Crash Taylor Interviews David Murray

This week I welcome David Murray. David is one amazing wedding photojournalist. He brings more than 20 years of experience as a photojournalist to the wonderful world of wedding photography and has won numerous awards with the prestigious WPJA. David definitely knows how to capture the defining moments in all areas of photography. I LOVE his style and the passion he takes to every assignment. My wife and I are planning a trip to Maine in the future and visiting David to pick his brain is definitely on the list of things to do. Enjoy the interview.

Nicole Neff of Nicole Neff Photography has won the Kingston 8GB USB flash drive for last weeks best comment. Well done Nicole! I want to thank everybody who takes the time to leave a comment. I know the photographers really appreciate it.

Hi David,

Tell us a little bit about David Murray – I am a New Englander. I was born in Boston, but headed south after I had my diploma. I ended up in Florida. My first job was as a tile setter. By chance, I befriended a photographer in the newspaper business, and it all went down hill from there... ;).

Where is home? I live in a coastal town in Maine with my wife, my son, and my border collie.  It was a place that I loved during summer months when I was a child, and I feel so lucky that it is now home.  I am spending some time in Atlanta, but I always feel Maine is my home.

What is your current state of mind before we start the interview? Right now I am in wedding mode, as I have a shoot later on today. I am getting in the zone.

Did you go to school to study photography? My focus in university was French and French Literature.  I had photography courses in my last year, and the wet lab was on the 2nd floor of my dormitory.  Needless to say, there were too many times when photography won out over Proust.

How long have you been a photographer? My first photo was published in 1979. I guess that means that it has been a while.

How long have you been a wedding photographer? I took a few weddings in 2002 and had my first full season the following year. So I will be entering my seventh year in 2009.

Who or what got you started in wedding photography? It was several events coming together: 1) My wife and I had moved to Maine from Atlanta. We had just had a child and wanted to get away from the stress of the news business.  After having lived in our new home for a year, I was asked by a local hotel if I could shoot a wedding.  I came home from that and declared to Linda that I had just discovered what i was going to do after news! I could still document as before, but have a predictable schedule.

How would you describe your style? At its core, I am a photojournalist; therefore I am a moment catcher.  But in shooting weddings, photojournalism is only one of the tricks I use throughout the day.  I love a good portrait, and am a bit of a fashionista as well.

How many weddings do you average per year? I am doing around 30 a year.

Do you have some recent wedding images you can share with us?

What type of cameras do you shoot with? I have Nikon D3s.

What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera? My iphone.  I text my assistants all the time, and do a million other things besides with that thing.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why? It would be my 17-35mm.  It was once said by a PJ mentor," Show me someone who can use a wide angle, and I will show you a photojournalist."

What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot? I have Alien Bees, and one Lumedyne when I need a strong battery driven flash.

Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding? I try not to use flash.  There are summer days, when the sun stays out late, and I never use one.  But if it isn't there, I will have either an Alien Bee off to the side as a secondary light at the reception, or, if I have an assistant, I will have them holding a flash connected with a pocket wizard for off camera light.  I will use a reflector for bridal portraits when necessary.

What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer? For editing, I love Photo Mechanic.  I have started to learn more about Lightroom, and will see if eventually I can make as good a time editing with it.

What is your most used Photoshop tool, action set, plug-in etc.? I don't really have one.  I just won some of the Rad Actions in a contest, so perhaps I will find something I like there.

How important is Photoshop in your final images? It is there to darken, lighten, crop and contrast.  But the moment is the thing for me.

Are you a Mac or PC lover? I have just switched to Mac.  I love it.

Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on? If Nikon would ever make a real fast wide angle (28, 1.8), it would be in my bag. But otherwise, I am just waiting for D3s to come down in price so I can buy a third.

What’s the best part of being a photographer? I meet wonderful people, and see so many wonderful places, with another opportunity to make great photos. And there is nothing that I like more than making images.

I choose photographers for these interviews because their work really inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery? I am connected with so many talented photographers who are also cool people.  We get together as a large group once a year in Texas, and then in smaller groups throughout the year.  Plus I have a great primary photographer in John Santerre. We bounce ideas and such to one another.  Being connected with other photographers, and pursuing other interests besides photography, keeps me wanting to do more good work. Cinema is also quite inspiring.  I love studying light, angles, and how the director fills the space.  I have learned much by my observations of film.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why? My first trip to Haiti on assignment.  The story centered around an unfortunate incident in South Florida where over thirty Haitians perished in a boat that sank in rough waters off the coastline. I was sent to Port au Prince to cover the aftermath. It was an eye opener as to the extreme poverty that exits so close to home.  Myself along with several others on staff in Ft. Lauderdale became Pulitzer finalists for our work on this.

If you could shoot a wedding with someone who would it be and why? David Beckstead:  I had the good fortune to shoot with him this year, and he is quite the photographer.  People know him as a wonder with light, fashion and imagination.  But I also know that he has a photojournalists eye.  And beyond that, David is such a great team player and nice person.

Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments? On any assignment over 100 people (give or take) I will have another photographer.

Where would be your dream destination wedding? Paris, or anywhere in France. Perhaps we could throw in a Chateau?  Italy would be cool as well.

A website and/or blog you visit often? www.kuperblog.com and www.mattmendelsohn.net

The hardest part of your job? Getting the brides to order albums in a timely manner.

How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Nikon D3? I have to turn up the volume in-group situations.  I ask them loudly to get closer and in family settings ask them to introduce themselves to each other. That usually gets a laugh.  If there is music in the background, I have been known to move my hips around until I get some giggles.

Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it? I once had a wedding on a Maine island in October where the power went out.  There was no light after 5 PM.  I shot formals by radar.  Thank God I remembered the old PJ saying," f8 and be there".   f8 always works in total darkness!!!

It’s almost that time of year for a Taylor family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say - he/she took my portrait? You can't go wrong with Annie Lebowitz.

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why? Robert Capa. He was always in the thick of things, right up to his death in Vietnam. There are others like Burrows, Duncan and so many more.  But it was Capa who was in the first wave of war photographers with 35mm.

A wedding photographer who inspires you? There are so many inspirational and talented photographers: Marcus Bell, Huy, Joe Bussink, etc. (apologies to the hundreds who deserve to be on that list). But as I like to look to the person behind the camera, one of my favorites is Amy Deputy.  I love her heart, her eye, and her editing skills.

The last workshop or seminar you attended and why? Each February, I am a part of the Foundation Workshop in Texas.  It is a group of great photographers, who teach wedding photographers how to shoot more like photojournalists.  The staff consists largely of former newspaper people, and we simulate for students what it feels like to have a daily news assignment.

Do you conduct workshops for aspiring photographers? This year I did a workshop with David Beckstead in my studio.  It was so much fun being with David, and all our students. I learned so much from everyone. Plus it was wonderful just being with so many talented photographers. And David is the best!

What photographic organizations do you belong to? I belong to both the WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association) and the ISPWP  (International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers)

One way you market David Murray weddings? I try to take care of my vendors. I get them photos as soon as I can.

How important is an awesome website for your business? It is my calling card. It is my introduction to potential clients. I use it to get to the interview stage.

Do you advertise in bridal magazines? Just one, and that is even questionable for next year.

If not a photographer I would have liked to have been a CIA agent. What would you have been? Busking at the Metro, or the Tube, with my guitar case out,  and a couple of planted dollars, quid, and euros as helpful hints. And my CD's would probably go for cheap! But I would have been doing what I like!   I sometimes wonder what I would have been were this 200 years ago.  I probably would have been furrowing the fields. I could have never endured such hard work this long!

I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result we would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography. My wife, Linda, did a documentary on a woman with breast cancer called,” The Breast Cancer Diaries".  I did the stills, as well as some of the video for the film.  www.thebreastcancerdiaries.com

Do you have a few more personal images you can share with us?

When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s brain, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography? First, know your tools. Then know who you are. If you can come to this point, then by all means follow the song within, and be prepared to struggle. Getting to where I am has been no Swiss picnic.  There were lots times where I ate minimally, and shot a lot.

At the moment I’m finding a lot of my personal inspiration from my wife being pregnant and the joy it’s bringing to our lives. In regards to photographic inspiration this month, I have been studying Hollywood and Finnish cinematographers. Where do you draw your personal and photographic inspiration from? Personally: My older neighbors down the street, are a couple that give me inspiration.  They are in their eightes, and with all that is hard in life physically at that stage, they are so positive with what is placed in front of them.   As well, they are still like newly weds with each other.  For photography:  Photojournalism books and sites.

Lately I have wanted to photograph great white sharks in South Africa. Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph? For a person, I would have liked to photograph Abraham Lincoln. Anything:  I would have wanted to be a shooter in WWII or Vietnam.

If you could be invisible for one day with your camera... I would love to be in the Oval Office on President Obama's first day on the job. Maybe I could talk my way into overtime.

Photographing elephants in Africa, Bengal tigers in India, Polar bears in Alaska or the wedding of Brad and Angelina? Bengal Tigers.... no snow, or paparazzi to worry about

Tokyo, Helsinki or Cape Town with a Hasselblad H3DII-50 and Kate Moss? Helsinki in summer so I could experience a midnight sun (we do write with light!)  I would work Kate hard, and we would make great images together!

I’ve learned the most from… being with my children

What talent would you most like to have? The wisdom of Solomon

Something you’re still learning? How to play my guitar.

What do you love to indulge in on a Saturday night? French Cinema and sushi

Something that is overrated? Trash the Dress

Something you’re saving up for? Box seats for 5 at Fenway Park (a baseball Mecca for those of Red Sox Nation)

What item do you wish you had designed? Cognac

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be? Buddha

Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.? Watching a movie with my wife.

