Photography Show Masterclass and Mentoring

“Sometimes the best dreams you will live, are ones you cannot even imagine right now”.

Feather in Cap

I have already achieved more in my career than I imagined all those years ago when starting out. Delivering a Photography Masterclass at The Photography Show was a new feather to add to the cap.

Being asked to deliver a Turning Pro Photography Masterclass at The Photography Show an event I used to attend myself as student and as an emerging photographer is a 2021 highlight.

Made more special by the fact that I was sharing a stage with greats Rankin and Charlie Phillips. My journey to becoming a full time photographer was not a conventional one. Like all great photographers, I did my degree in something completely different! I spent most of my life in other careers and changed careers in my mid 30s.



I like to think that as an average working class person with no particular privileges in life, my story and path could inspire others, and it turns out … it did! The Google Reviews, Inboxes and Emails from other people who my story resonated with proved testament to this.

Google Review of Turning Pro Photography Masterclass

Other women approaching middle ages, other working class people, others trying to make a go of it without any links to the industry. The Turning Pro Photography Masterclass was for designed with them in mind.


Why I wanted to be and do different

I have attended so many photography workshops and left with no real tangible points that I can implement to pursue my own path. I have heard of photographers that were financed by well off families and partners, dads that gifted 2k cameras and parents that were partners in their business.

Many people do not have access to these privileges. I wanted this to be different and be an example of someone who made it without things. I showed the council estate I grew up on; the comprehensive school I attended and gave delegates homework! As you do!

I wanted delegates to implement actions, once they had left my Turning Pro Photography Masterclass , that I had implemented to get to where I am today.

Actions implemented at the Photography Masterclass

Actions implemented at the Photography Masterclass

Mentoring via Patreon

After the show I received so many messages about mentoring I decided to formalise what I already had in place and set up a Patreon page. I was already informally mentoring many people, I lecture at Sandwell College, Dudley College and Walsall Studio School. I have been part of the Blast Series of Workshops for Multi Story and also delivered to BIMM and Birmingham University. Imparting knowledge in photography is not new to me.

In my work with UK Black Female Photographers, further helping emerging photographers in their career. This seemed like the right time to formalise my mentoring of emerging photographers.


Real World Lessons

I want merging photographers and creatives to have access to real world lessons and mentorship on how to make a living from being a creative. Most of us cannot afford to work just for the love of it.

Although I also do love my job, I also like having a roof over my head and nice things. I have also noticed a gap in the knowledge colleges and Universities provide around this, as many lecturers are not working photographers.

Google Review for Harris Museum Photography Workshop

Google Review for Harris Museum Photography Workshop

My aim with all of my workshops, any further Turning Pro Photography Masterclass the Photography Show may want to book me for (wink wink) and mentoring; is to build the next generation of photographers with real world skills and knowledge.

I just hope I am remembered in their speeches!


Twenty Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Firstly we must say these are not questions we advocate asking your wedding photographer.

But so many of us have come across prospective brides who have read THAT Blog by the wedding magazine … Questions to ask your wedding photographer.

Many of these questions are already in our contract and our wedding leaflets, but here are our answers for anyone who may also come across the same blog.

Your Wedding Photography is going to be a major investment and you probably want to ensure you are asking the right things for it to be invested in the right place. Some of these questions will help on your quest to finding the right photographer for you.

#1 What Does Your Package Include

If you met us at a wedding show and have one of our leaflets, this is on the leaflet.

Lensi Photography Wedding Packages

Lensi Photography – example front of leaflet

A number of digital  images (depending on which package you have), 2 photographers, albums are priced separately. We do not compete on price, but not the quality of our work. If price is a main factor in your consideration there will definitely be cheaper wedding photographers you can commission. If your choice is based on style, someone you can gel with, quality and professionalism, you are in the right place!

#2 How much does it cost?

A basic package starts from £2200, all the various options are shown on our wedding leaflets. These include pre wedding shoots, albums of different sizes, Wedding Magazines, extra photographers, monograms, programme designs and a whole host of things.

Lensi Photography Wedding Packages

Lensi Photography – Example front of wedding leaflet

#3 When will we receive the images

This is a useful question in the twenty questions to ask your wedding photographer.

All of this is listed in your contract with us. We have a turn around of 3 months which also depends on you the clients okaying albums and changes as quickly as possible, or this may delay the timeline.

We also deliver 10 – 15 of our favourite moments from your day within 24 hours (48 if we are shooting the next day). This way, the first images you upload to social media or share with friends via WhatsApp, will be professional ones, not phone ones.

#4 How will we receive the images

On a USB pen OR digital download

#5 Are there videographers you prefer to work with

In some cases yes. The main thing is that everyone is respectful of each other, giving each other the space needed to do the best for the couple.

#6 How would you consider your photography style

We would say amazing! But that is for you to judge, your wedding will be a mixture of natural documentary moments, styled shots, groups shots, details. We used natural light, flash and constant light. A full recipe of what is needed to get the job done and we feel makes an amazing set of wedding day images.

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Wedding Photography by Lensi Photography

Another way we would describe our style is ‘clean’, no matter what chaos is going on around the images, your day (through your images) will look calm, serene and full of joy.

We are the photographers that will move that bag from beside the chair, tell you that your necklace is not straight or a curl is out of place. We will also produce probably your favourite portrait of yourself … ever!

Birmingham Wedding Photography

Birmingham Wedding Photography

#7 How many photographers shoot the wedding

All our weddings are shot by two photographers. This was both the bride and groom get full cover from their preparations to ceremony.

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Faux Flowers, M & Wedding by Lensi Photography

As a wedding is generally something people have planned for years , in the event of a photographer say … spraining an ankle on the day, which is unlikely, but not impossible … the wedding will still be covered. It works like an insurance policy.

#8 Would you need a place to keep your equipment

The most expensive equipment will be on me (my cameras) there is usually somewhere safe or within eyesight that it can be kept during the wedding.

#9 Who will be shooting my wedding?

We do not give jobs out to other photography companies or farm them out to other photographers.

If you hire us your wedding will be shot by us. The only reason the main photographer would not be at your wedding would be the same reason you would have to miss a wedding.

A burst appendix, an accident, a serious illness etc. If this were to happen, just like with any other vendor, we would give you the option of allowing us to find a replacement, or give a full refund.

This has not happened to date, it is very rare. Just like the bride we know who had to leave her own wedding immediately after the vows due to illness. Its rare, but not impossible.

#10 When will I receive a written contract? What is the cancellation policy

Once you confirm that you would like us to shoot your wedding a contract will be drawn up and sent out. Once the contract is signed and returned along with the deposit, your wedding is booked!


The cancellation policy is outlined in the contract, the initial deposit is non refundable.

#11 Have you ever been to our venue?

Do not worry. A lot of brides ask this, but it is not necessary for us to shoot your wedding.

Think about this, does the DJ need to be familiar with that venue before to play well? Does the make up artist need to be familiar with all the faces they make up to make up a good face? The image below was our first wedding at this venue, to a creative photographer it is clear that this area would mae a beautiful photo.

Wedding Photography by Lensi Photography

Weston Park Weddings by Lensi Photography


As photographers we have shot all over the world. Venue visits can be arranged if you feel really strongly about this, there is a fee for doing this as it is another day out from shooting.

#12 What camera do you use?

Unless you understand DSLR cameras this is not such a useful question in the twenty questions to ask your wedding photographer.

Most photographers change their cameras at different times, as they do lenses. The cameras have no bearing on how good or not your photos will be. Some photographers have the best equipment but are still learning, and some do not have the latest equipment but are masters of their art.

Examples of the workalexander-wende-D1HtB-o7eK8-unsplash are a much better way to judge the professionalism of your photographer. That said we do use digital cameras and not film.

#13 Will you work to a list of photos we want

If there is one MUST HAVE photo of the day for you. Such as a photo or your nan, mom and you together, a best friend from your childhood, your new numberplate, let us know.

Female Wedding Photographer Birmingham

Female Wedding Photographer Birmingham

Other than that, as seasoned wedding photographers we know what we are doing. Look at our previous cover, it is enough o show you that with two photographers, we do not miss anything. As a recent bride, I understand the importance of wanted to see EVERYTHING afterwards, the food, the guests mingling while you were not around , the emotions from family and friends that you were not privy to while you were at the alter … trust us we know what we are doing.

