Top photo by the brilliant Drew Willingham
Probably my favourite event that I’ve attended for wedding photographers was the NineDots Gathering in London. The NineDots Gathering is an annual boutique conference for 150 like-minded wedding photographers in London every November founded in 2014. I think I described it as “an orgy of inspiration and intoxication” because the party is almost as important as the education. It’s so good!
So I was naturally more than pleased to be asked to be a guest on their popular DotCast podcast. And last month I chatted with Adam Johnson all about my photography, moving continents and how I apparently like to get stuff for free!
You can listen to the full interview on their site or on Spotify below.
Big thanks to Adam and the 9D crew for having me on the DotCast. This was a fun one.
21st July 2000 is a date I’ll remember til the day I die. You could say that, in my mind, it’ll “live forever”.
It all began when Oasis’ PR company put out the word that they were looking for a DJ to warm up for the band and to DJ between the support bands, Happy Mondays and Doves. They asked a few people to offer an example playlist of what they might play, given the opportunity. I suspect a few DJ’s went for the standard indie disco set, but I avoided the obvious entirely, mixing Motown, funk and soul with a few indie remixes. I got the job!
I invited my good friend and fellow Ramshackle DJ, Carlton, to join me for the gig.
On the day itself, we were given VIP and access and set up at the side of the main stage. Not just any stage, Wembley Stadium. The same stage that hosted Live Aid. You’ve seen the movie Bohemian Rhapsody? THAT stage!!!
Thankfully the weather gods were on our side and it was a blistering July day and everyone was in fine spirits. We kept the tunes comin’ and threw in the occasional curveball. Josh Wink’s Higher State Of Consciousness got the whole arena dancing. And we stopped off at the office of Distinctive Records on the way to Wembley just so that I could play a brand new Hybrid remix of Future Sound Of London’s Papua New Guinea.
Moments before Oasis took the stage, I was the last person on stage before the band. The concert was released later on album and DVD under the name Familiar To Millions.
The show itself was perfection. Watching the band perform Live Forever and the whole of Wembley singing along gave me goosebumps.
After the gig, we got to hang out at the after-party along with Kate Moss, Jude Law, Rachel Hunter, half of Eastenders and the sisters from All Saints.
If I could go back and give a few words of advice to myself on that day, I certainly would. I had some amazing opportunities at that time and, although I certainly had an incredible few years, in hindsight I could’ve made some much better decisions. Still… don’t look back in anger, as one poet once said.
In the photo below, taken by Brian Robinson, that’s us in the bottom right-hand corner of the stage 🙂
Although nobody at Wembley that day was there because I was DJing, I still have people mention that they were there and they remember me playing a certain tune. For me, it will always be a day I know I can tell my grandkids about.
The PR company sent me a thank you not long after the concert, together with a cover of Familiar To Millions signed by Oasis. It’s still framed in my house.
July 17th 2007 everything changed. Evelyne and I went from being a couple to being Mom & Dad to a little baby that we named Elliott.
Since then we’ve watched him grow into a kind, smart, funny and sometimes annoying kid who loves football, video games and sushi. He’s also a great big brother to the two babies that followed, Isaac and Jonas.
And today that baby became a teenager. I know how amazing and transformative my teenage years were and I can’t wait to discover the person he becomes over the next few years.
For his 13th birthday, we are 8 hours from home in the wilds of Quebec. We went fishing, played games and we let Elliott choose the main meal. Sushi, obviously.
Happy Birthday Elliott. We all think you’re pretty damn cool. And we love you more than you love video games xxx
I’ve been a professional photographer since before my kids were born. Actually I started my business in 2007 which was the same year my eldest was born. It was also the year Evelyne & I got married. Twice!
So, our kids have grown up with photography, regularly having their Dad chasing them around with a camera. And often missing their Dad on weekends while he’s off shooting a wedding, sometimes on the other side of the world.
But I’ve never stopped to ask them what they think about my career, what kind of photos they like of themselves, or whether they may even want to be a pro photographer when they’re older. Until now. And I decided it’d be something worth capturing on video, even if it was just on my iPhone.
