UNVEILED Network Members Chris and Shazia, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, both studied video and film production together at university, and this filmmaking background really lends itself to their unique style of photography and sets them apart from other photographers up north.
If you’re big on storytelling and crave genuine, real moments from your special day captured in the most natural way possible, then Chocolate Chip Photography are your pair! With such a distinctive vibe and heaps of personality, you’ll instantly know a Choc Chip pic when you see it. Their images are ultra creative and totally different, and are even described by their clients as cinematic – just look at their stunning couple portraits and you’ll see why.
So here they both are, chatting about why they love what they do, the super personalised service you can expect on your wedding day, and why they like to hang out with their couples.
It’s very natural, laid-back and relaxed, not posey and definitely creative, or at least we try to be! A lot of venues recommend us because we tend to photograph in places that no other photographers do, so we have a unique point of view.
I think the only other word to describe us would be fun. We do like to have fun and enjoy ourselves with not only our couples but the guests too. After all, weddings are fun and we want to keep the formalities as far away from the day as we can.
We’re very laid-back, but we’re also super organised. Wedding days are a balance between natural and informal photographs, but also a small amount of formal photographs too, whether it be family photographs or couple portraits.
No one likes to be standing around all day, so we like to keep the formalities to a minimum. That way, everyone can just enjoy themselves without having to worry about when they might be needed.
For the most part, we’ll leave everyone to enjoy themselves, not hiding in the background but mingling, chatting and capturing the day from within, where the guests are comfortable with us.
When we’re needed, we’re organised. We’ll round up guests, get them where they need to be (without being pushy) and have them back to enjoying their day in no time.
We also use our time with our couples efficiently and focus on photographing quality over quantity. By doing this, it ensures we are capturing some amazing images, all the while knowing that our couples are only going to be away from their guests for the minimum amount of time possible.
The day isn’t about us taking over. It’s about us fitting in and making sure that the guests and our couples have the best day ever. We want them to spend as much time together on the day as possible, so our whole approach is centred around that ethos.
More often than not when we meet a couple for their first consultation, we tend to chat about everything other than the wedding. We’ve had couples come into our studio and chat for hours about films, food and music. Nothing about the wedding but all sorts of other stuff and then they’ve just said “yeah we’ll book”. We even had one couple who booked with us at a wedding fayre and we went straight round to their house for Sunday lunch with all the family – never met them before and yet two hours later, we’re sat tucking into roast beef and Yorkshire puddings with their parents and siblings. Those are always the best conversations.
We always get on well with our couples because what you see is what you get with us. We’ve learned that you attract what you are, meaning that we tend to attract couples just like us with similar vibe and interests. This means we connect with our couples on a level that transcends the typical photographer/client relationship, just like you would with your friends.
We go for meals with our couples, hang out with them – many of them even came along to our own wedding! That’s because we get on so well with them that we’ve inevitably become friends along the way. It’s an amazing feeling when you first meet someone as a client and they end up being friends. That’s the sign of forming great relationships with your couples and that all starts with being ourselves.
From a photography point of view, we’re always striving to produce something great for our couples. Something that will exceed their expectations. We’ve never wanted to capture run of the mill images. We’re creative and we’ve always wanted to give our couples something different. We want to stand out in the line and we want our images to do the same.
Many of our clients and peers know when they see one of our images, even if they don’t know it’s been taken by us. They tell us that our images just feel like “Choc Chip” images and that’s how we know we have a style that’s different from anyone else.
We’re also often recommended solely based on how we work on the wedding day. Our couples want things to run smoothly and while they book us initially for the photographs, we’re always praised for how we go above and beyond the call of duty. So many people refer to us as photographers/wedding planners because we help out with everything on the wedding day to ensure the whole experience is perfect for our couples. We take care of everything, including tasks that are nothing to do with us, just to help our couples.
