Ian Weldon is a wedding photographer – but his images do not resemble your typical wedding snaps. They are far more warm, candid, off-kilter… much more genuinely interesting to anyone who wasn’t there on the day.
“Here is a photographer who shoots weddings as they really are: comical family occasions, with too much drink and wild things happening,” Martin Parr explains. “You may think well of course he would, but if you look at the award-winning wedding photographers they nearly all pander to normal schmaltz that is so dominant in the industry. We believe this is the first time a ‘wedding photographer’ has been exhibited in a ‘proper gallery’.”
“I’ve tried, I really have, but there’s no easy way to tell you that I’m not a wedding photographer,” says Weldon. “I mean, as much as I’d love to stand around for hours lining people up, ordering them around and taking photographs of every combination of family member and guest, I’ve more important things to be doing. And quite frankly, so have you.”
Do you have a certain technique for getting the kinds of images you do?
I’m going to a wedding with no preconceived idea on how I think it should look. I’m not going for ‘the shot’: I’m responding to the people and the situation and in doing so I feel I can get much closer, physically and emotionally. I’m approaching weddings as a photographer rather than a wedding photographer.
It’s the fringes of the wedding that are most interesting to me. The kiss, the ring shot, the speeches are pretty predictable aspects, but the things that happen outside of that aren’t. That’s where the good stuff is. Weddings don’t start at the ceremony and end at the cutting of the cake.
Do you think that a lot of traditional wedding photography fails to capture the energy / joy / emotion of the day?
Of course, but that’s the nature of the industry. Wedding photography is, essentially, commercial photography and it’s a business. Although almost all weddings follow the same sort of format, it’s the people and personalities that make them unique. I think it’s a shame that a lot of wedding photographers apply a template mentality to the weddings they photograph, making them all look the same.
Tell us one or two anecdotes behind some of your favourite shots.
I can’t recall anything particularly disastrous or hilarious, but I think the images speak for themselves. Even the most drunken of wedding guests show some restraint, mostly. There have been the usual arguments, scuffles, a cake was kicked off a table once, a car crashed into a courtyard water feature but nothing of real note, it’s just people partying and I like a good party.
Tell us a little about your working methods – how you’ll prepare for each wedding job, how much time you reckon on spending at each wedding, how important it is to you to know who’s who, etcetera.
I think that as a photographer, I’m always prepared. AsI mentioned I’m not approaching weddings with an idea of how it should look. Obviously I have to make sure my gear is ready, batteries charged and cards formatted, but I’m just ready to go. For me it’s not much different to heading out to shoot street photography. It’s pretty easy to figure out who’s who, but I’m lucky enough to be in a position that I’m not required to get a photograph of Uncle Tom with aunty Jane.
Ian Weldon: I Am Not a Wedding Photographer Martin Parr Foundation, June 26-Aug 10, Wed-Sat 11am-6pm. For more info, visit www.martinparrfoundation.org
You can buy Ian’s book at www.rrbphotobooks.com/pages/ian-weldon-i-am-not-a-wedding-photographer