I tend to think that most photographers are voyeurs who live on the outside of everything sneaking peeks inside, snatching whatever fragments they can, collect them and preserve them for posterity. Early on I had a bit of a thing for those huge coffee table books featuring photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino, Richard Avedon, David LaChappelle. I was hooked. I could pore over these photographs for hours. I wanted to take photos and despite not having any idea at all how to shoot this stuff I knew I wanted in. I studied a little, practised a lot, made mistakes, got lucky, I even went in for a formal photographic education at college and university (that’s another story; turns out me and education didn’t get on too well).
When I started shooting weddings I guess you could say I had an idea of what I thought what would be expected of me and what would be expected to be photographed irrelevant of what I wanted to shoot. My early weddings are all pretty traditional and ‘safe’. I would see something I wanted to photograph and then avoid it because ‘they won’t want a photo of that’.
Before I got any kind of paid job in photography I would take my camera (a 35mm film Canon EOS5) into Birmingham and take street photographs. Sometimes I would ask people if it was ok, other times I would just sit quietly and wait for a moment to present itself and I’d be there to press the shutter and they wouldn’t know. I loved how ordinary, mundane and everyday it was. I would sometimes wonder what their story was, why they were there, were they coming or going. One girl I photographed was a shop girl on a break, mobile phone in one hand, cigarette in the other and a lovely faint smile as she kept checking her phone every now and then. One young man I asked if it was ok to take his picture and just as I hit the shutter he told me how much he hated having his picture taken.
These days when I’m shooting weddings it’s the ordinary that I adore. I love telling stories via images and the one being trusted to capture someones wedding day. I’m shooting more of what I want more than ever and I’ve realised the little things more than anything.
Sometimes, an image that hints at something rather than shows it full on is more effective, evocative and emotive. That’s what I want. Every time.