‘Cause I got high’ Afroman sang back in 2000, and whilst he may not have been talking about his camera angles it would have been a positive thing if he had, you see getting up high, getting down low, it’s all about perspective – how we shoot a scene can have a really big impact on an image.
Here we chat to man of many angles Wojtek Chrapek about changing your perspective when shooting a wedding, family life and the biggest influences on his career so far.
When did you start shooting weddings and what did you do for a living before this?
I was actually studying to be a PE teacher, but half way through my 3rd year I decided to move to London. I worked in restaurants as a bartender and discovered photography in 2007, bought my first DSLR (a Canon 400D) and was hooked! In my early stages I shot pretty much everything, but my main thing was events. I think I mastered taking photos of drunk people, I still enjoy it a lot, which is why I always stay a fair bit after the first dance.
I have been shooting weddings full time since 2012 and have around 200 under my belt. Still can’t imagine doing anything else!
You have a lovely family, how do you balance work and family time, any tips?
That’s a good question! It’s a tricky one! All business owners working from home know that it takes a lot of patience and dedication to get stuff done, especially if you don’t have an office!
I had my desk in the lounge until December last year when we moved house. I got used to working with little people climbing all over me and if Peppa Pig wasn’t on TV I was confused and struggling to focus haha!
Beginning of 2017 we moved house and I now have my man cave, took me about a day to get used to it and there is no going back now! My monkeys still know how to find me though!
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career so far?
There are so many incredibly talented photographers out there! I really enjoy looking at beautiful images and, like most, I do spend a solid amount of time on social media admiring them but, I don’t have any particular names in mind. I feel like there are a lot of trends coming and going in photography. It’s nice to see when people stick to their style and master it over the years.
If I had to drop some names it would be my good friend Aga Tomaszek, love her consistency, editing and creativity. Another name would be the one and only Ross Harvey, he is a legend – love the way he tells a story with his unique style.
Weddings move at such a pace it’s easy to forget a basic principle such as changing to a higher or lower perspective, do you find certain situations are easier to use this technique than others?
Yes, everything happens really quickly on the wedding day, it’s really hard to try different angles or different kinds of framing perspective. I usually try to get the safe shot first and, as soon as I get a couple of those, then I experiment and look for a new angle. Once you have photographed 200+ weddings you get to the point that all those generic shots just aren’t enough. For me, getting something very different and unique is that creative fuel I need to keep me going throughout the day. Once I bag that cool getting ready shot from a funky angle I get more excited about the day. Then I try to do the same during the ceremony to keep the mojo going.
Most of my party shots are taken from slightly higher perspective, I feel like this is a very flattering angle and people look really good.
I’ve definitely found since the introduction of touch screen focussing and flip screens it’s never been easier to change your perspective and shoot accurately, what’s your ‘go to’ setting / set up for shooting above your head or down low?
Unfortunately the 5d4 doesn’t have a flip screen (bugger!) but, since I upgraded, Live View has become my favourite way to shoot. It’s completely changed the way of looking at things and framing your subject. Not to mention the speed of that camera… Love it!
My to go settings (AV slightly underexposed, auto ISO, high speed frame rate, and usually somewhere around f2). I simply turn on the live view, look for the light/frame and wait for the moment. Once it’s happening, I keep shooting until the buffer is full. Easy as pie!
The idea of lying on the floor to get a shot of a candid moment can seem a bit daunting to people at times, have you ever felt self conscious and how did you overcome this if so?
I don’t mind getting dirty to get the shot, but I don’t shoot from a very low perspective very often. If I see it’s going to work though I just throw myself on the ground and don’t really wait for anyone’s approval.
Does anticipation of the moment play a big part in your approach to changing your perspective for a shot?
Yup. Love this game. I think the more you shoot and the more experience you get, anticipation gets easier and it becomes much more fun. I remember at our first workshop last year in London, my good friend Aleks Kus talked about it, he called this technique ‘fishing’.
Whatever angle you photograph, it is all about getting that perfect moment! They only last a split second so you always need to be ready. Work on your fishing game people!
Any other tips or funny stories you can share about changing your perspective when shooting a wedding?
I cant think of any funny stories now but, I can give a couple of tips:
- Shooting from higher perspective can often help to clear the background behind your couple/people being photographed. That will make your images look more clean and well framed.
- Try to shoot from high angle at the party and see how flattering it is for everyone. I love to mix that angle with a slow shutter speed to allow all the colours to leak in to the frame.
A huge thank you to Wojteck Chrapek for answering our questions, it a pleasure to have such a great photographer as part of the PKIR community!
Wojteck Chrapek – london-weddingphotographer.com