Here is a questions & answers session that will give a clear picture as to how I work. Overall I’m a straight talker and informal to deal with. I prefer to be straight and direct and if it helps you to make up your mind either way then it should be very helpful to us both. Documentary wedding photography is a niche market yet many make claims that their images can’t live with, and the proof is out there. You’ll enjoy reading this, talk is cheap and some of this is simply tongue in cheek, but I do take my work seriously and hate time wasters. I have a distinctive style to my documentary work, but the majority of documentary photographers who shoot weddings do, that’s what makes them stand out from the crowd. The emphasis is always on pictures, pictures, pictures…
What is Reportage?
A technique of documentary photo journalism that tells a story entirely through recorded pictures.
Recording an event through careful observation.
Are you insured?
OK, this is a question which is never asked yet it is important that your photographer is insured. Lately photographers are popping up out of the woodwork and charging peanuts while offering everything, they neither have talent, style nor initiative, and probably care little by offering so much. They just want to make a quick buck by shooting weddings. There are some frightening stories of couples who have had their day compromised by somebody who is out of their depth technically or through basic competence. This is a profession and professionals take their career very seriously. I’m insured with (McLoughlin Insurance Group) Camera Insurance. Once you have viewed a portfolio and it looks credible and expansive and consistent then do yourself a favor and put your mind at ease by finding out if your photographer / videographer is insured, your hotel may also want to know.
While I really love your reportage style, I really would prefer to go with a more traditional style with lots of set up/fun shots too, and perhaps just a few reportage images, can you help?
I specialise in a documentary style, a photojournalistic style. I’m a reportage wedding photographer and unlike many others who claim the same recording weddings in a reportage & documentary style is exactly what I do. The images can be very subtle the images can be energetic, they capture a mood and can carry a hint of humour but they are all very natural.
If I put together a list of images I want on the day, would that be OK?
No. I won’t work from a list. My style is to move fast and to work fast and working from a list of set images completely misses the mark of my photographic approach and philosophy.
I don’t see many family pictures on your website, do you still get some family shots? I don’t want the day slowed down and I don’t want to stand around for two hours, but I do want some family shots and bridal party shots.
Yes. Getting family shots/bridal party shots is all part of the day too but with me there is no messing about. Get the families together and we’ll get them done without much pain and certainly with no time wasting, I’m talking ten to fifteen minutes max, maybe less. The emphasis is on creating images and building a story of the day.
I was a Bridesmaid at a wedding recently and the “reportage” photographer made us all peak around a haystack and point at the couple (we really don’t know why). He also made the couple take off their shoes and walk across a fountain, the bride also looks vacant in one picture as she looks like she is crawling along a wall and I recall he asked the groom to pretend he was lifting something over his head as well as getting the groomsmen to walk down the road from the church with their jackets over their shoulders and then made them jump in the air while clicking their heels. My friend did not want this but the photographer said this was normal and this was what reportage was all about, but the couple look so awkward in the subsequent photographs. I was horrified, my fiancé does not like this whatsoever, and we certainly don’t want that approach as it made us feel rather uncomfortable, do you also do this carry on? Because all we want to do is enjoy our wedding day with our families & friends
Don’t worry, I don’t and won’t set up awful scenarios as those mentioned above but I do hear about this alot. I don’t subject a couple and their bridal party to such oddball stuff. If you want to see me for a consultation we can look though a wealth of portfolio work and I will show you how each wedding can have its own unique set of images because for me it can only be that way. I think you’ll be blown away at how I get results without resorting to cheap trick and cheesy nonsense. I can’t stress this enough, I simply follow the movements of the day and capture your wedding images like that. Of course if you hang out of a chandelier for some bizarre reason I’ll probably take the photograph, but to make up something that did not happen is certainly not my thing.
