Todd Hunter McGaw, Brisbane, Australia wedding photographer recently took some time to share his life and work with me, and now I have the pleasure to share his Photographer Spotlight Interview with you. It doesn’t take long to learn that Todd has a great sense of humor and embraces life to the fullest, but he also has a serious side. Todd’s intense dedication for executing creative portraits and capturing that once-in-a-lifetime moment allows his couples to completely relax and focus on their real job, having a great time with friends and family. And as you can tell from these playful and fun photos, they are doing just that!
How did you get into wedding photography? I was actually planning on being a commercial/advertising photographer and was working as an assistant. Somebody asked me to shoot their wedding and the conversation went like this:
– Well, I’ve never shot a wedding before. You know that right?
– That’s cool, we just want you to hang around and take photos of what’s happening.
– Ok… I’ll do my best.
*Shot the wedding, processed the film, gave them the prints.*
– Thanks for having me at your wedding, are these ok?
– OMG!! These are sooooo much better than what we were expecting…amazing!
– Cool…ummm, thanks?
I realized that by photographing weddings, you can bring any style of photography with you to the gig, whether it be photojournalism, product shoots, portraits, creative style/conceptual shoots, landscapes, fine art, etc. You can also be your own creative director and art director. I figured I could serve my clients and explore my own creativity with wedding photography, and so after that I just totally did a cliff dive in without looking back.
What’s your favorite camera? lens? This is always changing, but right now I really like my Nikon FM2, w/ 50mm f2 and my Fujifilm X100 (it has a fixed 35mm equiv. lens).
Do you shoot film, digital or both? I shoot mostly digital. I shoot some film as well if my clients are into it, usually 1 or 2 rolls of 120. I shoot digital and film for personal work.
What albums do you offer? I offer 3 styles of albums – a flushmount traditional wedding album, an art-paper coffee table style book, and my custom order ‘Vinyl Frontier’ fine art experience.(see photo attached)
What are your favorite wedding locations in your area? I get asked this quite often, my favourite location is anywhere I’ve never shot before. If that’s local, great, if it’s overseas, great. I do really love the northern European summer light though…it’s unbelievable!
Where do you want to shoot next? I would dearly love to shoot a wedding in Scotland, during their summer – my soul feels at home in Scotland.
What gets you up in the morning? I really don’t like wasting the day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to sleep in, but generally speaking, I got stuff to do y’know – I also get pretty hungry in the mornings so…
A tip or two for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer? Find someone whose work really speaks to you, and I mean really speaks to you. There are plenty of good photographers out there, but not that many great ones. Then meet with your potential photographer for a chat. Can you relate to her/him as a person? Are they the kind of person you could hang out with? Can you imagine yourself in their photos? Can you imagine having this person hang around with you for your entire wedding day?
A tip or two for couples on how to look amazing and feel comfortable in their photographs? Eat well and sleep well leading up to your wedding. And remember, the night before your wedding, set your wedding day free. Think to yourself, “Well, wedding day, I’ve put my heart and soul into you so that you can be the best wedding day I can build. It’s now time for you to be free…so fly! Be free! and I’ll see you tomorrow with my lover and our friends.” Also, I ask my clients to forget about the photos, don’t even think about them, that’s my job – I’ll do all the thinking about the photos for all of us…ignore me as much as you can and concentrate on having a great time with your friends and family.
How has being a wedding photographer made you a stronger photographer over all? A wedding day is unpredictable, fast-moving, emotional, happy, sad, crazy, interesting, humbling, ever-changing, and while every wedding is kind of the same, they’re all surprisingly different. The light sources are always changing and my ‘studio’ is always changing. Because of being a wedding photographer, I have learned to think quickly and make decisions. I am able to change settings on my camera without looking. I can shoot in bright sun, in the dark, in the rain. I’ve learned to sew, pick locks, break in to cars when groomsmen lock keys in the car, and I’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people through being a wedding photographer…it’s changed me.
And has witnessing so many weddings impacted your life/outlook? I’m so grateful to be invited deep into the lives of my clients for a day. I regularly see love in a very real and tangible way. I feel like I can reach out and touch it. Human relationships are such an amazing thing and being able to share your happiness with those closest to you is a pretty powerful force. It’s so easy to see love among people you don’t personally know…your career, money, possessions, social status, and insanely awesome record collection means zero if you’re lonely and have no one to talk to. I guess that’s a really long way of saying that being to so many weddings has given me some perspective.
Favorite image you’ve taken lately? Portrait of my friend Dylan on Nikon FM2, 50mm f2, expired Fuji Superia 400 (See below)
Favorite image of yourself? (See below) I also included a pic of me with Alyda. She’s my favourite.
Best thank you that you’ve ever received? We really really appreciate the clients that find us and we’re so grateful we get to meet the people we meet while being a photographer. We give lots of thanks to our clients and they give us a lot of thanks too…In May this year, we received a thank you card from our clients. Their wedding was in 2010. I had a few quiet tears of thanks when we got this one:
“Dear Todd and Alyda,
Three years ago today G and I had our wedding captured by two simply amazing people. What you guys did was not merely photograph a wedding. You captured its essence. You captured the excitement, the joy, and the love. Every time we watch our slideshow we are transported and we re-live the feeling, the emotions of that amazing day. We are writing this card because you must know that what you do is pure beauty. It is more than just photographs – it has to be because they jump off the page with emotion; they seem alive. And that is down to your art form, your skill, and you passion for what you do. We love you guys and we are forever grateful for the memories we will always have.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
L & G xoxoxoxoxoxo”
Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist? I really like this quote by Picasso – “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” It reminds me to always remain curious, practice my craft, and participate in an active life so inspiration can find me. Looking for inspiration is an active pursuit.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a business person? “It’s so good that you’re doing your own thing Todd…just remember man…it’s a lot of hard work.” – My friend Pete (he’s an entrepreneur) told me this in 2006 when I was just getting our business off the ground.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a happy human? “If you’re really a mean person you’re going to come back as a fly and eat poop.” – Kurt Cobain
Something that has inspired you recently? These guys at Oh My Neko make toys from your kids’ drawings… how awesome is that?!!!!
What gets your heart racing – both personally and professionally? I love being out of my comfort zone – it becomes addictive. Traveling to another land/culture/language/space, really exercises your brain and puts you on edge. Like they say, “adventure starts at the end of your comfort zone”. Try something you’ve never thought of doing before. It really gets the adrenaline pumping.
What are looking forward to most right now? Right now, I’m really looking forward to seeing Fleetwood Mac play live in Adelaide this November. Wooooo!
Thanks, Todd! Follow Todd Hunter McGaw’s blog for good laughs, authentic stories and fantastic photography.