In truth though, I’d say the thing that sets us apart the most is what we mentioned earlier about the relationships we have with our couples. Guests always assume we’ve known the couples for years and are often surprised when we tell them otherwise. The reason this is important is because the more relaxed our couples and guests are with us, the more relaxed the photographs will be. It’s why our photographs look so natural and why our relationships with our couples are key.
Shazia says: For me, it’s the couple portraits, especially when we get to photograph somewhere different or interesting. I always feel my creative ideas firing when I’m in a cool location with an adventurous and trusting couple. Whether it’s lying down in fields, wading into lakes or running into Chinese supermarkets – when a couple really puts their trust in us and gives us the freedom to be creative, that’s when things get exciting. Some couples don’t put a huge emphasis on their couple portraits (often because they’re terrified of being photographed) but when a couple really goes the extra mile, it really can pay off and you often end up capturing something incredible that you might never capture again.
Chris says: For me, it’s the evening part of the day when guests are mingling, chatting, dancing and falling over laughing. Guests loosen up after the wedding breakfast. They’re also more relaxed with us then, so the evening is the perfect time to capture the guests as they truly are. All the formalities are over and it’s just time to let loose and enjoy themselves.
We tend to primarily work in the North East of England, because most of our bookings come from work of mouth, but we have – and do – travel all over. We tend to do a lot of weddings in the Lake District, the North West and Scotland and we’ve also been abroad too. We’ll happily go anywhere that our amazing couples are getting married.
Find someone you get on well with, especially if you’re not entirely comfortable having your photograph taken. If you’re a little uneasy about being photographed, you definitely need to book someone you get on well with. I don’t just mean, “yeah, they seem nice”…I mean, “I could totally see them being guests at our wedding”.
Ask for recommendations, but don’t just take them as gospel. It’s always good to know if someone you know was happy with their photographer, but what works for one person may not work for you. If in doubt, ask your venue or other wedding suppliers.
Ask to see a full gallery. Many photographers tend to show their “hero” shots or favourite shots, but we’ve heard it so many times where a couple will fall in love with one photo and book a photographer, only to be left disappointed afterwards because the photographer didn’t capture the rest of the day the way they wanted.
Don’t make your decision based on price. It should never be your main criteria and it’s always a recipe for disaster when that happens. I’m not saying don’t be mindful of the costs involved, but remember that money comes and goes, but your wedding photographs are the one thing that will last forever.
Don’t set a budget before you start looking. Many people set a random budget for their photographer but they have no idea what they like yet and how much that will cost. This is often when people have to compromise on booking the photographer they really want.
Don’t take up the whole day with group photographs. Some people get carried away and want a photograph with every tom, dick and harry. The only problem is that the longer you take doing group shots, the more time you spend standing around doing cheesy grins and you spend less time enjoying yourself.
Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. The two most important things about a wedding are the food and the entertainment. We’re not saying nothing else matters but in terms of your guests, they won’t care if anything else isn’t right. If they’re well-fed and entertained, the rest of the day can be however you want it to be, but don’t stress if it’s not 100% how you wanted it. No one else will care.
We keep things simple and offer two packages: one of us or both of us. Most couples book us both to capture the day, but we do have those two packages on offer. We also have a few payment options to help our clients and make things easier for them.
Other additions are pre-wedding engagement shoots and weddings albums. These are optional extras that we don’t include, simply because not everyone wants them.
Through our photography studio, we also have a great selection of beautiful handmade frames that our clients can choose from. This can either be to go along with – or as an alternative to – a wedding album. Many of our couples hang images in their home, so why not do it in a beautiful handmade frame that will last forever?
As well as being awesome wedding photographers, we also have a photography studio in Newcastle Upon Tyne. We primarily spend our time photographing newborn babies and we also run photography workshops and courses.
Many of our wedding couples return to us after their weddings for newborn baby sessions. It’s important to our clients that we’re there to capture every major milestone and it’s lovely that we get to see our amazing couples time and time again.
Contact us to work with UNVEILED in print or online.