Interview: Ash Davenport
In our behind the lens feature, we chat with professional wedding photographer Ash Davenport, an award-winning London Wedding Photographer.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I captured my first wedding in late in 2015 so I have had three short years in weddings. From my first wedding, I got completely hooked and instantly decided I wanted this to become my career. I had a good full-time 15-year career in Rolls-Royce where I was working my way through the management roles but always felt something was missing and I wasn’t being challenged enough creatively – I have never expected Wedding Photography was going to be this challenge.
I had always said I wanted to get back into photography since I took A-Level photography at school but it would never have been weddings because of the pressure and I believed weddings were boring. After that very first wedding, I released I lived for the pressure and performed better with pressure, I learnt pretty quickly weddings are certainly not boring.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
Wedding photography has become a passion and not a job. It allows me to be creative and express feelings without using words. I find it hard to talk about feels and thoughts but using my camera this comes really naturally to me. I use the camera to allow other people to see and feel the emotion and joy.
I also love the pressure and pursuit of perfection getting that one image that the couple will love, hang on their wall and transport them back to their day.
What is your favourite part of the day?
I hear lots of people talking about their favourite part of the day and to be honest, I don’t really have a favourite. I genuinely love each part of the day for different reasons. Bridal / Groom prep is always special because you see the couple, their friends and family at their most nervous, their most stressful and finally their most vulnerable. Being able to witness this and capture it is special and sets me up for the day.
It is always a part of the day where I do a lot of groundwork with the family to build up their trust which always helps later in the day. The ceremony is always special as this is where the couple sees each other for the first time – that moment where they meet is always awesome as I am one of only a small group of people to see both their faces. I love the drinks reception because its where
I finally get to talk to the wider families and the guests. I tend to do whatever guests are doing to try and blend in, I don’t hide behind trees using long lenses to capture people, I get close! Close enough for people to notice me and start to talk. That way I become part of the wedding just like all the other guests and people start to feel at ease with the guy with the camera.
As a guest, who doesn’t love speeches….. They are normally very funny and also very emotional and capturing people laugh out loud or dropping a tear is never boring.
Then there is the party! This is where I let my hair down, well why not, if it’s ok for the guests why can’t I! This part of the day does come close to being my favourite as I love to get stuck in on the dance floor capturing all the guest dancing like no one is watching. 99% of the time, if there was one guest who hid from me during the day, this is where they come out of their shell and let go! I am always on the lookout for those people.
How would you describe your style and approach?
My style and approach doesn’t naturally fit into one particular genre of photography. I’m, however, heavily drawn to composition, symmetry, emotion and energy.
I always try to incorporate some of these things whether conscious or unconsciously in the images I create. Sometimes this is inspired by the location, the scene or the couples themselves and other times I bring some of that myself whether that be through my use of lighting or seeking out creative angles.
I love the feeling of surprising my couples, for them to look at an image and be amazed by what’s been captured or the way it was captured. I feel also paramount to my approach is getting to know my couple and really developing a relationship with them to understand what’s important to them. Creating artistic images is nice but for my couple to have some type of emotional infinity with them is even more important.
Who, or what inspires you?
My main source of inspiration actually comes from outside the wedding industry, I take great inspiration from architecture, minimalist images or abstract artists or photographers and business or motivational speakers like Gary Vee.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Talk to as many photographers as possible and try not to result in an email. Finding your perfect wedding photographer can be hard but there is a perfect person for everyone at every different price point.
Look at their work and ask yourself how it makes you feel and do you want to be in the images on their website, Instagram and Facebook. Your wedding photographer will be one of the closest people to you on your wedding day so you want to be comfortable with them in your presence.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Don’t let the wedding day be someone else day. It’s your day and have the day you want and dream off – not someone else’s. Finally, don’t worry about timing – 99% of weddings never run on time.
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
Everest! My wife and I climbed to Everest Base Camp on our honeymoon and it would be amazing to be asked to go back and capture a wedding there.
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
On the day of the wedding, I arrived super early on a blisteringly hot September day back in 2016. I was greeted at the door by Frankie’s Father – John – He struck me as extremely kind, gentle, loving Father who could have the tendency to be emotional and at this moment to be a little bit at unease (which is to be expected as Father of the Bride).
The rest of the house was calm and enjoying the drinks and food that had been laid on. It was clear that Frankie’s Mother – Minou – was also nervous but was keeping herself busy and enjoying all the company around her. With 2 hours to go until the ceremony everybody was in good spirits, however, I could tell John was clearly struggling with the anticipation and emotion of the day, although I had never met John before I could tell this was not a position he had found himself in before.
To try and distract John from the emotion that surrounded him, I started up a conversation that led me to find that John was a company Director, my suspicions were confirmed – this was a day far removed from the office and instead dictated by the overwhelming love for his daughter.
I started capturing bridal prep but instead of the usual group of girls getting ready all together, Frankie was getting ready on her own with only her maid of honour and makeup artist. The moment a Father catches sight of his daughter for the first time can be one of the most emotional moments of the day, and with John, I believed that it might be taken to the next level. It wasn’t until Frankie put her dress on that I had that eureka moment.
I knew I had to act quickly as the emotion and anticipation was growing quickly. The light was great and I positioned myself so I could see Frankie through the mirror and prayed to the photography gods that John would stand in the right place and then let his emotion come out. I knew it would be emotional but could never have imagined what would happen next.
John walked into the room and uncontrollable just let go. This was the trigger for Frankie and her mum (who were feeling just as emotional as John) to let go as well (including me…). I was lucky to have the perfect conditions, Frankie’s childhood bedroom allowed me to capture both her dad walking in and Frankie through a mirror within the wardrobe.
The reason that I believe I was able to capture this moment stems back to the pre-wedding shoot with Frankie & Andy. I find this an invaluable time to develop a rapport with my couples and build up a good level of understanding and trust.
From this, I believe that Frankie thankfully trusted my judgement and allowed me to stay in the room to be a part of such an intimate moment. I have no doubt that without having built a relationship with her I would not have been able to take this image.
Many thanks to Ash for taking time to chat with us, you can get in touch with him and view more work on his website at www.mikistudios.com.