Hank's Blog

Ditch the wedding stress with this

free guide...


5 steps to crafting a guest list that aligns with your values and your budget.

Scarlett and Brad’s Luscious Garden Wedding

We met at Fort Street High School and became fast friends in year 11 and 12 in HSC PDHPE. Our teacher split the class into teams and ran a competition to try and motivate us to study. The lowest performing students got to choose their team… so Brad chose his mates Pat and Alex (who are two of the groomsmen) and Scarlett.

Our team was called “Mount Cleverest”. There were weekly quizzes and tallied exam marks throughout the whole of year 12. Mount Cleverest of course won the comp, which was no surprise given how much we enjoyed studying together 😉

Fast forward to 2012 and Brad was working in a bar so naturally Scarlett enjoyed visiting for free drinks before nights out, and when Brad clocked off work he’d sometimes give Scarlett a lift home. We had discovered our shared music taste and mutual love of festivals – cornerstones of any budding 19-year-old romance. It was after one music festival – Future Music Festival 2012 – that Brad texted Scarlett to ask her out. And the rest is history…


My Pricing Manifesto

“How does a photographer with social values price themselves in a capitalist market?”

As a wedding photographer, I’m often asked how my social values align with the realities of doing business in a capitalist economy. Often these two ideologies can feel like they are in tension with one another, but I have created a business model that I feel has struck the right balance. The desires to provide value, create meaningful work, build a sustainable business, give back and invest in my long-term financial well-being have all contributed to the way I structure my pricing.

Provide value:

First and foremost, as with any successful business, my pricing is determined by the value created. I know that I provide much more than simply pretty wedding photos. From start to finish, I will go above and beyond. I bring my curiosity, my energy and my expertise. I will help plan your wedding timeline, affirm that you look #stunning every 5 minutes, and promise not to project mainstream, heteronormative notions of romance onto you. That is the true value of my services, and my customers want to pay for it.

Create meaningful work:

As a photographer, I’m deeply committed to creating the best possible work for my clients. When someone trusts (and pays) me to photograph their wedding, it motivates me to consistently strive towards bigger & better images. It also means my clients are invested in my creative process, trusting the choices I make throughout their wedding day without question. This is why I have set prices for my services and don’t offer discounts – it creates bad incentives that end up hurting my clients and producing sub-par images. My price reflects the quality I strive for in all my work.

Build a sustainable business

I’m also determined to remain in business long enough to ensure that I capture the special moments of your day. My rates reflect my commitment- by charging what is necessary for me to keep running effectively and sustainably so that you -and future clients like yourself- can enjoy all the beautiful memories from your big day!

I strongly believe in making my work as accessible as possible without compromising its value. That is why I offer flexible payment plans, pre-order album pricing, and a comprehensive budgeting and planning tool, The Ultimate Wedding Planner spreadsheet, to all my clients.

Give back

Giving back is an important part of my business model which helps to ensure that I am making a positive contribution while also running my wedding photography business. Through various initiatives, I aspire to make my work as inclusive, sustainable and equitable as possible. For example, the entire business is carbon-neutral, and I adopt 3 trees to be planted for every wedding booked through Rotary’s Adopt-a-Tree program. I also offer equitable pricing to low-income and historically marginalised communities who need it. Additionally, I volunteer 1 day a week as the Chief Storytelling Officer at Out For Australia – an organisation that empowers LGBTQIA+ people to bring their authentic selves to work.

By giving back through these initiatives, I’m committed to creating a better future for everyone.

Financial well-being:

Lastly, I need my business to provide financial security for my future. By making a profit in my business, I’m able to invest in my long-term financial well-being and ensure peace of mind.

I’m so grateful to be able to do what I love for a living. I believe that wedding photography is an investment  – it’s one of the most important ways to capture the memories and emotions from the wedding day – and I am committed to providing a high level of value for my clients.

If you’re looking for a values-based wedding photographer in Sydney, contact me. I’d be happy to chat with you about your vision for your big day and see if we’re a good fit.

Avoiding the Awkward Lull: 4 steps to planning a dope and photogenic wedding recessional

No one likes feeling awkward, especially on their wedding day. As a wedding photographer, I have been to over 250 weddings and I have seen the same awkward situation play out pretty much every weekend.

