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Why Is Wedding Photography Important? with Duncan Holmes, Wedding Photography

Why Is Wedding Photography Important? Duncan Holmes, Wedding Photographer shares some stellar insights into why Wedding Photography is an absolute must have!

Listen to Duncan on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


Duncan Holmes, Wedding Photographer


James: [00:00:02] Hi Duncan welcome to Wedding Espresso. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. 

Duncan: [00:00:07] Thanks James. It’s nice to be here. It is a bit of a strange invite but I thought I’d take it on and see how it went. I was quite fascinated to actually find your site and have a look through all the previous interviews and discussions you’ve had before! 

James: [00:00:22] Brilliant. Brilliant. So you are a wedding photographer and we have a wedding photographer related question, which perhaps you’d like to answer. And it goes a little bit something like this.

“Why is wedding photography important?” 

Duncan: [00:00:39] There’s no easy way to answer that. I mean it’s obviously important to me, I’m the photographer. I’m getting paid to turn up and photograph the wedding, record the story of the day. And if it’s important to the couple that they have photographs of the day, that’s great. I could be quite morbid and say, you know I’ve got a story recently, where one of my clients called me up a few years after the wedding. Unfortunately the bride had died, and also unfortunately they’d lost the discs. So I was able to facilitate that, provide the pictures again to the groom, and obviously to give him the memories of the day that he’d lost. 

Duncan: [00:01:13] But I don’t think that’s going to be the case for everyone. It’s fairly extreme and the traditional idea of wedding photography, where you get your wedding photos, you put them in an album and you bury that in a cupboard somewhere, and you only ever go back and look at them when you’re clearing out the cupboard. Or you’re trying to remember why you married the person in the first place. I think that’s kind of fallen by the wayside.

Weddings have become much more personal to people. Weddings have become much more of a performance if you like. That people are setting the stage. They’re decorating the venue the way they want it.

They’re adding the food they want, the cakes they want, flowers they want. All of those little ingredients are important to them, and they’ll set a budget and prioritise the budget, and maybe the photography is down at the bottom of the list, or maybe the photography is at the top of the list. 

Duncan: [00:01:58] So it’s down to the individual how important photography is. And obviously if your budget is low for whatever reason, then you’re going to adapt what kind of photography you’re looking for, for your big day, to that budget. If your budget’s high, then you maybe will go to a bigger name photographer, or you’ll go for bigger products, you’ll go for bigger albums and bigger wall prints. Or you decorate your entire house with pictures of yourself, whatever floats your boat. What I think is a point about wedding photography is, it’s a story. Both video and photos of the wedding are telling the story of your day. 

Duncan: [00:02:36] Now you can talk to your photographer and get the story told the way you want it told. So the style of the photos and the photos that are included in the wedding, are all there to tell the story of the day.

And what happens when you go back in a year, two years, ten years, and look at those photos, however you happen to look at them, is that it brings back that story. It allows you to reread the history of that day.

Remember things that maybe you’d forgotten. Rewrite some of the things you didn’t like, and take those photos out and put other photos in. 

Duncan: [00:03:06] One advantage of this digital age is that you can restructure your life and your history, and rebuild it and change it. So if you had an album 10 years ago where great Aunt Susan was the center of every photo, and these days maybe Aunt Susan has written you out of her will and run off to France with a fancy man, and fallen out the entire family, you maybe want to get new photos in the album. Or a new album to replace Great Aunt Susan. And the wonderful thing about digital these days is you can do that. As long as the photographer’s kept copies or you’ve bought your digital copies of the images. Those images are still left to revisit. And reorganise your life and your history of that day, if you want. I’ve been quite dark here with death and Aunt Susan running off with people. 

Duncan: [00:03:56] I think mostly though what I’m trying to say is the wedding photographs or the video are a way of recording your day.

And although friends and family can capture a lot of pictures on the phone, and might capture moments that your photographer misses, there’s something about professional photos. There’s a different level of quality in the images that you’ll get.

There’s an entire experience of having the photos taken. Even if it’s all reportage style photos that are taken. You’re still going to have a different view of your wedding. A view of your wedding that might be quite artistic, or it might be quite fun and frivolous. It can be whatever way you want those photos, tailored to you. 

