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The Friday Fight-Out: Choosing Your Photographer – Venue Freshman Vs Venue Veteran

In our jobs as a wedding photographer and a wedding videographer one of the questions we’re most commonly asked when couples are deciding whether or not we’re the right people for them is “have you worked at the venue before?” For some people this is a make or break question in making their decision, but should this be the case? Is it better to have a photographer who already knows the venue or is there something to be said for choosing someone who hasn’t shot their before? It’s time to see if we can get to the bottom of that very question as we step into the ring for the Friday Fight-Out!

Note: We haven’t said it for a while so it’s probably worth reminding you that the arguments we present are simply the strongest arguments we can come up with for the side we’ve been allocated to fight and may not represent our own personal views… in fact we even occasionally agree… I know, shocking right!


In the Red Corner, fighting the cause of the venue veteran, in over 8 years as a wedding photographer she’s certainly shot the odd venue more than once yet amazingly they keep letting her come back! It’s Dom “The Tog Bride.

In the Blue Corner, suggesting that it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve shot there before, although he probably just wants to find more venues with a decent tea stop en route, it’s Matt “The Gormless Groom”.

Venue Freshman Vs Venue Veteran
Lynn & Richard-410

Photo By York Place Studios

Dom: If you’ve photographed a venue before you’ll already have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t and can save a lot of wasted shots trying out things that you would have known weren’t quite right had you shot there before.

Matt: But whilst the venue may be the same the couple and the rest of the wedding party are completely different and they should be the focus of the day, not the venue itself. Even in the same venue something that works for one wedding may not work with a different couple and different lighting conditions

Dom: Venues have all kinds of nooks and crannies that might work brilliantly for portraits but you don’t always find them the first time you shoot somewhere. Going somewhere that you’re already familiar with and, if it’s a big place, already know your way around can save you valuable time which is always in short supply for portraits with the couple.

Matt: If you go back to the same venue time and time again things can start to become almost too familiar and if you’re not careful you can end up shooting every wedding there in the same way and letting things become very formulaic rather than creating something truly unique for each couple.

Dom: Having an existing relationship with a venue can be really helpful on the day and can help the flow of communication and mean that you know who to ask if you or the couple need anything. Certain venues also have very specific rules on photography and if you’ve photographed there before it’s easier to come to a good understanding and have full knowledge of any rules and restrictions.

Matt: Venue staff as well as all the other suppliers are generally very helpful whether you’re new to the venue or if you’ve been there many times before and you can very quickly find out what you need to know on the day whether you’ve met them before or not.

Dom: For the couple there’s just a certain security in knowing that someone has experienced a venue before and understands its quirks and qualities. Knowing that the person will definitely be in the right place because they’ve done it before is rather reassuring.

Matt: But this can sometimes lead to photographers “playing it safe” and just going with what they know already works and don’t push the boundaries as much. Photographers thrive on artistic challenges and new opportunities and sometimes seeing a venue for the first time offers all kinds of inspiration you might dismiss when you’ve been there many times before.

Dom: Knowing where a venue is already can be really helpful and means you’re less likely to get lost or fail to find where you’re supposed to be and cause delays.

Matt: But with modern Sat Navs and the ability to call people’s mobile phones it’s now fairly rare to not be able to find your way to a venue or get hold of someone who can direct you there. Photographers understand how important it is to be there on time on your wedding day and avoid causing you any stress so will generally allow far more time than they should really need to get there.

Gem & Nik

Photo by York Place Studios

So those are our thoughts but we’d love to hear yours! Place your votes on where you stand on this argument below or leave a comment to join the debate!

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  • Michael {Bohemian Weddings} - September 20, 2013 - 11:08 am

    Torn! You guys have really come up with a good one this week, there are advantages to both. Knowing the venue is a distinct advantage and can help things run more smoothly for you as a photographer.

    However for me when the venue is new, I’m more excited. My creativity kicks in and imp hunting for the interesting light, reflections and angles. If I had done it all before it would save on time and I would also know what shots word out really well from last time. Rather than playing it safe all day I would push myself to find new angles, however if it came to going to the same venue a 3rd or fourth time I’m not so sure.

    My vote goes for Venue freshman.ReplyCancel

  • Jaye Cole | Tux & Tales Photography - September 20, 2013 - 1:15 pm

    I am totally with Matt on this one – we prefer to work in new places as often as is possible. It keeps my mind fresh and able to think of new and interesting ideas for each individual wedding rather than potentially getting a bit ‘stale’ in the same location.

    The thing is – a great photographer follows the light. Where the good light is – that is where the great photograph is. The good light is in a different place each time so even if you have worked at a venue before, that doesn’t mean the good light will be in the same place each time. In fact, I believe a photographer may be inclined to possibly ‘force’ a photo in an area which was successful before even if the light is no longer optimum in that spot. Because I am hunting for the best light (rather than the best backdrop) I find little advantage in having worked at a venue before (or doing venue visits).

    Great topic guys!ReplyCancel

  • Dominic (Dominic Whiten - Photographer) - November 1, 2013 - 3:24 pm

    I’m with Matt on this one – just because a photographer knows a venue well, it doesn’t automatically translate into fantastic pics. I regularly shoot at first-time venues and find the added challenge makes me work harder, follow the light (as Jaye says), and really push things creatively. You don’t stop being a good photographer just ‘cos you’re somewhere new!ReplyCancel

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