As wedding professionals, we get asked all the time for advice. It’s very easy for us to say the lines “just do what you like!” as people who have literally done this hundreds of times, so I feel we need to go a step further. I know that my couples trust me and so I feel totally cool to let them know if an idea is not going to work, or to suggest something else.
This moment here - post ceremony - is one of my favourite things to shoot. People are not only totally natural, but also mostly unaware of what I'm doing that they don't put their guard back up. And I'm not talking about my couples here, but the guests. So here are my tips to you, person reading this potentially planning a wedding, or about to be a guest at a wedding, to make this whole thing the best it can be:
1) Phones and Cameras away for everyone. BE PRESENT! Photographers don't care that you're also taking a photo. We know ours is going to be great, and we're not after a monopoly on photos, that's not why we ask this. The couple want to be able to see their loved ones faces - and they've hired me to photograph those faces, not their faces behind devices.
2) Stay close to each other, especially if it's just the one photographer shooting the wedding. I love being able to get as many of these moments as I can, so not to miss key people like parents and siblings, so let people come to you - it's your day, after all.
2) In your planning, either on your invites or wedding website or whatever, let people know that there will be times for the "official" photos later. A great celebrant will help with this (my mate Married By Josh was here for this one), encouraging people to congratulate the couple now they're married instead of fussing about who's iPhone they're going to use to get a photo for their socials. Great, REAL moments have been, and will continue to be murdered by selfish guests - don't be that guy!
3) Brides - and Grooms for that matter - feel free to hand your bouquet to someone, because it can get in the way of great hugs (and also that fucker is heavy amirite?!) There will always be plenty of photos of you with it.
4) Work with a great venue and planner like Bebe's Country Weddings who knows their stuff, so that there's space for this all to happen and there's also something for the guests to do after they've seen you.
5) How great are dogs during ceremonies, hey! Just remember to organise someone to handle them at a pinch when you want to do all the hugs.
Those are just some ideas, hopefully they help someone. I'm really passionate about helping people make the most of their day because a) I'm a nice guy and b) it makes for better photographs, so expect more of this stuff here and on the blog.
“We read your whole story on your website, on the front page. All the way to the bottom. It really resonated with us.”
I first got to meet Ant and Luce at one of their favourite Chapel Street haunts, over dinner and cocktails. We’d Skyped, they’d booked me, but it wasn’t until then that we got to spend some time that I realised how excited they were to have me work with them. When you make things and people resonate with them, for me that’s what keeps me coming back.
This was their day.
“We are coming down the aisle together. With a swing band. Is that your kinda thing?”
HELL YES my dude.
I caught up with these guys a few months before the wedding, when I was down for another shoot in Melbourne. We had burgers and beers and hung out with their dog.
Here's the thing.
My couples tend to trust me, know me, so when I rock up on the day all their friends ask "so are you mates with the guys?"
I always have to reply “that I am now”.
I think this process is pretty unique to wedding photography, like, it's a strange mix of art, trust, technical, a pretty intimate access to people on an important day... and a little bit of luck and other special sauce. But that key element is the access. Making new relationships and new friends.
"Every single time I look through our wedding photos I get goosebumps, I laugh and I cry! Such an amazing day that was captured spectacularly by Morgs. His style of photography and the way he captures all of those special moments is second to none. We wanted wedding photos that were real, raw and captured the emotions of the day - this is exactly what we got.. We couldn't have dreamt of a better photographer. And aside from his extraordinary talents, he's great to hang out and have a beer with! If he's booked out for your wedding day, move the date of the wedding! He's seriously that good!!!"
Boxing Day, 2017.
Josh Withers and I get in a plane, as I recall, too early, and tried to check out a really sweet hipster instagrammable venue, but it was closed. So we went to the chemist instead and also got Starbucks. Because, Boxing Day isn't Boxing Day unless you engage in consumerism, right?!?
So, a pretty normal, beige start to the day.
Tom was waiting for us when we got to the chapel at Little Bay. A little nervous. The family trickled in and then Aleesha arrived.
And then this happened.
Kicking of January like this was pretty amazing. Claudia (Cloud) and Sam found me at the last minute before they moved overseas, and on a hot January afternoon by the river, they married each other. I'm so amazed how "me" they were. There's a photo in here of Cloud getting her earring caught in someones necklace, mid embrace, and her friend remarked "oh don't shoot this!"
She replied "Nope, we hired Morgs so he could shoot this"
Once again, I had found my people.
