We love chatting to wedding photographers, finding out their background and where their passion came from. Aaron Storry shares his life as a UK wedding photographer as we go behind the scenes of how it all began.
First off what’s your camera gear?
I’m exclusively Canon! At the moment I shoot with a couple of 5D3’s (my workhorses) and a Canon 1Dx. From time to time I also use a 5D classic as I like the look of the skin tones I produces. Throughout my career I’ve been through so many professional lenses but my current line-up is:
- 16-35mm f/2.8L
- 24mm f/1.4L
- 24mm f/3.5L TS-E
- 35mm f/1.4L
- 50mm f/1.4 Art (Sigma)
- 85mm f/1.8
- 135mm f2.0L
- 200mm f/2.8L
I wouldn’t be without my Spider Camera Holster and it’s a huge game changer for me, it’s a case of “you don’t know until you know”. Now that I’m using the Spider system I’m permanently ready to use either of my 5D3’s which has opened up a world of freedom and creativity. Generally I have the 35mm on one body and a 135mm on the other – but this sometimes changes from wedding to wedding. I use super fast 64GB SD and CF cards which I have writing to both slots simultaneously so an instant backup is created in camera which puts my mind at ease, that doesn’t mean that I never need to change cards though – I shoot a *LOT*! A wedding represents anything from 6,000 – 8,000 photos so large quick cards are important for my workflow. Once back in the studio I use a Lexar USB3 4 way card hub which has been another invaluable tool in keeping me efficient. That way I can set all cards copying to my G-Speed RAID without having to wait around.
Last year worked with ThinkTank to create my own custom bag, it’s a slightly modified version of their popular Airport Essentials but with the ability to hold 2 5D3’s with lenses already attached, it’s not a huge time saver but nice to know that I can turn up, open my bag and star shooting within a manner of seconds. I LOVE ThinkTank equipment and also have a retrospective 10 & 20 for smaller jobs. In addition to my ThinkTank bags I also carry the Battery Holster and Pixel Pocket Rocket on my person at all times whilst shooting.
I rely on natural light as a preference but when flash is required I carry 3 YongNuo YN-560 III’s and a trigger. And if that wasn’t enough I also have a Tascam digital audio recorded for times when I want to record important parts of the day (speeches etc) and a range of prisms and glass/metal tubes.
I’ll also bring to every wedding:
- At least 8 Spare batteries
- Rocket blower
- Mini Manfrotto tripod (for the Tascam or very long shutter portraits)
- 2 additional 5D3 batteries and a charger
- Synthetic chamois leather in case it rains
- Swiss Army Knife (an incredibly valuable asset for everything from bridal prep to dress malfunctions)
- A couple of lighters (great for sparklers)
- A pack of microfibre cloths
- Fairly lights
- Think Tank cable management pouch
- iPhone cable are USB charging point
- A lens pen
Back in my studio I keep things very simple:
- 27” iMac with 12TB RAID
- 15” MacBook Pro Retina
- 13” MacBook Air
(All screens are calibrated annually with a Spydercal)
Because I’m OCD about data I keep all cards until the wedding has been delivered which means I can have anything up to 30 SD & CF cards in my safe at any time.
How did your career begin and where did you passion for photography start?
My first wedding was for an old friend, he trusted me to document his day when I had virtually no portfolio. From that job I booked a couple very quickly after and it started to gain momentum. Nowadays I shoot upwards of 50 weddings a year but when I first got started it was only 2-3 a year. It’s not until I started documenting moments that I found interesting (rather than pictures I thought I was expected to shoot) that I started to feel a real passion for documentary wedding photography.
As a child I always played with the idea of being a photographer, on family holidays across Europe I vividly remember getting into street photographer (before I even knew it was called Street Photography) – the signs were all there. I stopped with photography for a few years as I pursued careers that looking back were always doomed to failure, until eventually saving up enough to buy my first SLR (Canon 350D) and taking it more seriously. Just before I became full time with photography I earned up enough to invest heavily in professional equipment which has taken me through until today.
How would you describe your general style?
My style is almost entirely documentary except for the parts of the day which require co-ordination (group shots etc). I like to say “I shoot from the inside out” – which basically means I get as much access as possible to my couples and their guests. Getting involved in weddings in such a close way pays in dividends as my rapport with the guests is always brilliant meaning I can shoot closer and more meaningful moments.
