Choosing the right photographer for your Wedding Day can be a tough decision to make. There are many factors to take into consideration such as your budget, personal style, and wedding location. This month we teamed up with Professional Photographer Richard Milnes to ask him about his fascinating background in photography and to highlight some important questions that couples may want to know about their chosen photographer.
From Bear Grylls to Cheshire Wedding Photographer
Richard Milnes is a professional photographer who lives in Hale along with his wife Cass and an assortment of children and pets. His amazing career has taken him throughout Europe and across the pond to the USA. He has photographed everyone from Bear Grylls to Ed Sheeran, been published on dozens of book covers and in countless magazines. Luckily for us he now enjoys life as a documentary wedding photographer, working primarily from our lovely Cheshire Wedding Venue, Colshaw Hall.
What first inspired you to become a photographer?
In 2005 I was working as a creative director for a large media agency, at the time I thought I had the dream job – living on the coast, choosing my own hours, a great career…and then Cass bought me a camera. Photography allowed me to express myself creatively in a way that I’d been unable to do before, it took me several years to realise that the images I was producing were actually an extension of my personality and with that realisation came a freedom and confidence which helped me achieve a much higher standard of work. I also recently discovered that my aunt was once a travel and landscape photographer working for a German agency across The Sahara whilst my Grandfather was a portrait photographer when he lived in Jamaica shortly after the War. I guess that a passion for photography must run deep within my veins! We pride ourselves on running a very friendly, highly professional little business and myself and Cass have worked very hard to ensure that not only is the photography of the highest quality but that the customer service we provide is second to none.
How long have you been photographing weddings?
My first wedding was back in 2006, it was a huge break for me as I’d originally decided I would focus purely on portrait work as photographing people has always been my passion. One day I took a phone call and it was from a physio for the US Olympic team, he’d seen some street photography I’d taken whilst I was down at Venice Beach in LA and asked me whether I’d be interested in working a 3-day wedding in the Algarve. This was my first ever paid job and I was thrilled and apprehensive in equal measures. The wedding itself was incredible, there were Olympians and celebrities, a private beach, a galleon and a 12th-century chapel. As a direct result of this wedding I was hired to photograph a lifestyle shoot with Harrison Ford at his home in Beverley Hills and the rest, as they say, is history. 12 years down the line and I’m very fortunate to have almost 400 weddings and over 100 commercial and fashion shoots to my name.
How would you describe your shooting style?
It’s a happy coincidence for me that my preference to shoot weddings in a natural, documentary style is precisely what most bride and grooms are actually looking for in their photographer. My natural instincts are to take a step back and to slow things down, this allows me time to consider not only the content of the photograph but also the composition, the lighting, the background, the framing, the shadows, the reflections; all of the attributes which can turn a ‘good’ image into a ‘great’ one. I’m always very calm at weddings and I’m always very patient, the couples who book me are looking for images of real moments with real emotion and you can only capture those if you employ a degree of understanding towards the people who you are photographing.
Do you shoot on film or digitally?
When I was a kid I used to carry around a Kodak Instamatic with a flash bulb that shot film, I loved those cameras and the excitement of waiting for the photos to come back from the chemist was a big part of the appeal. Now though it makes absolutely no sense for a professional to be shooting film, the cameras I use today are incredible and the images are as good as anything produced by the old film cameras. There is a misconception that digital cameras have made photography ‘easier’ because you can just take thousands of photos and one of them is going to be good, right? This always makes me smile, the fact is that the overall standard of photography has definitely increased as a direct result of digital cameras, however this actually means that producing a very high standard of images on a regular basis and standing out from the crowd of newbies who are flooding the market is more difficult than ever. Personally, I love the fact that photography is more accessible to everyone and if anything, it helps people appreciate the quality the of the work us professionals produce!
How many weddings do you photograph a year?
I’m very fortunate in that we are able to limit the number of weddings I do each year to 35. Quality is very important to me and I go to great lengths to ensure that each wedding receives all my energy and focus, whilst being on your feet and taking photos for 9 hours may be fairly physically demanding, it is the creative energy which can suffer most as a result of taking on too many weddings. For me 35 is the magic number, it allows me time to recharge the creative batteries between weddings and means I can deliver excellent photography on a consistent basis.
Where can a bride see some examples of your work?
At Colshaw Hall of course! I’ve now photographed 26 weddings at Colshaw (probably 27 or more by the time you are reading this!) I love working at this Chesire Wedding Venue and on my website, there is a link to them all as well as hundreds of other weddings I’ve photographed. I have of course been widely published and quite often my work is picked up by international photography and wedding blogs – one of my images hit over 6 thousand likes in one afternoon recently! I’m a huge fan of Facebook and Instagram as they are both visual platforms and are perfect for photographers to showcase their work. I often upload images to both so you can follow me to see where I’ve been working and who I’ve been working with!
How long before the wedding should you book your photographer?
Judging by the bookings I’ve taken it would be anywhere from 1 day to 3 years before the wedding! We did the figures recently and I think the average number of days that couples booked us in advance was around 450, so approximately 15 months. Obviously, there are many factors which need to be taken into account when booking suppliers for a wedding and there is no single answer but I would recommend that booking a photographer should be a priority if high-quality photography is important to you as we do get booked up quickly.
Do you work with an assistant on the wedding day?
I have one of the very best assistants in the wedding industry, not only is he less handsome than I am but he’s also a brilliant photographer, so everyone is happy!
How long after the wedding can a bride expect to see the finished photographs?
Typically all of your images will be edited and uploaded to a private gallery within 30 days, during quieter times of the year this may be a little sooner although I think it’s actually quite nice to have a little bit of a break between the wedding and receiving your wedding photos. As most of the work is done in camera there is often very little editing to be done which means I can deliver an entire wedding in a single day if necessary. My images lend themselves to a classic, minimal style of post-production and I deliberately avoid using ‘trendy’ filters and colour effects as one day they will look as old fashioned as soft-focus photos do today!