York Place Studios
Liam and Dominique Shaw, the brother and sister reportage duo behind York Place Studios have built a reputation for creating genre-defying wedding imagery with a street photography twist.
Whether shooting weddings, events or street photography; complex multi-layered storytelling, subtle humour and raw intimacy have become a hallmark of York Place Studios’ photography. Their unique approach to shooting weddings has gained an international following, picked up multiple accolades and led to Dominique and Liam being invited to speak at photography events around the world sharing their passion for their craft and their carefully considered ideas about reportage photography.
For Liam and Dominique though it’s never about the complexity of an image, it’s about the feeling behind it and it’s that feeling that has, for over a decade, driven them in their quest to create original, innovative imagery of real, spontaneous moments.
The impression of X-E4 by York Place Studio
For me photographing weddings in a reportage style is really no different than photographing on the streets or even photographing my own family. When I pitch up at a wedding there’s no magic “wedding” switch that flicks on in my brain, no major change of mentality or approach. Whatever the situation it doesn’t really matter, I’m looking for exactly the same things; namely life, spontaneity and connection. My images aren’t really wedding photographs or street or family photographs, they’re just photographs of how I see the world, wherever I happen to be.
I suspect it’s really that aversion to feeling restricted by the tropes of any given genre that drew me to Fujifilm cameras in the first place. If I wasn’t going to change my overall approach to shooting when I approached a wedding then why would I change my camera? For the longest time I was carrying small cameras around day to day and switching to huge DSLRs the minute I arrived at a wedding and, though largely necessary in the early days, it always felt completely alien to me – a strange disconnect ever pulling me back toward the established norms of wedding photography.
With the release of the X-Pro2 Fujifilm changed all that for me. Here, at last, was something that felt like a street camera but performed like a wedding camera. Something that felt right, that stopped those “lost in translation” moments where I previously found myself trying to convert street instincts into an entirely different format. Whilst mentally there was already no difference between shooting weddings or street, with the X-Pro series the physical difference disappeared too – The camera was one and the same.
The X-Pro series immediately became my work-horse cameras and remain so today. The only problem with that though is that, having become my main wedding cameras, they’ve in some ways become a little too important to just throw in a bag and carry with me at all times. So what I really wanted was something akin to a mini-X-Pro3 – that same kind of feel so that it remained the same experience, those same interchangeable lenses to swap between and those same beautiful Fujifilm colour JPEGs straight out of camera when I didn’t want the hassle of post-processing personal work. But maybe something a little smaller and lighter that I could carry with me not just at weddings or shooting specific street projects, something small enough to really carry everywhere.
And for me that’s what the X-E4 is really all about.
Photography for me isn’t just about shooting projects, it’s a creative release, a way to express myself, even if I’m taking the photograph for my eyes only. Whether I’m at a wedding or at home or just walking down the street I see photographs everywhere. I’m inspired by watching people interact, I love off-beat moments, I love seeing little scenes of humour that somehow write an instant back-story in my mind (though even with humour a key focus I scarcely expected to find a leather-jacket bound dancing bear whilst passing through Piccadilly Circus).
The daily ins and outs of life are often familiar but the moments around them are always unique. The photographs are there everywhere I go. My camera should be there too, and the X-E4 is a camera I know already I’m going to always have on me.
It always fascinates me how the smallest movement of the camera can fundamentally change the feeling of the scene. It’s an idea I explore constantly when I’m out on the street, like this image captured on the X-E4 on a walk through Chinatown, London.
I was initially drawn to the symmetry of colour and the interesting geometry of this particular busy street corner but wanted to add an air of irregularity to the image – a piece of this naturally symmetrical jigsaw that somehow didn’t quite fit. Composing on the rear screen and moving the camera behind an obstacle and making it the central focus created something that was to me a little more interesting than photographing just a person standing in a street and hopefully gives the viewer a moment’s pause – a pause which then encourages exploration of the rest of the scene. It’s for these types of images that having a professional quality camera on me all the time enables me to capture – it doesn’t always have to be a purposeful street photography trip, even a simple walk through town becomes an opportunity to convert every day observations into potential great photographs.
Of course if recent events have taught us anything it’s perhaps the importance of time spent with family and loved ones that stands out the most. I love to capture images of family but always try to challenge myself to create more than just a snapshot. Shooting family photos is not only an opportunity to capture important memories for myself and those closest to me, it’s also an opportunity to practice – a rehearsal for photographing weddings where no matter how much or how little is going on it’s my job to provide not one but hundreds of great reportage images, and to do so within a strict time-limit.
Carrying around a camera as capable as the X-E4 with such distinct similarities to the camera I shoot weddings with (indeed the X-E4 will actually be a camera that I do take to weddings both as backup and to capture certain parts of the day with) can only be great practice and one with rewards that pay off not just in staying sharp between weddings, but also in images that mean so much to me and to my family directly.
The danger always of running a photography business is that it can easily become something you do for work rather than pleasure. So often the camera sits there in the bag prepped and waiting for its next shoot, when really the next shoot could simply be the next scene that you see or the next person that you meet.
Photography has never truly been work to me because I try to make my photographs an expression of myself, my world and my personality, and with the tiny, familiar and super-powerful X-E4 always on my person and totally in tune with the way I like to shoot, it’s time to capture more of my world than ever before.