Guest Blog – Jonny Draper

What made you want to be a wedding photographer?

I guess I kind of fell into it – I was working in the TV department of a creative ad agency, doing a bit of filming and editing. One day someone at work who was getting married walked into our office and asked me if I could film their wedding. I said yes. I shot loads of wedding films alongside my day job and realised I was falling in love with weddings. I had a real interest in what the photographers I was working alongside at weddings did and one day decided to ‘have a go at the stills rather than the film’! I loved it and pretty much there and then realised that’s what I wanted to do.

Why would you say it’s important for you to get to know your clients and how do you go about doing it?

100% of how I work at weddings is based on the relationship I have with my brides and grooms. They have to trust me, I have to understand what they want from me and we have to feel comfortable around each other. Before their wedding we meet up for a beer and a proper run through the day … Those extra few hours spent with them ahead of the wedding day are so important to how I ultimately work with them and that time with them is one of my favourite parts of working with my brides and grooms.

How would your clients describe your personality and would you agree with them?

Awkward question! I’ll go from what people write in thank you cards, rather than attempt to do it myself! People very generously say that it’s like having another mate there, they say that they didn’t expect to actually have a laugh with their photographer and it’s things like this that are so important to me. Wedding photography has changed massively in the last few years. People aren’t conforming strictly to tradition anymore. They want to do things their way – and if that means having a team of suppliers around them that they actually feel like they’ve become friends with, then that’s awesome.

How do you get couples to relax in front of the camera and to trust you?

You have to get them to trust you first as a person. Then you can work on helping them trust you when you’re behind the camera and ultimately relax. Overall, my approach is documentary so really I’m trying to help my couples forget that I’m there so I can shoot all the real, genuine moments happening on the day, rather than trying to stage too much. Having said that, I do love to throw in a couple of awesome portraits along the way…

Would you say you are more than just a wedding photographer to your clients?

I’d like to think so. Of course, my main role is to capture their day, but I can’t ignore things that need fixing, I have to offer solutions to problems and I absolutely insist on taking the stress away from brides and grooms when things aren’t going strictly to plan. Guests, extra luggage, flowers, wedding cakes are regularly transported in my car when arrangements haven’t been made for them. I’m a button hole pinning on expert, advisor of timings, tie straightener, Grandma escorter, glass of water or jagerbomb provider and all round spare pair of hands and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you think your personality comes across in your style of photography?

I think so. I like to have a genuine laugh with my couples and their guests. That’s what I’m looking to capture. I’m also a bit of a show off (never quite made it to the West End) so there are certain ‘signature’ images that I guess I’m quite well known for too. How do you capture those real ‘wow-factor’ shots and why do you think they are important for a couple to have? A couple has to buy in to what I do 100% and that comes before they even book me. If they book me to shoot their wedding, I know that they want me to do my thing – that’s when the real fun starts! Confetti cannons, smoke bombs, pyrotechnics – you name it, we do it!

What excites you most about weddings and what motivates you on the day?

The fact that every wedding is different. Every couple is different. Every day brings new challenges and new ideas form. The unknown coupled with the fact that I know my couples want me to do something exciting and unique for them is what gives me a serious buzz.

What do your clients say is the best thing about the way that you work and the images that you produce?

They regularly say that they didn’t even notice me throughout the day (I won’t claim they suggest that they didn’t notice me when I set smoke grenades off!) which is so important to me. 95% of the wedding day, I’m approaching things from a documentary point of view. Telling the story of the day, capturing all those little moments and then topping all of that off with something truly special.

What would you say is your proudest career moment to date and why?

Tough one! I don’t know, I’ve won awards and that is an amazing feeling, but it’s a one off feeling. It blows my mind that thank you cards and gifts arrive from my brides and grooms after their wedding – it is completely unnecessary but so massively appreciated. I definitely feel at my proudest when I open a card and the bride and groom say so many lovely things about the photographs I’ve taken for them. That’s a feeling that is very difficult to top.

If you had to pick your very favourite wedding shot of all time for truly reflecting the person/people within it, what would it be and why?

Not fair! There are too many. If you really push me, I guess it’s difficult to see past this photograph of Catherine and her Grandad as they left the church. She had an amazing relationship with him and sadly he was only well enough to attend the ceremony – so this is them saying their goodbyes. It’s a moment that I’ll never forget and when I shared it on social media it went crazy. I was initially amazed at how well it was received but then it made sense. Everyone has someone in their life that means so much to them, so it was an image that resonated with every single person who saw it.

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