About Neale and feesSensitivity breathes throughout his portfolio - Professional Photographer magazine

Voted 2014’s Wedding Photographer of the Year for London and the South East of England, Neale James is recognised as a prolific wedding shooter, capturing an average of eighty weddings per year across the UK. A former Radio 1 presenter, working in sound helped Neale develop and pioneer the Wedding Photofilm; films featuring stills and sound recordings from the day. On this page he answers many of the questions commonly asked by prospective brides and grooms and in the following short film, Neale introduces his style, pictures and thoughts about one of the most competitive genres of photography today.

Life can lead you down aisles you’re not quite expecting and in my case professionally that became quite literal. Prior to photographing these great family gatherings, I think I’d only attended three or four as a guest!

Can wedding photography to be vocational? It’s become so for me yes. I began photographing weddings over a decade ago by accident in many respects, though reasonably quickly it became the focus of my work and understanding. I am known to be one of the country’s more prolific wedding shooters, commissioned to photograph between sixty and eighty weddings each year.

But why hire a dedicated wedding photographer over a well meaning photo-literate friend or professional from other discipline? I guess it comes down to what value you attach to family legacy? I know weddings. I’ve shot over six hundred of them; I know what to look for and how people will emotionally connect with their day. Put another way, I can drive a car, but Lewis Hamilton can drive one skilfully fast. I can sear steak, but Marcus Wareing would know how to make it taste a hundred pounds. Professional wedding photographers know their subject and that’s the true difference between a photographer and friend with camera. Owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer, it simply makes you a (Canon) owner.

The professional fee understandably dictates most initial discussions. I prefer to work to the junctions of a day such as speeches, or dancing. Weddings by their nature are bespoke events, though as a guide, coverage collections start at £1,650 inclusive of VAT, which includes a perpetual licence to use and print images from a USB provided of retouched pictures.

The pictures in my galleries describe a favoured style; observant, narrative, natural. I’ll observe, follow, study and be your eyes for the day. I don’t promote clients step outside their comfort zones, that wouldn’t be natural. Leaping bridal parties and brides held aloft by the boys are not my bag; I prefer people to connect in a far more instinctive and genuine manner.

Predominantly my coverage is documentary in flavour, though I appreciate these are great family events so a select number of family group portraits will be planned prior to the wedding, meaning that on the day this element can run smoothly and subtly.

I like to travel. Variety being the spice of life, I’m more than happy to drive cross country to shoot weddings, or indeed jump aboard a jet. I’ve shot weddings for clients in Europe and destinations such as South Africa.

Asked about multiple photographers, I promote shooting solo as a distinct advantage. As such, I don’t automatically employ second photographers, unless the size or logistics of a wedding dictate otherwise. Couples commission me because they desire a discreet photography coverage. Discretion is tough to achieve when guests feel they’re being ‘papped’ from all sides.

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