When Danny told me he was getting married, I congratulated him with a warm smile.
When Danny asked me if I’d be available to take a few photos, the smile froze on my face.
While there are plenty of photographers who advertise themselves as Wedding and Portrait Photographers, the reality is Weddings and Portraits – or at least the kinds of portraits I like to do – are entirely different beasts.
Good Wedding Photographers are worth their weight in gold - five, ten, twenty years on and the photos are the gateway to the memories of one of the most special days of a couple’s life. And yet, while the happy couple may be prepared to spend thousands, or even tens of thousands on their wedding, too often they will skimp on the photographer – looking for the cheapest option - only to regret it for many years to come.
But then there are a lot of Wedding Photographers out there who are little more than a bloke with a big camera. They might have the equipment, but they have precious little in the way of an artistic eye and produce nothing more than snaps. Unfortunately the same can be said of a lot of Portrait Photographers too.
A really good Wedding Photographer might cost you a 4-figure sum, but they are worth every penny. It’s not just the understanding of how to frame a shot to make it look spectacular, it’s also about the endless hours spent afterwards in post-production, removing the lipstick from the teeth of the woman with the large smile.
And of course the responsibility is huge. If I do a studio shoot and my camera or computer decide to wipe all the images without my consent, then I can always apologise, call the client back on another day and give them a discount for the inconvenience. But you can’t re-shoot a wedding with all the guests who travelled long distances to be there.
The kind of Portrait photography I like to do is all about the connection between the sitter, the camera and me. It’s why observational photography – wildlife, sports, documentary, architectural etc, has never really appealed to me: I don’t just want to look at something and record it; I want it to interact with me.
Wedding photography, then, is about documenting, crowd control, long hours and heavy responsibility, with no time to really get to know the people you are photographing.
Not really my cup of tea.
However, I’ve known Danny for several years and it turned out he already had a photographer lined up for the main part of the wedding. He didn’t need me to do the whole thing, just a few shots of the happy couple before they headed off to the wedding, and some informal shots at the reception early in the evening.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I agreed because, well, it was for Danny.
But if anyone else comes asking, I’ll be charging a 5-figure sum and reserve the right to disappear for a couple of hours for an afternoon nap...
Congratulations to Katie and Danny