Hats at the ready as we are half way through our favourite time of year – wedding season! Beautiful dresses, flowers and memories that will last a life time – it’s one of the most special and important days, and having a great photographer there to capture these moments is priceless.
Martin Beddall has been working in the photography industry over 25 years. His background is in national newspapers and magazines having worked for The Times for over ten years and capturing some extremely special and unique moments along the way. It’s this passion to record important moments that led Martin to wedding photography. Here, Martin tells us how he uses his photojournalistic eye to capture the emotional, happy and often chaotic moments of wedding day through his award-winning reportage photography.
Becoming a photojournalist
“I love weddings because it’s the perfect way to tell people’s individual stories – their emotions and drama.”
Although Martin grew up with a passion for art, it wasn’t until university when he picked up a DLSR camera for the first time. Spending most of his degree in a dark room and taking photos for his university paper, Martin then went on to the London College of communication to complete his Postgraduate studies in Photojournalism. This then led to his career-defining role at The Times (all with his trusty Nikon F3 in tow!).
During his ten years at the national newspaper, Martin said he learned the hard way:
“There were no second chances, no opportunities to recreate the news events unfolding in front of you. Every day was different, whether shooting backstage at a Royal Ballet performance or portraits of the Prime Minster.”
A move to wedding photography
Martin’s passion for wedding photography came from his work as a photojournalist and a passion to ‘record unique moments’.
“Journalists were asking me to shoot a more reportage style of weddings. I was reluctant at first, but I realised that I could use my reportage style and skills in photojournalism to capture the day, rather than dictate it”.
He has now been photographing weddings on and off for 19 years, focusing on recording a storyboard for each couple. For Martin, although the reportage style has always been there, the ‘non-formulaic’ style of shooting he prefers is becoming more popular.
“Personally, some of the best photographers I know come from a photojournalism background. If you’re doing reportage properly, you’re certainly not bothered about formulas. The more traditional form of photography might win you awards, but is it reflecting the day properly? It’s not about imposing, but just showing what happened.”
Photography should record the day, not dictate it
Martin stresses that for reportage photography, you must be careful not to ‘over create’.
“It’s about making sure the couple you are photographing understand that the traditional clichés of ‘cutting the cake’ or ‘standing in front of the car’ are artificial. The real thing is looking back on natural images of a relaxed day with unexpected (and often chaotic!) moments. This is even more special.”
Martin shares one of his favourite wedding photographs, a reflection of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a photo of a bride on her way to her wedding.
“It was one of those moments where everything came together in a synergy. In many ways, it is a classic wedding image, but there’s a layer to that image which makes it very special.”
This beautiful photo won Martin the title of ‘Professional Photographer of the Year 2012’ and graced the pages of Nikon Pro magazine – testament to his ability to capture those unexpected moments in a candid and unique way.
Little time for preparation
Unlike more traditional forms of photography, reportage photography leaves little opportunity for preparation.
“You shoot what you see and what you find. Your job is to anticipate and react, and the photos should reflect the day rather than impose on it with lengthy portrait sessions or traditional setups.”
Of course, it helps having the right kit with you, and Martin says he wouldn’t be without the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED. “It’s a beautiful lens, and the quality is stunning”. Another is the AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G – small, light, quick and reliable, which is exactly what you want when shooting in a more candid format and want to blend into the background.
Don’t be afraid to develop your own style
Martin claims the key in developing your own style of reportage photography, particularly in the context of a wedding, is through studying the works of great reportage photographers and seeing how they build narratives and composition.
“Look at how they use light, even if it is horrible light, they’ll find a way of using it well. And encourage your subjects to kick back and enjoy it. The pictures will speak for themselves.”
Weddings are such a special occasion, and it’s important for a couple to look back and remember every part of the day. The role of the photographer is to give them that retrospect.
“That is the power of photography and reportage. It’s the thrill of the chase, seeking out and fixing for posterity, striking, timeless images.”
Martin is an award-winning wedding photojournalist whose work has appeared in publications such as Time magazine, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph. You can find out more about Martin’s work by visiting his website, or by following him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.