Wedding photography Q&A
Capturing Your Dream Day With Andy Mac Expert Wedding Photographer
Trusting someone to capture the most special and anticipated day in your lives is truly a hard decision. We discussed all things wedding photography with Andy Mac, renowned wedding photographer of the stars for his advice on all things Wedding photography.
About me – Andy Mac Photography & Filming
Wedding photography and filming has taken my life on a journey that I could never have expected. I’m honoured to have been trusted by Royalty, Academy Award Winners, celebrities, Olympic athletes and music stars and many wonderful, unknown, private couples around the world to capture the most special moments and events in their lives.
I absolutely love what I do and the kind words that people say about the work that my team and I produce. We invest an incredible amount of time, effort, hard work and knowledge into what we do to ensure that you have the very best memories for a lifetime to look back on.
There’s something incredibly rewarding about knowing that the images and moments that my team and I capture for people will take pride of place in their homes for decades, perhaps generations to come. This is a major part of your legacy.
Over the years, I’ve come to be recommended by some of the very best venues, wedding planners and brands within the industry. I’m relied upon as an ambassador for global photography brands to teach other photographers within the profession how to advance their skills and knowledge. I’ve won multiple awards and been featured in publications around the world. This is all lovely stuff, (and this next bit might sound a bit cliché), but the real reason I do what I do is the connection that I see in couples, the love that their friends and family have for them and the beautiful moments that happen with wedding celebrations that really drives me to capture all of these special memories. Often, when I’m looking through the viewfinder, my hairs stand on end. I know that what I’m capturing is so precious.
My aim is for people to feel that they have an expert teammate in their journey towards (and during) the most important celebrations of their lives. I want the people who trust me to capture their wedding to feel reassured and relaxed in the knowledge that I have their back each step of the way.
I want you to feel like you have invested in an out-of-this-world service, and have incredible memories for a lifetime to come.
If you truly value the idea of having incredible memories from your wedding, please get in touch – I’d love to hear more about the exciting plans that you have in mind for your celebrations.
You can find out more about me and how I could capture your wedding beautifully here: www.AndyMacPhotography.com
How would you describe your photography style?
There’s a few ways of answering this and it’s important for me to address each:
Personality style: I’m friendly, approachable, and just simply want you to have the best experience. I ask a lot of questions prior to the wedding day and also provide plenty of helpful information to ensure that I understand as best as possible what it is that you’re planning and so my team and I can deliver what you want.
Photography approach on a wedding day: It’s only with this knowledge (above) that any photographer can truly satisfy across all parts of the experience. Wedding photography is not just about the images, it’s about how you feel while those images are being taken. You will attach a feeling to your wedding photographs and some of that feeling will be reminiscent of how it felt at the time when those images were captured. This is why wedding photography requires not only technical skill, but it also requires a great deal of empathy, emotional intelligence and understanding of who is front of the camera.
It’s with this understanding and approach that my images are captured.
Editing style: I want to bypass a current fad within wedding photography where there is a trend of desaturating vibrant colours and slapping a warm filter on everything. If your friends are pale, then that’s how they will appear in all their brilliance, not Trump-orange. Brilliant blue skies should be captured and edited as such rather than over-exposed and bleached-white.
I think grass should be green and not brownish-yellow. Colours from all ends of the spectrum deserve love, and my dream is to give you images and memories in your wedding album that show how it ‘felt’ to be there, true and faithful to the beautiful blue skies, lush green vegetation and pale (or tanned) friends and family, with everyone and everything looking just as fantastic as it was on the day.
Can you share some of your most memorable or unique wedding photography experiences?
I once shot a wedding for the Saudi Royal Family, and with Arabic weddings it is often customary for the men and women to have separate celebratory parties. When I was photographing the men, a large crowd of elaborate dancers with swords came out of nowhere from within the crowd and I happened to be right in the middle of the space that they had elected to spontaneously dance. When something like this happens I don’t tend to shy away, but capture right from the heart of the action. As it happened, I ended up being stuck right between two opposing lines of these dancers wielding bright silver swords. The lines of men seemed to simply shout and jump and it hadn’t immediately occurred to me that they might want to actually touch swords at some point, but sure enough – both sides swiftly danced towards me with me in the middle, my only escape was for me to lie with my back flat on the floor with swords being clashed above me. The King and other Royals found it hilarious and I captured some truly unique shots from a quite unexpected angle! I think this approach of fun and smiles on my face during such a scene then led to me to being invited to sit next to one of the Princes during the feast. It’s night and celebration that I will never forget.
