Andrew Billington has been in the weddng photography business for ten years. He photographs both weddings and live theatre and his approach to both is very documentary – it’s always about letting the moments flow and capturing photographs from what is happening in front of him rather than manufacturing them.
He is based in the North West of England and he shoots weddings throughout the UK & Europe
You have a special talent – these are just top drawer. You have totally exceeded our expectations and we are just delighted.
How did you get into wedding photography?
Before I turned my hand to photography I worked in theatre – first as an actor and then behind the scenes. I think this is where my desire to tell stories through photography comes from.
I first started taking photos around the theatre as I worked and eventually this turned into my full time job.
Do you have a recent favorite photo that you have taken? Tell us how you took it and why you like it?
I think this photograph of the bride’s veil being blown away is a recent favourite. For me it encapsulates a lot of my approach to wedding photography. It’s about those unrehearsed moments that happen throughout the wedding day. We all know when the big stuff is gooing to happen and be ready for it – but those moments between the obvious are what make the day unique and personal to the couple involved.
It’s about noticing and instantly making a frame that tells that story – I needed the bride in the foreground, that sense of movement and then everything else to fall right in the frame; the bridesmaids symmetry in their arms is what makes it work for me.
What really gets you emotional when you’re shooting a wedding?
I like hearing the stories that surround the couples I work with so the speeches can often get quite emotional. A recent Groom’s tribute to his father who passed away before seeing him married slayed me. Likewise when I had to photograph a couples’ wedding and both fathers were terminally ill – that was a highly emotional day for everyone involved.
How do you put a couple at ease before and during their big day?
By remembering we are all human beings. I just treat couples as people – having honest conversations, being kind, being understanding.
I’ve often heard couples referred to by other photographers like they were ‘props’ to be moved around and positioned, or complained about because they didn’t do something the photographer would expect them to do.
I’m not there to get the photographs I’ve pre-visualized in my head but to make the best version of the day that’s unfolding in front of me – I’m reacting not constructing. That way the couple can be at ease in the knowledge that nothing they do is ‘wrong’, it’s adding to make their day unique.
What is it about being a wedding photographer you love?
Telling stories. Spending time with people on an important day in their lives and being the one that makes a visual record of how it was – what mattered to them, how they celebrated, the moments shared between people and trying to find little instances (a touch or a look) that will remind them of how they felt on that day. That’s always a joy. Plus I often get a nice meal too!
What is it about being a wedding photographer that you don’t love so much?
I’m not always so keen on being away from my own family – most of my weddings are a distance from my home in the North of England so a good deal of travel and overnight stays are involved. But it does mean that I get to see lots of interesting and different places.
If you could change one thing about the wedding industry what would it be?
The assumption of what ‘wedding photography’ is – it can be anything – but there is still a lot of talk about the ‘right’ way to do things. For instance, I don’t take a photograph of ‘the rings’ all perched pretty on something ever, and in some quarters that’s a hanging offense! I photograph people and not stuff and I’d rather do that than disappear to hang and dress from a tree.
What photography kit do you have in your bag & what is your favourite?
Cameras are little dark boxes that catch light. I really don’t get hung up on brand loyalty or which manufacturer is better. I think you have to shoot with what suits you and cameras you feel confident will give you the results you are looking for.
At several recent weddings I’ve photographed with Sony, Fuji and Leica on the same day. Each camera suiting a different circumstance.
For those that are interested my basic kit is usually:
2x Sony A9, Fuji Xpro2, Leica Q, 12mm, 28mm, 35mm, 55mm & 85mm lenses. One small hand held flash on a radio trigger.
What is your favourite part of the day?
I do like a bit of dancing. For one thing I believe you can only photograph that part of the day from the middle of the dance floor so I’m always right in the heart of it. And secondly it’s the end of the day, the pressure’s off for everyone and it makes for some joyous photographs.
I can safely say that you were the best photographer I have ever experienced. Huge fun but not intrusive and the initial photographs look amazing.
What tips would you give a couple on choosing a wedding photographer?
I think you have to feel an emotional response to someone’s photographs – you have to love what they do. Be that classic wedding photography, polished portraiture or pure documentary. If you can visualise your day photographed in that way then that’s who you should go with.
Really good photographers have a style you can recognise (that comes from them) – it’s not about what’s fashionable or trending on Instagram – and you can guarantee that they’ll have the same approach in 18 months when your wedding comes around.
Why do you think couples choose you?
I think there are two main reasons:
One is that they have that emotional response to the wedding photos I share – they see the authenticity of emotion and sense of celebration. They get the feeling of the day, what it was like to be there and that nothing is a set up.
Secondly they’ve generally met me at a wedding and see the low key way I photograph and let the day flow. I’m not the shouty photographer they are used to encountering, ordering people about (I’m quite often told horror stories regarding the behavior of photographers at weddings!) so they see we are a fit.
How do you relax when you’re not shooting weddings?
I’d love to say paragliding and extreme sports but I’m generally just kicking back with a box set and my dogs cuddled into my side. I’m a simple soul.
What are you looking forward to and why?
I’m looking forward to an upcoming mini-holiday I’m having with Rachel and my dogs in the Peak District – I’m leaving all my work behind and recharging my batteries.