We interviewed Alexander Smith, a journeyman wedding photographer, about how he captures each couple’s unique love story through his photography.
“Beautifully bespoke storytelling” was the answer given when we asked Alexander Smith, well known South African wedding photographer, to summarise his manner of wedding photography in one sentence. And that is precisely what it is. After spending twelve years in the wedding photography business and capturing more than nine hundred weddings, he is as passionate about his job as a newly fledged photographer.
Becoming A Wedding Photographer
His journey into photography and particularly wedding photography started with the arrival of his firstborn. He felt that parents need to take photos of their children and found great pleasure in capturing the moments of this tiny human’s life. Posting pictures on Facebook was the closest he came to a gallery until family friends asked him to photograph their wedding.
One borrowed camera, a day on YouTube, and one overnight course later, and the rest is history. He moved from being a copywriter to being a wedding photographer and never looked back.
The Stress Of Capturing The Memories
The process of capturing a wedding is rather strenuous and stressful. This is why he arranges a meeting with the happy couple before the wedding to see if they “gel.” An essential step in the capturing of a beautiful day, no doubt.
On the day, he makes sure to capture the story as a whole. Not only the couple smiling at each other with love but the orange leaf resting on the floor, a reminder that this beautiful day took place on an autumnal day.
Retelling A Love Story Through Photography
His aim is to retell the love story that is unfurling right before his eyes, to really look for the bits of the tale that make the couple who they are. He finds that the thing that differentiates him from other members of his field is the fact that he envelopes himself in the story that is taking place. It is not just “plug and play” but rather an opportunity to tell a story. One that is unique and specific to the couple he is working with.
Look To Movies For Inspiration
Of course, like any person who loves a good story, he loves a good movie. This is also where a lot of inspiration is drawn from. The angle, frame, and coloring all contribute to the perfect shot and leave a lasting impact. He did disclose that he is a Romcom kind of guy, and this translates into his photos.
When setting a couple up for a photo, he will often set the stage and then take a step back. He lets them laugh, and waits for the magic of the moment to unfold. According to Alex, it is in these moments that true gems are found. They are fun photos full of love.
Framing The Moment By Being In The Moment
As a man who appreciates the beauty of cinematography, Alex is not afraid to stop and pause in the middle of a shoot. He takes the time to look at what is unfolding around him and then frames it. This method also allows him to capture the scene of the story. Alex loves to capture what the plants are doing – the two weeks in which wisterias bloom hold a special place in his heart. And even the cold autumn days are spectacular. The brides tend to freeze a little during these shoots in their beautiful dresses, but “they are awesome,” says Alex.
With a day as significant as a wedding, tensions are bound to be running high. Everyone is running around, and last-minute details are being checked. Alexander’s biggest pet peeve on these special days is when the subjects of his photos are worried about what the photos look like. When they start worrying about how they look, and if the pictures are pretty, the magic disappears and is replaced with tension.
Alex tells them in no uncertain terms to take a breath, relax and let him do his job. When they breathe and don’t focus on what they look like, the really stunning shots tend to come to the fore.
Compiling Images Into A Love Story
After a wedding, the real work begins. With so many moments captured, the selection process and editing is no mean feat. Alex takes about 100 photos per hour. There are hundreds of images and moments to appraise and select. After the wedding, a few sneak peek pictures are sent to the loving couple. After four weeks of editing, they are compiled into an online gallery that tells the story. It is specially designed to start and finish with stunning photos and perfectly illustrates the couple’s tale. His bespoke storytelling once again makes an appearance.
Throughout the entire discussion, the passion he has for his work was apparent. When finally asked what his favorite part of the job is, his answer was simple yet powerful. “I get to be around love all the time.”
P.S. You can follow Alex on Instagram.