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Meet Liam, UK Based Wedding/ Street Photographer

Updated: Jan 27, 2019

- By Anshul Raj Khurana

Liam is a UK based photographer who shoots weddings in street style. He has got successful in beautifully amalgamating the Travel/ Street photography to his daily work of shooting weddings. He has a beautiful way of capturing emotions of that precise moment.

He is doing great work in street photography; I think his work in wedding photography has broken some clichés to a large extent. I am sure you all would love his work.

Anshul- Tell us about yourself, Liam.

Liam- I’m a photographer based in the UK who travels the world shooting street photography and also photograph weddings in a street style. I have been working professionally since 2006 when I started a photography studio called York Place Studios with my sister Dominique.

Anshul-  Where did it all start with photography and talk to us about your journey till now?

Liam- Photography and art have really always been something that I was drawn to. My earliest memories when it comes to art are of looking at the artwork on my parents vinyl LP covers, which I found fascinating. From the earliest age, I was always drawing - I would draw anything and everything around me. Even though I didn’t understand it at the time, it was always interesting composition that made me want to draw something or that drew me into an image I was looking at.

I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but didn’t know exactly what my outlet should be. So, I would experiment in all kinds of areas: painting, sculpting, fashion, animation, graphic design and then finally photography. The immediacy of photography is the thing that I first fell in love with, but the pursuit of capturing something fleeting and impossible to recreate is the thing that keeps me coming back for more.

Anshul- I see you are a wedding photographer, so what happened first, Street or wedding photography?

Liam- Street was the first photographic genre that really got me interested and excited about photography but back in 2006 it never even occurred to me to go out and shoot it for myself. It was something I looked at and admired but always from a distance. In 2006 the wedding photography industry was very different than it is now. Those were the days before the social media revolution, and the industry was still very insular and very local. So when I did my first wedding shoot what I perceived was expected of me to provide as a wedding photographer; more or less the type of images that I saw from other local wedding photographers. It took me four years to realize that there were no rules when it came to wedding photography and since then we’ve been busy honing and developing our style to escape the trends and clichés.

Anshul- You have amalgamated both genres beautifully, how did this come to your mind?

Liam- I started shooting street photography in 2011 when I began traveling with my girlfriend on work trips. She attends a lot of scientific conferences in different parts of the world, and I would accompany her on the trips and while she was at the conference during the day, I would explore the city and would just shoot what I saw. Gradually I started posting some of the photographs on the studio photography blog, which at this point was mostly just for weddings.

Over time, I noticed that we were suddenly started booking weddings based on my street photography work, as lots of couples who perhaps found it difficult to connect with wedding photography loved street photography and got excited by seeing these kind of photographs. They wanted a photographer just to be a part of their day and capture things completely naturally and didn’t want anything overly romantic or clichéd.

Once that started to happen, and we found more and more couples we connected with, enjoyed that street style. It gave me the sense that there was a potential market and gave me the confidence to pursue the type of photography that I first fell in love. 

Anshul-  How do you find your inspiration; do you follow any photographer?

Liam- I find inspiration from all forms of art, not just photography. When I started, my main photographic influences were Alex Webb & Harry Gruyaert, and their incredible work still provides a grounding.  Though I try not to follow any photographer too closely anymore as I don’t want to be influenced by anyone. I admire and prefer to cut out the noise of the other photographers and concentrate on doing my own thing to create a style of my own.

Anshul- I see a significant human element in your street pics, can you talk more about your style.

Liam- I love photographing people, and pretty much all of my imagery is based on observations of people just being themselves. I shoot a lot of street photography in pursuit of those aims, but I'm lucky enough that weddings also allow me a fantastic opportunity to create the kind of images that I love for a living. Weddings, by providing almost a license to photograph all of the people around you without being questioned as to your motives. It also allows lots of freedom to work on a particular style of work while at the same time allowing me to produce something that the couple is as passionate about as I am.

Whether shooting weddings or street, I strive only to try not to have too many preconceived ideas of what I should or shouldn’t take. I have a style, a way of seeing the world that hopefully comes through my work and gives the image a certain identity. I try to avoid having any right kind of template, plan or preconception going into a shoot as to what I want to achieve with a particular image. I want an image to feel somehow raw: to encapsulate that moment and retake you to that place, that moment in time and feel the way it felt to be there.

