Behind the Lens with Dorset wedding photographer, Robin Goodlad
20 Feb 2018
Enter Robin Goodlad's world of wedding photography and learn from his advice in finding a photographer that meets your needs
How would you describe your style of photography?
My style is primarily documentary, or reportage as it is also known, whereby I carefully observe moments rather than orchestrating them. However I also add a pinch of creativity through the day, and ‘encourage’ moments so that even though I have been involved, subtly, the photos still look entirely natural, and beautiful.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I photographed a family wedding 20 years ago (I’m showing my age now), I absolutely loved it, and I was really encouraged by the positive comments I received, and I have never looked back. I still feel the same at every wedding, which is hugely important for being creative, and also to ensure the photographs are perfect from start to finish.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients are people who really appreciate photography, who understand the importance of ensuring you really invest in your wedding photography, and choose their photographer well. It is really important for fantastic wedding coverage that my clients really connect with my style, as it is a reflection of how their wedding will be photographed.
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.
I think it has to be this one for me, it was one of those where everything came together perfectly. The opportunities for photographs at this venue were limited, however I really like to put my clients in beautiful landscapes, and I spotted a perfect meadow, with the vision of a beautiful sunset shot. The couple trusted my style and were really up for it, timing was key, and the field wasn’t particularly accessible, so the ushers helpfully lifted the bride over a fence. The light was perfect for only a few minutes before the sun dropped behind the trees, and in my style, I asked the couple to be themselves, be happy, and I retreated to a distance, waiting for the perfect moment. This photo isn't posed, I only positioned them where the light was best, and their happiness and connection is a perfectly natural and timeless moment. I love this sort of light so much and I am always looking for it, with that perfect rim light around the couple helping them to stand out from the background.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
In my spare time I spend a lot of time undertaking landscape photography, it is a real passion of mine. This gives me a deeper understanding of light and landscape, and I bring this to my wedding work as if I am creating the perfect landscape photograph, with the couple as a focal point. I’m also a very respectful person, and don't like to intrude, which is a strength I bring to my observational work, making sure I don't impact upon, or influence the wedding day, but capture those perfect moments.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
How far in advance people book does vary, it depends on whether they are really popular summer Saturdays or quieter weddings in the autumn or winter. I do sometimes have availability last minute and would always try to help if a couple might have been let down for instance, however most couples I work with tend to choose their photographer at the same time as they choose the date and book the venue as these are seen as the key elements they need to source early on, perhaps because they are the ones they have their heart set on.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
I think the most challenging part of photographing a wedding is how long the day can be. I am regularly on my feet non-stop for 14 hours or more which is equivalent to two normal work days in one, so it is really important to pace myself, and eat and drink when I can. I don't like to put a time limit on my coverage as for me telling the complete wedding story is key, right up until midnight. Only once I know I have a perfect collection of images on the camera do I stop and think about heading home.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
For me it is about getting to know each couple individually, which we do through meetings and an engagement shoot. I get to understand how confident they are, and they trust me as their photographer to deliver. This is the most important thing I always say to couples: relax, be yourselves, and trust your photographer. If you are worrying about the details on your wedding day, it can show in the photos, so the key is to trust all your suppliers, trust your friends and family to help everything run as planned, and relax. The time for planning and worrying is done, the day itself should be pure enjoyment, you’ve earned it. If you are happy on the day, it really shines through in your photographs.
What are the 3 most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
I think this depends on what you are looking for from your photography, but generally I would ask:
- What back up plans they have in place in case of equipment failure (it does happen from time to time), or in case of illness
- How much experience they have (you will probably know this from their portfolio, but experience of many weddings is key to ensuring you know what happens when, and being in the right place at the right time)
- How much coverage will they provide, for example is there likely to be an extra charge of your wedding runs later than planned?
A good photographer will have all of these points covered, and you can relax and trust them.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’?
While guests loathe them and photographers don't always enjoy them, group shots are a necessary part of the wedding day, if not for the couple, then for parents, relatives and friends. I try to keep the process moving as efficiently as possible, by starting with the biggest groups and working down to smaller ones. That way, the key people who really want the photographs are those who are there at the end. As for controversy, personally I don't think there should be any; if each couple are individual it is up to them what photos they choose to have at their wedding.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
I really like the weddings where careful thought has gone in to keeping guests entertained and interested, breaking up the day so there isn't the long three-hour sit-down wedding breakfast. Garden games and plenty of canapés for starters really allows guests to mingle and enjoy themselves. Standing speeches in a relaxed outdoor setting work really well too. Meals that involve guests sharing platters, and serving each other are a great way to get people interacting. One of the best things about a wedding is seeing all your family and friends who don't know each other coming together and engaging, it is really rewarding.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
My most memorable wedding would have to have been during the big storms we had in 2017, the weather was appalling. The wedding was in a marquee which was struggling to stay upright, and it was impossible to get photographs out in the gardens for the main part of the day. But importantly we worked around this, and the couple were positive. With a little flexibility in the timings, and some great British spirit, the day ended perfectly with lost of fun shots of guests running under umbrellas and even a perfect rainbow later in the day - although I was completely soaked by the end as I had been making sure I was in the right place for capturing these moments. Whatever the weather, there are always opportunities for perfect photos, and I always say this to couples: "Even if the forecast isn't perfect, don't worry, trust your photographer".
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
Like most things in life, there are variations in costs, and the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true. Wedding photography is much more that the day itself, there is a lot of work before and after and you do of course invest in experience, as quality can often only be found this way. Above all, the photos will be the one true lasting reminder of the day, and a perfect wedding album will last for generations; it is an heirloom for children and grandchildren to cherish. While only a small proportion of the cost of a wedding, the photography really is hugely important and it is up to each couple to establish how important their photography is and invest accordingly.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
I would be some other form of photographer for sure. I live and breathe photography, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.