#14 Timetable

There is no specific timetable as such we work to. It will depend on what package you have booked, along with what time your wedding day/ start and end. When we are close to your wedding date we will go through your timetable with you to ensure enough time has been allowed for your photos and that we start at the right time.

#15 If the Wedding Breakfast goes over time, will we pay extra?

This depends on the package you have. With an unlimited package no, with a 10 hour package yes, this is all outlined in your contract.

#16 Are images retouched?

Most images you see online are retouched in some way. All of our images are edited, which usually includes conversion from RAW to JPEG and may include minor whinges in exposure or white balances, cropping etc. Extensive retouching may be charged as an extra.

Wedding Photography by Lensi Photography

An Edited Image – Wedding Photography by Lensi Photography

For example the bride who wanted the scaffolding taking out of the church because they were having rennovations on the outside. This is specialist work and will be sent to an editor at a cost of £50 per hour. We also will not take out something that you have permanently, so for example if you have a tattoo that you would prefer not to be in the photos, it cannot be taken out of all 500 images for example. We will also not change the shape of your face or body for example. You are beautiful as you are!

#17 What are your payment terms

This is a useful question in the twenty questions to ask your wedding photographer, as everyone knows where they stand. We accept 50% deposit secures your booking, once we have this, we then take that date out of our diaries and we belong to you! (for that day).

The other 50% is due 4 weeks before your date. Similar to most wedding services, the venue, caterer, florists, venue dressers etc all payments are completed before the wedding, this is one less thing for you for worry about.

#18 Do we pay travel costs

This is all outlined in our contract. For weddings within a 50 mile radius no.

For weddings outside of this area, travel and accommodation may apply. We do not take risks of working for possibly 16 hours then having a 2 hour drive home, or even getting stuck in traffic on our way to you in the morning, this is why in some circumstances accommodation will apply.

Again do not worry, although the Ritz is amazing, Premier Inn will do!

Travel and accommodation for your wedding photographer

The Ritz is not needed

#19 Are engagement / pre wedding shoots included in the package?

These are extra. Some couples have them, others do not. Some couples have a whole day shoot abroad, others have a half day shoot, for this reason they are not included as standard.

Pre Wedding Photoshoot Birmingham by Lensi Photography

Pre Wedding Photoshoot Birmingham by Lensi Photography


Our couples can have as much or as little as they would like.

#20 Could you recommend any new trends?

Our style is not to shoot the latest trends. We do not shoot you being chased by a dinosaur, or your husband holding you in the palm of his hand.

You will get a mixture of emotions, natural documentary photography, styled photography, posed group shots and detail shots.

Now that you have had all of these twenty questions to ask your wedding photographer answered … go ahead and give us a call or email to book us. It will be one the the best decisions you make for your wedding!

Ten Things not to spend on for your Wedding

Ten Things You Do Not Need to Spend Money on for your Wedding

Save Money on Your Wedding

Firstly this advice is not for those who can afford to have everything they want at their wedding. If money is not a worry have a huge cake, designer shoes, ballet dancers while you are walking down the aisle.

You can have your names personalised on everything in sight, a whole room of fresh flowers, everything that weddings now have to offer as the event of a lifetime.

But that IF this is not you; if you do need to save money on your wedding, if you have a budget that cannot stretch to the most lavish of everything, these are a few things we have come across from our experience of covering weddings. Five things you do not need to spend money on for your wedding.

  • Wedding Favours
  • Weekend Weddings
  • Specialist Wedding Shops
  • Paper Invites
  • Designer shoes
  • Fresh Flowers
  • Stuff that is only used one for an hour or so
  • Gimmicks
  • Wedding Cars
  • Cake

Save Money on Your Wedding #1

1# Leave the Wedding Favours

As much as you may love the idea of the crystal heart with your names and wedding date etched on that your guests can treasure forever. The honest truth is … very few will.

Your wedding date is the most important date to you naturally. Your wedding date however is not the most important date to your guests, no matter how much they love you. The truth is as much as your toil and stress over your favours, in many weddings we shoot; they end up as children’s play things within minutes of your guests sitting at the table.

Save Money on Your Wedding #2

2# Getting Married on a weekday

Saturday is the most expensive day to get married. Yes, the same venues cost different amounts on different days! Sundays and week days cost a lot less. So you may be thinking “but will my guests turn up?”.

No matter what day you hold your wedding on their will be some people who are not able to attend.

Saturdays and Sundays are now working days for many people, so weekends are no longer the free days they used to be.

Lots of couple also get married abroad who do not seem to have problems with their friends and families taking off 2,3 or more days to attend their wedding. Try not to over think it. The people who need to and want to be there will be.

Save Money on Your Wedding #3

3# Shop in Non Specialist Wedding Shops 

Wedding Hair Jewellery

Is a wedding tiara massively different to any other tiara? Compare the difference for yourselves. Buy one from a high street shop and compare them to others in bridal shops. The most expensive ones are no doubt of a a superior quality. It is up to you if the difference is enough to warrant the price difference. The average priced bridal ones however are not hugely different.

Everyones favourite High street accessories shop Claire’s has some amazing finds in their  ‘Hair Swag’ range. These range from £5 to £20. You would expect to pay £100 – 200 for a tiara or similar accessory in a bridal shop.

Wedding Hair Accessories, save money on your wedding, tips for brides to be

Hair Swag from Claire’s – £9 – 20

Another option is to use other accessories such as necklaces and pendants.

save money on your wedding, wedding hair accessories

Claire’s Accessories Wedding Hair Jewellery image by Bandele Zuberi

This bride did exactly that with Claire’s Accessories Jewellery. The head piece came to a total of just under £20. If you are a savvy online shopper, stores such as Etsy also have a great range.

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Faux Flowers, M & Wedding by Lensi Photography

Save Money on Your Wedding #4

4# Cut the Paper and Save The World!

Think of the last wedding you attended when if you invite and Save the Date You were given? If you still have this, that is fabulous! If it is in a treasured box of similar items from various years, even better!

However, if you cannot remember when it was left a month after putting the date in your phone diary. Then you have just discovered how quickly your hard earns money that was spent on invites or save the dates, so quickly ends up in the bin.

Consider a digital invite  / save the dates instead. Create a private FB group and send out an event, make a video that you WhatsApp to everyone, create a design that to WhatsApp to everyone.

Many people do most things on their phones now, so this is not unusual.

You will also be helping to save the planet as the rate of deforestation is alarming!

Save Money on Your Wedding #5

5# Ditch the designer shoes

Sometimes we are socialised into thinking you have to spend more on everything for your wedding. After all it is a special once in a  lifetime day!

Bridal groups and blogs are awash with brides blogging about their dream wedding shoes. You will no doubt have seen quite a few Laboutins in these groups. These designer shoes start from £700.  But bridal shoes are often hidden under a long dress  … where no one will ever see them.

Brides often ending changing into comfy shoes or flip flops as soon as they get to their reception, if not for their walk around the wedding venue for their couples photos.

Shops like TK Maxx stock a great range of FC UK and Blue By Betsey Johnson Shoes from January of each year leading up to the wedding season. ASOS also stocks Blue by Betsey Johnson at different times of the year. The great thing about these shoes is that if you are superstitious, the bottoms are painted blue, so it covers your “Something Blue”.

Bargain Wedding Shoes, save money on your wedding

Blue by Betsey Johnson – Wedding Photography by Lensi Photography

These beauties were £29.99.

Save Money on Your Wedding #6

6# Fresh Flowers

Fake it.

There is no doubt real flowers are amazing.

But if you are looking to cut on your budget fake ones will be a fraction of the price, and will have a very similar look. Greenery table runners for these two tables were prices at £1700 for this wedding. These ones came in at £300 for these the head table flowers, top table and aisle / pew end flowers.

The amazing Home Bargains and The Range have a great range of flowers that look a lot more expensive that they are. If you are having a red / autumn theme look to buy their valentines range at Home Bargains at the start of each year.

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Greenery Runner by Bandele Zuberi

Save Money on Your Wedding #7

7# Recycle

What happens to the flowers used in your ceremony, as aisle ends or to decorate the alter etc?

After the ceremony they are not needed again. But you still need flowers for the reception tables, top table etc. Why not just reuse the same flowers? Yes you will need a trusted friend or coordinator to move these for you, but it makes complete sense.