A wedding can start anything from 7:30 and end past midnight, for Hindu weddings I’ve shot for much longer. Usually by the evening I’m on the dance floor and soaking up the rewards of getting close to all the guests throughout the day. I make an effort to get to know as many people on the day as possible – it’s hard when I’m shooting/documenting hard but come the evening dance shenanigans it always pays off.
Where do you find your inspiration and are there any other photographers that inspire you?
Inspiration is all around, from the books I read to the films I watch. Everything (if done with care and love) carries a sense of inspiration, even the care and attention a mechanic gives to a car. Anybody that passionately pursues their craft with devotion and a sense of pride is hugely inspiring. When I was younger my mum told me that it wasn’t important what I did, as long as I gave it 100% and became student of my career.
It’s cliche but it’s true, overtime I pick up my camera is a chance to learn and evolve – and with every wedding comes a new problem (and opportunity). Making better, moe compelling art is addictive.
I find the work of Stanley Kubrick incredibly inspiring, his devotion to creative perfection and *no-compromise* approach gives him my respect. From initial enquiry to delivering the final set I find myself asking the same question: “what could be done better”.
What has been your most interesting or outrageous wedding so far?
Where do I start! Every wedding is an exciting adventure. My favourite moment ever is when one of my couples went for a ride on a tandem bike and the lovely bride got her dress chewed up in the old oily chain, she had to be cut loose with my penknife. She didn’t let it ruin her day though, in-fact she proudly told me that her dress (and it’s scars) were part of her unique story – a true sign that I’m booking the right clients.
Other crazy things include:
- The time I risked my life for a couples portrait on a mountain side in the Amalfi Coast (it later won several awards)
- The pub fight at a hotel wedding a few years ago – which I documented
- The occasion where *everybody* cried during a wedding ceremony – yes ‘everybody’ 🙂
- When a grooms car had a flat battery (good job I’m prepared, my car is packed to the brim including jump leads)
- When a couple flew me into their wedding in a private helicopter, the chap flying was a stunt pilot. An incredible experience!
- The time on portraits we got chased out of a field by a herd of cows!
- During couples portrait lying down on an ant hill! I got bitten all over (including the inside of my mouth) by red ants! Super painful
- My first experience at a Pithi Ceremony (yellow powder), my 35mm was coated – and as I remember, so was I (and the videographer)
As an experienced wedding photographer how have you seen the industry change over the years?
Over the last couple of years I’ve seen the wedding photography industry rapidly change in a number of ways. Never before has there been such a huge array of talent from people fresh on the scene. The level of skill from newcomers is astonishing – and it’s a very good thing. Raising the standard of wedding photography is a win:win, the couple enjoy better coverage and the photographer is compelled to push themselves further in the pursuit of creative excellence.
What are looking forward to most right now?
I’m looking forward to my son’s birth, he’s due in November (just after my season quiets down). Having a family and shooting far and wide throughout the year is a challenge but one we’ll face together. My wife has been incredibly supportive of my career and we’re looking forward to a few months of downtime before 2017 starts up.
I’m also looking forward to expanding my creative repertoire by documenting more non wedding related things. I think it’s important to retain good muscle memory with my equipment and stay focussed. I recently became a member of the National Union of Journalists (https://www.nuj.org.uk/) with a view to taking on assignments abroad.
What tips and advice would you give to photographers starting their career?
Make tons of mistakes, learn from them and try not to make the same mistake again. When I got started as a wedding photographer I avoided making mistakes and played it safe, the result being that I blended in with the rest of the industry and wasn’t even on the first step of my creative ladder. I attended weddings and participated but I wasn’t truly present and in the moment – but as I’ve progressed, I’ve adapted to enjoy the learning experience. I think it’s critical in order to progress creatively. I have never set out to fail but not being afraid and continually pushing things is crucial to the development of your creativity.
Other than photography, what are your other passions or hobbies?
Since I found my place with documentary photography I’ve become submersed with the idea of shooting legitimate and important things. I recently travelled to Calais with another WedInspire member to document life for refugees living in camps near the coast and I’m planning on travelling further afield to continue telling that story.
Outside of photography I’m completely obsessed with the later works of Stanley Kubrick, especially his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I’m not watching films or behind a camera I meditate, eat well and build stuff with LEGO.