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A long post but full of insights! Andy Fountain explains how he and Lewis developed their unique style of wedding photography, how almost every coverage includes an album, and the pay-off for both their clients and the studio.

There are two photographers at Andy Fountain Photography. How do you and Lewis work together to capture the big day?

Lewis is now my business partner, rather than simply an employee and second shooter. Mid-photography degree, we brought Lewis in to the business with the idea of eventually shooting two weddings a day, and making twice the profit. But while he was training and shadowing me at weddings, he developed a way of shooting that hit home with our couples and has now cemented our unique style of photography.

When Lewis used to shadow me at weddings, I would guide the couple, soft pose them and make sure that the wedding day flowed naturally, whilst Lewis shot around me with a 200mm lens taking totally natural shots. We ended up with a perfectly lit set of images that ranged from my wider shots, which set the scene and told the story of the day, to natural, closer shots that captured emotion and passion, and had a more artistic feel to them.

Most of our couples visit us and tell us how they don’t want their photographs taken, with them looking still and uncomfortable, but instead want their wedding photography to be purely natural. As we know, you can take the most natural shot in the world, and if the couple are stood in cross-lighting or shade, then the image quality will be poor. The unique way that Lewis and I work together enables us to make sure that every shot is perfectly set up and lit, whilst we give the couple the natural shots they want.

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When couples view both sets of images together they fall in love with them, often choosing Lewis’s closer, artistic shots over mine, even though they could have been taken at the exact same time. By combining our two styles together we found an angle to sell our photography that no other photographers seemed to be adopting.

It’s important for us to tell a complete story in an album, and not just have a selection of random images that don’t flow. Every layout tells its own part of the day, and, as you turn the pages, the story unfolds and excitement builds. We shoot the wedding to fill the album, so every shot we take we roughly know where it can go within the design. A flowing album design tells a complete story and our clients buy into this.

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Do all your wedding packages include albums? Have you always offered albums to your clients?

We have solely used Queensberry albums since I set up Andy Fountain Photography in 2006, and wouldn’t consider any other supplier. We have always offered album-only collections until this year, when we introduced a disk-only option for smaller, off-season weddings. Most couples get the hi-res disk of edited images with their collection anyway, as we include this on a complimentary basis when they add more images to their design after the wedding.

The way we see it is that if a couple is willing to spend even more on their album design, then we will offer the disk as a thank you. The hi-res disk only option is not a collection we actively sell as we believe that every couple should have an album, but with today's social media-mad clients, it seems that every couple wants all the images, so for us an album and disk collection is the preferred sale.

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Tell us about your “biggest album of the year”. What lead your clients to choose a 30 page Duo?

Jo and Anthony had booked us for our ’Vogue Collection’, the biggest we offer, with 22 layouts and 122 images. They had a great wedding at one of the area's prestigious venues, Chippenham Park' near Newmarket. It was a beautiful day that flowed perfectly.

The proof album design was pretty big and the couple ended up viewing over 45 layouts. Viewing this many layouts was always going to make the album design session a tricky one for the couple, and we suspected that many hard choices would have to be made to get down to the 22 layouts. When they got down to 30 layouts, we told them that we could run through the design again and take more out. To our surprise, they said that it was perfect and wished to leave it as it was. We worked out the extra cost, expecting them to change their minds and look at removing more, but they were happy to spend the extra to get the perfect Queensberry album.

Jo had fallen in love with the Duo at our initial wedding consultation so we didn’t have to upsell this at the album design session. Choosing the images for the wings and flips was an obvious choice and helped with the flow of the design.

Most of our couples understand what we are trying to achieve with an album design, and how we recommend that it flows, but most are prevented from having an album this size because of the extra cost, which we fully understand. The perfect album design was put ahead of cost in Jo and Anthony’s case.

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The venue has a lot of history. What can you tell us about the venue and the wedding itself?

Jo & Anthony's wedding was held entirely at Chippenham, classed as one of the top venues in the East of the UK. Chippenham Park is a Grade II listed house that is privately owned and run by the family that lives onsite. The house is surrounded by 300 acres of parkland and gardens with a river running through the estate. 

Throughout the day we used various rooms in the house for styled pre-ceremony photographs and then the expansive terrace for the drinks and reception shots. We used the gardens as much as possible for both the group and bride and groom photographs before the guests were ushered to the marque.

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How do you manage the “sticker shock” that’s part of selling luxury albums like the Queensberry Duo?

To be honest, the Duo albums sell itself. We simply have to show couples our examples. If the client has a larger budget and they want an album that is a little more exclusive then they jump at having a Duo. We seem to sell 2-3 each year on average, and each one normally comes with a wing and a flip as standard. [The others are generally Panorama Flushmounts with heavy pages.]

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Some photographers find it difficult leading their clients through the process of choosing their photos, proofing the design and signing off on the final album. Do you have any helpful tips to offer?

Our album design process has been fined-turned over the last few years, and has come on a long way from when we started in business in 2006. We find the design stage runs perfectly and every couple ends up with their dream album. It’s an emotional sale but the right one for the couple.

The first thing to remember is that a wedding is one of the biggest days of a couple's life. They have chosen a venue, the food, their guests, the wedding dress etc, all because they fell in love. As photographers we leave them with memories of this special day. It’s all they have left once the food is eaten, the wine is drunk and the dress has gotten a little dirty. We need to provide them with a dream album, which is one reason we only use Queensberry.

To make sure our albums tell the perfect story, we have to get our couples back in for their album design session within 3-4 weeks of the wedding if possible — straight after their honeymoon — as they are excited and the dream hasn’t ended just yet. We all fly back from holiday a little miserable, knowing we are going back to work, but then you know that you are going to see a beautiful album design, and help to create the perfect album.

Before the couple visit the studio for their design session, Lewis creates a huge design, utilising hundreds of images, far more than the couple have paid for. They view this design alone, on a large screen, with fresh coffee and cakes, whilst gentle music plays in the background. Once the initial viewing is complete, Lewis comes back in to the viewing area and with the help of the couple, re-edits the design to look perfect, using the couple's favourite images.

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We find that most couples are happy with Lewis’s original choice of images and just need to make the album smaller. They may have just viewed 40 layouts and 250 images, when they have only pre-paid for 10 layouts and 50 images. We find that most couples get down to 20 layouts and 125-150 images, and then realise that they have their dream album and simply cannot take any more out.

At this stage, Lewis discusses the extra costs and discounts that we can offer on the extra layouts and images, then leaves them to chat alone while he makes a coffee. Some couples leave the design as it is, as they know the extra cost is worth it. Some who are on a tighter budget go through the design again and see what they can take out without ruining the flow. Even couples who come to the design session and quite openly tell us they have no extra budget, find they fall in love with the photography and put more in.

If we leave the design session for a few months, then the emotion of the day will start to fade, and we know from past experience that couples will just take images out and not spend any more, which is why it is vital to get them in asap after the wedding.

We’ve met couples that have done this, several years after the wedding, and they all say they wish they had stayed with the original design that flowed and was full of beautiful images. 

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See more from Andy Fountain Photography.

Victoria 

This entry was posted in Albums by Victoria Hollings | Leave a Comment
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