Your favourite film (movie) of all time? Groundhog Day (brilliant metaphor for life and reincarnation).  Oh but I must have Amilie, because I love the story line and editing.  Could I also squeeze in Paris, Je t’aime? It's about my favorite city in the world and a subject that is close to my heart: Love.

First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Make life easier for my parents by purchasing a house in a warmer climate for them.

Which five words would your friends use to describe you? Humorous, sensitive, le chef, sentimental, Francophile

What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now? The same as it ever was, only better.

And the last question, if you had one wish… it would be that the children of the world would all be able to live in nurturing and loving homes that would help give hope for this world tomorrow.

Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next David Murray?’ What would you say? You wouldn't want to be me because then you couldn't be yourself.  You can't stand out if you stand behind others.

Your readers can find out more about me:

Website: www.davidmurrayweddings.com

Blog: www.davidmurrayweddings.blogspot.com

  • it's quite humbling to realize how many great photographers there are out there... another great interview Crash.

  • What an inspiring interview! David is definitely creating beautiful images and as you said, capturing the defining moments. Thanks for all the hard work you put into these interviews Crash. This site is read by so many of the students at my school, it's required reading. By the way I'm loving the images on your new blog and website, can't you interview yourself 😉

    Best Regards,

  • Another inspiring photographer and great interview Crash. I'm learning so much from these interviews its making my brain ache!


  • Stellar images and stellar interview, Crash. These interviews are great inspirations for the cold, snowy weather. It even makes me want to get out and do some marketing! Keep up the great work.


  • What beautiful images! Loved the interview. Actually gave some insight to the man, not just what is your favorite lens!

    Good job. I have found two new people to follow!

  • Wow ! not bad for 7 years in wedding photography this guys definately got the decisive moment down to a fine art and what an excellent film choice Amelie..loving it...even with subtitles..Thanks Crash

  • I loved this...
    What advise would you give wedding photographers

    "be prepared to struggle"

    David, agréable de vous rencontrer. Merci pour votre pénétration

  • Cash,
    Another great interview and congratulations on your wife's pregnancy! Very exciting :)

    Merci pour l'interview, c'etait tres sympa!


  • Amazing, I love his work. Very inspiring.


  • Always, very interesting to read and the photographs, very inspiring. Keep it up.

  • I am one of the lucky ones to be called friend by David, and I loved reading this interview. It reminds me of the wonderful person David truly is, and all that he gives to his work. A true artist.

  • Of all the the great wedding photos I've seen in these interviews, David Murray's and Ben Chrisman's are my favourites. Truly wonderful photos to look at!

  • Another Great interview Crash - a good read

    And loved his images

  • Crush did it again. Inspiring photos, David.

  • excellent interview as always Crash.

  • Thanks for another inspiring interview Crash. David is quite a photographer, very talented. I love these interviews so much. I'm learning tons from them. I just went through your blog and website Crash and the only words that come to my mind is different, alluring, gorgeous, exquisite and my favorite word breathtaking. Your fan, Jenna

    Good luck with the baby, you are going to be so happy :-)

  • Amazing images! A really good insight...

  • Thanks everybody for the great comments as usual. Thank you David for an awesome interview, much appreciated. Next week is a UK photographer who's work I just admire big time. Thanks again, Crash

  • Nice interview again Crash :-) seems like a really nice guy, keep up the good work David

  • Thank you Crash, for taking the interest in, and time with me. I have discovered some wonderful photographers on your interview site that I would otherwise never had known. So bravo on what you are doing here, and keep up the good work!

    And to all, many thanks for your kind words. Je vous remercie tous! I hope that this and the other interviews inspire you all to discover that you too can create like this. You just have to look within to see what motivates & gives passion to who you are, and what you do! Good Luck/ Bonne Chance!

  • Great interview with a superb documentary photographer and all around good egg...

    Happy New Year DM!


  • Really enjoyed this interview. What great images - terrific stuff.
    There are so many great photographers out there who you can see really enjoy their work and David Murray is definitely one of them. That shot of the guy in the chair laughing has been beautifully captured and the bride looking up from under the veil, the policeman and the parrot is a great grab shot and the first shot with the umbrellas is typical of the weddings we get here in the UK !
    Totally agree with David's comments on other well known photographers, I greatly admire Marcus Bell and having organised a workshop with David Beckstead last year and shot a wedding with him, which was an awesome experience, I can echo David's comments there. David Beckstead is coming over to the UK for a workshop in May again this year so that is one for the diary if UK readers can make it.

  • I am one of the lucky vendors David refers to in this interview. I not only enjoy working with him becuse of his great personality and kindness but he is great at what he does. I enjoyed reading this interview!

  • David is a wonderful man to work with. He makes everyone feel relaxed and at ease in front of the camera...not an easy task given the high emotional atmosphere of most weddings. Thanks.

  • Crash please tell me who you're interviewing next! I love these super radical interviews. Your site it totally rocking the house. Everybody in the house reads every interview as we are all photography freaks of nature. You are to cool Mr. CT

    You know you love me 😉

    Riding the waves forever.