Wedding Photographer Surrey Murray Clarke shoots a wedding at South Lodge Hotel, United Kingdom

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Wedding Photographer : Murray Clarke  
Couple : Jo and Jon
Wedding Photographer Surrey
Ceremony Location : St. Johns Church, West Sussex
Reception : South Lodge Hotel
Wedding Date : 23rd November 2014

Tell us a little about yourself??

I'm a 34-year-old wedding photographer covering mainly Surrey but also throughout the UK. I adopt a photo journalistic approach and specialise in capturing the natural moments of the day in an unobtrusive fashion. I live in West London with my fiance and daughter.

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How do you think or would like people to describe you?

People have often described me as the "black ninja" as I am dressed all in black and stealthily moving around taking my shots in an inconspicuous fashion. Other names include "Murray Runner" (because I'm always dashing around) and "the SAS" due to my dual camera shoulder strap! Regardless of my nicknames my customers describe me as passionate, creative, friendly and professional!

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Tell us a little bit about the wedding day?

Jon and Jo got married at the beautiful St. John's Church in Sussex in November. After the ceremony they traveled in a classic VW Camper van to the reception being held at the beautiful South Lodge in Horsham. We got very lucky with the weather and this made for some stunning images during their couple shoot! Jon and Jo were a lovely couple and I really enjoyed working with them.

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How did you get into wedding photography?

My life behind the lens started as a camera assistant and operator for television documentaries 10 years ago. I bought my first DSLR in 2007 and after taking it around the world on my travels I realised that my true passion was for taking still photographs that really captured the moment and told a story. In 2010 I was asked to second shoot at a wedding for my older sister who also works as a photographer. I was instantly hooked and set up my own wedding photography business 6 months later! My style continues to evolve and I try to better myself at every wedding, never resting on my laurels.

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How long have you been a wedding photographer?

3 years

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Can you share how you've made your wedding photography business a success? Any mistakes you made along the way?

I think that my success is a result of my obsessive perfectionism for both my photography and providing an excellent service to my clients. I want to capture natural images and I strongly believe that this is only possible if people feel relaxed and comfortable in my presence. I try to have a good laugh with the bride, groom and all their guests so that everyone feels at ease. I always strive to under promise but over deliver so that my clients are delighted with their photographs. The mistakes? When I first started out I set my prices too low and this seemed to attract a lot of clients who didn't really appreciate photography in general. Once I became more established I raised my prices and in turn attracted clients who really appreciate my work and style of photography.

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What do you think a bride or groom should be looking for and not looking for in terms of wedding photography packages?

I think that the bride and groom should decide upon the style of photography that suits their personalities. It's very important that they like their photographer so that the journey is a smooth and harmonious one. By doing a little research they can come to understand the job of a wedding photographer and exactly what their work entails before, during and after the event. I always offer a range of packages and tailor make them to suit my client's needs. Couple's should therefore look for photographers who offer a bespoke service, as no two couple's are the same.

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How do you advertise yourself and what for you has really worked?

Much of my work is through recommendation. I use social networking, blog regularly and submit my work to various blogs and competitions. I occasionally advertise in magazines too.

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Why do you think people hire you?

People hire me because they love the natural and creative images that I make along with the exceptional service that I deliver for a reasonable price. Some of the people that come to me feel slightly anxious in front of the camera. It's tremendously rewarding to help them feel confident about being photographed and for them to walk away with images that truly reflect their personalities.

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How many weddings do you average per year?

On average I shoot between 35-40 weddings per year.

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Whose wedding would you love to shoot?

I enjoy working with anyone who appreciates artistic photography, is friendly and open to new ideas. I love capturing the smallest details that really delve in to the lives of my subjects, telling the story on a very personal level.

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If you were asked to shoot a destination wedding, where would you hope it would be?

I would love to shoot a wedding in Iceland! It really is the most beautiful place with stunning scenery and amazing waterfalls. Getting married at Jokusarlon would be absolutely incredible. The sand is black with huge icebergs floating in the lagoon. I love to include landscape photography in my work and Iceland would makes for very evocative images.

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What equipment do you have for a typical wedding day?

I carry two Canon 5D mark 3's with a 6D as a backup. I use prime lenses almost exclusively as they force me to think about my composition for each shot. In my bag I carry the 35mm F1.4, 85mm F1.2, 135mm F2.0, 100mm macro, 17-40 F4 and 24-70mm F2.8 MkII for when I need the versatility or width. My primes work fantastically in low light and create a very shallow depth of field for images that are simply magical. I place my focal point where I want the viewer’s attention to be lead, which isn't always obvious at first glance. They enable me to work with the natural light as much as possible although I'm not shy about using flash when I have to. As long as the light is beautiful that is all that matters to me.

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What is the most challenging thing about a wedding.

The most challenging aspect for me is the time constraints. Weddings are non-stop from start to finish with little time to eat or drink. However these are usually the last things on my mind! I am pushing myself to my physical and creative limits on every assignment because I simply love what I do.

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Do you have an approach to a wedding?

My approach is to be very relaxed with my clients whilst aiming to continually improve my photography. I try to have as much fun as possible whilst being in my zone. I like to act intuitively and capture things as I see them. I keep an open mind and look for interesting angles and compositions to tell the story of the day. I don't like to follow a set pattern as I prefer this to be dictated by the day's events.

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Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by natural light street photographers like Eric Kim who think out of the box. I am inspired by life itself, my day to day experiences and always try to follow my instincts. I don't look too much at other wedding photographer's work as I want my style to be my own.

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Best & Worst marketing idea so far?

My worst marketing idea was when I first started. I had 500 really basic business cards made and asked bridal shops and florists to display them in their shops, I never heard a thing! My best marketing idea was buying Damien Lovegrove The complete guide to professional wedding photography. It’s a great source of information.

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If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?

I love to travel so would probably have done something in the travel industry had I not pursued photography.

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Share your favourite image of the day and why?

My favourite image of the day is this one of Jo and Jon walking off in to the sunset during their couple shoot. The light was perfect with the sun low in the sky and as they enjoyed a romantic walk together I managed to capture this very intimate moment.

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Do you have any goals for the future photography related or otherwise?

My goal is to continually develop my own style that is based on who I am and my own experiences. If I am just a carbon copy of someone else then that is all I will ever be at best! I'd like to shoot destination weddings and work with fun and interesting people. By being the best that I can be I can provide for my family by doing what I love.

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What do you think is key to being a successful wedding photographer?

There are several factors for success in my opinion. Not only do you have to consistently deliver first class images that stand out from your competitors, you also need to offer an excellent customer experience. Social skills are extremely important as is good business sense.

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Are there any other wedding photographers whose work inspires you, can be a well know photographer or somebody you've stumbled across?

I admire photographers like Jonas Peterson (who doesn't right!) and Nordica Photography as I think they follow their own paths which I feel is prudent in order to stand out and be different from everyone else. I am who I am and want my personality to be portrayed in my work so their approach is very inspirational to me.

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Proudest moment so far. Photography related or otherwise?

My proudest moment is becoming a father to my beautiful baby daughter! Life is an amazing thing which is why I want to capture it in the first place.

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Visit Murray Clarke's Website  

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