WE JUST LOVE IT WHEN A SUPPLIER’S ENTHUSIASM FOR WHAT THEY DO SHINES THROUGH IN EVERY ELEMENT; FROM THEIR APPROACH AND STYLE TO THE SERVICE THEY DELIVER AND FUTURE AMBITIONS.
Based in the beautiful North West city of Chester, but covering the whole of the UK and abroad, her key priority is to tell the story of a wedding in a truly natural way. As such, Sam makes brides and grooms feel relaxed in front of the camera so they can be 100% themselves. There’s no awkward posing or staged elements but instead candid shots showing the real emotions of the day.
And it has to be said, this lady lets little stand in the way of achieving her goals. As you’ll find out below, she’s prepared for all weather conditions, willing to scale buildings and climb through hedges for the perfect shot and even has a Bucket List of destinations she aims to visit through her work. As wanderlusters ourselves, we like your style, Sam!
We also like, no wait, LOVE, that Sam is offering Brides Up North and UNVEILED readers an incredible 20% DISCOUNT on her wedding packages. The offer is limited, though, so be sure to read on for full details whilst learning more about her devotion to weddings and pouring over her – as one bride so perfectly put it – “artistic, inspiring and uplifting” images.
Hello! I’m Sam, owner of Samantha Kay Photography; a documentary style wedding and elopement photographer based in Chester, but covering all of the UK and abroad.
WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY COME FROM?
I’ve always been someone who says “do you remember when?” and talk constantly about past trips and things we’ve done; memories are so important to me and I just always loved that I was able to capture life as it was happening by having a camera with me and could look back on those moments in the future. And yes, I was always that friend that had her camera (actual compact camera with film!) on nights out!
My first film SLR camera was my dad’s; it still lives on my bookcase to remind me how far I’ve come. I was lucky that I had friends who knew how passionate I was about photography and trusted me enough to shoot their weddings (thank you!) My first full wedding was in 2014, and I’ve never looked back!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT CAPTURING A COUPLE’S BIG DAY?
I love that I get to give my couples so many memories of such an important moment in their lives. They will be able to look back on these images for years to come, frame them, make albums to share with family and friends, and it is such an incredible feeling to be able to do that for someone. It’s such an honour to be chosen to share such a special day with a couple and their loved ones and I always end up leaving feeling like I’ve been welcomed like a guest and enjoyed it just as much as them.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY?
Documentary photography that’s authentic, raw and full of emotion. I love to tell a story, creatively documenting those real moments throughout the day. I don’t like to pose my couples – although I’ll occasionally tell you to stop in front of a beautiful door for a second if I spot one (extra points if it’s blue!) – so nothing is staged, everything you see in my portfolio of work is something that happened naturally. One of my brides has described my style as artistic, inspiring and uplifting – I love this! SO much goes on during a wedding and my main aim is to provide you with a gallery of images that transport you back to that day, make you remember things you’d forgotten and show you things that you missed.
WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH LIKE ON THE WEDDING DAY?
I like to try and stay very much in the background. I’m there right through from bridal prep to first dance and the last thing I want is for people to say I was under their feet all day. It’s your wedding, not mine, so I want you to enjoy it without feeling like I’m following you around constantly.
I love getting reviews back from my couples; the one thing they all say is that they hardly knew I was there and that they felt relaxed in front of the camera – so as long as I can achieve this on a wedding day, I’ve done my job right! If you look on my social media accounts, you’ll find a very funny (but accurate!) video of me, standing in a bush, taken by a bride’s mum at a wedding last year, complete with David Attenborough style commentary. That sums me up perfectly!
HOW DO YOU BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR COUPLES?
I make sure I’m there for any help or advice from the moment they book me right up until the day of their wedding. I have so much love for my couples and I absolutely adore being a part of their wedding adventure (however small that part is!) I’ve been so lucky that I’ve made so many lovely friendships over the years, and they’ve also gone on to ask me to document other important moments in their lives and have sent their friends and family my way too, which is amazing! The past year especially has been so very hard on us all and I’ve made sure that every single one of my brides and grooms have had support and reassurance in whatever way I could give it. Current and past couples have also been checking up on me and making sure I was ok which has been absolutely wonderful and made the last few months that little bit more bearable!
WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS?
Oh goodness – this is always a tough one to write! There are SO many amazing wedding photographers out there, and we all have our little (or sometimes huge!) differences.
- I shoot very naturally; I’d rather curl up into a ball and hide than spend a day moulding a couple into something they’re not. It’s really not me at all. And I want your images to just be 100% you. No structured posing and I certainly won’t be telling you how to be with each other because no one knows you both better than you! The last thing I want is for my couples to be uncomfortable for even a second during their wedding day.
- I’m always prepared for whatever the weather might decide to do – a forecast of sunshine can easily turn into showers on the day, but that’s ok! I always have my wellies and a raincoat in the car, ready and waiting for anything.
