Robert London Photography is a vendor on WeddingPhotoLove, we are so glad to have him! Thank you Robert for your in-depth interview. :)
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I have been a commercial Photographer since graduating from RIT in 1987 I began to expand into weddings in 1999, for before that time I felt that the film and equipment were too inhibiting to capture a wedding on film as I would see it. With the new technologies, I started to develop my own techniques utilizing the then recent small grain films and 35mm auto focus cameras enabling me to capture the wedding as a story – the way it was – not lighting the whole room with artificial lighting and not asking the couple to stop and pose. My wedding business expanded fairly quickly considering I had no contacts in the business, and I was featured on Daily Candy in 2003, and a FOX TV special in 2004. I like to call it the art of lighting to enhance the image, versus what needed to be done in the old days and what most photographers continue to do; which is illuminate the whole scene, achieving a technically good if not perfect image yet with no emotion or connection with what the mood of the day was! This process continues with the recent advent of advances in digital imaging enabling me to achieve what I once could only imagine in my mind.
2. How did you get into wedding photography?
Well working as a commercial photographer in a large city like NY is very different from most other places, everything is so specialized. The joke here is you show an art director your portfolio of various fruit, and the response is “well the portfolio of images is outstanding, I have never seen food displayed so beautifully but this job is photographing apples and you have no apples in your portfolio so I am giving the job to the person who has apples.” I have always enjoyed experiencing a variety in life and so I was looking to expand my photography beyond “apples” and as I expressed above the moons where aligned to bring wedding photography up to the quality of magazines and galleries so it was the perfect expansion of my business.
3. What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
I have always said capturing the bride and groom getting ready, for it really is the unique portion of an individual bride and groom’s wedding day. For although every wedding is different particularly in NYC having the opportunity to work with almost every religion and ethnicity, they all still fall within a certain formula. As the bride and groom are preparing themselves each experience is unique, the planning is over and the reality of the day truly is starting to sink in. A parent, other relative or friend may be there expressing their good wishes, love and advice – there are really some simple yet wonderful moments, it can be quiet touching.
4. What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced while on the job?
Well I have been very lucky that I have no bridezilla stories (although I did turn one bride down, so I felt that I missed the bullet on that one) but I did have one wedding where everyone was lovely except for the divorced mother who gave an inappropriate racial slur to my assistant and my assistant did not handle it well. I just had to get her out before other guests started to know something was wrong, so I had the hotel call a cab and I sent her home. Another time the divorced father, interjected on the mother/son dance and started to do a silly dance – my first reaction was to capture it on film but then I realized I am only encouraging his bad behavior and this is something we all want to forget not remember so I deliberately stopped, and I do think it helped him to realize that he needed to check his behavior.
5. What’s the best thing you ever ate at a wedding?
I can tell you what might have been the best meal, at one wedding they set I and my assistant in the main dining room, that is how they always should do it but seldom do, they served us what looked to be a large wonderful steak and vegetables meal but then we had to work and when we had our first chance we came back and they had cleared the whole table – we never had a chance to touch the food! Mostly I eat something really fast or just drink orange juice through the evening for I cannot take the chance of missing something.
6. What is your favorite venue and why?
Well for me any destination wedding is wonderful for there is always something new to see and experience also unlike a local venue where you enter that day and six hours or less you leave, at a destination you are there for several days so you really get to experience a stronger intimacy with the venue. Mexico is my favorite destination, travel is very easy and cheap, and the food, beaches and people are all wonderful. I have always wanted to work at this venue The Thorncrown Chapel–it’s just so unique and the architecture is stunning.
7. Nikon or Canon?
I have been a Canon guy for a very long time, and they were better particularly the digital cameras for many years but the new Nikons are great. But remember it is not the hammer that makes one a carpenter it is the SKILL that person brings to their craft in using the tools of the trade.
8. What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?
The Kjeragbolten Boulder in Norway, is it just me or would it not just be awesome to see a bride and groom on that rock!
9. If you could shoot any celebrity wedding (past, present or future), who would be the lucky couple?
Anyone who would stand on that rock! Okay I would have loved to have been the official photographer for Prince William and Kate Middleton for many reasons one being that I feel the pictures they have shown have been very average. It would just be wonderful to be a part of history and have a role in documenting a once in a lifetime event and then having your images viewed by millions of people. Also, it would be fun to be able to tell the Queen how to pose for the camera.
10. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?
I do some workshop teaching and am writing a college course now and what always comes up when I take new assistants or students out in the field is they shoot too much. One needs to THINK about what you are shooting, there is a combined misunderstanding that they are afraid to miss something and they figure that if they take enough pictures that some a bound to be good. Well that is not how it works for I see them shooting so fast without thinking that THEY ARE MISSING THE GOOD IMAGES. Very slight changes in composition make a HUGE difference in the quality of the image and/or telling of the story. Some people just never get it, it does take experience for you need to anticipate the shot, but you only achieve that by doing it – many are just not willing to take the leap.
A constant question I am asked by couples is “how many pictures will I get” the correct answer is “the applicable amount for your wedding” they are comparing different photographers and want to know what tangible item they are receiving for their dollar. But do you want a box full of average photos or an album full of extraordinary images that make you relive the wedding day every time you open it?