When Wedding Photographers Shoot Other Wedding Photographers’ Weddings
…and they win Story Awards for them too! Yep, that’s exactly what happened during a single Awards Collection here at This is Reportage: Two different wedding photographers (the fab Yves Schepers and Sanne De Block) shot the weddings of two other wedding photographers (the fab Linda Bouritius and Simon Leclercq – both of whom are also TiR members, and award-winners themselves), and both weddings became Story Awards back in Collection 14.
We thought this was a great opportunity to hear from all of them: From Yves and Sanne, as the photographers who won the Story Awards, and from Linda and Simon, as the bride and groom respectively (though not marrying each other!), and as wedding photographers themselves – getting thoughts from all different perspectives…! Here’s what they had to say (with the full Story Awards displayed below too):
Yves Schepers (who photographed Linda’s wedding):
“When a fellow wedding photographer asks you to shoot their wedding, it comes with two different sets of feelings: First of all, it’s always an honour when you’re chosen as a couple’s wedding photographer, seeing there’s such a wealth of talent out there. But when someone who knows your craft inside out asks you to shoot this important day and that someone lives and breathes wedding photography, knows the industry like their back pocket but still chooses YOU to capture this important day. This might be the biggest appreciation of your work as a wedding photographer you can get.
But secondly and we don’t have to beat around to bush about this, no matter how seasoned you are as a wedding photographer, this creates additional pressure on your performance. Not only is the bride or groom a professional wedding photographer but probably also part of their guest list is. And the weddng couple will (hopefully) enjoy their day to the fullest and not really focus on how you’re shooting but those extra sets of eyes will record every single move you make, every decision you take. You can already guess what they’re thinking: “Oh, I wouldn’t have stood there at that moment.” Or “what is he doing?! He totally missed that moment!” So it’s actually the peer pressure that creates additional stress. It’s similar to when you give a talk on a wedding photography conference and the whole room is filled with professionals giving you that bored look or when you’re recording a This Is Reportage podcast and knowing your words will be listened to by thousands and thousands of photographers (Alan asked me to write this last bit). Everyone has their own personality obviously, but to some extent, our mind is programmed to think the worst case scenario in any situation.
All these thoughts are rushing through my head before the wedding even started so that healthy amount of stress I experience before each wedding, is now exponentially multiplied. But then, when the wedding day unfolds and I start shooting, I get in the flow and realize that no matter if it’s a wedding photographer’s wedding; on this particular day, they’re also a bride or groom in the first place. So I give my very best, it’s all I can do and gradually leave that stress behind. This was the case on every wedding photographer’s wedding I shot until now and I’ve done a few in the meantime. Some of them are TiR members like the amazing Philippe Swiggers and fantastic Sophie Callewaert but also Linda Bouritius. And I was lucky enough to receive an award for the story Linda & Joost’s day.
Their day was nothing more than awesome and I’m not saying this because I know she’s reading this, but Linda and Joost’s family and friends were such welcoming, close-knit and good-hearted bunch of people that it was an explosion of hugs, happy tears, fun and laughter. I know that we repeat this in every blog post but everyone who ever met Linda knows she’s a kind, positive, fun-loving soul and believe me, Joost is just the same. Topped of with that Dutch outgoing mentality, it was set out to be a story full of emotions. What can you wish for more?! Oh yes, a second photographer J That’s also one of the perks of shooting a fellow photographer’s wedding, they fully understand the benefit of having a second shooter. And in Linda’s case this was Dries Renglé, one of my longtime friends and a great documentary photographer. Dries knows like no other how to capture moments in such an intense way. I knew that with him on my side, I could black out, pass out, start crying in a corner and he would have my back and be able to deliver an amazing story on his own.
But how to compose a good story? Since I’m a freshman at This Is Reportage, it was a very interesting exercise to find out how to build a captivating story in 20 images. I could lean on my experience as a judge in one of the first contest rounds and came to the conclusion I needed to grab the judge’s attention right from the start with an image that sets the mood for the whole series. And I chose an image that portrayed the connection between Linda, her daughter and her mom. Like I mentioned, it’s a family with a strong relationship so I wanted to make the story about that family connection: layering her mom, sister, sister-in-law, during the bridal prep smiling and grateful for each other’s happiness; the moment her father walks in the door and sees Linda for the first time, her mom and sister overlooking the scene and holding on tight to each other; a party picture of Linda together with her brother and Joost,… but I also wanted to show Joost’s connection with his family. Joost his dad passed away and I felt his connection with his mother was extra special. I set out to focus on the moments they share during the day: their entrance in the ceremony, her kiss right after the ceremony, Joost’s emotions during her speech. And Linda’s hand on Joost’s cheek during his beautiful speech at the ceremony, tells me he can find comfort with her and that she’s got his back whatever happens. This leads me to the connection with their kids, Seth and Isa. The impromptu family portrait of the four of them might be one of my favourites of the ceremony. Being a toddler back then, Seth had a strong will and him jumping on the couch next to them, entertaining himself in what is a very boring ceremony for him, describes that moment in time and his mind set completely.
