How would a wedding photographer choose to get married? We hear from Jon Harris, based on the South Coast of NSW, and here about his values and approach to capturing your wedding.
Tell us more about this country boy from Gerringong?
Haha, it’s funny you say ‘country boy’ – I never would’ve described myself that way, as I grew up in Canberra (I know, it’s hardly a big smoke!). But Gerringong, this idyllic little mix of coastal and country on the South Coast is actually the first place that I’ve truly felt at home in my life. So I guess country boy is pretty accurate 🙂
Photography is just as much a passion of mine as a job – I love getting out into nature and shooting landscapes, astrophotography and wildlife. I’m so lucky that I’ve recently become a Resident Artist at Fern Street Gallery, and seeing my images exhibited there has encouraged me to keep exploring the creative side of my work. You can see more of that on my other Instagram account – @jonharris_photography
When I finally put the camera down, you’ll find me once again escaping into the natural beauty of our world – hiking, surfing, snowboarding and mountain biking, as well as regularly practicing yoga. I also travel as much as I can – exploring other cultures has given me so much insight into how lucky we are living in Australia, and I’m eternally grateful to be living a safe and happy life with my partner and my pup.
My passion for nature is a massive inspiration for my wedding photography – I love nothing more than exploring amazing, beautiful locations with my couples.
What is it about small, intimate weddings that excites you?
Every small wedding I’ve been a part of has had such a depth of honest, genuine emotion attached to it. Sure, all weddings are happy events, and I’m grateful for all the weddings I’ve been privileged to capture. But couples who plan larger (and dare I say it – more traditional) weddings are much more likely to experience high stress levels before and during the event. The endless details to organise and get just right, the 100+ guests to keep happy, the financial burden, and the pressure to have the perfect day… it’s a pretty big ask to do all of that and stay relaxed and in the moment during your wedding.
But the most compelling reason for me is that a small intimate gathering is much more aligned with my values and what I’m comfortable with. If my beautiful partner Kate and I decide to get married, it would be a very low key, very small gathering focusing on the important things – our love, the family and friends who are important to us, and of course, amazing, responsibly sourced food and beverages.
And that’s why I’ve connected so strongly to the couples from every small wedding I’ve photographed – I feel we’re kindred spirits, wanting the same things in life. As I watch these beautiful gatherings unfold, I can tell how fulfilled the couples and their guests are – the relative simplicity of these weddings compared to other extravagant events is what makes it much more real for me.
Whats your advice for a couple who feel awkward in front of the camera (ie. all of us!)?
I think 95% of my couples are quite emphatic that they ‘hate getting photos taken’, and it’s definitely one of their biggest concerns with my involvement in the day. Yet all of them, as I say goodbye at the end of their wedding, are gratefully telling me that it was so much better than they expected!
My number one piece of advice for couples who are anxious about being on camera is to have an Engagement Session! These should really be called Practice Sessions, because that’s essentially what they are. An opportunity to have a dry run and get comfortable with your photographer before the wedding, so that on the day you can just slip back into the groove and enjoy yourselves. This in turn makes for even better photos – when you’re relaxed and comfortable, your wedding photos will be genuine and amazing. Plus, you’ll also have another set of photos, likely in a different location to your wedding, for some wonderful variety.
The only thing I can add to this is just to be yourselves during the photo session. Have fun, play, crack those one-liners which you know will make make her roll her eyes, pull the face you know will make him laugh… and your photos will be incredibly real :).
What clever ways have you seen couples reducing their wedding’s footprint?
Following on with the smaller wedding theme, clearly that’s the biggest way to reduce the footprint of your wedding. Less guests = less travel miles, less stuff, and less wasted food – basically less waste everywhere.
At a recent wedding, the couple (who are the owners of the winery) invited each of their guests to plant a tree on the property instead of purchasing gifts for the guests. Obviously not every couple can do this, so maybe rethink the traditional gift idea, and instead of buying more stuff, perhaps a donation on behalf of each of your guests to a worthwhile cause you believe in? Don’t be afraid to share your connection with nature, and the eco and ethical choices you’ve made for your wedding with your guests – some of it might rub off on them 😉
Another great idea is to cater locally and seasonally as best you can. Some of my local couples have hired the wonderful Karina from Dandelion and Mallow (https://dandelionandmallow.com.au) to cater for their small gatherings. Karina will create a stunning wholefoods feast from local, sustainable and organic produce – some of it grown in her own backyard! So it’s worth researching if there’s someone in your local area who can provide a similar service.
How can weddings make a difference?
Wedding trends have changed dramatically over the years, and continue to do so rapidly. It wasn’t that long ago (our grandparents, and possibly even our parents era) that large, extravagant weddings were the exception rather than the norm.
In many aspects of our lives, we’re starting to realise that our grandparents actually had their priorities in order – less consumption and waste, very little processed foods and living as naturally and chemical free as possible.
If you want your wedding to make a difference, then I think we should start to look at simpler times for inspiration, and lead by example. It doesn’t have to be hard work, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – using a wedding Directory like Less Stuff More Meaning, and reading the Mindfully Wed e-guide will give you a kickstart on making the right choices for yourselves and for the planet 🙂
What’s your approach to sustainability and the environment in general?
Being passionate about the environment in this modern age is hard work! But, like anything that’s worth pursuing in this life, it’s worth the effort. There is no silver bullet solution for ‘how to live more sustainably’ – more of a philosophy which you can apply to all aspects of life.
My philosophy on sustainability is to simply do the best I can. You may have heard of the 80/20 concept, which means that 80% of the time you are living sustainably as best you can. The remaining 20% accounts for the fact that no-one is perfect – we’re human, we make mistakes, we get tired, and sometimes just need to put ourselves first so that we can wake up refreshed for tomorrow’s efforts.
It’s also quite easy to get caught up in all the depressing, negative stories floating around in the media about climate change and the state of our planet. If you find certain channels are feeding you negative stories without any positive sides, permit yourself to stop watching or unfollow, and source some more inspiring content.
Or, better yet – switch off completely and get out into nature as much as you can! Spend time admiring the beauty of our world, and you will feel amazing, guaranteed. This will feed your inspiration to let out your inner Eco Warrior, and be kind to Mother Nature.
What is your fave book?
I’ve always loved reading as an escape, to let my imagination run wild! So its no surprise that I’m a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi novels.
It’s hard to pick a favourite, but two stand outs from recent years are Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (which has since become a Netflix series, but the book was waaaay better!). And Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – get ready to have your mind twisted by this one 😉
What is your secret super power?
Ok so this is one of the more pointless super powers out there, but I have a knack for quickly identifying actors and actresses by their voice when they appear in animated shows and movies. (If you can figure out a practical application for this skill, then let me know!)
Get to know Jon by getting in touch over on his WEBSITE.