So, you have all your equipment ready: cameras, lenses, flashes, tripod, spare batteries, lots of memory cards. You’ve charged the batteries, you’ve double checked everything is working and your laptop is ready to take the offload of the mountain of photos you plan to take. Your list is ready, the bag is packed and in your head you can see the photos before they happen. You’re a wedding photographer, and you’re ready.
I love being a wedding photographer, but I’ve not always been one. I’m a graphic designer originally and I still am, but in the past five years I’ve steadily started leaning away from design and towards photography where my real passion lies.
I started out taking photos at friends’ weddings and, after recieving many compliments about them, I decided I’d like to go further with it. I purchased a decent camera, some lenses and a flash and did a course to perfect my skills and become a professional photographer. By this time I was getting asked to do weddings that I was getting paid for, and I have never looked back since. I feel that I get better with every wedding I do. But I am always learning, I have always believed that you can never know it all.
There are certain things you have to have to be a wedding photographer, aside from the equipment that is. They are, after all, only the tools of the trade. Cruicially you have to have ‘an eye’ for it. Without this ‘eye’ the photos are only pictures that anyone with a half decent camera, or indeed a smart phone, can take. You have to be able to see the shot before it happens and capture the moment before it’s gone.
The next thing you have to have is vision, and I don’t mean the ability to see. Although that helps. It happens when you visit the venue, study the surrounding landscape for the best locations, and check out the locations the couple have chosen for their own personal photos. You can envisage the photos you’re going to get, and barring disasters such as the weather and a member of the bridal party not playing ball, the photos are going to turn out as good as you’ve seen them in your head.
One thing which is vital to being a great wedding photographer is something I have found from personal experience and that a lot of photographers don’t have. People skills. I have always believed in talking to the bride and groom, listening to what they want, and giving them exactly that.
People that know me will say I ‘talk for Ireland’, and the Irish are known for the ‘gift of the gab’. I use it to the full extent to find common ground with the people that will be on the other side of my lens on that most special of all days. When I’m pointing a camera at someone, I want them to feel at ease with me, I want them to trust that I will show their best side, and when they look back at the end result that they are pleased with what they see. A wedding is a celebration, and I like to capture that feeling from start to finish.
One other thing which I find is also essential to set you apart from others is your style. Everybody has one. It’s a reflection of how you see what’s happening in front of you, how you capture the moment. Mine is a relaxed style, by which I mean that a lot of what I capture on the day of a wedding is ‘off the cuff’. I move through the wedding party, sometimes seen, sometimes not, and photograph people when they are relaxed and enjoying themselves, to me it captures the true essence of the day. I get quite excited myself, I revel in that atmosphere and I enjoy it like I’m a guest. Although not too much like a guest, otherwise after one too many sneaky drinks the photos could become somewhat blurry! But the end result is always the same; a story board of a joyfull occasion filled with smiling faces and happy memories.