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Crash Taylor Interviews the UK's David Murray


I just want to thank all my loyal subscribers and visitors for their emails. I'm even getting emails from famous photographers that I have grown up admiring. I really appreciate the kind words so thank you very much. I'm glad so many of you are learning from these interviews. It's amazing to me to see how different photographers answer the same questions, proving that there is more than one way to accomplish things and become successful. I just love my career, being able to photograph 30 wedding adventures a year - capturing special moments for my clients is priceless. It's mind blowing that I get to travel to beautiful places, make new friends, freeze beautiful moments in time, and get well paid for it. There is nothing else I would rather be doing.

This week I welcome David Murray. David is another UK photographer who's work is absolutely outstanding. He has mastered the art of capturing the moment for his clients. He is a wedding photographer who's work I admire very much. I hope you enjoy the interview and remember to leave a comment for Mr. Murray. Next week I "head over" to the Phillippines to interview the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photojournalist Association's 2007 Photographer of the Year. Stay tuned.

Hi David,

Tell us a little bit about David Murray -  6'3", I look younger than my years, have nice eyes and I am sensitive and kind. I have a 15-year-old daughter. I like football (Liverpool FC) and have an obsession with the power of the still image.

Where is home? Nantwich, Cheshire, England. A lovely Tudor market town.

If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home? I love England, so I would like to live in a thatched cottage in a village somewhere in the Cotswolds.

What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview? I'm ok. It's a difficult period of my life right now. This interview is a nice distraction.

Did you go to school to study photography? No. All trial and error.

How long have you been a photographer? I have taken pictures since the summer of 1980, when I was nearly 14. My first camera was a Zenith EM.

How long have you been a wedding photographer? I shot my first wedding in 1999, and full time for five years.  What or who got you started in wedding photography? I was asked by someone where I worked to photograph their wedding, I charged £300 and was terrified. On the day, there were gale force winds, it hail stoned and it was freezing, but the results were ok. I then shot a few more and it took off from there. I left full time employment in 2004 and have never regretted it.

How would you describe your style? Pure documentary. A tiny number of group shots aside, I control absolutely no part of the day. If the shot is not there, it's not there. Other photographers who have come out with me to observe have been very surprised by this. I like to tell a story within in image, and then when that picture is placed with others the story becomes absolutely complete. What's important to me is reality, interlinked with honesty and emotion.

How many weddings do you average per year? In the last four years I have averaged 39 weddings per year.

Do you have a few favourite wedding images you can share with us?

What type of cameras do you shoot with? I work with Canon 1D MK3's, and a Leica M8.

What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera? None really, because I don't use any. However I did get a free mini tripod with Amateur photographer magazine a few weeks back, I use it to do the odd scene setting shot when it's dark.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why? Canon 24-70 f2.8L. I have a sharp one and it is so flexible. A prime lens would be the 50 f1.2L.

What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot? A 550 EX flashgun, with a spare in the car, nothing else.

Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding? I use flash only when I really need to, occasionally for group shots inside. I never use Video lights or reflectors. I shoot with natural light almost exclusively, it's what I prefer and creates a mood that I'm looking for. I would rather have the odd blurred picture than destroy scenes with flash.

What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer? Breezebrowser, I can't live without it, it's incredibly fast.

How important is Photoshop in your final images? Important. I still use Photoshop 7 and use it only to convert to black and white, add contrast, add a vignette and sharpen...that's it, nothing else.

What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.? None. I don't know how to use plug-in's or actions, and never had the bottle to ask anyone.

Are you a Mac or PC lover? PC, I don't get on with Mac. That must make me really strange hey?

Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on? No. Personal circumstances don't allow it currently.

I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow; can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding? I shoot, and I delete in camera if needed. Then on my return to the office I download all the cards. Within 24 hrs I always then edit. I edit ruthlessly and then save the chosen images to external hard drives. A couple of weeks later I then process each image individually, I never use actions. When all images have been processed (usually around 120-220, depending on the length of the wedding) I then design the album, deleting any images that don't fit into the story or flow of the album. I then send off the design.  Clients have no input into the design or choice of pictures that is solely down to me. Then around 6-8 weeks later the client receives their album.

I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design? I use Jorgensen exclusively. I do all design myself and never outsource any part of the creative process.

How do you feel about cropping an image? No problem, if it needs it I'll crop it. I don't always get it right in camera.

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 don't have ideas, I don't create an image, I simply record a moment. A prominent UK wedding photographer states on his website..."Ask yourself, can the photographers create moments of fun and lightness and then capture them? Great photographic moments rarely happen by themselves, they are crafted by photographers." I couldn't disagree more. I work with reality and my pictures are honest not contrived. If the picture is not there, then it's not there, I move on.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why? None really. But I particularly like shooting weddings where the clients have little money.

