Chris Mann is probably one of the nicest guys I have ever met. Always willing to lend a helping hand. Not only is he a great guy, he is an amazing wedding photographer. He is also a moderator over on the DWF and is most famous for helping whenever he can. With 26,000 + posts you can’t miss him. Please take time to visit him on the web.
TPP: Tell us a little about yourself.
CM: I’m a wedding and portrait photographer & moviemaker now based in Guildford, England – I recently moved back to the UK to set up my own business after spending the last seven years working in the Caribbean with my brother Andy’s company, Tropical Imaging. In the past I have been a computer software trainer, a retail store manager, a comedy scriptwriter and playwright, and originally I trained as an archaeologist! So I guess you can say I like variety!
TPP: How important is photoshop?
CM: It’s a useful creative tool for fine-tuning images – but to be honest I find I use it less and less these days – I process my files in Adobe Lightroom and I use that for all the basic adjustments that used to get done in Photoshop. Photoshop is great for retouching and giving images that final “polish”, but these days I am tending to be a lot more “purist” in my approach – I prefer images that have simpliclty and aren’t overlaid with a ton of special effects.
TPP: Do you think it’s important to know how to pose your clients?
CM: It’s essential – it’s one of the main things that distinguishes the professional photographer from the amateur. Posing to me doesn’t imply stiffness and artificiality (which is what the term is often taken to mean) – it means placing people and photographing them in a way that is natural, flattering and appropriate. You can still “pose” even if you are a pure photojournalist who doesn’t interact with the subject – you look for the direction of light, find the best angle to shoot from, pick the right focal length.
TPP: What is your biggest challenge when photographing weddings?
CM: Probably challenging myself to do something a little different each time. All photographers have standard shots that we know will work – but I think it’s important to try and do something different at each wedding. Sometimes of course there are practical challenges such as dealing with an awkward location or bad weather – but that’s part of what makes weddings interesting to shoot!
TPP: Where do you draw your inspiration?
CM: From two sources mainly – from the obvious classic photographers of the past – people like Richard Avedon, for example; but also from movies – not just because I shoot movies myself but because the way that great cinematographers use lighting, composition, and depth of field is always interesting and inspiring.
For example, check out the work of cinematographers such as Vittorio Storaro (The Last Emperor, La Luna, Apocalypse Now); Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man, Dune); Freddie Young (Goodbye Mr. Chips, Lawrence of Arabia); Arthur Edeson (The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca); and of course Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane). The director no doubt provides the overall creative vision, but the cinematographer is the one who makes a movie look the way it does!
TPP: What is your most successful advertising?
CM: My website, definitely – and reciprocal promotion with other related businesses online. I think it’s difficult to justify other forms of advertising these days – you can easily spend a lot of money and not get much in return. But I am still in the early stages of building my UK business, so I’m looking at lots of options.
TPP: Canon or Nikon?
CM: Canon – and Panasonic! I love Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras for movie making. They are so small, light and unobtrusive. But I really don’t think it matters what brand of camera you use, the results are what count. I like gadgets, I’m as much of a gear-head as anybody, but I’m not that fussed about having the latest and greatest. I replace cameras when there’s a risk of them being unreliable, not just because there’s a newer model on the market.
TPP: Are prints being done in by facebook?
CM: I don’t think photographic prints will ever go away, just as printed books are still with us, despite TV, movies and the web, all of which were predicted to kill them off. People are now more selective about what they have printed, however – it used to be that you would take a roll of film to the lab or supermarket and come back with a packet of 4×6 prints. Now people keep images in digital form and only their favourites get printed. But I do think it’s important for professional photographers to remind people constantly about the importance of making physical prints, and albums – digital files are all too easy to lose.
TPP: Introvert or Extravert?
CM: Both, I think – by turns! I am probably quite introverted most of the time, but when I am shooting I tend to go into “performance mode” – hopefully not too bossy or overbearing, but you do have to exude confidence and excitement when photographing an event in order to make your clients feel good about the experience.