What drew you to specialise in wedding photography?
After my business degree at university and coming to live in London, I had quite a mixed career going from being a graduate trainee trader at a corporate bank to running nightclubs to marketing and advertising for major international brands with big budgets, however, I think I burnt myself out through all of these different and very intensive career opportunities. Many of these things overlapped as I could not settle on any of them fully.
I moved back to the South West (where I grew up) and started to manage both the marketing and events for a beautifully and recently renovated country mansion. It was at this point I realised that many of the wedding photographers were producing work that I felt I could easily achieve (being a keen amateur photographer since my teens and having dabbled with some behind the scenes photography and filming during advertising campaigns that I had managed in London). It was at this point that I offered my services to a couple who simply booked me for me being me. No portfolio, just full trust.
Since then, I’ve never looked back. I found that I absolutely loved capturing real moments between people and having this creative aspect in my life and I’ve been a full-time wedding and commercial photographer and filmmaker for about the last ten years.
How do you establish a connection and build trust with your clients before their big day? What steps do you take to ensure you capture the essence and emotions of a couple’s wedding day?
This is a really really good question – and probably one of the key aspects that I would want anyone to think about when looking for any wedding supplier, and particularly their photographer.
Trust. Connection. Emotion.
These are the elements that bind moments together to create great, meaningful photographs at a wedding. In my opinion, it’s essential to build rapport with a couple, to have a high level of emotional intelligence and to be able to know when and how to be in a space that allows you to be close to the action to capture it in a way that displays how it felt to actually be in that moment.
It starts with getting to know a couple. I invest a lot of time getting to know a couple. I want to understand your emotions as you build up to the wedding day, is it ‘excitedness’? is it ‘nervousness’? Is there an element of wanting to ensure that certain family members all get along? – If I can understand many of these things, then I have a much greater chance of making sure that I will be in the right place at the right time ready to capture moments that will truly mean something to you as a couple and your family.
A good photograph, well exposed with a nice backdrop is easy. A photograph that is all these things combined with emotion and real people is where the real investment is.
Can you walk us through your creative process from the initial consultation to the final delivery of photographs?
There’s a methodical and detailed workflow when it comes to preparation, planning, capturing, backing up, editing and delivery of beautiful images in an album and for an online gallery, but I think when it comes to the creative process – it’s all about asking the right questions and listening to what any wedding couple has to say.
While there are many aspects to a wedding that follow a similar formula; getting ready, ceremony, celebration. Every wedding is different because of the people, the cultures, the venue, time of year, weather, what everyone’s desires are for the pictures and video and so much more.
I want to understand what is important to each of the wedding couple and sometimes also their wider families. There are often a lot of personalities that I want to make sure that my team and I can satisfy. It’s only possible to truly exceed people’s expectations when you understand what people’s expectations are.
I ask a lot of questions prior to a wedding day from each member of the couple such as:
“What moment are you most looking forward to?” The answer to this question is often very different and I will note this down to ensure that we talk about those aspects of the celebrations in extra detail. I’ll visualise which spaces and places to be capturing from at different key moments in time, thinking about the angles of light, the backdrop, the way that people will likely be interacting with each other at the very moments that have been described, always ready for all of this to change in an instant. There’s a lot to think about other than just the technical elements in the camera and composition.
Ultimately I bare all of these things in mind when capturing a wedding day and when I work with my team, I communicate all of these aspects to each of them. This might be the only time in a couple’s life when all of the people that are most close, near and dear to them will be around them all at once. It’s important to get this right.
How do you approach capturing candid moments versus posed shots during a wedding?
While I want to make sure that couples and their families receive fantastic photographs and videos from their wedding celebrations, this isn’t a commercial or fashion shoot and I have a strong belief that everything should be as natural as possible.
Unless you’re a model or an actor, you’re not generally used to being in front of a camera for extended periods of time and while I know that some photographers take couples away for a long period of time, I’ve never understood this approach, it doesn’t benefit the images and it doesn’t benefit the couple or their guests.
When it comes to capturing moments with a couple on their own for example, I’ll capture candid and natural moments as they happen while also having numerous ideas of when and how and where to invite a couple into different spaces to capture their interactions with each other during many short moments, when their guests are otherwise busy looking at the table plan or taking a breather from sitting down after the speeches for example.
