How to know when you’re hiring an amateur photographer

When budget restraints start to bite for your wedding, hiring an “emerging” or student photographer seem very appealing. However, when you add up the costs of everything that you’re spending money on your wedding day, it mightn’t be the best option to hire an amateur, especially when you consider that the one thing that truly lasts from your special day is the photography.
With lots of amateur and hobbyist photographers now having websites and Facebook pages for their work it’s getting increasing hard to know if you are hiring a pro or someone who just does a few weddings on the weekend.
  1. No ABN – without an ABN, you really shouldn’t be doing business and if they don’t hold an ABN then it’s likely your photographer won’t hold the requisite liability insurance either. Make sure your contract, which any professional photographer will insist you sign, includes the ABN and company/partnership/sole trader details.
  2. Certified Professional Photographer status – Both PPAQ (Professional Photographer’s Association of Queensland) and AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) recognise the elite of the profession with the Certified Professional Photographer status. Both associations also have amateur categories too, so just make sure you ask to see your chosen photographer’s certificate and make sure they aren’t misrepresenting their true status.
  3. Hard to contact during work hours – anyone in business should be available during reasonable business hours and should respond to enquiries within a legitimate, business-like timeframe. Anyone who takes 3 days to respond to an email or phone call is likely a weekend-warrior who works another job during the week. So that means they can’t earn enough from photography and can’t necessarily devote all their time to the craft. Is that really the person you want shooting your wedding? And what happens after the day if they get busy at their other job – will your images be delivered on time?
  4. Limited samples – if your photographer can’t show you examples from at least 20-30 weddings then you should really consider if they have the requisite experience. And make sure that the samples are REAL weddings, not styled shoots! Shooting models in controlled environments is very different to shooting a live, real-time wedding!
  5. Novelty images, heavy use of filters and having just one “style” of photography – You will want a huge range of imagery from your day – some delightful candids, some pieces of art, some natural, some posed and lots of fun and creativity. Be very careful of the photographer who tells you what style of photography they shoot. A properly trained photographer can, and will, shoot whatever style his client wants, whereas an amateur will tell the client what style he, or she, can shoot! Your day will be fluid – it will evolve, ebb and flow and you need a professional who can adapt to every changing circumstance. Lots of “fauxtographers” talk about “natural light photography”, but only because most don’t know how to use flash and fixed lighting to generate their own lighting conditions. Likewise the over use of filters or novelty shots can indicate lack of skill or possibly generic processing by an overseas photoshop factory – do you want your precious memories on an Indian condom package? And one shot with motion blur is artistic, but lots of images with blur just means the person with the camera really doesn’t know what they are doing!


Photo credit: Masterpieces Photography + Video

Real Life Wedding: Sarah and Peter

PeterSarah035-35A chance meeting at the dog park led to love for Sarah & Peter who married recently in a surprise wedding at Eaton’s Hill Hotel.
This fun loving couple soon realised they had much more in common than just a love of Staffy x Ridgeback dogs and, in a romantic moment in a spa in the Whitsundays, Peter took his chance and popped the question to a delighted Sarah.
Of course, that meant it was time to plan the perfect wedding day, however, Sarah quickly realised that the big dream wedding wasn’t going to be her thing and the couple decided to think about alternative options. As Sarah rightly says “it’s all about you and your fiancé making a promise to each other for life”. The couple made the bold decision to hold a surprise wedding at what they had planned to be their engagement party with just a handful of their closest family and friends and then hold a big party for everyone else a little down the track.
As you will see from the gorgeous photos from the talented team at Masterpieces Photography + Video, the day turned out to be a massive success, with everyone having an absolutely wonderful time at Eaton’s Hill Hotel. Whilst a few people were in on the surprise, Sarah and Peter did a great job in keeping the majority of guests guessing until the very last minute. Sarah even jokes “Pete and I caught an Uber to the hotel and told the driver we were getting married in an hour but even he didn’t believe us!”.
The couple plan to honeymoon at Caloundra in early spring and are holding a big party to celebrate their nuptials at the same time. Sarah’s advice for other brides-to-be is quite simple “get married exactly how you and your partner want to and don’t listen to anyone else”. Sensible words we think!

Marriage means to us

Spending the rest of your life running amuck with your best friend.