Last year when the legislation passed, I felt a little bit of a mania come over the wedding industry. And the wedding industry loves mania. I've never seen anybody get that excited about fucking chair covers, for starters. Anyway, it really bothered me and I realised that some people were becoming fixated on same sex marriage for all the wrong reasons.
There were entire magazines being produced. There were deals being run, specials, offers. All done, I'm sure, with the best of intentions. I mean, not many people are going out of their way in this industry to be difficult, but we've all got different perspectives.
Careful about bandwagons.
You see... I believe that being a champion for something also means not fetishising it, not “othering” it even more. It’s very easy to run around in circles shouting out what needs to happen - and loud is ok - but It’s ok to quietly put out in to the world what one values, without trying to elevate one thing up over another. And I hope that this counts as quiet - and not too self aggrandising - but do not mistake this as gentle politics.
This is a strong opinion.
I’ve been asked so much this year if I’m any busier following the changes to the marriage act last year. At the risk of stepping on some toes, I’m actually happy to say that I’m not. I can’t suddenly have more time to photograph weddings. I can, however, take on awesome couples to make images with. Just like I did least year, and the year before that, and I will continue to do that.
We have to be careful as an industry to not shout so hard that we simply create more boxes and categories.
This is Sam and Cloud, proudly making their day their own.
I met with a couple of mine last night, to chat and hang out but also sort out some logistics stuff. I asked them how the planning was going and what they thought of the wedding industry as a whole.
“It sucks. It’s so broken”, they said.
Now, I’m instantly gong to have to make concessions for literally all my wedding industry friends, so you’ll keep reading, and also because you’d probably not be a friend of mine (industry or otherwise) if you didn’t share some of my values. However, anyone that disagrees with me that runs a business (not just in weddings) could do well to listen to where the conversation went.
Here are some words and phrases that were thrown around:
Reluctant to new ideas
Lack of passion
Stuff stuff stuff to buy buy buy
Lack of understanding others
Lack of diversity
Lack of vision
And perhaps the most dangerous:
Seemingly Monomaniacal in the pursuit of all these things!
How has this industry survived?
Because they perpetuate the idea of an imaginary rulebook, and their customers simply don’t know any better.
This is our issue to fix.
The good news is that it’s getting a little easier to break the rules. Couples are coming to us with their “crazy” ideas and we are saying yes. “Crazy” in inverted commas because they’re not that crazy - they just don’t fit inside the narrow scope of what a wedding looks like to many in the industry. I’m talking about things like this:
Longer personalised ceremonies
No chairs or arbours
Getting ready together
Walking down the aisle together
Walking down the aisle separately
Not having an aisle
No White dresses
No dresses at all
No portrait sessions for hours
No group shots
No sit down alternate drop
Inviting your pets
Not inviting kids
Inviting all the fucking kids
Not inviting everyone who expects an invite
And here’s another thing... literally doing nothing apart from hitting up the registry and going out for private dinner to celebrate. Or Netflix and takeaway. Or inviting a celebrant friend over for takeaway and just doing it there. Not even hiring a photographer.
It’s up to you.
Because here’s the thing - people find it hard seeking permission to do stuff. And when the industry as a whole presents them with the option of “scale the Great Wall of tradition” or “no wedding”, it’s not surprising that they battle onwards through stagnation, lack of vision and the seemingly endless stuff to buy.
It’s not surprising that words that become associated with weddings are stress, busy, needlessly expensive and overwhelming.
It’s not surprising that on the day, some people say things like “it was over so quickly, we barely saw everyone and we were so tired”
It’s not surprising that some in the industry are trying to change.
I don’t believe anyone in this game is out to give people a hard time, or make it harder than it needs to be. However, we need to see the forest through the trees.
Why do people get married?
It’s actually not really our concern why, but they want to, and they have values that we as vendors should reflect.
Give people the permission to make something amazing for themselves, and everything else will fall in to place.
Hopefully, imperfectly, just so.
I often go on about couples who really make their day theirs. Emma and I got married in her parents backyard, surrounded by family and friends. Charlie and Emily did the same. There always seems to be a wonderful sense of calm, a sense of place around weddings like this one.
It's just meant to be here.
We're just meant to be here.
I find it so crazy sometimes that people could fly me all over this country to make photographs. Whenever I'm having a week that's not as great, snowed under with work or other stuff, there happens a conversation with someone who I've only recently met, where they're surprised that people fly me around the joint to do this job.
"That must be such a great feeling though, you know?", they say. "That they loved your work so much they went to that extra expense. Must feel good".
It always seems to happen at just the right time.
This was a good place to be.