Tilt and Shift Photography Podcast

This is Reportage. Conversation with documentary photographer Alan Law

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Have you ever wondered what makes documentary wedding photography so compelling? Why do some photographers swear by it, capturing the real, unposed moments of a wedding day? Today, we delve into this fascinating world with UK wedding photographer Alan Law, who not only excels in his craft but also founded the global community “This is Reportage.”

Alan’s journey into this field began with his own realization that traditional posed photography didn’t resonate with him. He admits, “I had no experience or skill in posing people. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t know how to do it. It scared me to be totally frank.” Instead, he found joy in capturing the candid, genuine moments that naturally unfolded during weddings.

The Charm of Documentary Photography

Alan Law’s journey into documentary wedding photography is rooted in his love for real, unfiltered moments. Unlike traditional photography, which often involves staged poses, Alan focuses on capturing the genuine emotions and interactions that make each wedding unique.

“One of the best things for me, and one of the things that’s been the most freeing, is that I don’t think wedding photography is about making people look good. It’s about telling the story of their day,” he explains. This philosophy resonates deeply with couples who want their wedding day documented authentically, without the pressure of posing for the camera.

Alan emphasizes the importance of capturing the essence of the day, regardless of the setting. “I could be doing a wedding in Dubai or a local village hall, and neither is better than the other. It’s all about the people,” he says.

He describes how his approach allows him to focus on what truly matters: the relationships and interactions between people. “If I can supply these people that I’ll never meet again with images that they may love, it feels good,” Alan notes.

Alan also touches on how he handles client expectations, ensuring they understand his style from the outset. “I don’t feel that kind of pressure. I never feel pressure that we’re not going to be able to get that now we need to go out now,” he says. This clarity allows him to capture moments naturally without interruption.

Moreover, Alan appreciates the diversity of scenarios he encounters, from high-end weddings in Dubai to simple ceremonies in local village halls. He finds equal value in each, driven by the genuine moments he captures rather than the setting.

A Global Community

Alan’s dedication to documentary photography led him to create “This is Reportage” and “This is Reportage: Family,” platforms that celebrate the art of storytelling through images. These communities have flourished, providing photographers worldwide with a space to share their work, learn from each other, and aspire to new heights.

“I have a massive respect for anyone who puts themselves out there and does a workshop. You hear mumblings in our industry when someone new does a workshop, and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s only been in business for 18 months.’ But I have massive respect for people who put themselves out there,” Alan says.

These communities not only offer inspiration but also create a sense of belonging among photographers who are passionate about capturing real moments. “The community side of it is awesome. I love that about it,” Alan adds.

The Power of Authenticity

For Alan, the appeal of documentary photography lies in its authenticity. He recounts the freedom of not having to make people look a certain way, allowing him to focus on capturing the true essence of their day.

“I think it’s important to take it with a pinch of salt. At the end of the day, it’s just a few people’s opinions. You don’t need awards to value your work,” he says.

Alan’s approach has not only won him numerous awards but also the admiration of couples who appreciate his genuine style. He shares that his clients often value the relaxed, unposed nature of his work, and he never feels pressured to create traditional, staged photos. “I never feel pressure that we’re not going to be able to get that now we need to go out now,” he says.

Alan discusses how the freedom from traditional constraints allows him to capture the true essence of the wedding day. He mentions, “I honestly think it’s a slight push back. I see a lot of people say that if an image doesn’t progress the story, you should delete it. But I’m like, no, if I’ve taken a nice non-storytelling shot, they might love that.”

He further emphasizes the joy of delivering more images rather than fewer, arguing against the notion that a larger set of photos lessens the impact. “Impact is only valid for the first or two times that the couple looks at the gallery. They’ve got the rest of their life to pore over all the images.”

Alan also highlights the importance of staying true to his documentary approach, even when others might expect traditional posed shots. “If they want some couple time stuff, it’s up to them. I never feel like, as a photographer, that I’m in control at all throughout the day.”

This commitment to authenticity not only defines Alan’s work but also strengthens his connection with clients who value the genuine moments he captures. His dedication to staying true to his style is a testament to the power of authenticity in photography.

Challenges and Rewards

Being a documentary wedding photographer comes with its challenges. Alan shares that, while the work is incredibly rewarding, it can also be a rollercoaster of emotions, especially when comparing his work to others.

“It’s still a rollercoaster for me. I still get ups and downs. It’s hard not to compare yourself with others,” he admits.

Despite these challenges, Alan finds immense joy in his work, particularly in seeing the impact his photos have on the couples he works with. “We are creating bits of art on the fly, every second,” he says. This spontaneous creativity is what drives him and many other documentary photographers.

Teaching and Mentorship

Alan’s commitment to documentary photography extends beyond his own work. Through his workshops and mentorship programs, he helps other photographers find their unique voice and embrace their individuality.

“My whole focus is about people just doing what they love and staying true to themselves. One of the first quotes I say is, ‘It’s better to walk alone than with a crowd going in the wrong direction,’” Alan shares.

He believes in empowering his students to trust their instincts and develop their own style, rather than conforming to industry trends. “It’s so important that people just do what they love. We’re unique because we create unique imagery, because we’re shooting and showing what we love,” he emphasizes.

A Glimpse into the Future

Looking ahead, Alan remains passionate about pushing the boundaries of documentary photography and continuing to support and inspire the global community he has helped build.

“We all have different beliefs, but I think we’ve just got one shot at life. I just started really going for things, like starting my own wedding photography business, then starting workshops. You never know unless you try.”

The Bottom Line

Alan Law’s journey in documentary wedding photography is a testament to the power of authenticity and the importance of staying true to one’s passion. His work not only captures the beauty of real moments but also inspires others to embrace their unique perspectives. Whether you’re a photographer or simply someone who appreciates the art of storytelling, there’s much to learn from Alan’s approach to capturing life’s most precious moments.

As Alan puts it, “It’s all about the people. Life is not about this treadmill that we are really led to believe. It’s about relationships and each other, not the materialistic side of life.” This philosophy shines through in every photo he takes, making him a true artist in the world of wedding photography.

About Alan

Alan is a wedding photographer based in Cornwall, UK – the part of England that’s ‘supposed’ to see some sunshine. As well as shooting his own weddings, his passion for the documentary side of what we do led him to create This is Reportage, the worldwide community and awards-body celebrating the art of natural, un-posed coverage, and, later, the documentary family photography version, “This is Reportage: Family”. He also thoroughly enjoys teaching, and has run 27 of his own workshops throughout Europe – and couldn’t avoid the lure of the pun by titling his workshop ‘Law School’.






Learn more about coaching and mentoring at bobbibeducation.com.

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