Wes in the local news...
Liverpool Echo newspaper article showcasing the 'celebrity wedding' of Russell Watson photographed by Wes Simpson in Spain and featured in HELLO! Magazine
Meet the Liverpool photographer behind the lens at Russell Watson’s Luxury Destination Wedding. Liverpool photographer Wes Simpson was booked by the famous tenor and his new bride who loved his fly-on-the-wall style of photography.
It was a ceremony featuring one of the most famous names in the opera world, destination to be seen by millions, but photographer Wes Simpson was given a simple brief by Russell Watson and his new bride.
With the images earmarked for a glossy Hello! magazine spread, Liverpool-based Wes admits the pressure was on.
“But on the morning of the wedding Russell and Louise said to me ‘don’t change what you do to try and figure out what an editor might want, we like your style so stick with it’,” says Wes. “So that settled my nerves and I was just able to get on and do the job.”
For the Skelmersdale-born photographer, Russell’s marriage to former office receptionist Louise Harris was his latest high profile destination photography commission. He’s also documented the big days of several Liverpool and Everton players, including Reds striker Rickie Lambert last year.
Wes was booked by the 48-year-old tenor and his fiancee after she spotted some of his previous images.
“She liked the emotional ones in particular,” he explains. “So we met and talked about my approach which is more natural, it’s quite a documentary style, and they liked that. There was a six-week hiatus where I didn’t hear anything back so I thought maybe they’d gone with the Hello! photographer, then she got back in touch and said she just hadn’t been able to get a connection with any other photographer.”
The couple flew him out to their venue, at the mountain village of Benahavis in southern Spain just outside Marbella, on the Monday before the wedding on the Wednesday.
“I went to the party the day before to get to know some of the guests and have a recce of the place, then I was with them right from the start of the wedding day to the end. It was fantastic, and with Russell there was the background story of his brain tumours so there was such a lot of genuine love, laughter and tears throughout the day. It was a joy to witness because, although it was a really glamorous location, at the heart of it it was a family affair. It was two people who were genuinely happy and in love.”
Wes admits it was a long assignment – 17 hours from start to finish. “But it was a great experience,” he says. “I must have shot about 2,000 frames and I presented them with about 1,200 of those to choose from. Then I got fantastic feedback from Hello! and from Russell and Louise because they said they’d found it impossible to pick the images for the 11-page spread.”
His own personal favourite came during the ceremony as Russell gave their guests a little impromptu singing encouragement.
“They had the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful and it was a typical response, everyone was mumbling along, so at one point Russell went ‘come on’ and belted out a couple of notes,” laughs Wes. “The expression on Louise’s face told the story, and as a photographer that was exactly what you look for”.
“There were some tender moments too, like Russell wiping a tear from Louise’s cheek in the church, and I imagine those are the ones the fans will like seeing most because they give you a little insight into them as people. They’re a bit more revealing.”
Wes says capturing the unguarded times has become his trademark. It has been, he explains, since he saw his own mum and dad’s wedding album.
Having started his career as a TV cameraman, working first on Brookside and then freelance for shows including Hollyoaks and Shameless, Wes switched to wedding photography in 2007 but admits he began with the more classic poses.
“Then when I was looking through my parents’ album one day I remembered that mum always said how it rained on their wedding day and her dress got wet. But when I looked at all the photos there was no evidence of that and I thought it was a shame that those stories about the atmosphere of the day weren’t in there anywhere.
“That made me evaluate what I was doing and made me wonder if it was more my interpretation rather than how it really was. From then on I took a more emotionally-driven approach and I developed an almost fly-on-the-wall style of shooting.”
Destination documentary-style wedding photography is now his speciality, and he’s already done six around the world this year.
“Every time I look at the departures board I always remember my careers teacher who said I should concentrate on English and Maths, which I struggled with because of mild dyslexia, because art would never take me anywhere,” he laughs. “So whenever I get on a plane with my camera in my hand I think of her!”
Story taken from Liverpool Echo. Words by Dawn Collinson.