Alexander Smith

Not just another Wedding Photographer

How did you get started in photography?

I became grateful for my gift of sight quite early on, as I had to wear super-thick eyeglasses as a kid. This may have evoked my interest in photography but the gift of capturing beautiful moments caught me off guard, really.

I enrolled in a few courses, bought a better camera and before I knew it my full-day job became a half-day job, until eventually weddings was all I did!

"The day I stop pushing and breaking boundaries and feel like I’m shooting just another wedding, is the day I know I’m done.”

Why weddings?

It is one day when love is made visible – emotions are at their highest and people are happy. I personally also have a very high view of marriage and believe that the images I capture are beautiful, not only because of good composition and lighting, but because there’s a spiritual entity involved on the day. On the graph of somebody’s life, their wedding day is a massive highlight. And, here I am, a complete stranger, invited into an inner circle to share it, document it and then give the couple the most wonderful gift of allowing them to relive it. Weddings are also just so pretty – everything is beautiful, waiting to be captured in time.

What personal attributes or qualities do you believe make a good wedding photographer?

The biggest is emotional intelligence. You have to be able to access a situation to get a great image. You need creativity and confidence and, equally important, is to be trustworthy and responsible. Arriving three minutes late is like an hour to a bride. It is a highly stressful day and the couple feel like they’re in your hands – so if you’re hesitant, they will feel that, and it comes through in the photos. You also can’t redo the day, so you need to get the shot and know you have it!

How do you prepare for a wedding shoot?

I think it’s important to meet with the couples beforehand, so we get to know each other a bit and feel comfortable. I love knowing that my couples exhale when I arrive on the day, knowing the photography is one less thing to worry about and that when I arrive the fun can begin. 

How do you keep yourself motivated and your images fresh?

Although I always keep an eye out for what the rest of the world is doing, my aim is not to duplicate but to inspire. There is so much beauty out there and I aspire to capture it in a way that’s different. The day I stop pushing and breaking boundaries and feel like I’m shooting just another wedding, is the day I know I’m done.

How do you know when to direct a shot and when to allow spontaneity to take over?

We live in the digital age so I am able to snap away. If the way I saw the shot isn’t interpreted the same way by the couple, then I will direct it. I will however, never dismiss the way a couple will fall naturally on each other, or look or touch each other – they’re usually the best shots. I direct with regard to composition, lighting, positioning and framing and then just get them to interact. Sometimes all it takes is a joke and then I can photograph them laughing.The key is to have fun on the shoot and that’s mostly when you get those beautiful, natural shots.

How do you think you have evolved as a photographer through your own body of work?

I’m comfortable with my style and I know that people who come to me want that style. I also understand that I’m an artist, here to tell a story. When you tell a good story, you lead your audience through tension, tears, laughter and comedy. You build up, create drama and action, then divert their attention and slam-dunk at the end with the climax. You create a whole experience, and I do that through imagery. My evolution as a photographer is that I have become so much better at telling the story and so much more humble that I get to do what I love. 

To view more of Alexander’s work and to contact him:

www.alexandersmith.co.za