Wedding suppliers

Wedding Location: Eaton’s Hill Hotel Brisbane
Bridal Gown: Alfred Angelo
Bridal Shoes: Guess
Bridal Makeup & Hair: Bek Robinson Makeup and Hair
Stationery: Kristen Dangerfield
Flowers: One Stop Wedding Shop
Celebrant: Louise Thompson

The wrap party

GoE_Wraps_Blog002-3Last Saturday our friends at Gowns of Elegance hosted an eagerly anticipated high-tea function to celebrate the launch of a new range of fabrics and styles of wrap dresses from designer Erika Coyle, who was on hand to demonstrate some innovative ways to wear these versatile outfits. As usual, Linda, Bella and their team had created a stunning atmosphere with their Chermside boutique stylishly decorated for the occasion by Annastasia from Grande Moments Weddings & Designs. The floral decorations were particularly beautiful, with fresh roses being a distinct theme. We loved the unique “rose ceiling” feature with individual stems suspended in glass tubes. Guests arrived to find the store looking exquisite, with gift bags waiting on white americana chairs and a celebratory glass of champagne on offer, together with a smorgasbord of sweet and savoury treats for attendees to enjoy.

Whilst the event was aimed at Bridesmaids, Erika’s new range includes some stunning white lace and tulle gowns that would be equally suitable for brides, especially those planning a destination or casual beach wedding. The new “uber-bling” sequin fabric range of gown was especially popular with the bridesmaids in attendance who could clearly envisage being able to wear the gowns to formal events as well as to a wedding. Wrap dresses, being so versatile, are extremely popular right now, and are available from a number of sources, but not all are created equal. Erika’s dresses have a wonderful quality and feel. The gowns can be made in different weight fabrics and are made locally in South East Queensland.

Dave from Masterpieces Photography + Video was lucky enough to be invited to capture the event and you can see some of the highlights below. If you weren’t able to get to the high-tea on Saturday then you should give the team at Gowns of Elegance a call and make a time to visit their showroom and take a look at their incredible range of both bridal and bridesmaid dresses.

Animals at Weddings – good idea or not?

Ruth&Yos137No, we’re not talking about pugs getting married – that just seems a little  pretentious – seriously cute, but over the top. No, we’re talking about your pets playing a part in the day, or perhaps involvement of an animal that is means something to you.

A lot may depend on how important your furbabies are to you, not to mention the policy of your chosen venue, but animal involvement in Weddings is certainly a growing trend. A few years ago butterfly releases were all the rage and whilst they could be spectacular, there were environmental and animal welfare concerns voiced at the time and they don’t seem as popular now. Next came dove releases which were even more dramatic, but they have been eclipsed in recent times by ring-bearing owls and raptors swooping down the aisle. Is it growing up with Harry Potter that has given us the magical association of owls with the delivery of important and life-changing gifts? Has Game of Thrones and similar period drama re-ignited the ancient art of falconry, or is it just canny marketing by these niche interest groups? We asked Dave Wall from Masterpieces Photography + Video what involvement he has seen with animals over the years.

‘Animals at weddings certainly isn’t a new thing – over the years I’ve photographed butterfly and dove releases, seen a very cute bulldog deliver the rings, had a bride ride a horse during the photo session and even photographed a couple with their potty calves. One bride even wanted to be photographed with her prize-winning bulls, but (wisely), decided against it on the day. I love it when the couple includes something completely unique in their day and I relish the challenge of incorporating something out of the ordinary into the day.’

‘One great way to include your pets, without them feeling uncomfortable, is to have them at the photography session. There are a lot less people, and it is a much more relaxed environment to bring of the best in them.’

The team recently saw (and bravely patted, I may add), a falcon at the Ideal Bride expo at the Mercure Carrara over the weekend and was lucky enough to be invited to Maleny Manor earlier in the year where they saw owls delivering rings and make no mistake, it is a truly spectacular sight. Birds, especially large ones, can be unsettling (or indeed frightening), for some people, so perhaps make sure no-one has a phobia before planning to include one in your day. Likewise we think it’s wonderful if your pets are that important to you that they are involved, however, it’s not something that should be taken on lightly and make sure they are going to be comfortable and have someone designated to look after them once their part is performed.

