Interview with Wedding Photographer David Esquire

ep1.jpgWe recently got the time to sit down with our good friend David Esquire of Esquire Photography in Huntington Beach California. David has been in the photography business for over 20 years shooting events such as the X-Games and doing shoots for companies such as Slim Jim, Sports Illustrated, and The Warped Tour. Over the past 8 years, David has gone back to his grass-roots specialty from where he stared from and has been in engagement and wedding photography for clients around the country. We thought you might enjoy getting inside the head of a professional wedding photographer and getting some behind-the-scenes information and tips.

Dojo: What do you like most about shooting weddings?
DE: The variety, the emotions, and the way two families come together. You never know what will happen at a wedding and I love the challenge. There’s ALWAYS something that you want to set out to get during your day. And my demographic is gen x & gen y which means they typically have a very clear idea of what they want and that is a huge help with me doing my job for them as accurately as possible.

ep2.jpgDojo: What do you like least about shooting weddings?
DE: Nothing worse than a bride or a groom with their attendants showing up 30 minutes, 45 minutes or over an hour late for their wedding. I also get really peeved with some of the vendors in the industry that don’t take the day, the client’s wishes & wants and their responsibilities as seriously as they should. This really is sad because, the couple’s wedding day isn’t always as much as it should be.

Dojo: What percentage of brides are total bridezillas?
DE: I would have to say 10% and we do everything we can at Esquire Photography to screen them out.

Dojo: Do you shoot a wedding alone or use a second photographer?
DE: It depends on the shoot, for smaller shoots I will do it myself, on bigger events I will bring in a second photographer to catch more of the candid shots. It’s really about what the bride and groom want, sometimes even on a small wedding they want a second photographer to make sure nothing gets missed.

Dojo: Do you plan out your shoot with the bride and groom or do you have your own system?
DE: I do both. Some brides & grooms take a very active part in their day and some have a more relaxed attitude towards their day.

Dojo: Do you change lenses a lot during a shoot?
DE: No, I have one camera with a short lens on it and another with a telephoto lens, this way I never have to pause to change lenses.

Dojo: What routine do you you use to get ready for a shoot?
DE: I like to clear myself mentally, emotionally & physically of what I may have on my schedule of things to do; post production, client meetings, and other shoots. Some of the things on my check list are; Directions to/from all the various locations, load my GPS of all the day’s locations, prep & clean my camera gear, charge all the batteries & format all my cards. Make sure that I have business cards (both in my Think Tank Photo Pro Modulus Speed Set and in my business card holder in my pocket. I will have a bottle of water or gatorade in my Speed Set, blue Orbit gum, Tylenol and DayQuil. In my Think Tank Photo Airport Security case I also have things like Shout stain wipes and a small 1st aid kit.

I believe that it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared for a wedding day. I’ve had situations where a bride is completely parched during the formals & I’ll hand her a bottle of water from my belt. I believe in being more than just a hired hand for the day. I want to be a resource.

ep3.jpgDojo: What are some of the most important “must have” wedding shots that most people don’t think of?
DE: Some of the most important shots I would have to say would be those (what I like to call) ripples in time or what other photographers may call “Photojournalism.” There’s a huge thing going on & on about “photojournalism” right now & it’s such a load of crap. Photojournalism is a photographer’s way of not doing their job & being able to work a crowd and capture the “right” moment during the ebb & flow of an emotional moment in time.

I believe that what I do is more like “portrait journalism” – where I can capture that true, real & natural happy expression on a person’s face when something is going on before them. Or the totally beautiful serene moment of a bride looking at her husband during a reception (and the other way around for that case).

Another shot that I believe is truly overlooked would be the “rings” – and there are a lot of photographers out there doing the same ol, same ol. Having the bride & groom w/ their hands over the flowers w/ their wedding rings on. Although that may be for some people, it’s not for everyone.

A lot of my clients love the photos that I may take of their rings on the wedding cake, or in a jar of candy, or set inside of a rose. Or like one that I just did last weekend; I took the bride & grooms rings & placed them on the letters of their first names which was their cake topper.

Dojo: What is the strangest thing to happen to you at a wedding?
DE: The bride and bridesmaids toking up on a large bong right before the ceremony.

ep4.jpgDojo: For a new photographer that wants to get into wedding photography, what is the most important thing they should be aware of?
DE: They need to know their equipment. It needs to be a DIRECT extension of their eyes, heart & mind. They need to separate themselves from themselves & put themselves into the heart, mind & eyes of their client. STUDY STUDY STUDY and SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT. Don’t be like someone I saw at Samy’s camera asking the associate behind the counter for a “how to shoot weddings” book because he had a wedding to shoot in a couple of hours. I was appalled at the enormous lack of respect that this person had for the bridal couple. I only hope that he was filling in for the original photographer that for some reason couldn’t do the wedding. Although I doubt it as there is A LOT of that going on out there. Someone goes to Circuit City, buys a Digital Rebel & calls themselves a professional photographer. There so much more to it than being a poser with a consumer-grade camera.

Upcoming photographers need to have respect for the client and the medium of photography and learn their craft. I’m still learning every day when I’m shooting, even after all the years that I have been in the industry. Even though wedding photography is not brain surgery. Would you trust a uncle Bob working on your brain? It’s much of the same thing in a way because, you CAN’T retake the photos, you CAN’T recreate an emotion and you CAN’T undo the mess you made out of someone’s timeless photos.

They need to know that being a wedding photographer is soooooo much more than just taking pictures. You’re a psychologist, therapist, gofer, comedian, stalkerazzi, and a gentleman or a lady.

Speed Round

Mac or Windows: Both
Aperture or Lightroom: Lightroom
Camera Model: Canon 30D and 20D
Favorite Lens: 70-200mm f2.8L IS
CF Card Brand: San Disk Extreme 4
Favorite Band: Duran Duran
Favorite Food: Thai, Italian & Mexican
Favorite Color: Black

Please visit Esquire Photography at


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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2 Responses

  1. inflatable boat says:

    Great interview. And lovely photos too. I like the topmost picture in particular, the one wherein the couple is ashore. I wonder what their bridal boat looks like?

  2. google says:

    Great interview. And lovely photos too. I like the topmost picture in particular, the one wherein the couple is ashore. I wonder what their bridal boat looks like?

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