Ben Whitmore’s professional journey has taken him across the world and back again. An avid surfer, Ben’s love of the sport and journalism saw him write for several Australian magazines, including ‘The Surfers’ Bible’ Tracks, which allowed him to travel to remote areas around the globe. His adventures sparked a fire, a passion for capturing stories a new way – with his camera.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Let me see… I’m a married, father of two sub two year-olds, which can make life a little hectic at times! I love on the Gold Coast where I spend my time hanging with the kids, working on personal photo projects and surfing.
What made you choose photography, and wedding photography in particular, as a career?
I actually found photography through writing. I began my career as a staff writer for Tracks surfing magazine, where I was lucky enough to travel to remote parts of the planet and then write about it. I quickly discovered an infatuation for telling those stories through imagery. Fast forward a few years and some family friends asked if I’d shoot their wedding. I shot it and fell in love with the stories at weddings. Not just between a bride and groom but the hundreds of stories that interlink them to their guests.
You are known for your documentary-style photography. Can you elaborate on your style and way of working?
I found that most of my clients were coming to be wanting their images to be candid and that when I sat with a lot of them to go through their photos, the ones they loved the most were very documentary – natural interactions that really summed up their relationship and their day. After a while I just pushed my work primarily into that direction with “day-in-the-life” engagements and documentary weddings. It really speaks to my journalistic background, which I love!
Do you shoot digital, film or both?
I shoot both! These days my weddings are mostly digital and personal work is on film, but I will still take some medium format or Polaroids at most weddings. I just love the look.
Walk us through your process when it comes to photographing a couple’s wedding day…
For me the process starts pretty far out. I really enjoy developing a relationship with a bride and groom prior to their wedding day. There’s nothing worse than meeting someone for the first time a few hours before they’re about to get married! So I regularly stay in touch after a booking to build a report. It generally makes the couple feel much more at home with me taking their picture. On the day, it’s all about checklists and coffee. In fact I really should put “drink more coffee” on my checklist!
What’s the stickiest situation you’ve faced so far being a wedding photographer?
I’d say it was my very first wedding. Walking backwards, tracking the bride and groom I wasn’t really watching where I was going and as I was walking, a guest grabbed me. I turned around and was, maybe one more step away from falling into a pool with around 10 grand’s worth of camera gear on me. I’ve since learned my lesson!
Not all of your clients are going to be creative, or perform well in front of a camera! How do you deal with these situations and encourage them to make the best of what they have?
Generally, I find that my general clumsiness and lame dad jokes are a great way to lighten things up and create relaxed environment. I certainly feel awkward having my picture taken, so when it comes to bridal portraits, I really try to spend time placing a couple somewhere that would otherwise be an amazing picture and then really get them to interact with each other like any other day. One good trick is to pose a couple, tell them you need to check your camera’s settings and while they think you’re fiddling with dials, they’re completely themselves and relaxed. That’s when I pounce.
What goals do you hope to achieve in the next year?
I’m a sucker for a good farm wedding, so doing more of those is on the list, other than that I wouldn’t mind checking off another of those dream locations!
What one thing do you wish every bride and groom-to-be knew before their wedding?
That’s a good question! I try to reiterate to my clients that they just need to have fun and enjoy time with their friends and family. Having been married myself I can recognise that this is one of the only moments in your life that this one group of people will all be together in the one location and a wedding flashes by so quickly, so I’d encourage anyone to just take a second to let it all soak it in and have fun.
Any tips for couples when looking for their photographer?
Definitely style. Spend some time really going through websites and have a list of photographers who shoot in a style you love, then my best advice would be to organise to grab a coffee or a wine with them. Most photographers are perfectly happy to meet and chat and then your only choice is to go with the photographer you clicked with the most. Generally you will spend more time with a photographer at your wedding than nearly any other vendor or guest, so it’s definitely beneficial if you get on well and can have a laugh throughout the day.
Contact Ben: email@example.com
Ben Whitmore Photography http://www.benwhitmorephoto.com