Duncan: [00:04:45] But most important about those photos is what’s important to you. So it’s the people you include in the photos. It’s not necessarily the things you include in the photos, but the things that matter to you for that day. Your dress, the veil, the flowers, the cake. All those things that matter to you and might still matter to you ten years from now. They’re all captured in those photos. They’re all still there. You can get your bouquet if it’s a real bouquet, then you can press those flowers and put them in a nice little book. And go back and look at some rather decayed flowers. You can get your cake. You can keep a piece of cake for the christening, or a piece of the dress for the christening robe. You can box your dress and put it at the bottom of the cupboard. But all those things pass. And opening up the cupboard and taking out your dress, I think maybe some people will be lucky to still fit in the dress, they can wear it again. But it’s not something that you’re going to do again. So having the photos to record those memories and to tell that story of that day, it really does bring the wedding back, as well as capturing that day. 

Duncan: [00:05:52]

I’ve gone back to couples when they’ve come back from the honeymoon, and given them their album, and there’s little details in the photos that they’ve forgotten about already, two weeks after the wedding, or three weeks after the wedding.

And just being able to show them those moments that meant so much to them. Sharing those moments with their family. The declaration of love at the ceremony. The speeches, or just dancing on the dance floor with a cousin or something. All those things mean something, or meant something on the day. So having those pictures of those moments really does bring back the meaning of the day, and the feeling of the day. Although sound and smell and all that can bring back memories, I think the visual memory of the day is there as well.

And yes you can play the song that you danced to, but shown the picture of you looking into each other’s eyes as you’re dancing, that’s a whole different level of storytelling. And that’s the story that is locked in your head, it’s the story you wanted in your head when you planned your wedding. 

James: [00:06:49] Yeah it’s really funny that you brought up storing the dress actually because Rachel’s wedding dress is currently on top of the wardrobe, in a box. We don’t know what to do with it. My christening cake is still in the freezer. I don’t know why, Rachel keeps saying that we should throw it out, and I can’t bring myself to do it. But our wedding photos. We get those out every year. And we have them in a slideshow so that we can kind of consume them. You know, with music and stuff from the day. And it’s one of our favourite things to do on our anniversary. We love to just look through the photos, because like you say, it brings back the memories of the event, like nothing else. 

Duncan: [00:07:28] Where I’m sitting now I can’t show you because it’s on the opposite wall, but there’s a picture of my wife from our wedding day, just about the TV, so I see it whenever I’m looking at the TV. It means something. And in the office where I do most of my editing, we’ve got other photos from our wedding day there, and we were married 16 years ago. And yes they’ve gone a bit faded in the sun. And we might have to get a reprint done here or there, but they mean something to us, and they’re still precious to us. 

Duncan: [00:07:58] And I think yes, as you say, you can lock away a USB or a CD and watch a slide show every now and then, or you can have an album and flick through that,

but I personally think having the pictures front and center, of your life, is reaffirming. It reminds you of that day, but also reminds you of the feelings you have for the other person in your life.

Because you know, yes, they were young and beautiful then and maybe they are a bit older and crustier now. I mean, I’m certainly not as handsome as I once was. But it is a way of reconnecting with that past, with those feelings that you had on that day, and bringing them in, and you know, re-examine them now, and feeling the same things again. 

James: [00:08:44] My grandpa who is still kicking. He is 102, and he used to regale me of the story of his wedding, where they didn’t have a professional photographer. But they did have a friend with a camera. And the friend with the camera turned up, and the camera failed. So they have no photos of their wedding whatsoever, no record, no memory to look back on. And he got pulled over by one of these guys in the train station, you know, that would take photos of couples, because they were going off to war. And so they had an official photograph taken. And it was this one photo from that period of his life. And it became one of his most treasured possessions, especially after my grandma passed away sadly. It was the one thing that he had from that time, that memory. And now it’s become an heirloom almost to my brothers and my parents. You know we treasure that picture, because it’s the only picture there was.

And you know, it’s such a fantastic thing to have, we are so lucky nowadays to be getting like a hundred, two hundred wedding images. It’s incredible! 

Duncan: [00:09:47] Yes I think that’s true. And one of the problems we have in this digital age is that we’re bombarded by imagery. A lot people when they look at their phone, they’ve basically got thousands of photos. And the only reason they look back through those photos is because their phones are out of space. And they’re trying to clear out some of them. And not all of them are necessarily the best quality, not all of them are the kinds of things you put in an album, or put up on the wall. But they mean something to the person that took the photo at the time they took the photo. And if you put all those into a gallery, you tell perhaps a snippet of someone’s life. 

