Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?
My interest started when my first child was born and I had a sudden desire to start documenting the day to day. The interest steadily grew into something all-consuming over a period of years. My point and click grew into huge SLR rigs and wireless triggers. I’m largely self-taught but did a couple of photography courses at the local college, and I also got trained by studio in Texas.
So you shoot weddings and commercial work…how are you able to add your street photography approach to weddings? Were you shooting the wedding both traditionally and with a street style or just depends on what the couples want? Did it start off with a couple/client that wanted their wedding to have that raw candid feel to it?
I spent two years shooting for a wedding studio in Texas. They taught me a hell of a lot about the customer service side – managing expectations, managing a crowd, managing time. From a photography standpoint, they were very traditional. Getting the perfect posed shots were the priority, whilst providing a good experience a close second. My training was geared towards achieving those goals.
Broadly speaking, there’s a big cultural difference between the UK and US in terms of what is classified as documentary wedding photography and the value that is placed on the candid frame. In America, I struggled to find couples who brought in to my approach fully, whereas here in the UK, one of the first things couples tell me is how they don’t want any posed photos, bar a few group shots for the parents.
In terms of shooting weddings ‘street style’, that’s not really how I would describe what I do, or how I represent my work. Sure, a lot of street has a certain aesthetic: wider angles, close in, dynamic and busy in composition, and I bring those influences into my wedding work. Not because it’s edgy or different, but because it’s the truest representation of how I see the world.
I would imagine shooting an event or wedding with a street photography mindset keeps things fresh and fun. Do you foresee more couples wanting this type of documentation on their special day?
There’s a lot of education out there for couples already, most of it is industry driven, but people generally know the difference between documentary and the more traditional approach. I’d like to think they’d know the difference between bad photography and photography but sometimes I’m not so sure.
What’s one photograph you never get tired of looking at?
Changing gears to your street photos, describe your style and how you approach making photographs when wandering the streets.
I don’t know. I walk until I see a potential of a scene, take a few shots and if it doesn’t work out, I’m gone. The potential could be quality of light, a strong graphical element, or the possibility of characters interacting
Who are some of your favorite street photographers?
Alex Webb, Harry Gruyaert, Martin Parr, Eggleston, Trent Parke, Garry Winogrand to name but a few
In your opinion what makes a good photograph?
A human connection. Winogrand was a master at it.
If you could have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be?
Joel Meyerowitz. The man makes a great photo but the stories he can weave are even greater.
You can shoot with one street photographer for a day who would it be and why?
Joel, for the above reason.
I ask this with everyone. If you can have one street photographer shoot your wedding who would it be?
What are your short term goals (1-3 years) and what are your long term goals (5-10 years) if you have any with photography? And what are you currently doing in trying to achieve those goals? If any, what struggles are you currently facing?
To carry on evolving. The photos I take now are different to what I took 5 years ago, and I hope they’d be different in 5 years from now.
Any personal tips or advice on wedding street photography?
Learn as many aspects of wedding photography as you can. Posing, lighting, candid storytelling. Good wedding photography is just good photography.
What frustrates you about photography?
Many wedding photographers are driven by trends, not by what is personal to them. It’s also frustrating to see some of the more established street photographers shooting the same old: Yet another staircase with a shadowy figure isn’t a signature, it’s just lazy.
What are you most proud of in terms of your work?
That I’m getting paid to take photos.
What are you doing when you aren’t making pictures?
Keeping my kids alive.
To keep up with Wayne’s work:
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/waynelaphotography
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