In our latest Wedding Supplier Spotlight, we’re chatting to multi-award-winning wedding photographer, Simon John.
The Hampshire-based photographer, who works across the South East and beyond, has won Wedding Photographer Of The Year three times, as well as gaining three photography Fellowships – and many more accolades over his 38 year career. We’ve enjoyed working with him and seeing his creativity in action, many times – he’s even spurred on Brian’s love of photography by selling him a camera recently – so we had to have a catch up and hear all about his story so far…
Hi Simon, how did you get into weddings?
I became interested in art in general while very young. Painting and drawing was my first love while at school and for my 14th birthday, my parents bought me a camera; I was hooked! I soon realised I could create images I struggled to draw and the whole creative experience became very natural to me. I very soon ditched the brushes for film and lenses, and a whole new world opened up to me.
What had you done before? Does this experience help at all?
While still at school my dad introduced me to a friend of his who was a photographer and had a partnership in a photographic studio. I used to go along after school helping on shoots, picture framing and working in the darkroom; all for free! As I say I was just hooked, it was and still is pure magic to me. When I left school I worked for the studio to open my own place at the ripe old age of 19! I’ve never done anything else; 38 years later…
How would you describe what you do?
I want to create photographic art that can be enjoyed by everybody, not just the select few in a gallery. I aim to capture human emotion and the very spirit and soul of the individual/family, so the images created stand the test of time, to be enjoyed now and forever. In essence an heirloom, whether that’s a family portrait or a bespoke wedding album.
What do you love most about being a wedding photographer?
Making people happy. Truly seeing what a powerful way of silent communication photography really is. I enjoy creating a piece of photography that challenges me to see differently. My ultimate aim is to be original, true to myself and not simply follow other photographers or previous ideas. Wedding and portrait photography is my art; the way I express myself; my way of giving something positive to society.
What’s been your highlight so far?
The real highlight in my life is being married to my lovely wife, Yvon, and having the love of my three children. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world with my photography. I have photographed some incredible weddings and met influential people from all walks of life. I treat everyone as equals, however, and just enjoy being able to make someone happy with what I do.
On a personal note, I have won UK Wedding Photographer Of The Year three times. I have achieved three Fellowships (highest accolade our industry can bestow), I won the Millenium Portrait Photographer award, along with 10 Kodak Gold awards for Portraiture. I’ve had a cover for Tatler magazine and been the Chair of Judges for the International awards. I have also taught photography around the world to other professionals …. All that said and done; I am only as good as my last commission.
What would be your top tip for choosing a wedding photographer?
Go and have a coffee with that person. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your photographer and actually like one another. A great photographer will be more concerned with what he can create for you, rather than what he can charge. It’s all about listening and understanding what you want from a photographer and not the other way around.
So often I’ve heard the words spoken about others; “he didn’t listen to what we wanted”, “he bossed people about”, “he took over our day” etc. I assure you that would not happen if you commission me.
Five second questions
The song I love to dance to most is…
Paul Weller: “You Do Something To Me” – our first dance on our wedding day.
What biscuits would you like to see most in the biscuit tin, and why?
Chocolate Hobnobs! But please do hide the biscuit tin!
What bit of advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t get too involved with your thoughts or feelings; they are not you. These two things pass and you are aware of them both; suggesting a much greater understanding of ourselves than we think maybe? All too easy as an artistic, emotional person to take yourself too seriously, but actually miss what’s unfolding around you… Yeah that took a few years to master!
Who is your secret celebrity crush?
After my wife, Dita Von Teese … I met her in LA once- only a fleeting moment in an airport. Maybe my ego, but I was sure she was checking me out!
If you were to host the ultimate dinner party what four guests would you invite and why?
Paul Weller, I have loved his music and the whole modernist scene since I was a teenager; Richard Ayoade (witty, clever and great use of language), Harry Hill (he just makes me smile, even to look at), Vic Reeves for his surreal perspective and originality… and so many more!
Cats or dogs?
Dogs! not fond of cats… I had a Boxer called Margo who was adorable.. We are in the process of sourcing a Cocker Spaniel we will name after an old auntie of mine: Tooly!
Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning. Tea… and cake in the afternoon!
Simon, thank you so much for your time chatting. See more from Simon at www.simonjohnphotographer.com.
Many thanks to the lovely Shelley Welti for the help in putting this feature together for me.