So, I present to you The Gerrard Boys on Photography. Enjoy!
Family photo by Eric Brisson. Photo of the boys by Drew Willingham.
It’s always an honour to be considered any kind of authority on photography by your peers which is why I never take it for granted when I’m invited to speak at a workshop or be interviewed for a podcast. So when the guys from the excellent This Is Reportage site asked if I’d like to judge the This Is Reportage Awards, I was again somewhat humbled.
Reportage wedding photography is, in my opinion, the hardest part of wedding photography to excel at. There are so many elements that need to come together to make a truly great reportage photo from a wedding. Timing, composition, light, emotion, humour…. when all these things collide in a split second for a photographer, it’s quite remarkable. There’s certainly an element of luck involved, but a big part of being a great wedding photographer is being prepared for when luck is on your side.
Judging the awards took many hours, looking through images and wedding stories. And the standard was surprisingly high. There were some images that I honestly didn’t think should have been submitted but overall, it was really difficult to choose the winners.
So every year I realise I take this task WAY too seriously and that hardly anyone really cares, but making a list of my favourite album releases of the year is a challenge I set myself at the end of December, partly cos I love sharing my favourite music with others, hence my previous career.
The second reason I like to make a list of favourite albums is that it forces me to also check out other End Of Year lists in case I missed anything that made those lists. I definitely have a “fear of missing out” condition! I trawled through tons of Year-End lists and listened to pretty much everything I hadn’t already heard. And I discovered some real undiscovered gems.
Working at home so much means I listen to a LOT of music of all genres. Except ska! A lot of albums I’ll listen to once but the ones I really like get added to my Roon library. I guess most people don’t know what Roon is still but I absolutely love it and it’s what I use to play most of my music. I’m using it as I’m typing out this post in fact.
Anyway, if you’re reading this, I guess you may be interested in what I made of the albums released in 2019. My absolute favourite release came out in August. Tool’s first album in 13 years. On the morning of release, I turned all my devices off and indulged myself, listening… properly listening… to the album in full. And it blew me away. I know it seemed to divide fans. Some called it a masterpiece, others said it was boring. For me, it requires the listener’s full attention. It’s not a background album. It also needs a good sound system or quality headphones to be enjoyed fully.
My music tastes are extremely varied and although I love Michael Kiwanuka, The National, Beck, Billie Eilish and Lucy Rose, I also love a lot of extremely heavy bands. Combining all those artists would be a bit weird I think so I have split my lists, and accompanying playlists, into the heavy and non-heavy categories. Tool falls somewhere between the two really but they are nowhere near as heavy as some of the bands in the Heavy list. I’m rambling…. so here goes.
MY FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2019 (MINUS THE HEAVY STUFF)
1. Tool – Fear Inoculum
2. Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA
3. The National – I Am Easy To Find
4. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
5. Noah Gunderson – Lover
6. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
7. Cage The Elephant – Social Cues
8. Patrick Watson – Wave
9. Silversun Pickups – Widow’s Weeds
10. Beck – Hyperspace
11. Lucy Rose – No Words Left
12. Cultdreams – Things That Hurt
12. The Black Keys – Let’s Rock
13. Fontaines DC – Dogrel
14. Little Simz – GREY Area
15. Wrest – Coward Of Us All
16. Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning
17. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
18. Faye Webster – Atlanta Millionaires Club
19. FKA Twigs – Magdalene
20. Local Natives – Violet Street
21. Refused – War Songs
22. Elbow – Giants Of All Sizes
23. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
24. Dave – Psychodrama
25. Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride
26. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence
27. The Paper Kites – On The Corner Where You Live
28. Glen Hansard – This Wild Willing
29. Caroline Spence – Mint Condition
30. Jordan Rakei – Origin
You can listen to my fave songs of 2019 on Spotify here. Some are just singles, some are album tracks. Enjoy!
The Tidal version. I use Tidal much more than Spotify because of the sound quality.
