We haven’t featured many wedding photographers on the site in the past, well aside from Chaz Cruz who’s one of my photography inspirations from the time I started a few years back. I actually met photographer Mick Shah through my other half’s friends circle; I say met, I actually watched him host an acoustic night. Little did I know he was a wedding photographer till one stumbled across his Facebook page via a shoot with Martell from the Individualism team. Wedding photography like I’ve said many times before is all about capturing the happiness and love and Mick does that effortlessly. Hop on after the cut for more.
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I didn’t want to just post a few images of his work on the site, thought it might be beneficial for y’all to hear his story and why he even got into photography in the first place. So here’s a handful of questions below that Mick has kindly answered.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a wedding photographer who is striving to be part of a ‘new breed’ of alternative wedding photographers trying to bring a bit of ‘cool, style and quirkiness to capturing a time honoured tradition. Before that I was a full-time musician and that had been a childhood ‘dream’ which was amazing to live out and I had an awesome time and the privilege of playing on some of the biggest stages in the UK. So it’s really cool to be able to transition from one creative field to another. I am also a husband to a beautiful girl, Anna and a father to an amazing boy, Ethan.
What made you get into photography?
When my wife got pregnant she suggested I buy a camera to take pictures of the baby, but I was like ‘I have an i-phone, that’ll do’. In the end she went out and bought me my first camera. At that time although I was still heavily into music I felt it was time to maybe take up something creative that I could do at home. When my son was born I just started taking more and more pictures and just loved capturing that ‘connection’ between my wife and son, but weddings weren’t really on my mind. I then just started pestering my friends to let me take their picture. One of them was a Music Producer who had an artist but I couldn’t find any decent pictures of her (E.B.R.U.) I then pestered him to let me take some pictures of her. I think he was just humoring me but he finally gave in and I just gave it everything. When his creative team saw them they were – well impressed and asked me to take some more. About this time one the team was getting married and had already booked a photographer so I was like let me take some pictures, just as a gift, no pressure and I loved it. When the couple’s pictures went up on Facebook (Thank God for Facebook!) the reaction was immense and people started recommending me and gradually the bookings started to increase and the business started to grow. This year is almost fully booked up and next year is starting to fill up so I’m really thankful for it all.
How was the transition from photography being a hobby to a job?
It’s been really easy, but I think that’s because I learnt so many lessons in my music career and have tried to apply them to photography. The first thing is I’m very passionate about the wedding photography (anybody who’s been on an engagement session or seen me at a wedding can verify!) and I try to keep that passion alive by only taking on assignments I want to or I feel I can give a 100% to. By the end of my music career it had become a ‘job’ and so you end up doing gigs just to make ends meat – which is not great. So with the photography I have said ‘no’ to some weddings and some job offers purely because I didn’t feel it was the right ‘fit’ or because I knew I wouldn’t be there because I wanted to. Conversely I have also said ‘yes’ to some weddings and jobs where I knew I wouldn’t be paid as much but I knew the couple ‘got’ my style, it was going to be a blast or I knew I could bring something to the table that could benefit the client and myself. At the end of the day although I’m offering a service I’m also trying to be creative, which in turn is why clients hire me I guess, so I’ve got to keep the creativity and passion alive.
I asked this to the last photographer I interviewed, what’s your weaponry? (Camera + lenses)
When I get into something I get into it big time, ask my wife! So I’ve invested in whatever I think I needed to be able to do the job. So I shoot with:
• 2 Canon 5d Mrk 2′s
• Canon 35mm 1.4
• Canon 50mm 1.2
• Canon 85mm 1.2
• Canon 135mm 2.0
• Canon 24-70mm 2.8
• Sigma 50mm
• Macro 2.8
Each lens has something unique about it, hence why I have them and I shoot mainly with primes because I feel that when I zoom with my feet rather than the lens it forces me to engage with the scene rather just zoom in zoom out with the lens. Also primes, I feel, produce a much better picture quality than zooms.
Why wedding/engagement/couple photography? What made you choose this path instead of editorial and other types of photography?
I really LOVE shooting weddings and couples and think if I couldn’t shoot weddings, I probably wouldn’t shoot much at all. Getting to shoot Weddings, including spending time with the couple at the engagement shoots are what makes me get excited about photography. I think there are a few reasons for this and I’ve tried to sum this up in Three words which are part of my ‘brand’ if you will and also my ‘ethos’ when shooting.