You know the scene — the couple has said their “I dos”, the celebrant announces them as officially married (woop woop!), and then they make their way back up the aisle. Sometimes there’s music or confetti, but at a certain point, there is the inevitable moment of…


No one seems to know what to do once they reach the end, or even where the “end” is. In this article, I am here to bust that awkwardness and help you plan a dope (and photogenic) wedding recessional.

What Is a Recessional?

The wedding recessional is a time-honoured tradition that signals the end of the ceremony. It’s the moment a newly-married couple walks back up the aisle, typically to some cheering and fanfare from the guests. Despite it being a very short-lived moment, the recessional will often be a big moment of the wedding as it often represents the first opportunity for everyone to celebrate that you are “officially” married. It can be an exciting moment, but it can also feel very awkward if it’s not handled properly.

How Do I Avoid the Awkwardness?

Step 1: Plan a Confetti or Flower Petal Exit

Arm your guests with some fun things to throw in your direction as you walk back up the aisle.

When it’s time to make a grand exit at your wedding, it’s a great idea to give your guests something to do to celebrate you. Tossing eco-friendly petals or biodegradable confetti is a fun way for your guests to express their love for you – it’s the perfect metaphor for showering you with affection!

Designate one or two people to arm people with the confetti prior to the recessional, and ask your celebrant to announce it right before you begin your walk. Make sure they include something along the lines of “please throw the confetti directly above their heads, not in their faces.”

This will help create a very photogenic “falling” effect that makes for great memories and photos!

Step 2: Choose a designated “end zone”

You need to know where to stop walking at the end of your recessional

This might seem obvious, but it’s something overlooked by many couples when rehearsing their ceremony. They get through all the formalities and then forget to decide where they will stop after the recessional. My suggestion is not to go too far away, but you may like to swing just off to the side a little.

Step 3: Select the perfect song

Selecting the perfect song is crucial to an un-awkward recessional, as it can set the tone for the whole moment. When searching for this tune, pick something high energy, positive, and super lovey-dovey, that reflects your and your partner’s personalities.

Don’t forget to make sure you have someone in charge of playing the music at the right moment. It can be a DJ, band, or even a friend with a Spotify account. They can even ask to link it up with the celebrant’s speaker system.

Here are some suggested songs to use for your recessional:

  • A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay
  • We Found Love – Rihanna ft Calvin Harris
  • 24K Magic – Bruno Mars

Step 4: Assign some “early huggers” to meet you in the end zone

If you read nothing else in this article, read this: This is the key to avoiding the awkward lull once you reach the end zone.

Choose 4 or 5 friends or family members to be ready at the top of the aisle waiting to run in for a hug once you arrive. This will indicate to everyone else that it’s okay to start lining up for hugs and congratulations. Having those people ready helps ensure that there won’t be an uncomfortable silence or any confusion about what to do next. Plus, these moments make for some of my favourite photos.

Trust me: having a few people waiting with open arms immediately after you say “I do” will help make your recessional (and the whole ceremony) more memorable and worthwhile because you get to share it with the most important people in your life.

Wrapping things up:

Here’s a quick rundown of the 4 steps to planning a fun and photogenic recessional while avoiding the awkwardness:

  1. Plan a confetti or flower petal exit
  2. Choose a designated “end zone”
  3. Select the perfect song
  4. Assign some “early huggers” to meet you in the end zone

At its core, a wedding recessional should be an exciting moment because it marks the official beginning of your marriage. Planning these things ahead of time will leave you and your guests with an amazing experience that you’ll never forget. Good luck and have fun with it!

How to Organise a Sparkler Exit: A step-by-step guide to planning a seamless (and stunning) wedding exit.

Your wedding day will be one of the most magical days of your life. And what could be more magical than a sparkler exit to cap it all off? One of the most popular ways for newlyweds to leave their wedding reception is to organise a sparkler exit.

But, before you can enjoy this incredible moment, there’s a lot of work to be done! Speaking as someone who has photographed over 250 weddings, I can tell you right now that a successful sparkler exit has to be well-planned. I have compiled an easy step-by-step guide to organising and executing a stunning (and seamless) sparkler exit for your wedding.

