It’s truly rare that you get to meet a one-of-a-kind wedding photographer, which is why we were so excited when we finally got to catch up with Marianne Chua to talk “Funtojournalism”, the latest bridal trends and why you should never walk down the aisle to The Clash. As well as why she wants her own branded onesie?!?
What’s hot in the world of weddings this year?
Doughnuts are the new cheese, at least in terms of wedding cakes!
What’s not? Anything couples should avoid?
I feel there’s been a definite drop in the number of people doing full first dances, at least within my market. Couples are either doing 30 seconds and getting their mates to pile in, or I’ve even had two “first piñata smashes” as first dance replacements!
Is 2017 going to be a big year for “Funtojournalism”?
Awww yeaahhh! I think I started shooting weddings at just the right time, there’s plenty of couples who have always felt uncomfortable in front of the camera and who just want to spend their day with their friends and family, untroubled by hours of staged photos. Although traditional wedding photojournalism has been around for a long time, I think there’s now more people injecting their style onto pure candid wedding photography, so there’s a wider range of options for the camera-phobic couple. I offer couples a bright and fun twist on candid photography and I fully book out every year, so there’s definitely a demand for Funtojournalism!
It goes without saying that your fab style is pretty unique! What makes your wedding photography stand out from the rest?
I’d like to think that I have a modern take on traditional, and more purist wedding photojournalism. We both have the approach that the photos should be unstaged, but traditional photojournalists love black and white and just love the moody light. I, for some unknown reason, love colour, and I see the world in rigid lines, angles and frames. I can’t explain it, it’s these eyeballs.
As a result, I feel like my work bridges both the pure photojournalists and the “alternative” crowd.
The other thing is I’m quite a rare and stubborn goose for not promoting group and couple shots, I do shoot them if the couple require it, but I display virtually none of these shots on my portfolio and couples will hire me for my 99.9% documentary approach. I think the people who come to me want to see lots of laughter, and almost more shots of their friends and family over shots of them, they want any chaos covered in its full glory… all in all, I’m quite an unwedding-y wedding supplier.
I do also have a habit of warning couples that this is a “brutal” form of wedding photography. By that I mean they should expect double chins and to see themselves in 360 degrees. It’s not for the faint-hearted, or for people who want to see themselves at the height of glamour and perfection. It’s never unkind or laughing at them, I’d like to think it’s laughing with them, or mostly it’s the couple laughing at hilarious shots of their guests.
It looks like you aren’t afraid to go to extreme lengths to get the perfect shot. What’s the most precarious position you’ve put yourself in for a wedding shoot?
Hmmm I’ve sat on a groomsman’s shoulders a few times, but I’m confident in my core strength so I’ve never felt worried! I guess the situations are often more precarious for my camera, I’ve taken it into swimming lakes, rivers and the sea and shot very low to the water level. One strong wind could have pushed a wave over my camera!
How important is it to find the right wedding photographer for you?
Oh my days, it’s literally one of THE most important things! I know I seem biased, but even if I wasn’t a photographer I’d still say the same thing, your photos are the only thing you’ll look at again and again over your whole life, and they’ll get passed down to your future generations. In that sense, it’s the most cost effective part of your wedding!
Although the same can be said of a dress, if you don’t like your dressmaker that won’t bother you on the day, whereas your photographer is with you all day, in your home, amongst your nearest and dearest. If you don’t like them as a person, it’s not a comfortable experience to have them shooting you. Furthermore, at least with documentary shooters, the more comfortable you are with them, the easier it will be to ignore them whilst they work and therefore they can get better and more intimate shots.
I really encourage everyone to make sure they meet or chat to their photographer before booking, make sure as well as loving the work that you get along with the person. If you can, see a full wedding gallery example so you have an accurate idea of what you’ll get for your wedding photos, don’t rely on a small handful of portfolio photos on their website, this way you’ll know you won’t be disappointed!
It’s safe to say that some of the wedding’s you’ve worked look pretty unusual. Why do you think these couples choose you?
I’d like to think I make it very clear on my site that I’m up for anything and pretty adventurous. And it’s true, if I had to shoot the same cookie cutter timelines and factory churned weddings week in and week out, I just wouldn’t be in this job. I’m here because I love what I do, I enjoy seeing people declare their love for each other in so many different ways, and I think couples can tell that and know I won’t think they’re “too weird”. The weirder the better I say!
It’s a tough question, but somebody’s got to ask! What’s the BEST wedding you’ve ever worked on?
Ohhhh controversial! I actually find the best weddings to shoot have been totally unrelated to things like the venue or the wedding décor etc. The ones that stood out for me were when the couple were just absolutely lovely or inspirational as people.
I remember having a summer full of aesthetically fabulous weddings, and I got towards the end of summer and the last one was going to be quite small and straight forward. I remember feeling worried the day before that I’d feel a sense of a comedown because there weren’t circus clowns or dinosaurs or anything crazy, after months of every wedding being a banger, but I was absolutely wrong and ridiculous – I got some of my favourite shots of all time from that wedding simply because the couple were so full of joy and their friends and family were such a laugh and so fabulous to shoot expression-wise. Honestly, that wedding appears multiple times around the key galleries on my website!
I also remember one of my earliest weddings when I shot for a couple who I’m still friends with now – they are a bit older than my average couple, he said he’d never marry and broke the rules for her, they were both super rock ‘n’ roll, they met at a gig and they discovered they’d been going to all the same gigs across their life and hadn’t crossed paths under later on. I love how they gave no figs to social convention and did whatever they wanted. They got the bus on their wedding day and she wore a proper hippy mini dress. They’ve always resonated with me as where I hope to be in 20-30 years!
Spending the working week talking/looking/thinking about weddings sounds like a dream job (we’re not jealous, much), so what’s the best thing about your job?
Getting to wear a onesie for 85% of your “working hours”. I Skype couples in a onesie quite a lot, I guess if they mind or get offended I’m probably not their sort of person anyway so I’ll always wear one without fear! I’m determined to get some kind of branded onesie so I can claim to behave professionally.
What would be the best and worst songs to walk down the aisle to?
Best – Can I be cheesey and put my boyfriend’s song for me, because I can’t imagine any other aisle song bar our own? Otis Redding – That’s How Strong My Love Is.
Worst – The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Any final parting words of bridal wisdom?
Don’t stress about what people “expect” you to do, don’t let society or convention make you do things you don’t want to – as long as two people turn up and say yes to each other, the rest of the day isn’t worth stressing about, roll with anything that goes “wrong”. If the caterer doesn’t turn up, you can order in a Dominos. Being there together with all your favourite people is numero uno, enjoy every moment.