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Faux Flowers, Home Bargains by Bandele Zuberi

This top table arrangement started the day as aisle / pew ends for the wedding ceremony, and ended the day here. They too were fake / faux from Home Bargains. Approximately £55 for the top table and pew / aisle ends.  Rather than watch them wilt away a few days later after spending thousands, they can be re- gifted or sold on.

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Faux Flowers Top Table by Bandele Zuberi

Save Money on Your Wedding #8

8 #Gimmicks

We can all get influenced by social media, things that look great, sound like a great idea, seem to make sense but are actually quite costly, possibly gimmicky and not have any real value.

Disposable cameras is one of these.

The idea of disposable cameras on each table for guests to capture what is happening on their table.

Amazon sells packs of 5 cameras for around £50.

Say you have 100 people at your wedding thats already a cost of £100. Then their is the cost of developing them approximately £5 each. The quality of these is not great.

Many people struggle with getting great digital images even when they can see the outcome immediately. Imagine images from from a camera where your guests can not see the final photo!

You may end up paying to develop a lot of unusable images.

In actual fact most people carry around a much more powerful and sophicated camera in their hands, that you can get table pictures from for free!

Ask your guests to take photos on their phones and send them you after or sign up to to a wedding sharing app.

Save Money on Your Wedding #9

9# Cars

A wedding car may cost £3 – 500 for 2- 3 hours hire.

A prestige car from your average car hire company can cost you this much for 3 or 4 days hire. This may not work if you want a vintage car; but if you are happy to travel to your wedding in a prestige Jaguar, Mercedes or Range Rover, this could be a huge saving.

It would also mean not having to worry about car is going back before you finish doing your couples photos or if anything runs late.

For example Europa Car is showing a Mercedes C Class at £400 for three days hire. Granted, of course you will not get a driver with that. You may have to rope in that friend or uncle who owes you a favour, but you will also have a prestige car to get home in the next day or drive around in a a couple days after your big day.

Save Money on Your Wedding #10

10# Cake

If you can afford a cake, of course there are some amazing designs. We have shot so many beautiful cakes. But if you are looking at cutting another corner, the famous wedding cake is another way you can save.

Wedding photography by lensi photography, wedding cake, wedding tips, wedding planning, wedding saving, wedding budget,

Wedding Photography, Wedding Cake by Lensi Photography

The thing most couple want from this is a photo of them cutting the cake, after all its tradition.

We have however shot many a wedding where after this shot was taken, the cake was not cut. The worst cased scenario was a couple who took a 2k cake to the kitchen to be cut, it was never cut and shared out because of running late, it was forgotten about in the venue kitchen, then thrown away the next day.

Some couples are opting to save on their cake with alterntives such as Jelly Towers, Cake Pyramids and Pizza Towers!


Jelly Tower, Wedding Saving Tips


Cake Slice Pyramids, Wedding Cake Alternatives

Pizza Tower, Wedding Cake Alternatives

Pizza Tower, Wedding Cake Alternatives

In contrast to all these savings. There are also many things we would say are important to spend money on or that you definitely need for a wedding.

See our blog post on Ten Things You DO need to spend money on for your wedding.

Lensi have been full time photographers for 10 years. This blog was written from that experience and also from a personal point of view as a recent bride.

If you want to preserve your quest for bargain hunting during your wedding planning. Consider your very own personalised Wedding Magazine. More than an album, it will document the stories behind the beautiful images, on your wedding planning journey.

This is how a page in your own personalised wedding magazine that documents your bargain hunt may look.

Ten Things TO spend on for your Wedding


Ankara Travelling Dress: How we shot it

Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress

The Travelling Dress. One dress infinite possibilities, proving how differently we all see the world.

The Travelling Dress

The Travelling dress project seemed to originate in the USA with a dress travelling to other countries and being photographed by tens and tens of photographers. Photographers have tulle dresses, colourful dresses, wedding dresses. I loved watching the different travelling dress projects we came across, but one thing was evident about so many of the other projects. They all seemed to be very Eurocentric. 

The Sisterhood

As a minority in the photography world, it is something that some people take for granted, being visible, being included, being part of the discussion, being heard, but for some of us our exclusion is the norm. It is not always a purposeful thing, but sometimes a “oh I never even thought about that” “ oh that didn’t even cross my mind” because its something that hasn’t effected the person viewing that project. But it is something that I see instantly.

This was also picked up by other users on some of the blogs about other Travelling Dress Projects.

Travelling Dress Project - Comments

Travelling Dress Project – Comments

Screen Shot 2020-01-11 at 23.39.11

Travelling Dress Project Comments

So with this in mind, one member suggested we wanted to open up this discussion and shoot a travelling dress project that had not already been done. Photographers and models that seems to be largely missing from many of the other projects would therefore be part of the discussion. We had an Afro Centric garment commissioned by Thea Ayayi of House of Tendai and a group of UK Black Female Photographers  created a schedule to shoot the dress as we saw it.

Travelling Dress

We chose a vibrant bright red ankara print material. It was strong and bold, I wanted a model that matched this feel. So I searched for a bald headed dark skinned model. I visualised a Skunk Annansie, Alek Wek, Lupita N’yongo inspired  of model. I found this in Sheleema. 

Model Choice

New to modelling but an amazing model none the less. She had already done high fashion and a number of fashion magazines. As a professional creative I always pay other professional creatives … see my blog on working for FREE. As a photographer shooting various genres I have worked with models previously. Some great ones and some not so great ones. From Sheleema’s portfolio, I felt she could carry off what I wanted for the shoot; and she did. 

There was very little direction, only for minor tweaks.

I also commissioned Make Up artist Kemeko to do an editorial type look. 

Vogue Inspiration

We purposefully did not discuss each others ideas, or show each other our finished shoots until way after they were completed. Does this create more competition or fuel you to push yourself even more?

I purposefully wanted to test myself for this shoot. I initially hired a studio and was going to do my normal clean cut portrait photography style.

Fate then took me to fashion season collections on Vogue Magazine, I  came across Beyonces front page shoot for Vogue earlier that year, shot by Tyler Mitchell. This inspired me to strip this right back. Go back to nature, a much more deconstructed messy idea and just shoot with whatever I’m presented with on the day.

So I let nature and circumstance drive my vision.  I knew however I wanted an edgey editorial look, and something different to how I would normally shoot most of my work.

Shoot Plan

So with no real plan in place, except for channelling Beyonce, I vowed to adapt to whatever I was presented with, come rain or shine (or being in the UK sleet or snow also)! After all this is what creatives do … create. I also shoot for fashion designers such as Kolchagov Barba and wanted to create something I could imagine designers using in a magazine editorial.

On the day we were blessed with a beautiful sunny, bright, warm day. It was cloudy in parts and bright in parts, but still perfect. I chose to use the natural sunlight with additional outdoor flash, playing with sync speeds to create some other interesting shadows and looks.

The Environment

The environment was naturally green, this complimented the dress perfectly. I also put up a draped messy backdrop, I initially wanted a heavier cotton material backdrop, looked into buying one, but agin thought, let me work with what I have.

travelling dress, ankara travelling dress



Making a big headpiece similar to Beyonces own was considered, but  ended up not having the time. The option to instead use oversized bouquet, which substituted. It meant that the red was sandwiched in between a sea of green, which aesthetically looked amazing.

Ten Favourite Lensi Photography Shots From the Ankara Travelling Dress Project

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Travelling Dress Project


Ankara Travelling Dress

The Ankara Travelling Dress

Ankara travelling dress, travelling dress project


#Blackcreatives #ankara, ankara travelling dress, ukbft, travelling dress, travelling dress project, female photographer, fashion photography, black model, bald model, fashion photoshoot, african fashion, african print, travelling dress project, the travelling dress

Travelling Dress on Water



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Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress

ankara travelling dress, travelling dress

Headshot Travelling Dress

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UKBFT Project



Ankara Travelling dress

Travelling dress in water




These are the blogs and contact details of other photographers who took part in the project.

