Choosing a wedding photographer can be a minefield.
So here at GoHen we went and collared one of our absolute favourite camera-wielders on the planet to find out all there is to know about the weird and utterly wonderful world of alternative wedding photography.
The amazingly-talented Amy Faith tells us all below – be sure to check out her website once you’ve finished absorbing her top tips and expert advice!
First off, what exactly is alternative wedding photography?
“Alternative wedding photography offers couples a different approach to their wedding images than the more traditional or fine art styles.
“When you hear the definition: ‘alternative wedding photography’, you may think of brides in black dresses, grooms with tattoos, skull-themed wedding cakes and a playlist consisting of nothing but rock music. And while that has definitely always been a big part of the alternative wedding scene, there are many more subgenres to explore.
“If it makes your nan go: “we would never have done this in my day”
…then you’re on the right track, baby!”
“Now, alternative wedding photography covers everything from indie, boho, pagan, gothic, Disney, vintage, and so much more!
“The most important thing about alternative wedding photography is… that the approach and attitude behind it is always laid back, progressive, modern and sometimes risqué.”
OK, so what’s hot, what’s not for 2020/2021?
“Trends at the moment include outdoor or warehouse weddings using humanists and celebrants.
“Another great alternative trend that I can’t see disappearing anytime soon is stylistic contrasts, i.e. combining two styles that are at direct contradictions, such as fuchsia pink silks with delicate florals adorning an industrial warehouse with exposed concrete floors and metal girder posts.
“One of the best ways to show your personalities in your ceremony is to have it completely personalised and held in an unconventional venue!”
“The 1970s have also burst back onto the scene in a big way in the last few months, and they were first introduced when pampas grass and macramé hangings became popular in 2019, but now we are seeing lots of burnt oranges and mustard shades in wedding styling as well as groovy fonts and velvet materials.
“And last but not least – smoke bombs. This seemed to be a bit of a flash in the pan in 2016/2017, but three/four years later we are still going crazy for them. They’re such an easy way to add lots of fun and movement to bridal party portraits as well as a lot of drama to the couple portraits, too.”
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty – what are the main things to consider when choosing a photographer?
“I would say the main things to consider when choosing a photographer are all incredibly visceral and super personal.
“Always do f**k loads of research when looking at photographers!”
“It’s great to have a photographer referred to you by a friend, but your artistic tastes might be different from your friend’s, so it may not always result in liking the images you receive.
“Make sure to ask to see blog posts or full weddings so you get an idea of their style from morning to night (however, don’t worry if the photographer has never shot in the same venue before, this is defo not important to a professional).
“It’s one thing to fall in love with a photographer’s portraits, but if you don’t like their morning prep or dancing images, then you may need to consider another photographer.
… every photographer you consider will have worked for a number of years perfecting their individual style…
… ask a photographer to change their aesthetic approach to suit your own tastes; that is a recipe for disaster that results in at least three miserable people (yourselves and the photographer).
“As soon as you find that photographer whose work makes your heart soar then you’ve achieved step one.
“Step two is seeing whether you and the photographer will get along, either by meeting them for a consultation or doing an engagement shoot with them. Don’t forget, this person will be at your side for about 75% of your wedding day, so you should probably make sure you kinda like them!
“You don’t have to become bezzie mates of course, but finding someone you can trust will release a whole tonne of stress and pressure.
“If you find someone who comes across as passionate, confident, professional, knowledgeable and chilled out then you’ve cracked the code to photography bliss, my friend.”
What do you like to be asked by clients when they approach you? (What makes you know you’re right for them and they’re right for you?)
“Not many people realise but wedding photography isn’t a one-way street and it can be incredibly difficult if the couple allows themselves to be caught up in fear or stress or aren’t inclined to acquiesce to simple suggestions.
“To achieve those seemingly effortless photos… there has to be a bit of give and take on both sides.
“I always ask my couples to meet me halfway – if you give me your willingness to listen and show that you can respond to my advice, then I will give you 100% of my focus and creativity.
“There is no magic button that makes couples look relaxed and happy in their photographs, that part has to come from inside.
“I really love it when a couple asks me what *I* need from *them*
in order to do my job well.”
“As soon as a photographer sees that radiating outwards they can start to encourage and use their experience to guide the couple through every part of the day while still making it feel completely natural and unposed.
“It may sound an impossible feat if you’re not used to being in front of a camera, but honestly it’s all about just shouting “F**K IT!” and momentarily letting go of your inhibitions and forgetting about your insecurities (which won’t matter in ten, twenty, fifty years anyway).
“I also really love it when… a couple asks my opinion on other parts of their wedding day, such as lighting, locations, venues, suppliers etc.
