Hello, Ross. Thank you so much for taking the time out for this interview. Since we first met at NineDots, I knew you were someone I had to speak with. It must have been all those insights and practical tips you gave that left me wanting more. I still have not forgotten about the three H’s! However, that’s not for now; we’ll get into that a bit later.
Let’s begin with who is Ross Harvey and how did you get into wedding photography?
I’m from the humble city of Norwich, UK. The more I travel around the world the more I realise how much I love this place! It’s most certainly my home.
An impulse led me to buy a used Canon 350D off eBay back in 2006. That impulse soon became a hobby, which in turn soon became an obsession. My first job was to shoot headshots for the company I worked for. From that, I shot a colleague (and friends) party. It unraveled from that point without conscious effort or direction, simply following my excitement and seeing what opportunities presented themselves. Eventually, I found myself shooting a wedding, and fell in love with it instantly.
Was there something your Dad gave you that made you think, “Yeah, I’m going to be a photographer”?
He did indeed; a Nikon D700 with some pro-level G lenses. An amazing Christmas gift back in 2008, which was accompanied by a note with a single line: “Follow your dreams”. And so I did! I shot my first wedding that following year. That gift and message changed my life.
From what I recall, you have a very tech/geeky background. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am a geek at heart! I love technology. I have a Masters Degree in Advanced Computer Science, which has been incredibly useful. While at University I taught myself graphic design, and my first job was as a web developer (designing full systems; from systems architecture to front end graphics).
Over the years that role evolved to a design/usability consultant (knowing both backend technology and front-end implementation is rather handy) and branding consultant.
Do you feel that Computer Science and Graphic Design has helped you as a wedding photographer?
Absolutely. The technical side of things fell into place easily, and my love for design had given me years of study and appreciation of the arts. Especially when it comes to colours and geometry.
I know you believe in creativity, geometry, and composition. Can you expound on why this has been successful for you?
Creativity is not a tool or technique. It’s s state of mind. I’ve studied psychology, the classical and quantum sciences and neurology for years, as I find it fascinating. In doing so I started to formulate an impression of how the mind works creatively; what helps and hinders it. It’s a crucial element of my workshops and the key to personal creative growth and success.
Geometry and composition are techniques to play with the viewers mind; to invoke interest and emotion. Very powerful stuff and it all ties together wonderfully.
As I mentioned above, I heard you talk about the three H’s: heads, hands and hips. If there is a gap in the photo, it’s an emotional one. How do you address this?
Body language is incredibly important. When we take portraits of couples, their bodies indicate their physical connect (or not!). How they hold each other, interact and move are one of the primary keys to an emotive portrait.
As a wedding photographer, with a background in computer science and graphic design, what do you think about JPEGmini?
To put it simply, it’s a little bit of magic. I could go into compression and whatnot, but it’s the end result that counts. That result is invaluable.
Posts with many images mean higher bandwidth. Couple that with a lot of traffic to your site and your bandwidth requirements are high. The kilobytes and megabytes saved accumulate rather quickly, which in turn, saves your bandwidth (and pocket!).
Images for my blog are run through the standalone Pro version, but I’ll add it to my Photoshop export for web actions once I upgrade my copy of Photoshop.
What can a photographer do to sharpen their design skills?
Design tastes are very subjective and ubiquitous; you can learn from paintings, interiors, products, brands, and posters. Keep your eye open for geometry, alignments and colour combinations.
What are 5 tips you would give to a wedding photographer starting out today?
– Don’t follow the herd, do you own thing
– Trust your instincts
– Invest in yourself; equipment, time, and skills
– Have a dream, a goal, and follow it with passion
– Follow your excitement, wherever it may lead
I’ll sneak an extra one in. Life is better when you appreciate the moment, not wish for some distant event. A dream is something you work on daily, mentally, emotionally and physically. In doing so you bring the dream to fruition in the moment. It becomes an experience, rather than an abstract intangible thing in the future. Enjoy the journey.