Interview with Phil Salisbury
We chat with Phil Salisbury from Manchester in our latest wedding photographer interview where we chat to the people behind the lens.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I started my career as a Manchester Wedding Photographer in the wedding industry at the back end of 2018 and felt like I hit the ground running. From the first time I captured a wedding I knew I’d found which direction I wanted my career to head in.
That being said though I don’t see wedding photography as a job, as the old saying goes “Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life!” With a background in Policing and customer service the wedding world was somewhat of a contrast to my previous work but I found so many transferable skills. I genuinely believe I found wedding photography at the right time in my life.
My background wasn’t that of a creative one, it’s something that has developed quite suddenly, I attribute it to the freedom to create and look at things differently which in my previous rolls was something that I couldn’t do so freely.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
What’s not to like? Two people who completely love each other, bringing their families together to unite. Surrounding themselves by those they care for so dearly and celebrating the next stage of their relationship makes for a wonderful day of stories to unfold. The pursuit of that one off perfect moment being captured for the couple is something I love to look for and so telling the wedding story is something I love to do.
What is your favourite part of the day?
The dance floor without a shadow of a doubt! People will most likely have had a gin or three by the time the evening reception commences. This means their inhibitions tend to go out of the window the formalities are coming to a conclusion and people let loose! People being lifted up in the air, crowd surfing, everything about the dance floor allows the child like freedom to come out as though no one is watching you and if they are who cares!
By the time the evenings celebrations commence I’m very much part of the wedding party, the trust with not just the bride and groom but all friends and family is more than evident and this allows me to work closely to the moments ensuring all the fun is captured up close.
How would you describe your style and approach?
I’m very much drawn to moments naturally. The term documentary/reportage wedding photographer is so frequently used by many but this is most certainly my approach for 85/90% of the day if not in its entirety.
The reportage approach means I’m aware of how important your time with friends and family is as opposed to spending hours “posing for photos.” My approach to this is an impeccable relationship with the bride and the groom. This starts from their first contact with me, my aim is to become part of the wedding party such that I almost go unnoticed and people are able to be themselves around me, understanding what’s important to the couple is key for this and something I’ve learnt so much about.
With this approach and style I’m so happy when the couple are wow’ed by the images I capture for them. Knowing you’ve gone above and beyond in their expectations means my approach and style and the time invested in both is working well.
Who, or what inspires you?
So initially when I started in the wedding industry I was looking as probably most do at what other wedding photographers were capturing for inspiration. It soon became apparent that I would then potentially become a clone of that artist and that’s not something I’d want. As I’ve spent more time in the industry I’ve found street photography and how telling stories through this art is so similar to the wedding day so quite a bit of inspiration comes from there.
A little left field but one of my greatest inspirations comes in the form of a Basketball player that I have always admired (Michael Jordan, for those who aren’t familiar with him, he’s arguably the greatest player ever to play the game and I’d highly recommend watching the Netflix series “The Last Dance” to get an insight into what I’m about to talk about.
Michael’s psyche and work ethic is unparalleled, his drive to succeed is incredible and how he sets goals to achieve them just resonates with me. He wants to continue to develop in all areas to better himself and seeing this is inspirational and something I often draw upon to better myself. In addition to this I love to travel and see different cultures, experiencing what happens all over the world gives me an insight into how people’s lives are so different and embracing different cultures I believe is something I think everyone should experience.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
When looking for “Your Perfect Wedding Photographer” what I believe works best with the two P’s.
Portfolio, you should love the images the photographer has captured previously. Their portfolio should draw your eye naturally and you should love their work. If you don’t I can’t imagine you’d consider entertaining them as your wedding photographer.
Personality, this is almost if not as important as appreciating the photographer’s work.The photographer needs to resonate with you as a couple, I can’t stress how important this is. People sometimes don’t realise but the bride will end up spending more time with the photographer on the wedding day than they will with their husband to be. For this reason the photographer must be someone you all get on so well with as this could potentially make or break your day.
Speak to lots of photographers before choosing one, you may find this is the biggest tick in your box so to speak.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Firstly make sure your wedding day is exactly that! It’s your day, you are hopefully only ever going to do this once so make sure it’s everything you want not what someone else suggests it should be.You probably hear that one quite a bit but it’s so true!
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
New York, this is quite an easy one for me. I always wanted to travel there and only managed to visit NYC February 2020. I fell in love with the city when I visited, with such a variety of culture, incredible skyline, so many different walks of life and endless storytelling possibilities. New York for me is the greatest city in the world, if you’re considering getting married their I’d love to be considered so please get in touch.
Finally… What’s the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
There’re many moments that could be mentioned as to being amongst the best moments I’ve had as being a wedding photographer. One wedding for me it’s somewhat etched in my mind though and to this day remains there. Emma & Ted’s wedding in the later part of 2019.
Emma is originally from Lancashire and Ted is from Canada. Emma moved out to Canada some years ago and met Ted whilst working out there. Their relationship blossomed and Emma who was meant to only be out in Canada for a short time now lives there. When they told me their plans were to travel back to the UK and marry in Salmesbury Hall in Lancashire I knew this was going to be a story I’d love to tell.
Emma hadn’t seen friends or family for some time (years I believe) and so on arrival to bridal prep the room was a buzz with a lively atmosphere of happiness. Hair and makeup commenced and the fizz was flowing, Emma’s daughter Harriet took centre stage early on in the day being so young she had everyone’s attention and had the room in hysterics with her loveable laughter and playful personality.
Very soon Emma and her bridesmaids made their way to the Hall for the ceremony where Ted was waiting for her. Harriet led Emma down the aisle in a wonderful heartfelt moment embracing Ted as she did. A beautiful ceremony followed the register signed and Emma & Ted embraced their walk back down the aisle as husband and wife.
Before all this though at the initial meeting and conversations with Emma I’d picked up on how special a relationship was between her and her mother. Them being apart for so long made me think even more so how I would feel living such a distance from my own mother and how that would make me feel. With that in mind I knew there was great potential for a moment between them that was about to happen that would mean the world to Emma.
Emma then saw her mum coming forward to embrace her and as she did Emma couldn’t hold back the emotion, a single tear rolled down her cheek as they hugged and being in that moment and working so closely to understand the importance of it during my conversations prior to the wedding day allowed me to be in that moment with them both.
For personal reasons to Emma that I can’t share, I know the importance of this moment and capturing it for her. On delivering the gallery to Emma & Ted and their reaction to the gallery and in particular this image it gave me enough clarity that this is my best moment as a wedding photographer.