A Sunderland College lecturer is feeling snap-happy after being named one of the best 100 wedding photographers in the world.
Ian Weldon, who has worked at the college for two years, won a spot on the coveted list, written by well-known Australian commercial and wedding photographer Nicholas Purcell, whose work has featured in publications such as the Guardian and New York Times.
The ‘100 Best Wedding Photographers in the World 2015’ list was composed by Nicholas who contacted respected wedding photographers across the globe and asked them to anonymously nominate others.
Ian, as well as teaching on the Foundation Degree in Photography course at Sunderland College, is an experienced wedding photographer whose mantra is ‘wedding photography for people who don’t want wedding photography’.
The Durham-based photographer has been taking wedding snaps for the past five years, but they aren’t the traditional staged and group shots people are accustomed to seeing in wedding albums.
Ian’s documentary-style photography captures the moments that other photographers would shy away from, and his pictures reveal the true and sometimes gritty reality of weddings.
He said: “It is good for me to be recognised because what I do isn’t traditional wedding photography. I’m not really a list or awards kind of guy, but I can’t deny that being included alongside some long admired and truly amazing photographers, has put a spring in my step and validates what I do.”
Ian, who learnt his trade at Sunderland College’s former Shiney Row campus where he studied photography from 2004 to 2006, was featured on the list because, in Nicholas’ words, Ian is ‘absolutely fearless in capturing the reality of the day, with a twinkle in his lens’.
The former truck driver, who decided to train as a photographer in his late twenties, added: “After I qualified, I was a portrait photographer for five years and then went into wedding photography. I did used to do traditional wedding photography the way it was expected, but it just wasn’t for me. I don’t like ordering the bride and groom about and taking them away from their guests for a long period of time – it didn’t feel natural to me, so that’s when I developed my own style of wedding documentary photography.
“I have photographed lots of weddings as documentary-style pieces for people who appreciate good photography and don’t follow trends and fads. For me, it’s not just about photographing a wedding, but documenting the reality of the day and how it feels.”
Ian brings his unique style and experience to Sunderland College, and is keen to share his knowledge with the students.
He teaches in the college’s brand new visual and performing arts facilities, which feature state-of-the-art equipment, alongside photography lecturers Robin Cowings and Paul Knox, who are both industry professionals.
Robin is a commercial photographer whose fashion and editorial work has featured in local and national magazines, with past clients including The Crack magazine, Liar Republic magazine, Street magazine, Tyneside Cinema, Dance City and Northern Stage.
His work has featured in a variety of exhibitions at regional venues such as The Globe Gallery, Newcastle Playhouse, and Newcastle Arts Centre. He also works as a freelance artist and helps run a youth photography group which has exhibited at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Paul, who also studied photography at Sunderland College, is a documentary photographer, focusing on examining social and cultural structures across the world. He recently exhibited his work at Newcastle’s Side Gallery, in which he created a series of vignettes telling stories of life within the Bangladeshi community in Sunderland.
His work has won many global awards including first place in the International Photography Awards and he has been commissioned by FT Magazine, The Big Issue, NME and The Lindisfarne Gospels Festival among many others.
Ian added: “The photography department at the college has a wealth of experience. It is important that we all come from the photography industry as we can give the students an insight into the business. It’s taken me ten years to get to where I am today and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I want to make the photography industry better and help my photography students to navigate the somewhat confusing and overwhelming amount of information available.”
Sunderland College teaches a range of visual arts and photography courses, including Beginners Level 1, A-Level, Access to Higher Education and Foundation Degree programmes.