Genuine documentary wedding photographers are in a minority, and it is worrying when some will assume that A N Other wedding photographer works in a reportage style because they have used the term to promote their work. Here’s one example. Recently, a couple emailed me about their wedding and after several emails going back and forth they decided that they would go with an alternative “documentary photographer”. When I viewed this “documentary photographer’s” website I was met with couples jumping in the air, (and also hugging trees, soft focus, it was all quite horrific) yet they seemed to be under the impression that this was a candid approach? This was documentary photography? Or perhaps they just assumed that I would also do the same, and that was the standard. If you want jumping around, hopping over church walls and hugging trees then go for it, there are many, many photographers to choose from because most do the same formulaic thing, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are getting something cool & contemporary.
The very last image on my Scenes from a Wedding Day gallery is a candid black & white image of a couple sitting in the drawing room at the Ballyseedy House in Tralee, it is subtle and poignant, the only light is ambient which gives it an elegant tone. It is silent, collected and captures a mood, this is the only moment the couple will be alone before they sit with their families and friends for their evening meal. When you look back on your photographs the elegance and mood and fun should shine through, but in a very organic and natural way. Isn’t this what it should be all about? Here’s a scenario. Let’s say we have two couples, and both have a wedding photograph framed and hanging over their fireplace, the first couple have the image of themselves in conversation on their wedding day, it’s an image that will never get old since it has captured that one off moment forever, and it is subtle. The second couple have a picture of themselves jumping over a wall, looking awkward all the while, after ten years it never gets better, it’s just a generic wedding shot, it’s loud. Now, which image would you prefer?
I’ve heard you won an award for some of your photographs and would love to use an award winning photographer for my wedding.
Photography awards are effectively useless and while I’ve been offered the chance to “win” or “buy” one I don’t see the point. I know how good my work is and my clients know how good my work is. An award given to me by nobodies does not excite me whatsoever. My clients are instead impressed by the high standard and the consistency and the originality of my work, and that work is never fluffed up by some worthless award. Smart people see beyond the awards show to look at the images and make their minds up from there.
I love your photographs and it is what I want, but can’t make a decision right now for other reasons, can you hold it for a week or so while I sort some other issues out with regards to organising my wedding?
There are lots of issues surrounding the organising of a wedding. I will be more than helpful with regards to this if you are eager to book me for your wedding and need more time
I’ll be checking out some Wedding Fairs soon, will you be displaying your work at any?
I won’t be appearing at any wedding fairs. And there are lots of reasons. As a couple said to me recently, “all the wedding photographers were claiming to be unique, and that is the word they all pressed, yet were all the same” which is enough in itself.
I’m unsure which package I should opt for, and to be honest I don’t know if I even want an album or photo book.
I always suggest for a couple to go with the Disk Set option, and the Disk Set option is my most popular package. You’ll have a set of your wedding images, large files, on a DVD disc. Your wedding pictures are the most important thing. If you want a photo book album then that’s something you should decide post wedding.
I’ve seen photographers getting the wedding guests to wave their hands at the end of the ceremony, what’s that all about?
I’ve seen that myself and other clients have mentioned that to me, in fact we’ve often had a laugh about stuff like that, I can only assume that it’s common filler material for the very lazy wedding photographer.
How long do you shoot for? And will you start at my house?
Yes. I will start at the brides house/parents house/hotel on the morning and finish a little after you both sit for your meal in the evening. Generally 11:30-12:00 until 6:00-6:30. If you would like me to continue until the first dance then lets talk about it, I rarely do so but I am open to it
What if I don’t want you to start at my house on the morning.
No problem, I’ll start where you want me to, if you prefer I can call to the groom or start at the church instead
After we sit, would you go from table to table taking pictures of the guests?
The last thing anybody wants is to have a photographer stick a camera in their face while they are eating their soup or eating their monkfish. This is a time for family and guests to sit eat and chat and to enjoy their evening
I’m getting married and I love your photographs, but I see you’re based in Cork. Do you travel further afield?
Yes, I have worked all over the country and will indeed travel.
I would like to book you for a shorter period, perhaps the ceremony and some family shots later on, do you do this?
Email me and we’ll work out a better deal.
I’m Looking for a wedding photographer who’ll give me the copyright to the wedding photographs so I can manipulate and Photoshop them if need be, and basically do what I want with them since I’m a dab hand at the old paintshop pro II etc…I’ll only need about forty photographs.
