What Would They Know? Anthony Ponzo of AP Photography

by | Photography Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ms Polka Dot
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Wide open spaces bring a sense of time and place to images and Anthony of AP Photography brings cityscapes, forest, and beaches into his images with natural light with long shadows, the sun filtering through branches or a window, the golden light of sunset – all feature to add that extra intangible something to his images. Maybe it’s the warmth of the light, or maybe it’s just the love between the bride and groom – there is a glow about these images. With a dedication to delivering high quality images, we also love that he takes pride in keeping his photos as natural as possible with minimal editing. Everything is done by Anthony himself in his boutique studio – from getting to know you, answering your questions, taking the photographs, to ensuring the photos he delivers to you are of the highest quality. So let’s join Anthony as he shares his story with us.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Sydney’s Inner West, but that doesn’t really mean much in wedding photography terms. I’ve worked throughout NSW (Hunter Valley, southern highlands, central coast) and also been lucky enough to work with clients interstate. Travel is never out of the question!

How long have you been a wedding photographer?

I’ve been a photographer for thirteen years, with nine of those being a wedding photographer.
I actually started out working in live music photography, which I think has a few similarities to a wedding – very spontaneous, ever changing conditions and it’s a record of people’s important and joyous experiences so there’s no room for errors!

What does telling the wedding day story through your images mean to you?

A wedding is like a great book. It has a nice gradual start, an exciting middle part to tell everyone what the story is all about and a beautiful ending leaving everyone walking away happy and in bliss.
A full wedding day story is from start to finish. And for me it’s what brings the whole gallery of images together. You show someone the images who wasn’t there and hopefully they can feel the love that was in the air, see the details of the decorations and see the smiles on everyone’s faces.
Being able to capture all those moments in detail for people to look back on for years to come is a very special thing to be a part of.

Does your interest in landscape photography influence the wedding images you produce?

I’ve always had a passion for landscape photography. We live in such a beautiful part of the world and there are so many surprises around –   it’s always exciting to capture them.
It’s very much the same with weddings. Most couples go to great lengths to book the perfect venue and photo locations and part of that is the environment and landscape around them.

Being able to incorporate wide landscapes and the natural environment while keeping a beautiful, candid, loving look to the images is really important to me as an artist.
You could have a simple but beautiful portrait photo in front of a tree, or could have a wide image, showing you standing at the foot of an enormous tree in a 150 year old forest or on a beach at dusk.

Are you known for a certain ‘style’ of photography?

I like to keep things flowing naturally throughout the day. Keeping everyone relaxed, having fun and enjoying themselves always brings out the most beautiful candid images.
I also keep my editing to a minimum and keep the images looking as natural as possible. No Instagram filters, nothing over the top. It’s your wedding day, you’ll look amazing without all that!

Are there parts of the wedding day that stand out – that you particularly enjoy photographing?

A lot of couples don’t do this, but incorporating a “First Look” before the ceremony is such a beautiful moment. It’s very intimate and you see both the bride & groom showing the real, raw emotion of seeing their soon-to-be partner for the first time, before any of the guests. It’s a very special moment to capture.

Since I love working with landscapes and outdoors, working at dusk/sunset is always special too. There’s a distinct kind of light that happens that, as an artist, you just can’t ignore.
It’s worth running up hills, jumping fences and getting your feet wet in the ocean to get that light!

How do you make the all-important connection with your couples? Do you feel that trust between you and the couple is key to producing your best work?

There’s no denying that having a great working relationship with my clients is important. To be honest, each couple will be spending more time with me than almost anyone else at their wedding, so trust is critical. Forming a good working relationship is vital so we can ensure we’ve all got the same ideas & expectations.
I’ve found the best way to work on all of the above is to simply sit down and have a chat. Grab a coffee, go over the plans for the day. Have a laugh and get to know everyone.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you connect with your couples?

I’ve been told I’m a very calming influence. A wedding day can get pretty stressful and often it’s hard for people to see through the small hiccups and see the bigger picture (pardon the pun). Which is why I think having a connection and trust-worthy relationship with my clients is always so important. I’m there to not only take incredible images but help them get through the day, with as little stress as possible.
I’m also very selective about a lot of things, including my photography. I’d rather give my clients a few hundred amazing photographs than 1000+ mediocre ones.

Since you started, has wedding photography style changed over the years? Are couples looking for something different now?

There are always exceptions, but since the beginning I’ve always taken pride in being able to tell a full wedding story with candid images. A “fly on the wall” approach, and most of my clients appreciate that I’ve been doing this for so long and haven’t changed to match the latest trend and editing effect. I pride myself on providing my clients with timeless images that won’t date as trends shift and change over the years.

What does a typical working day look for you?

