Guest Blog: Behind The Scenes With Ed Clayton

Specialising in high- end wedding photography and known as one of the world’s top wedding photographers today Ed Clayton has took the time to exclusively tell The Wedding Vine about what a wedding photographer does.

So many people have asked me the following question it's unreal. Now I have an answer written down, I thought I should share it with you...

What do you, as a wedding photographer, actually do?

You’ll be so busy enjoying your wedding day that you’ll hardly notice me. I rock up and take a few pictures, right? Let me tell you, it isn't that easy!

In all, I spend a whole week working on each wedding and the day itself takes a lot of effort to get right. Here’s how it all usually pans out…

Getting ready

I kick things off with a coffee and a read through my trusty checklist. There’s a whole ream of stuff that I daren’t leave to memory: polish shoes, check kit, print out shot list… the list goes on.

I pack my secret weapons.

Scissors are always handy and buttonhole pins have literally hundreds of uses. I’ve used them to push blooms back into bouquets and hold up hems! I’m ready for anything, including inserting the bride’s contact lenses because her false nails are too long to do it herself (yes, really!)

Taking account of what I fondly call the ‘fudge factor’, I leave early.

The bridal preparations

I love this part of the day. It’s a supercharged couple of hours and my first job is to make everyone feel comfortable before I start shooting. It helps when friendships are forged early on in the day. I once caught the mother of the bride as she went flying off a footstool whilst hanging the dress – that worked a treat, especially as I managed to catch the dress too!

After the introductions, I take some detail shots and focus on capturing the warmth and emotion of the morning.

The ceremony

I leave 20 minutes before the bride to get some shots of the groom and talk to the vicar or registrar. This is vital: many have had bad experiences and want to restrict which shots I take. But by explaining what I’d like to do, and how I’ll do it without any fuss, I put them at ease. This means I have more freedom to take the shots I want.

Most ceremonies have a similar structure, but I still have to think on my feet. The vicar or registrar can do things in the wrong order, so I’m constantly trying to anticipate what’s next. Sometimes though, mistakes make the best photos: Nothing raises emotions more than when the best man drops the rings – especially when they land right next to a grate over a 2-foot drop!


Everyone wants to kiss and congratulate the couple immediately after the marriage, so I step back and click away. The confetti shot is the one point at which I might give some direction to the wedding party. I’ll ask the couple to walk down the church footpath to their car and encourage everyone to throw their confetti together as they pass.

Jumping into my car, I put my driving skills to good use and give the happy couple a cheery toot of the car horn and a wave as I zip past them, en-route to the reception.

The reception
Upon arrival, I introduce myself to the venue’s staff and have a chat with them about what’s happening over the next few hours. I check the schedule for the meals and speeches and let the staff know how long it will be before the guests arrive. A lot happens behind the scenes, and it’s my job to help it all go smoothly.

I spend some time capturing the guests’ arrival and then if the couple has requested them, we spend 20 minutes doing group shots while bubbles and canapés are circulating. I ask an usher to help organise everyone into place. If the couple wants some posed portraits, I don’t keep them away from the wedding for more than 15 minutes.

No one looks their best with a mouth full of food, so during the wedding breakfast I take the opportunity to relax and have a bit of a rest.

Wrapping up
Heading back in shortly before the speeches, I continue snapping until a few songs after the first dance. I’ll drive home and before allowing myself to crawl into bed, download the images and back them up. I also create a second back-up copy straight away – you can never be too careful! It’s been tough but – cheesy as it sounds – a ‘day at the office’ I’ll never stop loving.

I hope that helps you understand more about what I get up to :-)

Ed Clayton
Wedding Photojournalist

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