Northern Ireland Wedding Photographer : Inspiration

"What inspires you?" - This is a question that I get asked quite a bit - mostly by other photographers and "arty types", and was the subject of a discussion that I had recently with some other documentary style photographers I am friends with. There is plenty of "wedding inspiration" out there for Brides (and Grooms), so I thought that I'd share just three of the many things that inspire me to take the images that I do as a wedding photographer;

1. The Movies

I'm a massive fan of film and cinema, everything from City of God and No Country for Old Men, right through to my guilty pleasures of Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop (1 &2 only - 3 is rubbish!).

I'm constantly looking at the lighting in films and TV programmes as I love that cinematic quality with plenty of depth, warm shadows and cool highlights (Northern Ireland's very own Game of Thrones is great at this!). I love applying the same principles in my images to create images with a with a real cinematic feel to them like this;

Some of my favourite film directors are Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums etc.) and of course Quentin Tarantino (No explanation needed).

Wes Anderson shoots much of his work at a ninety degree angle with his subjects on the same plane, so that the image appears quite flat and the total opposite of the traditional "cinematic style" described above. I really like the simple elegance that this composition provides and do this A LOT, without even really thinking about it;

I love the different perspective that this can gives a scene; I used the sunset image of guests at Orange Tree House featured above as branding at a Wedding Show recently and lost count of the number of people who said "It looks like a movie set in Los Angeles" - It is actually Greyabbey on the Ards peninsular!

Quentin Tarantino tends to include quite a few camera angles that are quite low down to the ground (The obvious one being the famous Reservoir Dogs shot)

Reservoir Dogs - on the way to a wedding rather than a bank robbery!

I use this perspective coupled with a wide angled prime lens quite a bit whilst shooting the bride and groom walking down the aisle too (a bit less obvious!) but I find that it adds real drama to the scene and emphasizes the couple in the frame;

I am also a huge fan of shooting from the perspective of people, getting really close on to their shoulder without them knowing I am there to put the viewer "in the image" and shoot from the subjects perspective - another of Tarantino's hallmarks and really effective when capturing sentimental moments like reading or writing a wedding day note, or nervously going over your speech one last time;


2. The Greats.

It is hard to escape the allure of the great photographers of the past when looking for inspiration; the producers of timeless images that are so often overlooked in the modern times of Instagram, iPhones and the dreaded "Filters". The images created by the great photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon continue to look just as awe inspiring as they did back when they were produced in the not too distant days of black and white film.

The brilliant photography of Vivian Maier and the astonishing story behind her work has also recently been a source of inspiration for me, along with Jim Mortram's "Small Town Inertia" project. Jim really manages to portray the human condition so well in his work, and although the subject matter of those on the margins of society is a million miles from weddings in some ways the human element is always at the focus of my photography.

I have a real passion for documentary photography. I really love the opportunity of getting amongst the action and documenting events as they unfold. My photographic hero in this regard is definitely Don McCullin (now Sir Don McCullin as of 2016). He predominantly documented conflict throughout his career as a photojournalist, which is also more than a little different from weddings but the ethos of his work makes a lot of sense to me;

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
— Don McCullin
Don McCullin (Credit -

Don McCullin (Credit -

The way that McCullin is able to capture human emotion is unparalleled, if you have an hour and a half to spare type Don McCullin Documentary in to Youtube and prepare to be blown away! A film based on his life and career is currently in production, with Tom Hardy cast to play the man himself!


3. People.

I've saved the most important thing until last and that is quite simply people. I often say that I don't photograph weddings, I photograph the people at weddings if that makes sense!? The little interactions between couples, the touch on the shoulder, the affectionate glance - these are the things that make your wedding so special and that is what I strive to capture in my images. YOU are my inspiration!

Weddings are such a wonderful occasion, and the thing that absolutely inspires me the most above all else is you and your love for one another, as well as the love and affection of your wedding guests. The way that I work on a wedding day, by blending in amongst your guests and capturing every little moment exactly as it takes place allows me to tell YOUR story rather than one that is written for you in a series of posed images - I want you to remember the feelings and the emotions when you look back on your images rather than a pose. I want you to see smile because you are enjoying one of the best days of your life rather than because I told you to. My aim on your wedding day is to capture the atmosphere in the images that I take, that will allow you to look back on your day and re-live all of those moments and even show you some things that you didn't know had even happened!

There is literally nothing more satisfying for me than coming back to my office after 14 hours on my feet at a wedding, downloading the pictures from my cameras and looking through the images that I have captured for you on such a special occasion. I am unbelievably lucky to have been able to make a career out of what I love doing the most, I put a great deal of effort in to what I do, and it is most definitely worth the hard work.

If you think you might like me to come along and document your day for you please get in touch with me, I really would love to hear from you.