This week we chat to Mark Gawthorne of Evolve Photography in our behind the lens interview series.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I started aged 18 as an apprentice photographer to a local studio whilst studying City & Guilds Photography, this was back in 1990 so I have been a full-time professional photographer for 28 years this year. We shot on medium format film in those days and processed and printed our own work. It gave me a great grounding in photographic skills and I went fully digital in 2003
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
I thrive on creating a narrative of a day, like a documentary. I always wanted to be a document photographer or a war photographer, my inspirations are Nick Hedges & Don McCullin. Capturing moments that people miss, working quickly, thinking outside the box these are things that I love about wedding photography & on the whole a much safer working environment that a war zone with no flak jacket required.
What is your favourite part of the day?
Like most photographers I love the getting ready part, the nerves of the Bridal party, the anticipation. Key moments like when the Bride’s father sees his Daughter in her dress for the first time, the walking down the aisle shots when the couples eyes meet always gets me as well.
How would you describe your style and approach?
I’m very personable and very discreet. I dress like a wedding guest and blend in. I don’t want to stand-out & I don’t want to be noticed. I have been told I am very good at making couples & their guests feel at ease in minutes, which is key to earning trust and making sure everyone enjoys the wedding day. I don’t want to just capture snaps that your friends could take I want to create a beautiful well thought out and well executed story of the day.
Who, or what inspires you?
I teach and mentor a lot of new photographers and have had many photographers working with and alongside me over the years. I am always inspired to see them excel & become amazing photographers who enjoy their work. Nothing can be more inspiring to see a new photographer gain confidence and become better than their teacher!
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Look for provenance, a proven track record. Find a genuine photographer whose work you like and personality you think you will get on with. Quality photos and personality don’t always go hand in hand so try and find someone with both.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Try and book professionals with a wealth of knowledge to look after you on the day, not just in photography but in all aspects of your day. I have always been on hand with a sewing kit, spare shoe-laces a pen-knife and direction in how & where to put a buttonhole on just to help make the day run smoothly. Do your planning well beforehand & the day will be seamless.
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
The Outer Hebrides as it’s my favourite place. I don’t do “travel or destination” wedding photography because I live & work in the South West. We have some of the best beach and countryside venues in the UK, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Devon & Cornwall why would I want to shoot anywhere else..except maybe Luskentyre Beach in the Hebrides.
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
So many over the last 17 years running Evolve. I had a Bride leave Church in Cornwall in the bucket of a small vintage tractor her husband was driving. Another career highlight was being booked to photograph the wedding of the lead member of one of my favourite music acts and at the reception he & his band mates performed a wedding covers band. That was awesome!