It’s a day filled with emotion, festivity and happiness – and with this comes invaluable inspiration for me, the wedding photographer.
I’ve been a professional photographer for the best part of 25 years now. After studying for a HND in photography at the revered Blackpool and the Fylde College, initially I managed to find employment working as photographer on board passenger cruise ships. I travelled the length and breadth of the globe, always learning.
After a year or so spent snapping holiday makers on the oceans of the world, I returned to Ireland, where I bagged a job as a news photographer with the Derry Journal newspaper. I started with the paper in 1993 and I am still there today.
Admittedly, wedding photography was not something that I ever thought would interest me. In fact, if I am being honest, I often thought of it as something that didn’t require much skill, thought or planning. I assumed it was a straightforward point and click kind of operation. I was wrong.
I started my wedding photography business, Stephen Latimer Photography, ten years ago. After I’d completed my first few jobs I realised very quickly that every wedding is unique. This realisation led me to treat the concept of wedding photography as an art form.
Whether it be designing a building, painting a picture or taking a wedding photograph, a medium becomes an art form when individuality clashes with expression and emotion. I find it almost impossible to think of an occasion when emotion and expression are so raw and natural as they are on a couples’ wedding day.
My wife, Jillian and I married 16 years ago, so I know from personal experience how important certain parts of a wedding day can be: at the altar, the speeches and that first dance. I remember how happy both Jillian and I were on our own wedding day, and I use that experience in my work.
My job as a wedding photographer is often made easier because of the couples I work with. I have yet to partake in a wedding where the affection between the two people getting married is not infectious. Being privy to that emotion enables me to fully harness the creative side of photography and distill that drama into a collection of treasured still images.
Creativity is perhaps the most important tool that any wedding photographer can make use of, and if done properly a collection of wedding photographs can be as emotive as a cherished family holiday video or a recording of a loved one’s voice.
As those who have taken the trip down the aisle will testify, wedding days are busy affairs. I always tell couples whom I work with that in order to get the most out of their wedding day photographically, they should talk about and plan any ideas they may have before the big day.
But to make sure that their wedding book lives up to expectations, I also tell them that no matter how well organised they think their wedding day photo shoot will be, they should be prepared to seize upon the moment, go with the natural unfolding of events, in order to produce images that will resonate.
Every couple has their own ideal location of where they want their photographs to be taken, but in order for me to translate inspiration into creativity they must be prepared to fully embrace the unforeseen and be spontaneous. This is when wedding photography as an art form becomes most tangible: I often find that my best shots are those that were unplanned.
I’ve completed almost 200 weddings now, and each and every wedding album is unique.
Of course there are similarities in terms of location, and many couples nowadays ask me to replicate shots they have seen in wedding publications, but what makes a wedding album distinctive is the ability of the photographer to capture the essence of the day, and the connection between the couple, in a way that makes them smile, or brings a tear to the eye, long after the event.