The joy and magic of both everyday life and extraordinary events like weddings. An eye for the little details that are ordinary yet extraordinary, for the things that take a shot from the ‘ho hum’ to ‘wow’- that’s what gets David excited. And love – above all love – it makes the world go round after all! With his wife Sarah, David of David Henry Photography ‘turns life’s moments into lifetime memories’. And after all the wedding celebrations wind down, and you settle into married life, precious memories of the day captured in treasured images to dream over – that’s special! So here’s a peep into the life and thoughts of the team behind David Henry Photography.
How long have you been a photographer?
Surprisingly it’s already been twenty years, and another ten years on top of that holding cameras in various guises of wistfulness, skill and hope!
What came first – was it always wedding photography, or other?
Simply put, it was photography. It never mattered what genre or style. Provided there was a brief I’d shoot it. So in the early years I was very much a general photographer. It’s meant I turned my hand to corporate, food, aerials, architectural, family, and landscapes always with weddings being booked.
After Sarah, my wife and office manager (who has twenty other titles), and I married and had our first daughter, she’s nearly 9, we decided to work together. In the last half dozen or so years we’ve been putting the “in love” side of the business first. I call it “in love” since love is the starting point of many photographic appointments. It’s a couple in love, a family in love, a parent in love with a child. For us, wedding photography is the central part of that “in love” idea.
What is it about wedding photography that excites you?
The man who is tired of weddings is tired of life (with apologies to Samuel Johnson).
For someone who loves life in all its unique ways it’s brilliant. I’m asked if I’m getting bored with it. No way. What’s not to love about love and family, celebrations, hugging, laughter, memories, surprises, tears, dancing, scenery, travel, children, grandparents, friendship? A whole lot of the day can be predicted, but a whole lot more is happening in the moment. It keeps us on our toes. It’s exciting and random. It’s full of happy people enjoying the formation of a new family and it always feels like a privilege to witness that beginning!
Is wedding photography going in a particular direction that you can see?
Thank goodness wedding photography is constantly evolving. When I started paying attention, it was really formal, heavily posed, uninspiring and dry. That was the film days and it left little room to do anything else but get “the shot” from a very specific and set list.
The road ahead is paved with amazing images coming from very gifted photographers. We’ll see more unity and collaboration between video and stills, the quality of books and albums continues to excite, and more couples will give photographers permission to create incredible moments because of what they’ve thought to plan for their wedding day.
Having looked at wedding photography for twenty years it’s brilliant how far we’ve come. Great wedding photography (with the emphasis on great!) is tasteful, exciting, more story-like, assured and more discreet. And it’s only getting better.
And our little six year old is now talking about being a photographer. If I teach her everything I know, and she learns everything she can, the future of wedding photography will be…interesting!
How would you describe your style?
Part of our catchline is that we create compelling, elegant and timeless photographs. Sarah and I want those photographs to be a treasured part of a new couple’s lives forever. We’re really respectful to the knowledge that the passage of time will influence how the photographs are seen. Our photographs are a statement for the couple rather than a current trend of post processing.
We take advantage of what we have in Sydney, this bright, contrasty, vibrant, colourful atmosphere and make that a big feature of enduring photographs.
The other big part to our style is unseen. We really are very good at fitting in, making people relax, being calm and gentle, unobtrusive, and happily chatting with guests (on almost any subject!). We find this goes well with all those couples who say they hate having their photo taken!
You often use a lot of background around the couple to tell the story. What are you trying to ‘say’ by doing this?
The story is not just written on faces. The story is in the surrounds too. It tells us what kind of day it was, who was there, where everything took place, and who laughed when the best man told the joke about the time when…
Do you do a lot of planning (with and without the couple) before photographing the wedding day?
We find out as much as we can about the wedding day from our couples. We want to know what they’ve got planned, where everything is happening, what secrets they have in store (we are exceptionally good at keeping secrets!), what colours will be used. The more information we have, the more we get to know our couples.
We’ll check as much as we can about a venue, location, timetable and much more besides.
Most photographers these days don’t just take a booking, show up, shoot and hand over some pics, a lot of homework is done.
Do you have some tips for the bride and groom for looking relaxed while having their photos taken?
When you’ve got the best distraction in the world standing beside you it’s easy. You’ve decided to marry this person because, to you, they’re the most interesting person in the world. So all I have to do is point them out…
I get them focused on each other or their bridal party or family. It’s really hard for a person who hates having their photograph taken to pretend the photographer isn’t there unless you get them thinking about something else.
If they’re in love it’s easy! “Whisper something naughty to her/ him”. That always works. One day I will have to stand a lot closer to hear what’s being said!
Your wife Sarah assists you in the studio with various tasks. Is she really the power behind the throne?
Yes she is! I know it. She knows it. Let’s not rub it in.
Put it this way, I’m a photographer. Sarah is that AND everything else. A multi-skilled talent and beautiful person! Actually if she wasn’t married I’d have to marry her. But that just shows how clever I am. I’ve already got that covered!
She is the first point of contact for our clients, brilliant as a second shooter (her style is so much like mine we’re virtually one and the same), and always happy to help out with any questions.
She is a phenomenal retoucher. Every image that our couples order, every print, book and album, and all the blogged and social media photographs are her work. Her skills are way beyond mine with that soft and gentle feminine instinct. Our most important work is finished by Sarah.
How do you keep on learning your craft? Do you always have a camera on hand?
We do some course work, even more online seminars, read lots. The most practical ways we learn are to constantly critique and discuss our work, hone our skills with new techniques away from the important parts of a wedding day, constantly study the human form (thank you Sarah!!!), and study the works of the photographers, directors, and cinematographers that we love.
I love taking a camera with me as often as possible but I won’t always use it. Our three children still need to see I have two eyes and two arms for them.
If you could photograph anyone – who would it be (and why)?
My grandfather died when I was twelve. He often had a camera in hand, a darkroom at home and was a very keen amateur. Clearly something rubbed off. But I never took a photo of him. I wish I had.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Well I’d have to start off with something like ,“You’ll never guess who you marry,” and then add in the advice – In ten, twenty or fifty years time today’s ordinary will seem very young, bizarre, unusual, funny, poignant, sad, lawless, carefree or simple. Shoot the ordinary today.
What is your most treasured item?
An item? Well it’s got to be paper. In the movies you don’t see the old man lying on his bed gently running his wrinkled finger on an image of his family on an iPad. It’s always a print! I love prints. They’ve got no real value in themselves. They’re just paper. But…! Our memories make them the most treasured and valuable photographs in the world.
So my most treasured items are all those framed prints we have scattered around the house.
I would give the gift of…… to…….
Sight to the blind. Of everything I can think of, being able to see beautiful things is magic.
Thank you David for sharing your story with us today. To find out more about David Henry Photography please visit the website.
Headshot courtesy of Sarah Henry