Interview with My Wed

I recently joined My Wed and one of the optional things they do is ask you (me) some interview questions. I don't normally complete these type of things, but after looking through the questions, I thought I could have some fun answering them.

I've reproduced the interview below.

MyWed: First and foremost – whom can you name as the best wedding photographer in Christchurch? :)

Me: I can't go past myself, though I'm not used to being so upfront.

Are you photogenic?

Surely a trick question?

How did you get into wedding photography?

Reluctantly. While studying for my Diploma in Photography, my tutor said I should come along to a wedding with him. I said 'no', he said 'yes' and the rest is history.

What are the most important components of a good photo in your opinion?

Great light; an authentic moment between the couple and sweet design.

Are you fond of travelling?

Oh yeah. I've lived in four countries – The Cook Islands, The Maldives, New Zealand and Thailand. Did I mention I have worked for four summers in Antarctica? Or I have travelled to 50-countries?

What do you like most about your profession?

Meeting new people and being entrusted to create photos of a couple on one of the most important days in their lives.

What do you like least about your profession?

Marketing. It isn't my strength.

What will be the future of wedding photography?

If I knew that, I wouldn't be typing the answer in this interview.

What is special in wedding photography?

It is about the people. People are what make weddings great. That and great light.

How do you handle criticism?

What? Got a problem with my work?

Are there any trends in wedding photography?

Yeah, everyone with a camera thinks they are a wedding photographer these days...

Just because I have some tools, doesn't make me a plumber.

What should be the criteria for a bride and a groom to choose their wedding photographer?

One, they love the photographer's work. 
Two, they like the photographer's personality
Three, the photographer's prices are within their budget.

What things are to be avoided when shooting?

Standing still. Always change your viewpoint and your focal lengths (great way to hide annoying background elements).

What things that common people don't usually see can a wedding photographer notice?

Where to start? How about the light and the moments between people.

What influences the value of a photo? What are its elements?

Great photos are about great lighting, wonderful visual design and in the case of wedding photography, real moments between people.

What person can be the symbol of the 21st century in your opinion?

Just one person? That's a tough question. I'd start with Barack Obama, though I'd be happy to name more.

Who do you want to take photos of?

Your next wedding (so stop reading this and head over to my website and contact me). Right. Now.

Do you have any professional taboos?

No full on nudity. Sorry, it isn't you, it's me. Just not my cup of tea.

Do you believe that you replicate the soul of the person you are shooting?

That's a bit deep for me.

Who would you like to shoot with?

My shadow. I rarely use a second shooter, but when I do, I have a reliable go-to.

What do you worry about, and why?

Donald Trump being re-elected. Don't you?

What is the most impressive moment in your life?

Delivering my second child. It'll take a lot to surpass that moment.

If you were a cartoon, book or movie character, who would you be and why?

Always loved Road Runner...

Who inspires you in your life and why?

My wife and kids. They see the joy and wonder in everything. Makes me happy to be a dad.

How do you define success? How do you measure it?

Being happy and having a healthy family.

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Respected. Is this another trick question?

What is the biggest mistake you have ever made at work?

I applied for a job once and misspelt a person's name, three times. To be fair though, it was a really tricky name...

When you're going to travel, what do you take with you and why?

Earplugs and a first aid kit. Camera. Passport.

Is there anything that you wish you hadn't bought among the gadgets that you own? Why?

I have the bare minimum. Gadgets don't last long and I consider them a waste of valuable money.

How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

A year studying for a Diploma in Photography was a good start. Working alongside other working photographer's, has helped too.

Whose work has influenced you most as a wedding photographer?

Jonathan Ong.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

I would get better at creating photos very quickly.

What do you want to say with your photographs?

I want people to actually stop and look at them.

What motivates you to continue taking pictures?

Couple that keep wanting images that they will cherish forever.

Should your parents have been more or less strict?