Duncan: [00:10:21] But with the wedding photos that you get, as you say, a few hundred photos, or if you’re a happy snapper photographer, and they’ve got a thousand photos from your wedding, that the poor couple have to sort through themselves, those photos are the story of that day, and they’ll miss things. There will be things at the start of the day, and things at the end of the day, that maybe were important, but weren’t necessarily recorded by the photographer. But they’ll tell the main points. So they’ll capture those key moments. And because the photographers have the experience of shooting weddings, they’ll be there to catch those looks, those moments that really capture who you are, and what mattered to you on that day. You can just sit back and have fun. You know, you can enjoy the moments of your wedding and not have to worry about did Auntie Susan get that picture of me standing on the cake, or something? You know, there’s someone there to do that for you and take the pressure off. 

Duncan: [00:11:21]

And having a friend do it, it’s great. I mean one of the first weddings I ever did was as a favour to a friend.

I used to take a lot of landscape and animal photography, but then they asked me to do the wedding. And I did it, and I discovered it was something I absolutely loved. The romantic in me again. And also the thrill of working with people. And the pressure and the adrenaline rush of doing the wedding. But it was a friend that asked me to do the wedding, so effectively, I was that friend taking pictures that your grandfather had. Luckily nothing broke on me. And since that first wedding, I’ve always had a spare of everything. It may be out in the car, but I’ve always had a spare of everything, because you can never be sure. But that first wedding, it was as a friend.

And friends can take great photos, but then your friend is a guest at your wedding, and you’re not necessarily wanting them to be the photographer at your wedding the whole time. You want them to enjoy your wedding and have fun.

And having your relative or friend be the photographer at your wedding, gives them that kind of split role where they can’t relax, they can’t have fun, they can’t enjoy the moments the way that your family is enjoying them, or your friends are enjoying them. Having a photographer, we’re a bit detached, but we’re there to capture that and you know, yes sometimes the budget may be tight, and it’s too tight for a photographer. But I think if there’s room in it, I think the photography is very important. Because there’s no other way to really capture the day. 

Duncan: [00:12:51] Even a video isn’t there all the time. The videographers will capture key moments and then they’ll pack up and go. Your wedding photographer, wll do the same, but they’re not going to edit it down to five minutes. They’re going to pick out those best moments throughout the day, and put them in an album, or a slideshow, or whatever. And maybe there’ll be one signature image that ends up on your wall. Or a few images that end up in a display somewhere. But I think the photography is really key in capturing that story of the day, and making sure that there’s something there for you the next day, or the next week, or next year. 

Duncan: [00:13:34] Fascinating. Thank you. Brilliant! So we also have just one quick fun question just to round things out and it is.

“Is there anyone in the wedding industry you’d love to work with”? 

Duncan: [00:13:46] There’s lots of people I’d love to work with. There’s some that I absolutely love to work with, I’ve loved working with in the past. I’ve done quite a few shoots with dress designers. And there’s some dress designers I’ve worked with that just create the most beautiful creations. And it’s a joy to get to capture those. Especially when you can organise the shoot, and have the flowers, and the models, and the makeup, and hair, everything just so perfect without the pressure of a wedding. So you can put a little bit more thought into what you’re doing, rather than just reacting to the moment. But I think if there was someone I’d really love to work with, it’s probably going to be, to actually go back to something I’ve worked with in the past. In summer this year I had the good fortune to go out to Shanghai and work with a designer called Peony Rice. And just to have the chance to go back out and do a more expansive shoot than we did. We only had one evening to shoot, and we were fighting jokes with policemen that wouldn’t let us on a bridge, and it started raining. The model was getting cold and nothing was quite perfect about the shoot. I got some great shots, but nothing was quite perfect. I’d like to have a chance to go back and do that again with a much wider range of dresses and 50 models to just nail that perfect shoot. 

James: [00:15:05] Awesome! Well that’s been brilliant. Thank you so much for your time Duncan that’s been superb. Very, very insightful. So thanks again. And we look forward to speaking to you again soon. 

Duncan: [00:15:15] OK thank you. 

James: [00:15:17] Thanks a lot Duncan, we’ll see you later. Bye for now! 

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  • Reply
    January 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for the chat James, I do rabbit on when given a chance!

    • Reply
      James Pearson
      January 29, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      This was SO good Duncan, packed with really great insight. An absolute pleasure chatting with you 🙂

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