# 1 Mellz Photography LTD

IG: @MellzphotographyLTD

#2 Funmi Akingbe

IG: @patakiphotos

#3 Kimberley Lawson

IG: @kica_photography

#4 Louisa Coulthurst

IG: @urbanbridesmaid

#5 Rele James

IG : @pausepushclick

#6 Toyin Sho

IG : @toyinphotography

#7 Tianna J Williams

IG : @tiannajwilliamsphotography

#8 LA Creativity 

IG : @la_creativityportfolio

#9 Julietta Arden Taylor Photography


Food Photography like a Pro

Follow our simple guide if you want to photograph food like a pro. These food photography tips will help make the process of photographing food easier.

Food Photography

We were commissioned by Divine Cuisine Caterers for a food photography shoot of the Caribbean food they specialise in. Although they had been in business for a while they had not had professional images of their food.

Why are professional images important?

Why are professional images of your product important? Think about when you are shopping online, imagine you know nothing about a product except what you see online. What convinces you to buy into that product? The images and the website. Business through word of mouth is excellent, but if you want to also attract business from outside of your circle, business from bigger clients your window to them, the first thing they will see about you online has to draw them in.

This is why professional images are important. A photographer is providing a company with one of their most important marketing tools, their images.

So how do you go about approaching a commission like this?


Understand what images the client is trying to create, what type of look, feel, lighting, textures and styling. If they are unsure take the direction in this.

Create a colour palette and mood board alongside your client. These points will help to create a clear idea of the direction of the shoot. It will prevent dissatisfaction with the final results, in a scenario where the client wanted something completely different.

A mood board can be created on photoshop, pages, canva, Pinterest, or Milanote.

We created a colour palette of bright vibrant colours we felt would compliment the Caribbean Food we were shooting and the spices used in the creation of that food.

food photography mood board

Colour Palette

Hire / consult a stylist. The main subject (the food) in food photography is only part of the picture. Depending on the company you are shooting for this may already be provided and you may work with the person fulfilling this role on the shoot. You may be able to style the shoot yourself if you have the skills for this. If not you may need to work with a  stylist. We styled this shoot ourselves after a clear understanding of the clients needs.


There will be photographers that advise about using natural window lighting and others that are in the artificial lighting camp. I am firmly in the second, natural window lighting is great … if you can get it; but this is England! We often have grey gloomy days, and days where the weather, shadows and colour temperature fluctuate greatly. This just makes for an inconsistent shoot and lots of post processing.

We were also working in a kitchen with no natural light. As a photographer we need to be prepared to work in a variety of conditions and still be able to execute the shoot for the client.  So for consistency we used flash. This was diffused to create a soft shadow on the food and mimic window light as much as possible.

A constant light could be used just as effectively. We always light the food from an angle behind and use reflectors in various places to fill shadows.

The other benefit of using artificial light is that the scene can be set up anywhere and is not limited to shooting near a window.


Some commissions will be easy to transfer to a studio, others are easier to shoot on location. This was easier to shoot in the catering premises where the food was being cooked, we had access to lots of extras that we decided to use as the shoot evolved.

For this type of shoot a relatively small space is needed, we set up a studio of about 1m squared in the kitchen.

Food Photography BTS, Caribbean Food

Behind The Scenes Food Photography


Nothing can beat a good macro for food photography. We used a Sigma 70mm Macro and a Canon 50mm f1.8.

If you do not have one of these an alternative may be a 50mm or 35mm. Take advantage of the lowest aperture setting, shoot f2.8 or below on standard primes and f5 or below on a macro.

Aim to have something in focus and other objects that give context to the food out of focus in the frame.


Unless your client has a clear brief to shoot at a particular angle, we always shoot a range of angles. We use the formula 25 degrees, 75 degrees and 90 degrees for each set up.

Caribbean food photography, lensi photography, food photography

Caribbean food photography, lensi photography, food photography

This will give the client a good range of images for their food photography, as items will look different at various angles.


Styling for food photography like a pro is styling for how it will look in a photo and not reality. By this we mean the main consideration in styling is what it LOOKS like, not what is logical or would taste best.

This may include undercooking the food item, adding garnishes that you would not normally have with that dish, but look right in the photo and using props such as cocktail sticks and double sided tape to hold items at a particular angle.

We also used contrasting colours that still stayed within our colour palette to dress the dishes, which looked aesthetically pleasing.

The contrasting green mint against the white cream and brown chocolate flakes and dar red cherries, which bring the eye to the dessert. The red tea towel also compliments the red cherry sauce in the desert.


If you are styling the image think about EVERYTHING in the frame.

The shape of the plates, cutlery and glasses. The colour and shape of accessories like salt and pepper pots, the colour and texture of the surface you are shooting on.

We tried three different cutlery sets with this shoot. One felt right, the other two were totally wrong, which we could see as soon as we put it next to the food.


When styling it is important that the accessories give the correct context to the ‘HERO’ – the food your are photographing. For example, burgers accessorised with a knife and fork would make no sense, coleslaw accessorised with Worcestershire sauce again would not make any sense .

Surround your hero with ‘sidekicks’ that support it.

Do the dishes match the colour or style of the food?  Are the sizes of the accessories proportional? Your HERO still has to dominate the image, it still has to be the biggest and be centre of the frame. Just like Batman could never be smaller than Robin, and still always takes the lead role. Imagine your main item is the ‘HERO’.

Use the ‘sidekicks’ to help tell a story to the viewer.

Accessories such as herbs, condiments, and utensils can tell the viewer how the dish is made. This is a styling method we used for this shot.

curried mutton, caribbean food photography, lensi photography

Divine Cuisine Catering curried mutton and ingredients

Cutlery, tins, glasses, jars, fabric, pots and dishes can speak of the origins of the food. For example if you see a tagine you instantly link this to its North African origins.

food photography

Tagine by Caroline

Place items around the ‘hero’ to add depth, meaning and a story to the photo. A top tip is that some of the unique accessories can be found in second hand shops. Most other accessories can be found in everyday high street shops. These were some of those we took to the shoot.

food photography props Birmingham

Food Photography Birmingham


Food photography is very much like many other types of other photography.

Layering adds depth to a photo. Photographers speak about this in newborn photography, fashion photographers speak about it in fashion photography, even street photographers speak about this. It may also be referred to as foreground and background interest.

It is a part of your styling and important in building your image. You may want to play around with placing objects in different areas, taking  the shot from the same angles, and deciding on the best photo from the group.


Shooting with a tripod can allow you to make small changes to a scene and compare them all. This will give you an exact like for like comparison.

This is also important for shoots where you may want to shoot a range of ‘HERO’S’ but have the setting exactly the same. We did this on a cocktails shoot for Bottega Birmingham.

New Logo

Once everything is shot and edited, it is worth thinking about your whole package, will you need a new logo and graphic design. How are the images going to be designed on a flyer or booklet or presented on your website?

We recommend a good Graphic Design and Web Design Company such as Creative Media Design to produce your a logo to compliment a new rebrand. A good Graphic Design company will also ensure your booklets, menus, banners and products that feature the new logo are consistent with the rebrand.

food company logo, company logo, rebrand, graphic design, branding, caribbean food, caribbean drink

Logo by Creative Media Design

creative media design, branding, logo design, rum flavours

New logo used as branding on products

logo branding by Creative Media Design

New Branding for Food Company by Creative Media Design

menu design, graphic design, website design birmingham

Menu design, graphic design, website design Birmingham

Menu, graphic design, graphic designer, graphic design birmingham, caribbean food, food photography, food photographer, salmon, caribbean salmon

Menu Design by Creative Media Design

graphic design, menu design, caribbean food, caribbean food photography, caribbean catering

Graphic Design Caribbean Menu

graphic design, menu design, caribbean food, caribbean food photography, caribbean catering

Caribbean menu example

To commission Lensi Photography for your business Food Photography or to have 121 training sessions to improve your own food photography, contact us on

To commission Creative Media Design for your graphic design and website needs contact them on

Bitesize Copyright …

BiteSize Copyright 

This is a short guide for our customers on what copyright means and how for us and for you, and just to clarify the idea held by some that , if you have paid for images, you can do what you wish with them.


Copyright is legal right that protects the use of your work once your idea has been physically expressed. The current copyright legislation in the UK is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You can find out more about copyright legislation by visiting the Intellectual Property Office. 

