Weddings are a big deal. Nobody, apart from the bride and groom, understands this better than their photographer. For acclaimed wedding photographer Raymond Phang, it’s more than just capturing beautiful photos – it’s about documenting meaningful moments to be enjoyed years later. Coupled with his warmth and candour, it’s no wonder couples are saying ‘I Do’ to his photography.
How did you become a photographer?
Photography started as a hobby and went on to become an obsession! After completing my studies and the mandatory National Service, I was at a crossroads; either get a stable but boring 9-to-5 job, or pursue full-time photography which was fun, challenging and with so much more to learn.
I was so passionate about photography that I remember working and saving every dime to purchase cameras and lenses. At the same time I realised I could not sit behind a desk, so eventually I chose the latter and as they say, the rest is history.
Why choose wedding photography?
It wasn’t hard to decide on the genre of photography to focus on. I felt that the world is too depressing; life seems to be all about violence, death, or complaints about rising prices, environmental and morality issues. I needed to find the love in humanity and the easiest place would be at weddings.
I’m very stubborn when it comes to the things that I am passionate about. When I discovered wedding photography, I fell in love with it. Being completely absorbed, I literally gave my heart and soul to this special relationship. I love challenges and the spontaneity on a wedding day, the anticipation and being on the ball makes me focus and enjoy my work. What’s even better is that I’m actually doing something meaningful – documenting the celebration of love for couples over the last 8 years, and giving my clients something to remember years down the road as they grow old together.
Describe your wedding photography style and way of working.
On the wedding day, I’m like a ninja; my movements have to be swift, observing discreetly and going about unnoticed. Because only then I’ll be able to capture all the candid photos. I love capturing the multitude of expressions ranging from smiles to laughter, frowns, tears and sometimes even blink-and-you’ll-miss moments of people yawning, winking, or scratching their butts. Haha!
Whenever couples receive their photos, most if not all will return us with a big Thank You, but also an important feedback which I guess brings out the true meaning of our signature style of wedding photography: “When did you capture this, and how come we didn’t notice it at all?”
We stay behind the scenes, observing, documenting and reporting the events as they unfold. Tiny details like the nervous bride curling up her toes while having her make-up done, the groom’s split second cheeky wink to guests as he’s marching in with his bride, the subtle exchanges between the couple, and a heartwarming hug from the couple to their parents, say so much more than a million stories of heartfelt gratitude.
Their body language and facial expressions all seem to have their own story to tell. We aim to capture these stories and encapsulate the moments.
You’re known for pre-wedding shoots with wacky concepts. Tell us more about those.
When it comes to conceptualised pre-wedding shoots, I’m all about the fun and energy! Each shoot is an exciting challenge to me, and all the couples we have are loud and crazy too! As compared to the wedding day, conceptualised pre-wedding shoots require a lot of acting, posing and directing. I need to be loud and do a lot of directing.
We don’t take in all couples for concept shoots as chemistry is important to create something magical and spectacular together. Hence we set a limit of five couples in 2016, and a meeting with the couple is a must to determine suitability and chemistry. They also have to write a detailed biography so our team can come up with ideas that relate to the couple’s story, and not a random scene that holds no meaning to the couple.
Unlike other photography companies that undertake projects in volume, we strongly believe that a wedding experience should be something intimate and personal.
What gear do you use, and which equipment do you use most?
Currently I’m using both the Canon EOS-1D X and the latest Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, along with 12 of my Canon lenses. Depending on what I’m photographing, for wedding shoots, my favourite set up so far would be the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Canon EF85mm f/1.2L II USM lens.
What has been your most interesting or extravagant wedding so far?
I’ve photographed a number of extravagant weddings; the latest one involved a team of at least 10 photographers and videographers! One memorable moment was a father of the bride singing Butterfly Kisses to the bride, which sent a lot of guests reaching for tissue papers to wipe away their tears.
What was the weirdest request from a couple?
To fatten them up during post processing because 99% of the time the request would be for us to slim them down!
One thing you’d like every bride and groom to know before their wedding?
Choose the right photographer!
Who are some of the wedding photographers that inspire you and why?
All wedding photographers are my inspiration. The fact that they are still shooting today motivates and inspires me.
What advice would you give to aspiring wedding photographers?
Weddings are happy occasions, with lots of laughter and everyone basking in happiness. I personally enjoy that a lot. But at the same time, I’m constantly reminding myself that this is someone’s once-in-a-lifetime, and moments lost cannot be reenacted. You must make sure you capture everything, and not miss out on the little details or moments. It’s a stressful job.
Develop your own style, learn from others but never, ever copy someone else. And in order to earn a living doing wedding photography, you have to be realistic and give the business aspect serious thought too, not just focusing on the photography.
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you have been and why?
Hmm… I’d probably be a sniper! Because I’d also need to look through a scope and shoot. Haha!
Profile of photographer
Bold and quietly confident, photography has provided a rich environment of opportunity for Raymond to express himself artistically and creatively. Particularly proficient at shoots when it comes to photographing people in their most candid moments, Raymond clearly has a natural flair for the finest detail and exudes photography talent that extends beyond his camera mastery.