Forget the ‘Must-Have’ Shot List: Behind the Lens with London Wedding Photographer, Kerry Morgan
12 Oct 2015
Although it's tempting to scan the reams of wedding photography on Pinterest and settle on a photographic style adopted for someone else's big day, it's crucial to focus on the spirit of your own wedding, says London photographer Kerry Morgan
Kerry Morgan’s distinctive editorial-style wedding photography is easily understood once you learn she was obsessed with the glamour of fashion magazines as a teenager. “My room used to be plastered with all my favourite images –much to my parents’ dismay,” explains Kerry. “While my clients aren’t models, I like to make them look as good as possible and having an eye for certain editorial style has inspired me.”
We go behind the lens with the south-east London photographer to learn her opinion on the dos and don’ts of enchanting wedding pictures.
How would you describe your style of photography?
My groups and portraits have a modern, editorial feel – stylish and elegant. The rest of my work is very hands-off, documentary, natural and story-telling. These two styles combined give my clients a wonderful set of images.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I shot my first wedding while I was still at art college. My career took off when my clients started telling all their friends about me. Word just spread. At the time only seven per cent of photographers were women and hardly anyone shot in a documentary style. Therefore, I stood out. 80 per cent of my work still comes from word of mouth recommendations.
Who are your ideal clients?
Brides and grooms who want to look incredible in their pictures. I guess people who appreciate great style, natural story-telling and will trust me totally to do a great job 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.
I have many favourite images but this is probably my number one. It’s not something I could have ever planned; it was making the best out of the situation. We had decided to stop off at this pretty meadow on the way from the church to the venue. We didn’t plan on the snow. The couple were travelling in a vintage Jaguar and the driver was really concerned that it might not make it. However, they took a leap of faith and were rewarded with this beautiful image. Because it was so cold, it was shot in about two minutes. I love the footprints which lead the eye (and no, I didn’t make them, they were already there), and the blue sky and sun shining through are just perfect. I love how they look so happy.
How far in advance should couples book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
I only take on a limited number of commissions per year, so if you know you like my work, it is of course better to book as soon as possible. Occasionally I may be able to do something short notice. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
Never resting on your laurels. I want to keep getting better and better as a photographer. The challenge is to keep improving, keep moving forward and keep my clients saying ‘wow’.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
I think communication and planning is the key. Talk to your photographer about exactly the kind of images you are looking for and be realistic about your expectations. Have you given your photographer enough time in the drinks reception to get all the groups you want plus lots of natural pictures? Work out your priorities.
What are the three most important questions for couples to ask their photographer?
1. How many weddings have you shot?
Are they experienced enough? Just because someone is really great at photographing landscapes does not mean they are going to be any good at shooting a wedding. Being a wedding photographer requires a completely different set of skills. In my opinion you need to have shot at least 40 weddings before you are even close to the level of experience necessary.
2. When will we see the images?
I think it’s important that the images are provided in a timely manner; certainly no longer than six weeks from the wedding date. Albums will take longer of course.
3. Can we see a whole wedding?
Be careful that it’s not just a few hero shots on their website. I blog every wedding I shoot and share 150-200 images per wedding. You can get a really good feel of the style and types of images you will receive over that amount of pictures. Basing your decision on one of two images you’ve seen isn’t wise.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’–can you give us an example of yours?
I love shooting groups. I think they are only controversial because they can look boring and take too long. I like to shoot my pictures really quickly and in a very elegant editorial style. The group I have chosen is one very typical of my style. I wanted the guys to look like they’d jumped off the pages of GQ magazine. Cool, refined and modern.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
Don’t give your photographer a list of ‘must-have’ pictures. They will be too busy looking at your huge list to notice the great moments that they could be capturing right in front of them. Sure, have a list of a few groups you might want, but leave everything else to the eye of the photographer. The same goes for your Pinterest boards –the wedding day is here, delete them and don’t expect your photographer to recreate pictures of someone else’s wedding, you simply won’t be satisfied.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
Recently, probably Alasdair and Victoria’s wedding in Provence. I’ve wanted to shoot a wedding in that part of the world for ages.
Alasdair and Victoria were really chilled out and trusted me completely. Their friends and families were great and made me feel so welcome and the weather was off the charts. If I could shoot a wedding in Provence every week, I’d be very happy. You can see it here.
Why is wedding photography worth the investment?
Your pictures are an heirloom, a part of your family’s history. When you think about it, spending very good money on something that will last 100 years or more is excellent value. When that day is over, you’ll want nothing more than to go back and do it all over again. A great set of pictures are the closest thing you have to getting that day back. These pictures are too important to trust a friend with a good camera or someone who shoots sports for a living. Hire someone whose work you love and who is an experienced wedding photographer.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
Probably a picture editor at a fashion or bridal magazine.