Industry Interview: Jonny MP lifts the lid on achieving wedding photos with feeling

Industry Interview: Jonny MP lifts the lid on achieving wedding photos with feeling

This month on the blog, we’re talking wedding photography in our industry interview. An hour whizzed past as I chewed the fat with Surrey wedding photography Jonny MP about his unique career path, what makes a beautiful picture and the ever-evolving nature of the wedding day in today’s society.

Tell us more about your journey into photography? What made you want to capture people on their wedding day?

My story really begins back in 2011; I was working in a corporate job in London and had no photography training. I had a basic DSLR but mainly just used it to take photos of my son, until a family member who was getting married asked me to take the photos at their wedding. I said no (a few times!) but they persisted until I agreed. I hired all the kit I needed and was so nervous in the run up, but I ended up absolutely loving the experience. Seeing their reaction to the final photos made me realise that this was what I was born to do. I launched my business almost immediately afterwards in September 2011, but it was another 3.5 years until I went full time. In that period I relentlessly chased work and slowly built up my portfolio through my website and word of mouth. My old job was in marketing so the importance of presenting myself well and building a brand was inherent; once I got up and running everything just snowballed from there.

How have you seen wedding photography change and develop over the years? What’s better (or worse) now than before?

I think wedding photography is getting better and better, which is great for all the couples out there getting married. 10-15 years ago, wedding photography wasn’t held in the highest esteem; it was all rather staged and stiff and only recently has it become much more cool and creative. Overall, I’d say that nowadays the focus is less on formality and tradition and more about capturing the atmosphere of the party. The rise of social media has fuelled our ability to see really wonderful photography, which in turn means the bar keeps getting higher and higher. Of course, that also means that people’s expectations are greater than ever before. One thing I always tell my couples is that as a photographer, you can only shoot what’s in front of you and you can’t create something out of nothing. To consistently achieve the high-impact images we see on social media, certain things like the light for example, have to be absolutely spot on. We will always be drawn to photos with perfect composition or a jaw-dropping backdrop (even if we don’t know the couple in the photo), but the image that will really make us feel something is the one that is meaningful to us. That image might not be technically perfect, but if it includes say, a look between two people, family members embracing, or a beautiful forgotten moment from the day, then it’s priceless.

How would you describe your style and what does the phrase that you’ve coined for your work – “heart on sleeve photography” – mean?

 I started to use that phrase because I wanted to make sure I could encapsulate what I do and describe that to others. My photography definitely reflects me as a person; I wear my heart on my sleeve and am often described as a bit of a sensitive soul. Being empathetic wasn’t encouraged in my previous job, but I’d say it’s been the making of me in this one. It means that I shoot what I’m drawn to, and capture the images that I’m passionate about – that’s what drives me. The photos I love centre around emotion; I love beautiful portraits because they stir something. My aim is to capture all the emotions of the day – not just the tears, but anything that will translate into an image and make you feel something. In that sense I suppose I’m less about finding and capturing that one ‘hero image’ and more about reflecting the day as a whole.

With the rise of Instagram, we have more inspiration (and more ‘noise’) surrounding us than ever before. What advice would you give couples when choosing their ideal wedding photographer?

 I believe choosing your wedding photographer has to come down to two things. Firstly, choose someone whose style of photography you love. What you see on their blog or website is what you’ll get on your day, so you have to buy into that and imagine yourself in their photos. Every photographer has their own unique style and you have to want that. Secondly, find someone who you think you can work with – both on the day itself, but also before and after the wedding. Do you feel relaxed with them? Do they allow you to be yourself? Do you connect with them? They have the front row seat for your wedding and will see more of the day than anyone else, so you have to be confident that they can slot in with your family and friends and ‘represent’ you well. You will be talking to them on and off for at least six months in the run up to your day – consider their professionalism not only in terms of how responsive they are, but also how invested they are in your day. It’s all about the relationship you build in that time and you’ve got to choose someone who really cares. 

What do you see as being the next big trend in the industry, wedding photography or otherwise?

 In the short term, I think the industry will continue to get better and better as more and more talent keeps coming through. In the medium to long term, I think it will be interesting to see where weddings go from a business point of view. There is still no other time in your life when you would spend that amount of money in one day – and yet it is still totally built into our psyche as a society to do so. But will this change with our generation? Will we fund our children’s dream day the way that many of our parents have funded ours? The institution of marriage is evolving so it will be really interesting to see how this manifests in the future and what people’s wedding days will start to look like. I think it’s also fascinating to consider the ways in which technology is evolving and how this will affect the wedding industry. Whilst I think the tools we have as a suppliers to deliver our products and services will get better and better, creativity is hard to programme; we will always be one of those industries that has a need for a person and a human connection, which in my opinion can only be a good thing.

To take a look at more of Jonny’s work, visit his website here:

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