- I’ve climbed through many a window to get the perfect group shot from up high – I’ve become quite a pro! So whatever unusual requests you might have, I’m more than likely to be fully on board! I was once shooting a ceremony on a tiny little balcony with an organist and a man playing the trumpet – that was quite an experience!
Overall though, I’d say I’m just myself. I love what I do, and I hope that it shows in my work. Handing over a finished gallery is one of the best feelings in the world.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PART OF THE DAY TO CAPTURE?
Definitely the portraits. Whether we go for a walk through the woods, a stroll along the beach, a hike up a mountain, exploring the grounds of your venue or wandering through city streets…it’s the perfect opportunity for you to just have a moment to yourselves (with me tagging along!) They’ll never be boring, or posed, or uncomfortable, and I won’t drag you away from your guests for too long. I’m always happy to drive to a location that you love, and I will always have my car if needed too! (I once drove a bride to her wedding – no pressure!) I also absolutely LOVE confetti moments. I could probably open a confetti business with the amount I’ve brought home in my hair over the years, but the more confetti the better!
WHERE DOES YOUR WORK TAKE YOU?
I’m based in the beautiful city of Chester and have shot lots of gorgeous local weddings. I’ve been part of some amazing weddings in London, North Wales, Scotland and many wonderful places in between! I have also been lucky enough to shoot destination weddings in Italy and Malta, and have a trip to Positano in the diary.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR COUPLES SEARCHING FOR A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
- Ask for recommendations from friends! I have had so many couples sent my way from past brides and grooms and it means the absolute world. If you’ve absolutely loved seeing your friends’ wedding images and know that it’s the exact style that you’d like, ask for their details and get in touch (also, let us know who sent you our way so we can say thank you!)
- When you’ve found a photographer whose work you like the look of, head over to their ‘about me’ page on their website and get to know a bit about them. That way, you’ll know that you’ll be a good fit personally as well as creatively! I recently had a bride tell me she loved reading all about me, especially the fact that I was a huge Tom Hanks fan and that I had cats!
- You’ll know when you see a style of photography that you love (there are a few different types of photographer!) but until you’re sure, search on Instagram and Pinterest and even Google, so you get a better feel for it. If you’re dreaming of posed images of you both staring deep into the distance, a documentary photographer is probably not for you! At the same time, if you’re wanting colourful, mainly candid in-the-moment images, a fine art photographer won’t be ideal either. You want your choice of wedding photography to reflect you as a couple. Each style is amazing in its own right; you just need to find the perfect one for you!
AND THE ABSOLUTE NO-NOS?
- Don’t book a photographer based on a cheaper price if you don’t absolutely love their work – you will wish you hadn’t after your wedding! If photography is an important part of your wedding, see if there’s anything else you could forego or spend less on so that you can have the photographer that you love. It will be worth it, I promise! Another idea is to ask the photographer you’ve got your heart set on if they do a bespoke package; there’s always a chance you can work something out if you explain that you’d love to have them at your wedding but just can’t stretch your budget. And don’t forget, you won’t have to pay your full balance until nearer your wedding day, so plenty of time to save for your dream suppliers!
- Don’t just send an email enquiry asking for prices. When we get a “how much do you charge for photography?” email, with little else in the message, our hearts sink a little. Most of us will have contact forms on our websites, in which case we would assume you’ve seen all of our details and are sending us a message because you love our work. Even if you’re contacting through Facebook or Instagram, it’s always nice to send over an outline of your plans, why you’ve chosen to get in touch, and, more importantly, your date!
- You might have been in touch with a few photographers that you love and that’s absolutely fine, we expect that! If, however, you’ve been in contact and had a reply from a supplier which has led to a bit of a conversation, but you’ve then decided to go with someone else…please don’t leave us with radio silence! Chances are we’ve pencilled you in on the calendar in case we get any more enquiries for that date, had a look at your venue, got a little bit excited about a potential booking – so just a quick email to let us know will go a long way and we will totally understand!
WHAT OPTIONS DO YOU OFFER WHEN COUPLES ARE BOOKING YOU?
I offer a full day package, elopement package and a third for destination weddings. I also have a bespoke option for those days that are a little different and don’t quite fit into any of the other categories. Couples can also choose to book engagement, pre-wedding and family shoots.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT?
I have a Bucket List! A list of places I wish to see, revisit, explore and experience… and it would make it extra special if I could also document it through my work (that’s where my couples come in!) From Rome to Paris, The Lake District to Bath…there is lots of inspiration and beautiful destinations, some a short flight away and some not so far from home. And I’m always on the lookout for wedding venues that incorporate libraries or books! If you’re planning your wedding or elopement in any of the places on my list – which you can view here – I would be so happy if you got in touch with me and let me know!
IS THERE A SPECIAL DISCOUNT THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO OFFER TO OUR READERS?
Yes! I’d love to offer 20% off your wedding package with the option of a complimentary pre-wedding shoot at a location of your choice. When sending over your contact form, please quote bridesupnorth2021. The offer will stand for any bookings made from now until 31st May 2021.