Hayley Lehmann Photography Blog

How to ensure you get the best, not the worst, wedding photos

Wednesday May 2nd 2012

Did you read the article a couple of weeks ago in the Daily Mail about how Thomas and Anneka Geary’s wedding day was ruined by a professional photographer they hired for £750?

The photos should have been stunning images which they would treasure forever. Instead Thomas and Anneka were devastated with what they received.

So why did this happen and what can you do to ensure the memories of your special occasion are captured perfectly.

Hayley Lehmann from Hayley Lehmann Photography Ltd is a truly experienced and skilled professional photographer whose clients rave about the quality of her work and the images she delivers. Here’s Hayley’s take on what went wrong …

“The article in the Mail shows the poor quality of photography and highlights several key problems:

  • Why you shouldn’t buy on price alone
  • Well meaning amateurs who reckon they’re professionals
  • Reportage photography catering to clients who want natural, unposed images.

Why you shouldn’t buy just on the price

In America couples are often told to budget 10% of their wedding spend on photography. For Thomas and Anneka this would have meant £1400 instead of the £750 they actually spent.

On this occasion, the photographer’s camera developed a fault, but a true professional would take a minimum of two camera bodies to a wedding just in case. I have had the misfortune to have two camera bodies develop faults at a wedding, but the client never knew as I switched to my third body.

Full-time, professional photographers like me will have crossed the VAT threshold of £77,000 turnover per annum. So if your photographer is VAT registered this provides a clue as to whether they’re running a decent business operation.

And what about their photographic equipment?

For a wedding shoot a true pro will take about £15,000 worth of kit. Add on insurance, computers, storage, software to process the images and the value of a photographer’s time and you can see this can’t be funded by clients only willing to spend £750 for a full day of photography.

Amateur Photographers who reckon they’re pros

It’s so easy to take digital pictures, many people with a decent camera and a £35 website make out that they are a professional photographer.

Photography is the number 1 hobby in the UK. Amateurs pick up a camera and see the cash rewards of being a wedding photographer. They enter the industry and charge low prices and within a year or two when they realise how hard this business really is, they give up and go away.

I equate photography with playing the piano. You might have talent, but unless you practice you will never be any good.

How do you pose family groups when it is raining cats and dogs outside? What do you do if the bride weighs 10 stone more than the groom? These are all situations that I have faced and am adept at handling.

A skilled professional, who you can trust, will have years of experience behind them backed up by the quality training they’ve undergone.

For example, I have been working as a professional photographer for almost 20 years, taken an HNC in design photography, an HND in digital imaging, done a six year apprenticeship, attended literally hundreds of courses and continue to do so. I am a highly skilled retoucher, and my knowledge of computing, software, camera and lighting skills are first class and the reams of testimonials I’ve received give a big clue to my professional skills.

Make sure the photographer you use has this too. If in doubt, check it out.

The problems with Reportage – the natural unposed look

Wedding photographers have tried to cater for the demand for natural photos with a photographic style called Reportage. This means capturing events as they happen without any disturbance or intervention from the photographer.

So what’s wrong with reportage?

I’ve seen many brides crying. Not because they’ve used my service, but because they didn’t. They bought into a completely reportage coverage and subsequently discovered that there wasn’t one photograph of the bride and groom together to display in a photo frame. Read that line again. I didn’t say that there wasn’t one photograph that was suitable; I said that there wasn’t one photograph at all.

Without any guidance from the photographer a couple may socialise with their guests throughout their wedding and find that their paths hardly crossed. The photographer snaps thousands of “reportage” images, but the essential elements are missed.

I use reportage as a tool for much of a wedding, but it is not the only creative style which I employ so my clients never miss out on those special and essential posed shots from their special day. Even posed images can look natural and be great fun.

Quality, attention to detail, talent, professionalism, creativity, empathy and photographic equipment, all comes at a price. Wedding photography is not a buy one; get one free type of product.

So please don’t take a chance on the photography for your special occasion. Book a professional photographer you can trust.

And if I am already booked on your date, there are half a dozen local professional photographers who I know and trust to recommend.”