The photographer (Lensi – as the author of the image) owns the copyright to the photographs we produce on any commission. We own them, but you get the right to use them. Hopefully the following scenarios will help you understand this a little more, incase you are currently confused. We will use a lot of analogies with music because this is often easier to understand for most, as the lines of photography increasingly become blurred with more and more people having access to photography, the internet meaning right click has left people thinking that images on the internet are free to use and hobbyist photographers contributing to the idea that images have little of no value by giving them away in all kinds of ways. 

In the same way that musicians control who can reproduce their music, photographers control who can reproduce their images.

Shops, hairdressers and pubs etc all need licences to play music – photographers issue licences to enable people to reproduce their images. 

When you commission us for a piece of work, we will ask you about your intended use for the images, and your paperwork will include details of the licence that is issued with your commission. All our commissions include a licence to reproduce for personal use for personal commission such as a birthday party or wedding; and a licence to reproduce for that sole business for commercial  / corporate commissions, this means that your business can use these images for all your marketing uses.

Let us highlight this with a few examples.

birthday party photography

80th Birthday Party Event Photography by Lensi Photography

We shoot your birthday party, you want to put the images on a Facebook folder – FINE

We shoot your birthday party you want to print images for your living room wall – FINE

We shoot your birthday party  you want to get t-shirts made up with one of the images on and sell them to your followers – NOT FINE

We shoot your birthday party, you want to print some images to give to your grandma – FINE

We shoot your birthday party, you want to give an image to the newspaper to accompany an article about you – YOU WOULD NEED TO APPROACH US TO DISCUSS ADDITIONAL FEES THAT MAY BE DUE.

We shoot your corporate event, you want to put the images on pull up banners, websites, leaflets, other marketing materials that are not for sale – FINE

corporate event photography

corporate event photography

We shoot your corporate event, you want to put the images up on display in your school as wall art – FINE

We shoot your corporate event, you want to give the images to other organisations that were at your event also – NOT FINE, this is classed as relicensing an image, which you do not have the authority to do. It is a bit like renting and apartment from a landlord, then sub renting that to other people … you do not have the authority to do so. It would also be a bit like buying a CD from HMV (if one still exists in your area) then making loads of copies and handing them out to your friends … this is illegal.

We shoot your event and you want to place images in a book that is to be sold to third parties – YOU WOULD NEED TO APPROACH US TO DISCUSS ADDITIONAL FEES THAT MAY BE DUE

We shoot your event and you want to place images in a book that will not be sold to third parties – YOU WOULD NEED TO DISCUSS PERMISSION FOR THIS AT THE BOOKING STAGE.

But We Have Paid for the Photos!

Some of you may still have  a voice inside saying … but we paid for the photos.

You have paid for the photographers time and expertise in producing these images and a number of prints / digital images. The copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer, and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright. Remember we all buy computer software that we pay for also, if you look carefully our new copy of Windows 28 (or whatever it is on now) will state clearly what you have permission to do with that software. It will state you can install it on four machines, or that you can use it fora  whole college. The usage will effect how much you pay for that exact same software.

Some photographers control the use of their images even further, stating what mediums the images can be reproduced on, this is normally the practice when working with large corporates.

What if I want to use the photos for something else?

Just as if you buy a copy of a book, a song, computer software or a DVD of a film, making that purchase doesn’t give you the right to make copies of it, use it outside the terms of your licence or broadcast it to the public. That right remains with the copyright owner. It is exactly the same with photographs. Photographers will negotiate their own rates or use image calculators such as the one created by The Association of Photographers.


I want full copyright 

Full copyright is very expensive. You have heard about the copyright disputes over the Beatles and Michael Jacksons music catalogue and in most cases in photography, it is not needed. 

Do you plan on making prints of the photos and selling them? Do you plan on placing the images for license on stock agencies? Do you plan on selling them to newspapers or to an artist to be used on an album cover? Do you want to use the images to market another organisation? Has a mysterious buyer approached you who wants to purchase that particular image for more zeros than you can count? If none of this applies to you, you really do not need a full buyout.

Music vs Photography

Microphone by Israel-Palacio

Microphone by Israel-Palacio

Often we understand the copyright issue easier with other mediums because photography has become so available to everyone, the lines get blurred. Let us give you another example : You commission a song writer and music producer to make you a hit record. They do this, it goes to number one, you perform this all over the world, who owns the song and the music? The Beatles will tell you it is not the person who sang the song or even asked for it to be written or produced. Photographs are exactly the same.

So in short, if you commission us for a personal or business / corporate event, our standard licence will cover most of what you need and want to do with the images, you may need to talk to us about any other uses.

Some further sources for reading :

The New Wedding Trend – The Wedding Magazine

The Bespoke personalised wedding magazine …Let us introduce you to the new wedding trend.

Why a Personalised Wedding Magazine?

Brides (and grooms) are always looking for something different for their wedding.

With quarter of a million weddings taking place in the United Kingdom every year, that may take some going …

But let us help you along the way by introducing your to …The Wedding Magazine.

The Wedding Magazine is a personalised bespoke wedding magazine … all about you!

Similar to the magazines most couples will have no doubt read leading up to their wedding, such as Brides or You and Your Wedding. This is a magazine produced all about your wedding story! To reiterate … a bespoke personalised wedding magazine.

It can be used as a keepsake for guests, or as a precious gift for friends and family that could not attend.  It will be a lifelong momento everyone will cherish.

Have you ever attended weddings and the keepsakes are playthings for the children within minutes of everyone entering the reception? Have you ever thought “poor couple, these things have gone to waste” … this will not happen with the wedding magazine. Your bespoke personalised wedding magazine will take pride of place on grandmas coffee table or your best friends work desk.

What would you include in your personalised wedding magazine?

personalised wedding magazine

bespoke luxury wedding magazine

Imagine being the cover of your very own personalised bespoke magazine that will record your whole journey leading up to the wedding – the dress trials, the hen or stag do, the possible venues, the wedding day, the people that attended, the behind the scene moments… and even afterwards if you wish!

Before you ask … it is not a wedding album. It can be an addition or an alternative. Watch the video to learn some more.  The Wedding Magazine animated video.

It is also a way of ensuring your loved ones all have some images from your day, without having to purchase a whole album for them, and lets face it, we are getting sick of having everything digitally. Computers break, phones break, people do not back them up, and before you know it, images are lost forever. With a physical magazine, just like a physical photo, you can have this for years and it still be in tack.

How to get in contact

If you wish to add something different to your wedding day, contact The Wedding Magazine to discuss your personalised bespoke wedding magazine TODAY!


To Have and to Hold, To Post or Not To Post …

You are making plans to get married

So you are finally getting married! Yayyyy and all that great stuff!

Your plans are underway, venue check, invites – check, dress – check, seating plans – check, wedding photographer -check, car -check … there are so many things you will need to think about, but here is one you may not have… a policy on social media for your wedding.


At this point you may be a little puzzled, wondering exactly what this is, well let me share a few scenarios to fill in the gaps.


We post everything on social media

So many people share EVERYTHING on social media now, we share photos of our food, new purchases, nights out, nights in, birthdays, funerals, parties, and weddings. Literally there is nothing that is immune for a snap, instagram, tweet  or Facebook nowadays.







But …what if you don’t want your private wedding put all over the net for everyone to see? If you are fine with this happening, then thats get not a problem, don’t say anything to your guests and you can be sure there will be photos and videos of your wedding before the day is done online somewhere.


However, if you fall into the category of people who do not want this, then you need to explicitly state this somewhere before the wedding and on the day. Leaving it to “my guests would have more respect than that” is a huge chance, because for many people its not a disrespectful thing to do!


For some of you who are fine with everything being on social media and no limits placed on your guests, you may be thinking, why would any wedding couple do this? What is wrong with sharing photos and videos of someones big day? Here are a few reasons why people may not want their wedding day on social media.


Some people are private. For some people you won’t see photos of their food online, you won’t see photos of all their family members, every holiday, their daily walks abouts, what they watch on tv and so on. For some people you may see a post every few months, they may even post every day, but it will be nothing about their personal lives of family. For some people like this, they won’t want their most intimate day online for the world to see. And before someone thinks, “but my profile is private”; yours may be, but what about all of your guests? And even if their’s are too, that is say 70-200 profiles with your intimate moments on, shared with the 500-2000 friends on their profiles too, so potentially your private moments are shared with how many people (head to your phone to do some quick calculations).

indian wedding

wedding photography







If you have had a small private wedding of say 50 people, and purposefully kept it that way because you did not want random family and acquaintances present on your day, some people would say that posting it all over social media defeats that object. What do you think?


