Behind the Lens with wedding photographer Marc Bates

25 Nov 2016

Documenting weddings across the UK and abroad, Marc Bates lifts the lid on his creative and inspiring world of wedding photography

How would you describe your style of photography?

Relaxed, fun, creative and passionate are the words I would use to describe my style. I prefer capturing the magic and emotion as it happens. For me, it is really important to just allow the day to unfold naturally and record those special moments as they occur.

How did you start out in wedding photography?

It was March 2010 and a friend asked me to be his wedding photographer. I had never shot a wedding by myself, so the pressure was on and to make matters worse, I didn’t even have a suitable camera. I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason and it was my ambition to be a wedding photographer so there was no way I was going to pass on this opportunity. From that wedding I was asked to do another and from the second one I had two more bookings and it just went from there.


Who are your ideal clients?

I don’t know if I have an 'ideal client'. The people I have worked with have been so diverse. For me, the variety is what I most enjoy; I love meeting new clients, finding out their story and listening to their plans for the wedding. No two weddings are ever the same and I adapt my photography depending on the energy of my clients, so there is always something new and exciting going on.

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 photos I have ever taken. It is a perfectly beautiful moment between the bride and groom. To me, it is what true love should look like. I remember how windy it was at the time and love how the weather adds a dramatic effect to this image. It has a timeless quality. I look at the image and imagine the couple's grandchildren and great grandchildren seeing it and saying “Wow, Nana was beautiful on her wedding day.” 


Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?

My biggest inspiration is my family, especially my mum and dad. Married 40 years and still in love. As a collective they inspire and support me, but also keep me grounded. In my work I am inspired by the emotion and humanity that people show towards each other. As a wedding photographer, you see this in abundance and it never gets old. 

How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?

Some clients have booked me well over a year in advance and I am already taking bookings for late summer 2018, but everyone is different so I would always tell people to contact me even if it is last minute. 


What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?

Aside from the weather, which you cannot control, I think the most challenging part of the wedding is how quickly the day goes by. Also trying to organise the group shots; there is always someone who wanders off. 

How can couples help to ensure the best work?

Give me as much information as possible regarding the wedding. Who will be where and what time? What photos do you want? Have you given me enough time to take them? Is there anything special going on? All of this helps me form a picture in my head of what the day looks like. I want to feel prepared to deliver the best possible service to my clients. 


What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?

  1. Can you show me examples of your work? This should be the first question you ask and they should be able to show you a range of examples.
  2. How long will you be with us? This is really important so that you know exactly what you are getting for your money. I always stay until the evening reception because it provides some of the best photos, but some photographers will only stay until the first dance or even the speeches.
  3. How much time do you need to take the group photos?

What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’ – can you give us an example of yours?

In some ways this goes against my style of photography. I think it is an important part of the day, but only to a point. It really shouldn’t take more than half an hour and I ask my clients to limit the list to around 10-12 images. People want to socialise and have a drink so, in my experience, the longer they are made to stand around the unhappier they become.


In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?

My favourite trend that I have seen this year is the 'festival wedding'; over half of the weddings I shot in 2016 have adopted this approach. It is a blank canvas with so many ways for people to make their wedding unique and personal to them. They don’t have to use preferred suppliers or contracted companies. From top to bottom, it is their wedding day. 


What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.

Please don’t assume. Especially when talking about the group shots. On more than
one occasion, clients have said: “Don’t worry about a list, just take the normal ones.” 

What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?

For me that first wedding will always hold a very special place in my heart, but my most memorable is my first destination wedding in Dubai. It was for a friend, but that only added to the pressure. It was held at a beautiful hotel in an outdoor ceremony. What made this wedding memorable was how perfect everything was: the location, the lighting and the weather. To photograph weddings abroad had always been a dream for me and I remember feeling a massive sense of achievement as if I had made it as a wedding photographer. 


Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?

Your photographer is the person who will record your wedding. They are your witness and the person that will document the most important day of your life. They will capture moments and provide you with memories that you were completely unaware of. Wedding photography is never the thing you want to cut costs on.


Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
To be honest, I cannot imagine doing anything else. This is my love and my passion. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up. All I want to do is travel and shoot weddings for the rest of my life.


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