5 minutes with — Haydn Rydings

Manchester Wedding Photographer Haydn Rydings

Haydn Rydings is a wedding photographer from Manchester, UK. We had his attention for a few minutes to share a bit more about himself and what he does.

WUN: So for those who don’t know who you are, who is Haydn Rydings?

Haydn: I’m a photographer based in Manchester, UK, shooting weddings all over Europe. I mainly focus on destination work right now, with a handful of weddings in the UK throughout the year.

Prior to shooting weddings, I worked as a commercial photographer. So I’ve been around, maybe 10 years as a professional photographer.

So before weddings, like I said, I was a commercial photographer. I used to shoot a whole bunch of stuff, anything to pay the bills and all that. I’ve shot a bunch of really cool stuff and a bunch of weird stuff. To get started I took any booking I could get.

When I made the decision to go professional, I was lucky enough to get commissioned by MTV really early on in my career. Photographing the worldwide ad campaigns that they were running at the time and things kind of snowballed for me really quickly from that point. I got heavily involved shooting for a few magazines such as music magazines, design magazines, etc.

Haydn: Then, yeah, – I guess like most people, they kind of stumble into weddings.  I ended up doing a wedding for a commercial client in fact. So I kind of just by accident fell into the rhythm. I never really gave it much thought.

WUN: And then you realised it was actually a lot more fun maybe?

Haydn: Sure, yeah. I think – the thing that struck me the most was the creative freedom that I was allowed and I realised that once I was at a wedding, it was kind of me, my camera and my thoughts and ideas, as opposed to turning up at a commercial shoot where you have a whole range of people in the background with a myriad of ideas and it was very restrictive as a photographer, you are essentially just a button pusher in many respects.

WUN: Because you also have an art director and maybe a firm behind you that tells you how it’s going to look and why?

Haydn: Yeah. I think that was OK to a certain extent because that’s essentially what their job is. But I realised I had a lot more to offer in terms of creativity than what maybe my current situation was allowing me to be.

So weddings, it really opened it up to me to go, “Oh, maybe this is where I can flex my creative muscle and do things the way that I think they’re going to look the best,”. I think it really started from that moment on really, and I decided really quickly, that I wanted to go big on weddings.

So I put myself in a position where I shot a whole bunch of weddings in a real short period of time, all kinds of weddings. I’m a real firm believer of learning from your experiences, not taking shortcuts, etc. So I didn’t want to fast-track myself to big,  high end weddings where there’s so much riding on it and the pressure is so intense that you can’t perform. I knew I had to build to that point so shooting a whole bunch of weddings at the start really taught me, through all the many kind of obstacles that I came up against, how to stay calm and be patient under pressure.

WUN: That is sound advice.

Haydn: Yeah, and after that, the weddings have become more extravagant, bigger in scale etc. I think all those weddings I did at the very start, where I came across all those obstacles was really important and helps me to stay calm now. I can draw from those experiences and go “Yeah, I’ve been here, you’ve got this covered. I know how to navigate this obstacle.”

I think, if I hadn’t done that, if I had fast-tracked where I wanted to be, then when it comes to those moments, I would have crumbled and my wedding photography career would have ended quite quickly. And it would have been obvious that I didn’t know what I was doing.

WUN: Yeah, you need to build it up slowly, to build that foundation. So you’re confident and you keep calm and you do the stuff that is needed.

Haydn: Sure.

I also think that allows you to build your own style. I mean, obviously where most people start, they have a bunch of people who they respect and whose work they admire. So you go down that road of maybe emulating that style of work. I think it’s only natural and necessary to look at others work.

But when you shoot a number of weddings, you find what works and develop your style over those weddings, and as you mentioned, I think that’s where the confidence comes in. To allow you to find the right couples that you really connect with. Who appreciates your approach in shooting weddings, aesthetically and in terms of how you go about getting creating those images also.

WUN: So what is that? What is important to you?

Haydn: I try to add a little more to what I’m doing aesthetically, not just a documentary approach. I try to add a very cinematic feel to my images as a collection, as opposed to overly shooting individual images, if that makes sense. I want the set to be equally strong throughout, without any weak points.

For instance,  if I would blog a wedding, I would include images from all sections of the day. So the cinematic aesthetic fits with my approach and what I’m trying to achieve. In addition to a cinematic feel, I like to give an editorial style of details.

So when I shoot the details – and I also try to incorporate this into the portraits – is to shoot broader. Not just go for the epic shot. You know the kind of shot I’m referring to, the big landscape image, with the couple as a small dot. I want more of a mix than that if possible, because I’m very aware, being a few years down the line of shooting weddings now that a lot of couples, although they love that kind of stuff, they’re also very much interested in the simple images that conveys who they are as a couple and individuals.

WUN: So more focus on family relations and emotions and experiences from the portrait and the epic stuff?

Haydn: Yeah. Obviously – I still look for the epic, the money shot, so to speak. But I’m much more understanding now of having shot numerous weddings over the years, that those connections with friends and family are so much more important. Certainly much more important than I thought when I first started doing weddings.

I think I’ve come to appreciate much more the privilege that you have as a photographer, of being present in such important life moments for people. There’s a lot to be said of documenting those real, subtle moments, in a correct manner and not try to overcomplicate things with your approach or try to be too stylised. It’s OK to embrace the simplicity of those moments a bit more.

You can find more of Haydn Rydings online here: Website | Instagram

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