Bride and groom exiting their wedding with a line of the guests holding sparklers. the bride and groom are golding hands, while the guest are all cheering and smiling.

This photo is from Bec and Chin’s wedding, where they had over 100 people see them off in their sparkler exit.

Step 1:

Decide how many sparklers you need – (1-2 per person)

The first step to organising a sparkler exit is deciding how many sparklers to purchase. I’d suggest one per-person is a good start. If you want a little flexibility, or to extend the experience, you may like to purchase enough for two per person. Any more than this will be overkill. We’ll talk about safety later on, but trust me when I say that you do not need to tempt your guests with excessive leftover sparklers. With the right amount of bright, twinkling stars in hand, your send-off will truly be spectacular.

Step 2:

Buy long sparklers and flame lighters

Buying the sparklers for your exit is a detail that you don’t want to forget. Be sure to add this to your to-do list at least 2 weeks prior to the wedding day itself. Bonus points if you can delegate this to a friend or relative (more on this to come).

Here’s the kicker: Make sure you buy long sparklers, not short ones. Sparklers all have a specific amount of time they “run”, and the longer they are, the more time you give yourself (and your photographer) to take amazing photos! This is an example of what you should buy. You will also need to acquire 2-4 lighters that produce a full flame.

Lastly, store the sparklers in a dry place where they will remain dry and cold until the reception when they will be brought out and ignited by guests who are ready to celebrate and start a fantastic wedding celebration.

Step 3:

Delegate! (1 x MC, 1-2 x distributors, 2-4 x lighters)

To ensure all goes off without a hitch, you will need to delegate tasks among your trusted crew. Start by choosing an energetic MC who will direct the crowd to head outside. Next, you’ll need a responsible person to distribute the sparklers, and two to four people with fire lighters who can divide and conquer.

Pro tip: I recommend arranging for some special people to meet you at the end of the aisle when it’s all over for a farewell hug.

Step 4:

Timing is crucial! Here is the order of events:

Timing is crucial when it comes to wedding photos, so don’t get caught up in conversation with Uncle Pop, or else you may miss the short window when the sparklers are going off.

Order of events:

Earlier in the evening: MC to announce there will be a sparkler exit at [10PM*]

10 minutes to go: MC to give a 10-minute reminder, and ask for everyone to make their way outside the venue

5 minutes to go: as people are moving outside, the sparkler distributors will start handing out 1-2 sparklers per person and asking everyone not to light them yet.

<1 minute to go: the 2-4 lighters will all start at the top of the aisle where the couple are about to walk down. Leap-frogging each other to cover as much ground as possible.

0 minutes to go: on the photographer’s cue, the couple enters the sparkler aisle. The lighters continue to make their way down the end of the aisle lighting everyone’s sparklers.

*Don’t wait too late for your sparkler exit, otherwise all your guests will probably leave before you do! It’s much better to leave with the feeling “it ended too soon” than “it ended too late”.

Step 5:

Take your time and enjoy the moment!

As your loved ones light up the night with their sparklers, you and your beloved can make your way down together. Expect everyone to be cheering you on and celebrating the end of a magical day!

Hold hands and take your time to soak it all in. Your photographer will be documenting as much as possible, so the longer you take the more chances of getting that “perfect” shot.

two brides kissing in the centre of a sparkler exit aisle created by their guests, surrounded by fairylightsStep 6:

Safety first.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of a sparkler exit and forget that we’re dealing with fire and unpredictability. Please ensure you and your partner are walking at a safe distance, not directly underneath the sparks of light. The embers of the sparklers can easily catch alight to any hairspray or loose fabric.

Similarly, your guests should refrain from holding more than 1 or 2 sparklers in their hands, as the accumulative effect of sparklers is they become hotter and more dangerous. We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone with a handful of sparklers getting burned as they explode.

And that’s it: how to organise a sparkler exit on your wedding day. When done safely, and in an organised manner, a sparkler exit can be one of the next ways to round off an amazing night. After careful planning and delegation, say goodbye to all of your loved ones with a spark of joy that reflects the beginning of your lifelong love.

