Today we catch up with Neale James in our interview series, a documentary wedding photographer, based in Berkshire.
So firstly Neale, how long have you been photographing weddings and how did you get into it?
I photographed my first wedding back in 2004. My Best Man’s brother was getting married, and he was he that initially gave me the ‘push’ that it was something I could do. It was strange too, as although many photographers suffer from nerves before a wedding, I didn’t. Instead, I remember having a real feeling of anticipation and excitement. I guess the fact I still get that feeling is one of the main reasons I’m shooting weddings professionally 9 years on.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
In short, I like the people, and the myriad of emotions that appear throughout the day. I like the nervous anticipation during bridal preparations and the palpable joy of couples at the moment they’re declared ‘husband & wife’! I like the pride I see in a Father-of-the-bride’s eyes as he walks his daughter down the aisle, and the mischief in the Best Man’s as his speech begins. There are just so many moments during a wedding day that are a real privilege to witness.
I also like that moment when I ‘see’ something happen; a look, a wink, a smile, a tear, and I capture that moment. There’s a real sense of satisfaction when you know you’ve got ‘the shot’, and there’s nothing better than the reaction of a couple when they look back at that image and it takes them straight back to the instant it was taken. That feeling, that emotion, that moment, captured forever.
How would you describe your style and approach?
I’m generally called a ‘Documentary’ or ‘Reportage’ wedding photographer but for me, I’m a storyteller. I’m there to tell the photographic story of a wedding day through honest, natural imagery, capturing moments and emotions as they happen throughout a wedding day.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Ask everyone you know for recommendations as there’s nothing better than a referral. Also, ask your wedding venue for the preferred supplier list; inevitably that list is made of names they trust, and are confident will uphold their reputation. If that doesn’t heed any success, try our old friend Google but be prepared to search, search and search some more as there are literally thousand’s of wedding photographers online, and the best ones aren’t always on the front page. One way to refine your search is through the style you like, for example ‘documentary wedding photographer’ and start from there. Working through county listings, such as ‘Berkshire wedding photographer’ is also a good way to hone your search. Finally, if you logistics allow, I’d always recommend you meet your photographer so you can look them in the eye and know you trust them with the responsibility of your wedding photography.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Don’t look at the weather forecasts weeks before your wedding day! Panicking about a factor none of us have any control over only serves to add pressure to the organization of your day. Many couples plan for rain, and sunshine is therefore a bonus.
In addition, think about your ceremony time and the month you’re getting married. Don’t have a 3pm ceremony in December and then expect to go outside for your drinks reception and group shots as it’ll be dark. Sounds obvious, but it’s those kind of decisions that can help reduce the unnecessary stress of a wedding day.
Finally… what’s the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
I guess professionally, it would be to have been included in the 2012 ‘Best of the Best’ list, compiled by US site Junebug Weddings. As former photographers, the editors run an annual search to find the best wedding images taken worldwide and this year, one of my images, shot at a wedding in Gloucester Cathedral, was selected. Being the only UK photographer to be included in this list really was an incredible honour, and one I’ll always be proud of.
In terms of actually photographing weddings, there really are so many ‘best’ moments I’d struggle to narrow it done, although the moments I find myself choked by the emotion of a ceremony, or the pride shown in speeches, is a regular reminder of just how lucky I am to call myself a wedding photographer.
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