Interview: Jonathan Coates Wedding Photography
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I bought a camera to video myself singing and playing the guitar. Fast forward a few years and I had caught the photography bug and was buying lenses and spending money like it was going out of fashion. I was dipping my toes in different areas of photography, but once I tried shooting a friends wedding, I fell in love with it. I realised early on that I enjoyed photographing people and telling their stories, so what better occasion to do that than a wedding day? I
started properly as a wedding photography duo back in 2014, but by 2016 we were shooting on our own (still great friends) and formed our own separate companies. I’ve not looked back since.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
From a creative point of view it’s about creating the best pictures possible at every single wedding. Trying out new ideas and finding the best way to tell a bride & groom’s story through my pictures. But it is more than that, it’s about meeting new people, making new friends (with couples and peers) and getting brought in to their family unit for the day.
What is your favourite part of the day?
I have two really. I love the morning preparations with the bride and her team. There’s always a feeling of excitement in the air (and often nerves) and I like being around that. As much as I like to blend in at weddings and capture natural moments, I do like to join in with the fun in the mornings, I think helps strengthen the bond with the bride for the rest of the day. The second part is the dance floor, who doesn’t like a party? A full busy dance floor, great tunes playing and guests letting their hair down is the perfect storm for some killer pictures. I’ve been known to throw a few shapes as I make my way across the chaos.
How would you describe your style and approach?
For most of the day I’m shooting natural storytelling images. I try not to interfere with what is going on, but I’m not afraid to adapt the environment to get the best out of it.
Most of what my couples receive are natural, documentary style images of themselves and their guests enjoying the day. I do like a good portrait session though, both in the day and at night, but even during this part of the wedding day I want natural smiles and try my hardest to make the couple relax and have real fun.
Who, or what inspires you?
In terms of photography, it’s hard not to take inspiration from other wedding photographers work, as we see a constant stream of their photos on social media. However, I would say I’m more inspired by individual images rather than the photographers themselves. I think cinema and TV has a massive influence on me too.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Once you have narrowed down your choices, within your budget, you should have one or two photographers who’s work you absolutely love. At this point meet with them and make sure you get on with them. I think this is super important. The last thing you want is a person at your wedding that annoys you.The photographer is there all day and during all the key moments and that’s a long time to just tolerate someone.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Relax, take it all in, and let what happens be. By the wedding day all the planning should be done, so just let the venue and the people you have hired, do their thing. If something goes wrong on the day, do your best to just go with it. Chances are the guests won’t know and all will be good. You want to look back on the day with the fondest of memories.
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
I actually got to do this very thing last year when I photographed a wedding in Las Vegas. The ceremony was in the middle of the Nevada desert and then reception overlooked the Vegas strip. It was epic. The one place I haven’t shot yet, and would love to, is a wedding on a beach. The Bahamas or Skegness, it doesn’t bother me (OK the Bahamas might win out) but being based in the midlands, there aren’t too many beach venues around here, and although I shoot all around the UK, I’ve yet to do one on golden sands. My trunks are packed though if anyone fancies booking me for one of those.
Finally… What’s the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
I don’t think there is one defining moment. Every time I get a message from a bride & groom who love their images gives me a massive buzz. Knowing you have the perfect picture of a moment or killer portrait still brings a massive smile. It’s the best job ever to be honest.