A Few Examples

For those people unconvinced, here are a few examples of guests posting on social media where the couple were not best pleased.

1 – A bridesmaid snap chatting the bride in the background before she got to the church on the day of the wedding.


2 – Guests Facebook living at a wedding

3 – Guests face timing a wedding to someone who was not invited, to show how much of a good time THEY were having!

4 – Guests posting unflattering photos where one of the couple had their eyes closed, or strange facial expressions

5 – Guests posting albums of 100’s of photos from every aspect of the wedding, as though they were the wedding photographer

6 – Guests posting videos on paid platforms such as YouTube

7 – Guests posting something to ridicule the couple, such as posting something that went wrong, someone tripping etc.

8 – Guests posting unflattering angles, such as a hall that looked empty, a dancefloor that looked dead, people looking bored etc


Ask yourself if you would be happy for any of these to be posted at your wedding? And keep in mind, that not everyone is aware of this when they are posting, so its not always purposeful! I have seen people post some terrible photos of themselves on social media and be completely unaware, so there is no reason why they would have more awareness when posting photos of others.

What Photographers think

From a photography point of view too, guests can make your job really difficult! I advise couples that IF they are allowing photos to ask guests to stay in seats, because you can never underestimate how much a guest will be unaware of getting in the official photos, in order to get their iPhone (other brands are available too) photo.

There is also now the emergence of iPads and super sized iPads i call them, which are basically like guests holding up tv screens in the way of the photographer and in your pictures on the day. It quite frankly looks stupid.

I have even had a guest ask me to move out of their way, in my capacity as the official photographer, in order to get the photos THEY need!

What Other Brides and Brides to be Think

We asked for some further views from other brides, these were some of the mixed responses we received.

To Post

Emma Cumiskey said “I have said to guests you can post pics after the night guests arrive as otherwise they have seen the happy couple before they get there”.

Alexandra Daisy said “I would hate if the live streamed our ceremony and speeches. I’m happy for our guests to take pictures throughout the day but ask them not to post them until after the wedding was over. I would hate to see my guests constantly on their phones during my wedding. Id want them to actually experience and enjoy the day”.

Becci Faulkner said “I had no phones at church rule and asked people not to post anything until the day after the wedding. After that anything was game”

wedding photography

wedding photography

Molly Freeman said “We’re hoping for an unplugged ceremony (we want to see people’s faces in pictures not iPads and phones). But other than that pretty ok with pictures and videos after that and at the reception as long as I don’t look too bad in them”

Faye Rose Charrington said “We have a sign that says no social media until we have posted! And we probs won’t post for a few days! Just wanna keep it private for a bit! Everything is online now. Doesn’t hurt to keep things to yourself for a wee bit 😃”

Arelene Wheeler was not concerned by any posts “I didn’t mention anything before hand but we had people do both; Snapchat our ceremony and put me on Facebook before the evening guests had even arrived. I was too busy to care st the time but I wouldn’t do it personally. Speeches were also recorded”.

Not to Post

Ellis Willis had a bad experience with social media wedding posts saying “Someone put about 100 photos and the speeches on Facebook the day after my wedding without asking and I was devastated we didn’t want loads on Facebook and we didn’t get to see them before they were put up either. Gutting really… some of them were terrible and edited so badly by a guest, broke my heart”

Sarah Tugwell works in the industry as a wedding planner “I am a wedding planner and no matter how many times a celebrant or registrar say unplugged ceremony there are always people doing it and I have even had a venue and a venue dresser post pictures of the ceremony room Before the ceremony (so basically as they had finished setting up) which I don’t agree with. Alot of my couples say no to social media until the evening. Now, our own personal wedding next year is a tricky one as my fiance doesn’t do social media and hates it so he doesn’t want any pics going to without our approval… how do I manage that one? Personally we happy for some to go up but only when we have seen them and not to be plastered all over social media. We want to keep it private really. Happy for guests to take pics though.xx”

Newland Manor Wedding

Newland Manor Wedding

Naomi Lunn said “We aren’t your average young couple. We didn’t post when we got engaged. I haven’t ever posted a picture of my ring, even though it’s spectacular lol. And I’m certainly not doing countdowns or announcing that I’ve bought a house. We are inviting 20 of our closest to see us tie the knot in the most beautiful place in Cumbria. Luckily for us there is no WiFi or signal there so people will have to wait until 2 days after the wedding to post. I’d rather there weren’t any photos on Facebook to be honest but I guess it’s a bit extreme to say no posts at all… I don’t think people will respect that, so I guess there is no point saying it”

Josie Shereston said “I banned social media at my wedding and to be fair my guests respected my wishes…. it was our day… not everyman and his dogs lol”


social media

social media

Laura Kane said “We don’t want anything putting up, we are a very private couple, we don’t put anything up, for example… we didn’t put a post up when we got engaged, we changed our relationship status that’s it.  If we don’t tell them personally or are invited then why should they know?
So we are going to ask that guests don’t put anything up, pics of themselves yes but not of the bridal party or any part of the day”.


This is obviously something that couples now have to think about it, whether you agree with it or not. Here is another recent article from news site I Am Birmingham on the same issue

OPINION | A walk down the aisle… with social media


So, as advice from someone in the industry, if you are fine with guests posting everything, or a limited bits, that is fine, or if you prefer them not to post anything, or put on time limit of when they can post, that is fine too … but whatever you choose, please make your guests clearly aware of your wishes. Please add it as another “to do” on your wedding lists!

This post was also recently included in The Wedding Magazine. A personalised luxury magazine all about YOUR wedding. It is an amazing new concept, couples can have their wedding in glorious print from a magazine created about your wedding story. It is going to be a huge hit!





Fantastic Opportunity to work for FREE!

Anyone fancy working for FREE?



Imagine a job request looking for someone to work for free, but not just ‘anyone’ they specifically looking for someone that is highly skilled, with years of experience, thousands of pounds of high end equipment, an extensive portfolio, ability to work independently and in groups, with their own transport and links to get articles / images / published in international high end publications.

I often come across or are tagged in a ”fantastic opportunity” that arises from someone that needing an “amazing photographer” and professional service but who does not want an amateur and at the same time to pay for professional expertise.

Reserved for Creatives

If you are not in the creative industry (including but not limited to writers, photographers, dancers, graphic designers, web designers, journalists, artists, musicians) you may have read this so far with a raised eyebrow, or a puzzled look. It doesn’t seem to quite make sense? but this offer to work for free , is an offer we (the creative community) get often.

After nearly 10 years of being full time, it kind of grates on you. Having spent all these years perfecting and improving my art (yes there is much more to it than simply buying a camera pressing a button), after having spent a small mortgage on equipment and training, having worked hard to get to the point where I have been published and work internationally, why do people continue to ask photographers (and other creatives) to work for free?

Work for FREE?

So again you may be scratching your head thinking “I’ve never heard anyone ask a photographer to work for free”. But it doesn’t present itself so direct and clearcut, it comes out in other guises, it has pseudonyms and disguises. No one (well not in my experience to date) comes to you and says “Hey professional photographer, can you come and work for free for me” .

To anyone in the creative community, being asked to work for free will not be a new story, but an age old one, rehashed again and again, but the one thing it generally has in common, the thing that does not change about this story is that your payment is usually EXPOSURE, we call it ‘exposure pounds’ in the industry. It doesn’t pay for new cameras, travel, courses or insurance. Some of the things photographers need to pay for to stay in business.

Camera Kit , work for free, free work

Camera Kit that cannot be purchased with exposure – Jeff Hopper


It is not accepted at ASDA when I do my grocery shopping, it is not accepted online when I want to buy a new lens, it is interestingly not accepted as payment terms by the very people offering this as a way of paying you!

work for free, asda

Asda by Lensi Photography




The Work for FREE pitch

The sell usually goes along the lines of “everyone will see your work in our newsletter / on our instagram / website / Facebook and naturally this will bring you lots of pain work”.

So lets test this common sell. Ask yourself when was the last time you read an article in a newsletter or on a website and took time to look at who the photographer was?