I really hope you guys find something you love that maybe you haven’t heard before…
And now for the heavy stuff…
This list includes a lot of bands I only discovered in 2019 as well as one of my all-time fave bands, Norma Jean. The list varies from metallic hardcore to black metal, deathcore and… Alcest 🙂
MY FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2019
1. Throes – In The Hands Of An Angry God
2. Norma Jean – All Hail
3. Thy Art Is Murder – Human Target
4. Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition – Chapter I: War, Horrid War
5. Venom Prison – Samsara
6. Misþyrming – Algleymi
7. SECT – Blood Of The Beasts
8. Ossuaire – Premiers Chants/Derniers Chants
9. Full Of Hell – Weeping Choir
10. Sūrya – Solastalgia
11. Fit For An Autopsy – The Sea of Tragic Beasts
12. Varials – In Darkness
13. Friendship – Undercurrent
14. Implore – Alienated Despair
15. HATE – Auric Gates Of Veles
16. Aoratos – Gods Without Name
17. Fuming Mouth – The Grand Descent
18. Ithaca – The Language Of Injury
19. Worsen – Cursed To Witness Life
20. Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond The Dark
21. SeeYouSpaceCowboy – The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds
22. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
23. Whitechapel – The Valley
24. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
25. Gatecreeper – Deserted
26. Mastiff – Plague
27. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
28. After The Burial – Evergreen
29. Despised Icon – Purgatory
30. This Gift Is A Curse – A Throne Of Ash
Turn the volume up!
And if you’re not really familiar with this type of music, maybe have a listen anyway. It may not be what you expect. Or it may be worse. You have been warned!
And finally, my Top 15 concerts of 2019. I told you I had varied tastes!
1. The National @ Place Des Arts
2. Nails @ Club Soda
3. Fontaines D.C. @ Osheaga
4. Weezer + Pixies @ Bell Centre
5. Billie Eilish @ Place Bell
6. The Bronx @ Foufs
7. Misþyrming @ Messe Des Morts
8. Thy Art Is Murder @ MTelus
9. Fever 333 @ Place Bell
10. Chelsea Wolfe @ Le National
11. Jenny Lewis @ l’Astral
12. Arkells @ Mtelus
13. Lingua Ignota @ La Sala Rossa
14. Deafheaven @ Corona Theatre
15. Maggie Rogers @ Mtelus
Here’s to another 12 months of amazing music. Look after your hearing. Thanks for reading.
So here’s an idea I’ve had for 2 or 3 years now but have always missed the start date…. October 1st. Not this year!
A little challenge to myself under the title “Blogtober”.
So, here’s the deal. For one month. 31 days. October. I will blog every day. Every. Day!
Evelyne laughed when I told her my idea so now I really have to do it. Ha!
Wedding season is about to slow down so I have a little more time to post blogs. I still have 3 weddings this month but as the temperature drops and the kiddos are back to school, I find myself with a little more in-between time to spend on things like blogging.
I have SO MANY weddings, concerts, portrait session, family shoots and other stuff that I haven’t got around to blogging. And some of those are some of my favourite shoots I’ve done in recent months. For proof, check out my first Blogtober post, Kari & Pat’s incredible wedding at the breathtaking Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal. That’s where Celine Dion got married folks! Check it out on the blog today. October 1st 🙂
So who agrees with Evelyne? Who thinks I’ve set myself too big a challenge to blog every day this month? That’s 31 blog posts in 31 days. Some will be weddings, some will be bands or families. And maybe some other stuff in between. I’ve shot a few proposals recently so I’ll definitely blog some of my faves from those too.
I’ll be blogging every morning so keep checking back and please leave a comment if you’re feeling generous. It’s nice to know that people are seeing the posts.
For anyone who’s interested, today’s blog post (Kari + Pat) is my first designed using Narrative. I’ve always used Blogstomp up until today but really like some of Narrative’s design and layout options. I’ll try to keep you updated on how I like it.
Happy Blogtober everybody!
