Behind the Lens with Norfolk wedding photographer Suzanne Fossey
10 May 2018
Suzanne Fossey of Fossey Images - based in Wymondham, Norfolk - answers our questions and simultaneously offers insight into her world of wedding work
How would you describe your style of photography?
Photojournalism. I’m a respectful observer more than a director, which means that the day can be enjoyed by my clients and their guests without being bothered by me. I’m all about natural, authentic photography.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I started out in wedding photography shortly after graduating in visual studies at Norwich University of the Arts. I was photographing babies before I was covering weddings. It was the babies’ parents who recommended me to friends who were getting married.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients are creative, easy going couples who want to enjoy their wedding day without fuss. They’re not looking to fill their reception with group shots, poses and receiving lines. They just want to have fun with their friends and family. They trust me and my ability to get on with the job in hand creatively.
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.
It’s difficult to choose one photograph that encapsulates everything I want to achieve in a wedding photo. There are so many different aspects to the day. So for the couple’s shots, I choose this image of Pippa and James in the grounds of Somerleyton Hall. We were between locations in the gardens. It’s a fleeting moment between shots. It gives me the kind of feeling I’m hoping to capture in a wedding photograph of the couple together: natural and authentic.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
I don’t have preconceived inspirations for the weddings I shoot. The inspiration comes from the connection between the couple, the light, the environment, the venue and how they’ve chosen to personalise it, the weather. Inspiration happens in the moment, what catches my eye or touches an emotion in me.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
As soon as they’ve set the date and booked the ceremony/venue, which is usually about a year in advance. I’ve had clients book me over two years in advance. I limit the amount of weddings I shoot in any year, so last minute bookings are rare.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
The light – lack of it, or too much of it. Photography really is reliant on light. Many of my clients tell me they’re praying for a bright, sunny day. Any photographer will tell you we pray for overcast days (God’s Softbox). A bit of cloud cover creates the best light for photographing faces. Sometimes venues are dark and cavernous, so when it’s time for speeches and the first dance it’s good to know what you’re doing with flash to create a natural (or dramatic) look. Rainy days can be a real inspiration too, believe it or not.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
By enjoying themselves, being themselves and having a ball. That’s all I ask.
What are the 3 most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- Are you a professional photographer, or part time? I’ve heard too many times from disappointed couples that they wished they’d paid for an experienced, professional photographer.
- Are you insured? Friends of friends who photograph weddings probably won’t be. It’s essential for your own peace of mind that your professional, experienced full-time photographer is insured.
- Do you feel we’re a good fit? There’s no point working with a photographer if you’re not feeling a connection with their work. The first time I meet many of my couples is on the day of their wedding, but correspondence and the kind of questions they ask can tell me whether or not we’re a good fit.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’ – can you give us an example of yours?
As a wedding photojournalist the type of clients I attract are less into the group shots. I recommend around half a dozen groupings if possible. I also ask that they list these for me before the day, and I bring copies on the day for a couple of people they nominate to herd the groupings into place, ready for me to shoot. Also, that they’re done at the ceremony venue, as soon after the ceremony as possible.
In my experience leaving groups until the reception means you’re going to be hanging around waiting for someone to find grandma who’s wandered off to powder her nose. There’s nothing worse for me, as a photojournalist, to hold up proceedings on the day. I like to do a ‘formal’ shot of each grouping, as well as something more natural – just asking the group to look towards the bride and groom can be enough to make that second shot work. I like to work these shots as swiftly as possible.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
I’m not into trends. I’m into individuals and what inspires them, and how they personalise their day. It’s never about trends for me. It’s about the couple and how they express themselves, and their love for each other.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
That all their images should all be in colour or all in black and white. I recommend leaving the choice of colour or black and white for each image to the photographer to decide during the processing stage. I ask clients to give me a rough ratio they’d like me to work to, and we go with that. Sometimes due to lighting constraints an image won’t work in colour. Think luminous pink or green lighting in a marquee. Colour casts onto skin from this kind of lighting and can destroy a colour image, but look great in black and white. Conversely, all images in black and white might seem like a nice idea, after all that’s all there was ‘back in the day’, but you may regret not being able to recall the colour of your flowers, the bridesmaids’ dresses you chose, or those hand-made favours you laboured over.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
My most memorable wedding was probably one I shot a few years ago in a village not far from where I live in Norfolk. The bride was the niece of a local family, coming over from Singapore. They have a beautiful home, where the wedding day was to be held; a very pretty, romantic setting. The ceremony was outdoors on a beautifully lit (overcast!) day. How the bride’s cousins had decorated the garden and marquee felt so personal, delicate and feminine. I had a good feeling about it from the first enquiry, which came from Elaine’s aunt, who had obviously trawled her way through my website and understood my way of working.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
Let’s be honest. Other than the ring and your other half, what’s left of the day other than the photographs? I feel joy looking at my grandparents’ wedding photographs and those of my parents. If all you have is a collection of images from friends’ smartphones or well-meaning Uncle Bobs with DSLRs you’re not going to have the best collection. It takes years of experience not just to understand how photography works, but how a wedding day works too. You get what you pay for.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
If I weren’t a wedding photographer, I’d be an artist. It’s never too late. At the moment I’m working on ideas that would help me combine the two. Watch this space...