If you can remember the last time you did this, then when was the last time this lead to you contacting them for business? If you knew they worked x event free, when was the last time this lead to you hiring them for paid work? Facts show that less than 1% of consumers look for the creator or any piece of online content.

I did look up a photographer from an online image a couple times. I saw an amazing image on google, it was one of those images on the holder screen when you are about deciding which Netflix program to watch, I looked up the photographer, flicked through his Instagram, didn’t even actually add him, and carried on with my binge tv day.

Are you still with us?

I expect many of you haven’t even got to this point – looking up a photographer from an image you see online or in print – let alone an image on a company page / bloggers instagram / corporate website, because in my experience, when these same people want a ‘proper’ job doing, they contact the highly paid professional, not the one valuing their work as ZERO being prepared to work for free. You see, this type of ‘pro bono’ ‘fantastic opportunity’ offer has little value or appeal for most photographers, once they are established.

It’s a LOT of work

Six hours shooting a conference could range from an average of £500 – 1000 for many photographers, is this ‘exposure payment’ going to be worth that amount? And what if you end up getting a potential booking for a big paid job on the same day? Do you turn down the paid booking to work for free? Or break your agreement for the non paying client, for a paying one? Now, if someone wants to paint my house in return for a job such as shooting a conference, that may be pro bono I would accept (painting takes so long!), but funnily enough, no one wants to work for free, not THAT hard for FREE … because that’s just outrageous!


In case anyone needs any tips on recognising when someone is asking you to work for free or even when you are asking someone to work for free, here are a few of the forms it takes:

Payment : Exposure, portfolio images, credit

A “pro bono opportunity”

The conversation usually goes along the lines of – we have an event coming up that we would love some amazing images of that we can use across our social media and printed platforms. We have some amazing speakers and we have spent so much on the venue and food that we have no money for a photographer. You will be able to use the images for your portfolio, and we will credit you. Notice no one actually says the words ‘work for free’.

My response – “sorry I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with for free”.

Points to note

It is also worth noting that crediting the copyright owner (the photographer) is legal, not something the photographer is being given as part of their payment.

The photographer being able to use their own images in their portfolio is also something that is legal, not something they are given by the organisation/ person they are shooting images for. So this takes the exchange to simply ‘exposure’ and work for free.

The organisation thinks everyone will see these amazing images of a regular event like a conference (of which you probably have tons of examples already in your portfolio), contact the organisation to see who shot their images, find out you were free, but somehow want to pay for your services.

An amazing image or two

(Here are a couple of our conference / event images by the way, we do cover them, if you are blown away by this image, please feel free to contact us for our services).

corporate photography, event photography, business photography, birmingham, conference photography birmingham, working for free free work

Conference Photography Birmingham – Lensi Photography


Show photography NEC

Event Show photography NEC – Lensi Photography

I have on previous occasions suggested £600 worth of their services or products in return, which would be the cost of an average conference, but that is usually seen as an outrageous exchange.

Please shoot my line for free

I was contacted by a blogger / influencer / insta model who had a clothing line with Pretty Little Thing or Asos I can’t quite remember which one it was now, but to have a line on either of these multi million pound businesses is pretty major in my book

She wanted me to shoot this – for FREE. It would of course be an amazing opportunity to get my images on such a huge platform (which shows no credit to photographers anyway), and her instagram (which does credit photographers) that has thousands of followers. I suggested £600 worth of clothes, but this was so ridiculous to her, I could literally hear the laugh through the text message.

So in reality you are well …working for free.

It is also worth noting that a 6 hour conference would also accrue a couple hours of kit preparation at home, maybe 1.5 hours travel there and back, another 5 hours of image culling, editing, storage and delivery; so you have in fact done near on two days work for free.


working for free, free work

For the poor – Jon Tyson

PAYMENT – Exposure, Credit, Sandwiches and Drink (sometimes a free bag for life with the charity logo printed on it)
A Charitable Cause

It’s for the poor

The conversation is usually along the lines of – we work for x charity, and do some amazing work with x community. We are looking for someone to come along to shoot our event and support our cause, we will credit you on all out social media platforms and there will be drinks and sandwiches at the event that you are also welcome to have.

My response – “I respect your charitable organisation, I am a for profit business and sorry I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with, for free”. It is also worth noting here that many of these charities have bosses with 6 figure salaries, millions in the business bank account and not doing too bad at all. They may not be ‘for profit’ but many are in heck of a better financial situation than myself or most photographers I know!


Working for free, free work

Birthday Invite – Sujan Khalifah

PAYMENT – Exposure, credit, having a great day / night out

Just come along … and bring your camera.

This conversation usually goes along the lines of – I’m having a birthday party / launch event / christening / wedding, I would love you to come if you can make it. Can you also bring your camera and “grab a few shots” while you are here.

This actually means you are the event photographer; organising groups, individual shots, wearing working clothes to the event not heels and a nice dress that I may otherwise wear; with the responsibility of making sure everything is covered.

Your work for free soon becomes very professional when the person that made the request comes back to you and ask why there is not a photo of x person, or when nan kissed her, or when x cut the cake – even though you were supposed to be just “grabbing a few shots”.

My response “I’m sorry but I can’t be a guest and your photographer at the same time, as a guest I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with, on a night / day out”


PAYMENT – Exposure, portfolio enhancement

As above – but it is stressed that these will be great portfolio images

This is especially so, if it is an event there may be some celebrities there. If it is a wedding it will be an amazing wedding, with a beautiful couple in an amazing venue. If a fashion show, there will be some amazing new talent showing.

You will be able to use the images for you portfolio as they will be so amazing. My response “Have you had a chance to take a look at my website, I have quite an extensive and varied portfolio” – having shot amazing weddings in the UK and as far

Newland Manor Wedding - Lensi Photography, working for free, free work

Newland Manor Wedding – Lensi Photography

afield as Rwanda; public figures such as Barak Obama and celebrities such as Jamie Fox. I also shoot London Fashion Week and The Diamond League athletics – just to highlight some of my diverse work. So to date, I am pretty happy with my portfolio, and dare I say, I have some amazing content.

My response “I already have an extensive portfolio that I use to show clients the quality of my work. I am also sorry but I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with, for free”.

red carpet events lensi photography, working for free, free work

Jamie Foxx – Lensi Photography


Anya Hindmarch London Fashion Week - Lensi Photography, working for free, free work

Anya Hindmarch London Fashion Week – Lensi Photography

It is worth noting here that they rely on you being so blown away by the idea of shooting a celebrity, that that will suddenly mean you have no desire to get paid for your job.

If a wedding they rely on the idea that because they are a beautiful couple or are booking a nice venue, you don’t already have beautiful couples and great venues in your portfolio; Or that conventional stereotypical beauty is worth more. All established photographers will already have experience and a portfolio.


PAYMENT – Exposure, credit, seeing your image in print / or a popular platform
“Can we use your x image for free in perpetuity, across all our platforms with credit to yourself”

This is usually line from newspapers and magazines, if you scroll through twitter you will often see tweets from newspapers asking to use images they find online.

It is also common with wedding and such venues after you have covered an event in their venue. Some of these usages would literally cost hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands if there were to pay the going rate for it. I often get this after fashion shows from models, or events from the people present.

It’s just a photo, its not worth anything

Somehow, some people believe that giving away something of this value is not working for free. There is also a huge misconception that because they feature in the image, they have a right to it. This may come as a surprise to many but being the subject of an image gives you no more right over than image than not being in it. Celebrities do not own the images thousands of photographers take of them, royalty do not own the images taken of them. I also remember my mom having to pay for images that featured me when I was at school. Whats the difference?

The image was created because of the equipment and education you invested thousands in to be able to create it. If you are not compensated for this investment, you are again …working for free. My response to this type of request is “I am a full time photographer, as such all of my images are licensed, as part of my income, I can send you my licensing rates if you would like / the price is x”.


PAYMENT – A thank you / feeling good
“We would like you to come and talk to our group of up and coming photographers, share some of your knowledge and tips”

I have spent a lot of money on education to get to my position; some of that money was spent with other photographers imparting their knowledge to me. I paid for their expertise.

I paid for the shortcut to know how to do particular things, because they had already put years into perfecting that thing. Knowledge has a value. Students pay thousands of pounds to go University …to gain knowledge.