The first word is ‘Love’. I’ve always been drawn to the emotional connection between people and trying to capture that and what can be stronger than two people who say the love each other enough to want to spend the rest of their lives together! Then on a wedding day you have all the people who are their because they love the couple especially close Friends and family. I think its these emotional connections that bring a certain gravitas to the images. This isn’t about photographing a person because you’ve been paid, these are real life moments that I’ve been given the responsibility and privilege of trying to capture – this is their story on one of the most memorable days of their lives – and the idea of that really excites me.
Secondly ‘Fun’ because this is where I get to be creative and try and bring an alternative view to an event that’s happening in real time. But also it’s trying to play off the ‘vibe’ and personality that the couple bring. So it’s not about getting couples to do weird poses for the sake of it but it’s kind of playing off their personality and enhancing it and the challenge of trying to do that in sometimes a very small window of opportunity. For example the shot of the couple and their entourage on the tractors. Their wedding was at a barn and I’d seen the tractors and in my head thought they would be cool to incorporate but they were all dressed up so I was kind of thinking ‘…should I suggest this!?…’ but they were all so much fun and they were like ‘…cool, look at the tractors…’ so then I knew it would be easy, it would fun but it wouldn’t be forced – it is in a way a representation of them as a group: fun, young, quirky & colourful but on an actual wedding day! That’s what you call ‘fun’!
Lastly Style! I love it when I am able to make people, particularly ‘real life people’ look at a picture of themselves and think ‘…Wow – I (or we) look good!…’ lol! I’m constantly amazed by the number of couples who either say ‘we’ve never had some nice photos of us together’ or for some reason have an issue with themselves being photographed either because they never feel they look great in photos or never had a great experience. So I love that challenge ha! So they get to meet me and hang out and then there’s that awesome moment on the engagement shoot where they finally relax and are just get comfortable and forget about the camera – and that’s when the best expressions, poses & emotions are captured. Then just as exciting is the moment you get to show them the pictures and they’re (hopefully) amazed and pleased with them that they want to show them to their friends and family – which is great!
So for me then this means then that I’m not just taking pictures but that the photography is actually effecting real life people in a very ‘real way’ which I guess for me is more gratifying than the other types of photography.
Your favourite photograph that you’ve taken and why?
Ahh…that’s such a hard question, I have hundreds of photos that on any given day could be my favourite for very different reasons, and it probably changes everyday! ha! Erm…right now…at a push probably the pictures of the bride and groom on a bench surrounded by their entourage in front of the wall. I know to you and me it might just look like a bunch of people talking to each other but I love it because of the story behind it and the subsequent reaction to it. Basically the bride and groom unbeknown to me had 10 bridemaids and 10 groomsmen! Plus all their flower girls, ring bearers that’s like the biggest bridal party ever! But the reason they were so big is because those were their group of friends from childhood and they didn’t want to leave any of them out The bond between all of them was really strong (if you heard their speeches you’d understand!) but for me it comes to the moment I have to take the bridal party shot, we’re running over time, I literally have 5mins, there’s no space in front of the church and I don’t just want to take the cheesy – let’s line up picture but I’m thinking how on earth do you arrange 20+ people in a picture that captures all of them?!!
So I see this bench and get them into some loose positions and I ask them to just chill and relax and I’m waiting for the moment and it’s like click and this picture is taken. I love it because it’s obvious they’re all connected to each other but it feels like each person has their own story going on and everybody was included and no-one seems to be disengaged (except the little boy in the middle – ha!) and I know when I showed it to the couple that the picture meant so much not just to them but to everyone in it – because it’s maybe one of the few times they’ve all been present together for a long time and it’s on this amazing day and it’s a picture that captures their bond with each other and it’s a moment that sums up the spirit of the day for them. I also know (cause they told me) that when ever they look at this pic it will not only take them back to this day but help remind them of what they all mean to each other! When the bride put this pic up on her Facebook page I think it got something like a 194 ‘likes’ and a gazillion comments from friends/family who had some type of positive reaction to it – which for me is really cool, and means it wasn’t just me but ‘others’ got it as well.
Eek, I need to up my lens game for the summer. Shooting 3 weddings, one of which is in France! Boom.