Every now and then we come across a wedding photographer that truly blows our socks off, and yes—you guessed it, Mark of Gold Hat Photography does just that. Mark’s eye for capturing incredible images at weddings are simply second-to-none.
In this post, we meet the man behind the camera.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
My name’s Mark Condon and I’m a British wedding photographer living in Sydney, shooting weddings worldwide. I also run a website called Shotkit, which gives photography enthusiasts a peek into the camera bags of the world’s best photographers and offers advice on the business of photography.
I shoot weddings in Australia, New Zealand and Asia during summer, then base myself in the UK for the English summer, shooting weddings on that side of the world.
2. How did you get into photography?
I decided one day to carry out a photo-a-day project (like this one). I posted the photos each day onto Facebook and slowly realised people were enjoying my work. This motivated me to try and improve and learn as much as I could about the craft. Then about a year later my (very basic) camera died and I decided that if I was going to spend a lot of money on a new one, I’d better start earning with it… hence my turning pro! Not the most romantic story!
3. Describe your aesthetic
Whilst I appreciate the whole vintage/pastel look, I avoid it in my own work. I don’t want my clients’ photos to look dated in a couple of years’ time when the trend blows over. On the other hand, I don’t really dig the saturated, glossy-magazine look either. I guess I’m somewhere in between—contrasty but still colourful.
Recently I’m drawn more to a darker, moodier photograph. I think the work on my Instagram account (@goldhatphoto) reflects this. Unfortunately, the summer weddings here in Sydney with the incredibly harsh light don’t really lend well to this style of picture, but I try my best! My work overseas tends to complement this style better.
4. What does a typical day look like?
Get up at 5 and drag myself to the gym or for a jog. Spend the morning with Harry our two-year-old—we don’t send him to day care, which basically means I’m a connoisseur of all the kiddies parks in Alexandria! Work from midday until 4-ish on Shotkit or Gold Hat Photography. Shoot weddings on the weekends.
5. What is your most memorable project?
This most recent one documenting the pregnancy/birth of our second boy Leo.
6. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Meeting people I’d never normally meet and documenting the most important day of their lives for them. For all the fancy portraits I try and create, I keep reminding myself that it’s the simple things that people cherish—natural wedding photography like this.
It struck a chord with me recently at the end of a wedding reception when a woman rushed over and asked me to take a photo of the bride’s father helping his mother onto the dance floor. She told me that grandma was on her last legs, and so my photo would probably be the last one of her. My eyes were welling up behind the camera when I clicked the button.
Even at the wild circus ride of a wedding, my role is still to document important moments in the hope of preserving memories. My goal is to do this in as creative a way as possible.
7. What advice would you give to potential clients when choosing a photographer?
Meet, or at least speak to the photographer on the phone or over Skype before you book them. There are lots of good photographers out there, but you’ll want to find one that shares your values. Someone who you can imagine sitting on the guests’ table or having a chat with your mum!
Ask to see a gallery of an entire wedding day. Take it from me—if you shoot thousands of photos per wedding, it’s not very hard to get one good one, and if those good ones are all you’re seeing on a photographer’s website… well you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Finally, you get what you pay for. Cheaper wedding packages are indicative of someone very new to the business (inexperienced) or someone whose model is churn and burn. That’s the only way a wedding photographer can stay profitable if his packages are dirt cheap – to shoot a hundred weddings a year. Do you really want to be one of those one hundred weddings?
Think about how much you’re spending on the venue, the food, the decor, the free bar… then consider how much of that you and your family will remember a week later. Invest in great photography so you have something you’re proud to show your children!
8. I am happiest when…
My mum, my fiancé and my kids are all in the same room, smiling.