It’s a question I have been asked all year by every couple I photograph since I announced I was getting married, everyone seemed to want to know “well who will take YOUR photographs at YOUR wedding?”.
Being a professional photographer I draw my influences from a wide variety of sources and know more than anyone that unfortunately, as was featured in the news this week, there are sadly some very poor examples of wedding photography out there and people who call themselves wedding photographers who just do not have either the technical side or the composition nailed and you certainly DO NOT want to be taking any risks on your wedding day. With the price of Digital SLR cameras coming down all the time and the quality going up it’s no surprise that at many of my weddings some of the wedding guests have high-end gear, however it takes a hell of a lot more than a decent camera to take memorable and original wedding photographs.
My (now!) wife Elaine and I had made a decision that we wanted some highly stylised images from our wedding (wedding art if you like!) and I am a huge fan of the now late fashion photographer Bob Carlos Clarke and the incredible almost fantasy-like images he created long before the days of Digital cameras in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, this stuff was created as one-off pieces from developer, fixer and complicated toning processes plus combination printing of several negatives together to create some really extraordinary images (it was my birthday treat to myself on my 40th birthday to purchase a limited edition Bob Carlos Clarke hand printed original which cost me a small fortune. Anyone who knows me knows I am also a fan of someone who I rate as currently one of the most original wedding photographers working in the UK, the very Scottish and talented Gordon McGowan and I have a link to his blog from this site. Gordon specialises in signature images of bride and groom and is a thousand miles away from the photojournalist/reportage images I am known for. Being based in Scotland he is also a long way from leafy Oxfordshire where we live!
I came across a UK photographer Steve Barry who shot one of my wife’s’ brides (Elaine owns & runs designer wedding dress shop Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique in Beaconsfield Old Town, Bucks) and who happens to live just a few miles from me who is a protege of Gordon’s (don’t think he would mind me saying that) and we hit it off from the start. It’s so important that you can build a good rapport with your wedding photographer, I am always stressing this with the couples I photograph which is one of the reasons I always do a pre-wedding shoot with them, so we get to know each other better before the big day. The more relaxed you are with your photographer the more natural your images will look on the big day. A wedding photographer plays a massive role in your big day, most likely he/she will be with you for 6-8 hours so you need to pick someone who you get on with!!
Steve Barry has a great eye for composition and can really visualise how an image will unfold once he has done the Photoshop work afterwards in the computer that makes his images unique. It’s not a style for everyone but it’s the sort of thing Elaine and I like. However I also wanted coverage of our guests in a natural reportage style and the details, bridal preparations etc (including my gorgeous Jeffrey West shoes with the red leather soles with song lyrics carved into them!) as well as the speeches and the entertainment, magician etc so who else could I ask but Michelle Lutener my trusty assistant (any of my couples from 2008 and 2009 will remember her helping me out at their weddings) who is a great photographer in her own right and knew exactly the sort of shots I wanted her to get whilst Steve was off photographing Elaine & I which she did a really great job of (now I have to do all the post production on them which will have to take a back seat for a while as I am full on in album designing season pre-Xmas!!). Reportage photography is just not Steve’s bag/style but he does what he does brilliantly as these images show. I wanted someone who we could just let get on with it whilst we enjoyed the day and Steve did just that. I know another couple of brilliant reportage wedding photographers who have become good friends, Neale James from Breathe Pictures and Giles Penfound who shoot much more like I do and would have done a great job but it was important I hired someone who did things slightly differently from me. A huge thanks to Steve for being fantastic fun on the big day, for managing to get some half decent shots of me (believe it or not I am not that comfortable being photographed, I prefer to be behind the camera!) he had an easier job with Elaine as she looked amazing in her one-off Sassi Holford gown and full length coat. Thanks to Steve also for giving us permission to use the images on our websites
You can view a quick funky video of some of the shots here: