Behind the lens with Steve Brill of Brillpix Photography
05 Oct 2016
Blending into the background to capture the moments that really matter, we meet Northamptonshire wedding photographer Steve Brill
How would you describe your style of photography?
I would describe my style of photography as ‘documentary', as I try really hard not to interfere with the natural flow of the day. My goal is to blend in and record what unfolds in front of me. With this approach I often get mistaken as a guest a wedding. This, for me, is perfect.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
My career in photography started like a like a lot of photographers, I guess. I grew up with cameras around me all through my teenage years, but then in 2004 I photographed a couple of friends' weddings and they really liked the photographs. I then spent many months researching everything I could that would allow me to make this my full time work, before making the complete leap of faith in July 2005.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients are certainly couples that value the photography from their wedding day, but also those that are happy for me to do my thing. If I meet a couple that clearly have a different vision and want a more directed style of photography, I would explain politely that I am probably not the best photographer for them.
Can you choose a picture that encapsulates everything that you want to achieve as a wedding photographer? Tell us what it is about this image that you love.
One photo that encapsulates everything I want to achieve in a wedding photo is the photo of the bride and groom in the corn field. Whilst this may look posed, it was not. This is from a recent young farmer's wedding, where we drove to this spot on her family's land. This was where she spent a lot of her childhood, so has special memories. I just asked them to walk into the crop and have a cuddle and this is one of my favorite shots. It also ended up being their favourite from the day.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you?
My bookings are usually confirmed 12-18 months before the wedding day. However, I will always be pleased to discuss coverage at short notice. Whilst the majority of my bookings are for full day coverage, I am also happy to offer coverage for half days etc.
What's the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
A wedding day is very challenging to photograph! Everything is pretty well out of your control and you need to be able to adapt in an instant. The most challenging element is probably woking within buildings with little or no light. That is why you should not attempt to photograph a wedding unless you have professional equipment and you should also know your gear inside out. There is no time to be fiddling with controls, as you will miss the moment.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
For me, one way to help couples to ensure the best work is to take advantage of my complimentary pre-wedding photoshoots. For this, I usually meet up with them 6-8 weeks before the big day and just go for a walk in a local park and shoot some informal portraits. This allows them to become at ease with having a camera pointed at them and I am able to observe the connection they have with each other and we get to know each a little better in the process. I have had great feedback from these sessions and I’m told they feel much more relaxed on the day. Plus, they also get some nice portraits to keep.
What three questions would you advise couples to ask their potential wedding photographer?
- Can you show me at least two examples of complete weddings that you have shot?
- What if your camera fails? (I have a backup of everything, so this would not be an issue).
- What if you’re ill on the day? This is obviously a concern, but having shot over 150 weddings I have not missed one. Should I be unlucky enough to get knocked over by a bus, I have a network of like-minded photographers I could call upon, that would be do a great job for you.
What's your opinion on the controversial 'group shots'?
At every wedding the group (formal) shots are important, as it’s often a record of the elder family members being present. During the consultations leading up to the day, I do ask my clients to provide me with a list of the must-have group shots. But I do ask to keep them to a minimum (up to 10 is fine). As a documentary photographer, it can be frustrating to spend too long on these, as often I’m missing all the good stuff going on behind me.
What's been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
My most memorable wedding to date is probably my first young farmers' wedding. I wasn’t prepared for over 200+ guests to the church, followed by another 150 in the evening. I remember leaving the wedding and still buzzing. Boy, those young farmers know how to party!
Why is wedding photography worth the investment?
Wedding photography is so worth the investment. It’s the only thing that you have left over from the day and the memories will last for ever. I speak with many couples that regret having not invested in this, so save a bit on the cake or buy some cheaper shoes, but do have a professional photographer document on your wedding day.