Behind the lens with Darkstar Corporation
13 Oct 2017
Angela Gibson of Darkstar Corporation shares an insight into her world of wedding photography and some stunning examples of her best work
What geographic area do you cover?
I am based in Windsor, so predominantly cover Berkshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire as well as the occasional London wedding. I have no problem with travelling though and am always happy to hear from couples who are getting married further afield or even abroad.
How would you describe your style of photography?
Fun, unobtrusive and natural. I love nothing more than to have fun with my brides and grooms as well as the guests so that my photos are filled with smiles and laughter. I believe that wedding photography should not only tell a story of the day but should also bring out the personalities of the couple and the relationship that they share, so I approach every wedding with an open mind and come up with ideas as the day unfolds.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I started out in event photography and the natural progression from there was to move into weddings as both require the ability to think on your feet, adapt to changing lighting conditions and capture people in a live environment. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a bride who had seen my event work and trusted me to do her wedding justice and things took off from there. These days I predominantly shoot weddings but still enjoy the occasional event, family and baby shoot.
Who are your ideal clients?
Those who are happy to embrace my crazy ideas, from jumping in the bath in their wedding attire to running through a field holding hands, climbing onto a stack of hay bales or dancing in the rain.
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.
They say that a picture speaks a thousand words so I love a photograph that tells a story. I love this particular photo because the look on the father of the bride’s face speaks volumes.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
I love the work of Jeff Ascough and the way that his pictures are effortless and un-posed yet convey so much emotion and detail from the day - many of his photographs tell multiple stories at once, a real talent. As reportage photography goes, he really has set the bar very high for the rest of us but sometimes I take a photograph and proudly think 'Jeff would like that'.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
I have taken wedding bookings with three years’ notice and others with just 10 days’ notice, so it’s always worth a call to check availability. I always recommend to couples that they book their photographer as soon as possible after confirming their venue to avoid disappointment, particularly for Saturdays over the summer which remain incredibly popular despite the changing trend for weddings to take place throughout the rest of the year.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
The most challenging part of capturing a wedding has to be the constantly changing lighting conditions as you need to be able to think on your feet and react quickly in order to not miss the key shots. In a matter of only a few seconds it can be necessary to go from shooting a very brightly backlit bride entering a church to the moment where she walks down the dimly lit aisle and it’s important to not over or under expose either shot. However, the changing light is also the thing I love most about wedding photography as it is the most incredible tool for getting creative with your shots – from lighting up a person’s face with a beam of light coming through a church window, to capturing a romantically backlit photo of the bride and groom as the sun sets at the end of a beautiful day.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
Relax and trust your photographer to do what they’re good at – while Pinterest is a great tool for finding ideas and communicating your preferred style to your photographer, don’t feel that you need to dictate the whole day for them as you will stifle their creativity. If you like their style enough to book them then trust that they will do a great job at capturing your wedding too.
Give your photographer as much information as possible ahead of the day, from a detailed itinerary to any specific details that are particularly important to you e.g. handmade bunting, a special locket from your late grandparents, or a photograph that you want to recreate from years gone by.
What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- Ask to see a couple of examples of complete weddings rather than just a portfolio selection of their best shots. It’s not too difficult to pull together a selection of good photographs to make an interesting looking portfolio, far harder to pull off a whole wedding.
- Ask if they are insured. While the insurance itself hopefully won’t be required, it’s a great way of separating the amateurs from the professionals.
- Ask to meet your photographer ahead of your wedding day. You will spend a huge percentage of your wedding day with your photographer so it is imperative that you click with them and feel that you have compatible personalities and style.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’ – can you give us an example of yours?
While it’s not my preferred style to take such formal photographs as the group shots typically dictate, I actually don’t mind them at all and recommend that all couples have at least a handful of these to look back on in years to come. They are the very best record of who attended your wedding and I believe that they are important. However, I do suggest limiting the number of shots to around 8-12 and I don’t spend hours fussing over them on the day, instead preferring to keep them short, fun and informal with plenty of natural smiles.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
To be honest, I don’t really follow the latest trends in photography – I have a style that I always stick to and don’t like to be swayed by fads that may later look dated and uncomfortable. I once heard a world-renowned photographer give his opinion on isolated colour as “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” – a great mantra that I always remember with a smile whenever I consider trying something quirky with my edits.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
There are three huge misconceptions that I come across a lot:
1. That you should choose a photographer who has worked at your venue before – I wholeheartedly disagree with this as you want your photographer to approach your wedding with the freshness and excitement that you have for your own day. I love nothing more than discovering a new venue and having a good explore – it inspires me and that shows in my work.
2. That you can compare photographers’ prices from one to the next – I hear so many times that a couple have found another photographer who is slightly cheaper or is including a wedding album for the same price and would I be prepared to match their price. Photographers are unique and you should choose your photographer based on their style not compare their prices like tins of beans in a supermarket.
3. That you need clear blue skies and sunshine on your wedding day to get the best photographs – quite the opposite in fact and some of my favourite weddings have been filled with rain... there’s nothing quite so romantic as a couple huddling under an umbrella for a kiss or reflections in the puddles as the sun comes back out after a storm.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
I was once fortunate enough to be invited to shoot a wedding at Hampton Court Palace, but for reasons unbeknown to myself I was asked to go undercover as the venue wasn’t to find out that I was a professional photographer. So on the day I dressed casually, popped my cameras into a rucksack and did my best to blend in with the hordes of tourists. This was all going well until it came to getting a prime position for the arrival of the bride and I had to do battle with thousands of keen amateur photographers all trying to get 'the shot' – a lot of elbows were used that day.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
It frightens me how many times I hear people saying that they regret not booking a professional photographer for their wedding or scrimping on the photography budget and being disappointed with their pictures. Ahead of booking your photographer, consider how important the photographs are to you and then set your budget accordingly – if you just want a record of your day and aren’t too fussed if the pictures are artistically shot, perfectly focused or taken from a flattering angle then by all means get friends and family to capture the day for you but if you gaze at wedding photographs in magazines or pictures of your friends’ wedding day and know that you want a beautiful record of your own special day, don’t leave it to chance – consider it one of the most important decisions you will make about your big day and make the investment, you won’t regret it.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
That’s a sad thought, but if I wasn’t a wedding photographer I would love to be travelling the world with my camera.