Would you purchase a CD from HMV and edit it down to five tracks and then remix it yourself? Destroying finished and well balanced photo files through the misuse of Photoshop is not a good idea, only awful photographers think that the misuse / overuse of Photoshop is a good thing, a talentless photographer can be a master of Photoshop. You record an image with your eye, the tool you need to capture it is a camera, but some need to mask that image with tons of Photoshop. No amount of Photoshop manipulation will make a bad picture good. Just look at the Photograph beside this question for more information
I love Selective Colour, do you do this to your photographs?
No selective colour, it’s a hideous thing to do to an image. It is either colour or black & white, but both? Together? Cheap & Nasty looking. If you need any proof, just go and look at the photographic work of a photographer who does this, their body of work is usually limited and their image making talent seriously lacking
I’d like to make my own storybook with a company I found online, will I be able to have access to the images to create my own storybook? I won’t need to alter them, you’re finished images are great and I would like to be able to create my own book.
Yes, you’ll have access to your wedding day images and they will be copyright release so you can make your own online story book / photobook and prints. But any manipulation or any other misuse of the images is not allowed
I want to be a wedding photographer so I can make loooaaads of money, can you take me on some of your shoots and give me some tips?
How long after the wedding will you have my wedding photographs?
Six to Seven weeks, that is as long as you’ll have to wait.
I saw a picture on your website that I love so was wondering would you re-create that for me?
Since a wedding is not a controlled environment, with different scenarios perhaps coming into play (venue dyamics weather etc) a specific detailed shot cannot be guaranteed, what you will get is a set of images that tell your story. Every wedding can be completely different which for me, and you, is a great thing.
I’m getting married, but remember, I have a budget.
Unless you actually tell what that budget is I can’t help. I won’t bite but I dislike any sort of time wasting so don’t expect me to drag what you would like to spend out of you. Be clear and direct, tell me what you want to spend and lets see if we can make a deal.
We’re getting married at such a venue, we’re concerned that you may not have been there before, we’d prefer to see some images in your portfolio from the venue.
Again, I’ll refer to the expansive nature of my website and portfolio. I’m not going to suddenly freeze when working a new reception venue, in fact I thrive working at a new unexplored venue, it’s the very nature of my work. I had the opportunity to be the first photographer to shoot a wedding the Cork City Gaol and that was a challenge that I relished. A new venue is exciting to me and while I am based in Cork and would mainly work the Cork / Kerry / Limerick area I’ve travelled well and have had some fantastic shoots at venues I’d never been to previously
Lisloughrey House in Mayo
10 Ormond Quay in Dublin
Coolbawn Quay Tipperary
Lough Rynn in Leitrim
The Heritage in Portloaise
Ballintaggart House in Dingle
Faithlegg in Waterford
Kinnetty Castle in Offaly
Solis Lough Eske in Donegal
It does not matter if it’s a new venue, a tiny registrar office or a large dynamic hall, whether the bridesmaids are wearing pink dresses with yellow spots or if the priest has a ridiculously long handlebar moustache or you’re wedding is being held in a hay barn complete with horses and hay I’m sure I’ll still produce the goods because that is what I do. Let each day bring what it will, it’s the people who make the day, everything else acts as a backdrop
How much do you charge?
How much do you want to spend?
Do you offer traditional style albums?
Generally I don’t offer traditional albums but if you really want one I can contact a supplier as I have done one a couple of very rare occasions, this supplier will create the entire piece for you including all layout and design. Do I have a sample? No sample
Will you require props?
Do you do Engagement shoots?
Engagement shoots? No idea what that is all about. Does that mean I have to live with you and your fiancé for a couple of years and take pictures of your daily lives? The idea of an engagment shoot sounds ridiculous and I’ll give that a miss
What about trash the dress?
Nah, I’ll give that a miss too. Call me old fashioned, but some things should be kept and not simply trashed for the sake of trashing
Do you work with a second photographer on the day?
I work alone and cover what angles I need to cover by myself. I don’t work with another photographer since I know what I’m doing. Never send two when one will do
Do you charge mileage as a hidden extra?
No extra charge for mileage
As a documentary photographer, do you like working with videographers?