Steve Gerrard Photography – Junebug Interview
I was recently interviewed by the highly influential wedding photography blog Junebug who asked me all about my wedding photography, inspiration, destination weddings and lots more. You can read it below.
An Interview with Montreal-based Destination Wedding Photographer Steve Gerrard
With an incredible array of music photography experience in his pocket, Montreal wedding photographer Steve Gerrard has tailored his talents and channeled his passions into the distinctive style of wedding photography he uses today. From touching and intimate to comical and whimsical, he has mastered the art of documenting the full range of emotions present at a wedding. It was such a pleasure to take a glimpse into the mind of Steve, learning of how he found photography and what he strives to achieve in the future. You can’t help but get swept away by the charm of this skilled family man, nor can you avoid getting lost in his vivid, creatively composed imagery. And in case of any future correspondence with him, just know to keep the Game of Thrones spoilers to a minimum.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Steve. I’m originally from Chester in the UK but moved to Montreal in 2014 and have already survived one Canadian winter so I’m doing well. I live here with my wife Evelyne and three small humans that we made together. We call them Elliott, Isaac and Jonas and they make us smile every day. I’m a huge music fan. I also love scuba diving, direct flights, Jack Daniel’s, countryside pubs, funky hotels, dark chocolate and sushi. I photograph weddings, portraits and bands.
What gets you up in the morning, literally and/or figuratively.
My wife’s annoying phone alarm! It’s my least favourite sound of the entire day. Once I’m awake though, I’m keen to make the most of the time I’m awake. I try hard not to waste time too much. I’m a very focused and driven person most of the time, but I also love just forgetting about work and spending time with the kids.
What really gets to you at weddings? Makes you emotional? Makes you laugh?
Since I’ve had kids I seem to have become stupidly emotional. I get choked up at The Simpsons sometimes! So if I’m shooting a wedding and see the emotions between family members or the couple I have to try to keep it together and hope nobody sees my eyes welling up. I can hide behind my camera at least! Speeches are usually the time that happens most. A really heartfelt and maybe unexpected line in a speech can really hit home. I’ve seen rooms where everyone is welling up, even the tough guys. But that’s what it’s all about right? People, relationships and love. That’s what counts.
What three photographers do you admire or who has inspired you, either in the past or right now?
Have you always wanted to be a photographer? If not, when do you remember knowing?
Not at all. Originally I wanted to be a rock star, but not being able to sing or play any instruments made that tricky, so I fell into DJing in clubs and that took me around the world for a few years. I’ve played to crowds of 50 people and to 93,000 people at Wembley Stadium, warming up for Oasis. So I kinda got close to being a rock star after all!
While I was doing all that travelling I wanted to really experience the places I was getting to visit. Places like China, Russia, Argentina and Indonesia that I may never get to go back to. I’ve always loved other people’s photography so I decided that if I bought a decent camera and taught myself how to use it properly I could explore the cities I was visiting and make photos as I went. Turns out, I was actually pretty good at that, and my love of music lead me towards photographing bands and concerts. From there, I started to see wedding photography develop into something truly creative and exciting, and I haven’t looked back.
Do you have any advice for beginning photographers, wedding or otherwise?
Trust your own eye. It’s ok to be inspired by other photographers, especially those outside of weddings, but then you need to almost forget all that and trust yourself. The only thing that makes you unique among a zillion other photographers is your own eye, your own brain and your own personality. If you don’t like shooting a certain way, don’t do it. Make images that excite you, even if you’re not quite sure why. There will be other people out there who feel the same way and those are your clients. Don’t be the cover band, be the original!
Favorite trick to capture images of reluctant subjects? (kids, grandparents, nervous-in-front-of-the-camera-types)
I tell kids (up to a certain age) that I have a goldfish that lives in my camera and keeps trying to get out. They look, wide-eyed into the lens as I click away and often tell me they saw the goldfish. With older kids, I tell them I think my camera’s broken and ask if they can check that the shutter opens when I press the shutter. I get my shot of them looking right into the lens, they say “yeah it’s working,” and I thank them and move on.
