Shoot days have been around for a log time and are a great way for photographers of any experience level to gain some awesome portfolio. Also, it does not matter how many years of experience you have under your belt, there is always room for improvement. Always room to better yourself, and hone your skills. Especially after months and months of little to no wedding work thanks to the pandemic.

I had never been on a shoot day before, the idea of competing with lots of other togs for elbow room in a competitive race for the best shot filled me with dread. However if 2020 taught me anything, its that us photographers are nowhere near as competitive as it seems on the surface. Through Whatsapp groups and social media, photographer peers have come together to help each other through a difficult time. With all that in mind I booked myself onto a shoot day just after my birthday in April 2021. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was very excited by the prospect.

I arrived nice and early at the venue, the beautiful Kirtlington Park in Oxfordshire and set up the equipment I had taken along with me. I was very surprised that out of the 10 or so photographers on the shoot, I was the only guy! I hoped that was more a reflection of wedding photography being a female-dominated industry, rather than guys being less likely to admit to needing a bit of a practice session, but who knows.

We were split off into groups and taken to different areas, (one of my group members Lucia actually ended up second shooting for me a few months later). Our group started in the bedroom, for prep-style shots. We found our excellent professional model couple who were ready and raring to go. It was a slightly daunting prospect telling this couple to pose in a room of other togs. Plus feeling that I was probably the most experienced in the room and did not want to take over proceedings. I soon found my groove though.

Host, planner + stylist: Emma Jane Wedding Planner & Poppy Carter Portraits

Venue: Kirtlington Park, Oxford

Florist: Raven & Ryegrass

Hair stylist: Holly Edmonds Hair

Makeup artist: Laura Carroll

Dresses + Veils: Made with Love Bridal & Emmy Mae Bridal

Menswear: House of Cavani

After spending some time shooting around the bedroom area with our couple, we were taken off down the stairs to swap with the other group. There we found our second and equally fantastic couple. The entire foyer of the building had been setup to resemble a ceremony setup and a dining room, as well as being able to use the sides of the room itself too. We shot a variety of spots with the other couple and rest of the photo group eventually coming back down to join in.

After a brief break, everyone was led outside to the gardens where a bar, band and floral displays had been set for us to play around with. Best bit had to be the champagne spray, something I had never done before at a wedding (probably because brides don't want to get covered in fizz) but it made for an awesome shot!

The day was really well organised by Poppy and the Zenith team. So many details had been thought about and it had all come together really well. I loved my first shoot day experience and hope to get to do more in the future.