Yes, most of them are great people to work with and I’ve had great days working with the likes of John Hennessy, John Mollaghan, Kevin Daly and Emma at Edit House and Tomak at Heavy Man Films
Some of the images on your website look like they have been set up, but if you’re a photojournalist why do you do this?
If it looks like its set up it isn’t. Anything I record with my camera is due to the actions of the couple and the chemistry and energy of their day. It aint my day, it’s the couples day so I won’t be bossing and expecting the couple to do anything whatsoever except have a great day. Sometimes a great photograph may look as if it is set up when in fact it was captured naturally, it’s all about good framing, quick thinking, confidence, and a well grasped sense of composition. Sometimes you must see the image before you find it.
Outside family / bridal shots everything is captured candidly and naturally. Anecdotal evidence tells me and visual evidence definitely suggests that many “reportage” photographers actually set up their candid shots, or perhaps find a few “candid” shots as a token. And I hear this all the time, and if you have a good look you will see the same. Reportage is a dirty word used by nearly all wedding photographers who need to read up on what the word means. Reportage wedding photography is a style, not a marketing gimmick, but unfortunately marketing gimmick is what it is become for many. In general there are very few genuine documentary wedding photographers out there
When a couple know what they are looking for when it comes to a photographer they should have a firm idea of what that wedding photographer will provide for them, but only if they have done their groundwork. If they decide on a consulation with me they are quickly excited by the potential in my photographic wedding work and the commitment I bring to each set of wedding pictures and each couples day. It’s a buzz word to be “unique”, we all use it, yet when a couple see me enthuse over my work they get the bigger picture. It gives them a thrill at the prospect of how their own photographs will turn out. Each wedding has to be taken on its own merits, to coin a John Giles football phrase. By taking each wedding on its own merits you will get something that will be unique.
Look at the images on my website, there are stories everywhere, the atmosphere is palpable, the mood and tone is easy to feel. Think of your own Wedding day and the excitement and detail crossed with moments both dynamic and subtle to be captured. The photographic work on my website will give you an idea of the potential of what I can do, just the potential. No gimmicks, no orders, no posing and certainly no nonsense. If you have an idea of what a strong image is then we’re half way there. I work for couples who understand what a good image is, they are the people who don’t want the generic nonsense that has flooded the market but they do want a record of their day that captures the celebration of the event. There is so much to be said about that, but if you get a kick out of my pictures then make contact and lets talk about it. But before you make contact looking for a price guide look at the galleries, and look at them over and over again, the more you see them the more you will enjoy the quality, the balance and the consistency in the work. But if you can’t feel the magic and don’t like my relaxed and natural approach then I am not for you. Not all “reportage” photographers are the same, many set up their photographs or just use the word reportage as a marketing tool. I don’t. But the images on my website galleries will tell you that. A set of wedding images should look as striking as a set of film stills, with the director (in this case the photographer) recording what he sees and reflecting that in the images.
There is a good chance that you have been searching and searching for a photographer who will give you what you want, what you have in your mind, and what you have in your mind is perhaps a day that will not be spoilt by a photographer who needs to bring your wedding day to a standstill every ten minutes. Neither do you want to settle for the run of the mill generic wedding photographer, they are precdictable, boring, repetitive, ten a penny. A wedding day is too short to be remembered for the wrong reasons. Looking at a photograph should bring back a memory of what is happening in that photograph. That is why a good photographer is so important on your wedding day. But why do so many photographers set up these generic shots which have become a lazy standard? As I said previously, genuine documentary photographers who shoot weddings are thin on the ground, but all have their own take and style on the medium and all are very exciting. The market is flooded with the run of the mill typical wedding photographer who make claims to be documentary, most people who come to me tell me clearly that what they have seen is certainly not documentary / reportage. Sometimes you have to keep going to find the good stuff, to actually find what you are looking for. If you’re reading this and you have come this far and find yourself agreeing with much of it then I’d love to hear from you.
Are you that Philip Bourke of the RED FM radio station?
Are you single?
Sorry ladies, I’m spoken for.
All images and text © Philip Bourke 2011