Behind the Lens with Surrey wedding photographer, Moritz Schmittat
22 Mar 2018
Step into Surrey-based Moritz Schmittat's fascinating world of wedding photography
How would you describe your style of photography?
My wedding photography has two distinct styles:
First there is the photojournalistic part, I observe and document - I try to be an invisible spy, a silent hunter. I try to capture every moment, every emotion, the laughs, the tears, the nervousness before the ceremony and the relief after the first kiss. If my couples say "We didn’t really notice you were there", I have reached my goal.
The second part is the artistic photo shoot. During the short time that I have with the couple (anything between just 15 minutes and 1.5 hours), I like to be creative and take impressive and also unusual photographs. Some of these might involve some preparation (including props) as well. In contrast to my reportage photography, during this part I work very closely with the couple. I especially like large format ‘environmental portraits’ which show the couple embedded in a larger context such as a city or nature scene.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I shot my first wedding in 2014. It was the wedding of a close friend. This is when I discovered how much I like wedding photography and that (I think) I have a talent for it.
Who are your ideal clients?
My favourite couples (I prefer to say ‘couples’ rather than ‘clients’) are the ones that can actually relax during their wedding day. There is no point in stressing at all. Put all responsibilities in the hands of your friends and family and from that moment only go with the flow. Whatever happens it is your special day. And my photos will be so much more meaningful if the emotions are not masked by stress.
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.
This photo is one of my favourites I shot last year. Amy and Alex are walking through a field holding hands and smiling at each other. The fact that they look at each other (and not at the camera) emphasises how they feel for each other. Their movement forward symbolises their future together. Their posture is relaxed and comfortable and the light is warm and soft. I find this photo very non-cheesy - it’s honest, loving and beautiful.
Photographers seem to inject a lot of their personality into their work… what are your inspirations?
I have to answer this question in two parts relating to the two styles I mentioned in my first answer. When it comes to my reportage style, I try to be as neutral as possible. The only variables I have are composition and camera settings - I would not interfere in the scene in front of me at all. When it comes to the ‘official’ photo shoot, however, I do inject my own personality. I work closely with the couple, making suggestions, planning shots beforehand and being creative in post-production.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you? Do people stand a chance of getting you last minute?
The summer weekend slots are usually booked out about six months in advance, but if your wedding is on a Monday or Thursday chances are high that I’m still available.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
I have to concentrate the most when people or events are moving quickly, for example when 150 guests are changing location. In these moments I usually shoot twice to avoid missing anything.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
Just be yourself and try not to look at the camera if possible. We get the best results if you completely ignore me.
What are the 3 most important questions for couples to ask their photographer, in your opinion?
- Do you love your work and why?
- What’s the most unusual shoot you had last year?
- How do you justify your rate?
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
As cameras are getting more and more light sensitive we, wedding photographers, can shoot in the dark which opens up completely new possibilities creatively and logistically.
What’s the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples? The thing you’d most like to communicate to the masses.
You as the wedding couple don’t have to do anything differently when your photographer is around. No need to pose or smile or in any way be camera-aware; just be yourself in the same way as if no photographer were in the room.
What’s been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
I shot a Chilean-Lebanese wedding in London last year. Both families flew in from literally opposite sides of the planet. It was a lovely, multi-cultural wedding - a colourful mix of food, rituals, clothes and music.
Can you tell us why you think wedding photography is worth the investment?
Your cake will be eaten, your dress will hang in the attic, your venue will be tidied up the same evening. What stays forever are your memories… and your photos. All wedding expenses are enjoyed or consumed on your wedding day except the photos. The true value of good wedding photos will only become apparent after your wedding and they will become more and more valuable over time - a bit like good red wine.
Finally, if you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be?
A film composer. I love music and I love films.