1) We could talk about the amazing moments you seem to capture, and the artistic way you do so, but in your own words please tell us about your own unique style of wedding photography.
Hollie – We have a documentary approach to wedding photography. We like to think we take authentic and very real images, but we do this with an eye on the aesthetics as well.
Patrick – That’s right. We see documentary as an approach to a situation not about imposing a particular style. It’s informal compared to traditional wedding photography. It allows us to select ways of seeing images while choosing styles and techniques to suit the hundreds of different ‘moments’ that occur through a wedding day.
Hollie – We take great care with our composition and our use of light – it’s not just about ‘raw moments’.
Patrick – And our work is influenced by many photographers. In fact, we spent last night looking through the work of the famous American photographer Joel Meyorwitz. He can shoot gritty urban documentary and work in a more painterly reflective style, as in his radiant ‘Cape Light’ series. I’m always hoping for a beautiful sunset to photograph! So I think you can shoot quite a diversity of image types while still sticking to that essential underlying point: no posing.
Hollie – During a wedding we try to record what we see going on around us – and we often see things the people there will miss. We do photograph ‘couple shots’ as well. Importantly though, we shoot them without posing and direction – just giving our couple time on their own with us at a discreet distance. We just follow while they go for a walk and we snap away!
Patrick – And we learnt this the hard way! We used to take more traditional portraits of couples, but found it was confusing for them and us – to be asked to ignore us all day, then suddenly to be told how to stand, when to kiss and so on. So not anymore – they do their own thing.
Hollie – And that was the last piece of our personal photographic jigsaw. As photographers we’ve found it really liberating.
Patrick – Yes, for example, ‘the kiss’ is seen as one of the great moments of the wedding day. But some couples don’t want to be directed to kiss on cue or on public display. Some just want to hold hands, talk or have a laugh together. So, we simply stopped asking couples to kiss!
Hollie – And that’s just one example. On the day, we try to move about among the guests quite naturally and have stopped directing couples altogether.
Patrick – Of course, as soon as a photographer is asked to be present at a wedding, no matter how discreet they are, people always react – to their presence and to the camera.
Hollie – But if you just let a couple and their guests relax and be themselves, beautiful and natural moments just happen. It’s how we’d want to be photographed ourselves and that’s important to us; it helps us believe in our own style and deliver it with conviction.
Patrick – That’s what makes our industry so good – there is so much variety and so many individual talents, so much room to create and find your own voice.
2) Let’s talk gear, what do you usually take to a wedding and why?
Hollie – I shoot with two Nikon D850s, with a Nikon 24mm 1.4 lens and a Nikon 85mm 1.4 lens. I also have a Nikon 70-200 2.8 and Sigma Art 50mm 1.4 in my bag.
Patrick – I have a Nikon Z6 that I pair with either a Nikon D5 or D850. As for lenses, I have a decent collection! My main lenses are a Nikon 28mm 1.4 and Nikon 105mm 1.4. But I have a Nikon 24-70 2.8, Nikon 14-24 2.8 and Nikon 58mm 1.4 in my bag as back up, as well as a beat-up Sigma fisheye. The Z6 is a great camera – it’s Nikon’s first foray into the mirrorless world. All my existing DSLR glass adapts really nicely to the Z6. But I also have some Nikon Z glass in the 50mm 1.8 and 35mm 1.8, both lovely lenses.
Hollie – Patrick is a Nikon lens fanatic; he has a set of film cameras and lenses as well. If he could, he would spend all our money on lenses!
Patrick – I can’t deny it!
3) Talk us through the dynamic of you both shooting. Does one of you take the lead, is one more artistic and the other more getting the important ‘must have shots’?
Hollie – it varies. Usually, I am at the back of the ceremony and Patrick is at the front, but we do switch it about. I’m quite small though so it’s easy for me to hide at the back of a wedding service! That example shows the beauty of having two photographers – we’re less likely to miss any of the action as we can take up different positions and go to different locations.
Patrick – We offer one or two photographers, so sometimes I shoot on my own, sometimes Hollie does and sometimes we shoot together. Hollie takes the lead on all the editing though – so even if I’m shooting without Hollie on a wedding day, the couple still get us both working on their wedding. Hollie has the extremely time-consuming job of editing – and she edits everything beautifully. She is the one responsible for the finished ‘look’ of our work.
Hollie – in terms of style of shooting though, Patrick is more inclined to shoot narrower apertures than I am, but apart from that, we shoot in a very similar way. We both like to get close to the action and we’re both looking out for the little moments and details that help tell the story of the day.
Patrick – Yes, the details, it’s always confused me a little that some photographers don’t include them. They can be so evocative of the day – after all couples spend ages planning their food, decorations, and the look of the venue. So why not take a few images as a record for them. Just think of some of the great photographers – William Eggleston for example – the man who made colour photography acceptable in documentary work. So many of Eggleston’s images are of objects – signs, a half-finished bottle of drink, flowers or, similarly, close framed body parts. Memories of the day aren’t always about those classic shots of people grouped together or on the dancefloor. Details can tell the story too, and I think you can see that in our work.