Keywords in completing the series were: authentic moments and a mix of emotions. Just like changing your viewpoint throughout a story: get close, get far, get high, get low; also shifting pace and changing laughter and fun with intimate moments is important in keeping the viewer’s attention. Adding some humour and transfer shots, make a story complete in my opinion. I especially find humour very important in my work and I always look for situations that make me smile throughout a wedding day. It can sometimes be the littlest, stupidest things. The contradiction between the little guy’s bored look and the “Oh Yes!” on his bag, Linda taking a fall while partying hard and I will personally make sure fellow wedding photographer Maarten Devoldere’s ripped pants will haunt him forever.
So in hindsight, apart from the additional stress, I actually prefer a wedding photographer’s wedding over any other wedding. They know how to treat you well, whip up a relaxed schedule, make sure you have a great shooter by your side and most importantly include you in the canapés.” – Yves
Linda Bouritius (the bride):
Finding a wedding photographer as a wedding photographer myself was – other than most people might think – very easy. As wedding photographers we have a huge step ahead of ordinary couples in terms of knowing what’s out there, which styles, approaches of a wedding day and of course: we know a lot of people.
I knew Yves’ work already before we met at a conference now 4 years ago. His creative eye is one of a kind and how he mixes graphic elements in his portrait work really spoke to me immediately. When getting to know Yves better and discovering more of his work I found out that he is so much more than a photographer with creative portraits. He is empathic, really friendly and nice to hang around with, but also a really good storyteller.
So when my husband finally popped the question after ten years Yves was one of the first names that came to my mind. Especially my husband had a strong say in what he liked. So just showing him some blind portfolio’s (he knows a few photographers out there, so didn’t want any bias) Yves came out as his first choice as well.
We were originally thinking about getting married in September. But the date we originally had in mind, Yves already had a booking. Thinking about other names, but also what timing would suit me best to get married we decided to go for October. Just at the end of the wedding season I won’t miss to much bookings because of my own and best off all side benefit: Yves was still available that weekend. Looking back we booked Yves first, then I got my wedding dress and arranged a location after that. Not the usual way of order, but showing that photography was most important for us.
During the day it was so much fun. First of all you are at a wedding after a long season and you don’t have to work! It’s perfect. And you like all people there, can drink whatever you want and eat whatever you want: so it’s heaven after a busy season.
Experiencing being on the other side was so valuable. Not only as a bride having simply one of the best days of my life, but also the experience at the other side of the camera. Learned a few tricks during portrait session, but also and most important how a day feels. And maybe more important: the days after. How the whole wedding glow starts to disappear after a few weeks and how helpful images are to help you get right back into that day. I learned so much about the perfect timing to show images to your clients, how to build it up and how important your relationship is.
It’s so much more than just a business transaction on the wedding day itself. I loved going out to dinner in Belgium with Yves to discuss our schedule. That’s maybe more valued than the hard work we have seen – and I did watched a few times and just sat back and relax.
I can imagine that photographing another photographers wedding feels extra exciting – at least I have had that experience – but I can also say it works the other way around. You want this top photographer to have something nice to work with. So it was funny to experience in the time towards our wedding I felt the urge to make it also for our photographers the best wedding. So a big yes to confetti canon it was.
But I also realized it doesn’t matter. Seeing our family enjoy our day, hearing their lovely words again when we see the images, the boredom of our kids during the – for them – way too long ceremony. It’s all us. Yves perfectly captured who we are: down-to-earth, with love for fun, each other and our family.
And seeing that now reflected in a story award is the icing on the cake!” – Linda
Sanne De Block (who photographed Simon’s wedding):
Last year in June I got an enquiry for a civil wedding the next month. It went like this:
We got your name from Simon of Leclicq Photography. Our civil wedding will take place on July 26th. We’re a big fan of your work and we love your photos. The ceremony won’t take long and so we were wondering if you were willing to shoot our wedding and maybe a part of the getting ready.”
