Behind the Lens with London wedding photographer, Rik Pennington
31 May 2018
Discover Rik Pennington's photography style as we go behind the lens with the London wedding photographer...
How would you describe your style of photography?
My wedding photography is primarily documentary, so I focus on the moments and events that happen spontaneously throughout a wedding day. I also enjoy spending time with the couple shooting natural and unforced portraits.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I’d been photographing commercial and editorial subjects for the graphic design business that I used to run and was spending more and more time behind the camera. A friend asked me to shoot their wedding as a favour and I haven’t looked back.
Who are your ideal clients?
It’s really important for me to have a connection with couples who book me as I end up spending a lot of time with them and want to provide pictures that they’re going to treasure. So my ideal clients will book me because of my style of photography and enjoy their day without having to worry about me.
Can you choose a picture that encapsulates everything you want to achieve in a wedding photograph? Tell us what it is about this image that you love.
This is one of my favourite images from a wedding as it was an unposed moment when the bride was waving at a friend just after I’d finished the couple portraits. I love the emotion it conveys just through their body language and is an example of creating a special image from a spontaneous moment. I’m also obsessed with finding interesting light to work with, so the golden sunlight makes the image perfect.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
I take inspiration from so many types of photography, from street photographers like Tony Ray Jones and Elliott Erwitt to portrait photographers like Annie Liebovitz and Richard Avedon. I’m also inspired by music, art and cinema, but most importantly by the relationships between people.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
One year to six months is around average, but sometimes up to two years.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
Making sure that I have a plan no matter what the weather. You have to plan for all eventualities and have the experience to cope with them. Like the time it rained torrentially in the South of France for the whole day.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
Firstly, make sure you’re completely happy with your photographer’s style. It’s really important to connect with your photographer’s work and understand how they work and what kind of images they’ll deliver. Then relax and trust them to do what they do best. We want the best photos for our couples so listen to any advice a photographer may have and work with them for the best outcome. For example, if portraits are an important part of the photography, try to schedule in 15 minutes about an hour before sunset to get the best light.
Logistics also play a big part in making sure that things run smoothly and that the photographer knows what they should be covering, so I always ask for a running order and go through the details with my couples before the day.
What are the 3 most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- How do you describe your style?
- Can you describe how you go about photographing the key moments?
- Can we see a full gallery from a wedding?
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’ – can you give us an example of yours?
I think family group shots are important to document and I’m happy to do them. However, I recommend that couples consider doing five or six different combinations as they are time-consuming and I find that most couples prefer to spend their time with their guests rather than doing line-ups. It also frees me up to to take the kind of pictures that I was booked for.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
The way that street photography and photojournalism has influenced wedding photography and taken it to the next level. Moments are documented in such creative and compelling ways that the standard is very high now and that can only be a good thing.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
That wedding photographers spend the day bossing people around, telling them what to do and getting in the way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All the photographers I know work in a way that allows them to capture the day discreetly while going unnoticed.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
Photographing my brother’s wedding in New Zealand. It was an honour to be able to document his special day and I hope the pictures will mean just that little more to him. The stunning landscape was a bonus.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
A good wedding photographer will have spent years developing their style, gaining expertise and experience in being able to cope in all situations. Wedding photography provides precious memories not only of the key events of the day but also of close friends and family, and the photographs will be the only lasting record of the day. I’d like to think that for the amount of energy, commitment and time that I put into a wedding, before and after, that my couples get a good return on their investment.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
A rock star. Who wouldn't be?