We catch up and chat with Joshua Wyborn in our behind the lens wedding photographer interview series.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
Funnily enough, it was not my intention to be a wedding photographer at all. Originally from the flatlands of Norfolk, I moved up to Carlisle for the university where I studied Photography and successfully completed my degree. All of my photography previously was either, a basis for my fine art paintings, or landscape photographs.
Through university though, I started photographing events, and I started my street photography which then leads to a small job with the BBC as a photojournalist.
It was only in 2012 when a classmate of mine asked me to photograph his wedding that I even considered being a wedding photographer. It had the fun of an event with the beauty of photojournalism, and it required the use of light that my landscape work did. It seemingly ticked all of my boxes.
Now several years in, I’m used to travelling all over the UK photographing weddings and creating beautifully authentic photography for future generations to enjoy, in a creative and modern way. I honestly love doing what I do, and I hope you enjoy my work also.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
I love how every wedding is different, even the ones who go along with traditional ways of things have small details that are personal or different to the next. I love the details that bring memories flooding back.
I love photographing the small glances the couples make, the joining of two families as certain members may only be meeting for the first time. It’s exciting getting involved in it all! I adore the human side of the story. It’s not just about the details and objects, as much as there great memory joggers down the line, It’s the people who make the day so great.
I also love the unexpected. Be that veils flying away down the road or the most boring uncle cracking the best joke that gets the entire room roaring.
What I want to do is to create beautifully authentic photos for future generations to enjoy, in a creative and modern way that’s bespoke to each couple.
What is your favourite part of the day?
Wow, that’s hard to answer. I do love bridal prep, that’s for sure. All the fun, nerves, excitement… all the manic unplanned events are happening and frantic phone calls to friends and family over forgotten items etc.. its never dull that’s for sure!
I also strangely love the speeches, be that heartfelt tears or roaring laughter usually at the groom’s expense, you never know which way it’s going and Its a great time to get close and capture those moments.
My ultimate answer though would be the couple portraits, where we go away for a few minutes away from uncle Bob and aunty Mavis with their Coolpix cameras and just let the happy couple be happy! Apart from the crowds just as they are. It’s beautiful so see guards and barriers fall down as the couple get close and enjoy being married in such a personal moment. It’s an honour to witness and be a part of.
How would you describe your style and approach?
Winging it? Ha, I jest, but to be honest, a lot of it is just about going along with the flow. As I say, every wedding is different with highs and lows or energy all over the day. It’s about being ready for the moments and capturing them!
People have called me an “F-stop ninja” in the past because, in most of my reviews, the wedding party didn’t even know I was photographing them, even though I was sometimes just inches away. For someone who is 6ft 5, I can be surprisingly unobtrusive.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a traditional wedding photographer. I don’t consult ‘The Handbook of Wedding Photography Clichés’ beforehand. I favour a more observational, creative, documentary-style approach rather than the stiff formality of endless group shots. My eyes will be peeled for those unexpected moments that can make a day. My photos are unposed, candid, spontaneous. They are moments captured rather than created and will tell the story of your big day in a naturalistic way.
Who, or what inspires you?
My background is all Fine Art landscapes, and so I get a lot of inspiration from the countryside and how light is moulded around the lakes and fells of the Lake District which I like to call my extended back garden!
As for who, The wedding photographer community is excellent! And I totally believe in community over competition, so I attend workshops at least once a year with photographers who have very different styles to myself. Not because I want to be a clone, far from, but because I want to see how another cat works. I love seeing their passion overflow and seeing how they are inspiring. If I find something I like, I take it and put it into my workflow. Whatever industry you’re in, I think we have a lot to learn from our peers.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
1. As a couple, sit down and decide what kind of images you will want from the day. For example, would you like it to be formal? Or more of an honest freestyle approach where all the little details are captured? Would you want to have a classic, timeless feel, or a bold, edgy, ultra-modern look?
2. Check out more than just a few images, make sure you see at least 3 full weddings through the day as it develops in photos, it will show you how reliable the photographer is and how they work.
3. Experience plays a huge part in choosing your photographer. An experienced photographer will sometimes become the wedding coordinator, master of ceremonies, or even children’s entertainer. At the end of the day, you won’t have done the ‘wedding thing’ as often as us who do it several times a month. I have even helped groomsmen write speeches while photographing them getting ready in the morning. It’s good to find out how and why they started photography, and how long they have been doing it for. Also check that they have moved with the times and are not static in their mindset or work, Unless you like that kinda thing.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
A few main problems usually pop up, and my thoughts on those are below!
Whether you’re getting ready at your venue, your house or your parent’s house, a de-cluttered room will make great photographs. So make sure you have a little clean up of where you’re getting ready and remove all non-essential items. With your wedding party and other vendors like your makeup and hair professionals, space is tight as it is!
The cleaner the room, the cleaner the images will be, meaning we can focus just on whats happening without tiptoeing across a room trying not to break anything that may be laying around.
It is a fairly standard, but unknown, practice that some religious venues do not allow photographs to be taken throughout the legal ceremony. Strangely, there doesn’t really seem to be any set rules regarding this and appears to be strictly down to your
This may be something to consider when choosing your venue. Make sure to ask your Priest/registrar if you have photographic permissions throughout the ceremony or if there are any restrictions to be followed before the big day to avoid any last minute disappointment. Maybe try to negotiate ahead of time and prevent your poor photographer from being banished to the back of the church or out of it altogether!
The formal photos are when you gather your friends and family around you and get a photo altogether, typically stood in a line, these are usually your parent pleasers, charming and traditional.
Firstly, Make a list!
I limit formals to 10 groups, by number 5 your smiles won’t be real and you just want to go grab a drink! Forced smiles don’t look great, and if you go for all ten, you could spend an hour just stood there waiting for people.
Secondly, start big, end with VIPs.
It’s easier to start with the big groups and take people out of the shot than it is to find Bob and Mavis in the drawing room. It’s also a lot quicker (and could save you half an hour of standing), meaning more time for you guys to do what you want to!
Thirdly, show people.
A simple idea but a great one, when you have your list, slip it into the order of service, or have a sign out on for all to see? Let everyone know who’s needed and tell them where to be and when. On top of ushers helping out this will really get the formals out of the way so you can head on and par-tay!
Unless your best person is a stand-up comedian, which most believe they are regardless, hardly anyone is up for a speech. Maybe that makes them even more special, but the idea of speaking in front of hundreds is usually nerve wrecking!
Get it out of the way, trust me, most people who do speeches tell me they’re in a panic, and they just want it over with. So get it over with if you have speeches. Talk to your venue about doing speeches before your wedding breakfast/meal. It will then get everyone comfy and leave time to enjoy the meal rather than ramping up those nerves even more.
It also means your photos are nice and clean before people start spilling wine or food on tables. IT happens… Trust me!
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
Hmm, Iceland seems quite cool! Anywhere under the northern lights would be incredible! They’re on my bucket list!
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
There are many, however, being on a tall ship on Lake Garda photographing a wedding was somewhat surreal. I actually had a “Is this my job, is this real?!” moment. Then the torrential rain came down from the heat wave, and it was heavenly!