VAT on Photobooks re Wedding Services

Thursday March 8th 2012

Revenue & Customs Brief 04/12

VAT: HMRC’s position following the First-Tier Tribunal decision in the case of Harrier LLC

This brief is to confirm Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) position following the decision in the case of Harrier LLC in the First Tier Tribunal. The case concerned the liability of photo books. The Tribunal found against HMRC with regard to most of the items in question and upheld Harrier’s appeal that the photo books were zero-rated. HMRC have decided not to appeal the decision.


Businesses who supply photo books.


Harrier provided customers with a photo book that comprised a number of photographs taken by the customer. Typically, the customer uploads his or her photographs and other images of text, drawings, handwritten text and so on to a third party website. The customer chooses the particular photo book template they desire and can arrange the layout of individual pages. Once the customer has completed their action they can then place their order. The order is electronically transmitted to Harrier who then produces the photo book using printing presses.

Harrier claimed that the photo books were zero-rated for VAT purposes as they fell within the definition of book under the law.

The decision

The Tribunal decided that the majority of the items in question were books and dismissed HMRC’s argument that the photo book was ancillary to a supply of services.

In making its decision the Tribunal took support from the High Court case of Colour Offset Ltd [1995], where it was found that a book has the minimum characteristics of having a significant number of leaves, usually of paper, held together by front and back covers usually more substantial than the leaves. The book must also be designed to be read or looked at.

Two items were found not to be books because they consisted of spiral binding and the pages had the quality and appearance of individual photographic prints.

HMRC policy going forward

Subject to the exception below, HMRC accept that a photo book which possesses, as a minimum, several pages, a cover stiffer than its pages and is bound, will qualify for zero-rating as a book. The book must also be designed to be read or looked at.
HMRC would not see a photo book as falling within the zero rate if either:

  • the photo book’s pages have the appearance and quality of individual photographic prints; or
  • the photo book that is held out for sale is capable of being dismantled, with individual pages that are removable or where individual pages can be easily removed without damaging the binding (for example, spiral binding).

This decision does not affect supplies where there is a predominate supply of services such as those where the customer is paying for and receiving photographic services that then result in the production of a ‘book’. An example of this is in the Tribunal decision of Risbey’s Photography Ltd, Digital Albums Ltd (decision number 20783) where it was found that Risbey’s provision of a wedding package which consisted of making arrangements for photography, taking and viewing of photographs and a wedding book displaying a selection of photographs, was a supply of services and not one of goods.

We consider that in these instances the photographic service is the dominant supply and that the wedding book is ancillary to the supply of the services. Accordingly, there is a single supply of standard-rated services.

Issued 5 March 2012

Thank You

Monday January 9th 2012


Thank you. Such an important phrase, and so fundamental to the way we interact with others in society. It elicits satisfaction and pleasure from both the giver and the recipient. We are taught to say “Thank you” almost at the same time as we learn to say “Mum” or “Dad”. It might even be shortened to “Ta” but the meaning is the same. Thank you.
My customers frequently say thank you to me. The messages come by e-mail, phone message, hand written cards and verbally. These votes of thanks are very gratefully received because a thank you inspires me to go on and create wonderful images for my next client in the firm knowledge that what I have done beforThank you flowers 3491 300x200 Thank Youe made my previous client happy.
Now and then some clients go the extra mile to say thank you…
I photographed Louise and Neil’s Wedding at De Vere’s Ponsbourne Park Hotel, Nr Hertford in October. I had previously photographed Louise’s sister’s wedding at The Plaisterers’ Hall at One London Wall in 2005 so this was a family I knew and loved. Louise told me that she didn’t have strong opinions one way or the other about most of the wedding arrangements, but when it came to photography she stood her ground and said that she wanted me and none other. How flattering! And given the divine but unseasonal weather the day of Louise’s wedding I was able to create images that really delighted and excited me too. But Louise went the extra mile to say thank you. She came to see me, and presented me with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.
So, as this New Year begins, I would like to take this opportunity to say the following; To all of my many past clients a heartfelt “Thank you for the business”. And to my new and returning clients who have booked me to record their functions this year and next, a big “Thank you for trusting me to create lasting memories for you.”