Trash The Dress

It’s not everyday that the stars align and on a beautiful day, at a stunning location, and with a wonderful young couple, you get the opportunity to capture a full-immersion trash-the-dress shoot. It’s rare to find a willing couple eager to get totally saturated and submerge the entire wedding gown, but when it happens, the results can be magical and so, on those very few days, we thank our lucky stars and just go for it.
Here are just a few of the gorgeous images shot by Dave Wall at Masterpieces Photography + Video of the most beautiful couple we know – Laura and Kane.

Photo Shoot Excitement

CurrumbinShoot1We’re all on a high after our weekend photo shoots around Currumbin. The perfect beaches with stunning white dunes provided the beach side theme we were intending. The week before had seen us nervously biting our nails as we watched the ever changeable weather forecast – just like a couple planning an outdoor wedding have to endure. Luckily the weather Gods played ball and the sun shone and the winds were calm!

The team that collaborated on this shoot were amazing. With exquisite gowns from Elizabeth deVarga and When Freddie Met Lilly this shoot was always going to be exceptional. Our wonderful creative team of Hair Stylist, Aleesha Darke, and Makeup Artist, Suzi Dent, worked so harmoniously, and followed the brief brilliantly.

Our outstanding photographer for the day was Dave from Masterpieces Photography and Video who worked with his usual creativity, efficiency and professionalism to get the absolute best from our gorgeous models from Katz Model Management.

To top it all off we had a charming seaside ceremony and reception set up by the talented Kasey from Fashionable Society Events. The coastal theme was complemented by the fresh watercolour styled stationery from LaPapeterie.

Everything just fell into place, and all the preparations we made came together perfectly on the day. The results speak for themselves and I’m sure you will be as delighted as we are when our new edition hits your inboxes very soon.

Here are some behind the scenes shots just to peak your interest.

Choosing your Photographer

This is a big task, as we all know it is the memories that will last forever from your special day.  We asked Dave Wall from Masterpieces Photography + Video to give our brides a little guidance in this area.  Here are his four helpful tips.


You have to have a connection with your photographer, you have to trust your photographer and have looked at their past work. You should have the confidence that your chosen photographer will deliver your dream wedding album and that there is a consistency in their work. Why? Well, it’s this simple, if you get the right photographer, every time you look through your wedding images, you know you made absolutely the right decision.

You need to know how your photographer will approach your day. Will they give time to you before the day in order to talk through timings and get to know you better as individuals? Do they offer an E-Shoot so that they can get to know you and you get to know how they work. A professional photographer will never show you an image they are not 100% happy with and an e-shoot will prove that to you.

Choosing the right wedding photographer is like choosing your dress, deep down you just know when it feels right. If you don’t feel a real connection and sense of trust from your photographer then perhaps you should look elsewhere. Your photographer’s personality is critical in your decision making, as you will want to spend the many hours of your big day with someone who you like, not just tolerate.

Professionals don’t take chances!

Your photographer should impress you both personally and by showing their work. You should be able to feel your photographers’ passion for wedding photography and you should walk away from your meetings feeling genuinely excited about your wedding day photography. You should feel an immediate connection to your photographer and a confidence in their abilities, both technically and creatively. You will know that your professional photographer will deliver what you expect, based on their track record and by the way they set out how the day’s photography will go. Ultimately, if your photographer listens to you and what you imagined for your wedding day and can incorporate your wishes into their style then you are on to a winner. Remember, your wedding day will be one of the happiest you will ever experience and by choosing the right photographer you know you will be very proud to show off your wedding album images-as you will look fantastic!

Check with your photographer about how they are backed up for your wedding. By this I mean number of cameras and lenses, flashguns etc. Back up equipment is an insurance policy in the event of technical failure and is a critical issue for wedding photographers. A real professional will never go out with less than two of absolutely everything and often more and will have the experience to adapt and overcome any problems that may arise.

MasterpiecesPV3It’s your day and a professional photographer knows this. 

Your chosen photographer is there to take photographs of your special day and they should always remember that this is your wedding not theirs. Your photographer is there to produce high quality photographs, but also to make sure each couple get through the day with minimal fuss and stress. They should make sure that moments are captured unobtrusively and naturally. Your photographer will give you subtle direction to ensure they capture those shots that you have dreamed about. A professional photographer will understand the style and flow of your wedding and work closely with you to capture it with creativity, imagination and by working with you and your guests rather than dictating to them.

Can you afford not to?

