He may be a self proclaimed NKOTB, but ex police officer and Brides Up North Featured Supplier photographer James Tracey knows his stuff! As well as these beautiful images speaking for themselves, a lot of others think he’s pretty great too – he was a Regional Finalist for Best Northwest Photographer at The Wedding Industry Awards 2014 and was also shortlisted for Best Newcomer. He’s also featured in Lucy Tobin’s new book From Yes to I Do: A Modern Guide for the Modern Bride, giving advice to couples on how to pick their wedding photographer.
And guess what, the first ten Brides Up North readers to book James’ Album Package album will receive £100 off the full price. Forget SWAT teams, add him to your SWAK* team.
With images by James Tracey Photography
*sealed with a kiss
How did you get into wedding photography?
I suppose you could say I’m something of the new kid on the block. Although I went to design college and even studied photography, I left my creative side behind after eight years in image editing to join the Police. I then spent the next 10 years of my career dealing with some pretty interesting situations; rescuing a woman from a burning house, talking someone down off a motorway bridge, attending murder scenes and riots and even being part of a close protection team for the Prime Minister! Needless to say, about as far away from wedding photography as you can imagine. At the same time as this, I had started to take more of an interest in photography and I invested in a Nikon DSLR which I used to take to friend’s weddings. Not only did I love taking photos (and found it generally a lot safer than Police work!), but more and more people started using my images for their thank you cards and in their albums. Everyone told me I should be a wedding photographer – I was hooked. I started doing a small number of weddings whilst continuing work for the Police but the bookings came thick and fast and in the end I decided to ‘quit the day job’ and turn full-time professional photographer in 2013. In my first year I was nominated for Best Northwest Photographer at The Wedding Industry Awards – I haven’t looked back since!
Why wedding photography specifically?
I love the spontaneity – you never know what’s going to happen next and there are no second chances. Some people find it stressful when things don’t go to plan, but I suppose I’m used to thinking on my feet and reacting quickly – I’m pretty ‘unflappable’! On top of that, being involved in the best day of someone’s life is just fantastic. I’ve spent a lot of my career dealing with the negative things in life and so I will never tire of the joy at people’s weddings!
What is your favourite thing about being a wedding photographer?
Knowing that my pictures are the one thing that the couple gets to keep after their wedding is over. I love my own wedding photos and how they immediately take me back to the wedding day and how I felt. I hope that my clients feel the same way about theirs.
How do you get couples to relax on the day?
All my couples have the option of a complimentary “E-shoot” (Engagement shoot) before their big day. We can meet up, talk through what the couple want, and more importantly don’t want, from their wedding photography. They get used to what I’m looking for, they relax in front of the cameras and we all get to know each other a bit better. You want your wedding day to be perfect, not spoilt by a bossy photographer who thinks it’s all about them, so on the day I don’t ask my couples to do anything they don’t want to do.
Any advice to any brides who don’t like to have their picture taken?
They’re not alone. Lots of my brides complain that they don’t take a good photo, yet when they’re not being made to pose they look great. So if you’re uncomfortable being photographed, scrap the formal poses and choose a documentary style. Everyone prefers the photos which they didn’t know had been taken and you’ll be happier and relaxed. If my brides don’t notice me on the day, I’ve done my job properly.
What sort of makeup should a bride wear to look great in her pictures?
Keep it simple and classic, your make up should make you look the best version of you. Don’t do anything too loud or current as this will either be distracting or dating. Remember your wedding photos will be around forever, so keep it natural!
Anything to avoid which might look bad in the wedding pictures?
I’m quite open-minded and I like couples who break the rules, so I’m open to anything new on the day. The important thing is to have the wedding day you want and to enjoy every second, the rest is down to me to capture. What I do hate though are cheesy effects in post-production, like colour splash (where the whole image is black and white except for one colour), it just cheapens the image for me. I’m also a bit wary of the vintage filters a lot of people are choosing, as I can’t help thinking these will date and end up looking gimmicky in the (not too distant) future.
Which celebrity wedding would you most like to photograph and why?