(Wedding work day)
There’s no such thing a typical wedding day!
The night before I always get my camera gear ready, make sure the batteries are charged, and have backup equipment of everything. Pack my white umbrellas in the car (even if there’s 0% chance of rain) and jump on Google Maps and plan my routes.
Day of the wedding always needs to start with a good breakfast (and coffee!). Wedding days are long and there’s often little time to do things like eat at a reasonable time. So that’s always important for me.
Then I typically head to the groom’s house/hotel. Spend some time with him getting ready and it’s always a great time to photograph the wedding rings.
I’ll then move over to the bride’s location. I’m often there a little longer and I like to spend as much time here as I can. Getting the detail photos are just as important as the dress I think, ensuring the whole story is told in full.
Then it’s off to the ceremony. I’ll arrive before the bride, see the groom and calm his nerves a little. The ceremony is normally a lot quicker than most people think when you’re running around taking every angle and shot. And of course I make sure I’m front and centre for the first kiss!

Then after the ceremony we go for our bridal photos. Traditionally somewhere close by and generally outdoors with beautiful landscapes and backdrops. Let the bridal party open some champagne and beers and let everyone take a moment to absorb what they just experienced.

An hour or two later is normally the reception. This is where things slow down a little. Everyone sits down, gets a good meal after a very busy day and before you know it the DJ is playing music and the dance floor is full!

Finally it’s time to go. I say my Thank You’s, my congratulations & my goodbyes and I head home. I do a download (and backup) before bed and that’s a wrap. 

(Non-wedding work day)

When I’m not out photographing weddings, there’s often a lot of time spent on the computer. But before that there’s always coffee and a good breakfast.

Keeping my social media & website up to date is always important. Plus of course the editing of previous wedding clients. I like to edit the images as soon as I can while the day is still fresh in my mind.

I generally spend the afternoon catching up on admin (e-mails, accounts etc) and hopefully have some time to relax!

I often catch up with clients in the evening once they have gotten home from work to either deliver their wedding images or have consultations for their upcoming day.

Using the light and the landscape in your images brings a warmth to them. Are you able to explain the reason for this?

Taking photos around sunset, in particular approximately one hour before, gives the whole world a warmth. The sun is low with stunning, long shadows stretched across the ground. Even more so when I incorporate a wide landscape view, rather than a cropped portrait style image. The trees, sky, beach or building glow with that low sunlight which just adds to the warmth and intensity of the finished image.

You’re a boutique studio – what does this control over every aspect of the wedding photography mean in terms of quality?

I run my own photography studio, meaning everything is done by me. It also means a lot more stress! But I do feel the quality shows and my clients appreciate that.
I don’t outsource any editing, I answer all my own emails & phone calls and when I meet my clients for the first time they can be sure I’ll be the one watching them walk down the aisle.

Having control over every e-mail, meeting and image lets me have control over my work meaning that what you see is what you’ll get.

What is the best piece of advice you have received – business or otherwise?

Trust yourself and if you do, don’t change.
It was given to me on a personal level but I’ve incorporated that into my wedding photography as well.
I love what I do and truly believe in capturing beautiful, fun, candid images.

If you could shoot a wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say Iceland under the northern lights! It’s a dream destination for me both for wedding and landscapes.
A little closer to home, somewhere in the South Island of New Zealand would be amazing. Maybe chartering a helicopter to the top of a mountain just to top off a perfect day?

What would you tell your younger self – knowing what you know now?

A few things I’ve learnt along the way…

  • The latest and greatest equipment doesn’t always improve your images. Learn the skills and the photos will show.
  • Be inspired by others, but don’t impersonate them. Build your own style, and let others be inspired by you.
  • Make sure to bring snacks in the car!! It gets tough finding open service stations after midnight in country towns when you’re hungry!

How do your photographic expeditions to Antarctica for example, inspire you?

Antarctica is an extraordinary place. It’s so remote and difficult to get to but once you’re there it’s like nowhere else. The wildlife and landscapes are endless and with the sun almost never going below the horizon it’s a photographers dream!
Being so remote and so different to where we are, it helps me think differently about almost every scene, searching for a different way, angle or lighting I could be using to capture something truly unique.
Plus, if I can photograph penguins in -30 degrees, I think I can take photos almost anywhere!

Are you planning any more expeditions in the coming years?

I’m currently working on an aerial photography project covering parts of New Zealand & Australia. Creating vibrant, abstract aerial images of lands, ponds and rivers.
And if anyone decides to get married in Iceland…

What do you like to do at the end of the working week?

Since most weddings happen over a weekend, my end of the week is usually midweek. I like to enjoy some sunshine, catch up with friends over brunch, coffee, wine (or all 3) and generally try to switch off and decompress.

Thank you Anthony for sharing your story. I think you’ll agree that these images are stunning and such a beautiful reminder of the wedding day. To find out more about AP Photography visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of AP Photography.

 

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