He went on to tell me about their brown Labrador (should’ve rang a bell right then… it didn’t) and that they were keeping it small and that I was welcome to stay for a drink afterwards.
He closed off with: “Cheers! Filip”
So I was like: Yay an enquiry and they sound like nice people! A little bit annoyed that there was only one name at the end and not both names.
So I wrote a friendly email back, telling him I would love to be there with them and shoot their wedding and gave them some more information. It took me another 10 minutes before the realization came… And then a second email from me: OMG you guys tricked me!! Anyway, I still love to be your photographer.
So I was honored and more nervous than usual. Not only because it was gonna be a photographer’s wedding, but also because there would be a lot of other photographers attending. So no matter how invisible you want to be, you know they have one eye on you.
It was a super hot day. So since I knew the couple quite well I was a little bit more lightly dressed then I would normally be. Still fashionable though and still in black.
I got to their house around noon I think and Simon and Filip were about to get ready. They both went to their bathroom and since there was no one else but them, I followed them. They were helping each other shave and made sure their hair was ok. Since it was super hot they hopped in the shower to freshen up again and I have this unspoken rule that if they don’t say anything, I just stay where I am and keep shooting. That resulted in Simon’s naked butt and free willy’s in my pictures (I left those out in the final selection).
The day went on and it was super fun. Laid back with more than enough water gun fights. When the ceremony was over and the reception started, the nerves finally went away and I was able to relax a little bit more.” – Sanne De Block
Simon Leclercq (the groom):
There is only one thing that is better than winning a This is Reportage Story award and that’s being in one. And what a cracker by my good friend Sanne De Block.
2019 had already been an extremely busy year so that was the perfect excuse to blame procrastinating everything on. Now that being said the decision to ask Sanne for our civil wedding made itself.
I second shot with Sanne for the first time in Austria at the end of May last year. I dare say we were a pretty good team, a similar approach and style but at the same time very different in our own ways and we had a lot of fun.
But the thing that really stuck with me was her level of dedication. The perseverance, discipline to work on a moment and to stick with it was inspiring. The sense of humor she puts in her images and the authenticity that she captures is raw but beautiful at the same time.
I remember coming home from Austria on a Sunday night and the first thing I said to my partner was: I want Sanne to shoot our Civil Wedding. My partner Filip replied: Welcome home scatter brain, I missed you too.
We have always gravitated towards a female photographer, don’t ask me why we just did. With the wonderful Amy French & Sophie Callewaert set to shoot our wedding in August and Sanne to shoot the Civil part in July we were all set.
Our civil wedding was special, my father had come over from London to Belgium. I was in my last week of my day job before I would go full time photography. It was hectic to say the least. To top it all off it was the hottest day ever recorded in Belgium with temperatures soaring between 39-40°C. Not something that I’m a fan of but had to deal with.
Sanne arrived and got stuck in. As I was a little bit nervous it took a while for me to not hear the clicking of the camera but soon enough that it was gone. The afternoon flew by, like a blur of hugs and kisses wrapped in a heat wave. What a special feeling. It was the registrar’s office with family and close friends followed by an informal drinks reception at a local bar but still very intense. Before you knew it it was over.
Looking back on the moment when we received the slideshow and the pictures we were overwhelmed by the quality. As a groom I was touched by the connection and authenticity of the pictures. My absolute favorite picture is the second one in the story award where we are standing in the bathroom ready to shower and give each other a quick kiss. This is something we otherwise would never have had picture of but still a moment that happens so often in our daily lives.
Sanne who had the guts to stay in the bathroom while we were getting ready even when we got in the shower was a token to her perseverance. Feeling at ease with who she was and trusting that she would handle the situation with respect lead to my favourite picture being taken and the funniest picture being taken right after that too.
As groom-photographer I was blown away by the gallery. The consistency, the variation of angles, the perfect moments and the authentic connections. It couldn’t have been done better. There is a lot to be learnt looking at her images, Sanne takes wedding storytelling with a 35mm prime to the next level. A true master of that prime and shouldn’t surprise anyone that she has consistently been floating at the top of the TiR leaderboard since it was founded.
I knew it was going to be good. But didn’t expect it to be this good. The story award really tells the story nicely but at the same time doesn’t come close to doing the rest of the gallery justice. Especially when you take into account that these pictures were all taken in a three hour time span. Thanks a million Sanne.” – Simon Leclercq
Thanks so much to Yves Schepers, Sanne De Block, Simon Leclercq (some of the very best wedding photographers in Belgium) and Linda Bouritius (one of the best Netherlands wedding photographers) for this super article!