If you could shoot a wedding with someone who would it be and why? Gordon McGowan. We are the antithesis of each other, and it would be interesting to see the results.

Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments? Never, I always shoot alone. I occasionally have someone along observing, but never shooting.

How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients? I average 800-1400 depending on the time shooting. I give clients between 120-220 pictures. No duplicates.

Where would be your dream destination wedding? A village in the Loire valley, France.

How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Canon 1D MK3? I don't ever attempt to make them feel relaxed, as I don't impose any control. If the bride and groom aren't relaxed that's fine by me. My last bride in Scotland on the 10th January had panic attacks all day.

Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it? Nothing has gone wrong. But I once said to a bride that her wedding was quintessentially English, and then I remembered we were five miles over the border into Wales.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings? Vicars and registrars believing it's their day and being obstructive to the point of cruelty.

What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now? I think it's a mixed bag. There are some very talented people in the industry, and I have seen some photographers who were turning out ordinary work a couple of years ago turning out good stuff now. But there is also a plethora of photographers who seem to want to bring the industry down and don't charge enough and are shooting poorly. I can't believe some of the names I see offering training and seminars, and it also amazes me how they have the balls to do this. Some have little or no talent, and some have been in the industry for five minutes. I five years, I really don't know...I wish I did.

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

A wedding photographer who inspires you? Jeff Ascough. His pictures are timeless and brilliant. But there is a lot of understated talent in the UK.... Simon Atkins, Iain Bain, Neil Palmer, David Pullum, Stephen Swain, Jill Thorning-Jensen and Simon Whitten stand out for me. And Paul Gero, Joseph Milton and Riccis from the States are superb.

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 took my portrait? No. I don't like my photography being taken, I don't photograph well and I am more handsome in real life.

A website and/or blog you visit often? I visit the Magnum site regularly, along with V11 photo agency site. I also seem to be visiting Riccis Valladares's website and blog a lot recently. There is something about his work that intrigues me.

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why? Tom Stoddart. iWitness really hit me, he is an amazing photographer. His images are disturbing, timeless and iconic.

The last workshop or seminar you attended and why? Blimey, it's a while ago. I think it was the Buissink/Yervant seminar a couple of years ago.

What photographic organizations do you belong to? None.

One way you market Murray Photo? By shooting nice pictures and exceeding clients expectations both with customer service and more importantly the quality of my images.

Do you advertise? If so where? The odd directory now only. I have made all the mistakes regarding advertising.

How important is an awesome website for your business? Yeh it's very important. I am just about to change mine. I was the first UK photographer to go with Bludomain nearly four years ago now. At the time it was amazing for business, nobody had heard of Bludomain, but it's looking a little tired now.

If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been? A Bus Driver. Just taking money, smiling at people and driving. It would have to be a nice route though, nowhere rough.

Lately I have wanted to photograph polar bears in Alaska and killer wales in Norway. Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph? Orphanages in Romania. To show that even though they have joined the European Union, they are failing all their abandoned children by banning inter-country adoption.

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? To develop a distinctive specialised style and not be influenced by other photographers too much, especially the ones who seem to train and teach more than shoot.

At the moment I’m finding a lot of my photographic inspiration from cinema and Hollywood cinematographers. We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration? Of course I am inspired by the great documentary photographers. Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson, Stoddart, Salgado and lately Paulo Pellegrin. But the true basis of my inspiration? Reality and the truth within an image.

What is your favourite image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition etc, also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you? This image was shot a few weeks ago, in a dark castle. It was taken during the first dance, and I simply used a 24 f1.4L at maximum aperture. I used no additional lighting, just natural light. The groom has cancer. It was a day of joy, sadness and intense emotion. I love the way she is looking at her husband, cherishing every moment she still has with him.

Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career? Yes, I wish I'd have turned full time earlier.

If you could be invisible for one day with your camera... I'd jump on the girls Aloud tour bus I think.

I’ve learned the most from… Jeff Ascough. The most important thing he taught me was to believe.

What talent would you most like to have? I would like to be able to hypnotize.

Something you’re still learning? To be a good person.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? She knows who she is.

What is your greatest fear? Being old and living alone.

Something that is overrated? Apple Mac

Something you’re saving up for? Nothing, I can't save to save my life.

What item do you wish you had designed? Cats Eyes.

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be? Lance Armstrong. He is the greatest living human being in my humble opinion.

Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.? Watching 'Have I got news for You' at home in my cardigan. Or driving to a hotel to shoot a wedding the next day.

Your favourite film (movie) of all time? American Beauty.