That’s a little stingy of you, not everyone can afford to pay

This is the way of the world. We would not question BMW for not having their cars at a price everyone can afford. No one would complain to Apple for not making their iPhones at a price we can all afford. I also currently live in a two bedroom house because developers are “too stingy” to give me a four bedroom one, because I cannot afford to pay for it …

working for free, work for free

Iphone by Kevin Bhagat

A small business is no different.

My response to this type of request is “I am a full time photographer, as such my time and knowledge has a value, this is my income and I do not work for free”.


PAYMENT – Amazing images you can use for your portfolio to gain exposure and experience from
“Do you collaborate with other businesses / do you do collaboration shoots?”

If I come up with a crazy idea that I would like try out to test my artistic genes, this is a collaboration. A business contacting you for commercial images they need to market their business, is a commercial shoot, not a collaboration.

That’s a little stingy of you, not everyone can afford to pay

Yes some people can’t, they may be a small business like Lensi, and will have to do without some things they need.

Sometimes they are a huge business who wants to give shareholders extra money rather than paying a small business. Sometimes they see no value in photography, therefore just don’t want to pay for it.

Sainsbury’s is one such example, asking for someone to paint their canteen, for experience.

But you do not need to take only these few thought out examples as gospel, the internet is littered with websites exposing the same.

Photographers also need to make a living too.

My response to this type of request is “I am a full time photographer, this is a commercial shoot not a collaboration, the cost would be x ”.



Just like a car, a camera has what I call “click mileage” a certain number of actuations and wear and tear, before it needs a major costly service, then before it dies altogether.

Yes camera’s has a life expectancy! They do not go on forever.

Life Expectancy - Moira Dillon, working for free, free work

Life Expectancy – Moira Dillon


Enough of these free jobs brings it closer to this point, without contributing towards its repair or replacement. If photography is your business, your living, this makes little business sense. To keep using something, building up the wear and tear and click mileage, without any payment to replace that very thing. Imagine and Uber driver giving away free rides to charities, or for exposure because they are carrying celebrities and such. There then comes a day when they actually have a huge fare, someone that wants to travel from London to Birmingham for example, a nice payday … but unfortunately they cannot take up the offer because …their car has broken down due to the extensive free rides! Now working for free has actually ended up costing you the loss of real money!


Another consideration when doing a free job, if something were to happen on this job, who pays? Who would pay for your kit if something is stolen or damaged at this free job?

You are already working for free, so is this organisation / person going to then say “I know we were not paying you for this gig, but here is £2000 for your stolen camera / here is £500 to repair the lens your dropped while covering our event” …

working for free, free work

Broken Camera – Christian Bolt

Would you simply get a sorry and an extra ham sandwich?

working for free, free work

Ham Sandwich – Wilfred Wong


An insurance claim may cost you an excess of at least £250, so on top of the costs of working for free, this could cost the photographer quite a lot, all with any payment.

If the worst were to happen, and you had a paid job the next day, it would be irritating in the least, having to pay to hire a lens for a paid job, because the lens you own was damaged or stolen on a FREE JOB


My last general consideration here is where I ask you to question what happens if you want a service or product you cant afford.

You have a few options:

  • Steal it
  • Do without it
  • Buy a cheaper version
  • Restructure your priorities / save for it


I can think of very few cases where I would ask for it for free, or steal it. So just for fun, I have given you a few examples of putting the same exposure requests that creatives get to other businesses and services.



I would love to have a few months worth of sessions for free to enable me to get into shape.

working for free, free work

Danielle Cerullo – Free Gym Use

I do loads of great work in the community and you would really be helping me out. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to pay for this … but … I will credit you on social media every time I am at a class, naming the gym and instructor. I will also bring extra water with me to class for you to hydrate yourself with.


I need a new bathroom plumbing in. It is a lovely modern home which would be amazing on your website. A real show piece. I cannot afford to pay for the plumbing because I have already paid an electrician so much. I have also invested in some great designer artwork for the walls. You will be able to use images of my bathroom on your leaflets and website to show the quality of your work. I will also give you a great review.


Come along to my BBQ that I am having on Sunday, while you are here can you just bring your hair kit and give me a quick wash and blow dry! It is going to be a great day, great music and my famous BBQ spare ribs. It shouldn’t take you long.

working for free, free work

Hairdresser – Keren Perez


(yes I have been personally approached with all these amazing opportunities)

1. A local council that had had their budgets cut during austerity. They were putting on a conference, but didn’t have the money to pay for this conference. They were asking everyone involved to work for free. Interestingly though, the council workers were being paid as it was part of their day job; so it was actually only small businesses that were being asked to work for free. The bigger businesses such as the one where the event was being held, had been paid. I have a policy to never ‘help’ established multi million pound organisations or companies with FREE WORK.

2. A magazine who contacted me for an image they did not want to pay for (i.e free), to accompany an article about people not wanting to pay photographers. (I kid you not).

3. A very high end fashion house (think dresses in excess of 15k), with A list celebs, contacting me to use an image for free. I am not sure why as they had their own paid photographer at the event. Maybe he did not capture the image that I did … who knows.

I have a policy of not giving free stuff to companies who have dresses that cost more than my car or what some people earn in a year.

4. This was was experienced by a colleague. He had shot a wedding a venue, the venue approached him to use a photo from this wedding. He was willing to do this and asked if in return he would use the venue for a styled shoot. The venues response “there would be an applicable hire charge for this, as a commercial venue for hire”.

So yes … we will happily have your work for for FREE, but please do not be so ridiculous as to ask to use our venue for free.


Before all the critics rolls in, let me also clear up a few things I am expecting.

1. Everyone was new to the business once

People who are just starting in the business, with entry level kit and little experience will take up these opportunities; I did myself; but these are not the types of photographers the people who pay with ‘exposure pounds’ are looking for. Your value increases with the more experience (and kit) you accrue.

Think about how much you may pay a newly qualified solicitor compared to a Barrister. How much a Newly qualified teacher may get paid, compared to a year Head or Principal; an Actress with decades of Hollywood Blockbusters under her belt compared to someone just getting into the business. A consultant compared to a newly qualified doctor.

2. Lots of people do voluntary work.

Volunteer – “a person who OFFERS to take part on an enterprise or undertake a task” – see the key difference there?

3. Remember where you came from or started

I do. I remember starting at the bottom and spending thousands of pounds on courses, training and equipment. The same person invested thousands upon thousands of hours gaining the expertise that allows me to shoot and capture images the way I currently do.

But I see no correlation between remembering your humble beginnings and being asked to work for free.

Just like some of the professions I have named above, I have done my ‘internship’ of FREE WORK. If you were asked to earn the same in your job that you have been in for many years, the same as someone who is not even qualified in it yet, would it slightly raise the irritation levels?

4. I would be overjoyed to have my image in print / on the instagram page of x organisation / x celebrity

Thats fine, and your choice. I would rather be paid with real money.

I will update this article periodically, but as of its publication that last time I was asked to work for free was August 2019.

5. I cannot see the big deal, what are photographers going on about, it is just a picture.

Try saying this to Karen Anvil who is rumoured to have made £50,000 from a photo she took on her phone of The young Royals on their Christmas walk.

Photos are how I pay my bills. Yes in todays world they have become so accessible. But each photo is worth something to a photographer, especially full time ones. Imagine being asked to come into work at the local council for one month for free …

Would you be jumping for joy at the opportunity or working for no pay. Even if they put you in their newsletter!

6. I have seen you advertise for emerging photographers to attend gigs with you

Yes, as part of me helping someone on their journey or as part of my mentorship. See my Patreon mentoring page for this.

Neither I or my clients need or use any of their work, most times I do not even see the images until I see them on socials. If I have a job that NEEDS an assistant, I pay them, because I do not have time to explain, I just need it done!

My free work offers totalled £17,000 in 2018 

My free work offers so far in 2019 total to £7,000 (August 2019) 

I would be interested to see which other average everyday people give this amount to charity in a year.

This is what some other creatives have said about it?

My hope for this article.

I hope the article reaches some of the people it needs to…

We (creatives) hope those who ask people to work for free understand their request.

I wish that professionals that work for free understand what they are giving away.

Thanks to all my clients for the respect of paying me in real recognised currencies!! (Even if some of you haggle!)

Follow us on instagram to view some of our “working for pay” jobs!

Lensi_Photography and Lensi.Photography.Weddings

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