Dad – less strict. Sorry dad if you are reading this.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

Buy a sporting almanac, put down lots of sporting bets and retire to an island in the Pacific somewhere. Wouldn't you?

What about life on other planets?

It's out there...

Who are your heroes?

My wife.

Who do you have no respect for?

Racism and treating people poorly.

What do you do in your spare time?

Surfing, sea kayaking and camping with the kids.

When are you completely satisfied with your work?

When my couple's love their wedding photographs.

Do you believe in the traditional roles for men and women?

Nope. I bake our bread; I cook; I clean; I wash the clothes. It's all about sharing the workload.

Do you develop friendships easily?

Sometimes.

Where would you like to live?

Where I'm living right now. Two blocks from the beach, in beautiful Christchurch, New Zealand.

What's the stupidest thing you've ever agreed to do?

Photograph weddings....It turned out okay though.

Is there life after marriage?

Another trick question? I've been married for many years and don't plan on being non-married.

Do you have a favourite joke? Tell us.

It's R-rated. It'll never be published. So pass this time round.

Do you like dogs or cats?

Dogs, but we don't have enough space for a dog.

Who or what do you hate?

Hate is such a strong word and there is enough hate in the world. I'm not a hater.

Do you take nothing but wedding photos?

I used to do a lot of magazine photography work, prior to getting into wedding photography.

The best thing in life is:

Lazy Sundays after a wedding shoot on Saturday.

The most annoying thing in life is:

People rushing around.

Is there anything around you that you would like to change?

Could be a bit warmer in Christchurch during winter.

What would you like to change in yourself?

Getting older.

What would you like to alter in the world?

Reduce child poverty to zero.

Can you give a few tips for wedding photographers who are just starting out?

Learn visual design. 
Shoot a lot. 
Find a mentor. 
Be patient. 
Practice and practice some more.

If aliens come to the Earth and you are the first person they meet, what will you tell them?

I knew you guys were out there!

If you are called to shoot a movie, what genre will it be?

Adventure (think Indiana Jones)

Tomorrow I will go and...

Photograph a wedding. Might see you there...

Cook Island Wedding - Behind the Scenes

Cook Island Wedding - Behind the Scenes When you look at the two photos below, what goes through your mind?

Do you wonder if I mistakenly missed focussing on Elena and Michael in the first frame?

Do you wonder what the three ladies are doing in the water? Or why Michael seems to be playing with Elena's hair?

Do you wonder why the focus is so shallow in both photos and whether this was intentional?

Cook Island WeddingCook Island Wedding

These two frames happened two-seconds apart. Elena and Michael walked down onto the beach and in an instant I spotted the three local women in the background and knew this would make for a great foreground / background photo.

In the first frame, I deliberately focused on the ladies in the water. As a documentary photographer and at the time, a Cook Island resident, I knew that this was the type of scene that not only provides a feeling of how beautiful a location the Cook Islands are, it also provides an insight into what local island life is like.

In the second frame, I deliberately focused on Elena and Michael. As a wedding photographer, unscripted moments like this help tell the visual story of Elena and Michael's day. I always look for them when photographing a couple's wedding day.

The fact that these two photos happened within two-seconds of each other, should give you an insight into how quickly I think as a visual story teller. Two seconds is a very short time frame to make the decisions I did and to take these two photos, without missing either scene. I haven't even mentioned the fact that I'm adjusting the aperture dial and the focal length on my lens, while positioning myself to take the photos.

Notice in the first photo how the lady in the water is looking towards the beach, taking your attention back to Elena and Michael?

Now look at the second photo. The same lady is looking away from Elena and Michael. If the focus in the second photo had been on the ladies in the water, who are looking away from Elena, the photo wouldn't have worked compositionally.

'Seeing' scenes like this and successfully capturing them in the space of seconds, doesn't happen by accident. It comes from years' of experience photographing all kinds of subject matter, not just weddings.

Thomas.