Welcome to a new episode of the OpenFrame podcast! Today's host, Oli Sansom, a talented photographer and educator from Melbourne, chats with Ian Weldon, a musician turned into a photographer, knighted by Martin Parr himself. The conversation takes you on a journey where the past, present, and a bit of the future melt into a valuable story about the power of having a genuine interest in photography and nurture it one day at a time.
Ian thinks of himself as someone who shoots weddings but is not a wedding photographer. His passion is to create historical documents for future generations to help them relate to the world as it was back then. Ian is a strong believer in creating things that stand the test of time — this implies practicing resilience, but also being comfortable with failure.
By taking one glance at his work, you'll immediately understand why his approach is so particular within the industry. His style is distinguished and easily recognizable in a sea of “conventionally pretty” wedding photography. Ian invites the viewer to look at this niche differently and think about it in new ways. He challenges the familiar images we repeatedly see on our screens and the notion of what is considered “beautiful”. Moreover, our guest says he is happy if he gets one good photo per wedding because his standards have increased over the years.
In this episode, you will explore Oli and Ian's views on the deeper meaning of photography, and the role of personal projects, which reflect who you are and what you stand for.
Here are some highlights from this valuable conversation:
- Knowing the past prepares you for the future. Ian takes a lot of inspiration from the history of photography and follows his own rules, not what the industry dictates.
- Photography has no recipe to follow, so it takes a while to experiment, learn, and make the most out of it.
- Having a real interest in what you are doing, opens new possibilities and allows you to create work that matters.
- Defining your taste in photography is a long-term process, but it pays off because it helps you shape your style and express your vision.
- Switching the perspective and thinking of your work as a way of creating historic documents changes the entire game.
- In the beginning, a way of learning is by imitating others, and that's fine.
- People want to reach a certain level of success but are unaware of how much it takes to get there.
- Opportunities for personal projects are right in front of you, but to tackle them, you must change how you look at the world.
- To create personal projects, you need a lot of patience and discipline. Nothing comes overnight, and the willingness to take risks often makes the difference.
- Wedding photographers call themselves storytellers, but the truth is that the story is already there on a wedding day. You just have to document it.
The dialogue between Oli and Ian reveals many flavors within the wedding photography industry. Even though the arena has become crowded in the last few years, there's still room for innovation.
For instance, Ian is a role model when it comes to going in-depth, fine-tuning his style and creating what he calls historical documentation. By taking this route, he celebrates the past, acknowledges the present, and prepares for the future.
Therefore, as long as professionals stay true to themselves, bring their own interests and passions into the mix, and follow more of what they love instead of what the majority dictates — we will continue to see mesmerizing work.
We hope this episode inspires and gives you a raw perspective on your creative work. It's always good to be challenged on something we do on autopilot. It gets us out of our comfort zone and pushes the limits. As photographers covering dozens of events, we can get caught in a routine that makes us oblivious and skeptical to change. This conversation is a great anchor if you want to get out of that place and look at everything with fresh eyes and more bravery.
This conversation is also available on YouTube. Don't forget to subscribe to OpenFrame on your favorite streaming platform (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, etc.) and share this episode with a friend who you think would love this!