Tough one, but I’d say any celebrity that is getting married in New York. I absolutely love the city and the dream would be to photograph a wedding in the streets of Manhattan. My wife would probably say Kit Harrington’s wedding (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones), I think she loves him more than me. She’d probably come to that one.
Any really memorable weddings that you have captured?
I shot Lisa and Graham’s wedding last September in Huddersfield after meeting Graham when he refitted my bathroom. It turned out Lisa’s 13 year old daughter, Bailey, had been diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumour and at the same time, totally unrelated, she also was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Lisa and Graham had to postpone their wedding so Bailey could undergo treatment and it was really touch and go, they even had to live in the USA for a while whilst Bailey had pioneering treatment. Fortunately, Bailey’s condition is now stable so Lisa and Graham quickly arranged their wedding on Friday 13th September (they said they couldn’t possible have any more bad luck) and when Graham said it was a small family affair, I offered to do the wedding for free.
It was one of the best weddings I’ve ever photographed as it was totally joyous and broke every rule possible. The post service drinks were in a pub at Huddersfield Railway station and the whole wedding party got a train back to Mirfield for their reception in a local Deli. The speeches were done in the style of a Norwegian wedding where anyone can stand up, at any time, to tell their own story about the couple. It was an emotional yet triumphant wedding and one I’ll always remember! (if you want to know more here’s my blog).
Are you married? Tell us about your day.
I’m lucky to be married to Laura and we got married in Saddleworth in June 2012. We chose a converted church, so even though it was a civil ceremony it kept the parents happy! We got engaged in New York so we had a hint of NYC running through the day, with a genuine NYC cab and NYPD cruiser as the wedding cars, tables named after places we visited in the city and an NYC inspired cake made by Laura’s mum! We just wanted an informal, fun wedding. We wrote our own reading which poked fun at ourselves (as all the others seemed a bit twee) and had mini Jager bottles as favours. I substituted Champagne for Jager bombs for the toasts, so as you can imagine, it got a bit lively. The weather was awful so in typical British style we headed for the bar and from what I can remember, it was one of (if not THE) best days of my life!
Any funny stories to share?
I once photographed a wedding which was being filmed for the BBC Three television show Don’t Tell The Bride. With the TV crew there, the day was much longer than a normal wedding and the first dance didn’t take place until midnight. By then my feet were killing me so I put my Converse trainers on for the last ten minutes of the day. I had managed to dodge out of the way of the ten-strong camera crew for more than 15 hours, only to be filmed taking a photo of the first dance – in my trainers. I was slaughtered on text, Facebook and Twitter by all of my friends for being a scruff. This was one of my early weddings and I can reassure couples I’ve bought more comfortable (and smart!) shoes now.
What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
I think being new to the industry gives me a different perspective on what people want and expect from their wedding photographer. When it comes to my photos, I’m never complacent. I’m always experimenting with modern styles, angles and the best equipment to deliver the highest quality images I can. I also want clients to get the best service they could ask for, right until the day I hand over the photos. It’s a crowded market place out there, so hopefully my easy going style, natural photos and my customer service is what sets me apart. It drives me mad when people don’t get back to me quickly, so I always reply to my clients messages within 24 hours. If they’re asking a question, they need an answer!
What can a couple who book you expect on the day?
A relaxed, suit wearing photographer (with comfortable shoes) who is there to blend in most of the day, but who can step up and keep the day running to time if needed. I work hard but I like to have a laugh during the couple shots and I find it helps the couple relax. I also avoid anything forced and cheesy.
What is included in your "package"?
I don’t mess about with lots of packages, I have two. Full day coverage from Bridal preparation to the first dance, no matter how long that takes. I ‘leak’ a few sneak peeks the day after the wedding on my Facebook page and then all your hi-resolution JPEG images will be delivered on a USB within a month of your
Can you give us an idea on price?
2014 prices are £895 for the photos on USB and £1295 including the album. The first ten Brides Up North readers to book the photos and album and will receive £100 off the full price.
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you/ see more examples of your work?
On my website at www.jamestraceyphotography.com or on Facebook . I also tweet @jtraceyphoto. To get in touch and discuss their wedding, brides can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07793 680263.