With weddings, in particular, there’s always something of a structure to the day, and it’s easy to find a technique that works and just repeat it time and time again, creating the same image but with different people. But when that happens you’re no longer creating; you’re just re-creating; parodying your ideas until they may still be pretty but they’re also irrelevant.

One of the big lessons from shooting on the street is the importance of that unpredictability; of truly feeling an image, not just taking what might be expected or what worked before. My favorite type of photographs are always the ones where you can see that the photographer had no idea exactly what was going to happen, just that it was going to be something worth photographing. They made the right decisions in trusting their instincts in the moments before, carefully considered their composition and recognized something interesting unfolding in front of them.

All of my favorite photographers create that in their way - it's like a vibration of spontaneity. A great painting has the same thing, as does an excellent acting performance. Sometimes, I look at these things and think 'did they plan to do that?'.

When it happens by chance, with your heart and spirit perfectly in line for just that fraction of a second, it takes to hit the shutter, and it’s beautiful. When it becomes too much of a preconceived thought, you can sense it, and it becomes far less attractive to me.

Anshul- Street photography as a genre is picking up momentum though it is still unheard of. What do you want to say about it?

Liam- Street is probably the purest form of photography. There are no instructions as to what you need to provide, it is just you, your camera and the way in which you perceive the world. You can do anything you want, and while that can be daunting, yet it is also incredibly freeing. You can hone your style as you are shooting what interests you without any real boundaries or limitations. It can be a humbling and a character building experience as it helps me improve as a photographer and as a person.

Anshul-  What separates a great street photographer from the good ones?

Liam- The originality of thought. My favorite photographers often take deliberately ambiguous photographs that guide the viewer to think for themselves rather than dictating an answer. I like photographs that have a mystery to them where I find it difficult to see the workings of the photographer’s mind. I like a shot to leave me wondering what made the photographer anticipate that there was going to be a moment of interest just before he/she clicked the shutter. 

If the photographer combines that sense of mystery with a style of photography that is clearly recognizable as their own: then for me they are great.

Anshul-  You have traveled to quite a few countries, which one is your favorite (street photography destination) and why?

Liam- Cuba was probably my favorite trip for its colors, people, and cultural history but I think the most significant place I’ve photographed is my own home town. While I love exploring new and diverse cultures, to me part of being a good photographer is to be able to put something of yourself into that imagery. If you can capture a great and truly interesting image in the place that you live, you can capture a great image anywhere.

Anshul-  What challenges have you faced while pursuing your interest in street photography?

Liam- The greatest challenge, particularly now in an age where social media floods our brains with incredible imagery every day is not to be influenced or distracted by great work by other photographers and to be my own channel. The hardest thing I’ve tried and continue to try to understand is how to put more of myself in the photograph and not just use the camera as a mirror. 

Anshul- Which camera do you use; What’s your favorite focal length and why?

Liam- I use a Fuji X-Pro2 for digital and a Leica MP for film shooting. 35mm is my favorite focal length for both. A 35mm lens is wide enough to capture everything I need in a scene and has little or no distortion. 

Anshul-  What top three things you keep in your mind while out there shooting?

Liam- The first thing is to be open to the reality of the situation you are presented with and not to try and force something that isn’t there. Secondly, if you want to capture real life then go to places where people are being themselves and hanging out. Avoid places where people are just walking on their way to somewhere.

Lastly, to smile and have fun. People may not speak the same language, but everyone understands a smile!

Anshul- What advice do you want to give the beginners who are starting their journey in photography and specifically SP?

Liam- Leave your preconceived ideas and plans at the door as for me the great tragedy of any creative situation is that somebody has got it so perfected in their own mind that they don't leave any room for spontaneity. If you've given it that much thought beforehand then at best it will never be as perfect as you imagined and at worst might be entirely inappropriate for the personalities of the people in front of you. Feel the moment and take your shot, not someone else’s. 

Shoot for yourself and keep your self-worth internal; don’t have it wrapped up in the opinions of others.

You can see more of Liam’s work here.

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