4) Do you find being a married couple helps you integrate into the day better?
Hollie – I think for our couples – from the moment they book us – knowing we work together is reassuring for them. I guess they think as a couple ourselves, we’ll understand them. I always know instinctively where Patrick is going to be and how he’s going to be shooting a moment, so we let our couples know that’s how we work, and they respond really well to it.
Patrick – I love working with Hollie – it’s such a great job for us to do together. We have fun! I think couples and guests respond to that dynamic. She’s also so good – I get excited about being able to look through what’s she’s been shooting when we’re culling the images the next day.
5) The excellent Matt Godman – the other member of your studio, won two awards in the last round of the Photographers Keeping it Real Awards. Is there a little fun rivalry between you to see who can win the most?
Patrick – I met Matt at University, where we both studied Fine Art, Time Based Arts, which is basically a fancy way of saying: “Art that is not painting, printmaking or sculpture.” We both specialised in photography and worked together on projects and exhibitions. Then, we found ourselves photographing friends’ weddings when we graduated, and it felt natural to join our businesses together to form ‘M and G Wedding Photography’ in 2014. I met Hollie, who had been working as a florist, in 2015, and she joined ‘M and G’ full time in 2017.
Matt and I still occasionally shoot a wedding together, but most of the time, we’re at opposite ends of the country. Matt was not really too concerned with entering awards until recently – but of course, it’s 2020 and Matt, like us all, had more time on his hands, so I think he thought ‘why not?’ And, as you say, he’s already won some – which is great, but not a surprise to us at all, as he’s amazing.
Apart from Hollie, Matt’s my closest friend – so no, there’s no rivalry there at all, sorry! But we do learn from each other and talk photography endlessly. We are genuinely pleased for one another in any successes we may have.
6) You also have a videographer as part of the team, tell us a little about Josh and how he fits in with your business.
Patrick – Josh has been shooting video with me since I first turned full time. He fits in so well with our documentary approach. It makes for a synergy in our work together and a certain consistency across the output – images and video – which couples like.
Hollie – Josh filmed our wedding and we absolutely love our video!
Patrick – We also work with second shooters and filmmakers, like our friend Jonny who shoots video for us, from time to time. Networking and inter co-operation with colleagues is very important in the industry today.
7) Things seem to really have taken off for you recently, and you’ve been winning lots of awards. What would you put your success down to?
Hollie – that’s very kind of you to say!
Patrick – We love the way we shoot, but we know there’s always room to improve.
Awards help you be aware of what else is going on and just how good other photographers are – it’s a challenge. It keeps you learning, striving. They also help us find our ideal clients – people really respond to us winning awards, as they showcase our best work.
Hollie – We think entering awards has been a big part of our progression; or at least it’s entwined with it. We won our first ‘proper’ awards with PKIR in fact! That gave us a lot of confidence.
Patrick – Once you give the images of the wedding day to a couple, they become ‘theirs’ – part of their family’s heritage. You realise then you are recording a little moment in social history. Awards take the images and widen the audience who see them.
Hollie – We hit a sweet spot in 2019. Suddenly we started to get more industry recognition. It was also the point I got our editing to a point we were really happy with – in terms of style and workflow. It has taken us a long time and a lot of weddings to work out exactly what kind of wedding photographers we really wanted to be – and develop a way of working with a recognisable signature in our work. Awards have followed us reaching that point, at least that’s how it feels.
8) We love the ‘Don’t get posed – get married’ in your ‘About Us’ on your website. Do you feel the industry is now starting to recognise REAL moments as a hugely important part of a wedding day?
Patrick – Thank you! Our ethos is aimed at allowing our couples to put themselves, their guests and their whole wedding day first – they don’t need to think twice about us, and they can forget about those traditional wedding photography conventions which interrupt the flow of the day. So we hope ‘Don’t Get Posed – Get Married’ encapsulates all of that that. And yes, I think over the last 20 years or so, the influence of photojournalism, street photography and documentary photography has altered the conception of wedding photography.
It’s great that Photographers Keeping It Real rewards un-posed wedding photography – and is creating a networked community of like-minded wedding photographers.
9) Finally, what does the future hold for M and G Wedding Photography? Will we see you on the workshop scene once the world gets back to normal, or any plans to offer online learning? Anything else on the horizon?
Patrick – well, as you can see, we like to talk, so if anyone wants a speaker, we’re available, ha! On wedding days, we work with a smile on our face, but we are quiet, as we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves – this suits both our personalities really. But get us talking about the subject of photography or weddings and you can’t stop us! We’ve already began diversifying a little in terms of our work – it’s always something we’re looking at.
This year I’ve started writing Reviews and How-to Guides for a well-known photography website and I’m really happy with how that’s going. We’ve also been shooting more family shoots and commercial work recently. But our main focus will always be weddings, as it allows us to be so creative – no rules or briefs, just documentary photography.
Hollie – Photography is our passion, so the future for us is about taking photos and enjoying this job we share – while always looking to progress and develop. There are always new challenges and something new to learn – in life and at work.
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