How to Look Good in Your Wedding Pictures: Behind the Lens with Gloucestershire Wedding Photographer Ian Baker
12 Nov 2015
How would you describe your style of photography?
My approach to shooting a wedding is to combine classic, posed wedding portraiture with fun, candid, priceless moments, mixing the formal with the informal. I’m a lover of the landscape and always try to include a number of shots where the bride and groom are merely a small part of a wonderful backdrop. Composition is everything.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I was originally in marketing and used photographers a lot at work and, being a keen amateur photographer myself, was always fascinated with how they did what they did. I’d also got to the stage where I fancied doing something different and, having a creative eye, thought why not give professional photography a go.
I was very lucky to have a good friend who was also a fantastic photographer who let me go on a number of shoots with him to enable me begin learning my craft. Those days were invaluable and I still work with him a lot today. I don’t think anything truly prepares you for your first wedding. Mine came through a local ad and I’m probably not alone in saying it was probably the most terrifying experience ever.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients are people who book me because they really like my style, value my work and who trust me to create unique images for them on their wedding day. Of course I fully appreciate that budget is a huge consideration, but when it becomes the main focus then I’m probably not the photographer for them.
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.
Living in the Cotswolds, I’m very fortunate to shoot at many beautiful places but the image I’ve chosen has a special place in my heart for a number of reasons.
To provide context, the groom is an old, rugby playing friend and his bride, a lively Australian who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. The backdrop in the photograph is in fact Wells Cathedral. The wedding venue was a place called Stoberry Park, a mile or so away perched on hillside looking down over Wells.
I’d already seen this shot as a must have and just needed to persuade a rather reluctant bride to walk through a field of sheep poo and cow dung to get the shot in the bag. This photograph was all about composition and as far as I was concerned, they could do as they wished just so long as they stayed in the frame. What I wasn’t prepared for were the delightful moments of tenderness that really made the picture sing. Nothing was staged and the moment the groom took hold of the bride’s hand and kissed it with her looking on adoringly, was simply priceless. This picture captures everything I love in a wedding photograph: composition, grace, a beautiful setting and the magic ingredient –spontaneity.
Photographers inject a lot of their personality into their work. What are your inspirations?
Humour plays a huge part in who I am and also how I approach a wedding. Weddings are very long days and my approach is always to make the moments I spend with the people on the end of my lens as enjoyable as possible. From experience, I find the best pictures always come when people are relaxed and comfortable in my presence and don’t see me as the wedding photographer.
How far in advance should couples look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
I have recently taken two bookings for 2017 as well as one for a wedding in just three weeks’time so I honestly don’t think there is any reason not to drop me a line. What I would say though is if you are getting married on a Saturday in June through to August then booking me – or any other wedding photographer whose style you like –a year in advance is sensible as these dates fill up very quickly. Of course if you are getting married on a Wednesday in November then there is far more likelihood of availability.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
Wedding photography is not for the timid. No matter how good you are with the technical side of photography, if you’re not confident, authoritative without being bossy, engaging, and able to deal calmly and professionally with endless curve balls thrown your way, then you are going to come unstuck. I love photographing weddings because I am a very sociable person and genuinely enjoy meeting and chatting with such a diverse range of people.
What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- If I book you, will it definitely be you and nobody else photographing my wedding
- Will you be able to show me an album or two of a complete wedding you’ve shot?
- Do you have insurance and could I see a copy please?
What’s your opinion on group shots–can you give us an example of yours?
To me, there is no controversy. If a client wants these then I’m happy to oblige. I know some photographers don’t like doing them (some even refuse to) but if they are decided upon before the wedding and there is sufficient help to gather people up on the day then they really shouldn’t take more than about 20 minutes or so.
Group shots may seem a bit boring at the time but couples looking at these same pictures in 20 or 30 years’time with their own children will be pleased they made the time. One of my favourite pictures is a group shot taken at the Italian Church in Clerkenwell in London. The bride wanted to replicate the very same picture her mother had when she got married many years before and the bride was thrilled I’d taken the time and effort to capture this moment for her.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
The most common thing I’m told by couples is that they are not photogenic. Everyone can be photogenic. I’m not saying that everyone is worthy of the front cover of Vogue but so much of what you project and how good you look in a photograph comes from within. I’ve lost track of the number of engagement shoots I’ve done where we’ve grabbed a coffee, just had a bit of fun with the camera, tried a few things, and before long the shoot is over and I show them some of the shots and their smiles say everything. What I’d like to say to the masses is trust your photographer and enjoy yourselves.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph and why?
The most memorable wedding I’ve had to photograph was with an English groom and an Indian bride. In all I did four shoots with them:a pre-wedding shoot, a Garba dance evening (a traditional Hindu party before the wedding), a Hindu ceremony and an English ceremony. There were approximately 400 guests at the Hindu ceremony and the colours were extraordinary. One week later we were at Clearwell Castle for the English version. By the end these people really were like friends.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
I know how much effort goes in to producing the images I do for my clients. Weddings are wonderfully chaotic, emotionally-charged events but they rarely run to plan. Wedding photographers understand this and are prepared for anything that comes their way –poor light, bad weather and group shots to name but a few. If the quality of the photography at your wedding is high up the list of priorities then choose a professional wedding photographer. Remember they charge what they do because they do what they do.