Let’s look at it another way – you have spent money on an amazing wedding cake, the best venue, beautiful flowers, seat covers, table gifts and gorgeous cars – how will you remember all that when the day is done. Memories fade and Weddings tend to pass in a blur.  What needs to be considered is whether you should spend a little less on things such as these and budget adequately for professional photographs. It is you and you alone who can determine what is most important.  Most of the spend on a wedding will be immediate in terms of impact, but your wedding photographs will have impact for much much longer, especially if you have a professional take your treasured images and they make you and your wedding look amazing.

Going Places

ups and downs but always great design

The beautiful backdrop of The Pullman Hotel Brisbane rises to the occasion in this going places shoot. When you combine the romantic elegance of this iconic location with a range of stunning gowns and fabulous hair and make up by the oh so talented, Shelley Veitch, you have the recipe for a perfect fashion shoot.  Centrally located the Pullman is the perfect base for your photography session with easy access to many of Brisbane’s best vistas, although why you’d want to leave we wouldn’t know. Stay and enjoy the hospitality and a glass or two of bubbles and make use of the unique architecture and design elements for your backdrop.

The perfect gowns designed by Joanne Hasson at JK Couture Designs are as alluring as they are well made. See here not only her superb bridal gowns, but also a glimpse of the unlimited choices with bridesmaids and formal gowns.

Add the brilliance of George Wu’s gowns, and I’m in heaven.  These stunning creations are out of this world. The perfection of his gowns is breathtaking. Just ask anyone who’s worn one.

To top off this exquisite group we add gowns by When Freddie Met Lilly, who captures the modern, fresh bride, who is confident, and just a little sexy.

Throw in a little sparkle, or a least some pearls, to bring it all together with classic bridal jewellery by LaPapeterie, and you have it all. The french know understated class, and the Parisian inspired LaPapeterie has it.

This shoot was all up, with no downs, other than the elevator. The roof top pool deck of The Pullman was a particular highlight. A real bird’s eye view on Brisbane.

Dave Wall from Masterpieces Photography + Video performed his magic to capture these simply gorgeous images at The Pullman.  His eye for a stunning image, with the use of light and space makes Masterpieces an essential to creating your lifelong wedding memories.

Thanks also go to our two sublime models for the day – Laura and Hayley.
Always such a pleasure to work with.

Issue Three Out Now

Time has really flown since our last edition, but as you will see from some of the fabulous articles in this edition, we’ve been incredibly busy in some of the fashion capitals of the world. We have promised to keep The Wedding Alley different and we hope you love seeing some unique Australian designs showcased in some of the most iconic locations in Europe.

In this edition we are focussing on Paris, the city of love, with some styled shoots featuring a range of jewellery, invitations and stunning accoutrements from the Brisbane based, and very aptly named, La Papeterie. Paris is one of my very favourite places and provides such fabulous inspiration for any romantic at heart. Of course it’s also one of the world’s best shopping locations too.

We also have a feature on makeup trends for 2014, with stunning examples created by some of Brisbane’s exceptionally talented artists and captured in and around the studio by Masterpieces Photography. This was such a fun shoot to direct and I hope it gives you the inspiration to step outside your comfort zone and consider a new look for your wedding or next event.

In this issue we have added an out and about section, with imagery of events we have been invited to here and abroad. London Fashion Weekend was an obvious highlight – I know, it’s a hard job sometimes – but there have also been some great events in Brisbane too over the past few weeks. If you have an event you would like us to attend, or publicise via the magazine, website or social media, please email with details and we will be pleased to help.

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is almost here and it is certainly shaping up as a big year for weddings. To all our wonderful subscribers, fans, clients and contributors we would like to thank you for your support in 2013 and wish you all the best for the festive season. We hope you enjoy a wonderfully restful and relaxing holiday break and wish you success and happiness in 2014. We will be back with a new edition early in the New Year with even more exciting editorial photo shoots and inspiration.

The Wedding Alley Issue 3


Gatsby Inspired

1920s A bygone era of class and sophistication

Hair and Make up by Shelley Veitch
Photography by Masterpieces Photography + Video
at KG Bar, The Pullman Hotel, Brisbane

Elizabeth de Varga Gown

Gown by Elizabeth de Varga Exclusive Fashions
Champagne from Stewarts Wine Co
Model – Hayley

See more from this shoot in Issue two of The Wedding Alley