I’ll always be looking for different spaces within any venue, different angles, light and also subtly reading the emotions of the couple and who they are interacting with. Reading the room for when the right time to ‘steal away’ from the crowd for a moment to capture a few intimate ‘couple shots’ is a key thing.
This ensures the couple and their guests are not absent from one another for any extended period of time.
When it comes to posing anyone – this is something we chat about before the wedding day. Some people feel uncomfortable being ‘posed’ – and so I’ll ‘invite’ those people into spaces of good light and encourage some natural interaction and movement.
With those who prefer a bit of direction, I’ll be able to help guide them into a situation that will still feel natural while helping make them feel that I’m attentive to their individual needs with making sure they both look their best.
What kind of equipment do you use, and how do you ensure you’re prepared for different lighting and environmental conditions?
Depending if it’s just me capturing the wedding on my own or if it is my whole photo / video / drone team, then there is a massive range of equipment that we can bring to a wedding.
The venue, weather, time of year and size of the party and couple’s style can all influence this. It could go from having a subtle setup of just two camera bodies and a range of lenses with a few flashes to a whole ensemble of drone, cranes, videographers, audio setups, multiple camera-assistants and lighting setups. Every wedding is unique and it’ll be a custom-thought process for each one to make sure that it is right and in line with their budget.
Do you work with a second shooter or assistant, and what benefits does this provide during weddings?
Sometimes for small, intimate occasions I might capture events on my own.
For bigger or more elaborate occasions where there are many guests, logistics or locations to consider and a desire from the couple to capture things in a way that is often only reserved for magazines or cinema, we can grow to a much bigger team including specialist drone and crane operators, multiple photographers and videographers all assigned to slightly different angles and tasks to ensure that all of the important and elaborate elements of the beautiful wedding celebrations are captured.
There are benefits to having a smaller or bigger team depending on the size and scale of your wedding. Of course, one person can be a little more discreet at a small event, but the fact of the matter is that one person cannot physically be in multiple locations at a time and when different angles are required in a fast-paced environment, a bigger team really comes into it’s own and can actually be more subtle and discreet than one person running around frantically (and impossibly) trying to capture everything all at once.
How do you handle unexpected challenges or surprises that may arise during a wedding?
Preparation, positivity, experience and an ability to think fast and creatively. All of these things are invaluable and can’t be underestimated. If you are planning the most important celebration of your life, it’s worth investing in the very best suppliers you can afford and especially those who need to be able to adapt to any given situation such as photographers and videographers.
Can you share some tips for couples on how to look their best and feel comfortable in front of the camera?
Get to know your photographer.
It’s not the feeling of being awkward in front of the camera that people fear, it’s fearing being awkward in front of the person behind the camera, (especially if they don’t know that person).
If you have a good rapport with your photographer and know that they truly ‘have your back’ and is 100% with you to capture the fun, emotion and style of your day, then you will naturally relax a little more.
Jump on multiple video calls with them. Talk about what you are planning. Ask them lots of questions. All of these things will help the photographer and/or videographer plan better for your celebrations and it will also help you feel relaxed in the knowledge that they will know what you are planning and what you are looking for from them.
Also – just be yourself. So important. Allow your photographer to guide you through the process of being in the right light, in the right locations for your couples shots. Laugh how you laugh and just be how you are. Remember that the person who you are marrying you wants to see you in these pictures just the way that you are. Obviously add a stunning dress to this and it’s recipe for success!
Are there any trends or emerging styles in wedding photography that you find particularly exciting?
Trends can be interesting but it’s important to differentiate what is ‘fashionable and trendy’ from a ‘fad’. Wedding photography isn’t just for this month’s magazine front cover which attracts attention and gets likes this month but could be in the bin next month.
I believe that wedding photography is about capturing real emotions and connections that will remain for a lifetime and be a legacy for your future family.
With this in mind, the images that I find myself drawn to as a photographer and filmmaker are those which demonstrate an ability to capture a natural moment in a creative way that really makes you ‘feel’ something.
While I am primarily led by real interactions and looking for beautiful light and compositions, I also love the development of technology and how it allows us as professionals to capture moments in even better quality, move as fast as the action might be happening and to capture from angles that were once only reserved for the pleasure of birds and helicopters.