Hey lovelies! Did you have a wonderful weekend? Ours was a busy one celebrating my amazing stepdaughter’s birthday so I’m starting Monday feeling happily frazzled and all warm and happy inside. Today’s feature is a little different: as a blogger I’ve seen thousands of weddings from hundreds of photographers over the years, and I’m a huge admirer of the craftsmanship and skill of wedding photographers. I was chatting with Sussex wedding photographer and friend of English Wedding Martin Beddall a few weeks ago, and he very kindly agreed to do a little interview for me. His answers give a fascinating insight into reportage photography – one of my favourite wedding photography styles and one I’d love for all of you to consider for your weddings! I hope you enjoy reading this: of course all of the stunning images are by Martin Beddall Photography.
1. How did you become a wedding photographer?
I was a newspaper photographer at The Times (I joined them straight out of college) and my only contact with weddings was occasionally being sent to photograph a bride and groom, as they left a church, for the paper’s ‘court and social’ page. I would turn up and photograph them for a few seconds. I started doing these more naturally, rather than a stiff portrait. Then journalists at the paper started to ask me to photograph their weddings, in a reportage style, then readers did. To be honest, I resisted photographing weddings for quite a time.
2. What is it about weddings that made you choose this career?
I’m a reportage photographer, rather than a ‘wedding photographer’ really – in my eyes. Weddings are just an event that can let me take natural images. That’s the interest for me, trying to capture storytelling images, rather than contrived setups. I just approach weddings as if I was photographing an event for the features page of a newspaper or magazine.
3. Tell me your favourite part of a wedding?
I like moments of chaos – the confetti run or the first hugs after the ceremony. But I really like the quiet moments. The touch between a bride and her mother or best friend. The look the bride gives her husband during the ceremony. Capturing the quiet moments is the hardest to do well but the most rewarding images can result.
4. What makes you unique as a wedding photographer?
I always say it’s about a photographer’s eye, rather than their skill with photoshop. I often get couples saying they like the humour in my images. One recently said, ‘You have captured everything we wanted about the day and so much more! Thank you. A really fabulous story told through a stranger’s eyes, which actually makes for a very funny, moving and captivating set of images.’
5. What’s the best compliment you’ve had from one of your couples?
An enquiry a few years ago, for a date I was already booked for. I told them I was booked, so they asked could I do the day before? I couldn’t, I had to travel a long way for that other wedding. Then a day or two later, they asked if they moved the wedding to the midweek, could I shoot it? They booked. I was never really sure what they had meant but it transpired, on the wedding day, that they were both art teachers, who taught photography – so the photography style was very important to them. It was also the school holidays, so they could adjust the date.
6. What’s your wedding photography style?
Natural photojournalistic reportage – without photoshop gimmicks.
7. What does it take to be a great wedding photographer?
It’s hard to say, there are so many different styles. I am biased towards the natural reportage approach. With that, I think the best are images that don’t shout about the photographer ‘showing off’ but simply offer a window into the wedding day.
8. Which wedding vendors / venues have inspired you?
To be frank, some venues don’t, despite their reputation… I can often get better images in a simple village hall, rather than a posh, expensive hotel, because the environment helps people relax. It’s been a funny year, as I’ve shot a lot of weddings in private gardens, rather than wedding venues but I was back for a wedding at one of my favourite local venues recently, Cissbury Barns. A very chilled crew and all contained in a small but not cramped area. Even on a wet and cold day, it works.
As for vendors, I love good magicians at weddings – they offer better pictures of people than them just standing talking to each other. I worked with a good one at my last wedding of the year, a December wedding in Gloucestershire. A very relaxed, unshowy magician, Patrick (@themagicianpatrick). I always tell myself that shooting over their shoulder, I can work out the trick – but I never can, I’ve no idea how he did the tricks!
9. What’s the best advice you can give to the brides and grooms reading this article?
You don’t need to spend a fortune. You don’t need to do everything that your friend/family says you ‘must’ do – all those traditional bits. Just look to create a day that suits you and your friends, that lets people relax and then just enjoy it. A reportage wedding photographer will then quietly get on and capture this, without constantly breaking up your day. It’s your day, no-one elses – do it your way!
10. And finally, tell us a little about you! What makes the guy behind the camera tick?
Dunno really – it’s not about me – that’s the point. I promise no selfies, with the bride and groom, on the dance floor though!