A moment in time – every bride and groom is wrapped up in their own cocoon where nothing else matters but that moment. Ben Yew captures these moments with finesse and just enough restraint so as to not feel intrusive. His images have a special radiance, where you get the feeling that nothing can distract the couple – a peek into a love and emotion so big that it seems that it will last forever. Here is Ben’s story…..
How did you get into photography – wedding photography in particular?
My wife was the one who introduced me to photography and it’s about that time we got married and were searching for our pre wedding photographer. During that time, we viewed a lot of amazing photographers work and I fell in love with wedding photography. I did a bit of reading on my own and decided to try out wedding photography by capturing some of my friend’s weddings and it went from there.
What do you try and achieve with each wedding you photograph?
I wanted to capture each wedding like it was my own. None of the weddings that I capture was like a job to me, I am very passionate about my work and I wanted to make sure the element of raw emotions are captured and viewers to feel the chemistry with so much love and passion.
What do you enjoy about photographing weddings – with all the different cultural aspects of our varied cultural society in Australia?
I loved photographing weddings because there are no 2 similar weddings, it’s all different even if it’s at the same venue. I also love the excitement of the unexpected especially at different cultural weddings. It gets better when it’s a fusion of different cultures in one wedding and I know there is no way I would be invited to experience all these awesome weddings as a guest, so being a wedding photographer works well for me.
Do you have a particular style of photography that you are known for? I notice that you use wide open vistas and interesting shadows and sunlight in your images. Is this part of the Ben Yew style?
When I first started, I just capture what I feel is right and what I love. Eventually clients and friends start describing my work and that gave me an idea on my style. I guess I am known for working with natural lights, luminous portraits with passionate emotions. I have then rephrased it as capturing the “finest moment”. Finest moment is the moment where light, passion, emotions and ambience comes together as one.
Do you think that photographers see the world differently and so are able to compose pictures, or see the photogenic in ordinary things?
Yes, photographers see things differently. I have actually experimented once at one of my travels. First day was going out as a tourist and second day as a photographer. As a tourist, I capture and see things that are obvious and probably go for the typical touristy photos. I felt like I have a lot more time because it’s just capture and go. My second day was entirely different, as a photographer travelling. My eyes, mind and heart wondered everywhere and yes, it took me a lot more time to cover the same coverage area. I started looking at the birds flying and wait for it to fly past a certain subject or building, I watch the leaves on the trees move with the wind while feeling the cool breeze. And I wanted to capture something that tells a story rather than just an image. There is so much more that was going on and I haven’t even started to capture the tourist photos in front of a famous building. It was a very interesting experience for me.
How do you prepare to photograph a wedding?
Because I take every wedding very seriously, I double check, triple check and start checking all over again. haha. I start preparing from the back ups, batteries, lenses, cameras, spare shoes, spare shirts, spare everything! All gears must be redundant because we only get one shot at this. Then the next step is the venues. Ceremony, reception and bridal sessions. Sometimes if I could I would go one day before to scout for locations, alternatively I would Google as much info as I can – as in how it looks like, how much time I take to travel from point A to B, then to C, and if possible find out how the place looks like to plan the spots to stop for photos.
On the wedding day, how do you remain unobtrusive, so that you are able to take the most natural shots of the couple and their guests?
I use a long zoom lens to stand from a distance and move around quietly especially during ceremony to remain unobtrusive and photojournalistic. But I do get a little closer for bridal photos to guide everyone to have some fun!
You also shoot wedding videos. Is this done alongside taking the wedding photographs?
When I first started, I shot both photos and very few video footage at the same time. That was for a combination of photos and video footages for the fusion slideshow. We have evolved since and now we have a crew of 4 for each wedding, 2 photographers and 2 videographers. We work as a team under one team leader, the lead photographer/director. I would say I capture 90% photos and 10% video when I think my photo capture would also look good for video and my other videographers will shoot the rest of the videos. They mostly shoot independently but I do direct sometimes to ensure the style, story and theme we shoot is consistent with my photography style. Also, they would know when to scoot to the side when I need to get an important shot with just my eye contact (in a nice way of course, haha) to remain unobtrusive especially during the ceremony.
Is this a popular option/package that bridal couples book with you?
Yes, our fusion collection is one of our couples’ favourite because most love what they will receive, a combination of both photos and video. Photos can capture the best moments photojournalistically and video captures the laughter, the cheers, the emotional vows and the most memorable speeches during the reception, not forgetting the awesome first dance.
Please describe a typical wedding day routine for Ben Yew Photography?
I guess it would be having a bit of fun with my crew in the car, lots of jokes to boost everyone’s energy in the morning, a knock on the door and get to know everyone and walk around the place to search for good photo location before I get started. Then everything happened so fast! By the time I have time to take a break and breathe, we are already at the reception!! It’s not just creative photography, it’s assisting the bride and groom, problem solving and decision making in a fast paced environment. Its a rollercoaster ride and I love it. We hold on to our seats really tight and hang on to our dear life. Praying helps a little too, for the weather. haha.
When photographing engagement shoots, how do you plan the shoot with the couple?
I would have a discussion with the couple first to know what they like, their theme for the wedding and engagement session, the clothing they would like to wear, their interest/hobby, and as many information as possible to get to know the couple. I would then check if the couple already have a venue in mind, if not, I will suggest a few venues that may suit their theme or somewhere they feel comfortable from the information I have received during our meeting.
Is having an engagement shoot a good way to break the ice with the couple – and why?
Yes, I always recommend couples to have an engagement session. It’s definitely an ice breaker for us, after an approximately 2 hours engagement session, I would know your best angles, what you like and dislike and this casual session is like a short preview on your wedding day, only more fun and relaxing. And when I meet you on your wedding day, we would already known each other well and everyone would feel more comfortable at the start of the day. You could also use the images on your wedding day such as save the day cards, photo frames and etc. The couple could also plan it on the same day they do their trial hair and make up, its a good way to see if the hair and make up works well for them before the wedding.
Do you photograph weddings anywhere and everywhere? And where is a favourite location?
I do travel everywhere for weddings. My favorite location is somewhere with lots of open space, green surroundings, light pastel colours and of course, somewhere I have never been before. My dream wedding location would be somewhere rural in any State of (the) country. I would love to capture different cultures and I find it very interesting to be a part of such an important and traditional day.
Thank you Ben for sharing your story. To find out more about Ben Yew please visit the website.
Images courtesy of Ben Yew.