Interview with Paul Rogers: catch the moment

Written by Barbara Zanon

BZ: Hello Paul. On this blog I chose to insert only the authors/photographers that I really like. Although all have different styles. But when I saw your photo I have to say I found myself there . Your photos came, in my opinion clearly, from photojournalism . And, when I went to read your biography, I discovered that for many years you have worked for The Times. This, I believe, has formed you not only photographically, but determines, your eyes on marriage. What do you think about it?

PR: I’d been a photographer for 20 years before I came to weddings, so I brought a whole different perspective. I never wanted to photograph weddings in particular – it’s photographing people and their interactions that fascinates me. It’s what I did for such a long time with newspapers, and moving into documentary wedding photography has just been an extension of that.
Newspaper photography is a perfect grounding for the style of photography I practice with weddings. I’ve had 14 seconds to make a portrait with a president and worked under cover in some of the harshest places on the planet. It means I can very easily get great photos from any situation, and am able to sum up a scene within a single image. That’s essentially what I’m now trying to do with my wedding photography.

BZ: Was it difficult to go by photojournalism to Wedding photography? Or maybe you needed to lighten your view of the world?

PR: I think we all change as people as we live our lives. In my 20’s and 30’s I found the kind of lifestyle of a photojournalist very exciting. When the phone rang you never knew where in the world it would take you, or when you might be home again. I witnessed some of the key news stories first hand, and it was thrilling. But when I got married and started my own family, my priorities changed. My love of photography and story-telling still drives my work, but in a new direction, one that means I can also spend time with my family.

BZ: What strikes me very much of your photos is your overall look on the party /reception and the entire wedding. The bride and groom are important, but what transpires is a continuous attention to guests. Not only are the images of atmosphere and contour. It seems to constantly face an almost anthropological research on our society.

PR: Obviously I pay a lot of attention to the Bride and Groom and their closest family members during a wedding. But I believe very strongly that it’s the relationships and experiences we gather through life that define who we are. Weddings are unique, in that everyone there has had a part to play in that couple’s life. They all have meaning. I couldn’t tell the story of the couple if I didn’t pay as much attention to capturing the guests as the newly weds! It also makes the day a lot more interesting, as a photographer. There’s never a shortage of opportunity to make interesting photographs at a wedding!
My ‘Best of 2016’ blog post focused on this – it was a post all about the guests, with not a single image of a bride or groom.

BZ: Ferdinando Scianna (of Magnum Agency) said “After forty years of this profession and thinking, I have reached the conclusion that a photographer’s greatest ambition is to end up in a family album”. Looking to your experience, what do you think?

PR: That’s a great quote! When I think about who my photography is for, it’s not just for the bride and groom. Nor their parents and friends. Nor myself, or the judges in photography contests. It’s for the generations to follow. The wedding album will be the catalyst that starts many conversations in the future with the couples children and grandchildren. It’s a window to that day in the past when two people committed their lives to each other.

Paul Rogers lives in U.K and he is a international documentary wedding photographer. From 1998 to 2015 he worked for The Times as photojournalist. His editorial work has won awards in the British Picture Editors’ Awards, the Press Photographers Year and The Photography Masters Cup. As wedding photographer  has been featured in the world renowned Junebug Best of the Best Collection, and he has won International awards in the Wedding Photojournalist Association, where He was placed 1st in the UK.

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Barbara Zanon is a italian wedding photographer and photojournalist, based in  Italy. Member of Italian press Association and wedding association as WPJA, Junebug Wedding, BOWP, ISPWP.

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