Wedding Photographer Alex Harrison Interview

Alex Harrison talks to EIZO about business, life and monitors.

| Professional Interviewed
A passion for photography outside of his day job and a knack for keeping people calm under pressure helped Alex Harrison turn a favour for friends into a full time wedding photography business. His approach is friendly and informal, and the results combine a relaxed, modern feel with rich colour or striking monochrome. Being married himself also helps, Harrison tells EIZO. Here he discusses working with clients to get everything perfect on the big day.

Wedding Photographer Alex Harrison Interview: Wedding
© Alex Harrison

How did you get started, did you study photography?
"I studied Ancient History and Archeology! Which was no grounding at all for photography really."

So you're self-taught?
"I had been a keen artist up until I was about 23, and used to love painting with acrylics and oils. On beginning a full-time job working for the UK Government I'd found I just didn't have the time to paint. But that artistic side was still there and with the advent of high quality digital cameras, coupled with the freedom that Photoshop provided of being able to manipulate and improve images, I naturally gravitated to what the digital frontier had to offer. I'm a largely self-taught photographer, though with the aid of many, many books."

What made you then specialise in wedding photography?
"Some friends asked me to take photos of their small and informal wedding. I found that it was quite a buzzy and challenging experience, and I've always loved that sort of thing. I already had solid people skills from my former day job and quickly realised that I was good at dealing with large numbers of people and that I never felt fazed by the sense some describe, of pressure and responsibility on a wedding day."

Wedding Photographer Alex Harrison Interview: Wedding
© Alex Harrison

Did being married yourself help?
"Yes, in the beginning I worked alongside my wife and we’d recently got married and organized it ourselves. So I think that gave us a very clear perspective on couples who hired us. You can remember how difficult it was to be making the decisions they’re making and how important it is to make the right decisions. Even though my wife doesn’t come and shoot with me now because we’ve had children, when I design an album I’ll always show it to her to get another option, especially a woman’s view on it to make sure I’m not doing something daft!"

Did you transfer any skills from your previous career?
"In my previous job I dealt with asylum seekers, so I would have to manage people’s expectations all the time about what was going to happen. I’m quite a calm individual, I don’t get easily rattled or stressed. I’m usually able to keep people smiling and I think I’m quite good at explaining to people what the process is, what I’m going to do and why I’m going to do it and what the result is going to be."

How many images have you taken by the end of an average wedding?
"I normally take between 1000 and 1500 for a full day wedding from preparations until after the first dance. But the first thing I do is cull them to somewhere between 300 and 500 - ruthlessness in action!"

Wedding Photographer Alex Harrison Interview: Wedding couple
© Alex Harrison

And what kind of post-production do you do?
"I've always shot in RAW, which quite a lot of photographers don’t do. But I think RAW is the only thing that gives you the ultimate flexibility to create what you want. Part of that is having to process the images themselves as a kind of digital negative into a printable JPEG, so that’s where having a colour calibrated system comes in. I’m very inspired by cinematographers and great film directors and how they use light. Because of this fondness for rich colour and striking black and whites it's incredibly important to me that what I see and produce on my computer will match what is printed."

You're working with normal people, not mega brands or magazines with huge budgets for post-production, so managing costs must also come into play?
"The way it used to work was that I would process all the photos, I’d design the album in Photoshop and I’d send off all my completed designs to Graphistudio in Italy and they then printed the album. Their colour correction cost around £50 plus VAT per album, so for a good two years I ended up paying for that, and if you’re doing somewhere between 20 and 30 weddings a year at £50 a time it’s a lot of money. In the time I’ve used an EIZO monitor to do my own colour correction, it’s definitely paid for itself." 

Alex Harrison Kit List:
  • 2x Canon 5D MKIII
  • 4x Canon speedlites (various); STE2 wireless trigger; 3x Pocket Wizards
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II
  • Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L II
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L
  • Canon 15mm fisheye
  • Manfrotto tripod/monopod/heads
  • Lowepro Magnum AW and Stealth Reporter D400 AW
  • BlackRapid Strap
  • PC - self built
  • EIZO ColorEdge CG243W (proofing)
  • Canon Pro 9000 MKII printer

For more information on EIZO monitors, visit the EIZO website. 

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