Joy, moments and emotion: Behind the lens with wedding photographer, John Hope
13 Sep 2016
With a passion and professionalism for the craft, we go behind the lens with Leeds-based photographer, John Hope, who travels the UK and abroad capturing weddings
How would you describe your style of photography?
Through the course of the wedding day I have a creative, documentary approach, driven by joy, moments and emotions. I’m also known for wow factor portraits.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I hit the age of 30 and felt I needed a complete career change as I was kind of drifting at that time. Back then photography was a hobby and one I was increasingly getting into. The idea of being able to earn money from doing something artistic very much appealed, so I dipped a toe in the water, shooting a couple of friends of friends’ weddings and it all kicked off pretty quickly from there.
Who are your ideal clients?
Fun, creatively minded people who love life.
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 a photo I took at a wedding last summer. I think it really stops you in your tracks. It’s a real blink and you miss it sort of moment; the sort of exchange between adult and child that will happen at many weddings. The expressions are just great, the kid is so cute and smartly dressed. I think it’s fairly evident that it was taken during an outdoor ceremony (which I always enjoy) and I love the backdrop of the bridesmaids laughing at whatever’s going on up at the front. I love their outfits too; it was a festival themed wedding which is right up my street. I guess the photo sums up the sort of wedding I like to shoot and the sort of photo I love to capture.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
I think I’m ambitious and creative, so I’m always looking to push myself to try new ideas. I also like to think I’m pretty good fun so I pride myself on capturing the joy and fun that abounds at most weddings.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
The more lead time, the more likely you are to be successful, naturally, ahough there’s always a chance of sneaking in at short notice. I end up taking bookings anything from two months to two years ahead of a wedding.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
Trying to work out who’s who and what everyone’s names are!
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
I suppose trust me to do my thing and be ‘up for it’. I guess I’m talking specifically with regards to portraits.
What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
That's actually quiet tough. More than questions, I think the most important thing is for a couple to like and feel comfortable around their photographer. Liking their work should be a given, but there’s more to it than that – the photographer is going to be around them for large parts of the day so it’s important that the photogarpher/client fit is a good one.
Other than that, establish what hours they will be working on the day and can they agreed to be paid additional hours on the day if needed. And is there anything they can do to help get the best out of their wedding photography.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’?
They’re one of less exciting parts of the day to photograph but I’d never dream of discouraging a couple from having them. Weddings are a rare occasion that families are brought together en masse and group shots are a chance to mark the occasion. Plus, they’re photos that are often held in high regard by the parents.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
Trends come and go; many will look rubbish in years to come, but I’d like to think that genuinely creative photos will stand the test of time. I think it’s interesting to see how editing has developed. The arrival of VSCO film has been a game changer and has led to more photographers being able to achieve an ‘artistic’ sort of look with their photos.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
I so often get couples saying they hate having their photo taken, then on the day it turns out they enjoy the experience. I think this partly is because I keep the mood light and get the couple to focus on each other rather than staring at the camera the whole time. It’s also because a wedding is a surreal, exciting and uplifting experience. It certainly is no normal day and you get swept up in all of that. Getting your portraits done is just a little part of the whole rollercoaster ride and the overwhelming majority of couples just end up rolling with it.
Also, I think too many couples think that a digital package is fine. I’d just like to pledge a massive vote for albums. I love them. I’m not saying they’re going to be for everyone, but I suspect a lot of couples would look at their wedding photos more if they had had one.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
It’s a bit unfair to single out one; I’m very lucky to get some great clients, so have too many awesome memories to count #sittingonthefence.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
It’s almost a clichéd answer but, for me, it’s the right one: cake gets eaten, flowers wilt, the music comes to an end and the dress goes back in the wardrobe…. After the day is over, the one thing that endures and keeps the memories fresh in your mind are the photos.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
Running my own cocktail bar somewhere in the tropics.