An interview with Matt and Dan – Putting a magnifying glass to their minds.
First and foremost – who can you name as the best wedding photographer in Edinburgh? 🙂
If not us then it’s definitely Ashley Liv-Jamieson. She’s creative, kind and dedicated to wedding photography.
Are you photogenic?
Matt is, for sure. Dan, almost certainly, but only from the left!
How did you get into wedding photography?
We both started photographing community cultural events, which is where we met. From there we got the bug for people photography and visual storytelling. From that point on photographing weddings was the perfect fit for us.
What are the most important components of a good photo in your opinion?
Composition, light and a connection between the subject and the viewer. When one looks at an image there has to be something that brings them into the moment that was captured. It can be anything but without that spark, a photo is just accurate, not awesome.
Are you fond of travelling?
We are both fond of travelling. We’d travel anywhere and everywhere if we could. Matt really likes the far east and India. Dan gets more excited about Europe. It’s fair to say, anywhere with people is a great place to go to.
What do you like most about your profession?
Meeting people and telling the story of a milestone in their lives. Whether it’s a wedding, a birth or a celebration, they’re all exciting places to be and looking for the moments that will tell their story is the very best part of being a photographer. Going to places we’d never normally go and meeting new people all the time is a close second to what is definitely the best job in the world!
What do you like least about your profession?
Sitting in our offices and looking at website stats and Facebook engagement. If it’s not interacting with people then it’s not fun.
What will be the future of wedding photography?
There is a push for more and more authenticity. Couples still want exciting and creative portraits but the couples we meet care most about the images of the day itself – raw, authentic, genuine moments of personal connections with people they love. Digital photography has given us the ability to freely capture the images but digital images can be a bit cold and technical. Recreating the warm, analogue feeling of film is another trend that will continue to develop in the industry.
What is special in wedding photography?
The most special thing about wedding photography is the access that couples now give to photographers to create a story. There are few better ways to show the world that things are good, people are great and family and friends are awesome, than a well-photographed wedding story.
How do you handle criticism?
Externally – with composure and understanding. Internally – with crushing disappointment. Overall – constructively. We use criticism as a signpost to improve our images and service. Thankfully we’ve never received criticism from our clients, only from other photographers. In the end, it’s good for developing as a better photographer.
Are there any trends in wedding photography?
So many it’s really impossible to list them all. We try not to follow a trend, per se, but we do look at what is trending and try to understand what fundamentally it is about that trend which is working and incorporate that into our future work.
What should be the criteria for a bride and a groom to choose their wedding photographer?
In order of importance 1. Is the photographer a person you can connect with (do they understand you and your needs)? 2. Do their images suit your vision of your wedding?
What are things to be avoided when shooting?
Brashness, and arrogance, for sure. Also imposing photography on those who don’t wish to be photographed. Too much flash is a no from us too. We use it sparingly and try to avoid it at all costs during the ceremony. Flash can be a distraction and ruin a genuine moment. We find it works best for portraits and to add a bit of drama to the evening shots.
What things that common people don’t usually see, can a wedding photographer notice?
Small, personal moments, especially when framed well. Also the details of the things that the couple have added to the day to personalise their wedding. The direction of light can have a big impact on an image. A professional photographer is always moving to make the best of the light. Serendipity too. Sometimes the confluence of people, places and things can really tell an interesting story in an image.
What influences the value of a photo? What are its elements?
The value of a wedding image is dramatically improved by the personal connection between the viewer and the subjects. If one looks at an image and feels something for the subjects and it also changes how they feel themselves there and then, it’s a powerful image and it’s priceless. The elements of an image like that are emotion and personal connection. It needn’t be technically perfect either, just perfect in the eyes of the beholder.
What person can be the symbol of the 21st century in your opinion?
That’s a hard question to answer. It can’t be one person for us so we’d have to say a combination of Barack Obama, for the hope he offered the world; Malala Yousafzai, for her defiance in the face of oppression; and Jimmy Wales, for helping spread knowledge without barriers. An honourable mention would go to anyone who makes a great cup of tea!
Who do you want to take photos of?
Everyday people having an extraordinary day.
Do you have any professional taboos?
Never disrespect another photographer because of their style of images, never get drunk on the job, avoid heteronormative assumptions and never publish images without the consent of the client. Other than that, have fun!
Do you believe that you replicate the soul of the person you are shooting?
No, that’s a bit pretentious for us. I think we capture the mood and emotion of a moment and of an event. We definitely capture the personalities of our clients in their portraits and even their hopes and aspirations but to capture their soul would require a lot more time and possibly voodoo magic spells (we don’t know any).
Who would you like to shoot with?
Kevin Mullins or Ian Weldon – they’re masters of visual storytelling.
What do you worry about, and why?
Did we pack enough batteries. Why? There’s no good reason but one has to worry about something, right?
How do you define success? How do you measure it?
Success for us is respect from our peers in the wedding industry and a clean slate of happy couples for all the weddings we’ve photographed.
Would you rather be liked or respected?
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made at work?
Forgetting to charge a battery for an event. It was a seat of the pants job for that one but the client wasn’t let down so that was a lesson learned.
When you’re going to travel, what do you take with you and why?
Passport, camera, credit card and a change of underwear – all for obvious reasons.
Is there anything that you wish you hadn’t bought among the gadgets that you own? Why?
We reckon half the stuff we bought when we started out was useless crap in the end. I think this is a rite of passage for photographers.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
We continually get feedback from couples as well as submit images for critique to our peers. Every job we do gets a quality review to ensure that we’re never resting on our laurels and that we are constantly looking to improve our images.
Whose work has influenced you most as a wedding photographer?
Kevin Mullins, Ian Weldon, Gary Winogrand, Weege (Arthur Felig), Brassaï and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
We wish we’d known all that junk that people tell you will make your photos better. We wish we’d known that simply getting to know people on a personal level and understanding the purpose of the image will always create the best photographs.
What do you want to say with your photographs?
Look – Life is awesome – Enjoy it as much as you can!
What motivates you to continue taking pictures?
The motivation comes from never knowing who you’ll meet next, what you’ll learn and where you’ll be. It’s addictive living like that.
Who do you have no respect for?
Donald Trump and his ilk. We can’t stand profiteers and people who live off the backs of others. Ignorant people make us sad too.
What do you do in your spare time?
Write profiles for our online presences…
When are you completely satisfied with your work?
Never. If we were then we’d have to give up.
Do you believe in the traditional roles for men and women?
Do you develop friendships easily?
Yes, that’s why we’re excellent photographers.
Is there life after marriage?
What sort of a question is that?
The best thing in life is:
The company of friends and a good cup of tea.
The most annoying thing in life is:
Traffic and the common cold.
Can you give a few tips for wedding photographers who are just starting out?
Believe in yourself but definitely listen to those who’ve done it before you. Take their advice and make your own direction with it. We can’t stress enough how important your personal relationship with your couples will be. That is the foundation to great photos.
If aliens come to the Earth and you are the first person they meet, what will you tell them?
They’re early and to come back when it’s a bit better around here.