Alternative wedding photographer

Alternative wedding photographer

Alternative wedding photography…what does that even mean any more. The problem that the majority are faced with, is that what was once the alternative has now become the norm. This is by no means a bad thing. The quality of photography in my humble opinion has increased dramatically in the last five years. The free sharing of knowledge and information across the internet and the rise of social media has meant that people can learn more quickly and learn from other peoples mistakes, as well as their own.

Alternative wedding photography was coined to distinguish the new wave of wedding photographers from the old school ‘stand in a line’ traditional approach. The vast improvements in digital technology has allowed photographers to take pictures in increasingly difficult lighting conditions. Now digital cameras can work in near darkness. This means that we can now take pictures of every part of the day, without the need for flash. The end result? Every photographer now has a documentary element to their work. The alternative has now become the norm. So where will it go next?

This is how I roll – documentary style

Here is some of my most recent work. It’s documentary and photo-journalistic in style. It’s up close and personal, getting stuck in amongst the crowd and capturing tangible emotions.

bridesmaids hug and laughwedding guests laughing playing croquetboy presses face against glass looking at wedding cake

Where will alternative wedding photography go next? – testing the conceptual limits

For this piece, I challenged myself to create something truly alternative, this was the result. N.B the following was not a paid wedding, just in case you got scared that I this is how I would decide to shoot for no apparent reason.

alternative wedding photographerconceptual wedding photographyabstract wedding photographyquirky wedding photographyfun wedding photographersun setting on quirky weddingmoments after sunset at alternative weddingdusk

Yo Liam. Ya’ll crazy

Aren’t they beautiful? They have a narrative all of their own, show no people and yet carry so much emotion. 

I love conceptual art. The idea of it anyway. Like any practice some pieces are better executed than others. Its what it encourages that I am most interested in. Expansive thought. Not seeing the world as it is, but for what it can be. Any broadening of the imagination I am game for, even if it comes to nothing, challenging the systems, the framework, the very fibres of something should always be encouraged.

How can you photograph a wedding in a way that perfectly captures the atmosphere and a sense of time, but also encapsulates a concept. When I first started shooting weddings I read an article by Elizabeth Messina. In it she stated that she always took a photograph of the sky on a couples wedding day, there was a certain quality to it that encapsulated the day. Whether rain or shine, she would take it. Often taking a photograph of the moon as well. I love this idea. There’s an ethereal quality to it and it forms part of the narrative of the day.

This got me thinking. What if the photographs were only of the sky? The transitions of light, the undulations of the clouds. The textures, colours and emotions they might summon. The idea that tied it together was when I considered that by shooting the sky, it in fact removed the notion of ‘place’ and made the images exist all on their own, in their own domain. This opened up the possibility for the conceptual element to be explored. If the images show no time or place, then they could be any time or place. More than one wedding will take place on any single day. Photographing the changing skies means these images could be of anyone and everyone’s wedding. They belong to no one and yet they belong to everyone. There is something truly beautiful about these images, I don’t mean my photographs, that would be too braggy. The beauty of the sky itself. The ways in which it changes in twenty four hours. Each image is entirely unique, never to happen again. The similarities between these pictures and my regular wedding work is quite interesting. I haven’t constructed, interfered with or altered them in any way, I positioned myself, moved around the subject and documented what was happening in front of me. It’s exactly the same as how I photograph people.

The reality of this statement is understanding intent, and ultimately asking, what type of wedding photographs do you want? My pictures of the sky could be considered quirky and alternative wedding photography. They are also fun, playful and artistic images that are the closest thing to unique that is out there. Do you want pictures of the sky? They tick all the boxes. My guess would be the answer is no.

Give me fun, give me quirky, give me alternative

This is my interpretation of fun wedding photography. Honestly weddings are the most fun occasions that I have ever witnessed. Full of laughter, tears of joy, the entire emotional spectrum is covered.

black and white wedding photography guests laughing and eatingbride laughing in black and white wedding photographblack and white wedding photography first dance

This is my interpretation of alternative wedding photography. Not your usual formal line ups of guests. Don’t stand still and be unhappy, own it. Go crazy.

group wedding photography not formal having fun

This is my interpretation of quirky wedding photography. Being in the moment, ready to capture people as they are, being themselves. Undeterred by my presence as they exhibit unexpected qualities. I love it. Being in the mix, joining in the wedding.

groom hugs sonbrother of bride crying

The Jazz Photographer

I like jazz wedding photographer. That sounds much more cool. Liam Smith – jazz wedding photographer – yeah! Photographer Liam Smith attempts to break down photographic convention, discarding fixed notions of compositions, relevant subject matter and equipment to be used. That’s what my Wikipedia page should say.

From my experience, the term alternative is an attempt from modern photographers to distinguish themselves from the old school of formal and stuffy. The old school my lovely readers, is long dead. However, it’s been dead for so long that now the parameters have changed again. What was once the alternative is now the norm. We are in an exciting phase, ushering in a new dawn of quirky and fun. It’s going to be amazing to watch the market evolve in the next ten years and I’m super stoked that I get to be a part of it. 

Want to find out more about how I work? check out my article on black and white wedding photography and why I love wedding photography


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