This morning I am proud to introduce you to Brides Up North Featured Supplier Chris of Bay Photographic, who works right across the regions from North West to Yorkshire. Not only does this man take a nifty picture, but he talks a good talk too. So I think I better leave things to him…
Chris says: When people ask me how I became a wedding photographer I always seem to stumble a bit over the answer. I suppose I ought to rehearse a really cool sounding response like ‘I was drawn to the work of Jerry Ghionis. Do you know Jerry? I was talking to him the other day…’ or ‘I express myself through the interplay of light and taffeta’…
In reality, I became a wedding photographer because the opportunity arose to photograph a wedding with a friend who was (and still is) an established professional (Paul McDowell) and as soon as I took my first few shots of the bride arriving with her bridesmaids and her father, I was absolutely and totally hooked in a way that no other hobby, job or activity has ever done before. Before that day, I had been a semi professional landscape and news photographer for thirty years and I had sold photographs to magazines, newspapers, web designers, advertising agencies but nothing had ever captivated me quite so much as the conundrum of recording a wedding day for a bride and groom.
As a wedding photographer I am privileged to be allowed to attend the most important time in their relationship and I get to make images of people, venues and moments of happiness that give them pleasure for years and decades to come. If that makes me sound like an old romantic then I am guilty as charged. I find weddings intoxicatingly romantic. They can be charming, lavish, extravagant, personal, unpredictable, dignified, windswept, cosy, funny, inspirational, elegant, exciting, surprising or just plain wacky. But they are always romantic, because they are personal to the two people who are getting married.
I have photographed weddings in churches, hotels, registry offices, castles, country houses, marquees and in architectural monuments but no two have ever been even remotely similar. Except that they reflect the couple, their aspirations, their family and friends and their love for each other. And that means that my day at the office is always changing, always fresh and always about recording something which is good and valuable and decent and beautiful.
When I am photographing a wedding, I have one central mission. That is to take photographs that the couple will look at in the future, which will remind them of what they did, how they enjoyed it, how happy their family and friends were for them and (this is the really tricky bit) which will remind them of their feelings on the day. If all I had to do was to remind them of where they were and what they did, I could train my two year-old Cocker Spaniel, Basil, to carry a camera and record the day. I don’t mean to suggest that I have some mystical talent that makes me better than ‘Uncle Bob’ (or Basil) but it could be argued that a good professional wedding photographer can make images that transport a couple back to their wedding day in an instant and which make them smile at each other in the way they did as they said their vows. Uncle Bob tends to just remind them of who was there when they did so. When couples tell me that the photographs I have taken are ‘Amazing’ and ‘Fantastic’, I think it is unlikely that they are talking about their technical merit. It seems much more likely that they are telling me that I have managed to fulfil my mission.
My clients so far have come from every walk of life, and from most parts of the North West of England. They may not have been celebrities in the ‘Hello’ sense of the word, but they have all enjoyed the celebrity moment that a modern wedding provides. Because that moment is so generously, kindly and unreservedly given, with the best wishes of two families as well as the love of a new marital partner, it can be enjoyed by all. By the shy, retiring and uncertain as well as the gregarious, confident and naturally outgoing. For this reason and, I suspect, because I use that fund of goodwill and my own relationship with the couple to bring out the inner confidence and serenity in them, I have yet to photograph a couple who are uncomfortable while I am doing so.
When I am photographing a wedding, I am completely dedicated to the task of producing the best photographs that I am capable of and maximizing the photographic opportunities of the setting and the day itself. I am totally ‘on my game’ from the moment the day starts to the time I have all the images securely backed up and uploaded to my computer that evening. I used to think that my previous career as a teacher (I spent 27 years in special schools for pupils with emotional and behavioural problems) was demanding of my highest levels of concentration. Compared to photographing a wedding, it was like a walk in the park with Basil. The following day, I start editing images in Lightroom and Photoshop and aim to have a small preview gallery (of around 50 images) online by that evening. I try to have the DVD with all the client’s images on it, edited and corrected, by the end of the week. Once they have chosen the images they want in their Photobook, I create the pages in Photoshop and then email them to the client for their approval before sending them to the print studio.
I believe that my prices are quite competitive. My ‘top’ package, which includes photography from the bride’s preparations through the day until the evening and a large and a small copy of the Photobook, currently costs £750. Other packages are described on my website. I rarely discount my prices, but I might quote a slightly lower price for a wedding out of season. In recent years, I have photographed an average of around 30 weddings a year, a level of bookings that gives me the opportunity to focus on my clients and give them the attention that they deserve.
In the early days of my wedding photography career, a prospective client once asked me ‘Why should I book you?” I replied “Because I’m good and I’m available”. I wasn’t trying to be rude, just honest and concise. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t book me. I hope today’s feature will provide you with a rather better answer.