My big break
Ross Harvey reveals the shot that helped launch his career as an award-winning wedding pro
A graphic designer by training, Ross Harvey began his career as a professional wedding photographer in 2010. Since then he’s twice been named Best Wedding Photographer in England in The Wedding Industry Awards. To see more of Ross’s work visit www.rossharvey.com
Ross Harvey’s rise as one of the world’s leading wedding photographers has been meteoric. Just seven years ago, on Christmas Day 2009, he received a present from his father that was to change his life: “He gave me a single gift with a note: ‘Follow your dreams’. I opened the parcel to find a Nikon D700 inside. I can’t explain that moment actually, it was just pure joy. He then went upstairs and came back down with three presents, which were the absolutely brilliant 85mm f/1.4 D lens, along with a 70-200mm and 24-70mm. That day changed my life forever, and if it wasn’t for his generosity I wouldn’t be speaking to you now.”
Up to that point Ross had dreams of becoming a fashion photographer, but all that changed when a friend asked him to shoot his wedding. “I shot it with the 24-70mm on my D700 and I absolutely fell in love with the process.” There was no turning back, and in 2010 Ross turned professional with the launch of his wedding photography business. He also upgraded his gear, buying a D3 to use with a 50mm f/1.4, along with the D700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 for his wedding assignments. Mirror image “My big break came with my win in The Wedding Industry Awards, because that put me on the map,” says Ross. “It all happened very quickly – just a few years after getting the D700.
“The winning shot was this black-and-white image of a bride having her hair done. I remember wondering how I could layer two images on top of each other – back then double exposure wasn’t really the done thing – so I ended up using a mirror. There was a strong bevel on the side of the glass which enabled me to include the make-up artist’s reflection right next to the bride’s face. It allowed me to produce a really abstract portrait. It’s very beautiful, with the beads and this lovely blurred light – that shot defined everything I was trying to do that year and it proved to be really popular.”
To take the shot, Ross fitted a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 on his D3 and used the available light. “I always aim to use the ambient light to do something creative,” he explains. “I think that adds to the challenge. I make a point of only using flash if I can’t use the ambient light, and that’s quite rare.” Ross works mostly in colour, so the choice of black and white for this image was a departure from the formal style of the time. “People loved it,” he says. More importantly, did the bride love it too? “Yes, she did, she did. And she still does.”