Behind the Lens with Scottish wedding photographer, Suzanne Black
23 May 2018
Transporting us to bonny Scotland, Suzanne Black shares examples of her best work and details her aims and objectives as a wedding photographer
How would you describe your style of photography?
My style is mainly documentary. I want my couples to spend their day enjoying their wedding not spending the whole time posing for the camera. That said, we will spend a little bit of time getting some lovely natural relaxed portraits and some family groups but this doesn’t need to take over the day. I always say to my couples that I want them to look back on their photos in 20 years time and say “That's a perfect memory of us on our wedding day” not “Why did our photographer make us do that?”.
Who are your ideal clients?
I have a wide range of clients from those that elope to Scotland and get married on a hilltop, to the ones getting married in a dramatic Scottish Castle and everything in between. The one thing they tend to have in common is that they are generally relaxed and laid back; they just want a lovely celebration with their family and friends with some beautiful pictures to remind them of the day.
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 love this image, for me it just shows what I try to capture for my clients. Jo didn’t let the weather phase her when she arrived for her wedding and she is still grinning and laughing as the boys accompany her from the car to the church.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
I find most of my couples are getting married within a year of getting engaged and the summer Saturdays tend to get booked up very quickly. That said, there is still always the chance that I will have availability. I am also finding that many couples are choosing to get married on Fridays or mid-week so they have more flexibility when booking venues.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
In Scotland, probably the weather. I have had sun, wind, snow, rain and storms on wedding days and nothing - I would say - has ruined the day. You just have to have a plan B. Mind you, that can also make for the most fun and interesting images.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
When I meet couples I find they are all usually a little nervous about getting their photograph taken; it's really common. The one thing I always say to people is that I am not going to make them do anything they wouldn’t normally do. My portraits are very relaxed and tend to involve us just going for a 15-20 minute walk together around the grounds of the venue. Many of my couples will come to me for an engagement or pre-wedding shoot, which is a great way to get more relaxed in front of the camera and for us to get to know each other better.
What’s your opinion on the controversial ‘group shots’ – can you give us an example of yours?
I think a wedding is a great opportunity to get a few family groups as often it's the only time people get together. However, it doesn’t have to take over the day and they don’t have to be boring. Like everything during the day, we will plan in advance the shots we are going to do. Most couples stick to the 6-8 shots that I recommend and we will do those in around 20 minutes so it doesn’t cut into the drink reception time. We can pull in chairs and other things to sit on so they look a little less formal.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
I try not to follow trends as I want my images to feel timeless. I want my images to be about the couple and their day not what might be trendy at the time.
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 the wedding photography will take over the day and takes ages. I have a meeting with the couple in the run up to the wedding (either in person or on Skype) where we run through all the timings and plans for the day. We will make sure we have all the time for portraits and groups fitted in ,but ensure that they still have plenty of time with their guests.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
You are paying for the knowledge that the person that is shooting your wedding has not only the technical experience to shoot your wedding but how to manage the day itself. You have to deal with a range of things on the day: from challenging weather and lighting conditions to organising groups quickly and effectively and equally being able to anticipate the important moments as they happen.
I have been shooting weddings for 15 years and have shot more than 400 weddings and can honestly say that every wedding has its challenges. However, I can draw on my experience to know how to deal with them.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
I am an outdoor addict and when not working you tend to find me in the mountains, hiking climbing or skiing, so I would probably be a mountain guide.