Jen & Joey’s Concious Blue Mountains Wedding

Jen & Joey were wed on a property in Blackheath, in the world-famous Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. But their story started some years earlier, as many millennial love stories do, on a dating app.

The first date was on a stormy Sydney evening. Joey was stuck in an Uber in gridlock traffic, while Jen arrived on time but had forgotten her wallet. When texts were exchanged about the date possibly being doomed, Joey quickly came up with an idea: to meet at the Courthouse so he could leave the Uber and jump on the train, allowing Jen time to run back home and grab her wallet.

What then followed was, and I quote, “the best first date ever”; beginning with a drink that moved onto dinner, then another drink and finally an ice cream in the park after all the bars had closed.

When it came to the proposal, “we took a dress-first approach” they said. They bought Jen’s dress on a whim when they saw it in a vintage store in Newtown during a lockdown.

Falling in love was less of a conscious thought and more a deep, grounded knowledge of what was true. “It was just feeling in my gut that this was the person for me,” Jen says. “After about a month of seeing each other, I was driving in my car, listening to music and realised that every love song seemed to be about Joey.”

Joey added that the “…relationship felt so right from the very first moment, and grew and strengthened over the first few summer months, and has only grown more since then.”

Eventually, it came time to make it official. “Unbeknownst to our friends and family, we searched to find an Australian opal and we asked a friend of ours to make it into a ring for us,” the pair told me. “While we planned and designed it together, our friend sent it to Joey on the sly, so while we were on a picnic overlooking a valley in the Blue Mountains, Joey brought it out, declared his love and we were engaged!”

When the day rolled around, it was clear that Jen and Joey wanted to have a wedding that aligned with their values. They chose to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, celebrate their love of birds (keep an eye out for the epic feather Joey found the day before the wedding), and minimise their carbon footprint.

There were plenty of other nods to Jen and Joey’s passions throughout the day. They enlisted the help of some of Jen’s AUSLAN interpreter colleagues to sign during the ceremony and speeches; they packed a thermos of hot tea to drink during the portrait shoot, and they crafted a menu full of as many different forms of potato as possible (something I was very, very pleased to discover). Jen even played the drums with her band later in the evening!

When it comes to what they love about each other, the list is long. Like, genuinely, I had to cut most of it out. But I couldn’t ignore this part of what Jen said about Joey: “I never thought I would want to be doted on by a partner. But being with Joey has made me feel so loved and cared for as he rubs my feet every night, dashes off to make cups of tea as soon as I wake up, lays out my pyjamas for me after a long day, covers me in pillows and blankets as I lounge on the couch, calls through the house about how much he loves me at all hours of the day, cheers while I practice my drumming, etc etc. I love how much I feel loved.

Joey, not to be outdone, had just as many wonderful things to say about Jen. “Jen is a light in the world – someone who brightens the day of everyone around her. She has so much empathy that she frequently gets stuck talking to strangers about the troubles in their lives, always leaving them feeling comforted and reassured. Being with Jen is pure joy.”

Jen and Joey’s wedding was an unforgettable event, filled with joy and celebration. From the heartfelt toasts of family members, to trekking up a mountain strangely named “Chicken and Hen Rock”, to dancing late in the evening – Jen and Joey made sure that every moment was special not just for them but all their guests too!


Wedding Credits:

Photography: Henry Paul Photography | Florist: Joey’s family | Engagement Ring: I Am Jika | Celebrant: Sara, a friend of a friend | Wedding Venue: Happy Daze, a family home | Catering: Vicky – Urban Cooking Collective | Entertainment Brooklyn Brady | Dessert: Casa Del Marrickville | Marquee: Blue Mountains Special Event Hire | Wedding Bands: I Am Jika | Jen’s Outfit: Vintage | Hair: Kayes House of Hair | Joey’s Outfit: A Highland Wedding Kilt Hire

Everyone deserves to feel safe, seen and celebrated at their wedding. Henry Paul Photography is a place where your love is welcome and affirmed, regardless of your gender identity, sexuality, race, age, religion, body size or ability.

Henry Paul Photography acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. I pay my respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders both past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


Pin It on Pinterest