Interview to Ian Weldon: be yourself first

Written by Barbara Zanon

BZ: Hello Ian, for our readers: I love your photos! When you observe them, the first impression is a sense of bewilderment.  There is nothing conventional. There is nothing formal, there is nothing of all that we usually see in the wedding photos.
You say about yourself ‘I’m not a wedding photographer”. I believe it is profoundly true.
In your images there is a lot of irony, but above all , there seems to be a consistent study of the society in which you live. And that is because, I think, more than a wedding photographer you are a documentary photographer.

IW: Thank you, and thank you for asking me to answer a couple of questions, I’m glad that you like my photographs. They definitely aren’t what you’d expect as wedding photographs, but as you quite rightly observe, they are documentary photographs. This approach makes more sense to me, it’s real life, how it happens, not set up and contrived. If I had to shoot weddings in the traditional way I’d find it boring, I have no interest in posed photographs. Anyway it’s 2017, there are not rules.
What my photographs are, essentially, are me showing you the wedding for what it is, and there are people out there who appreciate an authentic approach, people who appreciate photography, people who are not caught up in wedding hysteria.

I’d like to think that I’m offering a genuine alternative, a point of view that people can relate to.

BZ:  Your way of photographing surely could not be understood by all. Have you ever been afraid that your uniqueness makes you lose potential customers? I mean, I’m thinking of all those photographers who prefer to conform themselves and shooting the same photographs (with the same filters and the same prospects) but have the certainty of being commissioned the work rather than researching and daring.

IW: It certainly isn’t understood by everyone, but then again, I’m not trying to please everyone. If someone doesn’t like it, or get it, there are enough other photographers to choose from. I understand that not everyone is my client, and in some ways I don’t feel like I’m running a business. I’m just making photographs.
I suppose that at the start of my career I cared about fitting in, conforming, but the more I learned about photography the more I had the confidence to just be me.

BZ:  When you take photos, what is the balance between what you see, what you are, and what your clients want ?

IW: All of those things have become inseparable. What I see is what I am, and what I am is what I’m being hired for. I’m not selling anything really, I don’t have a business model and I don’t see the people that I work with as customers. It’s about photography, over and above everything else.

BZ:  How much instinct and how much research there in your shots? there has been an evolution? And if there was, from what you started?

IW: All of my study and research is done before and after the wedding, in my reading, my writing and my thoughts. The philosophy surrounding what I do is in a constant state change/improvement.
The more I learn, the more I understand about myself and that determines how my photographs look. They are the form that follows the function of my study and practice. They are the way they are because of who I am, rather than for a desired aesthetic. Photography is far deeper than that.

BZ:  what would you recommend to a young photographer who wants to start this profession?

Start at the beginning, be interested in the history of your craft and become aware of who helped shape photography into what it is today. Know a little about what came before, find out what you like, and what you don’t like. Read about ideas, take a lot of photographs. Realise that there are no easy answers and that photography is as difficult as any other art form, and that gear is secondary to the idea.

BZ: Could you tell me something about this photo?

IW: This was from a wedding up in Scotland in 2015.
I’d left my hotel in the morning with all of my stuff as I was driving home that night after the wedding. Because I was loading everything into the car, my camera was packed in my bag and thrown onto the back seat. The groom and his family were a couple of miles away in a holiday cottage and I’d arranged to go there first. On arriving I couldn’t find the cottage and rang the groom who came out onto the road to wave me in.
I followed him down the drive way and parked my car before walking down the short path the front door. Camera still in my bag.
We walked into the sitting room where a few people were getting ready, makeup, hair, the usual, and I place by bag onto the sofa.
I took quick stock of my surroundings, (how many people, direction of light) as I pulled my camera from my bag, and there she was, just sitting there with something on her head. I had no idea what it was but I lifted the camera straight to my eye and fumbled with the settings in a bit of a panic. I released the shutter, and then it was gone, hat was coming off, and people were in the frame milliseconds after.   2 stops under exposed.

I wasn’t sure that I’d got anything at all until I was home later that evening.The first photograph of the day, and the groom said if that was the only one I had from the whole day, it was worth me being there.

Ian Weldon

Ian Weldon about Ian Weldon: “I’m Ian. I’m a photographer that photographs wedding, not a wedding photographer. If you google me, I expect you’ll find all you need know :)”

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Barbara Zanon (BZ) is an award winning italian wedding photographer and photojournalist, based in Venice, Italy. Member of Italian press Association. 

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