“Many of these things can affect the overall vibe of the day as well as how the images will look and, as I have been to over three-hundred weddings over seven years, I have a plethora of experiences I can call upon when giving advice to new couples who have maybe only been to a handful of weddings in their entire lives.”
What are the classic mistakes people make when choosing a photographer?
“Unfortunately, there are MANY classic mistakes that couples can make when choosing a photographer…”
“It’s only natural that a couple would be inexperienced in the ways of the wedding industry, which is nothing to be ashamed of, no one is expecting newly engaged couples to be experts immediately. So not asking for help, suggestions, advice or referrals is one of the biggest mistakes.
“This is followed closely by doing very little to no research on suppliers and venues.
“It takes time to understand what you want from your big day, to adapt your personal tastes into combined tastes and translate that to something you can apply to your designs.
“It takes time to find all those amazing, independent, quirky suppliers that don’t appear on the first page of Google. New couples tend to only scratch the surface of the wedding industry if they’re planning their big day within a one-two year window – but there are many people ready and waiting to help you dive even deeper!
“And finally, BUDGET! Everyone has a budget! And the biggest mistake couples make… is to expect suppliers to fit into their budget.
“Asking for discounts is a very British thing to do, but you also have to consider whether asking an independent supplier to do their job for half the price (for no reason other than you can’t afford them) might be the difference between booking the supplier of your dreams or receiving a: “no, sorry, I’m already booked” email from them (when they probably aren’t).
“Your budget is not the supplier’s problem! Better calculations before beginning to enquire with suppliers could mean you will be able to afford the photographer you have admired for 2 years.
… is to make a list prioritising each part of your wedding from 1-10, with the main focus on your top 3. Once you have finalised your list, you can then divide your budget up into percentages. The most advisable way to do this would be to assign 10-15% of your budget to your top 3. So, for example, from a £20,000 budget, if your photographer is number 1, you may want to reserve between £2000-£3000 of your budget for this.”
What’s the best wedding moment you’ve witnessed – imagine you’ve seen hundreds?
“I love it when wedding cakes fall off the table, either by themselves or because the (tipsy) couple have cut into it too hard. Cringeworthy speeches that make everyone hold their faces in disbelief.”
“My favourite moments are always the ones that have caused a riot, lots of laughter or something completely out of the ordinary. And I’ve seen SO many there is no way I can pinpoint just one.
“Dress hems caked in mud from the bride prancing through a field, beside a lake or through a farm courtyard completely oblivious because she is having too much fun.
“Nans getting down with their bad selves on the dance floor to songs by artists like Dr Dre or Green Day.
“And finally, lots and lots of animal participation – dogs, horses, llamas, pigs, whatever! If an animal is involved it’s a winner in my eyes.”
What’s your favourite wedding picture that you’ve taken?
“Trying to choose a favourite wedding picture is like picking your favourite child.”
“I have so many favourites for so many different reasons! However, I do think my favourites are the ones where the couple have said to me before their big day: “oh, we hate having our photos taken, we really aren’t photogenic” and then they end up looking like absolute ROCKSTARS.”
What’s your favourite non-wedding related picture you’ve taken?
“Again, far too many to choose from!”
“I shoot everything from conceptual portraiture to fashion and music – all three of these genres have fed into my style as a wedding photographer and made me the artist I am today.”
And finally, what makes you stand out from the rest?
“I think the main thing that makes me stands me out from the rest is an incredibly controversial topic in the wedding industry – it’s the fact that I am the most *anti-wedding* wedding photographer EVER.”
“My love of contrasts means that I prefer the non-conventional elements of a wedding that many conventional wedding photographers would be horrified about.
“For example, I love seeing a beautiful bride pull daft faces while hitching her skirt up on the dance floor in order to skank to drum’n’bass in her trainers.
“I love it when couples integrate swear words into their wedding day stationery, like having a cake topper that says “F**K YEAH WE DID IT” or a wedding banner that says “HOLY S**T, WE’RE MARRIED”.
“The worst thing to me is airy-fairy nonsense and the unrelenting desire for everything to be perfect. I’ve seen couples in tears because of the pressure of perfection – one thing goes wrong and they instantly feel like the entire day is ruined.
“I meet every single one of my couples before they book so I can pass on my wealth of knowledge about the dreaded levels of expectation a wedding day can impose upon even the most laid back person.
“I want every single one of my gorgeous brides/grooms to leave their consultation with me with a new attitude to their big day, one that will help them understand that even the mistakes, the accidents, the bits that go wrong, can be wonderful!
“A wedding that feels less like a conventional wedding and more like a party is the best wedding ever.”
“Oh and I probably should have added this warning at the start but yeah, I say f**k, s**t and b****cks… a lot. So book me if you want s**t-hot photos, absolutely no b****cks about ‘perfection’ and an amazing, stress-free, quirky as f**k wedding.”