Who would play you in a film (a movie) of your life? Tom Hanks. We look a little similar.

First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Buy a Range Rover and drive to a five star hotel in the Cotswolds, England while I think about what to do with all the money.

Which five words would your friends use to describe you? Tall, reasonably handsome, kind, sensitive and funny.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now? What I'm doing now would be nice.

And the last question, if you had one wish… I would have told the Police not to open the gates at Hillsborough.

Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next David Murray?’ What would you say? Please don't. I am too complex.

Your readers can find out more about me:

Website: www.murrayphotography.com

Blog: I don't have one, sorry.

  • David is a great photographer who likes to break a lot of the rules to produce a distinctive and unique style. He is also a nice guy who goes out of his way to share his knowledge with others.

    Rob


  • Sounds like the David I know and love...and a bit bloody good at what he does.
    PS: I am NOT the great love of his life, - he said 'she' :)


  • I'm always in awe of truly photo journalistic photographers who still manage to get incredible imagery... it looks like, from these few images and the interview, that David qualifies as one of these rare individuals... nice one -


  • A refreshingly honest and interesting interview from a very talented photographer.


  • Crash these interviews are extremely inspiring. I can't believe your almost hitting 60,000 hits. You know I'm a huge fan, and a photography wannabee and I'm so glad your photographing my best friends wedding. Please don't stop with these interviews they are so good. David's work is beautiful and he seems like a cool chap.

    Gemma


  • A great interview. I've never seen Dave's work before but will be adding his site to my ever growing list. I love that shot of the choir boy - and the one of the [presumably] mother and son in the church. Hope everything works out well for you Dave and thanks once again Crash for the interview.


  • Beautiful, moving images from a very kind person.

    Very enjoyable interview Crash.


  • Great interview, Crash. Possibly the first time I've ever believed a wedding photographer who claims to be totally photojournalistic! Seems to be a genuinely kind person, which no doubt is one of the reasons for his success, as well as his great ability. Pete


  • Thanks again Crash, and thank you David. A lot of what has been said resonates with me. Except that flash ruining the picture part, I'm not a true PJ.
    Walt


  • Best one yet, stunning pics and no "I'm an artist I paint with light" bullshit. A normal down to earth tog who lives in the real world. Cracking.

    Gary


  • I love photogs who are apart of every creative process. And ones who shoot and tell it like it is.

    Awesome interview, Crash!

    -daniel


  • Wow what a talented guy, someone who doesnt follow the herd and is no wannnabe. He sees his own magic instead of creating it.
    All the best Will


  • Thank you so much for choosing him... I had not heard of his work until now, and this was so inspiring. How refreshing to read of another photographer who doesn't like Apple, who is tired of BluDomain, who shoots with such limited supplementary light! (The next person to give me brief for these will be directed to this link.)

    Stunning work!


  • Perfect David.


  • Inspiring stuff, great interview Crash. Beautiful images spotlighting the emotions of the day.


  • Great interview Crash and great work David really refreshing and beautiful imagery.

    ( Despite being a Liverpool fan ) :-)

    Cheers
    Jeremy.


  • Great interview Crash. David, I wish you were still photographing our wedding as originally planned! (Credit crunch hit family members who need my help financially, budget got cut). We have something in common, Lance Armstrong is my ultimate hero too! Great pictures, an inspiration.

    Dave.


  • Crash...I love these interviews. I particularly like that it shows that these uber photographers are human too (not Gods). They have the same dreams and fears we all have.

    David is an awesome photographer...I look the way he documents the wedding day.


  • Captivating - one of the best wedding photographer's i've seen come out the UK. David seems to be at the right place at the right time - will definitely keep an eye on his website....I too am the last blogger on the block!


  • Crash these interviews are amazing. It's the best interview site on the internet and trust me I have seen them all, so well done. You must work 48 hours a day. I just read this interview and also checked out your website and I have to say, I've been introduced to two amazing photographers. I'm so glad I found this site, I just called 3 photographer friends to check it out. Look forward to meeting who you have next week from the Philippines.

    Keep up the great work, you are definitely a great inspiration to everybody who loves photography.

    Regards,
    GS


  • David, that was lovely to read ... just a bit worried about you thinking you look like Tom Hanks, but hey, some Americans we met recently thought my husband does too!!!! Great photographs too, by the way.
    Z


  • Excellent blog Crash.


  • I’m really impressed by the quality of the guy’s images and his honesty and common sense.


  • My wife and I used David to take our pictures in July 2010. We spent nearly £3000 and have not yet seen our album nor can we get hold of David. He has moved house and we do not have a forwarding address or telephone number. If anyone can help I would really appreciate it.

    Kind Rgds
    Chris Hamlett
    [email protected]