In our behind the lens interview series where we chat with professional wedding photographers, this week we catch up with James Tracey.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I started shooting weddings in 2012 after deciding I wanted a change of career. I’d been a police officer for 10 years and after getting married in 2012 I decided I wanted to try photography. I had a huge slice of luck as my first wedding was a Don’t Tell The Bride wedding (the bride worked at the same company as my wife) and fleetingly featuring on TV seemed to help me get my business up and running quickly. I’d booked more weddings than I could take annual leave for so I took the plunge, resigned from the police and went became a full time wedding photographer in 2013.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
I like photographing people and emotion so shooting weddings is the perfect place to get the images that I love the most. At some point in every wedding there is a hug, tear and laughter and I love capturing those moments for my couples to look back on. I always think that these types of photos resonate so much more than posed group photos so I love the challenge of capturing the couple, their friends and guests emotions throughout the wedding day.
What is your favourite part of the day?
I find that I always enjoy the wedding service. Although this is more or less the same at each wedding the emotion is always different at each wedding and you’re almost always guaranteed some great moments between the couple or some great guest reactions. I also enjoy shooting the reception after the service as I can be as creative as I can whilst trying to get those magical emotional moments.
How would you describe your style and approach?
My style is documentary or reportage, shooting the wedding day as it happens. I don’t set up moments and I don’t like to shoot contrived or posed photos, I love capturing the real moments, the real story of a wedding. Of course I do shoot group photos and I always take the couple away for some lightly directed couple photos, but 90% of the day I will be shooting things as they happen.
Who, or what inspires you?
There are so many great photographers out there whose work I admire, at the moment I am working my way through the Magnum Contact Sheets book. Magnum are the world’s best photo agency and looking though the images the photographers have taken and reading why they chose some and rejected the others is really interesting and it’s massively helping me think about how I shoot and the moments I choose. I always prefer to look outside wedding photography for inspiration so I can stay unique in my style and approach.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Find the style you love and that suits you. Don’t just book a photographer because they’ve shot at your venue before or because they did your friends wedding. Look at different styles and work out what you like. Do you like natural documentary photos, do you want posed, magazine style photos. Once you decide on the style that suits you then start looking for a photographer that shoots that way. Wedding photographers are very diverse now and you need to get someone who shoots the style you love rather than asking a photographer to shoot in a way they are not comfortable. You’ll get the best photos for you that way!
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Don’t rush the day. Your wedding day will fly by so quickly, so make sure you leave time throughout the day. If you’re travelling between venues, always double the travelling time. Google maps might say 20 minutes but moving 80 people will take much longer, so factor that in. Once you’re married, make sure you leave enough time between the wedding service and wedding breakfast. I always advise at least 1.5 hours after any travelling, this gives you enough time to relax and mingle, to shoot the groups and to have 20 minutes of couple photos.
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
I’d love to return to Lake Como in Italy and shoot a wedding there, I was lucky to visit in 2010 and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Like all photographers I would love to shoot in Iceland too. I’ve been a huge Sigur Ros fan for years so I like to think I was into all things Iceland before it became hugely popular over the last few years.
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
Without doubt being taken out to New York City to shoot a secret wedding in Central Park in 2015. I love NYC (I proposed to my wife at The Plaza on 5th Avenue) and my dream was to shoot a wedding there so I couldn’t believe it when Andy and Anna booked me to travel out in June 2015 to shoot their day. We travelled all over Manhattan after the wedding to get shots in Times Square, Top of The Rock, Grand Central and in Greenwich Village and it was one of those days that I just kept pinching myself to remind myself it was really happening.