In our behind the lens interview feature we chat with Berkshire Wedding Photographer, Mark Seymour, we find out how it all began, what he loves and advice he has for brides and grooms planning their wedding.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I started off part time initially work in booking wedding photography back in the eighties. I would see the photographer work and think ‘I could do a better job than that!’ So I asked if I could go along on a couple of weddings and shadow the photographer to build my own portfolio.
When I started photographing wedding I used film – one of the biggest changes in the business was the advent of the digital camera, it’s brought so many more ‘photographers’ into the business and also couples will often have a photography enthusiast in the family that will offer to photograph their wedding. I always advise my couples to be sure they are booking a professional wedding photographer, those magic moments cannot be recreated after the day.
I’ve now been a professional photographer for over twenty years and have my own award winning photography business. I was the first photographer to be awarded a double fellowship for documentary photography and Nikon UKs ambassador for wedding photography.
I’m proud of the reputation I have built and am honoured to be recommended by some of the most prestigious venues in London and Home Counties; including Cliveden House, Danesfield House and The Langham.
I love my job, in fact photography is who I am, so I am incredibly lucky that it is my day to day business. There is always something really humbling to be asked to photograph a couple’s wedding, each and every wedding has its own unique story to document and I still get excited about seeing each wedding unfold on the day.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
All my documentary photography is about people, I want to capture their emotions and story candidly. Weddings bring people together on the day to celebrate with the couple, friends, family, people you spend a lot of time with, some you have not seen for the longest time.
There are so many emotions to document and special moments that will be unique to each couple, and the little details that are special to their story.
I want the couple to enjoy every moment of the day they have worked so hard planning and trust me to be there to document their day, so that they and their guests have a wonderful time and actually forget that I am there photographing them.
What is your favourite part of the day?
That is a very hard question as different wedding will have a particular flow to their day, particularly if they are having some kind of religious service.
I usually start with the getting ready shots of the bride – there is always some lovely interactions with the bridesmaids whilst they have their hair and make-up done, but the moment that she puts on her dress and mum and dad see their daughter for the first time, you can feel the emotion in the room.
I do not spend a long time posing my bride and groom, I want to capture them interacting naturally, talking, holding each other they instinctively do. However when I spend those few moments with the couple away from the reception, it is a really special intimate moment as they get to be with one another for the first time as husband and wife.
How would you describe your style and approach?
Lots of photographers say they are documentary or reportage wedding photographers but if you look at a whole wedding you will see that they rely heaving on more traditional posed shots.
My style is observational documentary. I interact very little with my couples and their guests on their wedding day. Couples choose me for my style, they want to be able to relax and enjoy their wedding day, trusting me to capture their special day, naturally. Before the day I will talk to my couple about any groups they want but we keep in to a minimum. For the bridal portraits we keep these simple, we may take some more around the Golden Hour in the evening to capture some dramatic sky back drops, but the amount of time spent on groups and portraits is usually around 20-30 minutes.
Who, or what inspires you?
My inspiration comes from documentary photographers who capture real people as they go about their lives, telling their story within the image.
As a judge on wedding photography competitions it is always interesting to see what other photographers are doing and there is some amazing work going on around the world.
I use the venue to add atmosphere and great backdrops to my photographs – recently photographing a wedding in Cliveden we used the incredible architectural sculptures on display in the garden to add a real sense of drama.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Here are my five top tips for booking the right photographer:
- Know what you want from your photography and then decide on the style and photographer. I am always really honest with my couples, if you are looking for a magazine shoot style wedding of posed images then I’m not the photographer for you, but if you want photographs that will make you smile, laugh and cry as they transport you back to that moment, then I am the photographer for you
- Set your budget, and make sure you prioritise your photography – flowers look great on the day, but investing in your wedding photographs are the memories that will last a lifetime
- Ask about the fine details of the package, I recommend you book a day’s package. Weddings always run late – you don’t want to have the conversation on your wedding day to negotiate additional hours when you haven’t cut the cake or had your first dance
- Ask to see a complete recent wedding from your photographer – it’s easy to show you the best shots from their portfolio, but you want to know they deliver throughout a complete wedding. I blog images from each wedding but I always have complete albums available to shoe a couple and send them a link to a recent wedding to view
- Insurance – no one wants anything to go wrong on their wedding day, so make sure your photographer is insured
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
- Remember it is about the two of you, so on the day go with the flow and don’t worry about all the minute details
- I make sure I have spoken to my couples before the wedding day so I know the general timings of the day and agree the slot for the group shots, then on the day it’s all about them
- If you are getting married at a venue with a wedding coordinator trust them to walk you through the planning, then on the day just relax and enjoy
- A toast master helps keep things running to time at a big wedding
- A great band/music can really make the evening and ensure your guests have a good time, but remember to stay on the dance floor – as soon as the couple wander off then you’ll find the guests join them, so kick off your shoes and enjoy your party
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
I have been lucky enough to be asked to photograph couple’s all over the UK and Europe and in some stunning locations. But for me it isn’t about the place it is about the people. I have photographer extravagant, expensive weddings through to small, intimate weddings at a family home – the one’s that will stick in my heart and memory are the weddings where everyone is there to have a good time and celebrate love. There is a joy at weddings that is pretty unique.
Unique weddings are fun; I photographed an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding and a festival themed wedding in a field – they really reflect the character of the couples and their interests and are great to photograph and blog.
But one place in the world, that’s so hard…..
I photograph a lot of Jewish wedding in the UK, it would be incredible to photograph a wedding in Israel with an outside Chuppah.
Live music is a passion for me, and I love Jazz and R and B, so a wedding in New Orleans with an amazing band would be fun.
Finally… What’s the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
Professionally; it was being awarded my double fellowship as the first UK documentary photographer that was incredibly special as it is voted upon by your contemporaries in the business.
Personally; I am going to photograph my eldest son’s wedding and I am sure it will be an incredibly proud and emotional experience being the groom’s dad
Thanks for Mark for taking time out to chat to us, you can get in touch with him and view more of his work via his website at www.markseymourphotography.co.uk