Meet wedding photographer Alistair Jones
A must-read for anyone planning a wedding – Alistair Jones of Ideal Imaging tells us the secrets behind being a brilliant wedding photographer in Hampshire.
How did your career in wedding photography start?
Embarrassingly! I managed to rip a pair of trousers on my very first wedding! But on a serious note, slowly but surely and through my love of capturing lives playing out in front of me and memories being made. And like most people to begin with I was juggling it with a full-time day job. But soon after going full-time professional some years ago I was commissioned to photograph a wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Things went very nicely from there!
Can you summarise your style of wedding photography?
I describe it as a ‘unique blend of fine art and documentary style photography’. Basically what that means is that I’ll barely put the camera down all day and will capture all those beautiful moments, looks and expressions that come together to tell the story of the day. All those moments that can’t be scripted or re-created. I’ll also look to find a little bit of time with the happy couple to create a series of stunning images that really show them and the venue off in an editorial style.
What should couples consider when booking a wedding photographer?
It probably goes without saying but the first thing for a bride and groom need to do is to sit back and think what value they and their families will place on their wedding photographs for now and in 20, 30 or 80 years time. Do they believe that ‘photographs are just pieces of paper or digital files… or are they little worlds for future generations to explore’? Clare Adams.
Against this then, of course, they’ll need to consider the following:
- Style of photography – documentary, traditional (staged & posed), or something a little bit special
- Portfolios, of course, but couples should make sure they go beyond that and ask to see samples of entire weddings – either through blogs or better still sample albums
- Full time professional or part-time? There are some exceptional part-time photographers but the full-time pros are more likely to belong to professional bodies and have more robust procedures in place. They have reputations to guard against and enhance, have insurance, and invest in better equipment
- Lighting Photographs that really stand out 9 times out of 10 need to be well lit. Couples should really study a photographer’s work to see how well they are able to use natural light and also to see what other lighting techniques and equipment they might have for interior photographs, sunsets and late autumn and winter weddings
- Personality of the photographer – how comfortable will they feel having them around on their big day and will they be able to get the best out of them?
- Recommendations from friends, family and venues
- Technical expertise …enough said!
- Budget, and what they want for their budget (extent of coverage, digitals, printed albums, 1 or 2 photographers, plus other extras such as a same day slideshow or engagement shoot)
Do you have a favourite part of a wedding day to shoot?
Not really, I love it all!! From start to finish the whole day is full of storytelling moments which I just love to capture.
A bride’s deep breath to calm her nerves in the morning, the flower girl gazing up at her in sheer adulation, the Father of the Bride’s tears of joy when he comes to fetch her before walking her down the aisle, the first very emotional look between the groom and his bride, the whole place erupting in laughter as the groom goes to put the ring on the wrong finger, everyone rushing up to congratulate the happy couple under an avalanche of confetti after the service…the possibilities go on, right through the day.
How much is planned versus spontaneous on the day?
It depends on what you mean by ‘planned’. Basically, I like to be as prepared as possible in order to be as spontaneous as possible. Although documentary/reportage photography is very candid and
natural by nature, for me a lot of it comes down to preparation and anticipation. That comes from experience and having an eye for a shot but it also comes from having a good understanding of the couple, details and themes of the day, timings & characters. To a lesser extent you could include knowledge of the venue. So whether this is all ‘planned’ or not I don’t know. But I think being proactive in this way helps me to get ‘on the front foot’ and capture all those wonderfully spontaneous moments that you get all through a wedding day.
What do you enjoy photographing at The Elvetham – any particular locations, scenery etc.?
People! I think it’s just something about The Elvetham that makes everyone, bridal party and guests alike, feel so relaxed and at their best. Maybe it’s the grandeur of the setting that makes every wedding feel like an extra special occasion.
I don’t honestly know but having photographed weddings all across the country I can tell you that there is a difference. Specifically there are so many beautiful backdrops all coming to the fore at various times of the year – the cherry blossom out the front, the wisteria, Yew Tree avenue, the little track that goes off through the fields beyond the church, the bridge, the beautiful exterior and it’s stunning architecture (especially when lit up at night time). And that’s just outside – the interiors provide so any wonderful opportunities too.
The great thing is you don’t need to go too far or take too much time out of a couple’s day to create gorgeous imagery for them. In fact, a lot of my best work has been created there which went a long way to me being awarded International Top 10 Wedding Photographer of the Year 2015 by the Guild of Photographers.
Do you always do a pre-wedding shoot with your couples, and what’s the purpose of this?
I have 2 wedding photography collections (packages), one with and one without. So not all the time, it’s up to the couple. Personally, I love doing them as it really helps me to build a rapport with the couple, great for really enabling them to be themselves in front of me on the day. After all, this is what I want to capture on the day itself, not stiff poses with fake smiles!
Any standout memories from your Elvetham weddings?
Oh, where do I start? The incredible sunsets at most weddings I’ve shot there, Becky & Gareth’s amazing firework display, Felicity & Mike’s Owl ring bearer in the Oak Room, Sarah and Tone’s photo bombers during their couple shoot along Yew Tree avenue…
The incredibly touching moment as Sarah greeted her Maid of Honour and Sister, Hannah, in the receiving line on their way into the wedding breakfast in the conservatory, the site of Antony arriving along the long sweeping driveway and being chauffeured by his best man in his Aston Martin Vantage V12 (not jealous at all!), Felicity and her Dad Nick in floods of tears as they shared their bride and father of the bride dance… I could go on!