Behind the lens with documentary wedding photographer Aaron Storry
12 Oct 2016
Aaron Storry is a Northamptonshire-based photographer who travels all around Europe. Delve into his beautiful world of wedding photography...
How would you describe your style of photography?
I would describe my photography style as creative documentary, I am present in the moment and mindful of the beautiful gestures and signals that people send out. Often brave but always beautifully legitimate, my photography is a series of moments that tell the wonderful story of my couples and my own journey through a wedding. I have no expectations of how the day will unfold and I’m constantly working to capture the honest, fun and uniqueness that tells each wedding.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
My first wedding was for an old friend; he trusted me to document his day when I had virtually no portfolio. From that job I booked a couple very quickly after and it started to gain momentum. Nowadays, I shoot upwards of 50 weddings a year but when I first got started it was only 2-3 a year. It’s not until I started documenting moments that I found interesting (rather than pictures I thought I was expected to shoot) that I started to feel a real passion for documentary wedding photography.
As a youngster I played with the idea of being a photographer, on holidays I vividly remember getting into street photography (before I even knew it was called street photography) - the signs were there. I stopped shooting for a few years as I pursued careers that, looking back, were always doomed to failure, until eventually saving up enough to buy my first SLR and taking it more seriously. Just before I became a full time photographer I saved enough to invest heavily in professional equipment which has taken me through until today.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients are people who appreciate good documentary photography.
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.
One of my lovely brides wanted a ‘tossing bouquet’ picture, and conveniently all of her bridesmaids weren’t married off so we decided to make it a special moment featuring all of her best friends. We had one chance to get it right so timing and position was very important to executing this incredible, beautiful moment. We found some great light with a neutral backdrop and set the frame up. This is one of about 10 pictures which where shot in burst mode. Everything aligned perfectly and this is the resulting shot. It was a great moment, full of legitimate joy and emotion.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
Inspiration is all around, from the books I read to the films I watch. Everything (if done with care and love) carries a sense of inspiration, even the care and attention a mechanic gives to a car. Anybody that passionately pursues their craft with devotion and a sense of pride is hugely inspiring. When I was younger my mum told me that it wasn’t important what I did, as long as I gave it 100%. It’s cliche but it’s true, every time I pick up my camera it is a chance to learn and evolve and with every wedding comes a new problem and opportunity. Making better, more compelling art is addictive.
I find the work of Stanley Kubrick incredibly inspiring, his devotion to creative perfection and 'no-compromise' approach gives him my respect. From initial enquiry to delivering the final set I find myself asking the same question: “What could be done better?”.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
I’m very lucky to book weddings up to 30+ months before the big day, which means I’m rarely available for a popular date at short notice.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
Relax and live in the moment! A good documentary photographer will be able to navigate their way through a wedding and deliver a comprehensive set of beautiful images that tell your unique story. The best weddings are the weddings where couples let their day flow and don’t get too hung up on strict timings. Of course it’s important to have a schedule, but try not to stress and worry that things are running two minutes behind... it shows in the photos.
What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- We want our story to be told beautifully and honestly - what’s the best way to make this happen?
- What’s the most important thing to ensure awesome photos? (answer: pick a photographer who you really connect with on a personal level)
- What happens if a camera breaks on the day? (answer: I bring back-up and back-up for my back-ups)
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’?
I think group shots have their place in a wedding and it’s a way to ensure you’re definitely getting a picture of particular people on the day. They also don’t have to be the stereotypical boring images we’re used to seeing. Although groups are one of the portions of the day where I need to break out of being a documentary photographer, I like that I’m able to deliver a range of photos which my couples will love. I suggest around 8-10, going beyond that means I may be potentially missing other important aspects of the day.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples?
I’m very lucky that my couples come with an open heart and mind, and without preconceptions.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
Every wedding is a crazy and exciting adventure. My favourite moment ever is when one of my couples went for a ride on a tandem bike and the lovely bride got her dress chewed up in the old oily chain, she had to be cut loose with my penknife. She didn’t let it ruin her day though, in fact she proudly told me that her dress (and its scars) were part of her unique story... a true sign that I’m booking the right clients.
Other moments include:
- The time I risked my life for a couple's portrait on a mountain side on the Amalfi Coast (it later won several awards)
- When a groom's car had a flat battery (good job I’m prepared, my car is packed to the brim including jump leads)
- When a couple flew me in to their wedding in a private helicopter, the chap flying was a stunt pilot. An incredible experience!
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
Once the flowers have died and the memories are starting to fade, you’ll have the photos to look back on. They’re an important family heirloom of an important day, documented for people that haven’t even been born yet. Good wedding photography needs to stand the test of time and make a statement about the connection of the people it follows. A correctly documented wedding will say as much about you as it does about your photographer. It’s a very worthwhile investment of an important milestone.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
Not the happy person I am today.