out to shop for Christmas Cake ingredients, nobody wants two toddlers gate crashing their meeting!
The clients already know our work well, they know how much we cost, they recognise our niche and we’re fairly confident in the booking, we have a very high booking rate upon meeting our clients – which is fantastic. We find out about them, what makes them them, our strength here is in reading people and listening, over the course of the hour we’ve found out their bespoke story, for us, this is all that’s important, as that’s the story we are looking to share in 16 months time. We show them ways to solve problems that frequently happen on wedding days, we give them time to look through the albums and slide shows at their own leisure, with no pressure. We are both professional and well stated photographers – we are not sales people.
It’s rare to meet with clients, as mentioned before the majority of our clients are based hundreds of miles away, Skype and Facetime is a wonderful alternative to the traditional face to face meeting and out of all the weddings we’ve shot in 2014 we had met with just 6 of them.
12:00 It’s time for Imogen’s turn in the nativity play, she is looking beautiful on stage as an angel, however half way through we see her looking grumpy and she expresses she would rather be taking the photos. Needless to say, the school agree and she retires as her role as angel number 6.
15:00: Arrive back home and time to settle down on the edit, we use two programmes to ensure we get the very best of our edit. All images are imported into Aperture and selected into the final selection, we apply a batch edit on all the images to ensure they “pop” a little more and then get back to it and edit each and every photo individually – twice! Once in colour and then again in black and white. We do this because we want our clients to have the best, your wedding photos are your one lasting memory of a very special day. We then use Photoshop to ensure that the images have that extra WOW factor. We’ve noticed a lot of photographers in our area place a low contrast and matte effect edit over the images, this is something we steer away from as we feel it’s going to date incredibly quick. Our clients spend hours agonising over colour schemes and details and we want their photos to reflect this, we feel it would be disrespectful of us to change the colours of what they so carefully chose.
We stay in the office until 01:30 and head off to bed, ready for another busy day tomorrow.
Thursday 11th December
05:30 Usual morning madness, usual amount of coffee and we’re ready! Drop Imogen and Elliott to school/ nursey and get on with the day.
09:00 Christian has a day in the office working on the edit, he arranges a time to speak with Saturday’s bride and finalise timings and important details, the day sounds wonderful and is at another glorious Cornish venue.
11:00 Sam leaves the office to complete a commercial shoot for a local restaurant, and gets to sample some glorious food! The images will be used in the restaurants new marketing campaign and it’s a pleasure to be involved in.15:00 Sam arrives back in the office, and downloads cards from todays commercial shoot. Picks up some new memory cards and heads to the local school to take some photos of the next performance.
20:30 Time to correspond with one another about the day. All day Chris has been working hard on the edit, ensuring everything is perfect. It’s time now to make sure we’ve gotten back to all our clients on emails, confirming bookings, contracts, scheduling, invoices and receipts. This always takes more time than we expect and we leave the office at 01:00.
Friday 12th December
05:30 We won’t bore you with the usual morning madness, but it does involve another cup of coffee – or two.
09:30 An engagement session is booked in for this morning on the cliffs near where we live – we are so fortunate to be surrounded by dramatic cliff tops, golden sand beaches, and luxurious woodland, it always makes our “work” fun and different. Today’s session was wonderful and they decide to book us for their wedding in 2016! We chill after the session with another coffee and some homemade cake.
12:00 The rest of the day consists of Christian editing and Sam answering emails, writing blogs, keeping active on our social media and doing features for various blogs and magazines. We receive some wonderful feedback from a the wedding that was completed on Monday.
The camera batteries are charged and ready for tomorrow’s wedding at Pentillie Castle, suit pressed and shirt ironed.
19:00 We take Friday evenings off (well, we try too). We work together, live together, parent together and more importantly we are married together. The business is like our 4th child and every so often it’s important we take the time out and recognise what an awesome marriage we have, without it we wouldn’t have the business we have, and for that we are truly thankful.