With adults, I just talk about any old crap to distract them, make them laugh, whatever. If I show people I’m not bothered about looking like an idiot, then hopefully they’ll realise they don’t need to take it too seriously and will relax and have fun. Most of my couple portraits are more about the couple being together and interacting rather than posing for the camera.
Describe an average day for you.
Most days I’m up by 6:30 getting the kids ready for school. Once I’ve been Dad for an hour I open the computer and check my to-do list, usually starting with some editing. I’m terrible for being distracted by social media so often I’ll use an app called SelfControl that forces me to focus without being distracted. I’ll choose some great music (I have a few Spotify playlists designed to soundtrack my day), turn up my Sonos speakers and aim to check as many items off my to-do list as I can before the boys come home. I save emails, etc. for later in the day because that can become a never-ending circle that stops me from getting to the jobs that matter most. I prefer to be creative early in the day anyway.
I’ll have two half-hour breaks to eat, read, make tea (I am English, don’t forget!), and do some chores. I’m hoping to learn French this year too.
My wife works at a school so I usually make dinner for everyone which is something that would have made her laugh two years ago when I struggled to make anything beyond a poor spag bol.
Evenings are for chilling with my wife, Evelyne, and a good movie or Netflix series. We’re almost caught up on Game Of Thrones. I also try to get out to see bands regularly. Montreal has a great music scene.
Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?
Realise that photographers can vary greatly. Keep looking until you find the photographer that gets you excited about having them document your wedding in their own way. And once you’ve found that photographer, trust them to do what they do. If you feel confident in the photographer you choose, you won’t feel the need to send them your Pinterest board or a shot list. And you can relax and enjoy the wedding, safe in the knowledge you’re going to have wedding photographs you’ll love for the rest of your life.
What are your favorite destinations locations?
To be honest, my favourite destinations are anywhere I haven’t shot before. I love travelling, exploring, seeing new places and cultures. I know my photography is at its best when I’m somewhere new and inspiring. In the past year, I’ve shot weddings in Croatia, Italy, South Africa, Iceland, the US, Mexico, the UK and Canada. Iceland was obviously incredible. Whichever direction you look there’s something to take your breath away. The second night I was there I saw the Northern Lights which was something I’d always wanted to see. I managed to get a shot of the couple with the lights in the sky behind them. Pretty amazing.
Where do you want to shoot next?
I’d love to shoot in Bali. Or India. Or California. Or the Rockies. Anywhere, really, though. Except maybe North Korea!
What changes/improvements have you observed within your photography over the years?
I think the best thing I’ve done is learned to shoot more and more for myself rather than always thinking about what the client expects. Of course there will be times during a wedding day that you’re taking photos purely for the client, but my philosophy is now that most of the images I take on the day are just myself trying to make the best images from the events happening in front of me, or in the way I’ve learned to anticipate images or to be creative with compositions. That keeps it interesting for me and encourages me to push myself to be creative throughout the day. And I know that if I continue to produce photographs that I’m excited about I’ll find the clients that are drawn to those types of images. I don’t need to appeal to every bride and groom looking for a photographer. I only want to shoot around 30 weddings each year, so I just need to find 30 couples who love what I do and are excited to have me capture their wedding for them.
Any direction you would like to take your photography?
I’d love to do more editorial portraiture. Maybe for magazines. I love the work of people like Anton Corbijn, Joey L, Annie Liebovitz, Rodney Smith, Danny Clinch, and Mark Seliger. I’d love to develop my own personal style a little more with those type of portraits. It’s something I’m hoping to push forward this year.
How do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients?
I want my clients to be surprised when they see their wedding through my eyes. They will remember the day in a certain way already but then they’ll have a whole new perspective of it when they see my photos. As the years go by, their own memories will fade but their wedding photos remain and they slowly become more and more important. I also want them to remember how they felt, not just how things looked when they go through the images.
A huge thank you to Steve for his time, insight, advice and of course, those awesome Spotify playlists. To see more of Steve’s work or to learn even more about this whiskey and Coke enthusiast, head over to his portfolio.